Question # 352: Last month we visited Australia and we were praying Salatul Maghrib in a masjid; during the third rakah after the ruku, the imam raised his hand to make dua’a. Is this prayer valid?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: Qunoot is the name of a du’aa’ (supplication) offered in Witr prayer after the ruku’ (bowing). Nevertheless, If a calamity (naazilah) befalls the Muslims, it is prescribed to say Du’aa’ al-Qunoot in the last rak’ah of each of the five daily obligatory prayers, until Allah relieves the Muslims of that calamity. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) continued to pray Qunoot against the mushrikeen and to pray for the oppressed Muslims in Makkah for a month, then he stopped saying Qunoot when the reason for it stopped. On the other hand, it is not prescribed to say Du’aa’ al-Qunoot in Fajr prayer all the time, in all circumstances, as there is no sahih report that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) singled out Fajr for Qunoot, or that he always recited it in Fajr prayer.

Long Answer: Qunoot, according to the definition of the fuqaha’, “is the name of a du’aa’ (supplication) offered during prayer at a specific point while standing.” It is prescribed in Witr prayer after the ruku’ (bowing), according to the more correct of the two scholarly opinions. If a calamity (naazilah) befalls the Muslims, it is prescribed to say Du’aa’ al- Qunoot after standing up from ruku’ in the last rak’ah of each of the five daily obligatory prayers, until Allah relieves the Muslims of that calamity. (See Tasheeh al-Du’aa’ by Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd)

With regard to saying Du’aa’ al-Qunoot in Fajr prayer all the time, in all circumstances, there is no sahih report that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) singled out Fajr for Qunoot, or that he always recited it in Fajr prayer. Rather what is proven is that he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said Du’aa’ al-Qunoot at times of calamity with words that were appropriate to the situation. He said Du’aa’ al-Qunoot in Fajr and in other prayers, praying against Ra’l, Dhakwaan and ‘Usayyah for killing the Qur’an-readers whom the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) had sent to them in order to teach them their religion. And it was proven that he prayed in Fajr prayer and other prayers for the weak and oppressed believers, that Allah would save them from their enemies. But he did not do that all the time. The Rightly-Guided khulafah after him followed the same practice. It is better for the imam to limit Qunoot to times of calamity, following the example of the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم), as it was proven that Abu Maalik al-Ash’ari said: “I said to my father, ‘O my father, you prayed behind the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and behind Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthmaan and ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with them). Did they used to say Du’aa’ al-Qunoot in Fajr?’ He said, ‘O my son, this is a newly-invented matter.’” (Narrated by the five, apart from Abu Dawood; classed as sahih by al-Albani in al-Irwa’, 435). The best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم). (al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah li’l-Buhooth al-‘Ilmiyyah wa’l-Iftaa’)

Dr. Salah Al-Sawy, the Secretary General for the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America said: “…As for the Qunoot, it is a supplication to be said during the Fajr prayer according to the Shafi’i scholars, but this could be answered by saying that always performing it in the Fajr prayer is bid’ah, or blameworthy innovation in worship. The rest of the scholars made it during the Witr prayer during Ramadan or, during times of crisis, in all of the five daily prayers. It is to be said in the final unit of the prayer, after the ruku’ (bowing at the waist), but if it is done before the ruku’, there is nothing wrong with that, except that doing it after the ruku’ is better… Another point it would be pertinent to note is that, in times like these, when our people are being unjustly annihilated by the occupying tyrants, it is prescribed to make du’aa for them during the five daily prayers…”

Prayer behind an imam who recites Qunoot in Fajr is valid, but if there is someone who does not always recite Qunoot in Fajr, it is better to pray behind him, so as to follow the Sunnah.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said concerning some matters of ijtihad in which the scholars differed, such as Qunoot in Fajr and Witr: “…if a person recites Qunoot in Fajr his prayer is valid and if he does not recite it his prayer is valid, and the same applies to Witr… [However,] Qunoot is to be recited [only] at times of calamity… it is not a Sunnah that is to be done regularly, and no prostration of forgetfulness is required if it is omitted. If some believe that it is a regular Sunnah based on their own ijtihad this is fine, as in the case of all other issues of ijtihad. Hence the person who is praying behind an imam should follow his imam in issues where there is room for ijtihad. So if he recites Qunoot he should recite it with him, and if he does not recite Qunoot he should not recite it. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The imam has been appointed to be followed.” And he said: “Do not differ from your imams.” And it is proven in al-Sahih that he said: “They lead you in prayer; if they get it right (the reward) is for you and for them, and if they get it wrong, (the reward) is for you and (the sin) is on them.”

Saying Qunoot in the obligatory prayers is prescribed when there is a reason for that — which is when calamity is befalling the Muslims. So long as calamity is occurring, then Qunoot should be said for that, and when the reason is no longer present, then Qunoot should stop, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) continued to pray Qunoot against the mushrikeen and to pray for the oppressed Muslims in Makkah for a month, then he stopped saying Qunoot when the reason for it stopped with the arrival of those for whom he had prayed Qunoot. This is indicated by the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) according to which the Prophet (blessings of Allah be upon him) prayed Qunoot for a month. After saying Sami’a Allahu liman hamidah, he said in his Qunoot: “O Allah, save al-Waleed ibn al-Waleed, Salamah ibn Hishaam, ‘Ayyaash ibn Abi Rabee’ah and the weak and oppressed believers. O Allah, punish Mudar severely and send upon them a famine like that of Yoosuf.” Then Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) said that they were saved from the clutches of the kuffaar and came to Madinah, so the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) stopped praying for them. (Narrated by Muslim)

Ibn al-Qayyim said: “He prayed Qunoot at the time of calamity to offer supplication for some people and to pray against others, then he stopped when those for whom he had prayed came (to Madinah) and were saved from captivity, and those against whom he had prayed became Muslim and came repenting. So his Qunoot was for a purpose, and when that was achieved he stopped Qunoot.” (Zaad al-Ma’ad)

(Most part of the above reply is based on various answers by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid, unless stated otherwise)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam