Sunday, September 29, 2013

Day of Congregation, voluntary, and funeral Salat


Salat on the day of Congregation
According to the Quran the Surah 62:9 the call to Salat is made on a day of congregation but since the Muslims have taken the sixth day of the week as a day of congregation then it is valid only if it meets the criteria stated in the Quran.
It is stated in the Quran that particular day must be a working or business day and should not be treated as a holy day or holiday. To God there is no “Holyday” as any day is a good day to Him so He does not need total dedication the whole day only to worship Him. He wants those who believe in Him also work to earn a living and to seek their bounty during the same day. This means that a day of rest in the week is for the benefit of human and not for God as Allah does not need to rest.
The difference between the Day of Congregation to the Muslim compared to that of the Jew, they make a day in total dedication to God as the Sabbath Day where none of them were allowed to do work except dedication to worship God. The categories of work that cannot be performed include cooking, washing clothes, constructing, repairing, and writings, making a fire, cutting, fishing and so on and because of this overzealous towards dedication to Him, God test them with the fish as narrated in the following verse of the Quran
Ask them concerning the town standing close by the sea. They transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath. For on the day of their Sabbath their fish did come to them, openly holding up their heads, but on the day they had no Sabbath, they came not; thus We make a trial of them, for they were given to transgression.
(Surah 7:163)                                                                  
In the Quran we are told not to be like the Jews who would only be cheating themselves by imposing unnecessary prohibition and we on the other hand are to do our normal work and be employed or do our business as per any normal day, only at the appointed time when the call is made we are to hasten earnestly to the remembrance of God and after the Salat is completed we are to disperse through the land and seek the bounty of God as stated in Surah 62:9-10. During the Prophet’s time when the call was made on the Day of Congregation the people will hasten to the remembrance of God by establishing the Salat in congregation and after the Salat the Prophet will give the summon on the message of the Quran. It is stated that giving sermon about the Quran and doing the Salat is the best form of remembrance of God and this is what the Prophet did by obeying the command according to the following verse of the Quran:
Recite to what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish the Salat surely the Salat wards off abomination and evil. Certainly the remembrance of God is greater and God knows whatever you do.” (Surah 29:45)
The above verse is the evidence that the Prophet gave summon on the Quran and this is the opportune time to spread the message of the Quran and unlike the present situation the sermon has turn more political and very minimum is said over the message of the Quran. Furthermore more teaching from other books had crept into the sermon of the day of congregation and many are seen as to be contradictory to the teaching of the Quran. Even the simple procedure whether to do the Salat or the recitation of the sermon is done first have been manipulated. According to the Quran the Salat is to be established first and then only the sermon about the Quran as stated in the Surah 62:9 when the call is made to Salat we are to hastens or hurry to remember God by performing the Salat and after the Salat only the sermon is to be delivered. The evidence is shown in the Quran when the Prophet have finished his Salat and as he was to deliver the sermon many of the attendants attempt to withdraw from the congregation and the Prophet request that they come back with the following expression for them to stay a bit longer to listen to the remembrance of God:
But when they see some bargain or some amusement, they disperse headlong to it, and leave thee standing. Say: "The blessing from the Presence of Allah is better than any amusement or bargain! And Allah is the Best to provide for all needs." (Surah 62:11)
The time of salat on the day of Congregation
The Salat on the Day of Congregation during the Prophet’s time was performed at the time of Wusta or the Middle time which is in the center between the mid noon and the sunset prayer. It was not done at mid noon or “dzohor” because of the Arab custom of staying at home at this time at noon, fajar and Ishaa’. The following verse stamped any idea of congregation Salat being held at those times of the day:   
O you who believe! Let those whom your right hands possess and those who have not attained puberty ask your permission three times before they come to your bedroom before the dawn prayer (Salatil Fajri), and when you put off your garments at noon (dzohirati), and after the evening prayer (Salatil Ishaa’). These are three times of privacy for you. Outside these times there is no blame on you or them, if you move about attending to each other. Thus God make clear to you the Signs and God is All Knowing, All Wise. (Surah 24:58)
From the above verse it is a certainty the Prophet would not disrupt the custom of his people where he acknowledged their privacy times. And the time of sunset or maghrib is also not describing the suitablity for the Prophet to do the congregation because if the congregation is done at Maghrib time after the Salat it will be night time and night time is rest time according to the Quran where good Muslims is supposed to adhere and be with their families instead of busy doing more business and trading. The following verses give exposit of the night:
It is He that has made you the night that you may rest therein and the day to make things visible to you. In this are signs for those who listen. (Surah 10:67)
We have made the night and the day as two of Our signs: the sign of the night have We obscured, while the sign of the day We have made to enlighten; that you may seek bounty from your Lord and that you may know the number and count of the years: all things have We explained in detail. (Surah 17:12)
So the time of Salat on the Day of Congregation can never be other than at the time of Wusta or the Middle Salat time which is reflected to the time of Salat as later afternoon as depicted in the Surah 62:9 in the Quran. As such since the day Friday is declared as the day of congregation in the Muslims majority countries by the evidence from the Quran it is therefore should be a business or working day. A day of rest for the general public or Holiday should fall on other than the declared day of congregation.
Voluntary salat for extra Credit
The voluntary Salat for extra credit is no different than the obligatory Salat except that it is to be performed at the times other than the times ordained by God for the obligatory Salat. God does not restrict those who wish to dedicate his soul to Him at anytime and anywhere as long as the obligatory Salat at definite times take priority. The Salat for extra credit is advisable to do at night time since the night time is long and good for the soul as shown by God for the Prophet Muhammad to concede:
Prosperous is he who purifies himself, and glorifies the Name of his Lord and then Salat.
(Surah 87:14-15)                                   
And spend part of the night in prayer; this is an additional prayer for you (O Muhammad), so that your Lord may award you the chosen place of praise and glory! (Surah 17:79).
Truly the rising by night is most potent for governing (the soul), and most suitable for (framing) the Word (of Prayer and Praise). (Surah 73:6)
It is the commitment to do utmost dedication to God that will drive and push people to spend their time to earn the extra credit for doing more than the obligatory duties. As ordinary people, it will be difficult to achieve as the Prophet have achieved or even those of his companions but it is worth a try to copy and strive to that of his level. The Prophet and those with him were seen to have spent two third or half of the night doing their extra voluntary Salat and reading the Quran and this is depicted in the following verses for us to ponder:
Those who spend the night in adoration of their Lord prostrate and standing: and who say, “Our Lord! Avert us the wrath of hell, for its wrath is indeed an affliction grievous. (Surah 25:64-65)                                                           
Surely your Lord knows that you stand in vigil nearly two thirds of the night or half of the night, or a third of the night, and also a party of those with you; but God determines the night and the day. He knows that you are unable to keep count of it, so He has turned to you in Mercy, therefore recite as much of the Quran as is easy for you. He knows that some of you are sick and others are travelling through the land seeking God’s bounty, and others are fighting in God’s cause. Therefore recite of the Quran as much as is easy for you, and establish Salat and pay the alms, and lend to God a beautiful loan. And whatever good you send forth for your souls, you shall find it with God as a better and a greater reward. And ask God’s forgiveness, surely God is All Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah 73:20)
The funeral salat in the Quran
In the Quran there is evidence that the Prophet did not performed the funeral Salat to everybody, he was to be selective as he was commanded by God to Salat only to those who were true to the faith and when known hypocrites died he was cautioned by God not to attend to their funeral ceremony. The Quran is specific in its message and warning by impressing the Prophet of those who were hypocrites especially those who refused to participate to go to battle with him. Those hypocrites trying to seize the opportunity during victories to get a share of the gain or booty but were not committed to the war effort, those were the people whom God warn not to associate with them until they die as stated in the following verse of the Quran: 
And never Salat over any one of them when he is dead, nor stand over his grave, they disbelieved in God and His Messenger and died while they were transgressing. (Surah 9:84)    
From the above command of God to the Prophet not to Salat for those who were hypocrites, it can be deduced that the Prophet did prayers for genuine believers during his time. This kind of Salat was performed for the demise as a last respect to the deceased and it is done during the funeral session at the grave site. The posture of respect for the dead is the standing position as reported in the above verse and this posture of standing is universally accepted. Most communities in the world will do the posture of standing to respect their dead. Thus the Quran is in support of this practice but not to prostrate towards the dead as the prostration at the humblest position on the forehead is only for the submission to God.
Therefore this Salat at the funeral session is different from the normal daily obligatory Salat as the Prophet was reported to be seen only doing the standing position. There is no other reference in the Quran reporting the Prophet did other postures during funeral session and thus by this evidence it give the indication that the Prophet will perform the Salat for the final sending off the demise at their funeral but this is only for those who were faithful to the religion. As he was commanded by God not to stand at the funeral of the hypocrites and also not to stand at their grave, this means that for the believers it is an exception and was permissible.
In order to show the action of respect it is a universal value for any religion when somebody they loved passed away there will be a solemn send off. Those who attend the burial ceremony stand up to pay their last respect and give a few nice words of departure and the Quran is not without such words of this kind of final sending off. The Quran provide many examples of words that can function by relaying good words as a last respect for the deceased before his final departure. The recitation for the funeral Salat is for our admonition that we too will depart from this world some day and it is normal that eulogy is done for the deceased. The following verses of the Quran are taken in relation for the funeral Salat:  
 The commence of the Salat will always be to read the Surah Al Fatiha because it is “The Opening” chapter of the Quran and a suppliant It will normally followed by the recitation of the declaration that our life and death is only for God and link the eulogy of the demise as a last respect that his soul will be among those who repent and recipient of God’s mercy, the verses are extracted from the Quran as follows:
In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds;
Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
Master of the Day of Judgement.
Thee do we worship and thy aid we seek.
Show us the straight way,
The way of those on whom Thou has bestowed thy Grace,
Not the way of those who earn Your wrath,
Nor of those who go astray. (Surah AlFatiha).
“Truly, my Salat and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are all for God, the Cherisher of the Worlds. (Surah 6:162)
And after the above recitation other verses can be compiled from the Quran to put together some good words for the demised before he or she is send off for final burial. The best words come from the Quran and the Prophet will not refuse to excerpt the appropriate quote for those faithful believers who were with him at time of peace and at the times of war. It can be seen that the example of the prayers of the angels below meet the stipulation. The Prophet will initially proclaimed the praise of his Lord and declared his subservient to Him and then ask forgiveness for those who believe and this is extracted from the Quran:
“Our Lord, You embrace everything in Your Mercy and Knowledge, therefore forgive those who repent and follow Your Way, and protect them from the chastisement of hell. Our Lord, and admit them to the Gardens of Eden which You have promised them and those who are righteous among their fathers, their spouses, and their posterity, indeed You are the Almighty, the All Wise. And preserve them from ills, and whoever You preserve from ills on that Day, indeed You have showed him mercy, and that is the greatest triumph.” (Surah 40:7-9)                                                      
The recitation of the above verses of the Quran is to be in middle tone and all family members and friends should congregate to perform the last ritual for the deceased as his final departure. The ending of the funeral Salat will also be the same as any other Salat and the ending is always be “Praise be to God” and to Him is our return:
"To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return":- (Surah 2:156)
“Glory be to You O God “Peace, “All Praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds”. 
(Surah 10:10)
From the evidences in the Quran burning the dead is not sanctify but there are indications that ground burial is the preference. There are some verses depicted in the Quran where the deceased was buried as is shown in the story of the siblings of Adam who excavated to bury his brother and the story of the young men who God made them sleep in the cave for some numbered years when finally they were buried under a place of worship as shown in the following verses respectively:
Then Allah sent a crow digging up the earth so that he might show him how he should cover the dead body of his brother. He said: Woe to me! Do I lack the strength that I should be like this crow and cover the dead body of my brother? So he became of those who regret. (Surah 5:31)
And thus did We make (men) to get knowledge of them that they might know that Allah's promise is true and that as for the hour there is no doubt about it. When they disputed among themselves about their affair and said: erect an edifice over them; their Lord best knows them. Those who prevailed in their affair said: We will certainly raise a mosque (masjid) over them. (Surah 18:21)
In conclusion about the salat Allah have put in all the detail for our guidance and nothing have been left out it only depend whether ourselves is willing to submit to his Words or show arrogance towards it, the choice is ours.
There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end. (Surah 6:38)