The Ruling in Islam With Regard to Being the Leader in Salah

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The Ruling in Islam With Regard to Being the Leader in Salah

 

This entire contention will become very easy to resolve if we first analyse the ruling in shari’ah with regard to the one who is most deserving of leading the salah.

The ruling regarding the five times salah and the Salat al Janazah is that the khalifah of the time is most deserving of leading the Muslims in them, and in his absence second to him in this right is his deputy. The entire ummah unanimously agrees upon this and Islamic history and literature ratifies this.

There is no need to prove this from our sources[1]. However, several references which prove the very same will be presented from the literature of the Shia so as to satisfy them and persuade them in this regard.

 

1. People had asked Imam Jafar al Sadiq rahimahu Llah as to who is most deserving of leading the congregation in salah. He gave the following response:

 

فقال إن رسول الله صلي الله عليه وآله قال يتقدم القوم أقرأهم للقرآن فإن كانوا في القراءة سواء فأقدمهم هجرة فإن كانوا في الهجرة سواء فإكبرهم سنا.

Verily the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has stated: “The one who is most fluent in terms of reciting the Qur’an should lead the people in prayers. If they all happen to be equal in the recitation of the Qur’an, then the one who was the first to migrate. And if they are equal in that as well, then the one who is of most senior age.”[2]

 

2. The following has been cited in Amali of Sheikh al Saduq:

 

و أولي الناس بالتقدم في جماعة أقرأهم للقرآن فإن كانوا في القرآن سواء فأقدمهم هجرة فإن كانوا في الهجرة سواء فأسنهم.

The most deserving of leading the congregation in prayers is the one who reads the Qur’an most fluently, then the one who was the first to migrate and then the one who is most advanced in age.[3]

 

3. The following is the edict the Shia have passed in this regard:

 

فإن تساووا في الفقه والقراءة فالأقدم هجرة من دار الحرب إلي دار الإسلام …. فإن تساووا في ذلك فالأسن مطلقا …والإمام الراتب في مسجد أولي من الجميع لو الجتمعوا وكذا صاحب المنزل أولي منهم ومن الراتب وصاحب الأمارة في أمارته أولي من جميع من ذكر أيضا.

If they are all equal in knowledge and recitation of the Qur’an then the earliest emigrant from a non-Muslim state to a Muslim one will be most deserving… If they are unvarying in this as well, then the eldest will be most rightful. And the fixed Imam of a masjid is more deserving then all of them. Likewise, the house-lord will have more right (to lead the prayer) than them all, including the Imam of the masjid. And the khalifah of a people, in this regard, is superior to all of those who were mentioned.[4]

 

4. Imam Jafar al Sadiq rahimahu Llah has stated the following:

 

عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال “إذا حضر الإمام الجنازة فهو أحق الناس بالصلوة عليها

The khalifah is most deserving of leading the congregation in the Salat al Janazah when he is present.[5]

 

5. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu himself is reported to have said:

 

قال علي عليه السلام “الوالي أحق بالصلوة علي الجنازة من وليها

The governor has a greater right of leading the Salat al Janazah than the close relatives of the deceased.[6]

 

All the above quoted texts of the Shia indicate that in the presence of the khalifah of the Muslims no one has the right to lead the prayers, be it the five times daily prayers or the funeral prayer.

In light of the above mentioned quotations the sequence of right to leading the people in salah is evident. Let us now return to the contention around the Salat al Janazah of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha and examine, keeping in mind the sequence given in these quotations, who was most deserving of performing her Salat al Janazah?

 

From all those who were present for the funeral of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was:

  1. The earliest emigrant.
  2. He was the most advanced in age from all those present.
  3. He was the Imam of the local masjid of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha.
  4. He was the Khalifah of the Muslims at the time.
  5. And lastly, at her demise he was present in Madinah Munawwarah and was not out on journey. He learnt of her death and attended her funeral. This was the decree of Allah that he was the only one who fitted the criterion from all perspectives.
 

It is now up to you to decide who was most rightful of leading the Salat al Janazah and who eventually led the people in it. Fairness will compel you to decide that it was no one other than Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

 

Historical Evidence Corroborating This Ruling

I have thus far presented seven narrations (wherefrom we learn that Abu Bakr had led the funeral prayer of Fatimah) and have stated the ruling of the shari’ah with regard to the one who is most rightful of leading the Muslims in prayer in light of the quotations of the Shia.

Now I shall present evidence from history that will provide us with information regarding the practice of the Banu Hashim when it came to the Salat al Janazah of those who passed on from amongst them. The questions regarding who led the Salat al Janazah of the deceased of the Banu Hashim and whether or not they believed in the khalifah of the time being most deserving of leading the Muslims at these occasions, will be answered.

I have done a little research in this regard which I am to present before the readers. By studying it, it will become evident that the Salat al Janazah of the Banu Hashim was always led by the khulafa’ of the time. A few funerals of the members of the Banu Hashim are presented from the history of Islam.

 

1. Nowfal ibn Harith ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib ibn Hashim passed away in the year 15 A.H. during the reign of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu in Madinah Munawwarah. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu had performed his Salat al Janazah and he was subsequently buried in al Baqi’:

 

وتوفي نوفل بن الحارث بعد أن استخلف عمر بن الخطاب بسنة وثلاثة أشهر فصلي عليه عمر بن الخطاب ثم تبعه إلي البقيع حتي دفن هناك.

Nowfal ibn Harith passed away a year and three months after ‘Umar ibn al Khattab was elected as the khalifah, hence ‘Umar performed his Salat al Janazah and then went till al Baqi’ with the funeral where he was buried.[7]

 

2. Abu Sufyan ibn al Harith ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib ibn Hashim was the foster brother of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam; Halimah Sa’diyah had suckled them. The following is written regarding him:

 

وتوفي أبوسفيان سنة عشرين وصلي عليه عمر بن الخطاب و قيل مات بالمدينة بعد أخيه بأربعة أشهر

Abu Sufyan passed away in the year 20 A.H. ‘Umar ibn al Khattab performed his Salat al Janazah, and it is said that he passed away four months after the demise of his brother Nowfal in Madinah.[8]

 

3. The third member of the Ahlul Bayt who passed away was ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib. The following has been recorded regarding him:

 

توفي العباس بالمدينة يوم الجمعة قبل قتل عثمان بسنتين وصلي عليه عثمان رضي الله عنه و دفن بالبقيع و هو ابن ثمان وثمانين سنة.

‘Abbas passed away two years before the assassination of ‘Uthman on Friday in Madinah. ‘Uthman performed his Salat al Janazah. He was then buried in al Baqi’. He was eighty-eight years of age at that time.[9]

 

Note:- ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was present in all these funerals, even then the khulafa’ led the Salat al Janazah.

 

4. The fourth funeral is that of Imam Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu. According to some scholars he passed away in Madinah in the year 50 A.H. The Khalifah, Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, was in Syria at the time. Sa’id ibn al ‘As al Umawi was the governor in Madinah during his rule. Imam Hussain was present in Madinah, yet he urged Sa’id ibn al ‘As to lead the Salat al Janazah:

 

وقدم الحسين عليه السلام للصلوة سعيد بن العاص و هو يومئذ أمير المدينة وقال “تقدم فلو لا أنها سنة لما قدمتك.”

Hussain nudged Sa’id ibn al ‘As to go ahead and perform the Salat (al Janazah) and said: “If this was not the sunnah I would not have put you forward.”[10]

 

Note:- This is a narration sourced from Shia texts. This statement also appears in the books of the Ahlus Sunnah. I will suffice on presenting the reference material rather than presenting the narrations so as to circumvent the prolongation of the discussion. In the references I am to present this sentence appears as it appears in the Shia sources: “Had it not been for the sunnah I would not have put you forward.”

 
  • Al Tarikh al Saghir p. 54
  • Al Isti’ab ma’ al Isabah 1/373, mention of Imam Hassan
  • Kanz al ‘Ummal 8/114
  • Al Sunan al Kubra 4/29, chapter of the funerals
  • Al Musannaf li ‘Abdur Razzaq 3/476
 

Note:- Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz has added an explanatory note to this statement in his book Tuhfah Ithna ‘Ashariyah. I present it below for the benefit of the scholars:

 

پس معلوم شد کہ حضرت زہراء بنا بر پاس نماز ابوبکر ایں وصیت نہ فرمودہ بود والا حضرت امام حسین خلاف وصیت زہراء چہ قسم بعمل می آورد و ظاہرست کہ سعید بن العاص بہزار مرتبہ از ابو بکر کمتر بود در لیاقت امامت نماز

From this we understand that Fatimah had not made such a bequest (that Abu Bakr should not attend her funeral and nor should he know of it), because if that was the case, then Hussain would never have violated the bequest of his mother. For Sa’id ibn al ‘As was much inferior to Abu Bakr in terms of the right of leading the prayer; yet he still requested him to lead the prayer.

 

5. With regard to the funeral of ‘Abdullah ibn Jafar al Tayyar it is mentioned:

 

وعليه أكثرهم إنه توفي سنة ثمانين وصلي عليه أبان بن عثمان بن عفان وهو يومئذ أمير المدينة وذالك العام يعرف بعام الجحاف

Most of the historians opine that he passed away in the year 80 A.H, Aban ibn ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan was the governor of Madinah at that time(during the reign of ‘Abdul Malik ibn Marwan). He performed the Salat al Janazah. That year was known as the year of the floods.[11]

 

Note:-

The Shia scholars have also made mention of this in their books:

 

ومات عبد الله بالمدينة سنة ثمانين وصلي عليه أبان بن عثمان بن عفان ودفن بالبقيع.

‘Abdullah passed away in the year 80 A.H, Aban ibn ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan performed his Salat al Janazah. He was thereafter buried in al Baqi’.[12]

 

Hence it is mentioned in Muntaha al Amal of Sheikh ‘Abbas al Qummi:

 

در عمدہ الطالب است کہ عبد اللہ ابن جعفر در سنہ 80 ہجری وفات یافت ابان ابن عثمان ابن عفان بروے نماز گذاشت۔

‘Abdullah passed away in the year 80 A.H, Aban ibn ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan performed his Salat al Janazah. He was thereafter buried in al Baqi’.[13]

 

6. Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyah, the son of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu, passed away in the year 81 A.H. His sons said to Aban ibn ‘Uthman, the governor of Madinah Munawwarh at that time under the Umayyad rule:

 

نحن نعلم أن الإمام أولي باصلوة ولولا ذالك ما قدمناك …فتقدم فصلي عليه

We know that the governor is most deserving of leading the prayer. If that had not been the case we would not have put you forward.[14]

 

7. Abu ‘Ali Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn al Ash’ath al kufi has stated the following:

 

عن جعفر بن محمد عن أبيه لما توفيت أم كلثوم بنت أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام حرج مروان بن الحكم وهو أمير يومئذ علي المدينة فقال الحسين بن علي عليه السلام, “لو لا السنة ما تركته يصلي عليها.

Imam Jafar al Sadiq reports from Imam Muhammad al Baqir that when the daughter of Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali, Umm Kulthum, passed away, Marwan Ibn al Hakam (who was the governor of Madinah) attended her Salat al Janazah. Thereupon Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “Had it not been for the sunnah I would not have let him perform her Salat al Janazah.[15]

 

Note:-

This narration has been cited from a Shia source. According to the Ahlus Sunnah, however, there are different narrations regarding her funeral. Nevertheless, I have cited this narration for the gratification of our friends. Hopefully it will suffice to satisfy them.

In conclusion, if a person has to scan the pages of history he will find many other members of the Banu Hashim whose funeral prayers were performed by the khulafa’ and governors of the time, e.g. the children of ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib, namely, Fadl ibn ‘Abbas, Quthum ibn ‘Abbas, and ‘Ubaidullah ibn ‘Abbas etc. Therefore we can only conclude to say that they had accepted this ruling of the shari’ah and had practiced upon it all along.

By analysing just this brief discussion in which, for the sake of illustration, a few funerals of the Banu Hashim were presented, it is evident that the Banu Hashim had approbated this ruling by their practice. The ruling of the khalifah or the governor being most deserving of leading the people in prayers can now be considered to be brighter than the sun.

I hope that the readers will need no further clarification and elaboration as to who performed the Salat al Janazah of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha. Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the only person who was most deserving from all perspectives; he was the khalifah of the Muslims and the Imam of the local masjid in Madinah. And therefore, it could only be him who led the Salat al Janazah of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha.

 
 

NEXT⇒ Few Pertinent Aspects for the Benefit of the Scholars


[1]  If anyone is interested in the details of this particular subject he can refer to the chapters pertaining to Imamah (being a leader in prayers) in the books of Islamic jurisprudence.

[2]Furu’ al Kafi 1/225, chapter of Salah

[3]Amali of Sheikh al Saduq p. 382

[4]Sharh Lam’ah 1/101, chapter of Salah

[5]Furu’ al Kafi 1/93 chapter of funerals

[6]Qurb al Isnad Ma’ al Ash’athiyat p. 210, chapter regarding who is most deserving of leading the funeral prayer

[7]Tabaqat ibn Sa’d 2/31-32, mention of Nowfal ibn Harith

[8]Usd al Ghabah 5/214-215, mention of Abu Sufyan

[9]Al Isti’ab ma’ Isabah 3/100-101, Mention of ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu

[10]Sharh Nahj al Balaghah 4/25, mention of the demise of Hassan and his burial; Muqabil al Talibin 1/51, mention of Imam al Hassan. (This book is written by a Shia scholar by the name Abu al Faraj ‘Ali ibn al Hussain ibn Muhammad al Isfahani. He died in the year 356 A.H.

[11]Kitab Nasab Quraysh p. 82, mention of Jafar ibn Abi Talib; al Isti’ab 2/267, mention of ‘Abdullah ibn Jafar; Usd al Ghabah 3/135, mention of ‘Abdullah

[12]‘Umdat al Talib fi Ansab Al Abi Talib p. 38, discussion regarding Jafar al Tayyar.

[13]Muntaha al Amal 1/205

[14]Tabaqat ibn Sa’d 5/86, mention of Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyah

[15]Kitab al Jafariyat p. 210, who is most deserving of leading the funeral prayer

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