On Women Praying in the Mosque

Answered by Sayyidi al-Ḥabīb `Umar bin Hafīẓ (may Allāh preserve him and benefit us by him). 
Should a woman go out to pray in the mosque or is it better for her to pray at home?

As long as she finds people to pray with her in congregation in her house, and there is no other sound reason for her to go to the mosque, such as acquiring knowledge, serving the religion or calling to Allah, then her prayer at home is better. The Prophet ﷺ taught us that a woman’s prayer in her house is best. In fact, it is better for her to pray in an inner chamber inside her house than to pray in a larger more open room. She should not, however, neglect the congregational prayer, whichever room she prays in. She can pray with one or two other people according to what is easy for her.[1]

However, if she does have the opportunity to call people to Allah or acquire knowledge of the Sacred Law that she does not have access to at home, then her leaving the house would be better. This is all in regard to seeking that which is best. As regards permissibility, then as long as she does not mix with men, dress immodestly or contravene the Sacred Law, then her going to the mosque is permissible, since there is nothing prohibiting women from going to the mosques of Allah.

[1]In the Shāfi`ī school a woman may lead another woman in congregation

On the Prayer for Seeking Guidance

Answered by Sayyidi al-Ḥabīb `Umar bin Hafīẓ (may Allāh preserve him and benefit us by him).

After performing the Istikhārah prayer (the Prayer of Seeking Guidance), how can someone know whether they are doing the right thing or merely following their caprice?

If the following signs are present then they are an indication of good: that your heart is settled on performing the action that you are seeking to embark upon; that the action will not lead to evil, or to that which is contrary to the Sacred Law and that doing the opposite of that action is not closer to taqwā (fear of Allah) and closer to caution in your religion. You may also repeat the Istikhārah pray until your heart is settled. You must differentiate here between your heart being settled and the caprice of your lower self. The lower self may persistently demand that you perform an action and the sign of this is that it stands to benefit from this action by fulfilling its desires. This becomes manifest if performing this action will lead you into doubtful matters, cause you to fall into that which is forbidden, or cause you to abandon that which is obligatory. 

On Keenness to Perform Recommended Acts and Reluctance to Perform Obligatory Acts

Answered by Sayyidi al-Ḥabīb `Umar bin Hafīẓ (may Allāh preserve him and benefit us by him).

What is the state of someone who is keen to perform sunnah acts, and to attend gatherings of remembrance and learning, and yet is reluctant to fulfil his obligatory prayers, and misses most of them?

This person has a sickness and a deficiency, and he should be reminded of the exaltedness of the things Allāh has made obligatory. This should be communicated to him by way of books or lectures. You should also pray for him a lot. He should not be advised to leave sunnah acts and attending gatherings, but rather these things and the people whose company he keeps should remind him of his obligations and give him the ambition to fulfill them. You should pray that Allāh Most High casts exaltation in his heart for the things which He has venerated and made compulsory, and of performing them.

 

On Attaining Presence of Heart and Concentration in Prayer

 

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

How can we increase in presence of heart in our prayer?

You do this by having strong resolve and determination to attain presence and by consistently striving to attain it. Consistently trying and striving is a means of attaining Allah’s mercy, gifts, and compassion. So carry on struggling and do not despair and do not give up.

Attempt to perfect your transaction with Allah first of all by being focused when you purify yourself before prayer (when making wudu or ghusl).  Try to empty your heart of anything other than Allah and remove from your place of prayer anything that might distract you. Before entering the prayer you should seek refuge from the Devil by reciting Surat al-Nas and the following Prophetic supplication:

أَعُوذُ بِاللهِ العَظِيمِ وبِوَجْهِهِ الكَريمِ وبِسُلْطَانِهِ القَديمِ مِن الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ

A`udhu billahi-l`Azim wa biwajhihi-l’karim wa bi sultnihi-l-qadim min ashaytan-irrajim

‘I seek refuge in Allah the Almighty, in His noble countenance and in His eternal power from the accursed Devil.’

You should focus upon the action you are performing and the words that you are saying while you are doing so. Whenever your mind wanders, force it back to focus on those words and actions. Be conscious of the fact that you are following the Prophet ﷺ  in everything you are doing. Seek to increase your realisation of Allah’s greatness and His awareness of you. If you are persistent in this and you strive to attain presence, Allah will bless you with it.

Translator’s Note – Habib Ahmad bin Zayn al-Habashi said that if someone is unable to find presence in their prayer, they should witness their weakness and inability to do so while in the prayer. He said: “Perhaps witnessing this weakness is more beneficial than actually being present, and witnessing this weakness is in fact being present with Allah.”

 

The Prophet said: “This religion is firm so enter into it gently.” How does this apply to seeking to attain presence in the prayer?

What is meant is that we should not take on actions which we are not able to perform. However, we must expend all our efforts in attaining presence in our prayer and we must be consistent in doing so. It is normal at the beginning of the path for presence to come and go, and we cannot attain presence without exerting effort. To attain this presence we need to make ourselves aware of Allah’s greatness and understand the meaning of what we are reciting in the prayer.

On Attaining Humility and Tasting Sweetness in Worship

 

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

How do we attain humility (khushu`) in our worship and taste the sweetness of it?

You do this by standing at Allah’s door in the best of ways, remembering Him constantly, reflecting upon your beginning and your return to Him, and reflecting upon the life and states of the Beloved ﷺ

On Recommended Acts during an Eclipse

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

What is it recommended to do when an eclipse occurs?

It is recommended to take a bath (ghusl), to give charity, seek forgiveness and bestow prayers upon the Prophet ﷺ in abundance. It is also recommended to pray two rak`ats (in congregation). The best way of performing it is that be in each rak`at two standings in which one recites the Qur’an and two bows (ruku`). It is recommended that there be two khutbahs after the rak`ats (similar to Jumah).

On Remembering Allah Aloud in the Mosque after Prayer

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

Is it permissible to remember Allah aloud in the mosque after the prayer?

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ remembered Allah both out loud and silently. So whoever accepts one and rejects the other is rejecting his teachings. Whoever wishes to do one and not the other has not sinned. It has been narrated in a hadith qudsi that the Prophet ﷺ said on the authority of the Almighty: “Whoever mentions Me within himself, I mention him within Myself, and whoever mentions me in a gathering, I mention him in a superior gathering.”

Imam al-Bukhari narrates in his sahih collection that Sayyiduna `Abdullah Ibn `Abbas said: “In the time of the Prophet, people used to raise their voices in remembrance after the obligatory prayer and I used to know that they had finished the prayer when I heard it (their remembrance).” So when Ibn `Abbas was outside the mosque he would know that they had finished the prayer by this sound. Ibn `Abbas was young at the time he narrated this and thus would at times be outside the mosque and would hear the voices of the Companions in remembrance. There are approximately fifty hadith narrated about mentioning Allah aloud and its merit.

So if you wish to remember Allah aloud then do so and if you wish to remember Him quietly then do so and you would not have sinned in either case. Mistreating the Muslims, however, is completely impermissible. There is no difference of opinion that this is a reprehensible innovation (bid`ah) because it is contrary to clear authentic texts. As for raising one’s voice in remembrance how can Muslims make an issue over it?

Had there not been wisdom in loud remembrance Allah would not order His slave Daud to remember Him aloud and for the mountains to echo his praises: O mountains! Echo the praises of Allah with him, and the birds also! [1]

Allah ordained that in some obligatory prayers we read silently and in others we read aloud. Is there anything wrong with that? Can anyone claim that because Allah hears everything that there is no need for us to raise our voices while reciting the Qur’an in Maghrib, Isha and Fajr? Is this conceivable? This is not a proof because our Lord hears our thoughts without us even speaking. We do not raise our voices so that our Lord may hear us. We do so that we may worship Allah with the voices which He has given us, and we do so to remind others of Allah. We do so that He may mention us in the highest gathering as the Prophet ﷺ informed us. The issue is not problematic at all. It is amazing how much disputation there is over this issue in spite of its clarity and its narration in the authenticated hadith. People have fought over this issue! You are free to remember Allah silently but do not harm anyone! Likewise you are free to remember Allah aloud but be careful that if are next to someone who is praying not to raise your voice to a level which will disturb them. Raise your voice to a moderate level. Everyone should be able to commune with their Lord without disturbing anyone else. If you choose to remember Allah aloud it should be done sincerely for the sake of Allah, not seeking reputation. The most important thing is that you remember Allah with your heart, whether or not you remember Him aloud.

We should seek for our hearts to be in a state of tranquillity and fear when we remember Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: The believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel fear in their hearts [2] and also: Their hearts become tranquil through the remembrance of Allah.[3] The problem is that instead of the remembrance of Allah bringing fear and tranquillity to people’s hearts, it sometimes causes anger and discord.

——————-

[1] Saba’, 34:10

[2] Al-Anfal, 8:2

[3] Al-R`ad, 13:28

 

 

On Getting Up for the Night and Fajr Prayers

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

What can I do if I cannot get up for Fajr?

 Make a firm resolve to do so, strive to your utmost ability to do so and seek Allah’s aid.

What can I do to help me wake up for prayer at night?

You must be persistent and make use of both outward and inward means to help you wake up. Outward means include the use of an alarm clock, or making an agreement with a friend to wake you up, whether locally, or someone that calls you.

Inward means include making Istighfar (seeking forgiveness) just before dawn and just before sunset, and giving life to the time between Maghrib (the sunset prayer) and `Isha’ (the night prayer) by engaging in acts of goodness.

Before sleeping you should recite:

The tasbih that the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught to his daughter Sayyidah Fatimah al-Zahra` and Sayyiduna `Ali ibn Abu Talib.:

Subhan Allah (transcendent is Allah) 33 times, Alhamdulillah (all praise be to Allah) 33 times and Allahu Akbar (Allah is most great) 34 times.

The last four verses of Surat al-Kahf (18: 107-110):

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ كَانَتْ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتُ الْفِرْدَوْسِ نُزُلاً خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا لا يَبْغُونَ عَنْهَا حِوَلاً قُل

لَّوْ كَانَ الْبَحْرُ مِدَادًا لِّكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّي لَنَفِدَ الْبَحْرُ قَبْلَ أَن تَنفَدَ كَلِمَاتُ رَبِّي وَلَوْ جِئْنَا بِمِثْلِهِ مَدَدًا قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَنَا

بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ يُوحَى إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ فَمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاء رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلاً صَالِحًا وَلا يُشْرِكْ

بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا 

On Devotional Acts before Fajr at Extreme Latitudes

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

The time of Fajr in Northern Europe differs a lot from summer time to winter time which makes it difficult to follow a set programme of prayer and dhikr before and after the Fajr prayer. What should we do?

You should do what you are able to and try and awake at least a few minutes before Fajr throughout the year. When Fajr time is very early in the summer months you can catch up on your sleep after it, before you go to work. You should take a middle path, not taking it too easy and not making it too difficult for yourself so you become exhausted. 

On Measures to Prevent Drowsiness at `Asr Time

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

I can’t sleep (qaylulah) after Zuhr because I am at work so I become sleepy at `Asr time. What can I do to prevent this?

You should have a good sleep at the beginning of the night. Before sleeping you should say: Subhanallah (transcendent is Allah) 33 times, Alhamdulillah (all praise be to Allah) 33 times and Allahu Akbar (Allah is most great) 34 times. You should also recite the last verses of Surat al-Kahf (18.107-110). [This is will help you to wake up to pray in the night and prevent you from becoming sleepy at `Asr time inshallah].