By: Shaykh Nasir Makarim Shirazi & Ayatullah Ja’far Subhani
Question: I have seen an objection against Muslims in books that the Islamic scholars have written in the books of jurisprudence and traditions that till the Prayer is not accepted the other deeds will not be accepted.

And then the book mentions the conditions for acceptance of Prayer that a person cannot fulfill in his whole life. And even if one fulfills it, such a person must be very exceptional and rare. Therefore according to their own statement all the deeds and worship acts they have done all their life will not be accepted. Please explain to me this matter.

Answer: The first thing is that studies of books of Islamic jurisprudence show that the conditions mentioned therein are not so difficult that no one could fulfill them. Rather some people can pay more attention to their deeds and worship acts and fully comply with those conditions. You can find it yourself if you study the Articles of Islamic Acts. Therefore it is not correct to blame such things on Islam.

Secondly the acceptance of deeds and worship acts by Allah has many stages and grades. It is possible that they may not achieve the first grade acceptance but may be eligible for lower grade. Basically correct worship has a grade of acceptance. In the same way the acceptance of other deeds too shall depend on the acceptance of Prayer.

This statement could be explained in the way that if the Prayer is correct and performed according to the apparent Islamic laws, it would definitely be accepted by Allah. And as much the heart and conscience of man are clean and as much he refrains from oppression and injustice, the grade of its acceptance would be proportionate to this. Because the value of each deed depends on the mentality and condition of the person who is performing it.


Why Do We Sometimes Recite The Afternoon Prayers Prayers At The Time of Noon Prayers Prayer?

Question: Why do we sometimes recite the Noon Prayers prayer at the earliest hour and then immediately perform the Afternoon Prayers prayer? While it is not the time of Afternoon Prayers? And in the same way sometimes we pray the Noon Prayers prayer at the last moments while its time has already passed?

Answer: Basically we should remember that Noon Prayers and Afternoon Prayers prayer time and in the same way the Evening and Night prayer time denote that in those times no other prayer is permitted.

For example from the beginning of the time of Noon Prayers till when time remains only to perform four rakats (units) of prayer is the time of Noon Prayers prayer and before the sunset the time for four rakats is restricted for Afternoon Prayers prayer. And the time between the two is common time for Noon Prayers and Afternoon Prayers.

We shall also remember that of the two prayers each of them has the best time (Waqt-e-Fazilat) and if they are performed during this time its reward is more.

For example the best time of Noon Prayers is from the beginning of Noon Prayers till the shade of a pole is equal to it. At this moment the best time ends and the time of Afternoon Prayers begins. On the basis of this the prayers are named Noon Prayers and Afternoon Prayers due to their best times and not due to the common time when both these prayers could be performed.

One who prays the Afternoon Prayers prayer at the beginning part of Noon Prayers, he has performed his prayer in the correct time and when he makes an intention to perform the Afternoon Prayers prayer he means that he is praying the prayer which from the point of view of its best time is the time of Afternoon Prayers.

In any case it is better if one delays the prayer and performs it at the best time of Afternoon Prayers. And in this way if someone performs the Noon Prayers prayer at the end of the day then he has prayed in the common time of prayers and his making an intention for Noon Prayers means that its best time is Noon Prayers and from the aspect of the specified time, the common time and the best time the same is true for Evening and Night prayers.


How To Pray And Fast In The Polar Regions?

Question: When we meet some materialists and non-Muslims people they say that how can Islam be a universal religion while its laws be applied only in our areas and area like ours. For example to pray five times a day and fast in the month of Ramadhan is not possible at the north and the south poles because there the days and nights are exceptionally long. Some places have a six month day and a six month night.

Answer: By divine wisdom, Islamic law has provided the solution to such problems before they arose. On the basis of this Islamic law are never enforceable without any difference.

The explanation of this statement is that our senior jurisprudents have discussed this problem in their books. For example, the late Kazim Yazdi, who is of our senior jurisprudent. In this book Urwathul Wuthqa he has mentioned this problem and given a clear verdict that the duty of such people is that they must pray and fast according to the timings of areas which have moderate day and nights. But these people should see how long the days and nights in that season are. And then he can fast according to it and perform the five daily prayers.

This matter can also be explained in another way by which all the doubts and objections are dispelled. (Please note).

In the Polar region where the nights and days are long and sometimes the sun is visible in the sky for six months, and it does not set, it goes from one horizon to the other once in every twenty four hour.

In such regions the movement of the sun around the horizon is not the same all the year round. When it circles the horizon once sometimes it goes up and sometimes it comes down and seen in a low lying ground, from this aspect sometimes the surroundings are more lighted and sometimes less.

Thus this process is repeated once a day. If you see those pictures which are taken during the movement of sun around the horizon which were taken from those places you will know the facts.

When the sun is at zenith the people living near the poles call it day and they start working when it declines and reaching near the horizon it dims, they call it night and rest.

We should remember that when the sun the sign reaches the horizon at the polar region the moderate regions which have equal days and nights, there is actual night.

From the aspect of this calculation the night and day can be determined easily. If a pole is fixed in the ground when the length of its shadow increase little more than its size it is the time of Noon Prayers and Afternoon Prayers and when it becomes the longest, then also it would be midnight. And in this way it is easy to determine noon and midnight.

Now if we know the length of days and nights at this time of year in the moderate regions. For example we know that in the beginning of summer the days are normally of fourteen hours and nights are of ten hours, we could easily know the timings of our prayers and fasts etc.

And whatever is mentioned above on the basis of this in long days the responsibility of Prayers and fast have become clear but when the nights are prolonged we should remember that in twenty-four hours the atmosphere are not the same.

Rather sometimes it is absolutely dark and sometimes it is lighted a little bit becomes sometimes the sun is near the horizon and the atmosphere is misty or darker than this and sometimes the sun moves away from the horizon and the atmosphere becomes dark.

In the nights the position and the movement of the stars, their distance from the horizon and in the same way the darkness and brightness of the atmosphere could help us to determine the noon and midnight and keeping in view the median length of days and nights in the moderate regions, the religious duties can be performed.

The above-mentioned explanations show that the duties of Prayer and fasting along with the other Islamic duties are not applicable to only one particular area and they can be acted upon in all the regions.


Prayer At The Earliest Hour

Question: In order to prove the merit of praying at the earliest hour some scholars have said that Imam az-Zaman (a.s.) prays at this time and then people who pray at this hour their prayer is also accepted by Allah due to the barakah (bounty) of the prayer of Imam (a.s.).

But we also know that different areas fall in different time zones. Leave alone the different countries sometimes one country has many times zones. In this condition only the prayer of the people of that area is with Imam (a.s.) where he is praying. Apart from this the Prayer timings of other people cannot be same as that of Imam (a.s.). How can we solve this problem?

Answer: Those who have presented this argument to prove the merit of praying at the earliest hour, they mean to say that the prayer which is prayed the earliest hour those prayers are equal to the prayers with Imam (a.s.) because he (a.s.) also prays at the earliest hour. And it is due to this equal value, the prayers of others are also accepted by Allah.

This is in no way connected to the matter of time zones etc. In other words it does not mean that prayers have to be performed at one single time. Rather it denotes the fact that all the Prayers have been performed at their respective earliest hours, which every person performs according to his time zone.


Why Do We Pray Facing The Qibla?

Question: Why is it necessary to stand facing the Qibla during Prayer? While the Almighty Allah is present everywhere. And He is not in any one particular direction.

Answer: Facing the Qibla during prayers is not because Allah is in a particular place or direction. Like the Holy Qur’an has specially mentioned twice in the verses regarding the Qibla and said: ‘And Allah’s is the East and West, therefore, whither you turn, thither is Allah’s purpose…”[108]

and again He says: “Says: The East and the West belong only to Allah: He guides whom He likes to the right path.”[109]

It is necessary to stand facing the Qibla during Prayer because man is helpless as he has a body. That he has to face somewhere during Prayer. Even though Islam desires that one should earn as much benefit as possible, because we all know that the Holy Ka’ba is the oldest center of worship of Allah. It is the house whose foundation was laid by the stalwart of Monotheism, Hazrat Ibrahim Khalilullah. And it has always remained the center of attraction for all the holy personalities and divine prophets.

Facing this center of Monotheism during prayer is like facing to Allah. It is correct that Allah is not in a particular place. Even though one who is standing before the center of Monotheism he is more attentive towards Allah than he would have been if he were facing some other direction. And he considers himself present in the Court of Allah.

Apart from this the paying attention of all Muslims around this sanctified center five times a day elevates in their heart the spirit monotheism and Oneness and it helps in the unity of community and Islamic brotherhood. It links the Muslim Communities which are spread to the four corners of the earth and it shows their distinction and grandeur. And lastly it gives the message of the Universal teachings of Islam to the world in the form of the Unity of belief and views.

If a person looks from on outside the earth the arrangement of the rows of Muslims in prayer he would see that all their rows are in form of circles whose center is one and the same and in the heart of those circles is the Ka’ba and it is an indication of the Unity of Muslims.


[108] Surah Baqarah 2:115

[109] Surah Baqarah 2:142


How Can Latin Speaking People Perform Prayers?

Question: In the countries where Latin languages are spoken if the people of those countries become Muslim and want to pray Prayers or recite supplications, is it possible for them to learn the proper Arabic language with the correct pronunciations?

Answer: As we already know most of them are literate for whom it is not difficult to learn the Qur’an and Prayers in Arabic. They are even interested to learn Eastern sciences and even learn Arabic in many universities of that country. Just as when we learn their language we try to learn their exact pronunciation and tone.

As far as their illiterate minority is concerned, they can learn Arabic words according to their capacity and whatever they have learnt or can learn, the Almighty Allah does not demand anything more from them. Though it is necessary that all Muslims should learn the Qur’an and Prayers with proper Arabic pronunciation but it is up to the personal capacity of the people. Islam does not demand anything beyond ones capacity.


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