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Its Ruling and Wording
The Qunoot of Witr is specific to the final Rak’ah of the Witr prayer according to the majority of the scholars. The Sharī’ah has legislated a particular du’ā to be recited in the Witr prayer. Hasan bin ‘Ali (radiyallāhu anhumā) narrated: Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) taught me the words I should recite in the Qunoot of Witr:
اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِنِي فِيمَنْ هَدَيْتَ وَعَافِنِي فِيمَنْ عَافَيْتَ وَتَوَلَّنِي فِيمَنْ تَوَلَّيْتَ وَبَارِكْ لِي فِيمَا أَعْطَيْتَ وَقِنِي شَرَّ مَا قَضَيْتَ إِنَّكَ تَقْضِي وَلاَ يُقْضَى عَلَيْكَ وَإِنَّهُ لاَ يَذِلُّ مَنْ وَالَيْتَ وَلاَ يَعِزُّ مَنْ عَادَيْتَ تَبَارَكْتَ رَبَّنَا وَتَعَالَيْتَ
“O Allah, guide me among those whom you have guided, grant me wellbeing among those whom you have granted wellbeing, take me into Your charge among those whom you have taken into your charge, bless me in what you have given, guard me against the evil of what you have decreed, for you are the One who decrees, and nothing is decreed for you. He whom you befriend is not humiliated―and none whom You have taken as an enemy shall be honoured. Blessed and Exalted are you, our Lord.” (Abu Dawūd, no. 1425, declared sahīh by Al-Albāni) In a narration, there occurs the addition: لا منجا منك إلا إليك “There is no salvation from you except by nearness to you.” (See Sifatus-Salāh An-Nabiyy, p. 181 cited by Al-Albāni)
This is the supplication that is authentically reported from the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) for the Witr prayer, and therefore, it is the best of what should be recited. Abu Dawūd (no. 1426) also reported from ‘Ali bin Abi Tālib (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) that Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) used to recite at the end of his Witr:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِرِضَاكَ مِنْ سَخَطِكَ وَبِمُعَافَاتِكَ مِنْ عُقُوبَتِكَ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْكَ لاَ أُحْصِي ثَنَاءً عَلَيْكَ أَنْتَ كَمَا أَثْنَيْتَ عَلَى نَفْسِكَ
“O Allah, I seek refuge in your good-pleasure from your anger, and in your forgiveness from your punishment and I seek refuge in your mercy from your wrath. I cannot reckon the praise due to you. You are as you have praised yourself.”
When is it recited?
The Sunnah is that the Qunoot du’ā should be uttered after a person has finished his recitation and before the Rukū’ in the final Rak’ah of Witr. Ubayy bin Ka’b (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) would recite the Qunoot in Witr before the Rukū’.” (Abu Dawūd, no. 1427, declared sahīh by Al-Albāni)
Ibn Abi Shaybah (no. 6911) reported with an authentic chain of narration from ‘Alqamah that, “Ibn Mas’ūd and the Companions of the Prophet would make the Qunoot in Witr before the Rukū’.” However, Al-Albāni (rahimahullāh) stated in Qiyām Ramadān (p. 31): “There is no harm if a person makes the Qunoot after the Rukū’ with some additions such as the curse of Allah upon the disbelievers, and salutations for praise and peace upon the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and supplications for the Muslims ―all in the second half of Ramadān as has been established from the those who led the night prayers in the time of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattāb (radiyallāhu ‘anhu).” Then Shaikh Al-Albāni provided proof for that in what has been reported by Ibn Khuzaimah in his Sahīh (2/155).
Is Qunoot obligatory?
The Qunoot is not obligatory, rather it is a recommended Sunnah ―and a person should perform it sometimes and leave it at other times as it is not established from the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) that he continually performed it. Shaikh Al-Albāni stated: “We say do it sometimes because the Companions who reported the Witr prayer did not always mention the Qunoot in it ―so if the Qunoot was always done, they would have all narrated it from him.” (Sifatus-Salāh, p. 179)
Raising the hands in Du’ā, mentioning Takbeer before beginning the Qunoot, sending Salāh upon the Prophet at the end and wiping the face.
As for making Takbeer after the recitation of the Rak’ah before beginning the Qunoot, then there is no authentic proof to show it was done. As for raising the hands in Qunoot for du’ā, then Shaikh Al-Albāni (rahimahullāh) stated: “This has been established from ‘Umar and others in the Qunoot of Witr.” (Al-Irwā, 2/181) Raising the hands for du’ā is a Sunnah and if the imām who leads in the Muslims in Taraweeh raises his hands in Witr, then those behind him must raise their hands also, due to the saying of the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam): “Indeed the imām is appointed to be followed.” As for wiping the face at the end of the du’ā, there is no authentic narration at all to support that from Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam). As for sending the salāh upon the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) at the end of Qunoot du’ā, then that is established from Ubay bin Ka’b (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) that he would do it in the era of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattāb (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) as has been reported by Ibn Khuzaymah in his Sahīh (1097). Al-Albāni (rahimahullāh) affirmed from Mu’ādh Al-Ansāri, and stated in Sifatus-Salāh (p. 180): “This additional supplication is legislated due to the actions of the Salaf, so it is not allowed to declared this practice to be an innovation.”
Qunoot in Ramadān
Qunoot is performed by the imām when he leads the prayer in the last Rak’ah of Witr as described above. However, it is performed in the last half of the month as that is established from the Sahābah in the time of ‘Umar (radiyallāhu ‘anhu). Furthermore, his Qunoot du’ā is in the plural Arabic form that encompasses those following him. Here are some of the differences between the Qunoot behind the imām in Taraweeh and the Qunoot when praying alone:
1. The imām recites the Qunoot aloud so those behind him can hear. When praying alone, it is done quietly.
2. It is done in the Witr in the last half of Ramadān. Outside of Ramadān, it is done sometimes.
3. The ones behind the imām listen to his words and say ameen to his supplications, and they do not supplicate themselves. The one who prays alone makes Qunoot but he does not say ameen.
Ibn Abi Shaybah (no. 6933) reported from Ayyoob from Nāfi from Ibn ‘Umar (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) that he would not make Qunoot in Ramadān except in the last half of it. Its chain of narration is sahīh. Abu Dawūd (no. 1427), Al-Bayhaqi and Ibn Abi Shaybah all report that Ubayy bin Ka’b used to recite the Qunoot of the Witr in the second half of Ramadān.
Innovations (Bid’a) in Qunoot that people fall into
1. Singing the Qunoot, and reciting it melodiously.
2. Introducing admonitions into the qunoot for the people.
3. Using innovated supplications that have no proof for them in the Sunnah or with the Salaf.
4. Composing rhymes and prose in supplications and making them melodious.
5. Making the Qunoot lengthy (as long as the prayer sometimes or longer) which causes difficulty for those behind the imām.
6. Opening the Qunoot with du’ās not reported in the Sunnah or from the Salaf.
7. Those behind the imām uttering words such as “haqq” or “yā Allāh!”
8. Insisting upon the imām that the Qunoot must be done in every Witr.
What is said at the end of the Witr prayer after the Tasleem
Ubayy ibn Ka’b (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) said: When the Messenger of Allah (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) offered salutation (Tasleem) at the end of Witr prayer, he said:
سُبْحَانَ المَلِكِ القُدُّوسِ
“Glorified and Perfect is the King, Most Pure.” (Abu Dawūd, no. 1430)
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