For Forty Days…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وعلى آله وصحبه

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The Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم is reported to have said:

من صلى لله أربعين يوما في جماعة يدرك التكبيرة الأولى كتبت له براءتان براءة من النار وبراءة من النفاق

“Whoever performs salah in congregation for forty days with the first takbeer, (the one who does that) is written as one who is free (i.e. safe from two things) from the Fire (of Hell) and from Nifaq.”

[Sunan Tirmidhi, 241 who graded it as mawqoof. It has been graded as hasan by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani in ‘Takhreej Mishkat al-Masabih’, 2/15 and hasan and saheeh li-ghayrihi by Al-Albani – see also ‘Saheeh al-Jaami’, 6365; ‘Saheeh at-Tirmidhi’, 241 and ‘Silsilah as-Saheehah’, 4/629]

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1. This hadeeth contains two great promises of reward for a person; one in this world (i.e. being safe from nifaq) and one in the akhirah (i.e. being safe from the Fire). These assurances are linked to the performance of one’s salah in jamaat, in the masjid and with the first takbeer.

2. Al-Mubarakpuri commenting on this hadeeth in his ‘Tuhfat al-Ahwadi’, 239, quoted At-Teebi as saying:

أي يؤمنه في الدنيا أن يعمل عمل المنافق ويوفقه لعمل أهل الإخلاص وفي الآخرة يؤمنه مما يعذب به المنافق ، ويشهد له بأنه غير منافق يعني بأن المنافقين إذا قاموا إلى الصلاة قاموا كسالى ، وحال هذا بخلافهم كذا في المرقاة

“Meaning that one is given safety in the dunya again (performing) actions of a hypocrite, and helping him become from the people of sincerity and of the Hereafter; (where) he would be safe from (receiving) the punishment of the hypocrite – and be witnessed as one who is not a hypocrite, as it is (only) the hypocrites who become lazy when they have to perform salah…”

3. In his ‘Mirqat al-Mafatih’, 1144, Mulla Ali Qari brought a statement from Ibn Hajar in relating a possible reason for the mentioning of ‘forty days’; a hadeeth that states:

من أخلص لله أربعين يوما ظهرت ينابيع الحكمة من قلبه على لسانه

“Whoever proves sincere to Allaah for forty days, wisdom springs from his heart and is established upon his tongue.” [sanad graded as da’eef by vast majority of the muhadithoon of past and present (see ‘Silsilat ad-Da’eefah’, 1/111-114)]

“As if to make this amount of time the standard for perfection… and Allaah knows the secrets and truths.” He then continued:

ومثل هذا ما يقال من قبل الرأي فموقوفه في حكم المرفوع ، قال ابن حجر : رواه الترمذي بسند منقطع ومع ذلك يعمل به في فضائل الأعمال ، وروى البزار ، وأبو داود ، خبر : لكل شيء صفوة وصفوة الصلاة التكبيرة الأولى * ، فحافظوا عليها ، ومن ثم كان إدراكها سنة مؤكدة ، وكان السلف إذا فاتتهم عزوا أنفسهم ثلاثة أيام ، وإذا فاتتهم الجماعة عزوا أنفسهم سبعة أيام اهـ . وكأنهم ما فاتتهم الجمعة وإلا فعزوا أنفسهم سبعين يوما

* “Everything has a peak, and the peak of salah is its first takbeer” [Abu Nu’aym, ‘Hilyat al-Awliyah, 5/78 – sanad graded as da’eef by majority]

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4. Imam Shawkani said in his tafseer (Fath al-Qadeer) that the addition of ten days to thirty was evidence of sincerity. These ten days were also the days of an-Nahr (sacrifice) within which Allaah spoke to Musa. And thus the forty days were for preparing Musa (in patience and strength)…

Commenting on the hadeeth, sh. Ahmad Hutaybah brings the example of Musa عليه السلام when he left the Children of Isra’eel prior to the Torah being revealed to him. Allaah Said about him:

وَوَاعَدْنَا مُوسَىٰ ثَلَاثِينَ لَيْلَةً وَأَتْمَمْنَاهَا بِعَشْرٍ فَتَمَّ مِيقَاتُ رَبِّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ لَيْلَةً

“And We appointed for Musa thirty nights and added (to the period) ten (more), and he completed the term, appointed by his Lord, of forty nights…” [Al-A’raaf, 142]

“By making them forty days, it is as though this number has an advantage in (proving) one’s sincerity in attendance and ibadah etc… So by performing salah in congregation for forty days, this actually equates to (at least) two hundred individual salaat” – and virtue is not attained except by exerting oneself in deeds that are obligated and recommended in all states and circumstances.

5. The numerical value of forty days should be taken as an indication of one’s sincerity, zeal and continual attentiveness and thoughtfulness towards one’s salah in jamaat, in the masjid and with the first takbeer. It is not a means to and end but rather something that one should become accustomed to instil within one’s characteristics. It is not a call to focus on marking down forty days and then becoming laxed thereafter in this regards.

6. As for nifaq, it is not hard to understand why the reward of being freed from hypocrisy is conferred upon the one who performs salah in congregation. One of the signs of hypocrisy during the time of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was the absence of a person from the masjid for salah in jama’ah. Ibn Mas’ood رضي الله عنه said: “At the time of the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم we used to think that no one failed to attend the prayer in congregation but a hypocrite or one who was sick.” [see Saheeh Muslim, 654]

Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم also said:

إن أثقل صلاة على المنافقين صلاة العشاء وصلاة الفجر

“The heaviest of salah for the hypocrites is isha’ and fajr…” [Saheeh Muslim, 651] – see also An-Nisaa’, 142

7. The difficulty for many in striving to be early for each salah is not unknown; especially for those who have a busy work or study schedule. It is thus, not without reason that great rewards are rendered for those who carry out these acts in times of extreme difficulty and ease. One of the ways the Salaf used to guard and maintain the performance of salah in congregation before the takbeer was due to their diligence in planning their daily routines around the masajid. For others, it was a matter of anticipating the following salah wherever they were. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

ألا أدلكم على ما يمحو الله به الخطايا ويرفع به الدرجات؟ ” قالوا : بلى . يا رسول الله. قال: إسباغ الوضوء على المكاره. وكثرة الخطا إلى المساجد. وانتظار الصلاة بعد الصلاة. فذلكم الرباط

“Shall I not tell you of what (Allaah) erases sins and raises one in degrees? They said ‘Yes O Messenger of Allaah. He صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘performing wudu’ upon hardship. And taking many steps to the masjid. And waiting for the (next) salah after the salah and partaking in rabat.” * [Saheeh Muslim, 251]

* What is meant by “rabat” here is other than being stationed in the army front-line. It is a type of rabat that involves guarding and waiting for the next salah after the previous salah.

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In the Mustadrak of Al-Hakim, 715, it is also recorded:

ما منكم من رجل يخرج من بيته فيصلي مع الإمام ثم يجلس ينتظر الصلاة الأخرى إلا والملائكة تقول: اللهم اغفر له، اللهم ارحمه

“(There is no) man who comes out of his house to perform salah with the imam, then sits waiting for the (next) salah, except the Angels (make du’a for him and) say, ‘O Allaah, have mercy upon him.'”

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is also reported to have said: ثلاث كفارات – “There are three things that expiate (for sins)… (and from these, he mentioned): انتظار الصلاة بعد الصلاة – Waiting for the (next) salah after the salah.” [Tabarani, 17/129 – graded as hasan by Al-Mundhiri in ‘Targheeb’, 1/217 and hasan li ghayrihi by Al-Albani in ‘Saheeh Tirmidhi’, 453]

8. Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم also said:

لو يعلم الناس ما في النداء والصف الأول ، ثم لم يجدوا إلا أن يستهموا عليه لاستهموا ، ولو يعلمون ما في التهجير لاستبقوا إليه ، ولو يعلمون ما في العتمة والصبح لأتوهما ولو حبوا

“If people knew (of the rewards) in (responding to) the call (i.e. Adhan) and (standing in) the first row, and could not achieve this (except) by casting lots, they would certainly do so. And if they knew (of the rewards) in coming for the afternoon salah (i.e. Dhuhr), they would race each other towards it. And if they knew (of the rewards) in the night and morning salat (i.e. Isha and Fajr), they would come for them, even if they had to crawl.” [Saheeh Bukhari, 2689]

And it is very possible that the “rewards” mentioned herein include deliverance and safety from the Hell Fire. Allaah knows best.

9. Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri رضي الله عنه narrated that:

أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم رأى في أصحابه تأخرا فقال لهم تقدموا فأتموا بي وليأتم بكم من بعدكم لا يزال قوم يتأخرون حتى يؤخرهم الله

“The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم saw (some of his) Companions standing behind (the rows). He said to them: Come forward (to the front rows) and fill them and let those who come after you,  follow you (in filling the rows). There are no people who continue to fall back (in the hind rows), until Allaah puts them back (or delays them).” [Saheeh Muslim, 438 and others]

In commenting on “there are no people who continue to fall back”, Imam Nawawi said:

لا يزال قوم يتأخرون أي عن الصفوف الأول حتى يؤخرهم الله تعالى عن رحمته أو عظيم فضله ورفع المنزلة وعن العلم ونحو ذلك

“…such people are put back from Allaah’s Mercy or a great bounty and (are not) raised in status and knowledge etc.”

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10. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم instilled the desire among the Muslims to join the front rows in the congregation salah. Joining the front row is attained only through a firm commitment to reach the jama’ah in time, which in turn, is the result of one’s continual attentiveness and thoughtfulness towards salaat. Not being mindful of reaching salaat in time is a sign of carelessness – and just as they delay in answering the call to salah, Allaah too shall delay His Mercy and bounty for them. They will not be counted amongst those about whom the hadeeth speaks of.

11. Our Salaf were acutely aware of the rewards and blessings attached to the opening of salah. If one of them were to miss it, they would assume that a misfortune or a calamity had struck them equal to the loss of a family member. They remained diligent in observing the opening of all salaat. Some remained resolute to the extent that later generations would wonder in amazement (and deem it impossible) as to their achievements.

The great tabi’i, Sa’eed ibn Musayyib (about whom Abdullah ibn Umar remarked: “Had the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم seen him, he would have been pleased with him.”) said: “I have never left a salah in the masjid and I have never seen the back of people (i.e. by standing behind the first row) for forty years.” – These were not hollow words meant to show-off, rather they were statements of pride that arise from one’s strict observance to the commands of the Allaah and His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم

It was once brought to the attention of Khaleefah ‘Umar bin Abd Al-Azeez رحمه الله تعالى that his son had been missing the first rak’at of salaat (i.e. he would be delayed) due to spending too much time on combing his hair when getting ready. ‘Umar ordered that his hair be shaved off so that it does not distract him any more. Such was the demeanour of the best of generations…

12.And even yet there were some who Never Missed the Congregation in Forty Years.

13. In a profound hadeeth, Abdullah bin Umar رضي الله عنه narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

إن الله تبارك وتعالى ليعجب من الصلاة في الجمع

“Verily Allaah, Blessed and Most High is amazed at the one who performs (all of) his salaat in jama’ah.”

[Musnad Ahmad – graded as hasan by Al-Mundhiri in ‘Targheeb’; 1/200, Ad-Dumyati in ‘Al-Matjar ar-Rabih’, 46; Al-Haythami in ‘Majma’ az-Zawa’id 2/42 and Al-Albani in ‘Saheeh Targheeb’, 406]

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And Tawfeeq is from Allaah alone.

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