Dear Br. Anwer Suri,
Long before Br. Arif’s posted his question or I read Dr. Shabbir’s postings on the Forum, I had some serious questions about Namaz. Why it was divided into Farz (Obligatory), Sunnah, Nafil (non-obligatory)? If we must perform Sunnah with every Farz Namaz, then what is the difference? If Nafil Namaz is non-obligatory, how come there are fixes Nafil with every Farz Namaz? Mulvi and the Namazi folks were unable to provide any satisfactory answers. At the time I had 4 different jobs that kept me busy all day. Hence, I made up for all the day’s Namaz at the end of day. My roommate Sheikh Omer, who was a tour bus driver, did the same.
After reading Dr. Shabbir’s postings on the Forum, I took a more critical look at the ritual of Namaz and soon found myself in agreement with him. Here is a brief list of the problems I encountered.
1. Why the term Namaz and its method are missing from the Quran?
2. We are told God gave the gift of Namaz to the Prophet at Miraj (The Night of Ascension to Heaven). This story is a myth. Even if we believe the story, how can we consider Namaz as a gift from God? The Prophet went back and forth to request God to reduce the number of Namaz. Does not this show that the Namaz was a punishment, not gift. Criminals often appeal the judge to reduce their sentences. When people receive a reward or gift from higher authority, they almost never ask for a reduction. Actually, they wish more.
3. On one had it is alleged that Prophet “bargained” with God and had the number of Namaz reduced from 50 to 5. Then, why did he add his own Sunnah and Nafil Namaz? Did not Moses tell him that even 5 Namaz were too much? Can you count the number of Nafil Namaz that Muslims are encouraged to offer along with each Farz Namaz?
8 Rak'ats Nafil for Zuhr
8 Rak'ats Nafil for Asr
4 Rak'ats Nafil for Maghrib
2 Rak'ats Nafil for Isha
11 Rak'ats Nafil for Tahajjud (Namaz-e-Shab)
2 Rak'ats Nafil for Fajr
Some Mulvis offer Tahajjud in the Masjid same like a Farz Namaz. That is why I included it in the above list. Here are other Nafil Namaz that “Devote Muslims” offer between Farz Namaz or on other occasions.
Namaz-e-Ishraq (12 minutes after sunrise)
Namaz-e-al-Duha (20 minutes after sunrise)
Namaz-e-Chasht (Before Namaz Zuhr)
Namaz-e-Awwaabeen (Between Maghrib & Isha)
The last one is considered obligatory whenever someone witnesses sun or moon eclipse, lightning, thunder, earthquake, hurricane, tornado, typhoon, or any other natural disaster.
4. Nobody seems to take Namaz as training to help Muslims improve their lives. Rather it is used as a means to earn rewards and wipe out past sins. How do you know God Almighty will reward you for performing ritual Namaz? Where is the proof that Namaz erases past sins?
5. God promised paradise to those who die fighting for His cause. But our Imams tell us that a fighter must perform 5 obligatory Namaz even at the battlefield. Why is Namaz so important that you cannot miss it even at the height of a battle? If it were training, nobody does any training during the war. In the battlefield the fighters are supposed to apply their training and skills. Moreover, Namaz can put the lives of Muslim fighters at risk. Do you think enemy will respect their Namaz times and stop fighting? In war the other party looks for any weakness in the enemy and tries to exploit it. Namaz places Muslim fighters at great disadvantage against their enemies.
6. If Masjid is 15 miles away from your home, you have to make a 30 miles trip to perform each Namaz. You will be travelling 150 miles daily. Most cars run less than 300 miles on full tank. You will have to fill the gas tank every 2nd or 3rd day. If you are barely making ends meet, how will you handle the extra costs? Does not God claim that he wants ease for you, not hardship?
7. Those receiving rewards from God Almighty for their noble character and actions are listed in the Quran. Did God forget to include Namazi and Rozadar? If you like, I can post a list of verses that clearly name those who will receive immense rewards from God Almighty.
8. Sure we cannot see God. But we have His book the Quran. We can study it and learn about its Author. Also, we have the “Mighty Book of Nature” in our possession. It too tells us a lot about the Creator of our Universe and everything in it. What picture of God do these books paint? The God I see does not seem to care about any rituals of worship. But He, definitely, cares for our welfare. That is why He sent down the Quran, Guidance for All Humanity for All Times. Instead of indulging in empty rituals, we can earn God’s pleasure as well as enormous rewards by seeking guidance from His Book, doing what is Commanded, and refraining from what is forbidden. That is the sure way to achieve peace, security, and prosperity.
9. I came from a family that followed Bralvi sect. I left it and became what people call Wahabi. Next, I left Wahabi sect too. You see I discarded not one but two man-made Mazahab without any regrets. Hence, I had no problem leaving Namaz as soon as I realized it was non-Quranic ritual.
10. When I performed Namaz five times a day, I suffered from the same ills the blind followers of Mullah suffer everywhere today. Since I abandoned Namaz and started living my life according to the teachings of the Quran, I have been free of those ills. Now I enjoy my life to the fullest.
I will answer your other questions later. Please read Br. Arif’s recent postings, especially, the one titled “Hue of Allah” and reflect.
Note: I just received my order of 4 copies of QXP 4th edition. They are indeed beautiful and arrived in excellent condition. Thanks to Brother Dr. Shabbir.