Q: Most imams, particularly those from the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent, make a congregational du'a after the conclusion of an obligatory (fard) prayer, as an integral component of the prayer itself. What is the correct legal verdict on the congregational du`a after a fard prayer?

A: Allama Muhammad Nasirudeen Al-Albani is perhaps the most learned contemporary scholar of hadith. He has extensively researched the aspect of Salaat and has written a famous book called Siffatus Salaat. Let me quote the hadith from him in reply to your question:

"The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w), if he wished to make du'a against anyone, or du'a for anyone, did so in the Qunoot, in the last rakaat after the ruku'. After he said 'Sami Allahuliman Hamidah', and 'Allahumma Rabana lakal Hamd', he used to make the du'a loudly (Al Bukhari and Ahmad). He used to raise his hands (Bukhari and Tabrani), and those behind him used to say amin (Abu Daud, Hakim and Adh-Dhahabi)."

I will now translate from Vol. 3, page 44, of the Handbook of Judgements issued bv the Standing Committee for Research and Religious Judgements, Riyadh, Saudia Arabia.

"All worship is based on that which was established by the Holy Prophet. It is not therefore allowable to say that any mode of worship is legal simply on the basis of its inception, its repetitiveness, its mode of performance, or its place unless we have a proof from the shari'ah that allows it. And we do not know of any sunna for the collective du'a of the imam and the congregation from the Holy Prophet -- not from his speech, nor his action, nor his tacit approval.

The only good lies in following the guidance of the one upon whom the peace and blessings of Allah be. And the guidance of the Prophet in this matter is clearly established regarding what he used to do after the taslim. And his caliphs, his companions after him followed his good example, as did those who followed them from the tabieen (i.e. those who met the companions but did not meet the Prophet). Whomsoever innovates something contrary to the guidance of Allah's Messenger will have his deed rejected, based upon the hadith:

"Whoever does something that is not in concordance with our edict will have that deed rejected."

The imam who therefore makes du'a after the salaam, and the ones that say 'Amin' to his du'a, each of them raising their hands in supplication, must provide a proper proof for this act. If they cannot do this, then their deed is rejected.

Now that this is clear, let us provide some extracts from the guidance of the Holy Prophet. Among other things, if he made the taslim, he used to seek Allah's forgiveness thrice, and then say: "Allahumma antas salaam, wa minkas salaam, tabaarakta, ya' dhal jalaal wal ikraam" (O Allah! You are Peace, and from you come Peace, Thou art indeed blessed, O Possessor of Majesty and Bounty!)

It was asked of Imam Al Awzaa'i: "How is Allah's forgiveness invoked?" He replied: "One says: Astagfirulla! Astagfirulla!" This narration is from Muslim, Tirmidhee, and Nasaa'i, except that Nasaa'i said: "The Messenger of Allah, when he finished praying…, then mentioned the rest of the hadith. And according to the narration of Abu Dawud: If Allah's Messenger wished to finish his prayer, he sought Allah's forgiveness thrice, then said: "Allahumma antas salaam.""And in another narration in Abu Dawud and Nasaa'i, from Aisha, the Messenger of Allah, after making taslim, said: "Allahumma antas salaam, wa minkas salaam, tabaarakta ya dhal jalaali wal Ikraam." Bukhari and Muslim reported from Waraad, the freed scribe of Al Mughira bin-Shuba thus: "It was dictated in a letter from Mughira bin Shuba to Muawiya that the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) used to say after every prayer: Laa ilaha illallah, wahdahu, laa shareeka lah, lahul mulk, wa lahul hamd, wa huwa 'ala kuli shai-in Qadeer. Allahumma Laa Maani' limaa 'A'taaita, wa laa Mu'tii limaa Manaa'ta, wa laa yanfa'o Dhal Jad, minkal jad." (There is no deity (in truth) except Allah, He alone, no partner does He have. For Him is All Sovereignty, For Him is all Praise, and He is Omnipotent over all. O Allah! No one can deny what You have bestowed! And no one can bestow what You have denied! And there is no 'Good Luck', for all good comes from You.

"Muslim reported in his Sahih from Abdullah bin Zubair that Allah's Messenger used to say after making taslim in every salaat: "Laa ilaha illallah, wah dahu laa shareeka lah, lahul mulk wa lahul hamd, wa huwa 'ala kuli shai-in Qadeer, Laa hawla wa laa Quwwata illa billah. Laa ilaha illallah walaa na'bud illa iyyah. Lahun-ni matu, wa lahul fadl, wa lahu-thanaa al hasanu, Laa ilaha illallah, mukhliseena lahudeen, wa law karihal kaafiroon." (There is no deity in truth but Allah, He alone, no partner does He have. For Him is all Sovereignty, For Him is all Praise, and He has Power over all things. There is no strength nor power except through Allah. There is no deity in truth but Allah. We worship none but He. His is the Grace, His the total Superiority. And for Him is all Magnanimous Praise. There is no deity in truth but He. We pledge our sincerity to Him even though the disbelievers dislike this).

"Abdullah bin Zubair also said that the Messenger of Allah used to say these words after every prayer. And in a narration from Muslim, he also said that the Messenger of Allah said: "Whoever says Subhaanallah thirty three times after salaat, and Alhamdulillah thirty three times, and Allahu Akbar thirty three times, which gives a total of ninety nine." Then he said that completing the hundred is with: "La ilaha illallah, wahdahu la shareeka lah. Lahul mulk, wa lahul hamd, wa huwa 'ala kuli shai-in Qadeer." For such a person, Allah forgives his trespasses, even though they may be as voluminous as the waters of the ocean....

After taking all of the above into account, some things become clear: The du'a is part of the prayer, and the people whom the Prophet addressed all spoke Arabic. Now what happens when one does not know Arabic? It is from this that we postulate that the idea of a separate du'a started. The language of prayer is agreed by all, except a very few scholars, to be Arabic. A person who wishes to ask for something then, but does not know Arabic, must necessarily follow the method of praying and then asking afterward. If the matter is one of common interest, and the imam is non-Arabic speaking, he may make a short du'a. A person who has a personal du'a may do so on his own. The problem of bid'ah comes up when people take it as a ritual and a sunnah, as we see in many mosques.

"We trust in Allah (s.w.t) and send peace and blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w), and his progeny and companions."

The Standing Committee for Research and Religion Judgements.

Signed by: Abdullah bin Ghadyaan (Member)

Abdur Razzaq 'Afifi (Vice President)

Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Baaz (President).

Posted September 26, 1998. This question and answer was printed in the June 1994 issue of the Voice of Islam newsletter. (This newsletter is published by the Islamic Society of the Washington Area).