All praise is for Allah, the creator, Nourisher – only one worthy of worship, the divine. Salutations, peace and blessing be upon our Master, the beloved of God, Abi al-Qasim Muhammad Ibn Abdillah, his family, companions and all those who follow in their footsteps until the last day.
Salat in Arabic linguistically means prayer. The definition of salah in accordance with the science of jurisprudence (fiqh) is a set of specific actions that begin with the proclamation (takbir) and end with salam. (Imam Maydani, Al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab) Tasbih can take the meaning of glorifying, thus it is befitting for this prayer to be known as such Salat al-Tasbih due to the appointed invocation (tasbih) being recited three hundred times during this four-unit prayer.
There are a number of narrations that are taken in support and praise of performing this prayer – notably the narration which has been recorded by Imam Abu Dawud, Imam Ibn Majah, Imam Bayhaqi and Imam Tirmidhi.
Narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas (Allah is pleased with him and his father) that the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) said to Master Abbas ibn Abd al-Mutallib, “O’ Abbas! O’ My Uncle! Should I not give you something? Should I not inform you of something? If you do these ten things; Allah will forgive your sins. The first of them, last of them, old, and new, those which have been done intentionally and unintentionally, major and minor and those which were done in secret as well as those which were done openly…”
Thereafter, the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) instructed his uncle of the method of performing this prayer making reference to ‘ten things’ to the invocations (tasbihat) which are to be recited.
It should be noted, in the beginning of the narration the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) addressed his uncle with great emphasis to show the importance of this prayer and to indicate to him that he should listen with absolute attention.
In regards to the major sins, one must take note that for the major sins to be forgiven to seek forgiveness (tawbah) is necessary and if the rights of people have been abused then it is incumbent upon the sinner to ask for the oppressed forgiveness. The meaning of major sins here indicates that even within minor sins there are degrees of severity between sins. Another meaning that can be taken is that Allah will give the means to the one who performs this prayer to attain repentance from his major sins. (Mufti Ahmad Yaar Na’imi, Mirat al-Manajih Sharh Mishkat al-Masabih)
Towards the end of this narrations, the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said, ‘If you have the ability then perform this every day, if you cannot then every Friday, if you cannot then once a month, if you cannot then once a year and if you can not abide by this then once in a lifetime’
Imam Haskafi writes: ‘And the four (units) of ‘Salat al-Tasbih’ within (which is read) three hundred invocations, it’s virtues are great’ (Imam Haskafi, Al-Dur Al-Mukhtar)
Practical Method of performing the Invocation Prayer
- Start your salaah as per normal with takbir al-tahrimah, thana and recite the invocation fifteen times.
- Continue and recite Surah al-Fatihah, another Surah and the invocation ten times.
- Then perform ruku (inc. normal invocations) and recite the invocation ten times.
- Then stand in qiyam and recite the invocation ten times.
- Then go into sajdah and recite the invocation ten times.
- Then sit in jalsah between the two sujood and recite the invocation ten times.
- Then prostrate again and recite the invocation ten times.
- Continue to repeat this process in the manner of a four unit prayer.
In each of the above position, recite the normal invocations (tasbih) then the below invocations. This comes to a total of seventy five invocations per rakah which over four units becomes 300 times.
What is the Invocation (tasbih)?
This is how it has been narrated in Jamiʿ al-Tirmidhi by Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak, student of Imam Abu Hanifah, and this narration is in line with our school as reported by Imam ibn Abidin.
Which surahs are to be read?
This same question was posed to Master ibn Abbas and he replied suggesting we recite Surah al-Takathur, al-Asr, Kafirun and Ikhlas.
Some have said it is more virtuous to read Surah al-Hadid (57), al-Hashr (59), al-Saff (61) and al-Tagabun (64) due to their association with the name of the surah.
When to perform?
It is better to perform this prayer before zuhr, some scholars have said it is better to perform on Friday. (Mufti Amjad Ali Azami, Bahaar-e-Shari’at)
Imam ibn Abidin wrote, “This can be performed at any time within which it is not disliked to perform prayer; it can be done every day and every night, weekly, monthly or in the lifetime of a person as per the narration of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him).”
It consists of four units with either one or two salams i.e. this prayer can be performed as either two separate prayers of two units or one prayer of four units. Within which the invocation will be read three hundred times.
This is taken from Hashiyah Ibn Abidin Radd al-Muhtar ala Durr al-Mukhtar, Volume 2, page 471, Book of Prayer, Chapter of witr and voluntary prayers.
Opinions in regards to the authenticity of this narration
- Imam ibn Khuzaymah and Imam Hakim have classed this narration to be authentic (sahih)
- Whilst Imam ibn Hajr al-Asqalani classed this narration to be sound (hasan).
- Imam Darqutni concurred with Imam ibn Khuzaymah and Imam Hakim by classifying the narration to be authentic in mention of the virtues of surahs.
- Master Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak said, this is a good action and this prayer should be performed.
- Imam ibn Jawzi has classed this to be weak (da’if) and also lists it within his Mawdu’at.
- Imam Ibn Abidin has stated, “The narrations prove this to be sound (hasan) via the majority of its routes.”
For a more in-depth discussion in regards to the transmission of the narration refer to Shaykh Abdul Haq Muhaddith Dehalwi’s Lamat al-Tanqih – he ends with saying that this narration is either sahih or hasan. For us, either grade is sufficient for us to act on the virtues mentioned. May we find the serendipity to act on what is good and reap the utmost benefit from the remaining fleeting moments of Ramadan. Allah Almighty knows best.