Moderation in Qunoot Supplication
Supplication is one of the greatest acts of worship as it represents our absolute humility before Allah and our complete need of Him. Supplication is divided into many categories, most notably, specific and general. In the general sense, supplication is to call upon Allah for something which could be for material, emotional or spiritual gain – or all of the above. This can be done at any time and in any place, in ease or hardship, happiness or sadness, and there are no restrictions so long as one does not ask Allah for something impermissible.
As for the specific supplications, there are specific reported du’as of the Prophet which he said at different times in the day, in public and in private, and these are confirmed Sunnas. One of the confirmed traditions is the qunoot supplication, which is most often said upon rising from the second ruk’u during fajr, as this is considered mandatory in some schools of jurisprudence; other acceptable times are after the last ruk’u during ‘asr prayer, or after the witr prayer. Therefore, as this specific du’a concerns supplication whilst in prayer and we do not wish to exceed this great act of worship, it behooves us to consider what the scholars have indicated concerning the violations or errors in the qunoot supplication during prayer:
1 – Looking up to the sky during prayer. Muslim narrated in his Saheeh from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah said: “People should avoid lifting their eyes towards the sky while supplicating in prayer, otherwise their eyes would be snatched away.”
2 – Excessively raising hands during supplication, in an attempt to rush the answer, as hands should only be raised to chest height except for the rain prayer. Anas bin Malik narrated: “The Prophet never raised his hands for any supplication except for that of the rain prayer, and he used to raise them so much that the whiteness of his armpits became visible.” Ibn Rajab said: “He implied (referring to Anas) that the Prophet did not excessively raise his hands except for the rain prayer.”
3 – Rhymed prose. Al-Bukhari narrated in his Saheeh that Ibn Abbas said while advising Ikrama: “Avoid the use of rhymed prose in supplication for I noticed that Allah’s Messenger and his companions always avoided it.” Ibn Taymiyya said: “This indicates that the use of rhymed and embellished prose in the qunoot supplication is not recommended.”
4 – Raising one’s voice in supplication, since most predecessors detested it. Hasan al-Basri said: “Raising the voice during supplication is from hysteria.” And Mujahid threw gravel towards a man who raised his voice in qunoot supplication (to alert him). Ibn al-Musayyib said: “People introduced raising the voice in supplication.” Tabari also said while commenting on the hadith of Abu Musa al-Ash’ari: “O people, humble your voices, for you do not pray to a deaf person or a non-existing being.”: “This demonstrates that raising the voice in supplication is not allowed.” Nahas said: “Scholars unanimously agreed that raising the voice in the qunoot supplication is not allowed.”
5 – Reciting qunoot as if one is reciting verses of the Quran. Ibn Taymiya said: “The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: ‘He who does not recite the Quran in a pleasant tone is not of us’ indicates that making anything sound like Quranic recitations is impermissible.” A person should never recite qunoot supplication in a tone resembling Quran recitation, for the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his companions never did that.
6 – The overuse of unnecessary words. As Abu Dawud narrated: Ibn Sa’ad bin Abi Waqas said: “My father heard me when I was praying say: “Oh Allah, I ask You for heaven, and bliss, and joy, and such-and-such, and I seek refuge from hell, and its chains, and bonds, and such-and-such.” He said: “O my son, I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, say: ‘There will be people who transgress in qunoot supplication, so beware, for if you were given paradise, then you’ll earn whatever there is in it, and if you seek refuge from hell, you’ll seek refuge from all its evil.”
Ibn Taymiya said: “Transgression in prayer is asking what does not befit oneself, such as asking that divinity or prophetic attributes be bestowed upon oneself, or asking for the prophets’ stature, or to have Allah’s dominion bestowed upon oneself so that he can give or deprive anyone he wishes, and to ask for what causes injustice to others. That is why the Prophet, peace be upon him, used to say, in a hadith narrated by Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Ibn Abbas: ‘O Allah, help me but do not help anyone against me, support me and do not support anyone against me, plan for me and do not let anyone plan against me, guide me and make guidance easy for me, and support me against who is unjust to me.’”
7 – Some of the errors in saying “amen”, “praise be to Allah”, etc. in a position in prayer that does not warrant it, such as saying “praise be to Allah” after the imam recites, “O Allah, guide us like whom You guided.” Imam Ahmad was asked whether people should say amen if the imam says: “Oh Allah, we ask You for forgiveness.” He said: “If he says it in a position in prayer that allows it.”
Ibn Taymiya was asked whether the prayer of a man who used melodies in his supplication would be answered? He replied: “This statement is silly, for whoever sincerely prays to Allah will be answered, whether he uses rhymed or melodious supplication; and although according to us it is not preferred, it is still a prayer, and a prayer can be in any language or method for Allah knows everybody’s intent.”
The Prophet, peace be upon him, always used precise and brief words in supplication. However, it may be acceptable if the congregation asks the imam to prolong it, as Ibn Taymiya said: “A man may prolong it if he feels vigorous, or shorten it if he feel tired.” And some predecessors prolonged it to about a hundred verses; yet it is preferable to shorten it since the Prophet, peace be upon him, did that, as Ibn Abd al-Birr said: “Scholars unanimously agreed that facilitating ease in supplication is preferable.”
May Allah accept all of our prayers and worship.