Refraining from Qunūt

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, Most Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, by whose grace good deeds are completed, and may peace and blessings be upon our leader and our Prophet, Muhammad, and upon his family and his companions.

The (congregational) Qunūt of calamities is not legislated except with the permission of the ruler and the fatwa of the people of knowledge who determine whether a particular calamity is deserving of Qunūt or not.

The reasons for prohibiting it are:

1. the absence of permission from the ruler;

2. the absence of a fatwa from the people of knowledge in the matter;

3. the Qunūt could be for people possessing ideological deviations, such as supplicating to other than Allah and the like.

Who prohibits it?

As previously mentioned, they are the rulers and the scholars due to the reasons already given. Ahlus-Sunna wal-Jamā‘a agree that when a calamity befalls requiring Qunūt that the issue is left to the ruler and the people of knowledge who decide whether or not it is needed.

The Fatwa of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Sālih ibn Uthaymīn

Question: Is it permissible to make Qunūt for our Yugoslav brothers in this time?

Shaykh Ibn Uthaymīn aswered:
My opinion is that Qunūt in the times of calamity is left up to the ruler as is the well-known opinion in the madhhab of Imam Ahmad. They (the jurists of the madhhab of Imam Ahmad) said: “only the imam makes Qunūt, the imam only, the greatest imam,” which means, (in our case,) the King. Therefore, if he commands us to make Qunūt we make Qunūt. What is most befitting in these situations is to wait for the order from the government to do that. If the ruler orders, we make Qunūt, and if not we do not, and the umma remaining upon consensus is better than division; for example, if I make Qunūt and the neighboring mosque does not, or if we, the people in one country make Qunūt and others do not, this creates separation within the umma, and unifying those who differ is indeed a great thing.

Perhaps some of you know about the affair of Uthmān. In the end of his Khilāfa, he began praying the full salāh at Mina, meaning that he would pray four full units for the four-unit prayer [1], so some of the Companions rebuked him for this. When Ibn Mas‘ūd heard of Uthman’s action he said: ‘Inna lillahi wa innā ilayhi rāji‘ūn’ (indeed to Allah we belong and indeed to Him is our return), considering this action a catastrophe. And they used to pray four full raka‘āt behind him. It was said to Ibn Mas‘ūd: “O Abu Abdur-Rahmān, how can you pray four full raka’at behind him when you disagree with him doing this?” He said, “Differing is evil.” So the umma being upon one single state is better, because the chests of the students of knowledge expand to accept differences whereas the laymen’s do not. My advice to our brothers is not to hasten in a matter they used to be patient about.

The door for du‘ā is (however) open. So a person can make du‘ā for them (i.e. the oppressed among the Yugoslavs) while in sujūd [2], after the last tashāhhud [3], in Qiyāmul-Layl [4], between the athān and the iqāma [5], meaning that he should not restrict himself to making du‘ā in Qunūt only. It is true that Qunūt is a general manifestation and that it makes the entire umma prepare for making du‘ā and devoting itself to the issue, but I do not see it as a good thing that we leave individuals with their desires to separate the umma.

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Uthaymīn further said:

My opinion in this issue is that it should be limited to the command of the ruler. So if he commands us to make Qunūt, we do so, and if he remains silent, we remain silent. And we have other places during the salāh to make du‘ā, and all praise be to Allah; namely, sujūd and tashāhhud, and there is good and blessing in this, because the closest that a servant comes to his Lord is when prostrating. And if an individual were to make Qunūt by himself, we would not refute him because he would not have differed with the Jamā‘a.

The Fatwa of Shaykh Sālih ibn Fawzān al-Fawzān

Question: The Prophet (pbuh) used to supplicate with Du‘ā al-Qunūt after each salāh whenever a catastrophe would befall the Muslims, and this was in congregational prayer in the mosque. What are the prerequisites for making Qunūt after the obligatory prayers in congregation?

Shaykh al-Fawzān answered:
Du‘ā is legislated and making du‘ā for the Muslims and for the oppressed is not prohibited. This is always legislated and no one can be prevented from making du‘ā for the Muslims and for the oppressed, or from making du‘ā against oppressors, whether in salāh or outside of salāh, whether in ruk‘ū [6], sujūd, or the final tashāhhud before the salām.
Also, the opportunity for making du‘ā after salāh is open. As for making Qunūt during an obligatory prayer, however, this must be returned to the people of knowledge and the people authorized to give fatāwa because it is they who evaluate the disasters which befall the Muslims and determine whether or not Qunūt should be made because of them. Salāh, as you know, is an act of worship and it is not permissible to add anything to it or make anything enter into it except by following the path of those firmly grounded in knowledge, those who evaluate the events and calamities which necessitate Qunūt during the obligatory prayers. This is not something which is open for just anybody to play around with the salāh and make additions to it as they might make du‘ā in circumstances that do not call for it or they might make du‘ā for people who do not deserve it because of the great deviations they are upon. So the ones who determine this are the people of knowledge and they are the point of reference in the matter.

The Fatwa of Shaykh Sālih ibn Abdul-Azīz Āl ash-Shaykh

Question: There was a decision passed by a Ministry preventing Qunūt in salāh in spite of the fact that it is confirmed in times of trial and tribulation. What is your view on that?

The shaykh answered:

You might have heard my opinion about Qunūt several times published in newspapers with substantial evidence from the Religion (of Islam) but those who differ with this opinion have not brought forth any clear evidence from the Sunna regarding the issue. When the Prophet (pbuh) made Qunūt, he was the only one to do so and the other mosques in Medina did not make Qunūt. This is the first matter.

Secondly, the one who (is entitled to) make Qunūt is the imam or his representative, followed by the people of knowledge. And the evidence for this is clear and it is not permissible without the permission of the ruler. There are three issues concerning worship which are well-known to the people of knowledge. The issue is not concerning Qunūt alone, but the Qunūt of calamities.

The first of these issues is that there is no istisqā – a prayer to request for rain – except by the order of the imam or his representative. It is clear that the sahāba did not make istisqā during his lifetime (pbuh) or after his lifetime except at the request of the ruler – in spite of the fact that it is simply a request for rain, which is something the laymen participate in. But if a command is general, it is not restricted to certain individuals. Hence, it is up to the ruler, and the evidence, as well as the actions of the Salaf and the imams, is clear in this matter.

The second issue is that of jumu‘a [7]. If there are a group of people, are they allowed to pray jumu‘a in any mosque without permission? Of course not.

The third issue is that of the Qunūt itself. They are not allowed to make the Qunūt of calamities except with the permission of the ruler and the evidence for this is clear. In fact, in the evidence – and return to the Sunna and take a look for yourselves – you do not find in the lifetime of the Prophet (pbuh) nor in the life of the Khalīfas that other than the greatest mosque in the country made Qunūt.
1 Even though, whilst on a journey, the Sunna is to shorten the four-unit prayer to two units.

2 The act of prostration, particularly during ritual prayer.

3 The act of kneeling, particularly during ritual prayer.

4 Lit. Standing of the Night; voluntary prayers performed between late evening and sunrise.

5 The call to stand and commence the congregational prayer in Islam.

6 The act of bowing, particularly during ritual prayer.

7 Friday, the congregational sermon and prayer.