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Meaning Of The Prophet’s Words “There Should Be No Uncertainty (ghiraar) And No Greeting In Prayer”

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
Question

I hope that you can explain the
meaning of the hadith “There
should be no uncertainty (ghiraar)
and no greeting in prayer.” May
Allah reward you with good.

Answer

Praise be to Allah
Abu Dawood (928), al-Haakim (927)
and al-Bayhaqi (3411) narrated from
Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet
(blessings and peace of Allah be
upon him) said: “There should be no
uncertainty (ghiraar) and no
greeting in prayer”.
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in
as-Saheehah (318)
Abu Dawood said, after quoting this
report:
Ahmad said: What it means, in my
view, is that there should be no
exchange of greetings, and a man
may be uncertain about his prayer
so he finishes it when he still has
doubts about it (and that should not
be the case).
Imam Ahmad (9622) narrated: ‘Abd
ar-Rahmaan told us, from Sufyaan
who said: I heard my father say: I
asked Abu ‘Amr ash-Shaybaani
about the words of the Prophet
(blessings and peace of Allah be
upon him), “There should be no
ighraar in prayer” and he said:
Rather the wording is: “There should
be no ghiraar in prayer”. What is
meant by ghiraar is: he should not
exit the prayer thinking that there
is something of it still left to be
done, until he is completely certain
that he has done everything
required.
Al-Maawardi (may Allah have mercy
on him) said:
What is meant is: there should be
nothing missing from it, and that
may be achieved if he acts upon
what he is certain of (and completes
his prayer). Then he will have
removed any shortcomings from it.
End quote from al-Haawi (2/488).
Al-Khattaabi (may Allah have mercy
on him) said:
The root meaning of the word
ghiraar has to do with when a she-
camel is lacking in milk. She is
described as mughaar if her milk is
too little. What is meant by the
words “there should be no ghiraar”
is there should be no shortcoming in
the greeting. In other words, when
you are greeted you should return
the greeting in full, with no
shortcoming in it. For example, if
someone says “As-salaamu ‘alaykum
wa rahmat-Allah (peace be upon you
and the mercy of Allah),” you should
say “ ‘Alaykum as-salaam wa
rahmat-Allah”, and it you should not
limit it to saying “as-salaamu
‘alaykum” or “wa ‘alaykum” only.
With regard to ghiraar
(shortcomings) in prayer, it may be
interpreted in two ways: the first of
which is not doing the bowing and
prostration properly, and the second
is being uncertain as to whether one
has prayed three or four rak‘ahs, so
he goes by the greater number and
ignores what is certain, and finishes
the prayer with some doubt.
However the Sunnah, according to
the report of Abu Sa‘eed al-Khudri,
is that one should deal with
uncertainty by proceeding on the
basis of what is certain, and
therefore pray a fourth rak‘ah so
that one may be sure that one has
completed four.
End quote from Ma‘aalim as-Sunan
(1/219-220)
An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy
on him) said:
According to a report narrated by al-
Bayhaqi, it says “There should be no
ghiraar in the prayer (as-salaah)”,
with the definite article. Al-Bayhaqi
said: This is closer to the
interpretation of Ahmad. According
to another report narrated by al-
Bayhaqi: “There should be no
ghiraar (shortcoming) in greeting or
in prayer.” This supports the
interpretation of al-Khattaabi. Al-
Bayhaqi said: The reports quoted
above give permission to greet the
one who is praying and for him to
respond with a gesture, and that is
more appropriate to follow.
End quote from Majmoo‘ Sharh al-
Muhadhdhab (4/104)
Ibn al-Atheer (may Allah have
mercy on him) said:
Ghiraar means shortcoming. Ghiraar
an-nawm means lack of sleep. What
is meant by ghiraar as-salaah is
shortcoming in the way it is done
and shortcoming in its essential
parts. Ghiraar at-tasleem
(shortcoming in greeting) means
that the one who is responding to a
greeting says “wa ‘alayka (and also
upon you)” without saying “as-
salaam”. And it was said that what
is meant by ghiraar is sleep, i.e.,
there should be no sleeping in
prayer. The word tasleem (greeting)
has been narrated in the nominative
and in the genitive (in various
reports). Where it is mentioned in
the genitive, it is paired with the
word prayer (so the meaning is that
there should be no shortcoming in
prayer or in greeting), as mentioned
above. Where it is mentioned in the
nominative, then it is paired with
the word ghiraar, so the meaning is
that there should be no
shortcoming or greeting in prayer,
because saying words in prayer that
are not part of the prayer is not
permissible.
End quote from an-Nihaayah
(3/661)
From the words of the scholars
quoted above, we may conclude
that the words of the Prophet
(blessings and peace of Allah be
upon him), “There should be no
ghiraar in prayer” mean: the
worshipper should not exit the
prayer when he is uncertain about
it; rather he should exit the prayer
when he is certain he has done it
completely and properly. If he is
uncertain as to whether he has
fallen short, he should continue on
the basis of the lesser number (of
rak‘ahs) until he is certain that
there is no shortcoming in his
prayer. Muslim (571) narrated that
Abu Sa‘eed al-Khudri said: The
Messenger of Allah (blessings and
peace of Allah be upon him) said: “If
one of you is unsure when praying
and does not know how many
(rak‘ahs) he has prayed, whether it
is three or four, let him ignore what
is uncertain and proceed on the
basis of what is certain, then let
him prostrate twice before saying
the tasleem. Then if he has prayed
five (rak‘ahs), that will make his
prayer even, and if he has prayed it
properly with four, it will annoy the
Shaytaan.”
Part of shortcoming in prayer is not
bowing and prostrating properly,
and not doing the prayer at a
comfortable pace, because these are
shortcomings in the prayer. The
worshipper should be at ease and do
the prayer at a comfortable pace,
bowing and prostrating properly.
To sum up: he should do his prayer
in the proper manner, without any
kind of shortcoming.
With regard to the words “and no
greeting (tasleem)”, this has been
narrated in the nominative and in
the genitive (in various reports).
Where it is mentioned in the
genitive, it is paired with the word
prayer (so the meaning is that there
should be no shortcoming in prayer
or in greeting), so there should be
no shortcoming in the greeting;
rather one should give the greeting
its due in full and if his Muslim
brother greets him with salaam, he
should respond with a better
greeting or one that is similar.
Where it is mentioned in the
nominative, then it is paired with
the word ghiraar, so the meaning is
that there should be no
shortcoming or greeting in prayer.
Therefore the one who is praying
should not greet anyone or be
greeted, lest that distract him from
his prayer. If anyone does greet him
with salaam, he should respond
with a gesture. Perhaps the first
interpretation is more appropriate.
See also the answer to question no.
And Allah knows best.

islamqa.info/en/answers/193257/meaning-of-the-prophets-words-there-should-be-no-uncertainty-ghiraar-and-no-greeting-in-prayer

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