“A RARE SUNNAH…”
The Text of the Ḥadīth
Abū Sa῾īd al-Khudrī (may Allāḥ be pleased with him) stated:
“The Messenger of Allāh (ṢallAllāhu ῾alayhi wa sallam) did not used to pray anything before the ῾Īd, when he would return to his home he would pray two units”.
Narrated by Ibn Mājah (no. 1293).
Grading of the Ḥadīth
The ḥadīth according to a number of leading muḥaddithūn is considered to be ḥasan (fair). Al-Ḥāfidh b. Ḥajar for instance, explicitly stated in Bulūgh al-Marām that the isnād (chain) is ḥasan. Al-Ḥākim went one step further and graded the isnād of the ḥadīth as ṣaḥīḥ (sound), something to which al-Dhahabī agreed. However, al-Albānī responds that it is only ḥasan because a narrator by the name of Ibn ῾Aqīl has been spoken about due to his memorisation. This is why, al-Ḥāfidh, as mentioned above, and al-Būṣayrī in al-Zawā’id (mss 2/80) both stated that the isnād is ḥasan.
Fiqh of the Ḥadīth
The ḥadīth indicates that there is no established prayer before the ῾Id prayer, although upon returning home one can pray two units of prayer if one wishes to do so as the Prophet did so. After narrating his version of the ḥādīth al-Ḥākim states that ‘this is a rare Sunnah…’ accordingly it would be in our best interest to revive it as a service to the Sunnah.
Al-῾Allāmah Muḥammad b. Ṣāliḥ al-῾Uthaymīn states in his lecture series in explanation of the above mentioned ḥadīth that if the ḥadīth is authentic, what is apparent from it is that the two units of prayer the Prophet prayed are either connected to the ῾Īd prayer or it was for al-Ḍuḥā. It appears to me that the two units of prayer were not for Ṣalāt al-Ḍuḥā because the least number of units that the Prophet is reported to have prayed himself is four units whilst the most he prayed was twelve units although he allowed two units to be performed. Evidence that he recommended others to perform at least two units of the prayer includes for instance what Abū Hurayrah reported:
“My intimate friend advised me with three: …two units of al-Ḍuḥā”
Evidence that appears to show the least he prayed was four is found in the report of Umm al-Mu’minīn, ῾Ā’ishah who stated:
“The Messenger of Allāh used to pray four units of al-Ḍuḥā and increase whatever Allāh willed”
On the day of the Conquest of Makkah he entered the home of Umm Hānī’ and prayed eight units of al-Ḍuḥā, considering the enormity of the day and the fact that he still prayed eight units it seems highly unlikely the Prophet would have prayed as little as two units of Ṣalāt al-Ḍuḥā on the day of ῾Īd. This is further substantiated by the fact that the Prophet would always exert himself in acts of worship and perform more than the lowest degree of a righteous act.
Based on the above it appears the two units of prayer are not connected to al-Ḍuḥā but have a connection with the ῾Īd.
Reconciliation of Conflicting Reports
One may raise the doubt: does this ḥadīth not contradict the ḥadīth of Ibn ῾Abbās reported in al-Bukhārī and others in which he stated that the Prophet did not pray anything before the ῾Īd ṣalāh nor after it?
Imām al-Albānī states that the reconciliation between this particular ḥadīth and the ḥadīth mentioned by Ibn ῾Abbās which negates praying anything after the ῾Īd lies in the fact that the intent of the negation is in regards to prayer in the muṣallā (field of prayer) as indicated by al-Ḥāfidh in al-Talkhīṣ (p. 144). This particular form of reconciliation has also been mentioned by al-Ṣan῾ānī in Subul al-Salām, and al-Albānī’s student, Samīr b. Amīr al-Zuhayrī in his editing of Bulūgh al-Marām. Al-Zuhayrī states:
“One should not think that there is a contradiction between this ḥadīth and the previous ḥadīth of Ibn ῾Abbās (no. 489) since the ḥadīth of Ibn ῾Abbās is specific to praying at the muṣallā and others have also stated this as reconciliation”
This is also what is apparent from al-Bassām who states in his explanation of Bulūgh al-Marām that there is no harm in praying in one’s house upon returning to it from the muṣallā.
In conclusion the ḥadīth mentioned in Ibn Mājah is authentic and has been graded at the level of ḥasan by the likes of al-Ḥāfidh. Al-Būṣayrī and more recently; al-Albānī among others. Al-Ḥākim’s claim that it reaches the level of ṣaḥīḥ to which al-Dhahabī agreed is untenable due to the question mark over the memorisation of Ibn ῾Aqīl. Since the ḥadīth is authentic and carries probative force the fiqh deduced from it indicates to us there is no established prayer before the ῾Id prayer. However, upon returning home one may pray two units as the Prophet did. There is some ambiguity over the precise nature of the prayer raised by ibn al-῾Uthaymīn – whether it is connected to the ῾Īd prayer or al-Ḍuḥā. I have argued that it appears unlikely that the two units were for al-Ḍuḥā due to the existence of reports which appear to indicate that although he advised his Companions and the Ummah to pray at least two units of al-Ḍuḥā; he himself is not reported to have prayed less than four as per ῾Ā’ishah’s report in Muslim.
Whatever the case may be it is necessary to implement this Sunnah at least once in our lifetime and spread the knowledge of it, especially if we consider ourselves Ahl al-Ḥadīth wa al-Āthār. For indeed, al-Ḥākim was correct when he stated at the end of the ḥadīth; ‘…it is a rare Sunnah’.
I ask Allāh to make this article an attempt to spread this particular Sunnah.
Whatever mistakes are found within this brief piece of research is from my imperfect self and the accursed shayṭān and whatever is correct is from Allāh the Most Mighty and Exalted.
Written by the slave of Allāh: Abū Ḥayyān Ṣalāl Aḥmed Ḥaque al-Salafī
On the Day of ῾Arafah, 1431 corresponding to Monday, 15th November 2010.
 The standard supplications for the eminent names mentioned within this article should be automatically assumed even though I may not have included them within the text.
 Al-῾Asqalānī, Aḥmad b. Ḥajar (1424/2003) Bulūgh al-Marām min Adillat al-Aḥkām, ed. Samīr b. Amīn al-Zuhayri, 7th edition. Al-Riyāḍ: Dār al-Falaq, p. 142, ḥadīth no. 491
 Al-Naysābūrī, Abū ῾Abd Allāh al-Ḥākim (1997) Al-Mustadrak ῾alā al-Ṣaḥīḥayn, ed. Muqbil b. Hādī. Cairo: Dār al-Ḥaramayn, vol. 1, p. 328, no. 1103
 Al-Albānī, Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn (1405/1985) Irwā’ al-Ghalīl fī Takhrīj Aḥādīth Manār al-Sabīl, 2nd edition. Beirut/Damascus: al-Maktab al-Islāmī, vol. 3, p. 100
 Al-Ṣan῾ānī, Muḥammad b. Ismā῾īl al-Amīr (1425) Subul al-Salām al-Muṣilah Ilā Bulūgh al-Marām, ed. Muḥammad Ṣubḥī Ḥasan Ḥallāq, 5th edition. Al-Dammām: Dār Ibn al-Jawzī, vol. 2, part. 3, p. 187
 Supra, no. 2
 Ibn al-῾Uthaymīn, Muḥammad b. Ṣāliḥ, Sharḥ Bulūgh al-Marām, Kitāb al-Ṣalāh, Lecture 25a, 00:24:00. Available at: http://www.ibnothaimeen.com/publish/cat_index_126.shtml Last accessed: 15.11.10 NOTE: It appears the discussion has been truncated; this might explain why the Shaykh only spends less than a minute explaining the ḥadīth.
 Al-Bukhārī no. 1981 and Muslim no. 721
 Muslim no. 719
 Al-Bukhārī no. 1176 and Muslim no. 336
 Al-Bukhārī no. 964, Muslim no. 884, Abū Dāwud no. 1159, al-Nasā’ī no. 1587, al-Tirmidhī no. 537, Ibn Mājah no. 1291 and Aḥmad no. 3153
 Supra, no. 3
 Supra, no. 6
 Supra, no. 1
 Al- Bassām, ῾Abd Allāh b. ῾Abd al-Raḥmān (1423/2003) Tawḍīḥ al-Aḥkām min Bulūgh al-Marām, 5th edition. Makkah: Maktabah al-Asadī, vol. 3, p. 40