Prayer Definitions

Published on September 25, 2015 by admin


Ahkam (as the plural of Hukm) is a reference to the Islamic commandments, derived and understood from religious jurisprudence resources. It is a  law, value, ordinance or ruling of Shari’ah (Islamic law). In order to arrive at any new legal doctrine, or hukm, one must employ a systematic methodology by which to extract meaning from the sources. Traditionally, this methodology has been categorized under the rules of ijtihad which means independent reasoning, authentic scholarly endeavor.


The acts of a Muslim must be done according to Islamic commandments, which were categorized in five groups, forming a pentad or al-ʾaḥkām al-khamsa . Actions are evaluated and placed in one of these five categories and permitted or prohibited as appropriate to culture and the dictates of Islamic jurisprudence. According to Islamic terminology the pentad consists of:

  1. واجب / فرض (farḍ/wājib) – Compulsory, obligatory
  2. مستحب (mustaḥabb)/Sunnah) – recommended, also known as fadilah, mandub
  3. مباح (mubāḥ) – neither obligatory, recommended, disliked, nor sinful (neutral)
  4. مكروه (makrūh) – disliked (abstaining is recommended)
  5. حرام (ḥarām) – sinful (abstaining is obligatory)


The first term Fardh or farīḍah means a religious duty commanded by Allah (God). Muslims who obey such commands or duties are said to receive hasanat, ajr or thawab meaning reward, each time for each good deed.

Fardh or its synonym wājib is one of the five types of Ahkam into which Fiqh, the Islamic jurisprudence,  categorizes acts of every Muslim. The Hanafi Fiqh ,however ,makes a distinction between Wajib and Fard, the latter being obligatory and the former merely necessary.


The Islamic jurisprudence distinguishes two sorts of duties:

  • The first one is the Individual duty or fardh al-‘ayn and relates to tasks every Muslim, is required to perform, such as daily prayer (salat), or the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime (hajj).
  • The second one is the Sufficiency duty or fardh al-kifāya. It is a duty which is imposed on the whole community of believers (ummah). The classic example for it is janaza, the Islamic funeral prayer. The individual is not required to perform it as long as a sufficient number of community members fulfill it. 


The second term is Mustahabb. It is referring to recommended, favored or virtuous actions.

Mustahabb actions are those whose status of approval in Islamic law falls between mubah (neither encouraged or discouraged) and wajib (compulsory). One definition of mustahab is “duties recommended, but not essential; fulfilment of which is rewarded, though they may be neglected without punishment”. Synonyms of mustahabb can be masnun or mandub. The opposite of mustahabb is makruh (discouraged).

There are thousands of mustahabb acts including:

  • Khitan (male circumcision)
  • Saying As-Salamu Alaykum as a greeting
  • Sadaqah (charity outside of zakat)
  • Umrah, the minor pilgrimage


The third term is ‘Mubah’. This term indicates an action as neither forbidden nor recommended, and so religiously neutral. This is one of the degrees of approval in Islamic jurisprudence.


The fourth term is Makruh. In Islamic terminology, something which is makruh is a disliked or offensive act (literally “detestable” or “abominable”).  Though it is not haram (forbidden) or subject to punishment, a person who abstains from this act will be rewarded. Muslims are encouraged to avoid such actions when or as possible.


Examples of Makruh are the use of a great amount of water for the prayer ablutions (ritual washings) known as the wudu and ghusl, the consumption of garlic before attending the mosque or socializing with others, or divorce.

There are two types of Makruh:


Makruh’u-tTanzihi refers to an act that is detested in Shariah, without the promise of punishment for the one who carries it out. It is closer to the lawful (mubah) than the unlawful (haram).

Examples of it might be :

1) Wasting water while performing ablution

2) The consumption of horse meat;

3) Not taking a bath on Fridays and so on

The one who abstains from it will be rewarded, and the one who practices it will not be punished. However, to make a habit of it is considered offensive.


Makruh Tahrimi, on the other hand,  is a command for abstinence that has been established by speculative proof (dalil dhanni). It is closer to the unlawful (haram) and can also be defined as being in diametrical opposition to a Wajib.

Examples of it might be

1) Delaying Asr prayer until the sun changes it’s colour;

2) To rush in offering the various postures of Salat, such as the two prostrations (sajda) and sitting in between them;

3) Fasting on the day of Eid al-Fitr;

4) The Using of gold or silver utensils for men and women


The final term is Haraam and it means sinful and forbidden.  In Islamic jurisprudence, haram is used to refer to any act that is forbidden by Allah, and is one of the five Islamic commandments that define the morality of human actions. Acts that are haram are typically prohibited in the religious texts of the Quran and the Sunnah. The category of haram is the highest status of prohibition. If something is considered haram, it remains prohibited no matter how good the intention is or how honorable the purpose is. Views of different schools of jurisprudence can vary significantly regarding what is or is not haram.


Additional three terms that are used in Islamic jurisprudence are Batil, Sahih and fasid. Batıl is an Arabic word meaning falsehood, and can be used to describe a nullified or invalid act or contract according to the sharia.

In contract law, the opposite of batil is sahih. Also Batil can be distinguished from fasid, which is defective, in that a fasid contract might go through completion, whereas a batil contract would not.

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