Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher
I am 20 years old, and I have been practicing for about 4 years. I do not know if I am obliged to make up any salat from the day of puberty the day I started practicing. Firstly, I am not sure exactly when I started puberty, it was probably 14/15. Am I obliged to make up those salat that I missed for the couple of years in between? I had not really received guidance or real advice with regards to salat. When I started practicing, it was almost as if I had converted. Please give me a fatwa as to what I should do. I may as well begin making them up soon if I am obliged to do so.
I pray this message finds you well.
May Allah Most High reward you for your resolve.
There is scholarly consensus among the ulama (scholars) of all four schools of Sunni Islam that making up missed prayers is obligatory (Reliance of the Traveller).
Based on when you think you reached puberty, you should estimate the number of prayers you have to make up, create a schedule, and then stick to it. There’s great blessing in doing so.
At the outset, this might seem difficult. However, you are not alone. Many Muslims have the very same challenge: catching up on missed prayers. Some might have a few days or months of missed prayers, and others have years’ worth. One of Shaykh Faraz Rabbani’s teachers, Shaykh Adib Kallas, advises, “If one repents from one’s non-performance [of prayers] or invalid performance, and then has a strong resolve, and a systematic, consistent makeup schedule one sticks to, then even if one dies, Allah will forgive one for any remaining makeups.”
Now is the best time to make up a schedule for missed prayers and implement it. Not only will you feel better about yourself, you will see the tangible results that come from performing an act solely for the sake of Allah. Prayer is light.
On the authority of Mu’adh ibn Jabal, who reported that he said,
“O Messenger of Allah, tell me of a deed which will take me into Paradise and will keep me away from the Hell-fire.” He said: “You have asked me about a great matter, yet it is, indeed, an easy matter for him to whom Allah Almighty makes it easy. (It is) that you worship Allah without associating anything with Him, that you perform the prayers, that you pay the zakat, that you fast during Ramadan, and that you make the pilgrimage to the House.”
Then he said: “Shall I not guide you to the gates of goodness? Fasting is a shield; charity extinguishes sin as water extinguishes fire; and a man’s prayer in the middle of the night.” Then he recited: “Who forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope, and spend of that We have bestowed on them. No soul knoweth what is kept hid for them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do”. [Qu’ran, Surah al-Sajdah (32): Ayah 16-17]
Then he said: “Shall I not also tell you of the peak of the matter, its pillar, and its topmost part?” I said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.” He said: “The peak of the matter is Islam (submission to Allah), the pillar is prayer; and its topmost part is jihad.” Then he said: “And shall I not tell you of the controlling of all that ?” I said:” Yes, O Messenger of Allah”. So he took hold of his tongue and said: “Restrain this.” I said: “O Prophet of Allah, will we be held accountable for what we say?” He said: “May your mother be bereft of you! Is there anything that topples people on their faces (or he said, on their noses) into the Hell-fire other than the jests of their tongues?” (Tirmidhi)
One’s youth is the best time to make up prayers because Allah Most High has blessed you with health and strength. So utilize these gifts in Allah’s way and know that Allah Ta’ala loves those who are consistent and steadfast.
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Jazakum Allahu khayr