Answered by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed
Is the position that says one does not have to make up missed prayers correct? Is it permissible to follow this position if one has many make-ups to do?
Correct proofs and the unanimous consensus of those who the imams consider scholars has shown that it is obligatory to make up missed prayers, whether one has missed them for a reason, such as sleep or forgetfulness, or another excuse, such as one who has missed it out of laziness. No one has disagreed with this opinion except for Imam al-Dawud al-Dhahiri whose opinion was followed by Ibn Hazm, may Allah have mercy on him, and Abu `Abd al-Rahman al-Ash`ari al-Shafii agreed with him. And Shaykh al-Islam, the Imam of the Haramayn, al-Juwayni has said, Verily the realized ones do not give any weight to the people of al-Dhahir, and Imam al-Nawawi confirmed it, and that is because of their rejection of clear analogy, especially Ibn Hazm, may Allah have mercy on him.
In any case, whether we say that this position is relied upon against the position of the Dhahiriyya or not, the position of Ibn Hazm that it is not obligatory to make up missed prayers is a deviant and rejected position because he contradicts the authentic evidences about making up missed prayers.
Imam al-Nawawi, may Allah have mercy on him, said in the Majmu`, The scholars who are relied upon have reached unanimous consensus that whoever misses a prayer intentionally must make it up, and Ibn Hazm disagreed with them, saying, He will never be able to make it up, nor is it valid for him to do so, and what he saidwhile disagreeing with scholarly consensus is false from the point of view of evidence.
Our Imams have many proofs for the obligation of making up missed prayers:
1) That which Imam al-Qurtubi has said in his tafsir on His saying, Most High, And establish the prayer for my remembrance. (14:Surah Taha) He said, And a proof for the majority [s. of scholars] is His saying, and establishes the prayer, and he did not differentiate between it being in its time or after it, and this is a command that entails obligation.
2) That which was narrated by Muslim, from the Prophet, may Allahs peace and blessings be upon him, that he said, If one of you has overslept the prayer or has forgotten it, then let him pray it when he remembers for verily Allah, Mighty and Majestic says, Establish the prayer for my remembrance. If the excused person has missed the prayer because of sleep or forgetfulness and it is obligatory on him to make it up, then a person who is not excused has more right to make it up, as is obvious to any intellect. Imam al-Nawawi said, If making up a prayer is obligatory on one who forgot it, then one who intentionally missed it, has more right. And Imam al-Qurtubi said, Also, the matter of making up for one who overslept and the one who forgot [s. the prayer] has been established although they are not sinners, so the one who missed it intentionally has more right [s. to make it up].
And al-Qurtubi has come up with a new subtle proof from this hadith. He said, And also, his saying, Whoever slept through the prayer or forgot it, and forgetfulness is leaving something. Allah, Most High, has said, And they forgot Allah, so he forgot them, and They forgot Allah, so he made them forget themselves, whether that was by indifference or something else, because Allah does not forget anything, so the meaning is that He has left them. And, We do not abrogate a verse nor do we make it forgotten, i.e., we leave it, and likewise, remembering something is always after forgetting something and after other than it. Allah, Most High, said, Whoever remembers me, I mention him to myself. And Allah, Most High, does not forget, such that His remembrance would be after forgetfulness, rather the meaning is I know, and likewise the meaning of his saying, When he remembers it i.e., he knows it.
3) That which was related by Bukhari and Muslim by him, may Allahs peace and blessings be upon him, that he said about whoever wanted to make up a fast or a hajj for a deceased person, A debt with Allah has a better right to be made up. And missed acts of worship are a debt with Allah in the dhimma (obligations) of the servant. In the same way that a servant is required to pay off a debt with the creation, he must also pay off debts with the Creator, Mighty and Majestic, actually, paying off a debt with Allah is more deserving , as has come in a hadith. And the prayer is more deserving [s. to be made up] than other things because it is one of the pillars of Islam and its second integral. Imam al-Qurtubi said, Also, the debts that are owed to people, if they are tied to a specific time, and then that time comes, the persons debt is not dropped after being obliged to pay it, which would make him acquitted of the debt. If one owes debts to Allah, Most High, would it be correct for him to be acquitted of it, or would he not need His permission to do so?”
4) Imam al-Nawawi said, And that which indicates the obligatoriness of making up prayers is the hadith of Abu Hurayra, may Allah be well pleased with him, that the Prophet, may Allahs peace and blessings be upon him, ordered that one who has had sexual intercourse during the day in Ramadan, fast another day as an expiation for it, i.e. in place of the day that he intentionally ruined with sexual intercourse. It was related by al-Bayhaqi with a good chain and Abu Dawud related one like it. And I said, The type of evidence that Imam al-Nawawi, may Allah have mercy on him, is intending is that the Prophet, may Allahs peace and blessings be upon him, ordered one to make up an intentionally missed fast, and the same is said about an intentionally missed prayer, i.e. that one must make it up. This is because a fast and a prayer are obligatory acts of worship that have a particular time, so they take the same ruling. Imam al-Qurtubi said, Also, we have agreed that if someone leaves a fast of Ramadan, intentionally, without an excuse, he must make it up, and so it is for the prayer.
If one says, Why has something come to us about him, may Allahs peace and blessings be upon him, commanding people to make up what they have missed with an excuse, and making up a fast or hajj, as we just saw, and nothing has come to us about him commanding make ups for people who missed them without an excuse?
There are three answers to this question:
1) If a specific reference has not come to us about this, there is no harm, because of the more general reference that has come to us when he said, may Allahs peace and blessings be upon him, A debt with Allah has more right to be paid off. And this includes prayers that were missed without an excuse, as it includes other acts of worship such as the fasts and hajj. Whoever claims that a prayer missed without an excuse is an exception to this rule, then he must provide his evidence, for the default is that this is not an exception. One must act upon a general reference, just as one must for a specific one, as long as the evidence doesnt lie on its being something specific.
2) As has preceded, that which has been related to us about making up what one has missed with an excuse is also a command to make up what one has missed without an excuse and this is from the chapter of what is preferred, and this is obvious to any student of knowledge, let alone scholar. This is a preferred analogy which is considered just as strong as the evidence of a primary text.
3) It has not been recorded that anyone from the first generation of Muslims ever missed any prayers without an excuse. Even the hypocrites used to guard their prayers out of fear of the believers assaulting them. So for this reason, there was never a need to declare the obligation of making up prayers missed without an excuse, and Allah knows best.
[Translated by Sr. Shazia Ahmad]