QUESTION: WHAT IS THE HUKM ON HABITUALLY COMING LATE FOR SALAAT? IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE IN THE HUKM FOR AN AALIM OR NON-AALIM?
Habitual late coming for salaat whereby a raka’t or so is missed, is undoubtedly a major sin. Salaat is the central pillar upholding the structure of the deen. Weakening this pillar is a major sin. If someone occasionally and unintentionally comes late for salaat, obviously it is not sinful. But we have seen that many of the people of knowledge have made it a habitual practice to arrive late for salaat. They have adopted a very careless attitude towards this fundamental junction of Islam. Instead of their ilm inspiring taqwa in them, they become more careless and lethargic towards observance of the ahkaam. They react like the kuffaar scientists. Who become more perverse in their kufr the more they discover of the wonders of Allah’s qudrat.
This sin applies to all—to laymen, students and to a greater degree to the ulama who are supposed to know better and not become so careless as to establish a practice of late-coming for salaat. It is incumbent for a mu’min to make preparations for his jamaat salaat well in advance of the time set for the commencement of the salaat.
The asaatizah are mainly to be blamed for this state of affairs and the students’ neglect of salaat. It is their duty to ensure that the students studying under them are regular and punctual for jamaat. Many ustaadhs continue teaching right until the iqaamah is about to start. Then they all rush to the masjid arriving late. This lackadaisical attitude towards salaat is fraught with grave consequences for one’s imaan. Salaat has become an empty, dry ritual which is regarded as a burden by most performers of salaat. The mashaaikh say: “A Mu’min in the musjid is like a fish in the water and a munaafiq in the musjid is like a wild bird in a cage.”
A habitual late-comer to salaat is undoubtedly a faasiq. He is mardudush shahaadat. The shariah does not grant the ulama exemption from regular and punctual attendance. In fact, the law applies to a greater degree to them. They have to set a better example, then the students will follow. A molwi, he is not an aalim because to qualify as an aalim, the Qur’an stipulates the quality of KHashiyat: “Verilyl, among the servants of Allah, only the ulama fear Him.”—–Qur’aan.
january 2, 2005