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Lessening and Shortening the Contact Prayers in Civilized Spaces

Praise be to God. There is no other god except God. In this sermon, let me talk about limiting the Contact Prayer, or shortening prayers, or doing them in a lesser form than they are usually done, and other fine details of Contact Prayers under different circumstances. And when I say “Limiting Contact Prayers”, I mean going through the words mentally, but without the physical movements, and without hearing the words. That’s Limited Contact Prayer. When I say, “Shortening the Contact Prayer”, I mean reducing the number of rakats down to only 2 rakats. However, before I start, let me first address one important issue. The way I and other submitters believe how a Contact Prayer should be done is how Abraham did it, how Muhammad did, and fortunately we have video which shows how Rashad Khalifa did it. There is a full video which was titled “Principles of Muslim Prayer” by Rashad Khalifa, where he explains how the Contact Prayers should be done, and everything I say in here should not go, and will not go against what Rashad Khalifa preached in that video, and in all the parts where this video deals with the same issues as that video, the same conclusion is reached, and it falls within what Rashad said. However, a lot of this video deals with issues which were not the topic of that video, and it should not surprise you that you might hear something new, because I simply deal with some fine details which Rashad Khalifa did not address at all in his video. So, first of all, let me show you in Rashad Khalifa’s video where he admits that his video does not cover all the possible fine details regarding Contact Prayers. In exactly minutes 6 of that video, here is what he says: “I will explain also some of the fine details of for example what happens when you miss part of the Contact Prayer in a group. You are going to the mosque, and you see a group of people praying, you come in late, what to do? And some other fine details.”

So, as you can see Rashad Khalifa himself admitted that his video only covers some of the fine details, but not all the details of the Contact Prayers. He also says, “So I hope this will cover everything you need to know about the Contact Prayer.” Well, I am here to fulfill his hope, and cover the fine details which he did not mention. And the title of his video itself admits that his video deals with the Principles (the Essence) of the Muslim Prayer, not the fine details. I will deal with the fine details, God willing, in my sermons, and so let me address some of those fine details in this sermon. And before I continue, let me again remind you that even these fine details are in agreement with Rashad’s video, even though he did not mention them, and this is because in his video he says that the source of his video is the Arabic Quran, and not the English Quran. He used the Arabic Quran as the only source to reach conclusions, and the English Quran was just for us for easy daily reading, but not for research and analysis. So, let me tell you where he shows the Arabic Quran as the only source where he can find the fine details of the Contact Prayers. Here it is in that same video:

“And, of course, my sources are always the Quran. There is only one source, and it is this book right here, the Quran, God’s message to you, to me, and to the whole world. This is God’s final message to the world, and this is our source, the only source.”

While saying this, Rashad Khalifa was showing the Arabic Quran, not the English Quran, as the only source from which he reached the conclusions about the Contact Prayer, and when I reach some conclusions in this sermon, they are all in the agreement with his video, because in that video he told us how to do it, which is to research the Arabic Quran. So, if we truly follow that video, we should follow the Arabic Quran, where we can find some additional details about the Contact Prayers. Ok, so now let us use the Arabic Quran to talk about how to shorten or lessen the Contact Prayers in different circumstances of our modern world.

Before we reach the conclusion, first let’s present the two main verses which will be explained. Let’s first present them word for word from the Arabic Quran:

Verse 4:101 says: “When you hit the earth, set out (you are outside of your homes), it’s not a sin to shorten the Contact Prayer, if you FEAR that the disbelievers may harm or attack you. Indeed, the disbelievers are your distinct enemy.”

Now, verse 2:239 says: “If you FEAR, then (pray) on foot (standing or walking), or sitting (in a saddle, restaurant chair, office chair, or car/bus chair). Then when you are in a trusting (safe place), then remember God, as he taught you what you did not know.”

Now, as you can see, both these verses talk about situations when you FEAR, either FEAR in general, or FEAR from disbelievers. Now, before we explain where these two verses apply, in our normal modern daily circumstances, let’s first explain where they definitely do not apply. In other words, in which places, in normal modern daily circumstances, it is not reasonable to be in fear. Of course, in very extreme circumstances, every place can be dangerous very rarely, but I am talking normal daily modern circumstances, which is almost always for us. So, the question is, “In our modern normal daily circumstances in a democratic country, in which places it is not reasonable to be afraid of other people or the surroundings while you are doing the Contact Prayer?” Well, one such places is your home. Verse 33:13 says that some people claimed that their homes are vulnerable, when they were not vulnerable. So, even during war, the homes were considered reasonably safe, which means that during peace time, they are even safer. So, according, to verse 33:13, our own homes are considered a safe place, and this is also implied in verses 10:87, 15:82, and 27:18. Now, of course, if your house is not safe, you should not sleep there at all. I mean, if you don’t feel safe in a surrounding, you would not be able to fall asleep there. True fear doesn’t let you sleep. And this realization actually can help us answer the question of whether it is reasonably safe to do the Contact Prayer in a certain place, because at both times when you are asleep or you are doing the Contact Prayer, you become unaware of your surroundings, you become unaware of what’s going on behind you or around you, so the same principle should apply to the Contact Prayers and sleeping, regarding safety. So, if you want to know whether you are required to do the Contact Prayer in a certain place, all you have to do is ask yourself. If I felt sleepy, right here in this place, right now, would I lie down and sleep right here, right now? If the answer is no, then, it is also a “no” for the Contact Prayers. If you would not be willing to take a nap in that place, right there and then, it is also not a safe place to do the contact prayer, right there and then. For, example, would you sleep on the sidewalk of a road? You probably wouldn’t. Therefore, you should also consider yourself rightfully excused not to do the Contact Prayer there fully.

Now, verse 24:61 in Arabic also tells us that we may feel comfortable in houses of family members, close relatives, and submitter friends. And first, you have to feel safe, and then you can feel comfortable, so it is also safe to do the Contact Prayers in the homes of family members, close relatives, and submitter friends.

The third case where fearing others or the surroundings does not apply is the permissible masjids. In Alban’s video, titled “Places of Worship”, you can see in point 3 that the believers should enter the masjids while not fearing others beside God. This means that the permissible masjid should also be considered a safe space to do the Contact Prayers.

So, according to the Quran, our homes, the homes of our families, close relatives, and submitter friends, and the permissible masjids, are all considered safe spaces for the Contact Prayer, and we should do the Contact Prayers in them fully, with the actual physical bowings and prostrations and so on. But here is an exception to this – the Noon Prayer on Friday at the masjid, where we have to shorten the prayer to 2 rakats, but there is another reason for that. So, now let’s talk about that – the circumstances in which the shortening of the prayer applies.

Let’s read verse 4:101 again. It says.

When you hit the earth, set out (you are outside of your homes), it’s not a sin to shorten the Contact Prayer, if you FEAR that the disbelievers may harm or attack you. Indeed, the disbelievers are your distinct enemy.

Now, as you may notice, this verse applies to cases where believers and disbelievers are organized in clearly distinct groups, distinct locations. It says “distinct enemies” in Arabic. And it is possible from the verses after this to realize that it is talking about situations where the believers are organized in a distinct location, while the disbelievers are in another distinct group, which automatically makes them dangerous, because according to verse 9:8, and many other verses, we know that the disbelievers would definitely attack us if the groups were clearly distinct. They don’t attack us now as a group, because we are mixed with them in the same towns. We share the same towns and cities with them, and they misbehave towards us individually a little bit every day, which is why they don’t see a reason to attack us as a group, but if we gather all the believers in one town, and leave the disbelievers in another town, they would definitely attack us. For example, this happened during Muhammad’s time when they gathered in Medina, and it will happen again during the Mahdi’s time, and it happened during the time of Moses, and David, and Solomon, but today it does not apply, except in two cases. The first case is when the believers gather for the Noon Prayer on Friday, in a mosque which they built, or in a definitely agreed-with-consensus rented place for the Friday Prayers, in which case, all the believers of that location are obliged to observe the Friday Prayer there, together. This means that all the believers in that location are in that mosque at that time, and whomever among the healthy grown-up people from that location is not in that mosque, then they are definitely disbelievers at that moment. So, in that case, during the Friday Prayer, believers and disbelievers are two distinct groups, and therefore there is reasonable fear of an attack from them, and therefore verse 4:101 applies, which means that in that case, the prayer should be shortened to 2 rakats. And this is why the Friday Noon Prayer has only 2 rakats, when it is done in a mosque built by submitters, or in a rented place which was agreed with consensus. Otherwise, four rakats are obligatory, if you have to do the Friday Noon Prayer in your home, because then the believers are spread, and there are no two distinct groups (believers vs. disbelievers) anymore. However, in the other general cases, regarding all the other prayers, the existence of democratic governments, as neutral authorities, has eliminated the risk of sudden general attack from disbelieving armies, but it still has not eliminated the risk of individual harm from disbelievers. And it is reasonable to fear individual harm from disbelievers, if you see them carrying some kind of hot or cold weapon, or in case you are woman, even an unarmed man is a risk when you do the Contact Prayer in a public place. So, men in very dangerous neighborhoods, and women in public in general may choose to shorten the prayer to 2 rakats, and this is in combination with lessening the prayer. And let me remind you again that lessening the prayer means not doing it physically and not with a loud voice, but simply going through the words mentally, in whatever position you are either sitting in a chair or bench, or the car chair, or standing at a bus station, or walking in the street, and so on. And the verse which talks about lessening the prayer, is actually even more important in today’s civilized circumstances, because as you will see, the lessening of prayers applies anytime when you are in a civilized public space, spaces which have been impacted by humans.

So, now, first let’s remember again what verse 2:239 says: It says, “If you FEAR (to do the Contact Prayer), then (pray) on foot (standing or walking), or sitting (in a saddle, restaurant chair, office chair, or car chair or bus chair). Then when you are in a trusting (safe place), then remember God, as he taught you what you did not know.”

Now, again the key word which we are trying to explain here is the word “FEAR”. In the Quran, this word has many meanings, and it includes all kinds of fears – concerns, or worries, or alertness or things like that, and the word in Arabic is “khafa”, and let’s go over how Rashad Khalifa translated this exact word in other verse of the Quran. The table below shows in the left column the different ways Rashad Khalifa translated the same word “khafa” in different verses.

So, the fear which is mentioned in the Quran includes concerns, the sense of oppression, fear of harming others, fear of kidnap, fear as a minority group, fear of suspicious strangers, worry of loss, worry, fear of dangerous animals or dangerous tools, fear from authorities, fear of unexpected change of situation, fear of unfair treatment, consciousness (alertness) (while driving for example), fear of disbelief of others, fear of being murdered, fear of persecution, fear about children’s safety, and fear of embarrassment.

The red squares in the table above show the following examples of fear:

For example – Concern. If you start doing the prayer in a parking lot, you might be concerned that another car might drive and want to park there, or not see you while you are prostrating, or maybe look at you suspiciously.

A sense of oppression – One example of that is if you are in someone else’s private business, you don’t feel like you have the right to do anything you want, because it is ultimately their property, and they have the right to decide what happens there.

Fear of harming others – For example, if you are in bicycle path, and you start doing the prayer, someone might run into you, and you both can get hurt.

Fear of kidnap – For example, especially if you are a woman, in a highway, or a park, when you prostrate, someone can approach you and see you as an easy target for kidnapping.

Fear as a minority group – For example, if you are in town square, and you start doing the contact prayer, and you know that most people there don’t approve of the contact prayer, you are not sure whether there will be at least someone there who will react with animosity, or at least ridicule or do something to humiliate you.

Fear of suspicious strangers – For example, again, if you do the contact prayers in an urban park, or in a parking lot, you never know what strangers will gather there after they see you prostrating.

Worry of loss – For example, if you are in a park, while you are prostrating someone might steal your purse or your wallet.

Worry (general worry) – And this applies in all cases of civilized public spaces, since all the areas are designed for something, and if you do something else there, there is always worry that people might take offence at the fact that you are doing the prayer in a space which was designed for something else.

Fear of dangerous animals or dangerous tools – For example, if you are working with dangerous equipment, which must be kept on for whatever reason, you might worry that they might cause damage, when you leave them unattended.

Fear from authorities – For example, if you prostrate in a public institution, police might come to check on you. They might know your rights, but they will still check on you anyway.

Fear of unexpected change of situation – For example, you never know what’s around the corner in an urban situation. In nature, you can see far away, but in an urban situation, there can always be something or someone around the corner.

Fear of unfair treatment – For example, the owners of any space can just tell you that that space is not meant for prayer, and that it is interrupting the business or whatever, and they have the freedom to decide what happens in their own property.

Consciousness (in this case, alertness) – For example, if you start bowing while driving, of course it will be dangerous. You have to be alert constantly in traffic.

Fear of disbelief of others – For example, if you start doing the prayer in a restaurant, they will not believe that you are doing what you are doing and approach you, and talk to you, to see if you are ok, which then would be uncomfortable for you, if you don’t respond.

Fear of being murdered – For example, if you start to bow down and prostrate in someone else’s private land, they might consider it trespassing, or thinking that a thief has entered, and they might get a gun and shoot you, maybe on purpose because you are a believer, and then they can justify it by saying that they thought that you are a thief.

Fear of persecution – This can happen anywhere where disbelievers roam around close by.

Fear of children’s safety – For example, if you start doing the contact prayer in a bus station, while you prostrate you might be worried that your child will move to an unsafe place and be run over by a bus, or fall in a railway.

Fear of embarrassment – For example, if you start the contact prayer somewhere in your school or university, it is very likely that someone will see you, and then be rude to you, and act very surprised, and call the others, and tell them what’s going on and they might even laugh which might put you in an embarrassing situation.

Now, the yellow squares in the table above also include cases when a specific type of fear applies in a specific public space, but no examples are given here for them. But you can imagine them yourself, and see that all the yellow squares do apply. So, on each type of Civilized Public Space, at least one of these types of fears applies, which means that all the public types of public spaces will be a cause for at least one type of fair, if you wish to do the contact prayer there, and this means that verse 2:239, which tells us to limit the prayers, applies in all civilized public spaces, and actually not only with one type of fear, but with many types of fear.

So, the conclusion is that the verse which tells us to limit the prayers, applies in all cases of modern world, except your home, the homes of your family members, the homes of your close relatives, the homes of your submitter friends, the proper masjids, and the far away definite wilderness, because civilization has not reached the wilderness yet. In all the other cases, you are required to do the Contact Prayer in a limited version – which is mentally, without physical movement, and without a loud voice, simply sitting or standing, or while walking. And actually, this verse, in the Arabic, does not just give us the option to do it mentally, but it actually orders us to do it like that. In the Arabic it says “do it while standing, walking or sitting,”. It does not say, “you may do it”. It says “do it”. And this is because the Contact Prayers are meant to show your reverence or your fear for God alone, and if you do it while fearing others, then it’s not God alone. In that case, you would be showing your reverence or your fear towards God and someone else. So, unless you can do the prayer while fearing only God, it is obligatory to limit it in such a way that when you do it, you are fearing God alone.

By the way, you might be thinking that all those civilized public spaces seem like a lot, it seems like an exception for most of the cases in our life. Well, yes, today, that’s the majority of the places, but not the majority of the time. Those limited prayers will still be a very small proportion of your weekly prayers, because the majority of the prayers fall outside of your daily routine. The table below gives a typical day for a person who does to a normal 9 to 5 job, for example:

The green squares represent the cases where a typical person today would do the Contact Prayer fully, and the yellow squares represent the cases where it might usually happen for that person to do the Contact Prayer in a limited version. And as you can see, the vast majority of cases are green, which means that that believer will do the vast majority of his prayers fully, and the fact that a few cases are yellow is not a problem, because prayers are the meals for our souls, and Limited Prayers are like snacks which you eat on the road, while the full Contact Prayers are like proper meals. Now, if we eat snacks only about 10% of the time, today, that shouldn’t be a problem. We could still be healthy. And, there is no reason to be concerned about this because God was aware of this situation, and He has clearly mentioned this situation in the Quran. What we need to worry about really, is not to miss prayers without excuses when we are at home. When we are believers, we will never miss a prayer because we are watching a movie. We can pause the movie. We should never miss a prayer, because we are talking on social media. Social Media can wait. We should never miss a prayer, because we ate too much, and now we are sleepy. These are inexcusable cases. But regarding prayer outside of our homes, and outside the mosque, God has given us full permission, and actually an order to do them in the Limited Version. The limited version, again, means that wherever we are at that moment, let’s say in your office chair, or your car chair, you simply repeat the words of the Contact Prayer in your mind, mentally, and that’s it. And by the way, you don’t even need to perform ablution when you perform the Limited Version. God does not mention the word Salat in that verse. The verse simply says “on foot, or sitting”, but it does not call it “Salat”. And because it is not technically Salat, there is no need for ablution. The Limited Prayer is a substitution for Salat in that case, but it’s not Salat. And the most important thing is to remember God, because verse 20:14 says that the main purpose of the Contact Prayer is to remember God, and if you do remember God in the Limited Version of the Contact Prayer, you are fulfilling the main purpose of the Contact Prayer..

Nevertheless, after you are hired in a new job, for example, if you wish, you may discuss with your manager whether there is a suitable place where you can do the Contact Prayer fully, and if he finds you a suitable place, you can do the full Contact Prayer there, but if not, just go on with the Limited Version and God will understand.

Also, if you are with other submitters in a case where the Limited Prayer applies, you can coordinate with them. For example, if you are in a bus or train together, you just tell the other submitter that you are going to do the prayer mentally, and then he or she will watch for you, and if the conductor comes for the ticket or something like that, the other submitter will interact with him and do things on your behalf, and then his turn comes to do the prayer mentally while you watch for him, just in case you need to respond to someone on his behalf. Or, if you are a passenger in car with another submitter who is driving the car, you just tell him or her that you will do the prayer mentally, while he or she will still keep driving, and then when you are done, he or she can stop the car on the side of the road, somewhere safe, and do the prayer mentally, while you watch for him or her, or if the road is easy to drive, he or she might not even need to stop the car, and you can do the limited prayer together. One of you recites the words, and the other just listens. If you are a female submitter alone without a male submitter with you, feel free to both shorten and limit the contact prayer. So, you only do 2 rakats mentally, and that’s it. If you are a male in a dangerous neighborhood with weapons, and you have no weapon, you may also both shorten and limit the contact prayer. But, again, at home, you must do the full Contact Prayers. In the Permissible Mosques you must do the Full Contact Prayers.