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Agony Aunt: How to Make up Missed Prayers

by in Lifestyle on 11th February, 2024

We know that Amaliah is like a Big Sis and sometimes our DMs have been filled with requests for advice on a range of life issues including relationships, friendships or work troubles.

We have started a new segment where we field dilemmas from the community and answer them as frankly as we can with love, truth and honesty.

Need some advice on a dilemma? Send them all here!

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh, Aunt Maya! 

My dilemma is the fact that I didn’t start praying at the right age (13). I started a few years later. I know the 4 schools of thought agree that qadas are to be made for all the years a person has missed salah since the age of responsibility, but I know a few say this isn’t correct and that good deeds, asking for forgiveness, and doing nawafil (voluntary) salahs is the correct way to sort of make up for a past such as mine. I’m split on which is right since the 4 schools agree on the latter being true, but at the same time, I don’t find qadas to be supported by anything in the Quran or sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad at least to the best of my knowledge. I’ve also seen a well established sheikh recommend a 24 year old woman do nawafil as often as possible along with her regular salah since she was on and off with her prayer before and decided to commit to it 100%. Sorry for the lengthiness, but I just want to do the right thing and make up for my past effectively and not deal with the consequences of not doing so in the akhirah. Thank you for your help! Jazakallah khair! 

Maya Areem Responds:

Walaykum assalam warahmatullahi wabarakatuh, dear sister!

Firstly, I commend you for reaching out with such sincerity and seeking guidance on a matter close to your heart. It reflects a beautiful dedication to your faith, and it’s heartening to hear that you’ve already come across various perspectives, including a recommendation from a knowledgeable sheikh. 

The different opinions among scholars may be confusing, but remember that seeking knowledge and striving to improve is a journey that Allah acknowledges and appreciates.

Prayer holds a paramount position in Islam, constituting one of the five pillars of our faith. The obligation to perform prayers at their appointed times is emphasised in both the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad

“Indeed the prayers are enjoined on Believers at stated times.” (Surah An-Nisa 4: 103)

Abu Hurairah (RA) reported, “I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ saying, “Say, if there were a river at the door of one of you in which he takes a bath five times a day, would any soiling remain on him?” They replied, “No soiling would be left on him.” He ﷺ said, “That is the five (obligatory) Salat (prayers). Allah obliterates all sins as a result of performing them.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The position of all four schools of Sunni law is that it is obligatory (fard) to make up all missed obligatory prayers, regardless of why they were missed. While the Hanbali madhab has a ruling that it is not necessary to make up missed prayers, this ruling comes with the position that a person was not Muslim at the time when they did not pray. I would advise you to check with a teacher from the school you follow to verify what the conditions for making up missed prayers (qada) are. For example, in certain schools of thought, it is not recommended to perform any nafl salah until you have completed your qada.

If you have missed salah in the past, try your best to work out how many of each it was and start making them up. You can try praying each prayer twice: one for the current prayer and the other to make up for the missed one. Insha’Allah your intention to make them up will be recognised by Allah even if you do not complete them. Most importantly, sincerely repent to your Lord.

“Allah wants to accept your repentance, but those who follow [their] passions want you to digress [into] a great deviation.” (Surah An-Nisa, 4:27

Our Prophet ﷺ also told us, as narrated by Abu Huraira (RA),

“Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the afternoons, and during the last hours of the nights.” (Sahih Bukhari)

This is a reminder that maintaining our salah makes fulfilling our other obligations easier and that Allah SWT has not placed any hardship in our religion. 

“And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties]; and mankind was created weak.” (Surah An-Nisa, 4:28)

Balancing qadas, voluntary prayers, seeking forgiveness, and performing good deeds are all ways to draw closer to Allah. The sincerity of your intention matters immensely. Remember that Allah is Ar-Rahman, the Most Merciful, and His mercy encompasses all things.

Maintaining consistency with your regular prayers, embracing the voluntary ones as recommended, and seeking forgiveness with a pure heart will, Insha’Allah, lead you to a path that is pleasing to Allah.

Here are some practical tips to help you consistently pray salah on time:

  • Mind Your Surroundings: Be mindful of your surroundings by ensuring you’ll have the time and space to perform salah; this is especially crucial for Maghrib with its limited time frame.
  • Wudhu Awareness: Leave home in a state of wudhu, and strive to maintain it when feasible. Carry water for wudhu if needed, especially when away from a water source.
  • Portable Prayer Mat: Bring a prayer mat along for the flexibility to pray almost anywhere.
  • Prayer Promptness: Prioritise praying near the beginning of the Salah time to avoid potential distractions or emergencies that may arise if delayed until the last moment.

Consistency and diligence in following these tips will, Insha’Allah, deepen your bond with Allah through timely prayers.

May your salah be a source of spiritual nourishment and may Allah grant you peace and contentment on this path of rediscovering and strengthening your connection with Him. 

Love + duas,

Aunt Maya

If you would like some wisdom from Aunt Maya, send in your problems here! Please note Aunt Maya may consult the opinion of others from time to time and ask the Amaliah community for their advice too. Aunt Maya is not a licensed therapist or mental health professional.

Maya Areem

Maya Areem

Maya is a teacher by day and student by night. She hopes to pass on what she learns.