Review Article: 2022 Vol: 25 Issue: 2S
Heba bint Abdul Latif bin Ahmed Al-Saleh, Imam Abdul Rahman bin Faisal University
Citation Information: Ahmed Al-Saleh, H. (2022). Congregational prayer at home in light of the epidemic of the corona virus - Covid 19 "Jurisprudence study". Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues, 24(S2), 1-11.
The current study dealt with congregational prayer at home in light of the epidemic of the COVID-19. During the outbreak of this pandemic, people need to explain the shari opinion of this calamity that occurs at the present time, especially as it is related to a great pillar of Islam, which is prayer because of its importance. The research method is the inductive analytical approach. The research was divided into an introduction, three topics and a conclusion. In the first topic, the researcher dealt with the definition of epidemics, linguistically and procedurally, and the statement of the legal method in dealing with them. In the second topic, the researcher dealt with the definition of congregational prayer and the shari opinion on performing it in mosques. In the third topic, the researcher dealt with the definition of the COVID-19 and then explained the shari opinion on performing congregational prayers at home in light of the outbreak of this epidemic. Finally, the researcher presented a conclusion that included the most important results.
Epidemic, Congregational Prayer, COVID-19
Allah said in the Holy Quran “and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]”.1 “And do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful”.2
It becomes clear that one of the purposes of the great Islamic Sharia is to protect people’s lives from all that harms them, especially during the outbreak of epidemics, including the (Covid-19) epidemic which is currently spreading, which was mentioned by specialist doctors that it is transmitted by contact and physical closeness and that gatherings are the main carrier of this disease.
Since prayer in mosques is one of the acts of worship in which meeting and closeness takes place between worshipers, and this is a reason for the spread of this epidemic and causing harm to people, the need has arisen to suspend the performance of prayer in mosques and their performance in homes; in order to avoid the spread of the epidemic, the speed of infection, and the large number deaths. There is no doubt that this specific suspension due to this pandemic is in accordance with the rules of Sharia, which came to protect people’s interests and ward off harm. Hence the urgent need to study this calamity through this research arose.
Objectives of the Study
The Current Study Aims at
1) Introducing epidemics and explaining the legal approach to dealing with them.
2) Linking the jurisprudential ruling for this calamity to the origin of the issue, which is the ruling on congregational prayer in the mosque, which shows that Islamic Sharia is valid for every time and place.
3) Identifying the jurisprudential adaptation of the calamity: “congregational prayer at home due to the outbreak of COVID-19” and highlighting the ease and flexibility of Islamic law and the extent to which it considers people’s conditions and circumstances.
Importance of the Study
The importance of this study appears through its discussion of the following issues
1) The importance of studying this calamity; because this calamity has pervaded all countries of the world, so religious scholars were obliged to explain its ruling because of the people’s need for that, especially as it relates to great worship.
2) Identifying the attitude of Islamic Sharia towards the spread of epidemics.
3) The importance of congregational prayer in the mosque and its high status in Islamic Sharia.
Problem and Questions of the Study
The problem of the current study lies in the following
• What is an epidemic?
• What is the shari approach to dealing with epidemics?
• What is the ruling on congregational prayer in the mosque?
• What is the shari opinion on performing prayer at home in light of the outbreak of the Covid - 19?
The failure of a group of people to realize that gatherings, whether in worship or otherwise, leads to an increase in the epidemic and its spread, and this would prolong the period of illness. Therefore, there is an urgent need to enlighten people about the position of Sharia towards performing acts of worship in the time of pandemics in order to reduce it.
There is no doubt that the jurists mentioned incidents during which it was necessary to suspend congregational prayers in mosques in order to achieve the public interest, such as in case of war, fear or pandemics and the like, such as epidemics. I have not dealt with an independent scientific research that was exposed to the issue of prayer at home due to the outbreak of Covid 19 - (in particular), but there are some studies that differ from the topic of this research, including:
1) The book entitled (congregational prayer in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah) by: Dr. Saeed Ali Al-Qahtani. The writer dealt with the reasons that prevent congregational prayer in general, but this calamity is recent and he did not address it, so I wanted to discuss this issue.
2) A study entitled: (Provisions of Infectious Diseases in Islamic Jurisprudence) by: Abd al-Ilah Saud al-Saif, a master’s thesis at the Faculty of Sharia, Department of Figh, Imam Mohammad bin Saud University in 1435 AH. In this study, he addressed the shari opinion on the effect of contagious diseases in worship, and he did not address the provisions on performing prayers at home because of the epidemic.
3) A study entitled: (Provisions related to epidemics that afflict humanity) Dr. Mohammad al-Shamani, a study published in the Taibah University Journal in 1440 AH, Issue (18) the seventh year. It dealt with the provisions related to epidemics in general in funeral prayers and inheritance and did not address the issue of suspending congregational prayer in mosques.
1) The researcher followed the inductive approach by referring to the texts related to epidemics and the shari approach to dealing with them.
2) The researcher adhered to the analytical approach in the jurisprudential dispute, by editing the subject of the dispute, then mentioning the statements within the limits of the four schools of jurisprudence and the evidence for each statement in general, discussing them, and then stating the most correct opinion.
3) Defining the vocabulary of the title, linguistically and precedurally, and documenting it from the language books.
4) Commitment to objectivity and avoidance of digression and limitation to discussing research issues.
5) With regard to issues of jurisprudential dispute, the researcher followed the following:
Resolving the issue of disagreement
a) Mentioning statements within the limits of the four schools of jurisprudence and the evidence for each statement in general, discussing them, then stating the correct opinion, in addition to the legal interests or jurisprudential opinion that support this view and serve the jurisprudential structure.
b) Documenting the jurisprudential sayings from the books of the four schools of thought according to the known chronological order: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali.
c) Mentioning the Ayahs and surahs from the Holy Qur’an.
d) Obtaining the hadiths of the Prophet from their approved and accredited books.
e) A conclusion of the research that includes the most important results.
The researcher has divided the research into an introduction, three topics and a conclusion, which are as follows:
Introduction: Clarifying the research objectives, importance, problem, literature review, methodology and plan.
Topic (1): Definition of epidemics and the legal approach to dealing with them, and it has two parts:
Part (1): Definition of epidemics linguistically and procedurally.
Part (2): The shari approach to dealing with epidemics.
Topic (2): congregational prayer, which includes three sections:
Part (1): Definition of congregational prayer linguistically and procedurally
Part (2): Definition of mosque linguistically and procedurally.
Part (3): Provisions on doing congregational prayers in the mosque.
Topic (3): Congregational prayer at home due to the outbreak of the Covid -19, and it has two sections:
Part (1): Definition of Covid -19 epidemic.
Part(2): Provisions of doing congregational prayers at home due to the outbreak of this epidemic.
Conclusion: It included the most important results of the research.
Topic (1): Definition of epidemics and the legal approach to dealing with them
Part (1): Definition of epidemics linguistically and procedurally.
Epidemic: it is defined as every general disease, and the endemic area is the area in which epidemics (disease) spread.3 An epidemic is a disease that affects the mood and the body.4 Some scholars have restricted it to plague5. Ibn Al-Qayiem said: “plague is a general disease that includes wounds tumors and Abscesses”.6
The jurists defined the epidemic as: a name for every general disease that spread among many people7.
An epidemic is: a disease that affects many people and is often one disease.8
The modern medical encyclopedia defines it as: A disease that affects a large number of people in one area in a short period of time, and if it affects a large number of people in a vast geographical area, it is called a global epidemic.9
Section (2): The shari approach to dealing with epidemics.
Epidemics throughout history are characterized by their rapid spread and transmission. Islamic Sharia had a stance towards this. When we contemplate the legal texts, we find that they include preventive precautions to prevent the spread of the epidemic in the first place and then reduce the speed of the infection’s spread; this is to achieve the Shariah-considered objectives of self-preservation and safety.
It includes the following:
1) Repentance to Allah.Allah said “Verily! Allâh will not change the (good) condition of a people as long as they do not change their state (of goodness) themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allâh).10 The Muslim must seek refuge in Allah, to always resort to supplication, and be keen to recite the dhikr and the shar’i prayers.
2) Relying on Allah and believing in Allah’s decree. Allah said” Say: "Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allâh has ordained for us”.11 If any of these epidemics befall a Muslim, then he must be patient and he must be optimistic and not to despair, and to believe that Allah has a reason ‘Wiseness” in these diseases and ailments. Prophet Mohammad said” "Never a believer is stricken with a discomfort, an illness, an anxiety, a grief or mental worry or even the pricking of a thorn but Allah will expiate his sins on account of his patience".12
3) Allah has commanded the afflicted with a disease to take medication and take medicine and vaccinations that are a reason for recovery. Prophet Mohammad - peace be upon him - said: (Allah sent down the disease and the cure, and made for every disease a medicine).13
4) Preventing the infected person from coming into contact with others; If the doctors mention that coming into contact with others is a cause of the spread of disease, then the patient should avoid coming into contact with others, whether that is in worship, prayer or otherwise. Prophet Mohammad - peace be upon him - said: ( no harm, no foul).14
5) Isolation of the infected person from healthy people, and isolation during the epidemic has been known since antiquity.15 The goal of quarantine is to limit the spread of disease,16 and Prophet Mohammad- peace be upon him -legislated it in order to avoid transmission of infection in the community.17
6) The healthy individuals have to take the means of prevention and not to come into contact with infected people. He, peace be upon him, said: (flee from a leper as you flee from a lion).18
7) Preventing the afflicted from leaving his town (location), and preventing the healthy person from entering it, Prophet Mohammad- peace be upon him said-: (If you hear of a plague in a region, do not enter it, and if it spreads into a region while you are in it, do not leave it).19
8) Ibn al-Qayyim - may he rest in peace - said: ((The aim of quarantine is to protect healthy people from the spread of disease).20
9) Preventing meetings and gatherings that could be a source of transmission of the epidemic; because this leads to reducing it and reducing its spread.
10) Avoiding spreading rumors to intimidate the spread of the disease or underestimating it. Prophet Mohammad - peace be upon him - said: “A person is considered a liar if he spreads everything he hears”21 as exaggerating the description of the epidemic, lack of control and the large number of deaths because of it would harm people and cause fear and panic. Also, underestimating it and not following the instructions may be a reason for its spread and not receding, and both are wrong behaviors, so what is required is to take shari reasons and preventive medical precautions while relying on Allah.
11) Avoiding taking advantage of these difficult times by monopolizing and raising the prices of commodities, whether they are food, medical or otherwise; because that is harmful to people, as Prophet Mohammad - peace be upon him - said -: (monopolist is sinful).22 Al-Shawkani said: (Declaring that the monopolist is wrong is sufficient for the impermissibility of this behavior, because the term “sinful” means that he is wrongdoer).23
Topic (2): Congregational prayer
Part (1): Definition of congregational prayer linguistically and procedurally
First: prayer is linguistically “invocation”. Allah said “Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allâh for them. Verily! Your invocations are a source of security for them; and Allâh is All-Hearer, All-Knower”.24
Sayings and deeds that begin with the takbeer and conclude with the tasleem with the intention to do so with specific conditions.25
Procedurally: A group of people united by one purpose.27
Therefore, what is meant by congregational prayer is “The link between the prayer of the Ma’moum “the one who is praying behind the imam “and the prayer of the imam with specific conditions.28
Part (2): Definition of mosque linguistically and procedurally
It is the place in which a person prostrates, then the meaning has been expanded to include the place where the prayer is done.29
The building designated for doing the five daily prayers and others.30
Part (3): Provisions on doing congregational prayers in the mosque
Allah said “[Such niches are] in houses [i.e., mosques] which All?h has ordered to be raised and that His name be mentioned [i.e., praised] therein; exalting Him within them in the morning and the evenings[[Are] men whom neither commerce nor sale distracts from the remembrance of All?h and performance of prayer and giving of zak?h. They fear a Day in which the hearts and eyes will [fearfully] turnabout.31
The above mentioned Aya referred to the legality of congregational prayer in the mosque for men; Where Allah praised those who pray at mosque, as it is required to do it there, but the jurists differed in this provision, and there are three opinions:
The first opinion: It is obligatory, and whoever abandons it without an excuse is sinning, but his prayer is valid, which is the view of some of the Hanafis32 and some of the companions of Shafi’i,33 and the Hanbalis. 34
Among their Evidences
1) Allah said “Say: My Lord hath commanded justice; and that ye set your whole selves (to Him) at every time and place of prayer, and call upon Him, making your devotion sincere as in His sight: such as He created you in the beginning, so shall ye return."35
Reason beyond this view: In more than one Aya, Allah commanded doing prayer in the mosque where there is a group of people, and the command means that this is obligatory, so this indicates the obligation to pray in the mosque.
2) Allah said: And be steadfast in prayer; practice regular charity; and bow down your heads with those who bow down (in worship).36
Reason beyond this view: bowing should not be done alone, but with those who are bowing, and that is only through the congregational prayer.
Abdullah bin Masoud said: “Whoever would be pleased to meet Allah as a Muslim, he must do these five prayers, and if you prayed in your homes as this person (who missed the prayer in the mosque), then you are abandoning the Sunnah of your Prophet, and if you abandon the Sunnah of your Prophet, you would have gone astray, and whoever leaves the congregational prayer is a hypocrite”.37
Reason beyond this view: He made the failure to pray in congregation as a sign of the hypocrites, and a person is a hypocrite if he neglects an obligatory duty or does something prohibited.38
3) Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, said: "By Him in Whose Hand my soul is I was about to order for collecting firewood (fuel) and then order Someone to pronounce the Adhan for the prayer and then order someone to lead the prayer then I would go from behind and burn the houses of men who did not present themselves for the (compulsory congregational) prayer).39
Reason beyond this view: This hadith is apparent in the fact that congregational prayer is an individual obligation; because if it was not, the one who abandoned it would not be threatened with burning.40
This was discussed from several aspects
The First Aspect: the hadith indicates congregational prayers can be abandoned because, Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him, decided to abandon it.41
I respond: It has not been ever mentioned that - Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him – has done prayer alone, rather he would pray in congregation with his aides who would go with him to those houses to be burnt.42
The Second Aspect: The Prophet - Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him - would have burned their homes with fire; For their hypocrisy, not for their failure to attend the congregational prayers.43
I respond: Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him did not punish the hypocrites for their hypocrisy. Had it not been that failure to attend the congregation is a sin that deserves punishment, he would not have been punishing them.44
The Third Aspect: This threat came only to those who did not attend the Friday prayer,45 with evidence: the hadith of Abdullah bin Masoud that Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him said to a people who dd not attend congregational prayer: “I had the intention of ordering a man to lead the people in prayer, then I burn down the houses of men who remained at their homes and did not attend Friday prayer.46
I respond: The apparent meaning of the hadith indicates that the punishment is for neglecting the congregational prayer, not the Friday prayer.47
The Second Opinion: It is a sunnah Mu’akkadah “a confirmed Sunnah”, but they accuse of a sin who neglects the confirmed Sunnahs,48 and this is the opinion of the companions of Abu Hanifa49 and most of the Malikis,50 and it is a view of the Shafi’is.51
Evidence for this Opinion
Reason beyond this view: comparison is only true between two good deeds.54
It was discussed: Proving the comparison between individual prayer and group prayer does not necessitate neglecting the obligation of congregational prayers and the necessity of it being a Sunnah.55
2) Hadith of Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him: “The one who waits for prayer with the imam will have a greater reward than the one who prays it solely and then sleeps”.56
Reason beyond this View: The hadith indicates that the congregational prayer is a Sunnah.
It was discussed: The purpose of this hadith is to prove the validity of doing prayer alone, and this does not contradict the fact that the congregational prayer is obligatory.
Evidence for this Opinion
Hadith of Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him: “"If three men in a village or in the desert, make no arrangement for Salat in congregation, Satan must have certainly overcome them….etc”.59
Reason beyond this view: It was not mentioned in the hadith as a condition of congregation, but rather doing prayer.
It was discussed: Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him told that Satan must have certainly overcome them; because they left the congregation whose motto is Azan and iqaamah. If the congregation was a a farth kifayah, Satan would not have overcome them.60
I believe that congregational prayers are obligatory because of the strength and frankness of their evidences, in addition to that, the religious and behavioral benefits of congregational prayer in the mosque that benefit the individual and society, in addition to the reward that the worshiper obtains.
If there is an excuse that prevents a person from praying in the mosque, then he is allowed to abandon it, and some jurists have counted up to forty excuses.61
The excuse may be general to all people, such as heavy rain and strong winds, and it may be specific, such as feeling the need to urinate or defecate, extreme hunger, and so on.62
Topic (3): Congregational Prayer at Home due to the Outbreak of the Covid -19
Part (1): Definition of Covid -19 epidemic
Corona virus known as Covid -19 is a respiratory disease from the family of viruses that have been called “Corona” because of its crown-like shape. There are several types, some of which infect animals, and some of them infect humans, such as: SARS, MERS and others.This disease first appeared in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in late 2019, and then began to spread around the world.63
It was defined in the recommendations of the second medical jurisprudence symposium of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy that: (pneumonia in the respiratory tract due to a new coronavirus that has caused a health emergency in the world, as the World Health Organization declared this epidemic a global pandemic on March 11, 2020 and it is believed to be of animal in origin, and its transmission from one person to another is widespread. The disease is transmitted through close contact without protection. Its symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle pain, loss of sense of smell and taste, and it may cause complications up death.”64
COVID-19 caused huge losses to the whole world and affected all service and educational sectors, which led to the imposition of curfews on travel and movement internally and externally.
The World Health Organization recommended the governments of countries to take more measures, the most important of which are: social distancing and imposing penalties and fines on those who violate this; all these procedures were to limit its spread.
Part (2): Provisions of doing congregational prayers at home due to the outbreak of this epidemic
It has already been mentioned that the congregational prayer is obligatory according to many scholars of the nation, but Allah has mitigated these provisions in the event of epidemics.
If attendance at mosques is a reason for the spread of disease, because as it is known that gathering is the main reason for transmission of infection, especially with the closeness between worshipers and the frequency of their meeting five times a day.
At that time, it is legal to temporarily suspend attendance at mosques, and a Muslim will not be a sinner if he abandons the congregational prayer for this reason. This is what was issued by the Council of Senior Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday 27/7/1441 AH with Resolution No. 247 that includes suspending Friday and congregational prayers in mosques. It is sufficient to raise the call (Azan) to prayer, with the exception of the Mekkah and Madinah.65
So, doing the commands of Allah is according to one's ability, Allah said” So fear Allah as much as ye can”66and prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, said: (If I command you to do something, do as much as you can).67 The same applies to some preventive measures that prevent the transmission of disease due to congregation, such as the inability to perform prayers in mosques, including Friday and congregational prayers, the two Eids, and others.
As for a person who was afflicted with the COVID-19 epidemic, the congregational prayer is waived and he is excused for not doing it. This is because of his illness, as this epidemic affects the respiratory system, and his attendance at the mosque causes hardship, and Almighty Allah said” He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion “.68
In addition, his presence may be a cause of infection for others, as some may not show severe symptoms of the disease, so he comes and infects others, especially since this epidemic is rapidly spreading and transmitted through the air and contact.
Thus, a fatwa was issued by the Council of Senior Scholars in Al-Azhar69 and the Fatwa of the European Council in the final statement of the thirtieth extraordinary session, which stated: (A person must take all measures to protect himself and others, and if he knows that he is infected with the virus, he must stay away from people, otherwise he will be a sinner before Almighty Allah)70. Also, if the prayers in the mosques are suspended due to the fear of the spread of this epidemic and its increase, then it is permitted to be done at homes in congregation with their families, as it is proven in the hadith: ((So Prophet Mohammad -peace be upon him -I and the orphan stood behind him and the old woman behind us and prayed two rak’ah ).71
If people pray in their homes, is the call to prayer (azan) is established? Some Shafi’s,72 and it is the correct view of the Hanbalis,73 see that its farth kifayah (if azan is established in mosques, then this is satisfactory).
1) Epidemic is a general disease that spoils air moods and bodies.
2) Islamic Sharia includes the provisions that are relied on to clarify the shari view in dealing with epidemics.
3) The competent authorities may impose quarantine and disrupt travel to prevent and avoid spread of infection.
4) Congregational prayer is the link between the prayer of the person who does prayer behind the Imam and the prayer of the Imam, with specific conditions.
5) The mosque is the endowed building designated for the five obligatory prayers and others.
6) The Shariah, with its observed purposes, considers the excuses in the congregational prayer in the mosque, so it permitted to leave the duties when fearing harm by doing it.
7) Corona virus (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease and has been classified by the World Health Organization as a pandemic.
8) It is permissible to suspend attendance at mosques because gathering in them is a source of transmission of infection.
9) If the person in charge is unable to attend the congregational prayer in the mosque for fear of catching an epidemic, then he may pray at home, and this is facilitated by Sharia.
10) The call to prayer is not required in homes when praying there in case the call to prayer is established in mosques.
11) Whoever is infected with the Corona epidemic, the congregational prayer is waived for him.
12) Islamic jurisprudence includes legal purposes and jurisprudential rules governing times of crisis, including: harm is removed, hardship brings facilitation, and if the matter is narrow, it shall be expanded and others.
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Zad al-Ma’ad Fi hadi Khair al-Abad, Mohammad bin Abi Bakr bin Ayoub bin Saad Shams al-Din Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (died: 751 AH), Al-Risala Foundation, Beirut, Kuwait, Edition: twenty-seventh, 1415 AH.
Received: 14-Nov-2021, Manuscript No. JLERI-21-9737; Editor assigned: 16-Nov-2021, PreQC No. JLERI -21-9737(PQ); Reviewed: 07-Dec-2021, QC No. JLERI -21-9737; Revised: 27-Dec-2022, Manuscript No. JLERI -21-9737(R); Published: 03-Jan-2022