Mufaddal Does Not Pray? Part 2



It is the mid 700s CE in the central Iraqi city of Kufa. 

Tensions and strife between the Shi’a and the Mukhalifeen – which were strife in the past decade due to a multitude of factors – had finally come to a standstill. 

The hudna (armistice) between the two factions has now commenced. 

This armistice was not simply maintained by a lack of verbal and physical alteractions between the two groups.

Rather – the Shi’a were instructed to assimilate amongst the Mukhalifeen and put on their best possible behavior for them, as a form of dissimulation:


“Narated Hisham al-Kindi:

I heard Abu Abdullah (peace be upon him) saying: Beware of doing an action that you might be reproached for, as the offspring of evil reproaches his father for his deeds. 

Be an adornment for us (Imams), not a disgrace. 

Pray among Sunni tribes, visit their sick, attend their funerals, and do not let them surpass you in any good deed, for you are more deserving of it than they are. 

By Allah, there is nothing that Allah loves more than concealment, so I asked, "And what is al-Khib’ (concealment) He said, "Taqiyya."

الكافيعن محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن علي بن الحكم، عن هشام الكندي قال سمعت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام يقولإياكم أنتعملوا عملا نعير به فان ولد السوء يعير والده بعمله، كونوا لمن انقطعتم إليه زينا ولا تكونوا عليه شيناصلوا في عشائرهم وعودوا مرضاهم،واشهدوا جنائزهم، ولا يسبقونكم إلى شئ من الخير فأنتم أولى به منهم، والله ما عبد الله بشئ أحب إليه من الخبء فقلتوما الخبء؟ قالالتقية

One companion of Imam al-Sadiq who was a witness to this period of armistice was a man named Mu’awiyah ibn Wahb.

Imam al-Sadiq can be seen in the following hadith instructing Muawiyah to observe the hudna towards the Mukhalifeen:


“Muaawiya ibn Wahb said: I asked Imam al-Sadiq: 

“How should we act towards our people and acquaintances who do not follow Shi’ism?" 

He replied, "Look at your Imams whom you follow, and do what they do. By Allah, they attend to the (Sunni) sick, attend their funerals, testify for and against them, and fulfill their trust."

4 - محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن علي بن الحكم، عن معاوية بن وهب قالقلت لهكيف ينبغي لنا أن نصنع فيما بيننا وبينقومنا وبين خلطائنا من الناس ممن ليسوا على أمرنا؟ قالتنظرون إلى أئمتكم الذين تقتدون بهم فتصنعون ما يصنعون فوالله إنهم ليعودونمرضاهم ويشهدون جنائزهم ويقيمون الشهادة لهم وعليهم ويؤدون الأمانة إليهم.

A primary reason for Imam al-Sadiq instructing Muawiyah and other Shi’a to honor the hudna is that the improved security situation for the Shi’a is now allowing them to observe a ritual very close to their hearts and soul:

Ziyara to Imam Husayn

In fact, ziyara (ritualistic visitation) to Imam Husayn’s grave is something Imam al-Sadiq had encouraged Muawiyah to perform – even when the security situation sparks fear and hesitation:

(Kamil al-Ziyarat)

Mu’awiyah ibn Wahb narrated from Abu Abdullah (al-Sadiq) who said:

O Mu’awiyah do not neglect the visit to the grave of Imam Husayn out of fear, for whoever abandons his visit will see regret that he wishes his grave were with him. 

Would you not like Allah to see your person and your darkness among those whom the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) and Ali, Fatimah, and the Imams (peace be upon them) pray for?"

ومحمد بن عبد الله وعلي بن الحسين ومحمد بن الحسن رحمهم الله جميعا، عن عبد الله بن جعفر الحميري، عن موسى بن عمر، عن حسانالبصري (1)، عن معاوية بن وهب، عن أبي عبد الله (عليه السلامقالقال لي:

يا معاوية لا تدع زيارة قبر الحسين (عليه السلاملخوف، فان من ترك زيارته رأى من الحسرة ما يتمنى ان قبره كان عنده (2)، اما تحب انيرى الله شخصك وسوادك فيمن يدعو له رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآلهوعلي وفاطمة والأئمة (عليهم السلام) (3).

If Ziyara to Husayn even during times of fear was characterized by such level of obligation by Imam Husayn –

Then performing the ritual in the time of hudna and safety requires no extra thought.

Thus, without hesitation, Mu’awiyah packed his belongings and visited his friend Ishaq ibn Ammar to arrange the journey to Imam Husayn shrine in Karbala together.

Ishaq promptly agreed, however, the two could not leave without first seeking the blessings of Imam al-Sadiq’s Bab (gate) and deputy in Kufa:

Al-Mufaddal ibn Umar al-Ju’fi.


(Rijal al-Kashi, vol 2, page 617)

Narrated Mu’awiyah ibn Wahb and Ishaq ibn Ammar:

“We went out wanting to visit al-Husayn (peace be upon him), so we said: If we passed by Abu Abdullah al-Mufaddal ibn Umar, he might come with us. 

So we came to his (Mufaddal’s) door and greeted him.

He (Mufaddal) came out and rode with us. Once we reached four farasikh out of Kufa, Fajr appeared and so we stepped down from our horses and prayed.

Meanwhile, Al-Mufaddal was standing and did not come down to pray.

So we said: O Abu Abdullah (i.e, Mufaddal), do you not pray? 

He (Mufaddal) said: ‘I prayed before I left my house’”

وعن خط جبرئيل بن أحمد الفاريابي في كتابه، عن محمد بن عيسى، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن معاوية بن وهب وإسحاق بن عمار، قالاخرجنانريد زيارة الحسين (عليه السلامفقلنالو مررنا بأبي عبد الله المفضل بن عمر فعساه يجيء معنا، فأتينا الباب فاستفتحناه، فخرج إلينافركب وركبنا، فطلع لنا الفجر على أربعة فراسخ من الكوفة، فنزلنا فصلينا والمفضل واقف لم ينزل يصلي، فقلنايا أبا عبد الله، ألا تصلي؟فقالصليت قبل أن أخرج من منزلي

As the reader examined this exchange between the two companions (Mu’awiyah & Ishaq) with Mufaddal ibn Umar – two things immediately appear striking:

  1. Mufaddal claims he prayed Fajr, before the companions saw signs that is time for Fajr prayer!

  1. The companions don’t show signs of being shocked about Mufaddal’s assertion that he prayed Fajr!

The rationale behind these two phenomena can only be reasonably comprehended, if we attempt understand the situation from Mufaddal’s perspective.


Firstlythe above report does not give us any indication on the weather conditions of the night where Mufaddal travelled with Muawiyah & Ishaq.

We know that Imam al-Sadiq had given special instructions per weather on how to ascertain prayer time.


“Narrated Sama’a:

“I asked him (Imam al-Sadiq or al-Kadhim) about praying during the night and day when you cannot see the sun, moon, or stars. 

He said: "Perform ijtihad (reasoning) according to your personal judgement and opinion, and choose the direction of the Qibla based on your ijtihad.”

محمد بن يحيى، عن محمد بن الحسين، عن عثمان بن عيسى، عن سماعة قال:

سألته (2) عن الصلاة بالليل والنهار، إذا لم تر الشمس ولا القمر ولا النجوم قالاجتهد رأيك وتعمد القبلة جهدك (3).


“Narrated Abu 'Abdullah al-Faraz:

A man from our companions asked Imam al-Sadiq, "What if the time becomes uncertain for us on a cloudy day?"

He replied, "Do you recognize these birds you have in Iraq called 'Dayka'?" I said, "Yes." 

He said, "When their voices rise and they respond to each other, the sun has set, or he said, 'Pray.'"

4883 - 2 - علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن أبي عبد الله الفراء، عن أبي عبد الله (عليه السلامقالقال له رجل منأصحابناربما اشتبه الوقت علينا في يوم الغيم؟

فقالتعرف هذه الطيور التي عندكم بالعراق يقال لهاالديكة؟ قلتنعم، قالإذا ارتفعت أصواتها وتجاوبت فقد زالت الشمس أو قالفصله


If the aforementioned night were a cloudy night which makes ascertaining prayer time from the mode of the sky very difficult –

Then one is permitted to judge the time of Adhan per his personal opinion.

One of the tools to judge prayer time in a cloudy or unclear weather was recognizing the voice of a bird called al-Dayka which cries when it is Fajr.

Mufaddal may have ascertained the Dayka cried before leaving Kufa, while Muawiyah & Ammar may have ascertained it took place afterwards when they left Kufa.

Either way, Mufaddal saying he prayed before leaving home is not a sign he is lying about having prayed.

Rather – it is a sign his ijtihad (personal reasoning) led him to believe prayer time occured before leaving him.

As shown in our Imam’s words, personal reasoning is a permitted tool to utilize in ascertaining Adhan time when the weather is unclesr. 

Thus, it was Mufaddal’s prerogative to pray when he reasoned it is the correct time to pray.

That being said, it is most likely Mufaddal’s judgement of Adhan time was correct as opposed to Muawiyah & Ammar.

This is because Mufaddal was well known to be acquainted with companions who raise and sell birds (which was taboo during thet time period).

This makes him more likely to have knowledge on which bird produces the voice of the Dayka, and which bird does not.

Indeed – a letter sent to Imam al-Sadiq contained the following information:

(Rijal al-Kashi, vol 2, page 619)

(O Imam), Al-Mufaddal ibn Umar sits people, those raising birds, and with a people who drink (alcohol), so you should write to him and order him not to sit with them”

The Imam responded with a letter and ordered those who complained to him to send Mufaddal his response.

These individuals who complained included Zurara, Abdullah ibn Bukayr, Muhammad ibn Muslim, Abu Baseer, and Hijr ibn Zaida.

They gave the book to al-Mufaddal, so he unpacked it and read it, so in it was:

‘In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Buy so and so.’

It did not mention anything - neither little nor much - of what they (the aforementioned companions) mentioned [about al-Mufaddal]”

إن المفضل يجالس الشطار وأصحاب الحمام وقوما يشربون الشراب، فينبغي أن تكتب إليه وتأمره الا يجالسهم، فكتب إلى المفضل كتاباوختم ودفع إليهم، وأمرهم أن يدفعوا الكتاب من أيديهم إلى يد المفضل.

فجاؤوا بالكتاب إلى المفضل، منهم زرارة، وعبد الله بن بكير، ومحمد بن مسلم . وأبو بصير، وحجر بن زائدة، ودفعوا الكتاب، إلى المفضلففكه وقرأه، فإذا فيه بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم اشتر كذا وكذا واشتر كذا، ولم يذكر قليلا ولا كثيرا مما قالوا فيه

Second, it was a common phenomenon for companions to doubt and differ in when prayer time has occured - when they are on a travel journey.

We can observe that in the following hadith:


“Narrated Ubayd ibn Zurara who said: 

A group of us were traveling between Mecca and Medina. 

We were uncertain about the time of Dhuhr prayer, so we decided to walk a little to be sure about the onset of the time and then pray. 

We walked only a short distance when we encountered the caravan of Abu Abdullah (peace be upon him). I said, 'The caravan has come.' I saw Muhammad ibn Isma'il and asked him, 'Have you prayed?' He replied, 'My grandfather commanded us, so we prayed Dhuhr and Asr together.Then we resumed our journey.' I went back and informed my companions about it."

4 - محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن ابن فضال، عن ابن بكير، عن عبيد ابن زرارة قالكنت أنا ونفر من أصحابنا مترافقين - فيهمميسر - فيما بين مكة والمدينة فارتحلنا ونحن نشك في الزوال فقال بعضنا لبعضفامشوا بنا قليلا حتى نتيقن الزوال ثم نصلي ففعلنا فمامشينا إلا قليلا حتى عرض لنا قطار أبي عبد الله (عليه السلامفقلتأتى القطار فرأيت محمد بن إسماعيل فقلت لهصليتم؟ فقال ليأمرنا جدي فصلينا الظهر والعصر جميعا ثم ارتحلنا فذهبت إلى أصحابي فأعلمتهم ذلك

We can see now that it is not always possible to objectively ascertain prayer time.

The companions of our Imams in the 750s CE did not have prayer alarms on their phones, to inform them of definitive times of prayer.

They observed the sky to ascertain prayer time. 

When travelling to places they were unfamiliar with, they might be unaware of where to position themselves to properly view the sky and see if it is time to pray.

They had to perform things such as “to walk a little to be sure about the onset of the time and then pray.”

Thus, when we see Muawiyah & Ishaq saying:

“Once we reached four farasikh out of Kufa, Fajr appeared and so we stepped down from our horses and prayed.”

It is highly likely they performed their personal ijtihad to ascertain prayer – instead of seeing definitive signs of Fajr.

That is why their report does not show any signs of shock when Mufaddal does not pray with them.

They simply relate the incident – a-matter-of-fact fashion.

“So we said: O Abu Abdullah (i.e, Mufaddal), do you not pray? 

He (Mufaddal) said: ‘I prayed before I left my house’”

Not to condemn Mufaddal (as some may perceive), but rather to highlight their different ijtihad in prayer time.

Something typical among companions in travel, as shown.


We can conclude that Mufaddal had reasonable justification in not praying Fajr with Muawiyah & Ammar.

His refusal does not, in any way, signify he absconds the idea of prayer.

All it means is he had different personal reasoning in ascertaining Fajr time for thet morning, than his companions.

Something very typical among companions in travel.


What do we know about Mufaddal’s opinion on prayer?

While we do not have his words framed as an opinion, we can utilize the ahadith he narrates from our Imams to help us reconstruct his views.

By doing so, we can understand whether he preached the abrogation of prayer – or upholding the dhahir prayer as we know it.

The ahadith of Mufaddal on prayer that we will use can be organized in the following fashion.

A) Prayer fiqh (jurisprudence)

“Narrated Mufaddal ibn Umar: 

I said to Abu Abdullah (al-Sadiq), 'May I be sacrificed for you, I tend to miss Salat al-Layl (optional Night Prayer) so I pray it after Fajr

Can I pray what I missed of the Night Prayer while I am in my prayer area before sunrise?' He said, 'Yes, but do not inform your family about it, as they may take it as a regular practice.'"

5044] 15 - وعنه، عن محمد بن عيسى، عن علي بن الحكم، عن زرعة، عن مفضل بن عمر قالقلت لأبي عبد الله (عليه السلام): جعلتفداك تفوتني صلاة الليل فأصلي الفجر، فلي أن أصلي بعد صلاة الفجر ما فاتني من صلاة الليل وأنا في مصلاي قبل طلوع الشمس؟فقالنعم، ولكن لاتعلم به أهلك فيتخذونه سنة

We can deduce from this report that Mufaddal both

  • Prayed Salat al-Layl

This shows he was dedicated to upholding prayer, even than typical Muslim worshippers who would not wake up in the middle of the night to pray optional prayers.

  • Tended to pray Fajr

I said to Abu Abdullah (al-Sadiq), 'May I be sacrificed for you, I tend to miss Salat al-Layl (optional Night Prayer) so I pray it after Fajr.”

The fact Mufaddal would pray Fajr strengthens my conclusion that Mufaddal not praying it with Muawiyah & Ammar is a matter of ijtihad (personal reasoning) on when prayer time commenced.

Not as a matter of doubting the obligation of prayer itself, hence refusing to pray.

B) Enquiring about the rationale of prayer actions

“Narrated Al-Mufaddal ibn Umar: 

I asked Abu Abdullah (peace be upon him) about the reason for the obligation of offering greetings (tasleem) in prayer. He said, 'Because it marks the conclusion of the prayer.

I asked, 'Then why does one greet to the right and not to the left?' He replied, 'Because the appointed angel who records good deeds is on the right, and the one who records misdeeds is on the left. Since prayer consists only of good deeds, one greets to the right and not to the left.' 

I asked, 'Why do we say, 'Peace be upon you' (plural), while there is only one recording angel on the right?' He said, 'To extend the greeting to him and to those on the left. It acknowledges the superiority of the one on the right by gesturing towards him.'"

306 - المفضل بن عمرسألت أبا عبد الله (عليه السلامعن العلة التي من أجلها وجب التسليم في الصلاة، قاللانه تحليل الصلاة، قلتفلأي علة يسلم على اليمين ولا يسلم على اليسار؟ قاللان الملك الموكل الذي يكتب الحسنات على اليمين والذي يكتب السيئات على اليسار،والصلاة حسنات ليس فيها سيئات فلهذا يسلم على اليمين دون اليسارقلتفلم لا يقال:

السلام عليك، والملك على اليمين واحد ولكن يقالالسلام عليكم؟

قالليكون قد سلم عليه وعلى من على اليسار وفضل صاحب اليمين عليه بالإيماء إليه.

In asking about the rationale of actions we partake in prayer such as:

  • The reason for the obligation of offering greetings (tasleem) in prayer. 
  • 'Then why does one greet to the right and not to the left?
  • Why do we say, 'Peace be upon you' (plural), while there is only one recording angel on the right?'

This allows us to reconstruct Mufaddal’s prayer as being in the typical Muslim fashion of prayer.

It shows he observed the dhahir (apparent) prayer - in its apparent actions.

It shows Mufaddal did not merely suffice with the belief that ma’rifa (knowledge) of the Imam’s status abrogates dhahir prayer, as some of his later detractors alleged.

Shurayk al-Qadhi, the Sunni judge in Kufa, claimed:

(Rijal al-Kadhi)

And people like Mufaddal ibn 'Umar, Bunan, 'Umar al-Nabati, and others mentioned that Jafar informed them that recognizing the Imam is sufficient to abscond dhahir fasting and praying”

وهؤلاء مثل المفضل بن عمر وبنان وعمر النبطي وغيرهم، ذكروا أن جعفرا حدثهم أن معرفة الامام تكفي من الصوم والصلاة،

C) Prayer on time is the basic criterion of being a believer

(Al-Kafi, vol 2, page 627)

“Narrated Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar and Yunus ibn Dhubyan:

“Abu Abdullah (al-Sadiq) has said: 

Try your brothers (fellow Shi’a) in two things that if not found - then keep away from them, keep away, keep away from them. 

The two qualities are the preservation of their prayers on time and kindness to their brethren in good and bad times.’”

محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن عمر بن عبد العزيز، عن معلى بن خنيس وعثمان بن سليمان النخاس، عن مفضل بن عمر، ويونسبن ظبيان قالا:

قال أبو عبد الله (عليه السلام): اختبروا إخوانكم بخصلتين فإن كانتا فيهم وإلا فاعزب ثم أعزب ثم أعزب، محافظة على الصلوات فيمواقيتها والبر بالاخوان في العسر واليسر

This further reinforces the idea that Mufaddal refused to pray with Muawiyah & Ishaq - based on his different reasoning on when prayer took place.

D) Mustahab prayers

“Mufaddal ibn 'Umar reported from Abu 'Abdullah (peace be upon him) that he said: "In the month of Ramadan, one should pray an additional one thousand Rak'ahs." I asked, "Who is able to do that?" 

He replied, "Isn't it the case that you pray in the month of Ramadan an additional one thousand Rak'ahs? In each night, there are twenty Rak'ahs, in the night of the nineteenth, there are one hundred Rak'ahs, in the night of the twenty-first, there are two hundred Rak'ahs, and in the night of the twenty-third, there are three hundred Rak'ahs. Also, in the last eight nights, you should pray thirty Rak'ahs each night, making a total of nine hundred and twenty Rak'ahs."

عن المفضل بن عمر عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام أنه قاليصلى في شهر رمضان زيادة الف ركعة، قالقلت ومن يقدر على ذلك؟ قالليسحيث تذهب أليس تصلي في شهر رمضان زيادة الف ركعة في تسع عشرة منه، في كل ليلة عشرين ركعة، وفي ليلة تسع عشرة مائة ركعة،وفي ليلة إحدى وعشرين مائة ركعة، وفي ليلة ثلاث وعشرين مائه ركعة، وتصلي في ثمان ليال منه في العشر الأواخر ثلاثين ركعة فهذهتسعماءة وعشرون ركعة،

The very fact Mufaddal narrates such ahadith on mustahab prayers shows us the notion of prayer which he preached to his companions.

A literal, dhahir prayer.

This is reinforced when Mufaddal states that Imam al-Sadiq told him:

Isn't it the case that you pray in the month of Ramadan an additional one thousand Rak'ahs?

Even if one were to doubt Mufaddal’s narrations from Imam al-Sadiq –

At the very least, this hadith shows us what Mufaddal personally believed regarding prayer. 

Again, a literal - dhahir prayer.


Many rumors and tales have been spread about Mufaddal ibn Umar in the time of our Imams.

Many inaccuracies and allegations spread about him for nefarious reasons, which we have discussed before.

It is our duty, as lovers and believers of Imam al-Sadiq, to exonerate this blessed figure for us to discover the gems he desperately sought to spread to the Shi’a but was not given the proper appreciation.

I hope this article benefits you

May Allah bless you all


John Andaluso