Joined: Sep 2002
Is there anything wrong with an imaam who always recites Soorah As-Sajdah for Fajr Prayer on Friday mornings, and he never recites anything else?
ANSWER by Shaykh Muhammad 'Umar Baazmool, instructor at Umm Al-Quraa University in Makkah
The scholars have mentioned a principle about the actions that are considered recommended Sunnahs. The principle is that they should be abandoned sometimes, so that the people do not assume that they are obligatory, and that the prayer would not be accepted without them.
And these kinds of things have been encountered by some of the scholars. Shaykh Al-Albaanee, may Allaah have Mercy on him, mentioned that he once lead the people in Fajr Prayer on a Friday. And at that time, as he related about his own self, he had not memorized Soorah As-Sajdah. He said, "So I read some verses from Soorah Al-Kahf. So when I pronounced the takbeer to make rukoo', the people had all made sajdah."
This is because they were depending on the imaam that, when he leads the prayer on Friday morning, he will read Soorah As-Sajdah or another soorah that has a verse of prostration in it, and that he will prostrate with it when he says the first takbeer (after the recitation).
Shaykh Al-Albaanee said, "After the prayer, I admonished the people, saying that you must have attentive hearts and pay attention (during the prayer). You all prostrated based on your custom, as if you know that there must be a prostration there, so you all prostrated. You were not listening to the recitation, and this is not proper. You must understand that it is not a condition for the prayer on Friday mornings that Soorah As-Sajdah or another soorah with a verse of prostration in it must be read. Clinging to this, and never leaving it, is not from the Sunnah." He went on to advise them about the nature of the Sunnah in these kinds of situations.
The point of reference from this story is that the imaams' constant reading of Soorah As-Sajdah or another soorah with a verse of prostration has lead some people to understand that this is something that must be done in the Fajr Prayer on Friday mornings. I hold that this kind of actions is certainly not from the Sunnah of the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam).
In these kinds of situations, when the scholar or imaam fears that the people may assume that a recommended action is from the obligatory actions of the prayer, or that the prayer is not valid without it, then he must abandon that action sometimes to teach the people (its correct ruling).
It is established in the Sunnah of the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) that he recited Soorah As-Sajdah and Soorah Al-Insaan for the Fajr Prayer on Fridays . It is also established in other narrations that he recited other than them, parts of the Qur'aan that have no verse of prostration in them.
And Allaah, the Glorified and Exalted, has said :
( Then recite what is easy for you from the Qur'aan )
So based on this, based on the statement of the scholars that a Sunnah should be abandoned sometimes so that the people do not assume that it is an obligation and then begin to treat it like a religious obligation, I hold that such an imaam, one who always recites Soorah As-Sajdah, has actually gone against the Sunnah! The Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) was not known to have restricted himself to the recitation of only these two soorahs on Friday mornings.
Moreover, the one who only recites a soorah with a verse of prostration in it, even if it is not Soorah As-Sajdah, this is something that has no basis in the Sunnah at all!
Therefore, I say to this imaam that he must leave off this constant action, and teach the people that it is a Sunnah that is to be done sometimes and abandoned sometimes. He also should alternate his recitation with other soorahs, as the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) used to do for Fajr Prayer , and Allaah knows best.
 Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree #891 (2/460 of Fat-hul-Baaree) and Saheeh Muslim #2028 (3/406 of Sharh An-Nawawee)
 the meaning of Soorah Al-Muzzammil (73):20
 refer to the English translation of The Prophet's Prayer Described (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam), p.30-31
This was translated exclusively for www.bakkah.net from a cassette recording with the knowledge and permission of the shaykh, file no. AAMB023, dated 1423/7/18.
سبحانك اللهم وبحمدك
أشهد أن لا إله إلا أنت
أستغفرك وأتوب إليك