“Who is the Worst Thief?”

Answered by Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi

The Question:

“I’ve heard of a tradition of the Prophet [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] that discusses stealing from one’s prayers? Could you please explain the origin of this hadith and what it means to steal from one’s prayer?”

Br. William Octobragim

The Answer:

This hadith was related by a good number of the Prophet’s Companions [May Allah be pleased with them].

An example is the hadith of Abu Qatada who stated that the Prophet [May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] said, “The worst type of thief is the one who steals from his prayer!” The Companions asked, “Oh Messenger of Allah [May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him]! How does one steal from his prayers?” The Prophet [May Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him] responded, “He does not complete his bowing, nor his prostrations.” Or he said [May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him], “He does not straighten his backbone while bowing and prostrating.”

The Status of this Tradition:

This tradition of the Prophet [May God’s peace and blessings be upon him] was related by Ahmed, al-Tabarani, Ibn al-Khuzaymah, and al-Hakim who said it met the requirements of al-Bukhari and Muslim. Imam al-Dhahabi agreed with al-Hakim and al-Haythami stated, about al-Tabarani’s narration, “Its narrators are authentic.”

In addition, this tradition was related on behalf of Abu Hurairah, Abu Sa’id al-Khudari and ‘Abdullah bin Mughfal [may Allah be pleased with them all.]

The Meaning of this Tradition:

Regarding this tradition’s meaning, then it is clear for one who give thought and reflects on his/her religion. The reason that such a person is the worst type of thief is because stealing usually involves taking something from another however, this person IS STEALING FROM HIMSELF [from his reward] and from something he has no right to take: the life of his/her prayer. Namely, it’s concentration, reverence, and tranquility. And without these things prayer loses its meaning and relevance. Allah says, “[It is] Guaranteed [that], the believers were successful*. Those who observe reverence in their prayers.” [The Believers: 1,2]

Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi

* Although the past tense verb is used here, it is considered a complete past tense verb which encompasses the past, present and future. One may ask, why is the past tense verb used? There are a number of factors discussed by the scholars of rhetoric. One of the most interesting is that the past tense verb is used to show that the success of the believers is such that, if they are sincere in their faith and practice, it is as though it has already happened! [translator]

Translated from Contemporary Legal Rulings Vol. 3 Pg. 537-538


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  1. Bismillah.
    As-salamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh . . .

    Sidi Suhaib:

    You might want to reconsider the title of this blog post here.

    Sincerely your brother,
    khalil abu asmaa

  2. admin says:

    Asalamu alaykum,

    I cannot thank enough for pointing that out. Our brothers and sisters are our one of our greatest blessings.


  3. Bismillah.
    Wa alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh . . .

    No problem dear brother. It was certainly not intentional (but it was certainly confusing for a second there!… ;-)

    Just wanted to make sure that those with no scruples would not have even the slightest chance to think otherwise about you…

    May Allah bless and protect you and guide your ways… Amin.

  4. susan says:

    subhan Allah.
    may Allah make us from those who have concentration, reverance, tranquility and those that straighten their backbone when bowing and prostrating. ameen :)

  5. ALLAHU AKBAR says:

    JEZAK ALLAHU KHAYRIN for using “his/her” instead of just “his.”

    it really makes a difference to a female reader/female listening to a lecture.

  6. Ali says:

    speech of shaykh abul hasan ali nadwi, introduced by shaykh yusuf qaradawi:


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