Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: What does a latecomer do when completing the rest of his prayer?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

In the Durr al-Mukhtar, a commentary on the Tanwir al-Absar, Imam `Ala’ al-Din al-Haskafi begins by explaining the principle regarding the latecomer, and then gives an example, stating:

“The latecomer… makes up the beginning of his prayer in terms of recitation, and the end of his prayer in terms of the tashahhud.

Therefore, someone who has caught one rakat in other than the fajr prayer needs to perform two rakats with the Fatiha and a sura [f: or its equivalent, which is 3 short verses], between which he sits for the tashahhud, and adds a fourth rakat in a 4-rakat prayer in which he only recites the Fatiha, and does not sit before it.” [Haskafi, Durr al-Mukhtar Sharh Tanwir al-Absar]

This may be a little terse, but if the principle and the subsequent example are understood things should be clear:

Scenario 1: If you prayed 1 rakat of a 4-rakat prayer with the imam, then when you get up:

– In terms of recitation you are in your first rakat and so you recite both the Fatiha with a sura. In terms of the whole prayer itself, you are in your second rakat, so you sit for the tashahhud.

– Then, the next rakat is your second rakat in terms of recitation, so the Fatiha and a sura are both recited.  Overall, this is your third rakat. If it is maghrib, you sit for your final sitting here, otherwise you stand up to perform the final rakat.

– Then you are in your third rakat in terms of recitation, so you only recite the Fatiha; it is your final rakat overall, so you sit for the final sitting.

Scenario 2: If you prayed 3 rakats of a 4-rakat prayer with the imam, when you get up:

– You are in your first rakat in terms of recitation [see the principle outlined by Imam al-Haskafi, above], so you recite both the Faitha and a sura; it is the final rakat you are praying, so you sit for the tashahhud, then send blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), and recite a dua, even if very short. [Note: reciting a dua at the end of the prayer, before the salams is a confirmed sunna in the Hanafi school.]

A Note About The Durr al-Mukhtar:

The Durr al-Mukhtar [‘The Chosen Pearl’] is one of the central late texts of the Hanafi school. Its author, Ala’ al-Din al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him), was the Grand Mufti of Damascus during the 11th Islamic century, and his works, particularly the Durr, profoundly influenced all texts that came after it, and became the central reference for legal details and rulings. This was due to a number of reasons, among them:

(a) The text it comments upon, Tumurtashi’s Tanwir al-Absar, written in the beginning of the 11th Islamic century, is the most detailed and precise text (matn) in Hanafi fiqh, as stated by Imam `Abd al-Hayy Lakhnawi in al-Fawa’id al-Bahiyya;

(b) Haskafi summarized and chose the most important conditions, details, exceptions, alternate positions, and legal discussions mentioned by the great later Hanafi scholars before him (such as Babatri, Kamal ibn al-Humam, Mulla Khusraw, Ibn Nujaym, and many others);

(c) All this was done with extreme precision and clarity, which is a great help for those busy giving fatwa or in court. [However, at times it can be concise to the point of becoming confusing, even to scholars, which is one of the many reasons there are so many supercommentaries on it.]

There were many supercommentaries written on the Durr al-Mukhtar. The most famous are the Hashiya of al-Tahtawi and the Hashiya of Ibn Abidin (named Radd al-Muhtar). The latter is the primary reference for legal verdicts in the Hanafi school everywhere the Hanafi school is practiced. [Note: the Indo-Pak scholars often refer to Ibn Abidin as “al-Shami” and to his Hashiya as “al-Shamiyya” or “Fatawa Shami”.]

Ibn Abidin had great admiration for the work of Ala’ al-Din al-Haskafi, authoring at least four commentaries on his works, and even naming his son after him, Ala’ al-Din Abidin. Ala’ al-Din Abidin wrote a completion on his father’s Hashiya, and authored a beautiful manual on worship, belief and halal & haram: al-Hadiyya al-Ala’iyya (Gifts of Guidance), which is being annotated and translated at present.

Ibn Abidin wrote his magnificent Radd al-Muhtar, the central reference for fatwa positions in the Hanafi school across the lands, as detailed marginal glosses (hashiya) on Durr al-Mukhtar. He said :

“al-Durr al-Mukhtar, the commentary on Tanwir al-Absar, has flown through the lands, and circled the cities, and become more manifest than the sun at mid-day, until people have busied themselves with it, and it has become their recourse. It is most deserving of being sought, and of the school (madhhab) being on it… for it contains more well-verified rulings, and sound details than many a longer work…” [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar, 1: 2]

And Allah alone gives success.

Walaikum assalam,
Faraz Rabbani.