Obligation and duty [fardh and wajib]

Q412 :What is the difference between fardh and wajib?

A412 : The two terms fardh and wajib are very close in meaning. Nevertheless there is an important difference between them when they occur within the context of Islamic worship. In order to appreciate the difference, perhaps we should give them different terms in English. There, we should translate the term fardh as obligation and wajib as duty. Different schools of thought have different approaches to the distinction. For example, the Maliki and Shaf'ie schools of thought consider both terms synonymous in all matters of worship, with the exception of pilgrimage in which a fardh or an obligation, if omitted, renders the pilgrimage invalid. The best examples are attendance at Arafat on the ninth of Thul-Hajjah and the tawaf of Ifadah. A wajib or duty, is something the omission of which does not invalidate pilgrimage altogether, but requires compensation by sacrifice. As for prayers, fasting and zakah, fardh and wajib, or obligations and duty are synonymous, according to these two schools of thought. The other two schools, the Hanafi and the Hanbali assign different meanings to the two terms. Let us consider these differences with regard to prayer. The Hanafi school of thought lists 17 duties of prayer, considering the fact that the Prophet consistently did them in prayer as the reason for making them duties. If someone omits any of these during prayer, either inadvertently or through forgetfulness, all he needs to do is to offer two prostrations at the end of his prayer which are known as Sujood Assahu. If he deliberately omits any of these duties, he must repeat his prayer. If he does not, the prayer is valid, but he is considered to have committed an offense. According to the Hanbali school of thought, there are eight duties or wajib. If any of them is omitted deliberately and knowingly, the prayer is invalid. If it is omitted out of forgetfulness, it is compensated by two prostrations as we have explained. If any is omitted out of ignorance that it is a duty, the prayer is valid.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )