Whilst browsing through the wonderful ‘Tafsir al-Mazhari’ of Qadi Thanaullah al-Uthmani (1/444-445) I came across the following discussion which happens to relate to the legal consequences of making a mistake or forgetting in an act of worship. It also links in with the previous post related to fasting, and hopefully will help in clarifying the position of the Hanafi scholars on this issue. Qadi Thanaullah said (note: Quranic verses are in bold, the remaining text is taken from the Tafsir):
Allah does not obligate anyone beyond his capacity. For him is what he has earned, and on him what he has incurred. “Our Lord, do not hold us accountable,- meaning do not punish us
If we forget meaning we left a thing which was compulsory upon us due to forgetfulness which is the opposite of remembrance (dhikr)
Or make a mistake, – in performing the correct action due to lack of attention. This verse indicates that being taken to account for a mistake and forgetfulness is not rationally impossible, for sins are like poison, just as consuming poison leads to destruction even if by mistake, likewise the committing of sins leads to punishment if not forgiven by Allah even if not done deliberately or results in the constriction of the chest and hardness of the heart.
Hadrat Shaykh al-Shahid [K:Mirza Mazhar Jan-e-Janan] (Allah be pleased with him) relates from his Shaykh, Sayyid al-Sanad: Nur Muhammad al-Budanawi (Allah be pleased with him) that if he was gifted with food or any other thing he would focus towards it with the look of insight (basirah) if he did not see darkness in it he would eat it or use it or give it to someone else. And perhaps he would bury some food that was gifted to him such that someone without insight would say to him: “O Shaykh What are you doing, why do you not feed others with it?”
So he would say: “Glory be to God (Subhan Allah) is it permitted for a Muslim who sees poisoned food and does not eat it to give it to someone else to eat?”
These men are those addressed by his (Allah bless him and give him peace) words: “Seek judgment from your heart even if your are given fatwas by muftis.” However it is established from the sunnah, and consensus has formed that Allah (Glorified is He) due to his Generosity and Mercy has pardoned this community (ummah) for its mistakes and forgetfulness… The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Raised from my community are their mistakes, forgetfulness and that which they are forced to do” which is reported by al-Tabarani from the hadith of ibn Umar…and the meaning of his (Allah bless him and give him peace) words “Raised from my community are their mistakes, forgetfulness…the hadith” is that it’s sin is raised and Allah the (Most High) does not take account for it in the next world. But there is no impact of this raising in this world, for making a mistake, forgetfulness, and being compelled is present and tangible and not raised in this world, the abode of action.
For if any of these occur it is necessary for the responsible person to follow it up (tadarak) as much as possible. It was due to this that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Whosoever slept through his prayer or forgot it then let him perform it when he remembers it.” Therefore the making up of the prayer, fasting and their like is not cancelled due to reasons such as making a mistake or forgetfulness by consensus (ijma). Likewise the two prostrations of forgetfulness in the prayer by consensus and the mistakenly killing of someone necessitates expiation (kaffarah) and being deprived of inheritance by consensus.
Note: The above is a rough draft and a work in progress. A number of other selections from this Tafsir are under preparation (Insha-Allah)