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The Salah

(Obligatory Prayer of the Muslim)

According to Quran and Sunnah

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Straighten the Rows!  |  Prophet's Prayer Described

The Traveler  |  Istikharah


Beginners

When just learning how to make salat, begin with the positions, starting with one rakat. The positions are as thus:

Number of rakats in each obligatory (fard) salah:

  • Fajr: 2

  • Dhuhr: 4

  • Asr: 4

  • Maghrib: 3

  • Isha: 4


Position Yourself

Announce your Niyya (intentions) silently in your heart

Make your Qibla (prayer direction) face the direction of the Ka'bah

  • The Noble Qur'an: Al-Baqara 2:143-145
       Thus We have made you [true Muslims -- real believers of Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunna  (legal ways)], a just (and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad ) be a witness over you.  And We made the Qiblah (prayer direction towards Jerusalem) which you used to face, only to test those who followed the Messenger (Muhammad ) from those who would turn on their heels (i.e. disobey the Messenger).  Indeed it was great (heavy) except for those whom Allah guided.  And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost (i.e. your prayers offered towards Jerusalem).  Truly, Allah is full of Kindness, the Most Merciful towards mankind.

         Verily! We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad's ) face towards the heaven.  Surely, We shall turn you to a Qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid-al-Haram (at Makka).  And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction.  Cerainly, the people who were given the Scriptures (i.e. Jews and the Christians) know well that, that (your turning towards the direction of the Ka'ba at Makka in prayers) is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.

         And even if you were to bring to the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) all the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they would not follow your Qiblah (prayer direction), nor are you going to follow their Qiblah (prayer direction).  

Position your feet about shoulder width with arms to side

  • Do not put either arm on your hip

    • Abu Hurairah (r.a.) relates: "The Messenger of Allah prohibited putting one's hands on one's hips during the salah."   [Abu Dawud]

  • Do not intertwine fingers

Straighten the Row and Narrow the Gap (For Group/Congregational Salah)

  • "...stand before Allâh with obedience..." [Qur'an 2:238]

  • An-Nu'maan Bin Basheer(r) reported that Allaah's Messenger used to straighten his companions' rows for the prayer like a straight arrow. One day, though, he was about to start the prayer when he noticed a man's chest protruding outside the row, and he said:  "Servants of Allaah! You either straight.. your rows, or Allaah would cause your faces to differ." [Recorded by Muslim, Abu Daawood, and others]

  • In another report, he said: "Straighten your rows, or Allah would cause your hearts to differ" [Recorded by Abu Daawood and Ibn Hibbaan]

  • Related Link: Straighten the Rows

Focus your eyes on where you will be prostrating later

  • He (saaws) used to incline his head during prayer and fix his sight towards the ground [Baihaqi and Haakim, who declared it saheeh and also agreed by Albaani.]
  • While he was in the Ka'bah, his sight did not leave the place of his prostration until he came out from it [Baihaqi and Haakim, who declared it saheeh and also agreed by Albaani.]


For group salah, you make the Rakat motions after the Imam and say nothing outloud, except "Amin" which you should not say before the Imam says it. Women are allowed to, but do not have to say "Amin", for it is not recommended for her to bring attention to her voice if around non-mahram men.  

For individual salah, or in the case that you are the Imam leading a group salah, use the following guidelines, insha'Allah.  Once these guidelines and learned, the muslim should study hadith to learn various other du'a that may be made in place of the basic ones listed here, as it is recommended that he alternates between the various du'a.


Rakat 1

  1. Stand.

    1. Takbir (raise both hands shoulder level and say "Allahu Akbar")

      • I was sitting with some of the companions of Allah's Apostle and we were discussing about the way of praying of the Prophet . Abu Humaid As-Saidi said, "I remember the prayer of Allah's Apostle better than any one of you. ... I saw him raising both his hands up to the level of the shoulders on saying the Takbir..." [Bukhari 1.791, Narrated Muhammad bin Amr bin Ata]

      • "Allah's Messenger used to raise both his hands up to the level of his shoulders when opening the As-Salat (the prayer); and on saying the Takbir for bowing. And on raising his head from bowing he used to do the same and then say Sami 'Allahu liman hamidah, Rabbana walakal-hamd.  And he did not do that (i.e. raising his hands) in prostrations."  [Bukhari 1.702, Narrated 'Abdullah bin Umar]

    2. Place the right hand on the left

      • The people were ordered to place the right hand on the left forearm in As-Salat (the prayer).  [Bukhari 1.707, Narrated Sahl bin Sa'd]

      • He (saaws) passed by a man who was praying and had placed his left arm on his right, so he pulled them apart and placed the right on the left. [Ahmad & Abu Dawood, saheeh isnaad]

      • Men should place hands across the chest (NOT navel). Women should also place hands across the chest.

        • Fiqh 1.132. Al-Kamal ibn al-Hamam is of the opinion, "There is no authentic hadith stating that one must place the hands under the chest or below the navel. According to the Hanifiyyah, the hands are to be placed below the navel, and the Shafiyyah say below the chest. Ahmad has two narrations corresponding to these two opinions. The correct position is somewhere in the middle - to be equal." Observes at-Tirmidhi, "Knowledgeable companions, their followers and those that came after them believed that one should put his right hand over the left during prayer, while some say above the navel and others say below the navel..." Nevertheless, there do exist hadith that the Propet, upon whom be peace, placed his hands on his chest. Reported Hulb at-Ta'i, "I saw the Prophet, upon whom be peace, praying with his right hand over his left upon his chest above the elbow." This is related by Ahmad and at-Tirmidhi, who grades it as hassan.

        • Fiqh 1.132. Reported Wa'il ibn Hajr, "Once when I prayed with the Prophet, upon whom be peace, he placed his right hand over his left upon his chest." The report is recorded by Ibn Khuzaimah, who considers it as sahih, and by Abu Dawud and an-Nasa'i with the wording, "Then he put his right hand over the back of his left wrist and forearm."

    3. Look down without looking around

      • The Prophet said, "What is wrong with those people who look towards the sky during the Salat (prayer)?"  his talk grew stern while delivering this speech and he said, "They should stop [looking towards the sky during the Salat (prayer)]; otherwise their eyes would be snatched away."  [Bukhari 1.717, Narrated Anas bin Malik]

      • I asked Allah's Messenger about looking hither and thither in As-Salat (the prayer).  He replied, "It is a way of stealing by which Satan takes away (a portion) from the Salat (prayer) of a person."  [Bukhari 1.718, Narrated 'Aisha]

    4. Commence with a prescribed Du'aa (supplication)

      • One example: Subhana kallah humma wa bi-hamdika watabara kasmuka wata 'ala jad-duka, wa la ilaha ghayruk, meaning "You are Glorified, O Allaah, and Praised; Your Name is Blessed;Your Majesty is Exalted, and none has the right to worshipped but You."

      • Another example: Allah humma ba'id baynee wa bayna khatayana kama ba'adta baynal mashriqi wal maghribi, Allah humma naq-qinee min khatayaya kama yunaq-qath thuwabul abyadu minad danasi , Allah hum maghsilnee min khatayaya bil maee wath thalji wal bardi, meaning "O Allaah! Separate me (far) from my sins as you have separated (far) the East and West. O Allaah ! Cleanse me of my sins as white cloth is cleansed from dirt. O Allaah ! Wash me of my sins with water, ice and snow."

    5. Seek refuge with Allah (swt) (silently)

      • "Audhu billahi mina shaitaan nir rajeem" (I seek refuge in Allah from the rejected Satan)

        • So when you want to recite the Qur'ân, seek refuge with Allâh from Shaitân (Satan), the outcast (the cursed one). [Qur'an 16:98]

    6. Say Bismillah ahRahman nirRaheem (silently)

    7. Recite Surah Al-Fatihah (Surah 1)

      • Forgetting or deliberately neglecting to recite Al-Fatihah, invalidates the prayer.

        • Allah's Messenger said, "Whoever does not recite Surat Al-Fatiha (the first Surah of the Qur'an) in this Salat (prayer), his Salat (prayer) is invalid."  [Bukhari 1.718, Narrated 'Ubada bin As'Samit]

      • Recite outloud for Fajr, Maghrib, and Isha Salah; silently for Zuhr, Asr or Sunnah Salah

    8. Say "Amin"

    9. Recite a different Surah of at least three ayat (verses) in length

      • It is sunnah for the person to recite a section of the Qur'an after al-Fatihah during the two rak'ah of the morning prayer and the Friday prayer, and the first two rak'ah of the noon, afternoon, sunset and night prayers, and in all of the rak'ah of the superogatory prayers. Abu Qatadah reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, would recite al-Fatihah and some surah in the first two rak'ah of the noon prayer, and only al-Fatihah in the last two rak'ah. Sometimes he would recite some verses. The first rak'ah's recital would be longer than the second. That was how it was done in the afternoon and morning prayers. [al-Bukhari, Muslim and by Abu Dawud]

  2. Bow. (Rukoo')

    1. Takbir (raise both hands shoulder level and say "Allahu Akbar")

    2. Make Rukoo' (Bow)

      • Place palms on the knees (as though grasping them)

        • I offered prayer beside my father and approximated both my hands and placed them in between the knees. My father told me not to do so and said, "We used to do the same but we were forbidden (by the Prophet) to do it and were ordered to place the hands on the knees." [Bukhari 1.756, Narrated Musab bin Sad]

      • Space your fingers out

      • Keep your elbows away from your sides.

      • Make your back level and not curved.

      • Be at ease

    3. Silently make Adhkaar (supplication and remembrance of Allah) in Rukoo'

      • Reported Hudhaifah, "I prayed with the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, and while bowing he would say, 'Subhana Rabiyy al-'Adheem. (Glory to my Lord, the Exalted)" [Muslim, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa'i, at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah]

      • The phrase Subhana Rabiyy al-'Adheem wa bihamdihi has been related through a number of chains, but all of them are weak. Ash-Shaukani maintains, "The different chains support each other. It is perfectly acceptable for one who is praying to limit himself to Subhana Rabiyy al-'Adheem or to add one of the following:

        • The Prophet used to say in his bowing and prostrations, "Subhanaka-Allahumma Rabbana wa-bihamdika Allahumma-ighfirli. (I honor Allah from all what (unsuitable things) is ascribed to Him. O Allah Our Lord! And all the praises are for You. O Allah! Forgive me)." [Bukhari 1.760, Narrated 'Aisah, r.a.]

        • The Prophet used to say frequently in his bowing and prostrations "Subhanaka-Allahumma Rabbana Wabihamdika, Allahumma Ighfir-li" (I honor Allah from all what (unsuitable things) is ascribed to Him, O Allah! Our Lord! All praises are for You. O Allah! Forgive me). In this way he was acting on what was explained to him in the Holy Qur'an. [Bukhari 1.781, Narrated 'Aisah, r.a., also related by Ahmad, Muslim and others]

  3. Stand.

    1. Straighten up back (stand up) and say "Sami Allahu liman humida" (Allah listens to the one who praises Him).

      • Narrated Ahmad & Tabaraani in Mu'jam al-Kabeer with a saheeh isnaad: The Prophet used to say: Allah, Mighty and Sublime, does not look at the prayer of the slave who does not make his backbone upright in between his bowings and prostrations.

    2. While standing, say "Rabbana walakal Hamd" (Our Lord, [and] to You be all Praise.)

      • "...And on raising his head from bowing he used to do the same and then say Sami 'Allahu liman hamidah, Rabbana walakal-hamd..."  [Bukhari 1.702, Narrated 'Abdullah bin Umar]

    3. Takbir (raise both hands shoulder level and say "Allahu Akbar")

  4. Prostrate (Sajda)

    1. Position yourself: Kneel on the floor.  Prostrate head on the floor so that nose and forehead are touching the floor.  Also, the toes should touch the floor, and the palms of both hands. Do not allow elbows to touch the floor.  Toes should be bent forwards, pointing towards the Qiblah. Feet should be together, big toes meeting and heels meeting.   

      • The Prophet was ordered (by Allah) to prostrate on seven parts and not to tuck up the clothes or hair (while praying). Those parts are: the forehead (along with the tip of nose), both hands, both knees, and (toes of) both feet. [Bukhari 1.773, Narrated Ibn Abbas]

      • I was sitting with some of the companions of Allah's Apostle and we were discussing about the way of praying of the Prophet . Abu Humaid As-Saidi said, "I remember the prayer of Allah's Apostle better than any one of you. ... In prostrations, he placed both his hands on the ground with the forearms away from the ground and away from his body, and his toes were facing the Qibla..." [Bukhari 1.791, Narrated Muhammad bin Amr bin Ata]

    2. While in this position, in your heart, say a prescribed supplication such as, "Subhana rabbil Allah" 3 times or more, doing an odd number or repetitions, i.e. say it 3, 5, 7, 9, or 11 times.

      • Says at-Tirmidhi, "The scholars prefer the one bowing or prostrating to make the glorifications at least three times." According to the majority, the minimum that is sufficient for the prostrations or bowings is one glorification.

      • "I have prohibited you from reciting while bowing or prostrating. During the bowing, glorify the Lord. During the prostrations, strive your hardest in making supplications. Most likely, you will be listened to." [Related by Ahmad and Muslim]

      • The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to say while prostrating himself: O Lord, forgive me all my sins, small and great, first and last, open and secret. [Muslim 980, Narrated Abu Hurayrah]

  5. Sit (Qa'dah)

    1. Tuck your left foot under your right foot, raise your head (eyes focused on prostration spot), and come to a sitting position.

    2. Say, "Allahu Akbar" without raising hands.

    3. Pause briefly in this position.

      • The Prophet  used to say: Allah, Mighty and Sublime, does not look at the prayer of the slave who does not make his backbone upright in between his bowings and prostrations.  [Narrated Ahmad & Tabaraani in Mu'jam al-Kabeer with a saheeh isnaad]

  6. Prostrate (Sajda) [Same as above.]

  7. Sit  [Same as above.]

    • Abu Qilaba (Radhiallaho anho) said, "Malik bin Huwairith came to this Mosque of ours and said, 'I pray in front of you and my aim is not to lead the prayer but to show you the way in which the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wasallam) used to pray.' I asked Abu Qilaba, 'How did he use to pray?' He replied, '(The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wasallam) used to pray) like this Sheikh of ours and the Sheikh used to sit for a while after the prostration, before getting up after the first Rak'a.' " [Bukhari 1/645, Narrated Aiyub]


Rakat 2

  1. Repeat all the same steps as Rakat 1

    • Regarding Standing back up from the first rakat

      • Use your hands to push yourself up

        • Abu Qilaba said, "Malik bin Huwairith came to us and led us in the prayer in this mosque of ours and said, 'I lead you in prayer but I do not want to offer the prayer but just to show you how Allah's Apostle performed his prayers." I asked Abu Qilaba, "How was the prayer of Malik bin Huwairith?" He replied, "Like the prayer of this Sheikh of ours-- i.e. 'Amr bin Salima." That Sheikh used to pronounce the Takbir perfectly and when he raised his head from the second prostration he would sit for a while and then support himself on the ground and get up.  [Bukhari 1:787, Narrated Aiyub]

  2. Tashahhud

    • Position yourself

      • I was sitting with some of the companions of Allah's Apostle and we were discussing about the way of praying of the Prophet. Abu Humaid As-Saidi said, "I remember the prayer of Allah's Apostle better than any one of you. ... On sitting in the second Rak'a he sat on his left foot and propped up the right one; and in the last Rak'a he pushed his left foot forward and kept the other foot propped up and sat over the buttocks." [Bukhari 1.791, Narrated Muhammad bin Amr bin Ata]

    • Place the right hand on the right thigh and point out index finger, moving finger up and down in a calm manner.  Do not move it in circles.

      • The sunnah with regards to pointing is to move the forefinger throughout the tashahhud,in accordance with the hadeeth of Wail ibn Hujr(ra) -which is reported by Ahmad(4/138),Abu Daawood (no.727), an-Nasaaee(2/236), ad-Daarimee (1/314-315), Ibn ul-Jaarood(no.208) and Ibn Khuzaimah (no.714) with Saheeh isnaad and there occurs in it, "...then he closed his fingers and made a ring,then he raised his finger and I saw him moving it and making duaa with it, then I came in a time and when it was cold and so I saw the people with cloaks upon them moving their hands beneath their clothes due to the cold".

      • As for the hadeeth of Abdullah ibn az-Zubair(ra)-where in is mentioned that the prophet (saw) used to point with his finger when he made duaa and not move it. It is reported by Abu Dawood(no.989); its isnaad is not authentic since it contains Muhammad ibn 'Ajalah, about whom adh-Dhabee says, "of average memory," The ahadeeth of the like of him are not acceptable if they contradict anyone who is more reliable than him and his narration becomes shaadh and therefore Muslim does not report from him except to endorse something. Even if this hadeeth were established, then it is a denial and the hadeeth of Waail ibn Hujr is affirming.That which affirms is taken over that which denies, since the one who affirms something has an increase in knowledge and he knows is a proof against he who does not.This sunnah is also from the sayings of Imaam Maalik(ra)-as occurs in the book ar-Risaalah of Abdullah ibn Abee Zaid al-Qairwanee al-Maalikee (p.27) and the book al-Fiqh alal madhaahib il-Arbaah(no.98).Imaam Ahmad was asked,Should a man point his finger in the Prayer? So he said,"Yes strongly." See Masaail ul-Imaam Ahmad,the narration of Ibn Haani(1/80).

    • Make the following du'a while moving index finger of right hand.

      • When we prayed with the Prophet we used to say: As-Salam be on Allah from His worshipers, As-Salam be on Gabriel, As-Salam be on Michael, As-Salam be on so-and-so. When the Prophet finished his prayer, he faced us and said, "Allah Himself is As-Salam (Peace), so when one sits in the prayer, one should say, 'At-Tahiyatu-lillahi Was-Salawatu, Wat-Taiyibatu, As-Salamu 'Alaika aiyuhan-Nabiyyu wa Rah-matul-iahi wa Barakatuhu, As-Salamu 'Alaina wa 'ala 'Ibadillahi assalihin,' for if he says so, then it will be for all the pious slave of Allah in the Heavens and the Earth. (Then he should say), 'Ash-hadu an la ilaha illalllahu wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan 'Abduhu wa rasulu-hu,' and then he can choose whatever speech (i.e. invocation) he wishes." [Bukhari 8.249, Narrated Abdullah]

      • Yahya related to me from Malik from Nafi that Abdullah ibn Umar used to say the tashahhud saying, "In the name of Allah. Greetings belong to Allah. Prayers belong to Allah. Pure actions belong to Allah. Peace be on the Prophet and the mercy of Allah and His blessings. Peace be on us and on the slaves of Allah who are salihun. I testify that there is no god except Allah. I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."
        "Bismillah, at-tahiyatu lillah, as-salawatu lillah, az-zakiyatu lillah. As-salamu ala'n-nabiyyi wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. As-salamu alayna wa ala ibadi'llahi's-salihin. Shahidtu an la ilaha illallah. Shahidtu anna Muhammadu'r-rasulu'llah."
             He used to say this after the first two rakas and he would make supplication with whatever seemed fit to him when the tashahhud was completed. When he sat at the end of the prayer, he did the tashahhud in a similar manner, except that after the tashahhud he made supplication with whatever seemed fit to him.

      • When he had completed the tashahhud and intended to say the Tasleem, he said, "Peace be on the Prophet and His mercy and blessings. Peace be upon us and on the slaves of Allah who are salihun."
             "As-salamu ala'n-nabiyyi wa rahmatu'llahi wa barakatuhu. As-salamu alayna wa ala ibadi'llahi'ssalihin "
             He then said, "Peace be upon you" to his right, and would return the greeting to the imam, and if anyone said "Peace be upon you" from his left he would return the greeting to him.

      • At the end the LAST rakat, add the following to the end of the Tashahud prayer/supplication:

        • Allah humma sal-li 'ala Muhammadin wa 'ala ali Muhammadin, Kama sal-layta 'ala Ibraheema wa 'ala ali ibraheema innaka hameedum majeed, wa barik 'ala Muhammadin wa 'ala ali Muhammadin, Kama barakta 'ala Ibraheema wa 'ala ali ibraheema innaka hameedum majeed

        • This means: O Allah, send Grace and Honour on Muhammad and on the family and true followers of Muhammad just as you sent Grace and Honour on Ibrahim and on the family and true followers of Ibrahim. Surely, you are praiseworthy, The Great. O Allah, send blessings on Muhammad and on the family and true followers of Muhammad just as you sent blessings on Ibrahim and on the family and true followers of Ibrahim. Surely, you are praiseworthy, The Great .

  3. Salaam out. (Tasleem)

    • First, look towards your right shoulder and, speaking to the angel that records your good deeds, say "as sala'amu alaikum" or a better greeting (i.e. "as sala'amu alaikum wa rahmatullahi").

    • It is optional to then turn your head and look towards your left shoulder, speaking to the angel that records your bad deeds, and give the same or lesser greeting as to your right.


Additional Info

Regarding the Takbir upon standing up for a new rakat:

  • When standing up to begin rakat 2 and 4, Do NOT lift hands, but DO say "Allahu Akbar" (Takbir).

  • When standing up to begin the 3rd rakat, DO lift hands shoulder-height and say "Allahu Akbar" (Takbir).

If you are performing more than two rakats, then:

  • Do not salam out (Tasleem) until after your last rakat.

  • For rakats 3 and/or 4, only recite ONE surah when standing (Al-Fatihah), instead of 2.

  • If your third rakat is also your last rakat, do Tashahud right before Tasleem.

The prayer of a sick person:

  • 'Imran ibn Husain (r.a.) said, "I was suffering from hemorrhoids (piles), so I asked the Messenger of Allah (saaws) and he said: Pray standing; if you are not able, then sitting down; if you are not able to do so, then pray lying down. [Bukhari, Abu Dawood and Ahmad]

  • 'Imran ibn Husain also said, "I asked him (saaws) about the prayer of a man while sitting, so he said: He who prays standing, that is better; he who prays sitting, his reward is half that of the former. He who prays lying down (and in another narration: reclining), has half the reward of the one who sits." [Bukhari, Abu Daawood and Ahmand. Khattaabi said, "The meaning of 'Imran's hadeeth is intended for a sick person who is able to undergo hardship and stand with difficulty. Hence the reward of praying sitting has been made half of the reward of praying standing: encouraging him to pray standing while allowing him to sit." Ibn Hajr said in Fath al-Baari (2/468): "This deduction is valid.".]

  • This applies to the sick person, for Anas (r.a.) said, "The Messenger of Allaah (saaws) came out to the people while they were praying sitting due to illness, so he said: Verily, the prayer of one who sits is (worth) half of the prayer of the one who stands. [Ahmad & Ibn Maajah with a saheeh sanad]


Action Items for the Muttaqun:

  • Do salah with sincerity and humbleness, recognizing that you are in the presence of your Lord, subhana wa ta'ala.

  • Make each salah at the prescribed time.  Plan your life around salah, not the other way around.  For instance, don't just try to squeeze salah into a busy day - plan your busy day around the prescribed times for salah, making the salah the priority.

  • Enjoy your salah!   Be at peace with your Creator.  You have found your purpose in life... it is Ibadah (to worship Allah).

Remember... Allah, subhana watala, sees everything we do!


Related Links: Al-Khushu
Straighten the Rows
Text from Book: The Prophet's Manner of Performing Prayers by Sheikh ibn Baaz
Audio from Book: The Prophet's Prayer Described by Sheikh Albaani


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