The Quranic term for prayer is Salah, which stands for ‘attending to, praying or seeking nearness to Allah’.
The Quran has taught all the essentials of Salah and the Holy Prophet has demonstrated practically how it has to be observed and performed.
Times for Salah
- Fajr (Morning): Between break of dawn and the end of its time is as long as the sun has not risen.
- Zuhr (Early afternoon): It starts when the sun declines and ends when the shadow of everything becomes twice its length.
- Asr (Late afternoon): It starts when the time of Zuhr departs. The end of its time is as long as the sun has not set.
- Maghrib (Evening): Begins soon after sunset. The end of its time is as long as the twilight has not disappeared. [The twilight is the whiteness on the horizon after the redness.]
- Isha (Night): Begins when the twilight has disappeared. The end of its time is as long as the dawn has not yet risen.
The beginning of the time for witr is after Isha. The end of its time is as long as the dawn has not risen
It is recommended:
- To brighten Fajr.
- To cool Zuhr in the summer, and to hasten it in winter.
- To delay Asr as long as the sun has not changed its color.
- To hasten Maghrib.
- To delay Isha to just before one third of the night has passed.
Disliked and Prohibited Times:
It is prohibited to offer any prayer at the following times:
- When the sun is rising.
- When the sun is at its stationary point at midday.
- When the sun is setting.
If the sun is setting, one does not perform a funeral prayer, nor make the prostration of recitation nor perform any other prayer except the Asr of that day
It is disliked (makruh), though not prohibited, to offer prayer at the following times:
- When one has developed a desire for passing stool, discharging urine, or releasing wind.
- When one is hungry and food is ready, and one fears that concentration and devotion in salah will not be achieved without first satisfying the hunger.
It is disliked (makruh), though not prohibited, to offer nafl (voluntary salah) at the following times:
- When the Imam has risen from his place to deliver khutbah (sermon).
- At dawn, except the 2 rakah’s (units) of sunnah of Fajr.
- After Fajr till the sun has risen completely.
- After Asr until the sunset. However, there is no harm in praying missed prayers, performing prostration of recitation and praying over a funeral. One does not perform the two rakah of circumambulation (tawaf).
- When a Fard congregational prayer is about to begin.
Adhan is the call for the daily prayers. The person who calls the adhan is called a mu'adhin. A mu'adhin calls the adhan five times a day before Muslims are to perform their daily salah (prayer). The adhan is composed of specific words and phrases to be recited loudly in the Arabic language so that the neighbors can recognize the time schedule for the prayers.
Iqamah means ‘to stand up’. As a term iqamah stands for repeating the words of adhan just before the commencement of the congregational prayer. Iqamah is like adhan, except that one adds after Hayya ‘ala-l falah, Qad qamat-is-salah twice.
Sunnah Actions in Adhan
- One should be leisurely in adhan, and hasten iqamah.
- One faces the qiblah.
- When one reaches Salah and Falah one turns one’s face right and left.
- One makes adhan and iqamah for missed prayers. If one missed more than one prayer, one makes adhan and iqamah for the first, and for the remainder has the choice:
- if one wishes, one makes adhan and iqamah both
- if one wishes, one suffices with iqamah
- It is appropriate that one make adhan in a state of purity, but if one makes adhan without purity, it is valid. It is disliked to make iqamah without wudu, or the one who needs ghusl.
- One does not make adhan for a prayer before its time has entered.
Adhan and Iqamah: The Prescribed Way
The mu’adhin should face qiblah and with his right fingers stuck in the cavity of ear, should pronounce the following words in a loud voice:
Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar (4 times)
Allah is Greatest! Allah is Greatest!
Allah is Greatest! Allah is Greatest!
Ash-hadu al-la illaha ill-Allah Ash-hadu al-la illaha ill-Allah (2 times)
I bear witness that there is no god but Allah
I bear witness that there is no god but Allah
Ash-hadu anna Muhammad-ar-Rasulullah Ash-hadu anna Muhammad-ar-Rasulullah (2 times)
I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger
I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger
Hayya ala-s-salah Hayya ala-s-salah (2 times)
Hasten to the Prayer
Hasten to the Prayer
Hayya ala-l-falah Hayya ala-l-falah (2 times)
Hasten to real success
Hasten to real success
Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar (2 times)
Allah is Greatest!
Allah is Greatest!
La ilaha ill-Allah (1 time)
There is no god but Allah
For Fajr salah, following words are repeated twice after Hayya ala-l-falah
As-Salatu khair-um-min-an-naum (2 times)
Prayer is better than sleep
Prayer is better than sleep
After pronouncing Allahu Akbar twice, the muadhin should observe a pause so that the listeners may also repeat the words twice. He should observe a pause after each pronouncement so that the listeners may also respond accordingly.
Iqamah is pronounced in the same way. The only difference is that it is pronounced while standing in the row in a low voice, without putting the fingers in the cavity of ears and without turning the face to the right or the left.
After pronouncing hayya ala-l-falah, the following words have to be pronounced twice
Qad Qamat-is-Salah Qad Qamat-is-Salah
Prayer has begun
Prayer has begun
Response to Adhan and Supplication
- One should listen to adhan with full attention and reverence and should repeat the words after the mua’dhin.
- But when he says hayya ala-s-salah and hayya ala-l-falah, one should respond with:
- la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah
We are helpless to do good or abstain from evil without Allah's help
- In Fajr adhan, when mu’adhin says as-Salatu khair-um-min-an-naum, one should respond with:
- Sadaqta wa bararta
You have uttered the truth and counseled aright
- After hearing the adhan, one should invoke Allah’s blessings on Prophet Muhammad.
- Responding to the words of iqamah – Qad qamat-is-Salah, one should say:
- Aqamaha-Allah-u wa adamaha
May Allah keep it established forever!
Dua after Adhan
Allahumma rabba haazihi-d-da’watit tammah, wassala til Qaimah, ati Muhammadanil wasilata wal fadilata wad darajatar rafi’ah, wab’athhu maqamum mahmudanillazi wa’ad tahu wa arzuqna shafa’atahu yawmal qiamah, innaka la tukhliful mi’ad.
O Allah, Lord of this complete call and prayer of ours, grant Muhammad the right of intercession, the most favored and excellent position and raise him to the praiseworthy place that you have promised him and bestow upon his intercession on the Day of Judgment, for you do not fail in your promise.
- It is compulsory (Sunnah Mu’akkadah) to pronounce adhan for the fard salah.
- Adhan has to be pronounced in Arabic.
- Adhan is not required for funeral prayer, Eid prayers, nafl or wajib prayer.
- While pronouncing adhan, mu’adhin is not permitted to talk or respond to a greeting.
Constituents & Manners of Performing the Salah
Kinds of Salah
- Fard: Obligatory salah that a Muslim must perform. There are two types of fard:
Fard ‘Ayn: Must be performed by every Muslim. e.g. the five daily salah;
Fard Kifayah: if some members of the community offer others will be excused from performing this salah, e.g. funeral prayer.
- Wajib: These also have to be performed and they come next in importance to Fard, e.g. Eid salah and witr salah.
- Sunnah: Salah which Prophet Muhammad himself offered. There are two types of sunnah salah:
Sunnah Mu'akkadah: Salah Prophet Muhammad always performed
Sunnah Ghayr Mu'akkadah: Salah he occasionally performed.
- Nafl: Salah that you can offer on your own for more reward.
Pre-Requisites (Conditions) of Salah
- Being in a state of ritual purity.
- Cleanliness of clothes, body and place of prayer.
- Covering the body, for males, from navel to knees. For females, covering the whole body except the face, hands and feet below the ankles.
- Facing qiblah unless
- One is in fear, for then one prays in whatever direction one can.
- One is not sure of qiblah, and there is no one whom he could ask, he exercises his judgment and prays. Then if he finds out that he was mistaken, by being informed after he had prayed, there is no repetition due upon him. If he finds out while he is engaged in salah, he turns to the qiblah and continues.
- Conviction that the time for salah has entered
- Making an intention before beginning the prayer
- Pronouncing the opening invocation (takbir, saying Allahu Akbar). In the obligatory prayer this must be done standing, if one is able to stand without genuine hardship.
The Integral (Arkan) of Salah
- Qiyam: Standing upright.
- Qirah: Recitation of Surah al-Fatiha and some verses from the Quran.
- Ruku’: Bowing down in a way so as to form a right angle with legs.
- Sujud: Prostrating in such a way that the palms of both hands, forehead, tip of the nose, knees and the toes of both feet touch the ground. There must be enough space between the arms, chest, legs and belly so that they do not touch each other but remain apart.
- Al-Qu’udul Akhir: The final sitting, for the measure of tashahhud. Sitting in such a way as to keep the right foot upright on the toes and the left foot in a reclining position under the buttocks. This is done on the last rakah.
Wajib Actions of Salah
- Recitation of Surah al-Fatiha in every rak’ah.
- Adding a surah (or three verses) in the first two rak’ahs of fard, and in every rak’ah of sunnah, witr and nafl.
- Standing up after ruku’.
- Linking the nose with the forehead for sujud.
- Tranquility in each position (ruku’, standing after it, sujud, sitting between the two sajdah)
- To sit for reciting the first tashahhud in a three and four rak’ah salah.
- Standing up for the third rak’ah without any delay after the tashahhud.
- Vocalizing the vocal rak’ahs [for the imam], and subduing the subdued ones [for all
- If one is imam, he vocalizes the recitation in Fajr, and the first two rak’ah of Maghrib and Isha, and subdues that which is after the first two.
- If one is solitary, he has the choice: if he wishes, he may recite aloud [where the imam would]. Making [his voice] audible to himself, or if he wills, he may subdue [his voice in all recitation].
- The imam subdues [the recitation] in [every rak’ah of] Zuhr and Asr.
- The words of salam.
- To maintain the order and sequence in the performance of qiyam, qirah, ruku, sujud, qu’ud and salam.
- To recite Dua al-Qunut in the third rak’ah of witr salah.
- To do Sajdatu-s Sahw (prostration of inattentiveness) in case of mistakes during salah.
Sunnah Actions of Salah
- Raising both hands to the ears when saying Allahu Akbar.
- Facing towards qiblah when saying Allahu Akbar.
- The saying aloud by the imam Allahu Akbar in different stages of salah and Sami Allahu li man Hamidah (Allah listens to those who praise Him) after ruku at the time of getting up.
- Placing the right hand over the left hand and below the navel or on the chest.
- Reciting only Surah al-Fatiha (silently) in the third and fourth rak’ah of all Fard salah.
- Saying Amin on completing Surah al-Fatiha.
- Saying Subhana Rabbiy-al Azim three times in ruku and Subhana Rabbiy-al A’la three times in sujud.
- Keeping the head and neck straight in ruku.
- The Imam saying Sami Allahu li man Hamidah and the followers saying Rabbana Lak-al-Hamd (O our Lord praise be to You)
- While going into sujud, the knees have to be placed on the floor first followed by the hands, nose and forehead.
- Placing palms on thighs when sitting between sujud.
- Lifting the forefinger of the right hand at the words Ash hadu-an-la ilaha when reciting tashahhud.
- Reciting darud after the final tashahhud.
- Turning the head to the right and then to the left in salam.
The Description of Salah
When a man enters salah, he pronounces takbir, and
- Raises his hands with the takbir until his thumbs are alongside his earlobes.
- He rests his right hand on his left, and brings them together under his navel.
- Then, he says: Subhanakallahumma wa-bi-hamndika wa-tabarakasmuka wa-ta`ala jadduka wa-la ilaha ghayruk.
- Then, he seeks refuge with Allah from Satan, the outcast, and
- [then he] recites Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim, subduing both of them.
- Then, he recites the Surah al-Fatiha [Opening chapter of the Book], and a surah - or three verses of any surah he wishes - along with it.
- When the imam says wa-lad-dallin, he says Amin, and the followers also say it, [all of them] subduing it.
- Then, he pronounces takbir, and bows.
- [In ruku`] he rests his hands on his knees, spreads his fingers, extends his back and neither raises his head nor droops it.
- He says in ruku`, Subhana rabbiy-al-`azim thrice, and that is its minimum [of perfection].
- Then, he raises his head from ruku` saying Sami`Allahu li-man Hamidah.
- The followers [and imam] say Rabbana lakal-Hamd.
Then, when he has straightened up to the standing position, he pronounces takbir, and performs sajdah, resting his hands on the ground,
- Putting his face between his palms, and prostrating on his nose and forehead. He reveals his upper arms, separates his belly from his thighs, and turns his toes towards the qiblah.
- He says in his sujud, Subhana rabbiyal-a`la thrice, and that is its minimum [of perfection].
Then, he raises his head, pronouncing takbir, and then when he is calm in sitting, he pronounces takbir and performs sajdah. Then, when he is calm in sujud, he pronounces takbir.
- He straightens up to the standing position on the fronts of his feet. He does not sit, nor lean on the ground with his hands.
He does in the second rak`ah similar to what he did in the first rak`ah, except that he does not recite the opening invocation, nor the seeking of refuge.
He does not raise his hands except at the first takbir.
- When he raises his head from the second sajdah in the second rak`ah, he spreads out his left leg and sits on it, and lays down the right [leg] and directs its toes toward the qiblah. He places his hands on his thighs and stretches out his fingers and pronounces the tashahhud.
He does not add to this in the first sitting.
- He recites the Opening [Chapter] of the Book, in particular, in the last two rak`ah [of Fard].
When he sits at the end of the salah, he sits as he sat in the first and, recites the tashahhud.
- He invokes blessings on the Prophet .
- He recites whatever invocations he wants; such as resemble the words of the Qur’an and the transmitted invocations. He should not recite invocations that resemble the speech of mankind [amongst themselves].
- Then, he makes salam to his right, saying, As-salamu `alaykum wa-rahmatullah, and to his left similarly.
Actions disliked in Salah
- It is disliked for the one praying to fidget with his clothes or with his body.
- He should not put his hands on his hips.
- He should not hang his garment over himself [without wearing it properly].
- He should not plait his hair.
- He should gather his clothes.
- He should not glance about.
- He should not sit like a dog.
- He should not return the greeting of salam with his tongue [for that invalidates the prayer], and not [even] with his hand.
- He should not sit cross-legged except if he has an excuse.
Disruptors and Nullifiers of Salah
- He should not eat or drink.
- If hadath overtakes him, he turns away, and if he was imam, he appoints a replacement. He then makes wudu and resumes his salah, but for him to re-start is superior.
- If hadath overtakes him before the tashahhud, he makes wudu and makes salah.
- If, after the tashahhud, he willfully effects hadath or salah or performed an action that is inconsistent with salah, his salah has been performed.
- If he slept and had an erotic dream, or became insane, or lost consciousness, or laughed out loud, he re-starts the wudu’ and salah.
- If he spoke in his salah, intentionally or by mistake, his salah is nullified.
- Exposure of the nakedness, or presence of filth greater than the excusable amount, for the duration of three tasbih, nullifies the salah.
- If one who had performed tayammum saw water [while] in his salah, his salah is nullified, and similarly:
- If he had been naked, and then found a garment [while in prayer], or
- If he had been gesturing, and then became capable of [performing] ruku` and sujud. Or
- If the sun rose in salat al-Fajr, or the time of `Asr entered in [salat al-] Jumu`ah, or
- If he had wiped on a splint, and it fell off due to healing, or
- If he had been an excused person, and then his excuse ceased.
Things which Necessitate or Permit Breaking the Prayer
It is obligatory to break the salah
- To save life
- To prevent injury to others.
It is permissible to break it: upon the threat of theft or harm of his own or someone else’s property.
Sajdah Sahw (Prostration of Inattentiveness)
- The prostration of inattentiveness is wajib, for excess or deficiency, [and it is preferably] after salam. Then, he performs two sajdah, then he [sits,] performs tashahhud and [then] performs salam.
- [The Prostration of] Inattentiveness is due if one added to the salah an action which is of its manner but not part of it, or by abandoning a [wajib] action [whose obligation is established by the] sunnah, such as in abandoning the recitation of the Opening of the Book, or the qunut, or the tashahhud, or the takbirs of the two `Ids, or the imam’s raising his voice in that which should be subdued, or subduing it in that which should be audible.
- The inattentiveness of the imam makes the sujud obligatory on the follower, but if the imam does not make the sujud, the follower does not make the sujud [either]. If the follower commits [an act of] inattentiveness, the sujud [of inattentiveness] is not due on the imam nor on the follower.
- Someone who inattentively omitted the first sitting, and then remembered while he was [still] closer to the sitting position, should sit down and recite the tashahhud. But, if he was closer to the standing position, he should not go back, but should prostrate for inattentiveness [at the end].
- Someone who inattentively missed the last sitting and thus stood up for a fifth [rak`ah] should return to the sitting as long as he has not performed sajdah [for the fifth]. He cancels the fifth [rak`ah] and performs the prostrations of inattentiveness.
If he bound the fifth [rak`ah] with a prostration, his fard is invalidated, and his salah turns into nafl, and he must add a sixth rak`ah to it.
- If he sat in the fourth [rak`ah] for the measure of the tashahhud, and then stood up without performing salam, thinking it to the first sitting, he goes back to sitting as long as he has not prostrated for the fifth [rak`ah], and [then] he performs salam.
If he bound the fifth with a sajdah, he adds another rak`ah to it, and his salah has been performed. The two [extra] rak`ah are nafl for him. He should perform the Prostrations of Inattentiveness.
- Someone who is assailed by doubt in his salah, such that he does not know whether he prayed three or four [rak`ah], then:
- If this is the first time this has happened to him, he re-starts the salah.
- If doubts assail him often, he builds upon his strong inclination if he has an inclination. If he does not have an idea, he builds upon certainty.
Prostration of Recitation
- The Prostrations of Recitation in the Qur’an are fourteen:
al-A`raf [7:206], ar-Ra`d [13:15], an-Nahl [16:50], Bani Isra’il/al-Isra [17:109], Maryam [19:58], the first [prostration] in al-Hajj [22:18], al-Furqan [25:60], an-Naml [27:26], As-Sajdah [32:15], As-Saad [38:24], al-Fussilat [41:38], an-Najm [53:62], al-Inshiqaq [84:21] and al-Alaq [96:19].
- Prostration is wajib in all these places, upon the reciter and the hearer - whether he intended to listen to the Qur’an or not.
- Whoever desires to prostrate [for recitation] should pronounce takbir without raising his hands, and prostrate, and then pronounce takbir and raise his head. There is no tashahhud due upon him, nor salam.
- If the imam recites a verse of prostration, he prostrates for it and the followers prostrates with him.
- If while they were in salah, they heard a verse of prostration from a man who was not in salah with them, they should not prostrate it in the salah, but they should prostrate it after the salah. If they did prostrate it in the salah, it does not suffice them, but it does nullify their salah.
- Someone who recited a verse of prostration, but did not prostrate for it by the time he entered the salah, and then recited it in salah and prostrated it, the prostration suffices him for both the recitations.
- If he recited it outside of salah, and then prostrated it, and then enter the salah, and then recited it again, he should prostrate, and the first prostration does not suffice him.
- Someone who repeats the recitation of a single sajdah [several times] in one sitting, a single sajdah suffices him.
- Whoever misses a prayer makes it up when he remembers it, and necessarily performs it before the prayer of the time, unless he fears missing the [time of] the current prayer, in which case he first performs the prayer of the time, and then makes up [the missed prayer].
- If he missed many prayers, he makes them up in sequence, as they were originally due, unless the missed prayers [are equal to or] exceed six prayers, in which case the sequence is waived on them.
- The sunnah salah is that one pray:
- two [rak`ah] after the rise of dawn,
- four [rak`ah] before Zuhr, and two after it
- four before `Asr, or if one wishes two,
- two [rak`ah] after Maghrib,
- four [rak`ah] before `Isha’, and four after it, or if he wishes two.
- In the supererogatory (nafl) of the day: if one wishes, he can pray two rak`ah with a single taslim, or if he wishes four. It is disliked to exceed that.
- Whoever enters into nafl salah, and then invalidates it, makes it up. If one prayed four rak`ah, and sat after the first two, and then invalidated the last two, he makes up two rak`ah.
- One may perform nafl sitting [even] with capability to stand
- It is permissible for who is outside settled area to perform nafl, by gesturing, while riding [on his beast] or vehicle, in whatever direction it faces.
Group Prayer (Congregation)
Group prayer (jama’ah) is an emphasized sunnah.
Regulations for the follower
- Whoever desires to enter into the salah of another [as his follower] needs two intentions: the intention of salah and the intention of following.
- The follower does not recite behind the imam.
- Whoever followed an imam, and then came to know that [the imam] was not in [the state of] wudu, repeats the prayer.
It is appropriate that the imam not prolong the salah for the followers.
It is permissible:
- That one with tayammum lead people with wudu.
- That one who wiped on khuffs lead people who washed their feet.
- It is not permissible for men to follow a woman or a non-adult boy.
- A reciter should not pray behind an unread one, nor
- A clothed person behind a naked man.
- One who performs ruku and sujud should not pray behind one who is gesturing.
- One who is performing fard should not pray behind one who is performing nafl, nor behind one who is performing another fard.
- One performing nafl may pray behind one performing fard.
Arrangement of Rows
- Someone who prays with one [follower] makes him stand on his right. If they are two [or more] then he steps ahead of them.
- The men line up, and then [behind them] the boys, and then the women [at the back].
- If a woman stands beside a man, the two of them taking part in one [and the same] salah, his salah is spoiled.
- If they are husband and wife, the wife’s toes should start where the husband’s heel is.
- It is disliked for women to pray in jama`ah on their own, but if they do then the imam stands in their midst.
Conditions for Validity
- Among its conditions is the time. It is valid in the time of Zuhr, and it is not valid after it.
- Among its conditions is the khutbah [wajib] before the salah.
- Among its conditions is a group (jama`ah).
Their minimum according to Abu Hanifah is three apart from the imam. Abu Yusuf and Muhammad said: two apart from the imam.
Regulations of the Jumu’ah Salah
- The imam recites audibly in the two rak`ahs.
- There is no specific surah to recite in them.
- Whoever joined the imam on the day of jumu`ah prays with him whatever he caught, and builds jumu`ah on that basis. If he joined him in the tashahhud, or in the Prostrations of Inattentiveness, he performs jumu`ah accordingly - according to Abu Hanifah and Abu Yusuf. Muhammad said: if he caught with him most of the second rak`ah, he performs jumu`ah accordingly, but if he caught less than that, he completes it as Zuhr.
Sunnah Aspects of the Khutbah
- When the imam emerges on the minbar on the Day of Jumu`ah, people stop performing salah, and [stop] talking until he has finished his khutbah.
- When the imam ascends the minbar, he sits down, and the mu’adh-dhin calls [the second] adhan in front of the minbar.
- The imam delivers two khutbahs, separating them with a sitting.
- He delivers the khutbah standing, in a state of purity.
- If he delivered the khutbah sitting, or not in a state of purity, it is valid, but disliked.
- When he has finished from the khutbah, call the iqamah for the salah, and [then] pray.