Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim

The Basics Of Prayer

Since prayer is the first thing we will be asked about on Judgment Day, it seems appropriate to begin with the basics of prayer. The previous article described ritual purification; this one describes prayer itself.

Description of the Prayer
Before commencing
It is a sunna to stand when the person making the iqama says: “Qad qamiti al-salat”.

It is a sunna for the imam and the followers to straighten rows.

Beginning the prayer
He says “Allahu akbar” raising his hands with his fingers extended and together, parallel to his shoulders, like prostrating.

The imam makes it audible to whoever is behind him, like his recitation in the first two, other than Thuhr and `Asr.  Everyone else says it to himself.

He then grasps his left wrist with his right hand, placing them below his navel. He looks to the place where he will prostrate.

He then says: “Subhanaka allahumma wa bi hamdika wa tabarak ismaka wa ta`ala jaddik wa la ilaha ghayruka”.

The basmala and reciting from the Qur’an
It is recommended that he then says: “ ‘A`uthu billahi min al-shaytani al-rajim,” and to then silently say: “Bismillahi al-rahmani al-rahim”. The basmala is not part of al-Fatiha.

He then recites al-Fatiha. If he interrupts it with long, unlegislated invocation or silence; omits a shadda, a letter, or order, the non-follower must repeat it. Everyone audibly says “Amin” in the audible prayers.

It is recommended that he reads another sura following Al-Fatiha. In the dawn prayer it should be from the suras that begin with the sura Qaf, and in Maghrib from the short separated suras, and in the the other prayers from the middle suras.

It is invalid to recite any recitation that does not agree with the mushaf.

Then he bows while making Takbir while raising his hands, and places them on his knees [with his] fingers spread apart, with his back level.

He says: “Subhana rabb al-`athim”. It is obligatory to say it once. Three times is the lowest optimal amount. The imam should not exceed saying it ten times.

Straightening up
He then raises his head and hands, with the imam and the individual saying: “Sami` Allahu li man hamidah,” and after rising and straightening up says: “Rabbana wa lak al-hamd mil’ al-samawati wa mil’ al-‘ardh wa mil’ ma shi’ta min shay’in ba`d,” and the follower when raising only says: “Rabbana wa lak al-hamd.”

After rising from bowing, he may place his right had on his left, or lefts them hang down.

Then he sinks down making Takbir, prostrating on seven limbs: his feet, then his knees, then his hands, then his forehead, and then his noseeven with a barrier not from the limbs of prostration; he spreads his forearms out from his flanks, his stomach from his thighs. And separates between his knees, feet, and toespointing them towards the qibla. He says: “Subhana rabb al-`ala”, following what was said previously regarding the tasbih when bowing.

Sitting between prostrations
He then raises his head, making Takbir, and sitting with his left foot spread below while raising his right; and says: “Rabb ighfir li,” and makes the second prostration like the first.

Rising to the second rak`a
He then rises, making Takbir, standing using just the balls of his feet and not sitting for a moment in rest (jalsat al-istiraha). If it is easy, he supports himself by putting his hands upon his knees if easy; otherwise, he helps himself up by putting his hands on the ground.

He prays the second like the first, without the opening Takbir, opening du`a, saying “ `A’uthi billah…” and renewing the intention.

The first tashahud
After completing the second rak`a, he sits with his left foot spread and his right raised, with his hands on his thighs. He clenches the pinky and second smallest finger of his right hand and forms a circle with his thumb and middle finger, and points with his index finger, without moving it, during the tashahud. He spreads out the fingers of the left.

He silently says: “Al-tahiyyatu lillah wa al-salawatu wa al-tayyibat, al-salamu `alayka ayyuha al-nabi wa rahmatu llahi wa barakatuhu, al-salamu `alayna wa `ala `ibadi llahi al-salihin, ashhadu an la ‘ilaha ‘ill allah, wa ashhadu anna muhammadan `abduhu wa rasuluhu”.

This is the first tashahud.

The Abrahamic supplication
In the tashahud that is followed by a taslim, he says: “Allahumma salli `ala muhammadin wa `ala ‘ali muhammadin ka ma salayta `ala ‘ali ibrahima innaka hamidun majid, wa barik `ala muhammadin wa `ala ‘ali muhammadan ka ma salayta `ala ‘ali ibrahima innaka hamidun majid.”

Sunna supplication
He then says “`A’uthu billahi min `athab jahhanama wa `athab al-qabr wa fitnati al-mahya wa al-mamat wa fitnati al-masihi al-dajjal” and he may supplicate with anything narrated.

The taslim
He then makes Taslim on his right, saying: “Al-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatu llah”, and on his left.

Praying a three- or four-part prayer
If he is in a three- or four-part prayer he rises making Takbir after the first tashahud and prays the remainder like the second rak`a reciting Al-Fatiha without the additional sura, and then sits in the final tashahud with his left foot under his right shin and his right foot raised.

A woman’s prayer
A woman’s prayer is like a man’s, except that she bunches herself together, and when she sits she shifts both of her legs underneath her slightly to the right (tasdil).

What is Offensive, Permissible, Sunna, or Invalidates in the Prayer
It is offensive while praying:

1.      to turn;
2.      to raise the gaze to the sky;
3.      to close one’s eyes;
4.      to sit on the back of the ankles
5.      to spread the forearms on the ground when prostrating;
6.      to fidget;
7.      to put the hands on the hips;
8.      to pop knuckles;
9.      to interlace the fingers;
10.     to be holding back urine;
11.     to be in the presence of desired food desires;
12.     or to repeat Al-Fatiha,
13.     not gathering suwar in an obligatory (prayer), like a supererogatory.

It is a sunna to repel someone passing in front of him.

He may:
1.      repeat an aya;
2.      notify his imam of mistakes;
3.      put on a garment;
4.      wrap a turban;
5.      kill a snake, scorpion, or lice.

If the action becomes long according to custom, without being essential, and without separation between them, then the prayer becomes invalidatedeven if out of forgetfulness.

It is permissible to recite from the end of the suwar and their middle.

If misses something, a man says “Subhan allah,” and a woman claps the inside of one hand on the outside of the other.

He spits on his left side while praying, and into his garment when inside a mosque.

It is a sunna to pray facing an erect sutra. If he does not find a pole, then towards a crescent shaped line.

The prayer becomes invalid if a wild black dog passes in front, but not a woman or donkey.

He may seek protection at an aya containing threats, and ask at an aya of mercy, even if in a required prayer.

The Integrals of Prayer
There are 14 integrals to prayer. An integral is what is a part of it and is not rescinded intentionally or out of forgetfulness. They are:

a.      standing, obligatory prayers for someone who is able;
b.      the opening Takbir;
c.      reciting Al-Fatiha;
d.      bowing;
e.      straightening up from it;
f.      prostrating on the seven limbs;
g.      straightening up from it;
h.      sitting between the two prostrations;
i.      becoming motionless in them all;
j.      the final tashahud
k.      and sitting for it;
l.      and praying upon the Prophet (Allah bless him and his family and give him peace) during it;
m.      following this order;
n.      the Taslim.

Obligatory Actions of Prayer
It has eight obligatory actions:
a.      the Takbir other than the opening one;
b.      saying “Sami` Allahu li man hamudah”;
c.      saying “Rabanna wa lak al-hamd”;
d.      saying “Subhan allah” in the bowing
e.      and saying it  in prostration,
f.      asking for forgiveness

Note: It is obligatory to do the above one single time, and a sunna to do so three times

g.      the first tashahud,
h.      and sitting for it.

Sunan and what invalidates the prayer
Everything else are sunnan.

One’s prayer is invalid if he:
1.      omits a condition without an excuse, with the exception of the intention, since it is not rescinded under any circumstance,
2.      or intentionally omits an integral or obligatory action
--contrary to the remainder.

Everything else are verbal sunan and actual sunan. The prostration of forgetfulness is not legislated for omitting them, and there is no harm if he does prostrate.

This, and the article on ritual purity before it, are based on a translation of Zad Al-Mustaqni` and a few notes from Al-Raudh Al-Murbi`. I have removed a few issues, fused the commentary with the basic text, and changed the order of some sections.