~ The purpose for these reminders ~
The literal meaning of salâh is supplication, but according to shar’iah, it is specific words and action with an opening takbir and ending with salâm.
Salâh is the prescribed prayer in which the individual worships Allah, in precisely the manner that Allah has commanded. It is a physical, verbal and spiritual submission, requiring actions done in specific manners in a specific sequence, accompanied by specific words in a specific language and sequence, accompanied by spiritual contemplation and enlightenment.
The prophet (ﷺ) mentioned salâh as being the second pillar when asked by Jibreel (as).
Ibn Umar narrated that Allah's Messenger said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles), “To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Messenger; To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly; To pay Zakâh (i.e. obligatory charity); To perform Hajj (i.e. Pilgrimage to Makkah); To observe fast during the month of Ramadan. [Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.7]
In the Qur’an, it is commanded many times to establish the prayer.
And perform As-salâh (iqamat-as-salâh), and give zakâh, and irka' (i.e. bow down or submit yourselves with obedience to Allah) along with Ar-Raki'un. [2:43]
And perform As-salâh (iqamat-as-salâh), and give zakâh, and whatever of good (deeds that Allah loves) you send forth for yourselves before you, you shall find it with Allah. Certainly, Allah is All-Seer of what you do. [2:110]
Salâh is an obligation on every sane, mature, Muslim who is responsible for his or her actions.
Such is the importance of salâh, that the prophet (ﷺ) described the difference between a believer and disbeliever as salâh.
Jâbir ibn Abdullah heard the Messenger (ﷺ) saying: Verily between man and between man and between polytheism and unbelief is the negligence of prayer. [Sahih Muslim Hadith 146]
The one who performs prayer automatically obliterates minor sins.
Abu Hurayrah said, “I heard Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) saying, "If there was a river at the door of anyone of you and he took a bath in it five times a day would you notice any dirt on him?" They said, "Not a trace of dirt would be left." The Prophet added, "That is the example of the five prayers with which Allah blots out (annuls) evil deeds." [Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.506]
Abu Dharr narrated that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) went out in winter when the leaves were falling. He took hold of two twigs of a tree and said: That is a twig, the leaves of which have fallen. He said: Abu Dharr! I said: here I am! O Allah's Messenger. He said: Verily, when a believing servant of Allah observes the prayer seeking, only His pleasure, his sins fall from him just as the leaves have fallen from the tree. [Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 576]
On the day of judgement, the first thing that people will be accounted for would be their salâh, and if the obligatory salâh is deficient, then the recommended salâh will be taken into account.
Anas ibn Hakim ad-Dabbi said that he feared Ziyad or Ibn Ziyad; so he came to Medina and met Abu Hurayrah. He attributed his lineage to me and I became a member of his lineage. Abu Hurayrah said (to me): O youth, should I not narrate a tradition to you? I said: Why not, may Allah have mercy on you? (Yunus (a narrator) said: I think he narrated it (the tradition) from the Prophet (ﷺ):) The first thing about which the people will be called to account out of their actions on the Day of Judgment is prayer. Our Lord, the Exalted, will say to the angels - though He knows better: Look into the prayer of My servant and see whether he has offered it perfectly or imperfectly. If it is perfect, that will be recorded perfect. If it is defective, He will say: See there are some optional prayers offered by My servant. If there are optional prayer to his credit, He will say: Compensate the obligatory prayer by the optional prayer for My servant. Then all the actions will be considered similarly. [Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 863]
The one who prays properly, for the sake and pleasure of Allah, meaning what he says, then the prayer should keep the person away from indecency and evil.
Recite (O Muhammad (ﷺ)) what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur'ân), and perform As-salâh (Iqamat-as-salâh). Verily, As-salâh (the prayer) prevents from Al-Fahshâ' (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.) and Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed, etc.) and the remembering (praising, etc.) of (you by) Allah (in front of the angels) is greater indeed [than your remembering (praising, etc.) Allah in prayers, etc.]. And Allah knows what you do. [29:45]
Abu Hurayrah narrated that a man came to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) and said: So and so observes the prayer at night and when it is morning he commits theft. Whereupon he remarked: (If it is correct) what you state that would soon restrain him (from doing so). [Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 1237]
The effect of salâh is that it will lead to success, and the abandonment of salâh would thus lead to failure and misery.
Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their salâh (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness. [23:1-2]
It becomes clear from these narrations that our prayer is important and must be done correctly. Mistakes can detract or invalidate a prayer. For these reasons, we have compiled a brief compilation of some of the manners of salâh which we hope to update weekly. May Allah accept our worship and our salâh and allow it to benefit us on the Day of Qiyâmah.
When praying, it must be remembered that we are standing in front of Allah and making du’a to Him. The words we are reciting have meanings and so should be done with sincerity and given their due rights. Rushing words can often mean that some syllables are missed out and, in some cases, the meanings of the words can be changed to something quite different from that which is intended.
Similarly actions that are rushed can mean that all the required elements of a posture are not met which can leave the prayer in a state of deficiency or even invalidate it.
Both men and women are required to wear clothes which are not transparent or too tight such that they reveal the shape of the body. Clothes must cover the minimum areas. For the male, this needs to be from the shoulders up to the bottom of the knees. Women should be fully covered except the hands and face. The clothes should also be free from pictures of living beings.
It should also be noted that it is prohibited for men to wear gold. To wear gold is an act of disobedience to Allah and more so when one is supposed to be submitting to Allah in prayer.
Shatytaan does his utmost to keep people distracted from their prayer, so it is essential to prevent the mind from wandering.
Uthman ibn Abul’ Aas came to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and said: Allah’s Messenger, the Satan intervenes between me and my prayer and my reciting of the Qur’an and he confounds me. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: That is (the doing of the Satan) who is known as Khinzab, and when you perceive its effect, seek refuge with Allah from it and spit (dryly) three times to your left. I did that and Allah dispelled that from me. [Sahih Muslim Hadith 5463]
This difficulty can be overcome by the Khashi’oon. The term khushoo’ refers to the state of mind, body and soul in which the focus and desire is to achieve nothing other than the pleasure of Allah. It refers to the calmness, solemnity, transcendental tranquility and satisfaction that is achieved in prayer.
The position cannot be rushed because the prophet (s) mentioned that sufficient time should be given to allow the bones to fall into their place, in other words for the position to be maintained rather than a fluid motion.
Abu Hurayrah narrated that a man entered the mosque while Allah's Messenger was sitting in one side of the mosque. The man prayed, came, and greeted the Prophet. Allah's Messenger said to him, "Wa 'Alaikas Salam (returned his greeting). Go back and pray as you have not prayed (properly)." The man returned, repeated his prayer, came back and greeted the Prophet. The Prophet said, "Wa alaika-s-Salam (returned his greeting). Go back and pray again as you have not prayed (properly)." The man said at the second or third time, "O Allah's Messenger! Kindly teach me how to pray." The Prophet said, "When you stand for prayer, perform ablution properly and then face the Qibla and say takbeer (Allahu-Akbar), and then recite what you know from the Qur'an, and then bow with calmness till you feel at ease then rise from bowing, till you stand straight, and then prostrate calmly (and remain in prostration) till you feel at ease, and then raise (your head) and sit with calmness till you feel at ease and then prostrate with calmness (and remain in prostration) till you feel at ease, and then raise (your head) and sit with calmness till you feel at ease in the sitting position, and do likewise in whole of your prayer." And Abu Usama added, "Till you stand straight." [Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 8.268]
Women must make sure they are covered fully, except the face and hands. The private area for the woman is her hands and face and she should be fully covered apart from that.
Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who has reached puberty unless she wears a veil. [Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 641]
The man must be covered from the shoulders to the knees.
If the private area (awrah) becomes uncovered momentarily, the prayer is still considered as valid, but if it is not covered, then it must be repeated. This is especially pertinent when short tops and low cut trousers are worn.
When in sujood, the forehead and nose, both hands, both knees and both feet must be on the ground, and without that the condition of sujood is not met.
Ibn Abbas narrated that 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. [Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.773]
The sitting posture should be of the same time as the time taken in each sajdah.
Al Bara narrated that the bowing, the prostrations, the period of standing after bowing and the interval between the two prostrations of the Prophet used to be equal in duration. [Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.766]
Supplications can be said between the two sittings
It was narrated by Hudhayfah that the Prophet (s) used to say between the two prostrations: “Rabb ighfir li, Rabb ighfir li (Lord forgive me, Lord forgive me).” [An-Nasaa’i (1145) and Ibn Maajah (897)]
Abdullah ibn Abbas narrated that the Prophet (s) used to say between the two prostrations: "O Allah, forgive me, have mercy on me, guide me, heal me, and provide for me. (Allaahumma ighfir li warhamni wa ‘aafini wahdini warzuqni )" [Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 849]
It is recommended for men to ensure that the elbows are raised off from the ground when in prostration.
Al-Bara' ibn Azib narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: When you prostrate yourself, place the palms of your hands on the ground and raise your elbows. [Sahih Muslim Hadith 999]
Abdur Rahman ibn Shibl narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prohibited to peck like a crow, and to spread (the forearms) like a wild beast, and to fix a place in the mosque like a camel which fixes its place. These are the wordings of Qutaybah. [Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 861]
Muhammad bin Amr bin Ata narrated: I was sitting with some of the companions of Allah's Messenger and we were discussing about the way of praying of the Prophet. Abu Humaid As-Saidi said, "I remember the prayer of Allah's Messenger better than any one of you. I saw him raising both his hands up to the level of the shoulders on saying the takbeer; and on bowing he placed his hands on both knees and bent his back straight, then he stood up straight from bowing till all the vertebrae took their normal positions. 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. On sitting in the second rak’ah he sat on his left foot and propped up the right one; and in the last rak’ah he pushed his left foot forward and kept the other foot propped up and sat over the buttocks." [Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.791]
Anas narrated that the Prophet said, "Do the prostration properly and do not put your forearms flat with elbows touching the ground like a dog. And if you want to spit, do not spit in front, nor to the right for the person in prayer is speaking in private to his Lord." [Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.509]
The arms should be away from the sides of the body.
Salim al-Barrad said: We came to Abu Mas'ud Uqbah ibn Amr al-Ansari and said to him: Tell us about the prayer of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). He stood up before us in the mosque and said the takbeer. When he bowed, he placed his hands upon his knees and put his fingers below, and kept his elbows (arms) away from his sides, so everything returned properly to its place. Then he said: "Allah listens to him who praises Him"; then he stood up so that everything returned properly to its place; then he said the takbeer and prostrated and put the palms of his hands on the ground; he kept his elbow (arms) away from his sides, so that everything returned to its proper place. Then he raised his head and sat so that everything returned to its place; he then repeated it in a similar way. Then he offered four rak'ahs of prayer like this rak'ah and completed his prayer. Then he said: Thus we witnessed the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) offering his prayer. [Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 862]
Maymunah narrated that when the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prostrated himself, he spread his arms, i.e. he separated them so much that the whiteness of his armpits became visible from behind and when he sat (for jalsah) he rested on his left thigh. [Sahih Muslim Hadith 1003]
Abdullah ibn Abbas said: I came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) from behind. I saw the whiteness of his armpits and he kept his arms away from his sides and raised his stomach (from the ground). [Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 898]
Maymunah narrated that when the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prostrated himself, if a lamb wanted to pass between his arms, it could pass. [Sahih Muslim Hadith 1002]
When praying in congregation though, one should consider others and not hold out his elbows if they cause inconvenience to others.
The sight should be fixed at the point of prostration during most of the salaah.
‘Aa’isha said: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) entered the Ka’bah and his gaze did not go beyond the site of his prostration until he came out.” [Sahih Ibn Hibbaan Hadith 4.332]
The exception being that some narrations mention that in tashahhud the prophet (ﷺ) used to look at his finger, whereas others say that during tashahhud, one should continue to look at the place of prostration.
It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr that when the Prophet (ﷺ) “sat for the Tashahhud, he would place his left hand on his left thigh and point with his index finger, and would not let his gaze go beyond his finger.” [Narrated by Abu Dawood Hadith 990]
The person should be careful not to raise his sight as that detracts from the reward of salaah.
Aisha reported that she asked the Prophet about one's looking here and there during the prayer. He replied, "It is what Satan steals from the prayer of any one of you." [Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.511]
Anas bin Malik narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, "What is wrong with those people who look towards the sky during the prayer?" His talk grew stern while delivering this speech and he said, "They should stop (looking towards the sky during the prayer); otherwise their eyesight would be taken away." [Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.717]