Part II: Prayer (As-Salat)
Acts Allowed or Disallowed in Prayer
In this chapter we will describe the acts or things which make the prayer perfect, which are allowed during prayer, which are disliked and disallowed during prayer, and which render the prayer void.
Acts which make the prayer perfect
If you want to make your prayer ideal and perfect and earn for you maximum rewards, you should do the following acts or things:
1- Fulfilment of conditions: Fulfill all the conditions and pre-requisites of the prayer and perform the prayer exactly according to the method which we have described in chapter 10. All the Fard and Sunat acts need to be performed properly.
2- Peace and moderation: Perform each act of the prayer with peace and tranquility. Qiyam, Ruku, Sajdah, Qawmah, Jalsah, Qaadah, should all be done with peace and perfection and not hastily. The prayer should not be considered a burden which has to be thrown off as quickly as possible but it must be considered a supreme obligation of worship of Allah and must be discharged responsibly.
3- Recitation of the Qur’an: Recite the Qur’an slowly in the prayer with due attention, understanding and awareness without any haste. It is reported that the Prophet used to recite each word and each verse of the Quran distinctively and with perfect calmness and clarity.
4- Zeal and dedication: It means that the prayer should be performed with attention of mind and heart. After performance of one prayer, one should be waiting for the next prayer with zeal and keenness.
5- Avoiding show off: The prayer must be performed to please Allah not to please men. It means that it should be performed without a tinge of hypocrisy or display or show off. The Qur’an says: Then woe to those who offer prayers. But who are in fact heedless of their prayers and who do it to be seen (by men) – (107:4-6). In Ahadith, the Prophet is reported to have said: One who prayed with the intention to be seen by others indeed committed shirk (Ahmad).
6- Complete submission: One should completely resign and surrender himself before the will of God and his position should become: “………Certainly my prayer, my sacrifice, (or my worship), my living and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the Universe”. – (6:162)
7- Remembrance of Allah only: Your prayer should be only for remembrance of Allah. That is the true spirit of prayer. After choosing Moses as His messenger, the first commandment God gave him was to establish prayer to remember Him: “Verily, I am Allah. There is no God save Me. So worship Me and establish prayer for My remembrance” – (20:14).
8- State of awe and fear: In prayer, you should stand before Allah in state of awe and fear as a slave stands before an emperor. You should be properly dressed and with humble bearing and respect you must stand in prayer. The Qur’an says: And remember your Lord within your heart humbly and with fear, without loudness in words, both in the mornings and in the evenings, and be not of those who are neglectful (7:205). The Qur’an again tells us: “The true believers are those whose hearts feel fear when Allah is mentioned, and when revelations of Allah are recited to them their faith grows stronger …… (8:2).
9- Feeling of Allah’s presence: Prayer is the means of being near to Allah. The Qur’an says: “……. And prostrate yourself and seek nearness to Allah” – (96:19). The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said: Man is nearest to Allah when he prostrates himself before Him (Muslim). In another Hadith, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) enjoined: “Perform your prayer in the way as if you are seeing God. If you cannot have this feeling, then at least have the feeling that God is seeing you”.
10- Humility and dedication: One must perform prayer with humility, full inclination and devotion. The Qur’an says: “Successful are the believers who are humble in their prayers” – (23:1-2). In another verse the Qur’an enjoins: “Guard strictly your prayers and especially the middle prayer and stand before Allah like devoted servants”. (2:238)
Acts which make the Prayer void
Following are the acts or things which make your prayer void and hence the same need to be guarded against, otherwise you will have to perform your prayer afresh and in some cases you may have to repeat your Wudu (Ablution) also:
1- Breaking down of any of the conditions or pre-requisites of the prayer, e.g. you lose the state of purity, your Wudu breaks, you stand in need of Ghusl (due to sudden start of menses), your garment become impure, your satar is exposed, you lose direction of Qiblah (except in a journey on conveyance), you lose state of consciousness, etc. All these things or acts render your prayer void and in some cases you need ablution (or Ghusl also) to perform your prayer afresh.
2- If you miss or leave any Fard (compulsory regulation) of prayer, intentionally or un intentionally; e.g. you did not perform Ruku, you did not perform Qawmah or Jalsah or you forgot one of the prostrations. All these acts make your prayer void.
3- To talk or converse with others deliberately makes the prayer void. In the beginning the Prophet used to answer greeting and the companions even used to talk with each other. However, after the revelation of the verse 238 of Surah 2 (stand before Allah with full obedience), the Prophet forbade the companions to talk during prayer and directed them to observe silence.
4- Intentional eating and drinking in prayer makes it void.
5- Laughing aloud makes the prayer void.
6- Doing excessive and continuous acts unrelated to prayer which make him appear to be one who is not praying. For example, one starts setting one’s garments with both hands, or a woman starts twisting her hair. Such acts render prayer void.
7- To commit a blunder in the recitation of the Quran so as to change the meaning or to perform prayer without following the order and sequence which has been prescribed by the Messenger of Allah makes the prayer void.
8- To do such acts excessively or repeatedly which seriously divert one’s attention from prayer, render it void. For example; to cough continuously and unnecessarily, to moan or cry unnecessarily, to read something written on the wall or the roof, to recite the Qur’an from a book instead of from memory.
Acts which are allowed in the prayer
Such acts which are allowed during the prayer and are called Mubah are as follows:
1- It is allowed to weep or cry on account of fear of Allah, fear of the Hereafter, fear of the Hell or the fear of the torment of grave, etc. The Qur’an, in verse 58 of surah 19, says about the Prophets: “When the revelations of the Beneficent were recited unto them, they fell down prostrating and weeping”. Abdullah bin Shukhair reported that he saw Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) praying and he heard sounds of weeping and crying as if a kettle was boiling (Ahmad, Abu Daud, Nisai)
2- To kill poisonous and harmful animals and insects like snake, scorpion, etc. is allowed.
3- To walk a little in dire need. It is reported by Ayesha that Prophet used to open the door while praying if someone knocked at it and the door was near.
4- To respond to greeting by moving finger, hand or head or with some other hint is allowed. However, one should avoid greeting a person who is praying.
5- Coughing is allowed as a hint to alert a person that one is engaged in prayer, or to indicate a person who is asking permission to enter that he can do so, or to clear the throat, etc.
6- To remind the Imam of a mistake is allowed. For example, you may remind the Imam when he forgets an Ayah during his recitation, you can also draw his attention (by saying Subhan Allah) when he is forgetting an important act of prayer. Yazid bin Masoor reported that the Prophet led a prayer and forgot a verse during recitation. Someone mentioned it to him later on. The Prophet said: Why did you not remind me in time? (Abu Daud, Ibn Majah).
7- To offer prayer with shoes is allowed if shoes are clean of impurities.
8- To blow dust off the place while prostrating is allowed in case you cannot avoid it.
9- You are allowed to close your eyes to keep your full attention in prayer or to avoid diversion of your attention if some attractive things are lying before you.
10- To offer prayer in one cloth is allowed if you are properly covering your ‘satar’.
11- To perform prayer with uncovered head is allowed. Abdullah bin Abbas reported that the Prophet used to say prayer sometimes with his head uncovered.
12- Holding a small child while praying is allowed.
13- If you have posted Sutra before you and someone tries to pass between Sutra and you while you are praying, you may physically prevent him to do so.
Acts undesirable or disliked in Prayer
Following are some of the acts or things which are undesirable or disliked during prayer. Although they do not render the prayer void, yet they make it defective or reduce its merits and rewards.
1- To lift up both the feet from the ground during prostration.
2- To count the Surah or Verses or Darud or any other acts on the tips of fingers during the prayers.
3- Placing one’s hands on the hip or back or on waist.
4- Standing up for prayer when one is feeling strong urge or need for passing stool or urine or releasing wind.
5- Offering prayer when food is ready and is served before you and you are feeling hungry.
6- Offering prayer in state of sleep or when you feel sleepy or drowsy.
7- Playing with fingers or with garments or with hair or with teeth or with beard or touching these things unnecessarily.
8- Shaping the dust off hands or blowing it or removing pebbles.
9- It is undesirable to recite the Surahs in the Fard (compulsory) Raka’ahs of the obligatory prayers against the order in which they are placed in the Quran. For example you recite Surah Al-Ikhlas (No. 112) in the First Raka’ah and Surah Al-Kauthir (No. 108) in the Second Raka’ah.
10- Yawning deliberately and failing to control it if one could.
11- It is not allowed to look up to the sky while praying or casting side – glances or looking or moving the head about without any legitimate need.
12- While praying, you are not allowed to make movements that would turn your face and body away from the direction of the Qiblah.
13- Wrapping oneself up in a garment during prayer (such as blanket) that covers one’s mouth and hands is not allowed. Wearing a garment around the neck without covering any part of the shoulders is also not allowed.
14- Offering prayer in an undignified dress in which you would not like to come out in the open or sit in a gathering is undesirable. The Qur’an says: “O children of Adam! Take your adornment at every place of worship” (7:32). So wear decent dress while praying, particularly in a mosque.
15- Praying in garments or on a mat having pictures of animals on them, or in a place where there are pictures of living beings is undesirable.
16- If you are performing prayers behind an Imam, you should not compete or race with him to perform actions of prayer –earlier than him. Rather follow him and perform every action after him.
17- Bending down for Ruku before finishing the recitation properly and trying to complete it in Ruku is disliked.
18- Praying with something pressed in the mouth is undesirable.
19- To lean on hands or to take support of a stick or pillar without any physical disability is undesirable.
20- To prostrate only on forehead or on nose or on corner or part of cap or head garment is disallowed.
21- To spit or to blow nose in front or on sides while praying is not allowed. The Prophet has strictly prohibited spitting in the mosque.
Situations in which prayer may be broken
In the following cases, circumstances or situations you are allowed to break your prayer. According to the view of the majority of the scholars, after doing the needful you will have to offer the prayer afresh. You cannot resume the prayer from the stage on which you left and complete it. However you do not incur a sin in breaking the prayer which normally a person incurs if he breaks it without justification.
1- If a snake or a dog appears before you in attacking position or a scorpion or wasp or some other poisonous insect enters your garment you are allowed to break your prayer and deal with the situation.
2- If a cat or a dog enters the house and is likely to harm your children, your chickens or your domestic fowls or your eatables, you should break the prayer and drive it away.
3- In case the door of the house has remained unclosed, and you remember while praying, you are allowed to break the prayer and close it in order to be safe from thieves, deacoits or vagabonds.
4- In case of danger of considerable material loss, you can break the prayer and do the needful; for example, there is danger of boiling over of the milk, or burning away of kettle, etc.
5- When the train or bus is going to start and you have purchased its ticket or your children or luggage is on board, you can break the prayer and ride it.
6- If you are feeling a strong desire for passing stool or urine you should break the prayer and relieve yourself. Then make the Wudu afresh and perform the prayer.
7- If there is danger that blindman would fall in a well, or child goes on a roof, or child catches a knife or fire breaks out in the house, you are required to break your prayer and deal with the situation.If a person’s parents or grand parents call for help in affliction, he must give up prayer and help them.
Copyright (c) Dr. Muhammad Sharif Chaudhry. All rights reserved. For more information, please contact at alshaufi(at)yahoo(dot)com