Prayers in Congregation
Prayers can be performed individually and in congregation. To perform five daily fard prayers in congregation is sunnah al-muakkadah (sunnah as strong as wajib) for men. There are some scholars who say it is fard. It is fard to perform the Friday prayer in congregation.
Two people are enough to perform a prayer in congregation. Therefore, when two people come together, they should perform their prayers in congregation. One sane child or a woman is enough along with the imam to form a congregation.
Great importance is given to performing prayers in congregation in Islam. The Messenger of Allah stated in a hadith that performing prayers in congregation is 25 (in another narration 27) times more virtuous than performing prayers individually.
The Prophet stated the following in another hadith:
"It is better to perform prayers in congregation than individually even if there are two people. The more people in congregation, the more Allah likes that prayer."
Keeping on performing prayers in congregation is a principle of Islam and an indication of belief. The unity of Muslims and their commitment to one another will be renewed and strengthened through prayers in congregation. A feeling of love and solidarity occurs among Muslims. Everybody meets and gets to know one another. They find out about the states of one another better. They help those who are in need among them. The spirit of congregation and consciousness of solidarity forms. The number of altruistic and philanthropic people instead of selfish and egoistic people will increase in the community.
It is hoped that prayers performed in congregation that includes righteous people are more likely to be accepted by God and to attain more divine mercy and bounties.
To sum up, performing prayers in congregation has many wisdoms and benefits in terms of otherworldly rewards and individual perfection as well as many social benefits.
A person who leads prayers and is followed by the congregation is called an imam. The duty of leading the prayer for the congregation is called imamah.
Following the imam is called iqtida; a person who follows the imam is called a muqtadi, muttabi or ma'mum.
The virtue of being an imam is more than being a muezzin. The responsibility of a person who becomes an imam though he is not competent is similarly more. For, the imam is muqtada bih religiously; that is, the person that the congregation follows. He obtains as many rewards as the number of people who follow him. However, if the prayer he leads is missing or wrong, the responsibility of the entire congregation lies in him. Therefore, some religious notables avoided being imams taking into consideration this responsibility.
It is narrated that someone showed Hz. Ali an ambling nice horse:
- O Ali! What can you do with this horse, which can fly like a horse?
Hz. Ali, who had a great sense of responsibility, answered:
- You can ride it and escape from being an imam.
What are the conditions of being an imam?
1. The person to lead the prayer must be a Muslim.
2. The imam has to be sane and to have reached the age of puberty. It is not permissible for a mad person, a drunken person and a child who has not reached the age of puberty to become an imam.
3. The imam must be male. A woman cannot lead men in prayer.
4. The imam must know enough verses of the Quran for the prayer to be valid.
5. The imam must not be an excused person. The prayer of an excused person has special rules. A person who is not excused cannot follow an excused person. A blind person can be an imam but if there is a person more capable than him, it is makruh tanzihi for the blind person to lead the prayer.
The conditions we have mentioned above are the basic conditions of being an imam. After these conditions, the following qualities are given priority for being an imam respectively: It is necessary for the imam to have a sound creed, a good knowledge of fiqh and sufficient knowledge about issues related to prayer. If there are some people who are equal in terms of the issues mentioned above, the one who reads the Quran the best or the one who knows more verses of the Quran by heart is preferred. If they are still equal, the one who avoids harams and has more taqwa (who fears Allah more) is preferred. If they are still equal, the following order is taken into consideration: the oldest one, the one whose ethics is the highest, the one who is liked by people and increases the number of the congregation, the one who comes from a more honorable and nobler family, and the one with the best voice. However, if the host (landlord) is among the congregation, he is given priority; if the appointed imam of that district is present, he is given priority even if he does not have all of the qualities mentioned above.
* The person to lead the prayer has to be very careful about material and spiritual cleaning and be superior to the congregation in all aspects. It is necessary for the imam to pay attention especially to wearing clean clothes and socks, to wear nice smells, and to avoid eating things that emit disturbing smells like onion and garlic.
* It is makruh tahrimi for fasiq people and people of bid'ah to become imam. For, they act heedlessly regarding religious deeds. The prayer performed behind these kinds of people will not have any rewards and virtues but a person is relieved of the responsibility of prayer. According to Imam Muhammad and Imam Malik, it is not permissible to follow such people in prayer.
* It is makruh for a woman to lead prayers to other women but it is permissible.If a woman leads a prayer to other women, she needs to stand among them in the middle of the first line, not in front of them.
* The imam needs to avoid the things that will make the congregation hate him. For instance, it is not appropriate for an imam to lengthen qira'ah or tasbihat. It is regarded makruh to make the congregation hate. The Messenger of Allah stated the following regarding the issue:
"When one of you becomes the imam, he should not lengthen the prayer because there may be old people and children in the congregation. There may be ill and weak people. There may be some people who have important things to do. A person who performs a prayer individually can lengthen it as much as he wishes."
"There are three people whose prayers are not accepted by Allah:
1. An imam who leads prayers to the people who hate him.
2. A woman who spends the night heedlessly while her husband is angry.
3. Two brothers who nurture enmity against each other."
* It is makruh for the imam to hurry up so much as not to allow the congregation to complete ruku' and sajdahs in accordance with the sunnah. It is also makruh to lengthen ruku so that someone or some people will catch up.
* It is wajib for the imam to read the verses that are easy for him. He should not read the verses that he has not memorized well.
It is necessary to pay great importance to the order of the lines while performing prayers in congregation. Men need to stand in the first lines, boys behind them and women behind boys.
If there is only one person following the imam, that person needs to stand on the right side of the imam and a few inches behind. It is makruh for him to stand on the left or behind the imam. If there are two people following the imam, they need to stand behind the imam. If one of them is a man and the other is a woman, the man needs to stand on the right side of the imam and a few inches behind, and the woman behind the man.
The most virtuous lines are the 1st, 2nd and 3rd lines respectively. It is necessary to ensure that the lines are straight and people stand close to one another's shoulders. It is not appropriate to stand in another line when there is enough space in the front line. The Messenger of Allah said,
"Arrange your rows (lines) properly, for the proper arrangement of rows is part of the keeping up of prayer."
According to the narration of Bara, when the Messenger of Allah stood up for prayer, he touched the chests and backs of his Companions, arranged the lines and said,
"Keep straight and do not be uneven, for in that case your hearts would disagree."
The following is stated in another hadith:
"Make your rows straight; stand shoulder to shoulder and close the gaps. When you see a gap, sidle slowly next to your brother. Do not leave any gaps for the Satan. Whoever completes a row, Allah will reward him, and whoever breaks a row, Allah will forsake him."
Therefore, it is necessary for the imam to remind the congregation about these issues and to tell them to straighten the lines.
It is necessary to stand closer and to allow some space to a brother who cannot find a place to pray. Moving a bit to the right or the left in order to allow some space for a person while performing a prayer does not invalidate prayer. Furthermore, a person who cannot find a place in the second line but sees a gap in the first line can go to the first line without disturbing the people in the second line. It is not a sin to do so.
What are the things that those who perform a prayer behind the imam need to care about?
Following the imam is called iqtida and the person who follows the imam is called a muqtadi.
The following conditions are necessary for the validity of iqtida:
1 - A muqtadi has to intend to perform the prayer and follow the imam at the beginning of the prayer.
2 -The imam has to intend to lead the prayer also for women to enable the women to follow him.
3 - The imam has to be in front of the congregation.
4 - A person who performs prayers by sitting can lead a prayer to a person who performs prayers by standing; a person who has tayammum can lead a prayer to a person who has wudu according to Abu Hanifa and Abu Yusuf. However, according to Imam Muhammad it is not valid because the imam has to be higher than the congregation. A person who sits is lower than a person who stands and a person who has tayammum is lower than a person who has wudu.
5 - The prayer that the imam and the congregation pray has to be the same prayer. For instance, a person who wants to perform the afternoon prayer cannot follow the imam who is leading the noon prayer. A person who is performing a prayer on time cannot follow an imam who is performing a missed (qada) prayer. Both the imam and the congregation have to perform the same prayer whether it is a prayer performed on time or a missed prayer.
A musafir (traveler) can follow a muqim (resident) in a prayer and vice versa. However, when a musafir is the imam, he shortens a four-rak'ah prayer as two rak'ahs. The muqims among the congregation stand up after the imam salutes and complete their prayers as four rak'ahs. When a musafir follows a muqim, he performs his prayer fully.
It is permissible for a person who wants to perform a supererogatory (nafilah) prayer to follow an imam who leads a fard prayer. For instance, if a person who has performed the noon prayer follows an imam who is leading the noon prayer, his prayer becomes permissible as a supererogatory prayer.
6 - When a prayer is performed in the open area, there must not be a gap wide enough for a stream where a small boat can sail, a road where a car can pass or a space where two rows of people can stand between lines. If the road is not covered by rows of people, the prayer is not permissible. If they are in a mosque, it is permissible because the inside of the mosque is regarded as the same place.
7 - Having different madhhabs does not prevent following an imam. It is better for a Muslim to follow an imam who follows the same madhhab as him but if it is not possible, it is better to follow an imam belonging to a different madhhab than performing a prayer alone. However, it is necessary for the imam no to have undergone something that invalidates wudu in the madhhab of muqtadi. For instance, if a Hanafi person knows that a Shafii imam has undergone some bleeding, he cannot follow that imam. For, bleeding does not invalidate wudu according to Shafiis but it does according to Hanafis. In that case, a Hanafi cannot follow a Shafii imam.
Therefore, those who lead prayers need to act cautiously regarding the issues that are controversial among madhhabs considering that there may be people belonging to other madhhabs among the congregation.
8 - The place where the imam and the congregation perform a prayer must be regarded as the same place. Therefore, if there is a high wall between the imam and the congregation and if the imam cannot be seen and heard by the congregation, it is not permissible to follow the imam.
9 - It is makruh to run in order to catch up with the imam.
10 - The prayers performed in congregation in the mosque are more virtuous than the prayers performed in congregation with the family members at home. For, every step take in order to go to the mosque has a separate reward and virtue.
Nevertheless, it is not appropriate to perform all prayers in the mosque and not to perform any prayers at home. For, children imitate their parents and are affected by them. The daughter of a mother who is interested in adorning herself spends most of her time adorning herself. The son of a father who is interested in films and entertainment behaves in the same way when he grows up. Therefore, parents have to set good examples for their children; they also have to guide their children related to worship like performing prayers and fasting. Otherwise, they will be held responsible. The Prophet objects to homes being places where no prayers and worship are performed through the following hadiths: "Do not make your homes graveyards!"; "Allocate a share from your prayers to your home." This is probably one of the reasons why it is more virtuous and better to perform sunnah and supererogatory prayers at home rather than in the mosque.
11 - If the sound of the imam is not loud enough for all of the congregation to hear, one person among the congregation or muezzins repeat the takbirs and salams of the imam loudly.
12 - The imam utters the first salutation more loudly than the second one because what announces that the prayer is over is the first salutation.
13 - When the imam salutes, a muqtadi also salutes even if he has not finished reading salawat and supplications. However, if he has not finished at-Tahiyyat, he does not salute. He completes at-Tahiyyat and salutes.
14 - A person who catches up with the imam in tashahhud and starts reading at-Tahiyyat, does not stand up if he has not finished reading at-Tahiyyat when the imam stands up. He stands up after he finishes at-Tahiyyat. However, it is permissible for him to stand up without finishing at-Tahiyyat.
15 - If the imam gets up from ruku and sajdah before the muqtadi reads tasbihat three times, the muqtadi needs to get up with the imam.
16 - A person who follows the imam needs to perform the rukns after the imam. It is not permissible to bow down for ruku and sajdah, and to get up from ruku and sajdah before the imam.
17 - When the imam skips the following, the congregation does not follow him; they need to do them:
* takbirs or ruku and sajdah,
* raising the hand up when uttering the opening takbir,
* tasbihat in ruku and sajdahs,
* reading at-Tahiyyat in tashahhud,
* takbirs of tashrik.
If the imam sits but stands up by mistake, the congregation does not follow him. They warn him by uttering Subhanallah or Allahu Akbar.
19 - If the imam forgets some words while reciting a verse, one of the people behind him needs to remind him.
If the imam has read long enough for qira'ah (the amount that is wajb), he needs to bow down for ruku at once. If he has not read long enough of qira'ah (the amount that is wajb), he can move to the next verse or a verse that he knows by heart. He should not cause the congregation to remind him.
20 - It is sunnah for the imam to turn toward the congregation after the prayer.
21 - If a muqtadi catches up with the imam in the first rak'ah, he salutes with the imam.
A person who follows the imam fully, that is, from the beginning of a prayer to the end without any interruption is called a mudrik.
A person who catches up with the imam when the imam is at ruku utters takbir while standing and bows down; if he stays at ruku with the imam long enough to say Subhanallah once, he is regarded to have joined that rak'ah.
22 - A person who cannot catch up with the imam in the first rak'ah is called a masbuq. A masbuq follows the imam but in the last sitting, he reads only at-Tahiyyat and keeps silent; he does not read salawat and supplications. He can read at-Tahiyyat slowly till the imam ends the prayer. When the imam salutes to the right side, he does not salute and waits for the imam to salute to the left. After the imam salutes to the left, he stands up and completes the rak'ah(s) he has missed.
A person who catches up with the imam in the second rak'ah stands up by saying Allahu Akbar after the salutations of the imam. He reads Subhanaka, al-Fatiha, and an additional chapter or some verses from the Quran; then, he sits after performing the ruku and sajdahs. He reads tahiyyat, salawat and other supplications and salutes.
A person who catches up with the imam in the 3rd rak'ah performs two more rak'ahs when he stands up by reading al-Fatiha, and an additional chapter or some verses from the Quran.
If a person catches up with the imam in the 4th rak'ah, he stands up after the salutation of the imam and reads al-Fatiha and an additional chapter or some verses from the Quran performing one rak'ah and sits. After reading at-Tahiyyat, he stands up and performs two more rak'ahs. In the first rak'ah, he reads al-Fatiha and an additional chapter or some verses. In the second rak'ah, he reads only al-Fatiha. What one should note here is to perform the first and second rak'ahs in which al-Fatiha and an additional chapter or some verses from the Quran are read first while praying alone because he has caught up with the imam in the 4th rak'ah in which only al-Fatiha is read. Two rak'ahs with al-Fatiha and an additional chapter or some verses from the Quran and one rak'ah with only al-Fatiha remain. Therefore, after the salutation of the imam, he needs to read al-Fatiha and an additional chapter or some verses from the Quran in the first two of the remaining three rak'ahs and only al-Fatiha in the last rak'ah.
If a masbuq catches up with the imam in the 3rd rak'ah of the 3-rak'ah prayers like the evening and witr prayers, he stands up after the imam salutes and performs one rak'ah by reading al-Fatiha and an additional chapter or some verses from the Quran. Then, he sits down. After reading at-Tahiyyat, he stands up and performs one rak'ah by reading al-Fatiha and an additional chapter or some verses from the Quran. Then he sits down and salutes.
23 - If a masbuq, that is, a person who has not caught up with the imam in the first rak'ah, forgets and salutes with the imam does not have to perform sajdah as-sahw (prostration of forgetfulness). However, if he salutes after the imam salutes, sajdah as-sahw becomes wajib for him. If he salutes with the imam deliberately, his prayer is invalidated.
24 - After the salutation, the congregation remains where they are until the following sentence is recited:
Allahumma anta's-salamu wa minka's-salam, tabarakta ya dha'l-jalali wa'l-ikram. (O Allah, You are the source of peace and from You comes peace, exalted You are, O Lord of Majesty and Honor.) Then, they stand up and perform the sunnah prayer and supplication in an appropriate place. It is mustahab to break the row after the fard prayer so that those who come to the mosque late will not think that the fard prayer is going on.
A person who performs alone can perform fard and sunnah prayers in the same place.
A person who follows the imam, that is, a muqtadi, utters takbir and starts the prayer after the imam utters takbir. He reads Subhanaka and keeps silent. He does not read al-Fatiha and other verses. When the imam bows down, he bows down, too. At ruku, he utters tasbihat. When the imam stands up from ruku by saying "Samiallahu liman hamidah (Allah hears him who praises Him), he says, "Rabbana lakal-hamd (Our Lord, to You is all praise)". When they prostrate, he reads the tasbihat of sajdah.
Only at-Tahiyyat is read in the first sitting of 3 or 4 rak'ah prayers. In the last sitting, at-Tahiyyat, salawat and supplications are read; then, he salutes with the imam.
It is makruh tahrimi for a person who follows the imam to read al-Fatiha and an additional chapter or some verses because the imam reads on behalf of the congregation. As a matter of fact, this issue is stated in a hadith.
However, Imam Muhammad regards it makruh for the congregation to read when the imam reads al-Fatiha and an additional chapter or some verses aloud but he regards it permissible for the congregation to read when the imam reads silently.
It is contrary to the sunnah to abandon praying in congregation without an excuse. It causes a person to be deprived of a big reward and virtue.
However, the following states are regarded as excuses; a person is not regarded to have acted contrarily to the sunnah:
1 - Being very ill or paralyzed.
2 - Being blind, lame or crippled.
3 - Extremely hot or cold weather; extreme snow, rain, mud, etc.
4 - Fear of being robbed and attacked.
5 - Utter darkness.
6 - Being too old.
7 - Looking after a patient.
8 - Being busy with the preparations for a journey.
9 - When the meal is ready.
10 - When one is about to break his wudu.
11 - When one is busy with studying religious subjects. For instance, learning and teaching fiqh can sometimes be an excuse for abandoning praying in congregation but it is not permissible to abandon it all the time.
It is permissible to abandon the congregation due to one of the excuses mentioned above. A person who abandons the congregation due to laziness and slackness deserves to be punished by tazir. His witnessing is not accepted.
A person who wants to perform prayers in congregation but cannot do so regularly due to the excuses mentioned above is not deprived of the rewards of the congregation depending on the sincerity of his intention.
To catch up with the imam by breaking one's prayer
It is not permissible to break performing a prayer deliberately and without an excuse. However, it is permissible to break a prayer in order to catch up with the imam and perform a prayer in congregation.
* If some people start to perform a fard prayer in congregation near a person who has started to perform the fard prayer alone, what should that person do?
If he has not performed the sajdahs of the first rak'ah, he breaks his prayer and follows the imam. If he has performed the sajdahs of the first rak'ah and if it is a four-rak'ah fard prayer, he completes the second rak'ah salutes and follows the imam. Thus, he performs the prayer in congregation and receives the reward of congregation. The two-rak'ah prayer he has performed alone is regarded as a nafilah prayer.
If the person praying alone is in the third rak'ah of the fard prayer when the congregation starts and has not performed sajdahs yet, he can salute while standing and follow the imam. If he has finished the third rak'ah, he completes the prayer. After that, he can follow the imam to receive the reward of the congregation. However, this time the prayer he has performed alone is regarded as the fard prayer and the one he performs in congregation is regarded as a nafilah prayer for him. Besides, this prayer must not be the afternoon prayer because it is not permissible to perform a nafilah prayer after the fard of the afternoon prayer is performed.
If the prayer that is performed is not a four rak'ah prayer (if it is the fard of the morning prayer or the evening prayer), a person can break the prayer at once and follow the imam unless he has finished the second rak'ah. However, if he has completed the second rak'ah when the congregation starts, he cannot break the prayer in order to join the congregation; he cannot join the congregation after finishing his prayer, either. For, nafilah prayers are not performed after performing the fard of the morning prayer. It is not permissible to perform a three-rak'ah nafilah prayer by following the imam after the evening prayer.
* What is it necessary to do if congregation starts while one is performing a sunnah prayer?
In that case, two rak'ahs are completed and the imam is followed. One cannot follow the imam before completing two rak'ahs. If the prayer that is abandoned after completing two rak'ahs is the sunnah of the noon prayer, it is performed again as four rak'ahs after the fard of the noon prayer. The last sunnah of the noon prayer is also performed. The first prayer performed as two rak'ahs is regarded as a nafilah prayer. If the prayer that is abandoned after completing two rak'ahs is the sunnah of the afternoon or night prayers, they are not performed again after the fard.
* What does a person who comes to the mosque and sees that the congregation has started the fard prayer do?
He follows the imam immediately without performing a sunnah prayer. It is makruh to start performing a sunnah prayer when the muezzin starts to call iqamah. However, if it is the morning prayer and if it is possible to catch up with the imam in tashahhud, first the sunnah of the morning prayer is performed, then the imam is followed for the fard prayer.
Mosques are buildings where Muslims perform prayers in congregation. These buildings are also called Allah's houses since people prostrate to Allah, worship and perform prayers there.
The following is stated in a sacred hadith:
"My houses on the earth are mosques. Those who visit me there maintain and revive those mosques."
"Believers need to take care of the building, furnishing, repairing, needs and cleaning of the mosques; they should revive the mosques through prayers, supplications, reading the Quran, tasbihat, etc."
"The mosques of Allah shall be visited and maintained by such as believe in Allah and the Last Day" (at-Tawba, 18) One of the meanings of the word maintain in the verse is to revive them through worshipping. In that case, it is an important duty of believers to be interested in the mosques, to repair them and to revive them through worshipping.
There are some manners stated for the mosque and the congregation:
1 - To accept that mosques are like Allah's houses and to behave very carefully and respectfully in mosques.
2 - To show great care to keep mosques clean and to try not to dirty them.
3 - To form the habit of going to the mosque and to believe in the virtue of the congregation.
The virtue of mosques is stated as follows: in a hadith:
"If a person cleans himself at home and goes to a mosque in order to perform a fard prayer, one of his steps eliminates his sin and another step elevates his rank."
4 - One should wear new and clean clothes and nice scents when he goes to the mosque. The following is stated in the Quran regarding the issue:
"O children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: but waste not by excess for Allah loveth not the wasters." (al-A'raf, 31)
5 - To make wudu at home and leave home by the right foot; to walk to the mosque with slow but steady steps, calmly and solemnly. Not to run and hurry.
Once the Prophet heard some heavy footsteps while performing a prayer. When the prayer ended, he asked,
- What was the reason for the noise?
- We hurried to catch up with the congregation.
Thereupon, the Prophet said,
"Do not act like that again. Come to the mosque slowly and solemnly. You can perform as many rak'ahs as you can with the congregation and complete the rak'ahs you have missed alone."
6 - To go to the mosque early if it is possible.
A person who goes to the mosque early and waits for the prayer receives rewards as if he is performing prayers. The Prophet stated the following regarding the issue:
"When a person with wudu waits for the prayer in the mosque, he is regarded to be performing prayers."
"O my Companions! When you wait for the prayer, it is as if you are performing prayers. When a tribe waits for a good thing, they are regarded to be doing good deeds."
7 - To enter the mosque by the right foot and to read the following supplication:
Allahumma'ftah alayna abwaba rahmatika wa'ghfir dhunubana bifadlika wa karamika ya akrama'l-akramina wa ya arhama'r-rahimin (O Allah! Open to us the gates of Your mercy and forgive our sins with your grace and generosity. O the most kind and the most merciful.)
8 - To perform two rak'ahs of tahiyyat al-masjid when one enters the mosque if adhan has not been called and if it is not time of karahah.
9 - To read the Quran, utter tasbihat, dhikr and salawat, etc until adhan is called and prayer starts.
10 - To pray for himself, his family, children, parents, relatives and all believers between adhan and prayer.
11 - Not to abandon solemnity, dignity, tranquility and awe that are necessitated by being in the presence of Allah before the prayer starts, after it starts and when it ends.
12 - To hurry to fill in the gaps in the front rows and to try to make the rows (lines) straight and without any gaps.
13 - Those who have eaten things with unpleasant smells that disturb people like onion and garlic and those whose socks and clothes smell badly should not go to the mosque before eliminating those bad smells.
14 - To go out of the mosque by the left foot.
Tasbihat to be read after prayers
It is sunnah for the imam and the congregation to say "Astaghfirullahalladhi la ilaha illa huwa'l-hayyu'l-qayyumu wa atubu ilayh (I ask forgiveness from Allah the One whom there is no deity worthy of worship except He, the Ever-Living and Sustainer and I repent to Him) three times.
After that, the following is read alone or in congregation:
Subhanallahi wa'l-ham-du lillahi wa la ilaha illallahu wallahu akbar wa la hawla wa la quwwata illa billahi'l-aliyyi'l-azim (Glory be to Allah; praise be to Allah, there is no god but Allah; Allah is the greatest. There is no power other than Allah, who is lofty and great.) (**)
Then, everybody reads ayat al-kursiyy beginning with audhu basmala. The following is stated in a hadith: "Only death prevents a person from entering Paradise if he reads ayat al-kursiyy at the end of five daily prayers."
After ayat al-kursiyy, the chapters of al-Ikhlas, al-Falaq and an-Nas can also be read.
After that, Subhanallah is read 33 times, Alhamdu lillah 33 times and Allahu Akbar 33 times.
It is sunnah to count tasbihat by the hands. The Prophet counted his tasbihat with his fingers. However, it is permissible to use prayer beads. Some Companions used stones to count tasbihat. (Abu Hurayra had a thread with knots; he used it to count tasbihat.) It is better to count tasbihat by the hands than prayer beads.
After that, the following is read:
La ilaha illallahu wahdahu la sharika lah. Lahu'l-mulku wa lahu'l-hamdu wa huwa ala kulli shay'in qadir. (There is none worthy worship but Allah alone, who has no partner. His is the dominion and to Him belongs all praise, and He is able to do all things).
After that, "Subhana rabbiya'l-aliyyi'l-a'la'l-wahhab" is uttered and the hands are raised to the level of the chest. Prayers are said the palms facing the face. After the prayers are read, the face is wiped with the hands.
* Wiping the face is a sunnah of raising the hands in prayer. If a person says prayers without raising his hands, he does not have to wipe his face. The wisdom behind wiping the face is receiving abundance and its penetration into the body, and expecting the expulsion of troubles and attainment of grants. The face is not wiped with one hand.
The following hadiths are reported from the Prophet about the importance of prayer tasbihat:
1. "If a person says Subhanallah 33 times, Alhamdulillah 33 times and Allahuakbar 33 times and says "La ilaha illallahu wahdahu la-sharika lah, lahu'l mulku wa lahu'l-hamdu wa huwa ala kulli shay'in qadir (There is no god but Allah alone, there is no Associate with Him, to Him alone all dominion to Him alone all praises, and He is able to do all things)" once after the prayer, his sins are forgiven even if they are as abundant as the foam of the sea." (Muslim)
2. "The poor amongst the emigrants (Muhajirs) came to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and said:
The possessors of great wealth have obtained the highest ranks and the lasting bliss. They pray as we pray, and they observe fast as we observe fast; they have money and property with which they perform hajj, umrah, make jihad and give charity.
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
Shall I teach you something by which you will catch upon those who have preceded you, and get ahead of those who come after you, only those who do as you do being more excellent than you?
They said: Yes, Messenger of Allah. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
Extol Allah, declare His Greatness, and Praise Him thirty-three times after every prayer."
3. "A person who says Subhanallah 33 times, Alhamdulillah 33 times and Allahuakbar 33 times at the end of each fard prayer will not suffer any losses.
4. Abu Said al-Khudri narrates:
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
- Do the deeds that are the means of attaining Allah's consent.
The Companions asked: What are these deeds?
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
- To say Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illallah, Subhanallah, Alhamdu lillah, La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah. (Hakim, Mustadrak)
5. Abu Hurayra narrates:
"Once the Messenger of Allah said, 'Put on your armors!' The Companions asked, 'O Messenger of Allah! Have enemies come?' He said, 'No. Put on the armor of protection from Hell. Say, Subhanallah, Alhamdu lillah, La ilaha illallah, Allahu Akbar. They protect you from the front and the back on the Day of Judgment. (Hakim, Mustadrak)
To perform a prayer in its prescribed time means ada and to perform a prayer after its prescribed time is called qada.
It is fard to perform the qada of the prayers that are (missed) not prayed in their prescribed times. The qada of the witr prayer is wajib. As for the sunnah prayers, only the sunnah of the morning prayer can be performed as qada after its prescribed time. The other sunnah prayers are not performed after their prescribed times.
The sunnah of the morning prayer can be performed later only if it is missed together with the fard of the morning prayer and only on that day after the karahah time ends and before the noon time starts. If the fard of the morning prayer is performed but the sunnah is missed, the sunnah of the morning prayer is not performed as qada later. If the the qada of the morning prayer is delayed after the time for the noon prayer starts, only the fard is performed as qada; the sunnah is not performed.
The first sunnah of the noon prayer can be abandoned in order to catch up with the imam for the congregation. In that case, it is performed after the fard and before the last sunnah. It is not permissible to perform it after the last sunnah. This qada is qada in its prescribed time, or rather delayed ada.
It is a big sin not to perform a prayer in its prescribed time and to miss it without any excuse. When this prayer is performed later as qada, the responsibility to perform it is relieved but the sin caused by not performing it in time still exists. It is necessary to repent and ask for forgiveness in order to get rid of that sin. Therefore, conscious, religious people avoid delaying prayers due to baseless excuses and laziness and missing them. They know that the sin of missing a prayer is not eliminated even if it is performed as qada later.
If a person cannot wake up in time despite taking measures to wake up or forgetting that one has not performed a prayer, he is not held responsible for delaying or missing the prayer.
According to Hanafis, there is no certain time to perform missed prayers but it is necessary to perform prayers in sequence. That is, when a person misses a prayer, he needs to perform it before he performs the prayer of the time he is in. This is valid when a person has missed fewer than 6 prayers. A person who has fewer than 6 six fard prayers to perform is called sahib at-tartib; such a person has to observe the sequence between the missed prayers and daily fard prayers as well as the sequence among the missed prayers. For instance, a person who is sahib at-tartib with 4 missed prayers (the morning, noon, afternoon and evening prayers) cannot perform the night prayer without performing these prayers in order. If he does, the night prayer is regarded to be invalid. However, if the number of the prayers that a person who is sahib at-tartib has missed amounts to six or more, he is no longer a sahib at-tartib. In that case, the prayers that have become invalid due to not observing the order become valid again.
A person who loses the property of being sahib at-tartib does not have to observe the sequence when he performs his missed prayers. He can perform the prayers he has missed whenever he wants except the times of karahah.
The condition of the sequence is invalidated if the number of the missed prayer amounts to 6; it is also invalidated when a person performs a daily prayer by forgetting that he has missed some prayers. Therefore, when a person who performs a daily prayer by forgetting that he has missed some prayers remembers that he has some missed prayers to perform, the fard prayer he has performed is not invalidated because he is no longer a sahib at-tartib.
It is sunnah to call adhan and iqamah when a missed fard prayer is performed. If more than one missed prayer is performed, one adhan is enough but an iqamah for each prayer is necessary.
No matter how and why a prayer is missed, it is necessary to perform it as soon as the excuse that has prevented it disappears. According to Malikis, it is haram for a person who has to perform missed prayers to perform nafilah prayers. He can perform only the sunnah of the morning prayer, witr prayer and eid prayers. He has to perform missed prayers instead of the other sunnah and nafilah (supererogatory) prayers. If he does not perform missed prayers and performs sunnah and nafilah prayers, he receives rewards for those prayers but also commits sins for delaying missed fard prayers.
According to Shafiis, it is haram for a person who has to perform missed prayers that are wajib to be performed urgently to perform sunnah and nafilah prayers until he finishes performing his missed fard prayers.
According to Hanbalis, it is haram for a person who has to perform missed prayers to perform nafilah and sunnah ghayr muakkadah prayers. He performs the witr prayer and sunnah al-muakkadah prayers. However, if he has a lot of missed prayers to perform, he needs to perform his missed prayers instead of them. However, the sunnah of the morning prayer is excluded; it has to be performed in any case; it cannot be abandoned.
According to Hanafis, it is not permissible to abandon the sunnah prayers in order to perform missed prayers. A person who has missed prayers to perform needs to perform both the sunnah prayers and missed prayers.
As it is seen, according to the other three madhhabs, it is not permissible to delay missed prayers. Therefore, those who have missed prayers to perform need to try to perform them as soon as possible and to get rid of their responsibility and sins.
A person who has a lot of missed prayers to perform and does not know which missed prayer to perform can intend as follows: "I intend to perform the first (noon) prayer or the last (noon) prayer I missed." If a person intends like this, the first or the last prayer he missed will be performed and the times of the prayers will be determined.
To break or delay a prayer that has been started
It is haram to break or delay a prayer that has been started but in some cases, it becomes permissible and even wajib. These cases are as follows:
1 - It is wajib to break a prayer in order to help someone whose life is in danger like being about to drown in water, being attacked by an animal, etc.
2 - It is wajib for a midwife to break her prayer or to delay it if she has not started if there is a risk for the mother or the baby to be born.
3 - It is permissible for a person who is in the countryside to delay his prayer if he is afraid of robbers, highwaymen and the attack of wild animals. Prayer can also be delayed during a battle.
4 - If a person is performing a nafilah prayer and if his mother or father calls him, it is wajib for him to break his prayer and go to him or her so that she/he will not be harmed. It is not permissible to break the prayer if it is a fard prayer.
5 - It is permissible for a person to break his prayer if he fears that his money or property will be stolen.
6 - It is permissible for a woman to break her prayer if she fears that the saucepan will boil over or that her baby will be harmed.
Prayers are mainly divided into three: Fard prayers, wajib prayers and nafilah prayers. Let us deal with them one by one:
There five daily fard prayers of 17 rak'ahs: two rak'ahs of the morning (fajr) prayer, four rak'ahs of the noon (zuhr) prayer, four rak'ahs of the afternoon (asr) prayer, three rak'ahs of the evening (maghrib) prayer and four rak'ahs of the night (isha) prayer. They are fard al-ayn. That is, everybody has to perform them.
Two rak'ahs of Friday prayer is also fard on Friday.
Janazah prayer is fard al-kifayah. That is, when some Muslims perform it, the others are not held responsible.
The three-rak'ah witr prayer performed after the night prayer is wajib.
Eid prayers performed twice a year are also wajib.
In addition to fard and wajib prayers, the prayers that are performed only for virtues and thawabs (rewards) though there is no religious obligation are generally called nafilah prayers. They are also called tatawwu (voluntary) because a person performs those prayers only to worship Allah though they are not obligatory.
Sunnah prayers are also included in the term nafilah. However, every sunnah prayer is also a nafilah prayer but not all nafilah prayers are sunnah prayers.
Nafilah prayers are mainly divided into two:
* Rawatib prayers.
* Raghaib prayers.