How Many Pillars (Essential Parts) are there in a Prayer?

The pillars of prayer

How many conditions are there before performing prayers?

What is spiritual cleanliness?

What is physical cleanliness?

What is satr al-awrah (covering certain parts of the body)?

What are the parts of the body to be covered?

What does turning toward the qiblah mean?

Why do all Muslims turn toward the Kaaba?

What is time?

What does intention (niyyah) mean?

Is determining the time necessary in intention?

When is it necessary to intend?


How Many Pillars (Essential Parts) are there in a Prayer?

There are 12 pillars. 6 of them have to be fulfilled before starting a prayer; they are called the conditions of prayer. The other 6 are the fards that need to be fulfilled after starting a prayer; they are called the pillars of prayers.


The Conditions of Prayer

The conditions of prayers, that is, the pillars of prayer that need to be fulfilled before starting a prayer are as follows:

1 - Taharah from hadath (Removing ritual impurity),

2 - Taharah from Najasah (Removing physical impurity),

3 - Covering the awrah,

4 - Turning toward the qiblah,

5 - Time,

6 - Niyyah (intention).


What is Taharah from Hadath?

It means to be cleaned from hadath; if a person has no wudu (ablution), he needs to make wudu; if he is junub, he needs to make ghusl (bath).


What is Taharah from Najasah?

It means to clean the dirt, if there is any, from one's body, clothes or on the place where he will perform the prayer.


What is Covering the Awrah?

It means to cover the parts that are haram to look at during prayer.


What are the Awrah Parts?

The awrah parts are the parts that have to be covered and that are haram to show to others. The awrah parts of a man are the area between his navel and knees. The awrah parts of a woman are her whole body except her face, hands and feet.     

* It is stated that there is no awrah four children up to the age of 4. Awrah is in question for older children.

Awrah is divided into two as ghalizah and khafifah. Awrah ghalizah is the genital organs and the anus. The other parts are awrah khafifah. This difference is about looking, not about prayer.   

* Covering the awrah is the right of both the Creator and the creature. Therefore, a person needs to cover his body even when he is alone.

* If a person cannot remove the impurity on his body without opening his awrah parts in the presence of others, he can perform the prayer with the impurity on his body. For, opening the awrah is forbidden. The removal of impurity is ordered. When a prohibition and order are in question, the prohibition is given priority because eliminating the evil is preferred to obtaining a benefit.

* To perform a prayer with dirty clothes is better than performing a prayer naked. When a person faces two troubles, he can choose either of them if they are equal. If one of them is the lesser evil, he has to choose the lesser evil. Dirt is better than nakedness. That is, performing prayers with dirty clothes is preferred to performing prayers naked.  

* It is not permissible for a person who has clean clothes to perform a prayer naked in a dark room.

* Awrah places are not regarded to have been covered with thin, transparent clothes like nylon.

* If less than one-fourth of an organ that needs to be covered is opened while performing a prayer, the prayer is not invalidated. If more than one fourth is opened, the prayer is invalidated.

* If a person whose awrah place is opened while performing a prayer covers that part immediately, his prayer is not invalidated. If he covers it after waiting long enough to say subhanallah three times, his prayer is invalidated. This covering should be done using one hand only. The acts done with two hands are regarded as amal kathir and invalidate prayer.   

* A person who cannot find any clothes to cover his body needs to turn toward the qiblah, straighten his legs and perform the prayer with gesture. He can also stand and perform the prayer with gesture. However, it is better to perform the prayer by sitting.

* It is not permissible for men to perform prayers wearing silk clothes. However, a person who cannot find anything except silk to wear can perform his prayer by wearing it. He is not allowed to perform the prayer naked.

* It is mustahab for men to put on their clothes and caps while performing prayers. It is permissible to perform prayers by covering only the awrah parts but it is makruh. When there is a necessity, it is not makruh.

* Whether the state of an organ is regarded as awrah or not is based on others not the person himself. It is enough to cover the awrah organs so that others will not see it. Therefore, if a person sees his own awrah parts through his wide collared garment, his prayer is not invalidated. If others see his awrah parts, his prayer is invalidated.


What does Turning toward the Qiblah Mean?

It means to perform the prayer by turning toward the Kaaba, which is in Makkah.

* Qiblah does not consist of the stone building in Makkah. According to the shari'ah, the qiblah is a luminous column extending to the sky and to the middle of the earth. Therefore, a person performs his prayer by turning toward the Kaaba whether he is on a plane or under the ground. Thus, the condition of turning toward the qiblah is fulfilled. 

How should a person who does not know the direction of the qiblah perform his prayers?

A person who does not know the direction of the qiblah needs to search where the qiblah is. If he cannot learn it from others, he searches and turns toward the direction he thinks to be the qiblah. If he finds out after performing the prayer that the direction he turned toward was wrong, he does not have to perform that prayer again. However, if he performs the prayer without searching where the qiblah is though it is possible to find out and he turns out to be wrong, he has to perform that prayer again.   

* If a person who doubts the direction of the qiblah starts to perform a prayer without searching understands while performing the prayer that he has turned toward the qiblah, he needs to perform that prayer again. For, the prayers he will perform based on full opinion cannot be built upon the rak'ahs he has performed with doubt. The rule "something strong cannot be built upon something weak" necessitates it. However, if he understands after performing the prayer that he has turned toward the qiblah , his prayer is valid. He does not have to perform it again. According to Abu Yusuf, it is not necessary to perform the prayer again in both cases.   

* Those who disagree about the direction of the qiblah need to perform their prayers alone. If they perform it in congregation, the prayers of those who do not think that the direction the imam turns toward is not the qiblah are not valid.   

* It is valid to perform fard and supererogatory prayers within the Kaaba. One can turn toward any direction there.

If the imam is inside the Kaaba and if the congregation follows him from outside, the prayer becomes valid if the gate of the Kaaba is open.

* When the mihrab is present, it is not permissible to search the qiblah. It is written in Qadihan that it is permissible to search the qiblah even if there is a mihrab.


Why do All Muslims Turn toward the Kaaba?

The reasons why Muslims turn toward the Kaaba, which is the oldest and holiest temple in the world, are to keep the spirit of unity among Muslims active, to illuminate the hearts with the divine joy and luminosity of a common worship, etc. Turning toward the same qiblah is a means of establishing full love and universal fraternity by eliminating the difference of language, color and race.


What is Time?

It means to perform the five daily prayers in the time periods determined for them. It is not permissible to perform a prayer before its time starts. A prayer after the time prescribed for it becomes a missed (qada) prayer.


What does Niyyah (Intention) mean?

Intention means the heart deciding something and knowing why something is done without thinking about it.

Intention about prayer means to want to perform a prayer only for the sake of Allah and to know by heart which prayer to perform.

Intention is something related to the heart. However, it is regarded better if it is also expressed by the tongue.


Is it Necessary to Determine the Time in the Intention for Prayer?

It is not necessary to determine the time for supererogatory prayers. It is enough to say or think through the heart, "I intend to perform a prayer for the sake of Allah."

It is necessary to determine which daily prayer it is for fard prayers. For instance, "I intend to perform today's zuhr prayer."

It is necessary to determine time in eid, janazah and witr prayers like fard prayers.

For qada (missed) prayers, it is necessary to say what prayer will be performed. If it is not known, it is possible to utter the niyyah as follows: "I intend to perform the last noon, afternoon, etc prayer I missed."


When to Utter Niyyah?

It is better to utter niyyah just before the opening takbir. It is permissible to utter niyyah beforehand. However, it is necessary to avoid things that are not related to prayer like eating, drinking and talking. The prayer is not valid if niyyah is uttered after takbir. That is the preferred view. According to another view, the prayer is valid if the niyyah is uttered after Suhanaka and before audhubillahi…   

According to Imam Shafii, it is necessary for the niyyah to be close to the opening takbir.   

* It is permissible to perform a missed (qada) prayer with the niyyah of a prayer in time and to perform a prayer in time with the niyyah of qada. For instance, if a person performs the noon prayer thinking that it is still the time for the noon prayer and if it is understood later that the time has lapsed, the prayer he has performed is regarded as qada.

* If a person utters niyyah for two fard prayers at a time period, for instance, if he utters niyyah for the noon and afternoon prayer during the time period for the noon prayer, the prayer is regarded as valid for the prayer of that time.   

* If a person starts a prayer by uttering niyyah for a fard prayer and then finishes that prayer thinking that he is performing a supererogatory prayer, this prayer is accepted as the fard prayer. For, it is not necessary for the niyyah to be remembered throughout the prayer.

* It is necessary for a person who follows the imam in congregation to utter the niyyah of the prayer and the niyyah for following the imam. For instance, he says, "I intend to perform the fard of the noon prayer and to follow the imam."

* The niyyah for following the imam by the congregation needs to be uttered after the imam starts the prayer by uttering Allahu Akbar according to Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad. However, according to Abu Hanifa, the takbir of the congregation needs to be close to the takbir of the imam. Then, the niyyah needs to be uttered before the opening takbir of the imam.   

However, a person who utters takbir and starts to follow the imam before the imam finishes reading the chapter of al-Fatiha receives the reward of starting with the opening takbir of the imam.

* The imam does not have to utter niyyah for leading the prayer. However, if women also follow him in the congregation, he needs to utter niyyah for them. It is enough for such an imam to say, "I intend to be the imam for those who follow me."

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