The Sunnahs of Prayer

The Sunnahs of Prayer

What are the sunnahs of prayer?

To place a sutrah while performing a prayer

 

The Sunnahs of the Prayer

The prayer has sunnahs like the other kinds of worship. They complete the wajibs and increase the rewards.

Obedience to the sunnahs is a sign of loving the Messenger of Allah. To abandon the sunnahs does not invalidate prayer and does not necessitate performing a prayer again. However, to get into the habit of abandoning the sunnahs due to laziness and wantonness can result in the deprivation of the intercession of the Messenger of Allah.

 

What are the sunnahs of prayer?

Primary sunnahs of prayer are as follows:

1 - To call adhan and iqamah for five daily fard prayers and the Friday prayer.

It is also sunnah to call adhan and iqamah for the missed prayers that will be performed in congregation.

It is mustahab to call adhan and iqamah for a man who performs a prayer alone at home. It is not necessary for women to call adhan and iqamah.

2 - To raise the hands while uttering the opening takbir.

Men raise their hands up to the level of the ears, and the thumbs touch the earlobes; women raise their hands up to their shoulders and utter Allahu Akbar. The hands need to be open and the palms need to face toward the Kaaba while uttering the opening takbir.

* Some scholars say raising the hands indicates oneness. Others say it means to throw all the worldly things back and turn toward the qiblah and the prayer with his being.    

The following is reported from Ibn Umar: "It is the jewel of prayer to raise the hands while starting the prayer. There are 10 rewards for each raising, one reward for each finger."

3 - To combine the hands as soon as the opening takbir is performed.

Men combine their hands under the navel and women on their chests.

Men form a half ring with the thumb and the little finger of the right hand and hold the left wrist with it; they place the other three fingers on the left arm. Women do not form a ring; they place their right hands on their left hands.

4 - To read Subhanaka first after the hands are held like that, and then audhu basmala before reading the chapter of al-Fatiha. To utter basmala at the beginning of other rak'ahs is sunnah.   

5 - To read Subhanaka and audhu basmala silently.  

Basmala is not uttered before the additional chapter or verses. However, Imam Muhammad regards it permissible to utter basmala before the additional chapter or verses after al-Fatiha in the prayers where qira'ah is performed silently.   

* It is sunnah to read long mufassal in the morning and noon prayers, medium mufassal in the afternoon and night prayers and short mufassal in the evening prayer. Mufassal is the last one-seventh of the Quran. Long mufassal is the part between the chapters of al-Hujurat and al-Buruj. Medium mufassal is the part between the chapters of al-Buruj and al-Bayyina. The short mufassal is the part from the chapter of al-Bayyina to the last chapter. This is in question when a person is a resident and when there is plenty of time. If a person is a traveler, if there is not enough time or if there is an excuse, any chapter or verses can be read. As a matter of fact, the Messenger of Allah once read the chapters of al-Falaq and an-Nas when he lead the morning prayer. When the Companions said, "You shortened the prayer", he answered: "I heard a baby crying. I feared that the mother would panic." It is also reported that the Prophet (pbuh) read the chapters of al-Kafirun and al-Ikhlas in the morning prayer when he was a traveler.   

* It is sunnah to read twice as much in the first rak'ah of the morning prayer compared to the second rak'ah.

6 - To say Amin silently at the end of the chapter of al-Fatiha (both for the reader and the listener)

Amin means "accept our prayers".

7 - To utter Allahu Akbar while bowing down.

8 - To say "Subhana Rabbiya'l-Azim (My Lord, the Supreme, is free from all imperfection)" three times in ruku'. It can be said five or seven times, too. It is makruh tanzihi not to say anything or say fewer than three times.

9 - To say, "Samiallahu liman hamidah" (Allah hears those who praise Him) while standing up from ruku.

10 - To say "Rabbana laka'l-hamd" (Our Lord, praise be to You) after that.

11 - To keep the feet about four fingers away from each other while standing if there is no excuse. If a person is fat, has hernia, etc, he can keep the distance wider.

12 - To hold the knees with the hands with openings between fingers.

Women do not hold their knees with their hands; they only place their hands on their knees.

13 - To keep the knees straight in ruku, not to bend them.

14 - To keep the back straight in ruku'. To keep the head and the back at the same level.

Women bend their knees a bit in ruku and keep their back a bit upwards.

15 - To put the knees first on the ground/floor, then the hands and then the face while performing sajdah.

16 - To raise the face first while getting up from sajdah, then the hands and then the knees.

17 - To say Allahu Akbar while performing sajdah and getting up from sajdah.

The takbirs uttered while bowing down and straightening up from ruku' and prostrating and getting up from sajdah are called takbirs of intiqal (transition). It is necessary to be careful to utter them appropriately.

For instance, it is necessary to start saying Allahu Akbar while bowing down for ruku' and finish saying it in the ruku' position. It is not appropriate to utter takbir after bowing down. The same thing is valid for the other takbirs of intiqal.   

18 - To place the face between two hands in sajdah and to keep the hands a bit behind and away from the face. The palms need to touch the ground/floor and the fingers need to be adjacent.   

19 - To say "Subhana Rabbiya'l-A'la (My Lord, the Highest, is free from all imperfection)" three times in sajdah.   

20 - To keep the abdomen away from the thighs, the elbows away from the sides and the arms away from the ground/floor.

Women put their arms and elbows on the ground/floor and keep them near their sides. They also make their abdomen touch their thighs.    

* To keep the arms away from the sides is not performed so as not to disturb the people in the congregation.   

21 - To put the hands on the thighs facing the qiblah in the first and last sitting and between two sajdahs.

22 - To put the left foot on the ground horizontally and sit on it and to place the right foot upright, bending the toes so that they will face the Kaaba.

Women need to place their feet on the ground horizontally and sit on them.

23 - To read at-Tahiyyat silently.  

24 - To read salawat and other supplications after at-Tahiyyat.

25 - To read salawat after at-Tahiyyat in the first sittings of sunnah al-muakkadah prayers (the first sunnah of the afternoon and night) prayers).  In tarawih prayers, it is necessary to read at-Tahiyyat and salawat in all sittings.   

26 - To turn the face first to the right and then to the left while during salutation.

To think of the Honorary Scribes (Kiraman Katibin) if one is performing the prayer alone, and to think of the angels, the congregation and the imam if one is performing the prayer in congregation when he salutes.

27 - To wait for the imam to salute for the second time (to the left) if a person has not caught up with the imam in the first rak'ah before he stands up to complete his prayer.

28 - It is sunnah for a person who performs a prayer in a place where people can pass in front of him to put a sutrah in front of him. 

29 - To raise the index finger of the right hand when la ilaha is uttered and to lower it when illallah is uttered while reading at-Tahiyyat in the first and last sittings.

The thumb and the middle finger need to form a circle and the other two fingers need to be bent inwards while doing it. Many people cannot do it. Therefore, it is more appropriate to abandon it.   

30 - It is sunnah to utter dua after salawat and before salutation in the last sitting. This dua needs to be one of the dua verses of the Quran or a similar dua. It is not permissible to ask for something that can be asked from people in prayer (for instance, saying, "O Lord! Give me such and such amount of money!)

It is customary to read the following verses after salawat at the end of prayers.

"Rabbana atina fi'd-dunya hasanatan wa fi'l-akhirati hasanatan wa qina adhaba'n-nar.  (Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter and save us from the torment of the fire.)

Rabbanaghfirli wa li-walidayya wa li'l-mu'minina yawma yaqumu'l-hisab. (O our Lord! Cover (us) with Thy Forgiveness― me, my parents, and (all) Believers, on the Day that the Reckoning will be established.)"

31 - To salute by turning the head to the right and left by saying, "Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullah" when the prayer ends. The imam intends the salutation for the congregation and the Honorary Scribes when he salutes. When a person who follows the imam salutes, he intends for the congregation and the imam. When a person who performs a prayer alone salutes, he intends for the angels.

* Subhanaka:

Subhanakallahumma wa bihamdik wa tabarakasmuk wa taala jadduk (wa jalla thanauk) wa la ilaha ghayruk.

(Glory be to you, O Allah, and all praises are due unto you, and blessed is your name and high is your majesty (glorified is your praise) and none is worthy of worship but you),

* Salawat:

Allahumma salli ala Muhammadin wa ala ali Muhammad. Kama sallayta ala Ibrahiyma wa ala ali Ibrahim. Innaka hamidun majid.

(O Allah, exalt Muhammad and the people of Muhammad, as You did exalt Abraham and the people Abraham, verily You are Praiseworthy, and Glorious.)

Allahumma barik ala Muhammadi wa ala ali Muhammad. Kama barakta ala Ibrahima wa ala ali Ibrahim. Innaka hamidun majid.

(O Allah, bless Muhammad and the people of Muhammad, as You did bless Abraham and the people Abraham, verily You are Praiseworthy, and Glorious.)

 

To place a sutrah while performing a prayer

A sutrah is something that a person who performs a prayer in a place where people can pass in front of him puts in front of him as a barrier to prevent people from passing in front of him.

The sutrah must be at least 70 cm high. It is sunnah for a person who prays in such a place to put a sutrah in front of him. A sutrah can be something high like a column, a tree, a stick placed into the ground, a chair, etc. It is ordered in a hadith to use a sutrah even if it is an arrow.     

If the ground/floor is too hard to place the stick into, it is placed horizontally. If there is nothing to place as a sutrah, a horizontal line is drawn. It is possible to draw a crescent, too. What matters is to prevent one's heart from being busy by looking at the things at the front.

A prayer rug put on the ground/floor prevents others from passing in front of a person more than a line; so, it is regarded as a sutrah. Ibn Abidin regards it enough to put a garment or a book in front of a person as a sutrah. Placing a sutrah upright is better than putting it on the ground/floor horizontally and putting something on the ground/floor horizontally is better than drawing a line.    

A man can warn a person passing in front of him by raising his voice. He can also say Subhanallah.

The prayer of the person is not invalidated if someone passes in front of him but the person who passes is regarded to have committed a sin.

To place a sutrah in front of the imam only is enough for the prayers performed in congregation.

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