How is Sajda as-Sahw performed and how should one keep his index finger during tashahhud according to sunnah?

Details of the Question
1. How is the two prostration (sajda) for mistakes during prayers performed before and after the salam (Sajda as-Sahw)? What needs to be said at each position? 2. How should one keep his index finger during tashahhud according to Sunnah? At what point is the Index finger raised and put down? Should one look at the index finger without the place of prostration? 3. When I go to the congregation prayer, the imam is in the second rak'ha, completed the rukoo and going on prostration. At what point should I then join the Imam? Is it that I say Thakbeer and sit for the first tashahhud or wait till the Imam starts the third rak'ha? 4. If I joined the Imam in the final tashahhud, should I read the first tahiyyat or the final tahiyyat?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

1. SAJDA AS-SAHW (PROSTRATION OF FORGETFULNESS)
Prostration (sajda) means putting one’s forehead down on the floor or ground showing great respect; sahw (forgetfulness) means being lost in thought, being careless, skipping something inadvertently. Prostration of forgetfulness means two sajdas that become necessary at the end of the prayer due to delaying one of the essential parts of the prayer by mistake or skipping or delaying a wajib.

In case of delaying an essential part, delaying or skipping a wacib, during the final tashahhud (sitting), after reading ‘tahiyyat’, the person turns his head to right and left saying salam, then he says “Allahu akbar” and goes down to prostration; in prostration he says “Subhana rabbiyal a’la” three times and says “Allahu akbar” and sits; after sitting for a short while, he says “Allahu akbar”  and goes down to prostration again, reading “Subhana rabbiyal a’la” three times; then, he says“Allahu akbar” and sits. After reading, Tahiyyat, Allahumma salli , Allahumma barik and Rabbana atina, he turns his head right and left saying salam.

It is more virtuous and appropriate for caution to turn the head to right only and say salam and then carry out the prostration of forgetfulness. As a matter of fact, in congregational prayers, it is necessary to carry out the prostration of forgetfulness after turning the head to right only and saying salam lest the congregation should leave the prayer by mistake.  

According to the sound view of Hanafis, the prostration of forgetfulness is wajib; according to other sects, it is sunnah. (Ibnul-Humam, Fathul-Qadir, Egypt 1316/1898, I, 355, 374; al-Kasani, Badayiu's-Sanayi', Beirut 1394/1974, I,163-179; al-Maydani, al-Lubab, Istanbul n.d., I, 95 et al.; az-Zuhayli, al-Fiqhul-Islami wa Adillatuh, Damascus 1405/1985, I, 87 et al.).

The evidence that Hanafis base their view on is this hadith reported by Abdullah b. Mas'ud (may Allah be pleased with him): " If anyone of you is doubtful about his prayer, he should follow what he thinks to be correct and complete his prayer accordingly and finish it and do two prostrations of forgetfulness" (Bukhari, Salat, 31; Muslim, Masajid, 88, 89; Abu Dawud, Salat, 190, 191, 193; Nasai, Sahw, 24, 25; Ibn Majah, Iqama, 132, 133; Malik, Muwatta', Nida, 61-63; Ahmad b. Hanbal, I, 190, 193, 204-206). Abu Said al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) reports the Messenger of Allah saying: "When any one of you is in doubt about his prayer and he does not know how much he has prayed, three or four (rak'ats). He should cast aside his doubt and base his prayer on what he is sure of, then perform two prostrations before giving salutations. If he has prayed five rak'ats, they will make his prayer an even number for him, and if he has prayed exactly four, they will be humiliation for the devil " (Bukhari, Sahw, 6, 7; Muslim, Salat, 19, 20; Ahmad b. Hanbal, III, 12, 37, 42).

The fact that Hazrat Prophet and his Companions performed prostration of forgetfulness when necessary shows that it is wajib. When one of the wajibs of hajj is missing, it is necessary to sacrifice an animal to compensate it; similarly, prostration of forgetfulness is wajib to complete the missing parts in prayers.

According to Hanafis, a person becomes a sinner by skipping the prostration of forgetfulness but his prayer is valid because the prostration of forgetfulness is the compensation of something lost. The compensation of something can only be wajib. The prostration of forgetfulness eliminates the sins originating from skipping wajib acts like reading the tashahhud and giving salutations but it does not eliminate a missing part like not performing ruku’ (bending the body).

The prostration of forgetfulness is wajib for the imam and the person praying alone. If a person who follows the imam during the prayer makes a mistake, it is not wajib for him to perform the prostration of forgetfulness. If the imam makes a mistake, it becomes wajib for the congregation to follow him. If the person following the imam has joined the prayer later or has missed some part of the prayer, it is also wajib for him to join the prostration of forgetfulness. If the imam does not perform the prostration of forgetfulness, the congregation does not perform it either because they must follow the imam. However, the person who has joined the prayer later follows the imam in the prostrations not in the salutation.

The prostration of forgetfulness is wajib when it is suitable to perform daily prayers. For instance, if the sun rises when a person gives salutation at the end of the fajr (morning) prayer or if the redness of the sun in the horizon becomes apparent after the asr (afternoon) prayer, the prostrations of forgetfulness are skipped.

During Friday and eid prayers, if there is a big congregation, it is better to skip the prostration of forgetfulness so as not to cause any confusion. If a person makes a mistake while performing the prostration of forgetfulness, he does not have to perform another prostration of forgetfulness.

In a fard, wajib and sunnah prayer, there are fards like standing, reciting, bending and prostration, and wajibs like reciting al-Fatiha and an additional chapter or verses, observing the order and sunnahs like reciting Allahumma Salli-Allahamma barik during the final tashahhud. If they are observed fully, the prayer becomes complete.

If a person skips a fard in a prayer deliberately or by mistake, he has to perform that prayer again. The prostration of forgetfulness is not enough to compensate that big fault.

If a person skips or delays a wajib deliberately, it is a bad deed but the prostration of forgetfulness is not necessary for it; it is better to perform that prayer again. If a wajib is skipped or delayed by mistake, then it becomes necessary to perform the prostration of forgetfulness. Thus, the deficiency is compensated. If a sunnah is skipped or delayed deliberately or by mistake, the prostration of forgetfulness is not necessary but such an act is a fault; it causes deprivation from reward and virtue.

The reasons for the prostration of forgetfulness:

1) In three cases, it is necessary to perform the prostration of forgetfulness for deliberate actions: to skip the first tashahhud, to delay one prostration from the first rakat to the end of the prayer or to contemplate for a while without doing anything.

2) It is necessary to perform the prostration of forgetfulness when a person skips a wajib by mistake. It may occur by skipping that wajib, delaying it, doing it before its proper time, adding something to the prayer, or removing something from the prayer.

There are wajibs that necessitate prostration of forgetfulness when they are skipped or delayed. Six of them are essential:

a) Not to recite al-Fatiha or skip most of it in the first two rakats of fard prayers.

b) To skip reading three short verses or one long verse after al-Fatiha in the first two rakats of fard prayers.

c) Not to obey the rule of reading the Quran silently or aloud in the prayers. For instance, if the imam reads silently in the evening prayer and aloud in the noon prayer, prostration of forgetfulness is performed after the prayer to compensate the mistake. The same thing is valid for a person who prays alone. 

If most of al-Fatiha is read aloud when it is necessary to be read silently, the remaining part is read silently. If some part of al-Fatiha is read silently when it is necessary to be read aloud, it is necessary to start reading it from the beginning aloud. Thus, reading aloud and silently do not combine in the same prayer. According to another view, it is not necessary to start reading from the beginning; when it is understood that reading silently is wrong, the remaining part is read aloud. 

d) To skip tashahhud in the first sitting of three or four rakat prayers.

e) To skip tashahhud in the final sitting.

f) Not to follow the order in a rakat when something is necessary to be repeated. That act is the second prostration of each rakat. For instance, if someone stands up after one prostration in a rakat by mistake and performs that rakat with two prostrations and remembers that prostration that he has skipped and performs it at the end of the prayer, it becomes wajib to perform prostration of forgetfulness because he has not followed the order.

g) If a person bends down after the takbir of iftitah (opening) and then stands up realizing that he has made a mistake and reads al-Fatiha and an additional chapter, renews the bending down and performs prostration of forgetfulness at the end of the prayer because he has not followed the order. Similarly, it is necessary to perform prostration of forgetfulness if a person skips the prostration of tilawa.

On the other hand, it is necessary to perform prostration of forgetfulness when one changes the place of a fard or delays it such as sitting down instead of standing and standing up instead of sitting.

h) To skip ta’dil arkan (pausing on each posture before moving on) in bending and prostration. According to the sound view, it is wajib for a person who skips ta’dil arkan by mistake to perform prostration of forgetfulness. 

i) To change the place of reading in fard prayers. For instance, it is necessary to perform prostration of forgetfulness when a person reads al-Fatiha after the additional chapter or reads the additional chapter in the last two rakats of fard prayers.

j) To skip reading al-qunut in the witr prayer. It takes place when a person bends without reading al-qunut. A person who skips al-qunut should perform prostration of forgetfulness.

k) To skip the takbir of al-qunut . It is necessary to perform prostration of forgetfulness when a person skips all or some of eid prayer takbirs, or skips the takbir of bending in the second rakat of eid prayer because they are wajib takbirs. The first takbir of bending in the first rakat is not like that.

3) To add something to the prayer which is not in the prayer, for instance bending twice. In this case, it is necessary to perform prostration of forgetfulness at the end of the prayer.

4) To return to the act that was skipped by mistake:

Suppose someone skips the first sitting by mistake and remembers it; if he is nearer to the position of sitting, he should sit down and perform tashahhud. If he is nearer to the position of standing, he should not return; he should perform prostration of forgetfulness at the end of the prayer.

If a person stands up to the fifth rakat after the final tashahhud by mistake, he should return and sit again if he has not performed the prostration of the fifth rakat and perform prostration of forgetfulness at the end of the prayer. If that person has performed the prostration of the fifth rakat, the fard prayer becomes invalid and his prayer becomes a nafilah (superogatory) prayer. It is mandoob (recommended) for such a person to add one more rakat and make it six rakats. That judgment is according to Abu Hanifa and Imam Muhammad.

Suppose a person stands up by mistake after the last sitting and he thinks that it is the first sitting and does not give salutation. If he has not performed the prostration of the fifth rakat, he should sit again. If he has performed the prostration of the fifth rakat, he should add one more rakat. His fard prayer becomes complete because the last sitting is in its own place. The extra two rakats that person has performed becomes nafila for him.

5) Having a doubt about the number of rakats:

Suppose a person has a doubt as to whether he has performed three or four rakats. If the incidence of forgetting happens for the first time, that is, if he does not usually forget or doubt, he should perform that prayer again. It is better for him to sit and give salutations. The Messenger of Allah said; “If any of you has a doubt during the prayer as to how many rakats he has performed, he should perform that prayer again.” (Zaylai said that that hadtih was "gharib" (weak). See Nasbu'r-Raya, II, 173).

If that person often doubts about the rakats, he should continue his prayer regarding the stronger probability as the true number of rakats. He should prefer to choose the third or fourth rakat in accordance with his opinion because it is difficult for such a person to perform the prayers again. Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) said the following regarding the issue: "When any of you doubt about the rakats fo the prayer, he should search for the true number and complete his prayer " (Bukhari, Salat, 31; Muslim, Masajid, 88, 89, Abu Dawud, Salat, 190, 191, 193; Nasai, Sahw, 24, 25)

A person who has a doubt during the prayer and cannot decide how many rakats he has performed, continues his prayer accepting that he has performed the fewer rakats because the opinion about the fewer is definite. Such a person should sit for tashahhud when he thinks it is necessary. Thus, he will not skip a fard or wajib sitting. For instance, in a four-rakat prayer, if a person doubts whether he is in the first or second rakat, he should act in accordance with his research. If his research does not help him, he should accept that he is in the first rakat (the fewer). However, it is wajib for him to sit at the end of the second rakat. Then he should stand up, perform one more rakat and then sit again. The evidence about the issue is the following hadith of the Messenger of Allah: "If one of you doubts about his prayer and does not remember whether he has performed three or four rakats, he should leave the doubt and continue his prayer accepting the fewer rakats." (Zaylai, Nasbu'r-Raya, II, 174).

If a person makes two or more mistakes in a prayer, it will be enough to perform one (two sajda) prostration of forgetfulness for him because the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

"When one of you is mistaken in the prayer, he should prostrate twice at the end of the prayer.” (Ibn Majah, Iqama, 129). That hadith includes being mistaken twice.

On the other hand, the last hadith includes the mistakes in all of the wajib, sunnah and other nafila prayers with ruku’ and sujud.

If a person who is praying alone reads aloud or silently, no prostration is necessary according to zahirur-riwaya (sound hadith books). However, if a person deliberately reads aloud when it is necessary to read silently such as the noon prayer, he commits a bad deed. 

It is makrooh (abominable) for a person praying alone to read aloud in the nafila prayers during the day.

If the Imam reads al-Fatiha silently, for instance in the morning prayer, by mistake and then remembers it, he should read the additional chapter aloud; he should not read al-Fatiha again.

In four or three-rakat fard or witr prayers, in the first sitting, if  a person says: "Allahumma salli ala Muhammadin ve ala ali Muhammad" after tahiyyat and according to a narration from Abu Hanifa even adding only one letter after tahiyyat, prostration of forgetfulness becomes necessary. However, reading the Quran, saying prayers after tahiyyat in the last sitting do not necessitate prostration of forgetfulness because the last sitting is the place for praying and praising. The Quran includes praying and praising.

As for reminding the Imam when he makes a mistake, the Messenger of Allah said the following: "Men should say ‘subhanallah’; women should clap their hands." (ash-Shawkani, Nahyul-Awtar, II, 320 et al.)

According to Imam Shafii and Ahmed b. Hanbal, prostration of forgetfulness should be carried out by giving salutation to one side. According to Imam Malik, if prostration of forgetfulness is to be performed due to an addition to the prayer, it should be carried out after the salutation; if it is to be performed due to a missing part, it should be carried out before the salutation. 

Hamdi DÖNDÜREN

2. How should one keep his fingers during tashahhud?
According to Hanafis:(1) A praying person should put his right hand on his right thigh and his left hand on his left thigh and keep his fingers separate. It is like the sitting between two sajdas (prostration). The fingers are kept separate very little; fingertips are put on the knees; however, according to the soundest view, the hands should not hold the kneecaps. According to the reliable view, while reciting kalima shahada, the index finger of the right hand is raised when “la” of “la ilaha” is uttered and it is lowered when “illallah” is uttered (when the divinity is proved); it is confirmed that Allah has no partners with those signs of raising and lowering.
 The evidence they base their view on is the hadith reported by Ibn Zubayr in Muslim indicating it. In the narration in Muslim, it is mentioned that only raising and lowering the index finger is sufficient.
 According to Malikis:(2) During tashahhud, the left hand is left free and the right hand is closed except the thumb and index finger. The ones that are closed are the middle finger, ring finger and small finger. The tips of those fingers are placed on the fleshy part under the thumb and the index finger is raised.
 It is mandoob (recommended) to move the index finger to the right and left in a moderate way not up and down from the beginning of the tashahhud to the end. The evidence for that view is the hadith reported by Wail b. Hujr. Wail says the following when he describes how Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) prayed: "Then, the Prophet placed his left palm on his left thigh and knee. He placed the end of his right elbow upon his right thigh and then closed his two fingers, forming a circle; then he raised his index finger and I saw that he moved that finger."(3-4)
 According to Shafiis and Hanbalis:(5) It is sunnah to put hands on the thighs in the first and final tashahhud. According to Shafiis, a person opens his left hand and keeps his fingers close to each other so that the fingertips will be level with the kneecaps; the tips of the fingers as a whole should be directed towards qiblah and the fingers should not be separate. If the fingers are kept separate, it will cause the thumb not to face qiblah.
 According to Shafiis, the person in tashahhud puts his right hand on his right thigh and closes his small finger, ring finger and middle finger. According to Hanbalis, one should make a ring with his thumb and index finger.
 Then, he should raise his index finger when "illallah" is uttered but should not move it to the right or left. Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) did like that. Then, as it is mentioned in the narration of Zubayr, he should look at his index finger.
 According to the clearest view, during tashahhud, a person joins his thumb with his index finger. Its shape becomes like the number 53 (Arabic figures). This shape becomes visible when the thumb is put under the hand in the palm. If the thumb is left free with the index finger, or if both of them are closed on the middle finger, or if a ring is formed by joining them, or he joins the two fingers with the tip of the thumb, the sunnah is regarded to have been fulfilled because there are hadiths regarding all of them. However, the first one is more virtuous. As a matter of fact, Shafiis adopt that view because its narrators are better in fiqh.

The evidence that Shafiis and Hanbalis base their views on is the hadith reported by Ibn Umar:: "Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) put his right hand on his right knee and closed his fingers in the form of the number 53 and pointed with his index finger." (6) The evidence that one should not move his fingers is the following hadith reported by Abdullah b. Zubayr: "When Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) prayed, he would point with his finger; he would not move his finger."(7) The following is stated in the narration by Sa'd b. Abu Waqqas: "While I was praying with my fingers, Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) stopped by me and pointed with his index finger saying “ahad, ahad” (one, one)." (8)
 Footnotes:
1- ad-Durru'l-Mukhtar, I,474,231 - Naylu'l-Awtar, II, 283.
2- ash-Sharhu's-Saghir, I, 330.
3- Bayhaqi said the following, “The implication of ‘he moved it’ should be that he pointed with it, not that he continued to move it.” Thus, it would be in agreement with the narration of Ibn az-Zubayr, and the following words in Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Nasai and Ibn Hibban, “The Prophet would point with his finger while supplicating, and he would not move it, and his eyes would not go beyond that finger." Naylu'l-Awtar, II, 283.
4- That hadith was reported by Ahmad, Nasai, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Ibn Huzayma and Bayhaqi. (Naylu'l-Awtar, II, 283.) Bayhaqi reported a weak hadith from Ibn Umar: "To move fingers during the prayer is to give fear to the devil."
5- Mughnİ'l-Muhtaj 1.172 et al.; Hashiyatu'l-Bajuri, 1,177; al-Mughni, I, 534.
6- Muslim narrated that hadith. According to some mathematicians, the shape is 53. Most people think it is 59. Fiqh scholars preferred the meaning of fifty-three based on the words of the hadith.
7- Ahmad, Abu Dawud Nasai and Ibn Majah reported it.
8- Nasai reported that hadith.
Al-Fiqh al-Islami, Wahba Zuhayli v. II, p. 39-40

3. He should follow the imam wherever he reaches.

4. There is no need to make niyyah as the first or last tashahhud. To read the tahiyyat is important.

 

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