Etiquettes of Walking to Prayer ()

Muhammad Bin Abdul Wahhab


Etiquettes of Walking to Prayer



 Etiquettes of  Walking to Prayer

آداب المشي إلى الصلاة

In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

Chapter: Etiquettes of Walking to Prayer

It is recommended to head to prayer while being pure and with humility, based on the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “When one of you performs ablution and does it well, then heads to the mosque, he must not intertwine his fingers for he is (virtually) engaged in prayer.” One should say on leaving his house, even for a purpose other than the prayer: “Bismillāh āmantu billāh i‘tasamtu billāh tawakkaltu ‘ala Allāh la hawla wa la quwwata illā billāh. Allāhumma innī a‘ūdhu bika an adilla aw udal, aw azilla aw uzal, aw azhlima aw uzhlam, aw ajhala aw yujhala ‘alayy (In the Name of Allah, I believe in Allah, I seek the protection of Allah, I put my trust in Allah and there is no strength or power except with Allah. I seek refuge with You lest I should go astray or cause someone to go astray, slip or cause someone to slip, do injustice or have injustice done against me, or act foolishly or be treated foolishly).” One should walk to the mosque in a calm and tranquil demeanor, based on the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “When you hear the Iqāmah (second call to prayer), proceed to offer the prayer with calmness and solemnity. Pray what you can caught up with and complete what you missed.” One should also walk in close-ranging steps while saying: “Allāhumma innī asa’luka bi haqqi as-sā’ilīna ‘alayka, wa bi haqqi mamshāya hadha, fa innī lam akhruj asharan walā batran, walā rīyā’an, walā sum‘atan, kharajtu ittiqā’a sukhtika wa ibtighā’a mardātika, as’aluka an tunqidhani min an-nari wa an taghfira lī dhunūbi jamī‘an, innahu lā yaghfiru adh-dhunūba illā anta. (O Allah, I ask You by the right that those who ask of You have over You, and I ask by virtue of this walking of mine, for I am not going out because of pride or vanity, or to show off or make a reputation, rather I am going out because I fear Your wrath and seek Your pleasure. So I ask You to protect me from the Fire and to forgive me all my sins, for no one can forgive sins except You).” And say: “Allāhumma ij‘al fī qalbī nūran wa fī lisānī nūran waj‘al fī basarī nūran wa fī sam‘ī nūran wa amāmī nūran wa khalfī nūran wa ‘an yamīnī nūran wa ‘an shimālī nūran wa fawqī nūran wa tahtī nūran Allāhumma a‘tinī nūran (O Allah, give light to my heart, light to my tongue, light to my eyesight, light to my hearing, light in front of me and light from behind me, light on my right side, light on my left side, light above me, and light below me. O Allah, grant me light).” Once one enters the mosque, he is recommended to put forward his right leg and say: “Bismillāh a‘ūdhu billāhi al-‘azhīm wa biwajhihi al-karīm wa sultānihi al-qadīm min ash-shaytān ar-rajīm Allāhumma salli ‘ala Muhammad Allāhumma ighfir lī dhunūbī waftahlī abwāba rahmatik (In the Name of Allah, I seek refuge with Allah, the Most Great, and with His noble Face, and His eternal authority from the accursed devil. O Allah, send Your peace and blessings upon Muhammad. O Allah, forgive me my sins and open for me the gates of Your mercy).” When departing the mosque, one should put forward his left leg and say: “Waftahlī abwāba fadlik (And open for me the gates of Your bounty).” Once one enters the mosque, he should not sit down until he first prays two Rak‘ahs (unit of prayer), based on the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “When anyone of you enters the mosque, he should not sit down until he prays two Rak‘ahs.” While inside the mosque, one should busy himself with the remembrance of Allah or remain otherwise silent without engaging in daily life conversations. If committed to this practice, he is considered as if he is praying and the angels keep asking Allah to forgive him so long as he does not cause harm or invalidate his ritual purity.

Chapter: Manner of Prayer

It is recommended to stand up and ready oneself for prayer once the Muezzin says: “Qad qāmat as-salāh (the prayer has commenced) if the Imam is present at the mosque, otherwise he should stand up to prayer once he sees the Imam. Imam Ahmad was asked: “Is there anything to be said before making Takbīr (saying: Allāhu Akbar (Allah is the Most Great))?” He answered in the negative since nothing has been reported from either the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) or the Companions in this regard. Afterward, the Imam should straighten up the rows and line them up shoulder to shoulder and heel to heel.

It is also recommended to complete the first row, then the second row...etc. The people praying behind the Imam should stand adjacent to one another and fill the gaps. It should be noted that standing on the right side of each row is better and virtuous people should be the nearest to the Imam, based on the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “Let those who are mature and have good understanding be near me.” The best rows of men are the first and the worst of them are the last; and the best rows of women are the last, and the worst of them are the first. If one is capable of standing during prayer, he should stand and start the prayer by saying: “Allāhu Akbar” (Allah is Most Great), and there is nothing else to replace it. The rationale of commencing the prayer with this statement is to recall the greatness of the One Whom he is standing before so that he achieves humility. If he elongates the Hamzah of Allah [aaallah] or Akbar [aaakbar] or pronounces it as "Ikbār", it does not count. As for the mute person, he should make this statement by his heart without moving his tongue; and the same applies to the Qur’an recitation and other acts of remembering Allah.

It is recommended for the Imam to pronounce “Allāhu Akbar” audibly, based on the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “When the Imam says (Allāhu Akbar), all of you should say it after him.” The Imam should also speak audibly when he says: “Sami‘allāhu liman hamidah” (Allah hears the one who praises Him), based on the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “Say: Rabbana wa laka al-hamd (O our Lord, all praise be to You)’ when he says: ‘Sami‘allāhu liman hamidah (Allah hears the one who praises Him).’”

When praying alone or behind the Imam, one should pray inaudibly, raise his hands with drawn-out and connected fingers, and face the Qiblah (direction of the Ka‘ba) with his palms. The hands are to be raised in line with the shoulders unless one is unable to do so. Notably, raising the hands signify lifting the veil between one and his Lord and the index finger signifies the Oneness of Allah. Next, he is to hold his left elbow with his right palm while placing them under his naval to indicate his submission before Allah Almighty. One is recommended to fix his eyes on the spot of his prostration in every position during the prayer except when sitting for Tashahhud, in which case he is to look at his index finger. Then, he should commence the prayer with saying the opening supplication inaudibly: “Subhānak Allāhumma wa bihamdika” (Glory be to You, O Allah, and all praise is due to You). It means to hold Allah far greater than any imperfection in a way that suits His majesty, and in the praise of Allah, he brings together the praise and glorification of Allah; “wa tabāraka ismuka” (and blessed is Your name) means that blessing is obtained by the mention of Your name; “wa ta‘āla jadduka” (and high is Your majesty) means Your majesty is at a glorious status; “wa lā ilāha ghayruka” (and no deity is worthy of worship but You) means no deity on this earth or in the heaven is worthy of worship but You, O Allah. It is permissible to commence the prayer with any of the reported formulas of the opening supplication. Next, one should seek refuge in Allah by saying inaudibly: “A‘ūdhu billāh min ash-shaytān ar-rajīm” (I seek refuge with Allah from the accursed devil), or use any of the reported formulas. Then, one should say Basmalah (Bismillāh ar-Rahmān ar-Rahīm (in the Name of Allah the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful)) inaudibly. It is noteworthy that Basmalah is not part of Al-Fātihah nor any other surah in the Qur’an but it is an independent verse, occurring before Al-Fātihah and separating each surah from the other except Surat at-Tawbah and Surat al-Anfāl. It is recommended to begin every written correspondence with Basmalah, following the practice of Sulaymān (Solomon) (peace be upon him) and the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). It is to be mentioned also at the beginning of every action, since it expels the devil. As an exception, Imam Ahmad said: “It is not to be written at the beginning of poetry or anywhere with it.” Then one recites Al-Fātihah in its rightful order, each verse following the other without any breaks, and maintains its appropriate pronunciation. Recitation of Al-Fātihah is one of the pillars of prayer, and it should be recited in every Rak‘ah as reported in the following Hadīth: “The prayer of the one who does not recite Al-Fātihah is invalid.” It is called the "Mother of the Qur’an" because it includes references to the deity, Day of Judgment, prophethood, and destiny. The first two verses prove divine-related issues; the verse {Master of the Day of Judgment} refers to the Day of Judgment; {You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help} refers to the commands and prohibitions dictated by Allah, reliance on and sincerity to Allah. Just as this verse guides to the right path, its followers, and its leading figures, it also warns against the path of deviance. It is recommended to pause

after every verse, following the manner of the Prophet’s (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) recitation. Al-Fātihah is the greatest Surah in the Qur’an though the greatest verse is the Verse of Al-Kursi (in Surat al-Baqarah). It contains eleven instances of Shaddah (doubled sound) and it is disliked to overpronounce it or extend the sound elongation beyond necessary. Once concluding the recitation of Al-Fātihah, one should take a short pause then say "Āmīn" (Amen) so as not to be mistaken for part of the Qur’an. "Āmīn" is a request to Allah to answer the supplication and it must be spoken audibly by both the Imam and those behind him in an audible prayer. As instructed by the Hadīth reported by Samurah, it is recommended for the Imam to make a short pause after finishing the recitation of Al-Fātihah in an audible prayer. An ignorant person must learn it so long as he is capable, otherwise his prayer is invalid if he did not learn it. And in case one failed to memorize it or anything else from the Qur’an, he must say: “Subhānallāh, wa al-hamdulillāh, wa lā ilāha illallāh, wa Allāhu Akbar” (Glory be to Allah, praise be to Allah, there is no god worthy of worship but Allah, Allah is the Most Great), based on the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “If you know any portion of the Qur’an, recite it or else say: Al-hamdulillāh, lā ilāha illallāh, and Allāhu Akbar (All praise is due to Allah, there is no god worthy of worship but Allah, and Allah is the Most Great) then prostrate.” [Narrated by Abu Dāwūd and At-Tirmidhi] One then says the Basmalah once again inaudibly and follows it with a complete surah. Reciting a single verse is sufficient but Imam Ahmad recommended a long verse. Outside the prayer, one has the option either to recite the Basmalah audibly or inaudibly. In Fajr prayer, it is recommended to recite from the long surahs of the "Mufassal" (detailed), which starts from Surat Qāf. Aws reported that he asked the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “How do you divide up the Qur’an (into portions)?” They said: “Three, five, seven, nine, eleven, thirteen, and Hizb al-Mufassal on its own.” It is disliked to recite the short surahs in Fajr prayer unless there is an excuse such as traveling or suffering from a sickness and the like. In the Maghrib prayer, one should recite from the short surahs though sometimes it is preferable to recite from the long ones, because the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) recited Surat al-A‘rāf once therein. In other prayers, however, one should recite a surah from the middle of the Qur’an unless there is an excuse, then one recites the shorter surahs. With regards to the woman’s prayer, she is allowed to recite audibly in an audible prayer so long as no foreign man hears her. If someone wishes to observe a voluntary prayer at night time, he should be mindful of his surroundings, i.e. he should remain inaudible if his audible recitation would annoy someone next to him. However, he may pray audibly if others are listening to him. In addition, if he were to perform an inaudible prayer audibly or vice-versa, he should resume his prayer thusly. He must also recite the verses in their rightful order, sticking to the letter of the scriptural texts. With regard to reciting the surahs in order, it is something left to Ijtihad (personal reasoning)

because there is no textual evidence to mandate an orderly recitation of the surahs, according to the opinion held by the majority of scholars. Hence, it is permissible to alternate the order currently found in the Mus-haf (bound copy of the Qur’an), which is why there are various versions of the Mus-haf possessed by the Companions. On a relevant note, [Imam] Ahmad disliked the recitation mode of Hamzah, Al-Kisā’i, and "Idghām kabīr" (total merging of two letters) as pronounced by Abu ‘Amr. After finishing the recitation, one should raise his hands like the first time but only after taking a short pause, in other words, he should not make Takbīr immediately after finishing his recitation. After saying Allāhu Akbar, he should place each of his hands, with the fingers spaced out, on each knee, stretch out his back in a straight line, and level up his head without raising it up or bending it down, consistently with the Hadīth reported by ‘Ā’ishah. Moreover, he should keep his elbows away from his sides, following the Hadīth reported by Abu Humayd. When bowing, one should say: “Subhāna Rabbi al-‘Azhīm” (Glory be to my Lord, the Magnificent), based on the Hadīth reported by Hudhayfah and narrated by Muslim. The least acceptable number is three and the maximum is ten allowed for the Imam; and the same applies to saying “Subhāna Rabbi al-A‘la” (Glory be to my Lord, the Most High) during prostration. There should be no Qur’an recitation in bowing or prostration because the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) prohibited that. The next step is to raise one’s head alongside the hands, as he did earlier. Both the Imam and the individual praying alone must say here: “Sami’allāhu liman hamidah (Allah hears the one who praises Him). It is basically a request to Allah to answer the supplication. Once one stands uprightly, he is to say: “Rabbana wa laka al-hamdu mil’a as-samāwāti wa al-ard wa mil’a mā shi’ta min shay’in ba‘d (Praise be to You, our Lord, as much as what fills the heavens and the earth and what fills anything You will beyond that).” If he so wishes, he may add: “Ahla ath-thanā’i wa al-majd, ahaqqu mā qāl al-‘abd wa kullunā laka ‘abd lā māni‘a limā a‘tayta wa lā mu‘tiya limā mana‘ta wa lā yanfa‘u dhal jaddi minka aj-jaddu (O Worthy of praise and glory, that is the most truthful thing to be said by a slave and we are all slaves to You. There is none who can withhold what You give, and none can give what You withhold, and the greatness of the great will be of no avail to them against You).” One is permitted to say any of the other reported formulas. One may say: “Rabbana laka al-hamdu” without the conjunction “wa (and)” as found in the Hadīth reported by Abu Sa‘īd and others. If the individual catches up with the Imam during bowing, then this Rak‘ah counts for the former. Next, one is to say Allāhu Akbar then fall in prostration without raising his hands. In prostration, one must place his knees, then the hands, then the face on the ground provided that he makes sure to place the forehead, the nose, and the palms of his hands firmly on the ground. He balances himself out on his toes, facing the Qiblah. It should be noted that prostrating on these seven organs is a pillar of the prayer. However, it is recommended to make full contact between the open palms, with the fingers stuck together not clenched and facing the Qiblah, and the prayer place and with the elbows kept at a distance.

It is disliked to pray in a place that is excessively hot or cold because it affects one’s humility and concentration. In prostration, it is recommended to space out between the arms and the sides, between the abdomen and the thighs, and between the thighs and the legs. The hands should be placed in line with the shoulders and there should be a space between both knees and legs. Then, one should raise his head while saying: Allāhu Akbar, sit with his left foot spread under him, and his right foot set upright without sitting on it, with the inner part of the right toes laid on the ground and their tips facing the Qiblah, as indicated by the Hadīth reported by Abu Humayd where he described the prayer of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). The hands are to be spread on the thighs, with the fingers joined, and then one says: “Rabbi ighfir lī (O Lord, forgive me).” It is allowed to add to that as Ibn ‘Abbās reported that the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) used to say between the two prostrations: “Rabbi ighfirlī, warhamnī, wahdinī, warzuqnī, wa ‘āfinī (O Allah, forgive me, have mercy on me, guide me, give me provision, and protect me).” [Narrated by Abu Dāwūd] He must follow the same pattern in the second prostration. If he so wishes, he can make a supplication based on the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “As for prostration, make supplication diligently therein for it is worthy to be answered.” [Narrated by Muslim] Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) also reported that the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) used to say in his prostration: “Allāhumma ighfirlī dhambī kullah, diqqahu wa jillahu, wa awwalahu wa ākhirahu, wa ‘alāniyatahu wa sirrah (O Allah, forgive all my sins, small and great, first and last, secret and public).” [Narrated by Muslim] Then, one should raise his head saying: Allāhu Akbar [in transition to the next Rak‘ah]. On his way to stand up once again, he should rely on his knees, following the instructions of the Hadīth reported by Wā’il, unless one is excused due to old age, sickness, or weakness. The second Rak‘ah must be performed like the first one except for the opening Takbīr and the opening supplication, even if he did not observe it in the first Rak‘ah. At the conclusion of the second Rak‘ah, one should sit for Tashahhud by placing his hands on his thighs, with his left-hand fingers joined and extended towards the Qiblah. For his right hand, the small finger and the ring finger are to be folded, the thumb and the middle finger are to be formed in a ring shape. Tashahhud is to be said inaudibly and the forefinger should be used to point ahead symbolizing Tawhīd (monotheism). It can be also used in any supplication during prayer or elsewhere, based on the saying of Ibn az-Zubayr: “The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) used to point with his forefinger when supplicating without moving it.” [Narrated by Abu Dāwūd] During Tashahhud, one says: “At-tahiyyātu lillāh was-salawātu wat-tayyibāt, as-salāmu ‘alayka ayyuha an-nabi wa rahmatullāh wa barakātuh, as-salāmu ‘alaynā wa ‘ala ‘ibādillāh as-sālihīn, ash-hadu allā ilāha illallāh wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasūluh (All greetings, prayers, and good words are due to Allah. Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings. Peace be upon us and upon the righteous slaves of Allah. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshiped except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger).” Any other Tashahhud formula that was authentically reported from the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) is permissible to be said during Tashahhud, though using a shorter version is favorable. This is the first Tashahhud. If it is a two-Rak‘ah prayer, one should say: “Allāhumma salli ‘ala Muhammad wa ‘ala āli Muhammad kamā sallayta ‘ala āli Ibrāhīm innaka hamīdun majīd, wa bārik ‘ala Muhammad wa ‘ala āli Muhammad kamā bārakta ‘ala āli Ibrāhīm innaka hamīdun majīd (O Allah, send prayers upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad as You sent prayers upon the family of Abraham; You are indeed Praiseworthy, All-Glorious, and send blessings upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad as You sent blessings upon the family of Abraham; You are indeed Praiseworthy, All-Glorious).” It is also permissible to use any of the other soundly reported formulas to send peace upon the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). "Āl Muhammad" refers to his household; "at-tahiyyāt" encompasses all forms of greetings that are due to Allah; "as-salawāt" refers to supplications; "at-tayyibāt" refers to good deeds. Allah Almighty is saluted but not greeted with peace, as asking peace is a form of supplication. It is permissible to ask peace for someone other than the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) provided that one specifies the intended person and does not do so constantly to the extent that it becomes associated with that particular person or some of the Companions to the exclusion of others. It is also recommended to send peace upon the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) outside prayer and it is more urgent when his name is invoked as well as during the day and night of Friday. After Tashahhud, one is recommended to say: “Allāhumma innī a’ūdhu bika min ‘adhāb jahannam wa min ‘adhāb al-qabr wa a’ūdhu bika min fitnat al-mahyā wal-mamāt wa a’ūdhu bika min fitnat al-masīh ad-dajjāl (O Allah, I seek refuge with You from the torment of Hellfire, and from the torment of the grave, and I seek refuge with You from the trials of life and death, and I seek refuge with You from the tribulation of the Antichrist).” If one wishes to use other formulas of supplication, it is favorable too, based on the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “Then he may choose whatever supplication he likes most,” on the condition that the Imam does not cause difficulty to those praying behind him. It is permissible to dedicate a supplication for a specific person following the Prophet’s (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) supplication for the persecuted Muslims in Makkah. Then, one should make Taslīm (conclusion of prayer) in a sitting posture, starting from the right side and turning his face to the left side while saying at each turn: “As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh (may the peace and mercy of Allah be upon you).” Turning the face in Talsīm is an act of Sunnah, and the turn to the left side should be longer so that his cheek is seen. The Imam is to make only the first Taslīm audibly, while those praying behind should say it inaudibly. It is recommended that one say it quite quickly to avoid prolonging it. By making Taslīm, one must intend finishing the prayer and greeting those present and the [scribe] angels. One the other hand, if the prayer is more than two Rak‘ahs, one should stand up fully upright from Tashahhud while saying: Allāhu Akbar. The rest of the prayer should follow the same pattern illustrated earlier except for praying audibly and reciting anything after Al-Fātihah, though doing so is not disliked. In his second Tashahhud, one should take a sitting posture where the left foot is spread, the right foot erect and emerging from his right side, and his buttocks are resting on the ground. He then reads the first Tashahhud, followed by sending peace upon the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him), then makes supplication, and concludes the prayer with Taslīm. Afterwards, the Imam should move slightly either to the right or the left side towards those behind him, all the while facing the Qiblah. He should not prolong sitting for a short time after Taslīm while facing the Qiblah. Anyone praying behind the Imam should not leave before him in compliance with the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “I am your Imam, so do not bow, prostrate, or leave before me.” In case women joined the prayer, they should leave first and men should wait a while so as not to catch up with them. It is recommended to remember Allah, supplicate, and ask Allah for forgiveness after finishing the prayer saying: “Astaghfirullāh (I ask Allah to forgive me) three times; follow it by saying: “Allāhumma anta As-Salām wa minka as-salām tabārakta ya Dhal-Jalāli wal-Ikrām. Lā ilāha illallāh wahdahu lā sharīka lah, lahu al-mulk wa lahu al-hamd wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadīr, wa lā hawla wa lā quwwata illā billāh, lā ilāha illallāh wa lā na‘budu illā iyyāh lahu an-ni‘mah wa lahu al-fadl wa lahu ath-thanā’u al-hasan. Lā ilāha illallāh mukhlisīna lahu ad-dīna wa law kariha al-kāfirūn (O Allah, You are the Source of Peace and from You peace comes. Blessed are You, Owner of Majesty and Honor. There is no deity worthy of worship but Allah alone, with no partner. To Him belong the dominion and praise, and He has power over everything. There is neither might nor power except with Allah. There is no god but Allah, and we worship none but Him. To Him belong blessings and to Him belongs favor and to Him good praise is due. There is no god but Allah, we are sincere to Him in religion, even if the disbelievers dislike it).” “Allāhumma lā māni‘a limā a‘tayta wa lā mu‘tiya limā mana‘ta wa lā yanfa‘u dhal jaddi minka al-jaddu (O Allah, there is none who can withhold what You give, and none can give what You withhold, and the greatness of the great will be of no avail to them against You).” Then, one should say: Subhānallāh (Glory be to Allah), Al-hamdulillāh (all praise is due to Allah), and Allāhu Akbar (Allah is the Most Great) thirty-three times each. To complete the hundredth, one should say: “Lā ilāha illallāh wahdahu lā sharīka lah lahu al-mulku wa lahu al-hamdu wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadīr (There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah alone, Who has no partner, to Him belongs the sovereignty, to Him belongs the praise, and He is Capable over all things).” In both Fajr and Maghrib prayers, one should say before speaking with anyone: Allāhumma ajirnī min an-nār (O Allah, save me from Hellfire) seven times. It is better to make his supplications inaudibly, including the reported ones. One is advised to maintain humility, undivided attention, presence of heart, and appropriate behavior when making such supplications, following the Hadīth:

“Supplications are not answered when made by a heedless heart.” In so doing, one should invoke Allah by His names and attributes alongside the Tawhīd, and one should seek the times when supplications are most likely to be answered. These times are: the last third of the night, between Adhān (call to prayer) and Iqāmah, after the obligatory prayers, and the last hour of the daytime on Friday. One should, then, anticipate the answer of those supplications without rushing or complaining. It is disliked to raise the voice with supplication, and it is not disliked to specify oneself in supplication except in the event where one is the Imam.

Generally speaking, the following is a list of what is disliked in prayer: slight head-turning, raising the eyesight to the sky, facing an image or the face of a human being in prayer, standing before fire even if it is a lantern, spreading out the arms in full contact with the ground in prostration, and praying while holding his urine or feces, or while desirable food is being served. At the two instances, one should hold off the prayer even if it entails missing the congregational prayer. It is also disliked to play with pebbles, intertwine the fingers, rest on the hands while sitting, touch the beard, braid the hair while praying, and tuck the garment. If one yawns, he should try his best to suppress it, otherwise he should close his mouth with his hand if he could not suppress it. Furthermore, it is disliked to level up soil during prayer unless there is an excuse. One must not allow anyone or anything to pass in front of him even if he has to push him during either an obligatory or a voluntary prayer. If the passer refuses, one should push him away aggressively even if he walks a bit in doing so. It should be noted that it is forbidden to pass between the one who prays and his Sutrah (screen) or in front of him if there is no Sutrah. During prayer, one is allowed to kill a snake, scorpion, lice. He can also fix his clothes, carry something and put it down, and make a gesture with his hand, face, or eye if there is a need. It is not disliked to greet the one who is praying and he, in turn, is allowed to respond with a gesture. The one praying behind an Imam can correct him if he errs in the recitation. If the Imam makes a mistake in prayer, a man can draw his attention to that by saying: Subhānallāh (Glorified is Allah), and a woman can do that by clapping. If one needs to spit or cough up mucus while being in the mosque, he should spit it out in his clothes on his left side, and it is disliked to spit forward or on the right side.

A person praying alone is disliked to pray without a Sutrah even if he is sure no one will pass before him. This Sutrah can be a wall or something with a considerable height such as a spear or the back of a saddle. It is better for one to be close thereto based on the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “When one of you prays, let him stand behind a Sutrah and stay as close to it as possible.” One should deviate slightly from facing the Sutrah, following the practice of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). If it is difficult to find a Sutrah, one can draw a line beyond which it would be harmless if something were to pass. In case there is no screen of any type, prayer would be invalid if a woman, a dog, or a donkey passed in front of the person praying.

During prayer, one can read from the Mus-haf, ask Allah for mercy when reading a verse on mercy, and seek Allah’s refuge against punishment when reading a verse on punishment.

Standing is a pillar in the obligatory prayer as Allah Almighty says: {And stand before Allah in complete devotion.} The ones exempted from this are: the incapable, the naked, the frightened, the one praying behind an Imam who is incapable of standing, and the one catching up with the Imam during bowing, in which case his prayer counts if he caught as much of bowing as the opening Takbīr would take.

Other pillars of prayer include the opening Takbīr, the recitation of Al-Fātihah, which must be observed by both the Imam and the one praying alone, and bowing as Allah Almighty says: {O you who believe, bow down and prostrate.} Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that a man entered the mosque and prayed. He, then, approached the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and greeted him. The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) instructed him saying: “Go back and pray, for you have not prayed.” He did that three times, then the man said: “By the One Who sent you with the truth, I cannot do any better than that, so teach me.” The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “When you stand up to offer the prayer, make Takbīr then recite whatever you can of the Qur’an, and then bow until you feel at ease bowing. Then stand up until you feel at ease standing, then prostrate until you feel at ease prostrating. Then sit until you feel at ease sitting and do that throughout your prayer.” [Narrated by Al-Bukhāri, Muslim, Abu Dāwūd, An-Nasā’i, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Mājah, and Ahmad] This Hadīth proves that the pillars named in this Hadīth cannot be waived for whatever reason; had this been the case, they would have been waived for the sake of that ignorant Bedouin.

Bearing in mind that maintaining tranquility throughout the above postures is in itself a pillar as indicated by the Hadīth. Hudhayfah once saw a man who bowed and prostrated hastily. He said to him: “You have not prayed properly and were you to die (while keeping up this inadequate performance of prayer), you would die upon something other than the Fitrah (sound human nature) upon which Allah created Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him).”

The last Tashahhud is one of the pillars of prayer, as indicated by a Hadīth in which Ibn Mas‘ūd (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: “Before the Tashahhud was prescribed, we used to say: Peace be upon Allah, peace be upon Jibrīl (Gabriel) and upon Mīkā’īl (Michael); then the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘You should rather say: At-tahiyyātu lillāhi (Greetings are due to Allah).’” [Narrated by An-Nasā’i and its narrators are trustworthy]

The obligatory acts of prayer that can be waived if forgotten are: any Takbīr other than the opening Takbīr, saying: Sami‘allāhu liman hamidah (Allah hears the one who praises Him) either by the Imam or the one praying alone, saying: Rabbana wa laka al-hamd (Our Lord, to You belongs praise) by anyone who is praying, saying: Subhānallāh (Glorified is Allah) during bowing and prostration, saying: Rabbi ighfirlī (my Lord, forgive me), and the first Tashahhud and sitting for it. Apart from these, the rest are recommended verbal and physical acts [to be observed in prayer].

The recommended verbal acts [in prayer] are seventeen: the Opening supplication, saying Isti‘ādhah (seeking refuge in Allah from the accursed devil), saying Basmalah (In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful), saying Amen, reciting a surah after Al-Fātihah in the first two Rak‘ahs, and in Fajr, Friday and Eid prayers, and in all the voluntary prayers. Other verbal acts include reciting audibly and inaudibly, saying: Mil’a as-samā’i wa al-ard (in quantity as great as the sky and the earth) until the end of this supplication formula, saying more than one time “subhānallāh” (glory be to Allah) during bowing and prostration, saying “Rabbi ighfirlī” (O Lord, forgive me), seeking refuge in Allah during the last Tashahhud, and sending prayer and blessings upon the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and upon his family. Beyond these verbal acts, the rest are recommended physical acts such as joining and spreading the fingers while facing the Qiblah during the opening Takbīr, bowing, and returning to the standing position after bowing. Other physical acts include relaxing the fingers after the earlier posture, holding the left elbow with the right hand under the naval, fixing the sight on the place of prostration, making a distance between the feet and shifting one’s weight alternately between both feet, reciting the Qur’an unhurriedly, making the prayer short if one is the Imam, making the second Rak‘ah shorter than the first, gripping the knees by both hands during bowing while the fingers are kept apart, stretching the back uprightly in a straight line with the head, touching the ground with the knees before the hands when prostrating and raising the hands first when standing up, laying the forehead and the nose firmly on the ground, keeping the arms away from the sides, the abdomen away from the thighs, and the thighs away from the shanks, straightening of feet touching the ground with the tips of the toes while spreading them out, lining up the hands, with fingers spread out, in line with the shoulders during prostration facing the Qiblah with the fingers joined, relying simultaneously on the front side of the feet and the hands on the thighs to stand up for the following Rak‘ah, sitting between the two prostrations and Tashahuud, and taking the posture of Tawarruk (i.e. to make the right leg upright, rest the buttocks on the ground, and let the left leg out of the opposite side) in the last Tashahhud, placing the two hands, with the fingers joined and facing the Qiblah, on the thighs during the sit between the two prostrations and Tashahhud, folding the small finger and the ring finger of the right hand and making the thumb and the middle finger in a ring shape, pointing with the index finger, turning right and left when making Taslīm, and giving more time to the left turn.

Concerning the Prostration of Forgetfulness (sujūd as-sahw), Imam Ahmad stated that there are five Hadīths reported from the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) in this regard. The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) observed the Prostration of Forgetfulness when he made Taslīm after praying two Rak‘ahs (in a three-Rak‘ah prayer) and after praying three Rak‘ahs (in a four-Rak‘ah prayer), adding or omitting something in prayer forgetfully, and moving to the third Rak‘ah without making Tashahhud. Al-Khattābi said that these five Hadīths are the only reliable references on this subject, namely the two Hadīths reported by Ibn Mas‘ūd, the Hadīths reported by Abu Sa‘īd, Abu Hurayrah, and Ibn Buhaynah. The Prostration of Forgetfulness is prescribed in cases of addition or omission in prayer and when entertaining doubts either in the obligatory or voluntary prayers. However, it must be disregarded if it excessively developed into an obsession. The same applies to ablution, bathing from major ritual impurity, and removal of filth. If one intentionally adds to prayer something of its own acts, such as standing, bowing, prostration or sitting, his prayer is invalid. It is, nevertheless, valid if he does so forgetfully, after which he must observe the Prostration of Forgetfulness, following the statement of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “If one adds to or omits from his prayer, he must offer two prostrations (of forgetfulness).” [Narrated by Muslim] If, at any moment, one remembers where he went wrong, he should go back to the normal order of the prayer without making Takbīr. If he has added an additional Rak‘ah, he must stop instantly once he remembers and go to conclude the prayer, without making the Tashahhud if he has already made it, but he should prostrate and make Taslīm. The additional Rak‘ah that the Imam offers is not binding to the one joining him later in the prayer nor should the latter follow the Imam in this Rak‘ah in case he knows it is additional. If two trustworthy people alert the Imam or the one praying alone that he is praying an additional Rak‘ah, he must stop. However, if it is just one person who alerts him, he should not stop unless he is sure the alert is correct. This is consistent with the Prophet’s refusal to follow the alert made by [the Companion] Dhul-Yadayn.

Slight movement does not invalidate the prayer like when the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) opened the door for ‘Ā’ishah and carried [his granddaughter] Umāmah and put her down during his prayer. And if one says a permissible remembrance though misplaced, like reciting the Qur’an while sitting down or making Tashahhud while standing, the prayer is still valid.

Such mistakes entail that one should offer the Prostration of Forgetfulness, following the general indication of the Prophet’s words when he said: “If one of you forgets [during prayer], he must offer two prostrations (of forgetfulness).” If one intentionally makes Taslīm before the prayer is complete, his prayer is invalid; but if he does so forgetfully then remembers shortly after, he must complete it even if he has already left the mosque or has had a small conversation related to it. If, during the prayer, he says unrelated speech forgetfully, or nods off and speaks, or adds a non-Qur’anic word during his recitation, the prayer is still valid. In relation, smiling while praying does not render the prayer invalid but laughter does.

In case one forgets a pillar of prayer other than the opening Takbīr, but remembers it during the recitation in the second Rak‘ah, the first Rak‘ah is invalid and the second substitutes it without having to repeat the opening supplication; this is the opinion held by Imām Ahmad. If, however, he remembers that forgotten pillar before starting the recitation in the second Rak‘ah, he should go back and perform that pillar and pick up from there. In case of forgetting the first Tashahhud and moving to the standing position for the following Rak‘ah, he must return if he has not stood uprightly, following the Hadīth reported by Al-Mughīrah and narrated by Abu Dāwūd. On the other hand, the one praying behind the Imam must follow the Imam, thereby waiving the first Tashahuud in this case, only to be made up by offering the Prostration of Forgetfulness. When one doubts the number of Rak‘ahs he prayed, he should follow his most certain feeling alongside following the Imam in instances of doubt. And if one joins the prayer but doubts whether he began before or after the Imam raised his head on his way up from bowing, this Rak‘ah does not count. Still, if he is certain, he should follow this feeling, continue the rest of the prayer, finish the remaining Rak‘ah after the Imam makes Taslīm, and offers the Prostration of Forgetfulness at the conclusion of his prayer. Notably, the one led in prayer is not obliged to observe the Prostration of Forgetfulness except if the Imam has to offer it, in which case he must follow the Imam even if he has not finished the Tashahhud, which he has to complete after offering the Prostration of Forgetfulness. In the case of someone who missed [one or more] Rak‘ahs, he should follow the Imam in offering the Prostration of Forgetfulness if the latter forgot something. The former should offer it on his own if he forgot something during the completion of his prayer after the Imam has already concluded the prayer. This prostration is to be observed before the conclusion of prayer (Taslīm) unless he forgot to observe one or more Rak‘ahs, following the Hadīths reported by ‘Imrān and Dhul-Yadayn. However, if he followed his most certain feeling, assuming we adopt this opinion, he is recommended to offer the Prostration of Forgetfulness after Taslīm, following the Hadīths reported by ‘Ali and Ibn Mas‘ūd. Still, one has the chance to offer this prostration in case he forgot to offer it before or after Taslīm so long as there is not a long period of time between remembering and concluding the prayer. As far as what should be said during the prostration of forgetfulness and afterwards, it is identical to the regular prostration.

Chapter: Voluntary Prayer

Abu al-‘Abbās said: “Voluntary prayer complements the obligatory prayer on the Day of Judgment if one has not observed the latter perfectly. There is a Hadīth that is directly attributed to the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) in this regard. The same applies to Zakah and other deeds. The best voluntary act is participating in Jihad personally, then participating in the expenses of Jihad and the like, followed by learning and teaching knowledge.” Abu ad-Dardā’ said: “Both the scholar and the learner share an equal reward while the rest of the people are useless and uncultured.” Imām Ahmad is reported to have said: “Seeking knowledge is the ultimate good deed as long as the seeker is sincere.” He also said: “Studying during part of the night is dearer to me than praying the whole night.” And he also stated: “One must learn a certain extent of knowledge that is sufficient to cover all the essentials of his religion.” He was asked to provide an example. He replied: “Like things one cannot be ignorant of such as the knowledge related to his prayer, fasting, and the like.” The next best good deed is prayer, following the Hadīth: “Adhere to uprightness even though you will not be able to do all acts of virtue, and you should know that the best of your deeds is prayer.” Down the list of good deeds are actions whose benefit is transcendent such as visiting the sick, fulfilling the need of a fellow Muslim, or reconciling between people as the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Shall I inform you of the best of your deeds and what is more excellent in degree than fasting and prayer? It is reconciling between people, for sowing discord among them is the shaver (destructive).” [It is graded as Sahīh (authentic) by At-Tirmidhi] Imām Ahmad said: “Following a funeral is better than praying. As for the transitive beneficial deeds, they vary in their degree of excellence. For example, giving charity to a needy relative is better than emancipating a slave and even giving charity to a non-relative, except in times of famine or pilgrimage. Anas reported that the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever goes out to seek knowledge is in the cause of Allah until he returns.” [At-Tirmidhi said: Hasan Gahrīb (sound/strange)] The Shaykh said: “Learning and teaching knowledge is counted as a kind of Jihad.” He also said: “Undivided dedication to worship during the first ten days and nights of Dhul-Hijjah is better than the Jihad in which one’s life and property are maintained.” Ahmad said: “Nothing is as meritorious as Hajj due to the fatigue involved, the rituals, and the gathering of ‘Arafah that is unmatched in any other Islamic ritual; not to mention the physical and financial exhaustion.” Abu Umāmah reported that a man asked the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “Which are the best of deeds?” The Prophet replied: “Adhere to fasting for nothing is equal to it.” [Narrated by Ahmad and others with a good Isnād] The Shaykh noted: “Each good deed may outclass the others in given situations, as gleaned from the actions of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and his successors from the Caliphs, depending on the need and the overall benefit.” Imām Ahmad made a similar statement: “Examine what is best for your heart and do it.” Imām Ahmad did consider the virtue of deliberate thinking to outmatch prayer and charity [in certain cases], because heart-based deeds outclass the physical ones. This would mean that the Companions intended the physical deeds [in their responses]. This is supported by the Hadīth that states: “The dearest deeds to Allah are loving and hating for the sake of Allah.” In addition to the Hadīth that reads: “The firmest bond of faith...”

The most emphatic voluntary prayers are: the eclipse prayer, followed by Witr, then the Sunnah of Fajr, then the Sunnah of Maghrib, then the remaining regular Sunnah (supererogatory) prayers. The time designated for Witr prayer starts after ‘Ishā’ until dawn, though it is better to be offered at the end of the night for whoever is capable of waking up, or else one can pray it before sleeping. The minimum number of Witr is a single Rak‘ah and the maximum is eleven. It is better to make Taslīm after two Rak‘ahs then offer a single Rak‘ah. Still, if one were to follow any of the relevant routines authentically reported from the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him), it is fine. The least degree of perfection is offering three Rak‘ahs, better separated by two Taslīms, though it is permissible if offered with one Taslīm like the Maghrib prayer.

The regular Sunnah prayers are ten, which are better to be offered at home. They are: two Rak‘ahs before Zhuhr and two after, two after Maghrib, two after ‘Ishā’, and two before Fajr.

In the Sunnah of Fajr, the two Rak‘ahs are better shortened when offered such that one recites Surat al-Kāfirūn and Surat al-Ikhlās or recites the following verse in the first Rak‘ah: {Say [O believers], “We believe in Allah and what has been sent down to us} in Surat al-Baqarah, and in the second Rak‘ah recites: {Say, “O people of the Book, come to a common term between us and you...} One can observe this prayer while riding.

With regards to Jum‘ah (Friday) prayer, there is no supererogatory prayer prior to it but one can offer two or four Rak‘ahs afterward. The supererogatory prayer here is sufficient to replace the two Rak‘ahs of greeting the mosque. It is recommended to separate between the obligatory and supererogatory prayers with few words or with standing up, following the Hadīth reported by Mu‘āwiyah. If one misses any of the supererogatory prayers, it is recommended that he makes up for it, and it is recommended as well to offer the voluntary prayer between the Adhān and Iqāmah.

Tarāwīh (voluntary night prayer in Ramadān) is a Sunnah initiated by the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and it is better performed in congregation. The Imam should make the Qur’an recitation audible, as concurrently reported over the generations, and make Taslīm after every two Rak‘ahs, following the Hadīth: (Voluntary) night prayer is performed two by two.” Its designated time starts after ‘Ishā’ prayer and until dawn. Witr is to be performed after concluding Tarāwīh. In case one observes Tahajjud (another voluntary night prayer), Witr should be offered after it, following the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “Make Witr your last prayer in the night.” If one usually observes Tahajjud but wishes to continue behind the Imam, he should stand up for the second Rak‘ah after the Imam makes Taslīm [in Witr], following the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “Whoever performs Qiyām (voluntary night prayer) along with the Imam until the latter leaves shall have the reward of Qiyām for one night.” [At-Tirmidhi graded it as Sahīh (authentic)]

It is recommended to memorize the Qur’an according to a unanimous agreement because it is the best among all types of Dhikr (remembrance of Allah), and there is an obligatory portion thereof that must be memorized, namely what is required to offer prayer. A child’s guardian should start by teaching him the Qur’an first unless it is difficult for the child. It is recommended to finish the recitation of the whole Qur’an once every week, and sometimes in less than that. It is forbidden to delay the recitation of the Qur’an to the extent that one forgets it. Before starting the recitation, one should say: “A‘ūdhu billāh min ash-shaytān ar-rajīm” (I seek refuge with Allah from the accursed devil). One should be keen on maintaining sincerity and fending off anything that may jeopardize it. In winter, it is better to finish the recitation of the Qur’an at the beginning of the night, and at the beginning of the day in summer. Talhah ibn Musarrif said: “I lived alongside the best generation of this Muslim nation. They preferred to finish the Qur’an either at the beginning of the day so that the angels would keep asking Allah to forgive them until the end of the day, or finish it at the beginning of the night so that the angels would keep asking Allah to forgive them until the next morning.” [Narrated by Ad-Dārimi on the authority of Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqās with a good Isnād] During the recitation of the Qur’an, it is recommended to recite it slowly in a pleasant voice, to display a sad and reflective demeanor, ask Allah Almighty for mercy when coming across a verse indicating mercy, and seek Allah’s refuge when coming across a verse indicating punishment. One should not recite audibly in the presence of people who are praying, sleeping, or reciting the Qur’an. Nevertheless, one can recite the Qur’an standing, sitting, lying down, riding a mount, or walking. Recitation of the Qur’an is not disliked when walking and during minor ritual impurity, but it is disliked in filthy locations. Gathering to recite the Qur’an is recommended and so is listening to the reciter without engaging in useless talk. Imām Ahmad disliked the quick recitation and the one that sounds like singing. As for repetition during the recitation, it is not disliked. And if anyone offers an interpretation of the Qur’an based merely on his opinion without knowledge, let him expect his place in Hellfire and he is mistaken even if his words coincide with the truth.

Speaking of touching the Mus'haf, it is impermissible for the one in state of ritual impurity to touch it, though he can hold it by a hanger, or in a bag with other things inside, or in his sleeve. He can also browse its pages with a straw or the like, and he can touch books that contain the interpretation of the Qur’an and portions thereof. Moreover, one in state of ritual impurity may write the Qur’an without touching it, and may receive a compensation in return for copying it. It is permissible to cover the Mus'haf in silk, but in no way should one show any sign that indicates demeaning it such as turning one’s back to it or stretching the feet towards it. Furthermore, it is disliked to embellish the Mus'haf with gold or silver, or write the portion-markers, names of surahs, number of verses, and other things that did not exist during the time of the Companions.

It is prohibited to write the Qur’an or anything that has the name of Allah with what is impure. In case it is written with something impure or it is on it, it must be cleaned; and if the Mus'haf is worn out or damaged, it should be buried because ‘Uthmān (may Allah be pleased with him) buried the Mus'hafs between the grave [of the Prophet] and the pulpit.

General voluntary prayers are recommended at all times except in the prohibited times of prayer. In general, the night prayer outmatches that of the day, especially if offered after waking up from sleep. Once one wakes up, he should remember Allah Almighty and say: “Lā ilāha illallāhu wahdahu lā sharīka lah, lahu al-mulku wa lahu al-hamdu wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadīr. Al-hamdulillāh, wa subhānallāh, wa lā ilāha illallāh, wa Allāhu Akbar, wa lā hawla wa lā quwwata illā billāh (None has the right to be worshiped but Allah alone Who has no partner. To Him belongs sovereignty and to Him belongs praise and He is Omnipotent over all things. All praise is due to Allah, glory be to Allah, there is no god but Allah, Allah is the Most Great, and there is no power nor strength except with Allah).” Then if one says “Allāhumma ighfirlī (O Allah, forgive me), or makes any supplication, he will be answered; and if he performs ablution and prays, his prayer will be accepted. Afterwards, he should say: “Al-hamdulillāh al-ladhī ahyānī ba‘da mā amātanī wa ilayhi an-nushūr. Lā ilāha illā anta wahdaka lā sharīka laka subhānaka astaghfiruka li dhambī wa as’aluka rahmatak (All praise is due to Allah Who gave me life after having taken it from me and to Him is the resurrection. None has the right to be worshiped but You alone without a partner. Glorified are You; I ask You to forgive my sins and I ask You for Your mercy).” “Allāhumma zidnī ‘ilman wa lā tuzigh qalbī ba‘da idh hadaytanī wa hab lī min ladunka rahmah innaka anta Al-Wahhāb. Al-hamdullilāhi al-ladhī radda ‘alayya rūhī wa ‘āfānī fī jasadī wa adhina lī bidhikrih (O Allah, increase me in knowledge, and do not let my heart swerve after You have guided me. Grant me mercy from Yourself. You are indeed the Bestower. Praise be to Allah Who returned my soul to me, granted wellness to my body and allowed me to remember Him).” The next step would be using the Siwāk (tooth-cleaning twig), followed by offering prayer. He can use the opening supplication used in the regular obligatory prayer or other formulas, such as: “Allāhumma laka al-hamd, anta nūr as-samāwāti wa al-ard wa man fīhinn, wa laka al-hamd, anta qayyiūmu as-samāwāti wa al-ard wa man fīhinn, wa laka al-hamd, anta malik as-samāwāti wa al-ard wa man fīhinn, wa laka al-hamd anta Al-Haqq, wa wa‘duka al-haqq, wa qawluka al-haqq, wa liqā’uka haqq, wa al-jannatu haqq, wa an-nāru haqq, wa an-nabiyyūn haqq, wa as-sā‘atu haqq. Allāhumma laka aslamt, wa bika āmant, wa ‘alayka tawakkalt, wa ilayka anabt, wa bika khāsamt, wa ilayka hākamt, faghfir lī mā qaddamtu wa mā akhkhart, wa mā asrartu wa mā a‘lant wa mā anta a‘lamu bihi minnī. Anta al-muqaddimu wa anta al-mu’akhkhiru, lā ilāha illā anta wa lā quwwata illā bik. (O Allah, praise is due to You, You are the Light of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. And praise is due to You, You are the Sustainer of the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. Praise is due to You, You are the Sovereign of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. Praise is due to You, You are the Truth, Your promise is true, Your speech is true, and the day on which we will meet You is true. Paradise is true, Hellfire is true, the prophets are true, and the Hour is true. O Allah, I submit to You, believe in You, rely upon You, turn to You in repentance, dispute over You, and refer judgment to You. So, forgive for me what has come to pass of my sins and what will come to pass, what I have concealed and what I have declared and what You know better than me. You are the Advancer and You are the Delayer. Indeed, there is no god worthy of worship but You; and there is no power except with You).” If he so wishes, he may say: “Allāhumma rabba Jibrīl wa Mīkā’īl wa Isrāfīl fātir as-samāwāti wa al-ard, ‘ālim al-ghaybi wa ash-shahādah, anta tahkumu bayna ‘ibādika fīmā kānū fīhi yakhtalifūn, ihdinī limā ikhtulifa fīhi min al-haqqi bi’idhnika innaka tahdī man tashā’u ila sirātin mustaqīm (O Allah, Lord of Gabriel, Michael, and Isrāfīl, Originator of the heavens and the earth, Knower of the unseen and the seen, You judge between Your slaves concerning what they used to disagree about. Guide me, by Your permission, to the truth over which they had differed. Verily, You guide whom You will to the straight path).”

It is recommended to begin Tahajjud with two short Rak‘ahs and to offer a specific voluntary prayer consistently that, if missed, he makes up for it.

It is recommended to say the reported formulas of supplication typically said in the morning and the afternoon, before sleeping and on waking up, upon entering and leaving the house...etc. Offering voluntary prayer in secret at home is better than elsewhere as long as it is not one of those reported prayers to be observed in congregation. It is also permissible to offer any voluntary prayer in congregation as long as this does not become a habit. It is recommended to seek Allah’s forgiveness extensively before dawn; and if one misses Tahajjud, he can make up for it before Zhuhr. As for offering voluntary prayer while lying down, it is impermissible.

Duha (Forenoon) prayer is recommended and its designated time starts shortly after sunrise [during which prayer is prohibited] until the sun reaches its zenith. It is better to be offered during intense heat, and the least number of Rak‘ahs is two, though more is better.

Istikhārah (guidance-seeking) prayer is recommended when one intends to do something. He should offer two Rak‘ahs other than the obligatory ones and then say: “Allāhumma innī astakhīruka bi‘ilmik wa astaqdiruka biqudratik wa as’aluka min fadlik al-‘azhīm, fa’innaka taqdiru wa lā aqdir, wa ta‘lamu wa lā a‘lam, wa anta ‘allām al-ghuyūb. Allāhumma in kunta ta‘lamu anna hadha al-amr khayrun lī fī dīnī wa dunyāy wa ma‘āshī wa ‘āqibati amrī – or he said: fī ‘ājil amrī wa ājilih – faqdirhu lī wa yassirhu lī thumma bārik lī fīh, wa in kunta ta‘lamu anna hadha al-amr sharrun lī fī dīnī wa dunyāy wa ma‘āshī wa ‘āqibati amrī fasrifhu ‘anni wasrifnī ‘anhu waqdur lī al-khayra haythu kāna thumma radini bih (O Allah, I consult You for Your knowledge, and I seek strength from You for Your power, and I ask of Your great bounty. Indeed, You are capable and I am not, and You know and I do not, and You are the All-Knower of the unseen. O Allah, if You know that this matter (and he names it) is good for me in relation to my religion, my life, my livelihood, and the outcome of my affairs, (or he said) my immediate and future affairs, then decree it for me, make it easy for me, and then bless it for me. And if You know that this matter is bad for me in relation to my religion, my life, my livelihood, and the outcome of my affairs, then turn it away from me, and turn me away from it, and decree for me what is good whatever it may be, and make me pleased with it).” Next, he should consult others. One should not offer Istikhārah after he has already made a decision.

It is recommended to offer the two mosque-greeting Rak‘ahs, the voluntary prayer after ablution, and praying between Maghrib and ‘Ishā’. Offering the occasional prostration of Qur’an recitation is a confirmed act of Sunnah though not obligatory, following the statement of ‘Umar: “The right thing is to offer it, but there is no sin for not doing it.” [Narrated in Al-Muwatta’]. It is also recommended for anyone listening to the recitation. If one is riding a mount, he can nod in any direction he is facing; and if he is walking, he can prostrate on the ground facing the Qiblah. As for the one who accidentally hears it, he is not required to prostrate, following the narrations from the Companions. Ibn Mas‘ūd once said to a Qur’an reciter who was a boy: “Prostrate, for you are our Imam.”

Moreover, it is recommended to offer the prostration of gratitude on the renewal of an apparent general blessing or a personal blessing. When encountering someone who is afflicted either in his religion or body, one is also advised to say: “Alhamdulillāhi al-ladhī ‘āfānī mimmā ibtalāka bihi wa faddalanī ‘alā kathīrin mimman khalaqa tafdīla (Praise be to Allah Who has spared me what He has afflicted you with, and favored me greatly over many of whom He has created).”

As for the times when prayer is prohibited, they are five: following the Fajr prayer until the sun rises, and after it has risen up to the height of a lance, and when the sun reaches its zenith, and after ‘Asr prayer until near sunset, and after that until it totally sets. Still, it is permissible to make up for the obligatory prayers during those times, offer vows of prayer, the two Rak‘ahs of Tawāf (circumambulating the Ka‘bah), and a redo of the congregational prayer had it been conducted while one was at the mosque, and the funeral prayer though only during the longest of those five times.

Chapter: Congregational Prayer

The minimum number of people to perform the congregational prayer is two, except for the Friday and Eid prayers. It is an individual obligation in residence and in traveling, even in times of fear as Allah Almighty says: {When you [O Prophet] are with them and lead them in prayer...} It outranks praying individually by twenty-seven degrees. It is to be observed in the mosque, preferably in an old and distant one that hosts a large congregation. None is allowed to lead the prayer in a mosque except the appointed Imam unless he gives permission or comes late, in which cases it is permissible following the examples of Abu Bakr and ‘Abdur-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf. Once the Iqāmah is announced for prayer, it is impermissible to begin offering a voluntary prayer unless one is already praying, in which case he should make it brief. Observing a single Rak‘ah with the Imam, even if one joined as late as bowing, is considered praying in congregation. The opening Takbīr is sufficient without having to make a second Takbīr for bowing, following the example of Zayd ibn Thābit and Ibn ‘Umar whose practice had not provoked any disagreement among the Companions. However, to make both Takbīrs is better just to avoid any complications that arise from considering the second Takbīr obligatory. If one joins the congregational prayer after bowing, it does not count as a Rak‘ah though he must remain in prayer behind the Imam. It is also recommended to join the prayer even after the Imam finishes bowing. When the Imam finishes the prayer, the one joining the prayer late must not stand [to complete the number of Rak‘ahs] until after the Imam makes the second Taslīm. If one catches up with the Imam in a prostration of forgetfulness after Taslīm is made, he should not join him. In case he misses the congregation altogether, it is recommended that someone joins him in a congregation following the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “Is there anyone who may do good to this (man) and pray along with him?” Reading audibly is not obligatory upon the one praying behind the Imam, as Allah Almighty says: {When the Qur’an is recited, listen to it attentively and maintain silence, so that you may receive mercy.} Imam Ahmad said: “People have unanimously agreed that this verse addresses the state during prayer.” It is recommended for the one behind the Imam to read audibly when the Imam does not read audibly, since most of the scholars from the Companions and the Successors believe that reading behind the Imam is permissible when the latter is not reading audibly, just to sidestep the obligation of remaining silent throughout the prayer which was held by some scholars. However, we maintain that one should not recite when the Imam reads audibly. As far as the one behind the Imam is concerned, he should follow the Imam after the latter finishes each movement without lagging. It is disliked to pray simultaneously with the Imam and prohibited to pray ahead of him. If one forgetfully bows or prostrates before the Imam, he should go back and observe them after the Imam. If he does not do so intentionally, his prayer is invalid. It is also invalid if the one praying behind the Imam is one pillar behind without an excuse because it is similar to praying ahead of him. If, nevertheless, there is an excuse of dozing off or the hastiness of the Imam, he should finish the pillar and continue with the Imam. In case that one is one Rak‘ah behind the Imam for a valid excuse, he should continue with the Imam what is left of the prayer while making up for the Rak‘ah he missed after the Imam makes Taslīm. It is permissible for the Imam to make the prayer brief if one of those praying behind needs to attend to an emergency, though it is disliked to rush it so quickly to the extent that it may hinder those behind the Imam to observe the recommended prayer acts.

It is recommended to make the recitation of the first Rak‘ah longer than the second. The Imam is also recommended to give a chance to the one coming late to join the prayer unless it would be difficult for some of those praying behind him.

The most deserving person to lead the prayer is the one who memorizes the most of the Qur’an. Regarding the case when the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) placed Abu Bakr as the Imam even though others such as Ubayy and Mu‘ādh memorized more than him, Imam Ahmad posited that this action was meant to make them understand that Abu Bakr should be the grand leader of the Muslims. Other scholars pointed out that even though the Prophet advised, when selecting an Imam, to give priority to the one who memorizes more from the Qur’an or the one who has more knowledge of the Sunnah in case both candidates are equal in the memorization of the Qur’an, he appointed Abu Bakr to show how his memorization of the Qur’an and knowledge of the Sunnah surpass everyone else, since all the Companions were accustomed to memorizing new parts from the Qur’an only after they learn its meanings and put them to action, as stated by Ibn Mas‘ūd. He said: “When anyone of us learned ten verses from the Qur’an, he would not learn any additional verses unless after he had learned their meanings and applied them.” Muslim narrated the following on the authority of Abu Mas‘ūd al-Badri, who attributed it to the Prophet: “The one who leads people in prayer should be the most versed among them in the Book of Allah. If they are equally versed in reciting it, then the one who is the most knowledgeable in the Sunnah. If they are equal regarding the Sunnah, then the earliest one to emigrate. If they emigrated at the same time, then the oldest of them.”

One should not lead another in prayer in a place under the latter’s authority, nor should one stay in his house in his own place unless with his permission. In the two Sahīh collections: “Let the oldest among you lead you in prayer.” Another wording of Abu Mas‘ūd’s Hadīth reads: “If both emigrated simultaneously, let the one who embraced Islam earlier lead the prayer.”

It is impermissible to pray behind someone receiving a fee in exchange for leading the prayer. Abu Dāwūd said: “Ahmad was asked about an Imam who stipulates a fee for leading the prayer in Ramadān. He replied: ‘I ask Allah to grant us safety (from such an attitude); who prays behind someone like that?!’” It is impermissible to pray behind someone incapable of standing up except the appointed Imam of the mosque. If he becomes sick and incapable of standing, all behind him should pray sitting down. And if the Imam leads a prayer without making ablution or had impurity on his body or clothes except after he concludes the prayer, those behind are not required to repeat the prayer; only the Imam must repeat. It is disliked for someone hated by most people for a valid reason to be the Imam. And it is permissible for someone who made ablution to pray behind an Imam who made dry ablution (Tayammum).

It is a Sunnah that all those led in prayer stand behind the Imam, following the Hadīth reported by Jābir and Jabbār when they stood next to the Imam, one to his right and the other to his left, and he took their hands and made them stand behind him. [Narrated by Muslim] As for the time when Ibn Mas‘ūd led ‘Alqamah and Al-Aswad in prayer while standing between them, Ibn Sīrīn said that they only did so because the place was narrow. If, however, there is only one person led in prayer, he should stand on the right side of the Imam, and if he stands on his left, the Imam should move him to his right. Standing on the left side of the Imam does not render the opening Takbīr invalid. If the Imam is leading a man and a woman in prayer, the man should stand on his right side while the woman should stand behind him, following the Hadīth reported by Anas and narrated by Muslim. It is better for the first row to be close to the Imam and it is also better for all rows to be close to one another. Moreover, it is better for the Imam to stand in the middle of the line, following the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “Make the Imam stand in the middle and fill all gaps.” It is permissible to stand next to a young boy because Anas said that he stood next to an orphan boy behind the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and the old woman prayed behind them. If one is alone in a row (in a congregational prayer), his prayer is invalid. But the prayer is valid if the individual can see the Imam or those behind him even if the rows are not as connected as they should be. It is also valid even if the individual could not see either one of them so long as he hears the [transitional] Takbīr because it is possible to follow just by hearing the Takbīr in the same way one follows by seeing. In case there is a street cutting through the rows, the prayer is invalid although Al-Muwaffaq and other scholars maintained that this situation does not prevent the validity of following the Imam, given the lack of a relevant scriptural text and the consensus of opinion.

Furthermore, it is disliked for the Imam to stand in a higher place than those behind him. Ibn Mas‘ūd said to Hudhayfah: “Did you not know that they used to prohibit this?” He answered: “Yes, indeed.” This statement is narrated by Ash-Shāfi‘i through a trustworthy chain of transmission. There is nothing wrong if the Imam is slightly higher, like one-pulpit-step higher, following the Hadīth reported by Sahl that the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) prayed on the pulpit, but then stepped down to prostrate. Also there is nothing wrong if the one praying behind the Imam is standing in a higher position, because Abu Hurayrah prayed on the roof of the mosque while behind the Imam. This report is narrated by Ash-Shāfi‘i. It is disliked for the Imam to observe a voluntary prayer in the same place he prayed the obligatory one, following the Hadīth attributed to the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) that is reported by Al-Mughīrah and narrated by Abu Dāwūd. Ahmad, however, maintained that only ‘Ali believed this action to be disliked. The one praying behind the Imam should not leave before the Imam, following the saying of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “Do not bow, prostrate, or go away before I do.” It is disliked for anyone other than the Imam to dedicate a specific spot in the mosque for his obligatory prayer, following the Prophet’s prohibition of designating a regular spot like camels do.

The sick and the one afraid of losing his money or what he is entrusted with are excused from attending the Friday prayer and the congregational prayer because their subsequent hardship is far worse than that caused by the rain, namely wetting the clothes, which is unanimously excusable. ‘Umar reported that the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) used to summon his announcer on rainy or cold nights during a journey to call out: “Pray in your dwellings.” It is narrated by Al-Bukhāri and Muslim. They also narrated another version by Ibn ‘Abbās where he said to his announcer on a rainy Friday: “When you say: ‘I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’, do not say: ‘Come to prayer’ but say: ‘Pray at your homes’.” People seemed to find this strange. So, he said: “This was done by someone who is better than me - meaning the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) - and I disliked to let you come out and walk in mud and slippery ground.” It is also disliked for a person who has eaten garlic or onion to go to the mosque, even if there is no one, for it would annoy the angels.

Chapter: The Prayer of People with Excuses

A sick person is required to stand in an obligatory prayer based on the Hadīth reported by ‘Imrān: “Pray standing; if you cannot, then sitting; if you cannot, then lying on your side.” [Narrated by Al-Bukhāri] An-Nasā’i adds: “If you cannot, then lying back.” Meanwhile, he should nod his head in place of bowing and prostration if he can, as the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “If I command you to do something, do it as much as you can.”

It is also valid to offer an obligatory prayer on a still or moving animal to avoid harm by mud or rain, as indicated by a relevant Hadīth reported by Ya‘la ibn Umayyah and narrated by At-Tirmidhi, who said: “It is acceptable and adopted by the people of knowledge.”

A traveler may shorten the four-Rak‘ah prayer and may not observe fasting in Ramadān. But, if he prays behind someone who is required to complete the prayer, he too should complete it. Moreover, if he remains in this place to fulfill a certain need, without intending to reside and without knowing when that need can be fulfilled, or if he is prevented by rain or illness from achieving his purpose, then he may shorten the prayers throughout his stay. There are four rulings related to travel: shortening the prayers, combining the prayers, wiping over the socks, and not observing the fast.

It is permissible for a traveler to combine the Zhuhr and ‘Asr prayers together and the Maghrib and ‘Ishā’ together, at the time of the former or the latter. It is better, however, not to do it, except for the combination at ‘Arafah and Muzdalifah and in the case of a sick person who would undergo difficulty if he did not combine the prayers because the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) combined the prayers without being in a state of fear or being on a journey and because it is established that a woman undergoing Istihādah (vaginal bleeding outside the menstrual period), which is a kind of sickness, may combine the prayers. Imam Ahmad maintained that illness is more difficult than travel and he said: “A resident may combine prayers due to some necessity or a preoccupation.” He added: “The Prophet’s prayer of fear is authentic and valid from six or seven aspects, all of which are permissible. As for the Hadīth of Sahl, I adopt it.” It is the prayer at Dhāt ar-Riqā‘. “A group formed a row behind him and another group faced the enemy. He led those who were with him in praying one Rak‘ah, then he remained standing and they completed the prayer by themselves. Then they moved away and formed a row facing the enemy, and the other group came and he led them in praying the Rak‘ah that was left for him, then he remained sitting while they completed their prayer by themselves, then he made Taslīm with them.” [Narrated by Al-Bukhāri and Muslim] He may also offer a prayer with each group and make Taslīm with them. [Narrated by Ahmad, Abu Dāwūd, and An-Nasā’i] It is recommended to carry weapons during this prayer, as Allah Almighty says: {Carrying their weapons. } If some argued that this is obligatory, they would have a point for Allah Almighty says: {But there is no blame on you if you lay down your weapons because of inconvenience of rain or because you are ill.} If fear becomes tense, they can pray while on foot or riding, facing the Qiblah or without facing it as Allah Almighty says: {If you are in danger, then pray while walking or riding.} They nod their heads as much as they can, with the nod for prostration being lower than that for bowing. They may not pray in congregation if they are unable to complete the prayer this way.

Chapter: The Friday Prayer

It is an individual duty upon every adult, sane, male, and free Muslim who resides in a dwelling. If someone upon whom it is not due attends it, his prayer is valid and rewarded. If one catches up with one Rak‘ah, he can complete it as a Friday prayer; otherwise, he should offer it as Zhuhr prayer. The Friday prayer should be preceded by two sermons comprising praise of Allah, the two testimonies of faith, and preaching what moves people’s hearts. It is called "Khutbah". The Imam should deliver the sermon above a pulpit or any high position. Upon entering and leaving, he should greet the worshipers, and he should sit down until the Adhān is proclaimed, as indicated by a Hadīth reported by Ibn ‘Umar and narrated by Abu Dāwūd. He should sit for a short time between the two sermons, as related in a Hadīth reported by ‘Umar and narrated by Al-Bukhāri and Muslim. He should give the sermon while standing, as the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) used to do this, and face the worshipers. The sermon should be brief. The Friday prayer consists of two Rak‘ahs in which recitation is audible. In the first Rak‘ah, Surat al-Jumu‘ah is recited, and in the second Al-Munāfiqūn, or Al-A‘la , and Al-Ghāshiyah, for they are reported in authentic Hadīths. In the Fajr prayer of this day, he recites Surat as-Sajdah and Surat al-Insān. However, it is disliked to do so in a persistent manner. If Friday happens to coincide with the day of Eid, those who have offered the Eid prayer are not obligated to attend the Friday prayer, except for the Imam.

There is a two-Rak‘ah or four-Rak‘ah Sunnah after the Friday prayer, and there is no Sunnah before it, rather, one is recommended to offer supererogatory prayers as he wishes. Moreover, it is Sunnah to take a bath, use the Siwāk (teeth cleaning twig), apply perfume, and wear one’s best clothes for this day and to go early to the mosque on foot. With the second Adhān, one should hasten, yet in tranquility and humility, and come close to the Imam. One should also supplicate a lot during this day, hoping for one’s supplication to coincide with the time in which supplications are readily answered, and the most likely time is the latter part after the ‘Asr prayer, as one has made ablution and is waiting for the Maghrib prayer, for one is thus deemed to be in prayer. One should also invoke Allah’s blessings upon the Prophet a lot during this day and night, and it is disliked for one to cross the lines of sitting people unless he sees some vacant area which he can only reach by doing so. One should not make someone stand to sit in his place, even if he is his slave or child. Moreover, if he enters the mosque while the Imam is giving the sermon, he should not sit down before offering two brief Rak‘ahs, and he should not speak or tamper with anything while the sermon is being delivered, for the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “He who touches the pebbles has engaged in idle activity.” [Classified as Sahīh (authentic) by At-Tirmidhi] If one dozes, he should move to another place, as instructed by the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) in a Hadīth classified as Sahīh (authentic) by At-Tirmidhi.

Chapter: The Prayer of the Two Eids

If one does not know it is the Eid except after noon, he should come out and lead the people in prayer the next day. It is Sunnah to offer Eid al-Ad-ha prayer early and delay Eid al-Fitr prayer, before which we ought to have our breakfast, an odd number of dried dates, while in Al-Ad-ha we do not eat until we offer the prayer. As he goes to the prayer through a certain route, he should return from another one. It is Sunnah to offer this prayer in a near open space. He prays two Rak‘ahs, making the opening Takbīr followed by six Takbīrs, and in the second Rak‘ah, he makes five Takbīrs, raising his hands with each Takbīr. He recites in them Surat al-A‘la and Surat al-Ghāshiyah. When he finishes the prayer, he begins the sermon, offering no voluntary prayer before or after it in the same place. It is Sunnah to say Takbīr during the two Eids and proclaim it in the mosques, roads, villages, and towns, and this is even more emphatic on the eve of the two Eids and upon going out to their prayers. In Al-Ad-ha, the general Takbīr is to start from the beginning of the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, whereas the specific Takbīr is to begin from the Fajr prayer on the Day of ‘Arafah till the ‘Asr prayer on the last day of Tashrīq. It is recommended to perform a lot of good deeds during those ten days.

Chapter: The Eclipse Prayer

Its time extends from the beginning to the end of the eclipse. It is a confirmed Sunnah for residents and travelers, even for women. It is Sunnah in this situation to remember Allah and supplicate Him and ask for His forgiveness, to set slaves free, and give charity. The prayer should not be repeated if the eclipse does not go away; rather, people should keep remembering Allah and asking Him for forgiveness until it comes to an end. The call to the prayer should be announced: “As-salātu jāmi‘ah (prayer in congregation). The Imam offers two Rak‘ahs with audible recitation, prolonging the recitation, bowing, and prostration. Each Rak‘ah includes two Rukū‘s (bowing down) but in the second Rak‘ah it should be shorter than in the first one. Then, he says the Tashahhud and makes Taslīm. If the eclipse goes away while he is offering the prayer, he should make it brief, for the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “So, pray and supplicate until what has befallen you goes away.”

Chapter: The Istisqā’ (rain-seeking) Prayer

It is a confirmed Sunnah for residents and travelers. This prayer is to be offered like the Eid prayer. The Sunnah is to perform it at the early part of the day, and one should come out for it in submissive humility and supplication, as related in a Hadīth by Ibn ‘Abbās which was classified as Sahīh (authentic) by At-Tirmidhi. He leads the people in prayer and then delivers one sermon in which he frequently asks for Allah’s forgiveness and supplicates Him, raising his hands and saying: “O Allah, send upon us rain that comes with relief and that which is wholesome, productive, abundant, extensive, heavy, plentiful, continuous, and useful not harmful, sooner rather than later. O Allah, give water to Your servants and Your livestock, spread Your mercy, and revive Your dead land. O Allah, grant us water by rain and do not render us among the desperate. O Allah, give us water of mercy, not of punishment, affliction, destruction, or drowning. O Allah, the people and the land are suffering from such hardship, exhaustion, and tough conditions that we complain to none but You. O Allah, grow the plants for us, make animals’ udders abundant with milk, give us rain from the blessings of the sky, and send upon us from Your blessings. O Allah, we ask for Your forgiveness, for indeed You are the Most Forgiving; so send down upon us abundant rain from the sky.” It is recommended that he faces the Qiblah during the sermon and then turns his clothing around, with the right side becoming the left and vice versa. The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) turned his back to the people and faced the Qiblah and then he turned his garment around, as narrated by Al-Bukhāri and Muslim. Moreover, he supplicates Allah privately as he faces the Qiblah. If they ask for rain after the prayer or during the Friday sermon, this is Sunnah. It is recommended to come out at the beginning of the rain and bring out one’s luggage and clothes to be under the rain. Then, one ought to go to the valley, as the water flows therein, make ablution and say upon seeing the rain: “Allāhumma sayyiban nāfi‘an (O Allah, may it be beneficial rain).” If the rain becomes heavy and it is feared to be harmful, it is recommended to say: “Allāhumma hawālayna wa lā ‘alayna. Allāhumma ‘ala azh-zhirāb wa al-ākām wa butūn al-awdiyah wa manābit ash-shajar (O Allah, around us and not upon us. O Allah, on the hills and mountains, the bottoms of the valleys and where the trees grow).” When it rains, one should supplicate saying: “Mutirnā bi fadlillāh (we have been granted rain by the grace and mercy of Allah).” On seeing a cloud or when the wind blows, one should ask Allah to grant him from its goodness and protect him from its evil. It is not permissible to curse the wind, rather, one should say: “Allāhumma innī as’aluka min khayri hādhihi ar-rīh wa kahyri mā fīhā wa khayri mā ursilat bih, wa a‘ūdhu bika min sharrihā wa sharri mā fīhā wa sharri mā ursilat bih. Allāhumma ij‘alhā rahmah wa lā taj‘alhā ‘adhāban. Allāhumma ij‘alhā riyāhan wa lā taj‘alhā rīhan (O Allah, I ask You from the good of this wind, the good of what it contains, and the good it was sent with; and I seek refuge in You from the evil of this wind, the evil of what it contains, and the evil it was sent with. O Allah, make it a mercy and do not make it a punishment. O Allah, make it winds and do not make it a single wind).” On hearing the sound of thunder and thunderclaps, one should say: “Allāhumma lā taqtulnā bighadabik wa lā tuhliknā bi‘adhābik wa ‘āfinā qabla dhālik, subhāna man sabbaha ar-ra‘du bihamdih wa al-malā’ikatu min khīfatih (O Allah, do not kill us by Your wrath and do not ruin us by Your punishment and protect us from that. Glory be to the One Who is praised and glorified by the thunder and by the angels, out of fear from Him).” And on hearing the braying of a donkey or the barking of a dog, one should seek refuge with Allah Almighty from the devil, and on hearing a rooster crowing, one should ask Allah from His bounty.

Chapter: The Funerals

It is permissible by consensus to seek medical treatment. This does not contradict reliance upon Allah Almighty. Cauterization is disliked, while following a good diet is recommended. Moreover, it is prohibited to seek treatment through some unlawful food or drink or through the sound of prohibited musical instruments, for the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Do not seek medical treatment by something prohibited.” It is prohibited to hang an amulet, like a talisman or a bead and the like. It is Sunnah to remember death often and get prepared for it. It is likewise recommended to visit the sick, and there is nothing wrong if a sick person tells about his illness, without complaining, after praising Allah. Patience is a duty and complaining to Allah does not contradict that, rather, it is required. One is obligated to trust his Lord and think positively about Him and not wish to die because of some harm that has afflicted him. When someone visits a sick person, he ought to supplicate for him, and if death is approaching him, he should remind him to say: “lā ilāha illallāh (there is no god but Allah) and make him face the Qiblah. If he actually dies, his eyes are to be closed and his family members should only speak what is good, for the angels say “amen” to whatever they say. He should be covered with a garment and whatever debts he owes should be readily repaid and his vows or expiations should be fulfilled as the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The soul of a believer remains suspended due to his debt until it is paid on his behalf.” [Classified by At-Tirmidhi as Hasan (sound)] It is recommended to quickly arrange his funeral and burial, as the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “No corpse of a Muslim ought to be kept unburied among his family members.” [Narrated by Abū Dāwūd] It is disliked to call out announcing someone’s death.

Washing the deceased person’s body, offering his funeral prayer, shrouding him, carrying his bier, and burying him to the direction of the Qiblah is a collective duty. Receiving wages for doing any of these things is disliked, and so is transferring a dead person to other than his homeland without need. In washing his body, it is Sunnah to begin with the organs included in ablution and with the right side. He is to be washed three or five times, though one time is enough. If a more than four-month-old fetus is stillborn, it should be washed and the funeral prayer be offered for it, as the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Prayer should be offered over a miscarried fetus and forgiveness and mercy should be sought in supplication for its parents.” [Classified by At-Tirmidhi as Sahīh (authentic) in his wording: “Prayer should be offered over a child”] If washing is not possible due to lack of water or the like, dry ablution should be made instead. The shroud should cover the dead person’s entire body. If there is no enough clothing to conceal it all, his private parts should be covered first, then the head and the next area, then the rest of the body is to be covered with grass or papers. During the funeral prayer, the Imam should stand opposite the chest if the deceased person is male and the waist in case of a female. He makes Takbīr, recites Al-Fātihah, and then makes Takbīr and invokes Allah’s blessings upon the Prophet. Then, he makes Takbīr and supplicates for the dead person. Then, he makes the fourth Takbīr and pauses a little, after which he makes one Taslīm to the right. He raises his hands with each Takbīr and remains standing in his place until it is raised as reported from ‘Umar. If a person fails to attend the funeral prayer, he is recommended to offer it when the dead person is buried or after burial, at the grave, even in congregation, within a month after burial. There is nothing wrong with burial at night. Yet, it is disliked during the rise and setting of the sun and when it is high in the middle of the sky. It is Sunnah to hasten with the funeral, short of brisk walk, and it is disliked for those following it to sit down before the coffin is laid down on the ground for burial. A person attending a funeral procession should be humble and thinking about his own destiny. Smiling and talking about worldly affairs are disliked in such a situation. It is recommended to let him into the grave from the side of his legs, if this is easier. It is disliked to cover the grave of a man. It is not disliked for a man to bury a woman when one of her Mahrams (non-marriageable male relatives) is there. A niche is preferable to a crevice. It is recommended to make it deep and wide. It is disliked to bury the dead person in a casket. Upon placing the body, it should be said: “Bismillāh wa ‘ala millat rasūlillāh (in the name of Allah, and upon the religion of the Messenger of Allah).” It is recommended to supplicate while standing at the grave after burial, and it is recommended for those present to pour dust upon him three times towards his head.

It is recommended to raise the grave as high as a hand-span, but not higher than that, for the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Do not leave any statue without effacing it or any built-up grave without leveling it.” [Narrated by Muslim]

Water ought to be sprinkled upon it and pebbles be placed there to maintain its dust. There is nothing wrong with marking the grave with a stone and the like to make it recognizable, as reported about the grave of ‘Uthmān ibn Mazh‘ūn. However, it is not permissible to plaster it or build upon it. Any built-up part should be pulled down. Nothing should be added to the dust of the grave, for this was prohibited. [Narrated by Abū Dāwūd] It is not permissible to kiss it, perfume or incense it, sit upon it, or answer the call of nature on it. This also applies to the area between graves. Nor is it permissible to seek cure through its dust. It is prohibited to illuminate the grave with lamps or build a place of worship on it; otherwise, it should be pulled down. One should not walk in a graveyard wearing shoes, based on a relevant Hadīth. Ahmad said: “Its Isnād (chain of transmission) is good.”

It is Sunnah to visit the graves, without traveling for this purpose, as the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “A journey should not be made except to three mosques.” Yet, this is not permissible for women, for the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Allah cursed women who visit graves, and those who take them as places of worship and put lamps on them.” [Narrated by Abu Dāwūd, Ibn Mājah, An-Nasā’i, and At-Tirmidhi] It is disliked to seek blessing therefrom, perform prayer there, or go to it for the purpose of supplication. All these are wrong acts, even falling under the branches of polytheism. A person who visits or passes by a grave should say: “Assalāmu ‘alaykum dār qawmin mu’minīn wa innā in shā’ Allāh bikum lāhiqūn, yarhamu al-mustaqdimīn minnā wa minkum wa al-musta’khirīn, nas’alullāh lanā wa lakum al-‘āfiyah, Allāhumma lā tahrimnā ajrahum wa lā taftinnā ba‘dahum waghfir lanā wa lahum (Peace be upon you, O the believing dwellers of the place. We will join you, Allah Willing. May Allah have mercy upon those of us and you who have died and those who will die later. We ask Allah to grant safety to you and to us. O Allah, do not deprive us of their reward, and do not put us to trials after them, and forgive us and them).”

When greeting a living person, one has the choice to mention him by name or not. Initiating the greeting is Sunnah, and returning it is obligatory. If a person greets someone and then he meets him a second and a third time, or more, he ought to greet him. It is not permissible to bow down for greeting or for a man to greet a foreign woman, except for an old woman who is not desired by men. One should also give the greeting of peace when leaving a place and upon entering one’s house, saying: “Allāhumma innī as’aluka khayra al-mūlij wa khayra al-makhraj, bismillāhi walajnā wa bismillāhi kahrajnā wa ‘alallāhi tawakkalnā (O Allah, I ask You for good both when entering and when going out; in the name of Allah we have entered, and in the name of Allah we have come out, and upon Allah we rely).” It is Sunnah to shake hands, as related in a Hadīth reported by Anas, and it is not permissible to shake hands with women. One should also greet children. The younger should greet the older, a group of few people should greet the bigger group of people, a walking person should greet the sitting one, and a rider should greet the one who is not riding. If a man conveyed to someone the greeting of another person, he is recommended to say: “Peace be upon you and him”.

When two persons meet, it is recommended for each of them to be keen to initiate the greeting. One should not say in the greeting anything beyond: “As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh wa barakātuh (may the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you). When a person feels the need to yawn, he should suppress it as much as he can. If he cannot help it anyway, he should cover his mouth. And if he sneezes, he should cover his face, lower the sound of sneezing, and praise Allah Almighty aloud for anyone present to hear him and the listener should say: “Yarhamuka Allāh (may Allah show mercy to you). In response, the sneezing person should say: “Yahdīkum Allāh wa yuslih bālakum (may Allah guide you and set your affairs right). One should not say this supplication to someone who sneezes yet does not praise Allah. If a person sneezes two and three times, one should say the reported supplication to him and then invoke Allah Almighty to grant him good health.

Whoever wants to enter another person’s place, be he a relative or a foreigner, should first seek permission. If he is given permission, he may enter; otherwise, he should return. Permission should be sought three times, no more. In asking for permission, one should say: “Peace be upon you, may I enter?” Then, he should sit down at the first empty space he can conveniently find. No one should separate between two persons sitting side by side without their permission.

It is recommended to offer condolences to the one who lost someone close, yet it is disliked to sit down for this purpose or specify certain phrases to be said; rather, he should urge him to be patient, remind him of the reward, and supplicate for the deceased person. The afflicted person should say: “Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. Indeed, we belong to Allah and indeed we shall return to Him. O Allah, reward me for my affliction and compensate me by something better.” If he offers prayer, in compliance with the verse that says: {Seek help through patience and prayer}, that would be good as it was done by Ibn ‘Abbās. Patience is due; weeping over the deceased person is not disliked; but wailing is prohibited. The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) is disassociated with any woman who cries loudly, shaves her head, or tears up her clothes at the strike of a calamity. The display of impatience is prohibited.

 The Book of Zakah

It is due on cattle, crops, gold and silver, and commercial commodities with the following five conditions: Being Muslim and free, reaching the Nisāb (the minimum amount liable for Zakah), absolute ownership, and the lapse of a lunar year. Zakah is also due on the property of children and insane people, as reported from ‘Umar, Ibn ‘Abbās, and others and no one is known to have disagreed with them. Zakah is due on what is beyond the Nisāb by calculation, except in Sā’imah (grazing) livestock, as there is no Zakah on its Waqs (a middle amount between two obligatory amounts that are liable for Zakah), and on an endowment for public benefit, like mosques. However, Zakah is due on land crop that is endowed on a specific individual and on one who holds a debt against a wealthy person, like a loan or dowry which was given during the calculated year of Zakah. He pays the Zakah on it once he receives it fully or partially. This is the apparent consensus among the Companions, even if the received amount is less than the Nisāb. It is also valid to pay Zakah before receiving the due amount because the reason for due Zakah is already there (reaching the Nisāb and the lapse of a lunar year). However, one may delay its payment till he receives it, which is a concession different from the case of the advanced payment of Zakah. Moreover, if he possesses part of the Nisāb and the remaining part is in the form of a debt or a lost amount, he should pay Zakah on what he possesses. It is also due on a debt owed by a poor person or usurped money if the owner gets it back, as reported from ‘Ali and Ibn ‘Abbās, based on the general rule. If a person earns some money, no Zakah is due on it until a lunar year has passed, except for the newborn calves of grazing livestock and the trade profits, based on ‘Umar’s statement: “Count the newborn livestock (in completing the Nisāb) and do not take it from them.” [Narrated by Mālik] This is also based on a statement by ‘Ali. No Companion is known to have disagreed with their opinion. The earned part should be added to the part in his possession, if it has reached the Nisāb and is of the same type or subject to the same rule, like silver being added to gold. However, if it is not of the same type and not subject to the same rule, then it has its own rule.

Chapter: Zakah on Livestock

Zakah is only due on Sā’imah livestock, which graze most of the year. Yet, if one buys or collects for it what it eats, no Zakah is due on it. It is of three types:

First: Camels: No Zakah is due on camels unless they are five, on which the Zakah amounts to one sheep. Two sheep are due on ten camels, three on 15 camels, and four on 20, by consensus. If there are 25 camels, the Zakah is a one-year-old she-camel. If he does not have a one-year-old she-camel, he may give a two-year-old camel. The Zakah due on 36 camels is a two-year-old she-camel, on 46 is a three-year-old she-camel, on 61 is a four-year-old she-camel, on 76 are two two-year-old she-camels, on 91 camels are two three-year-old she-camels, and the Zakah due on 121 camels are three two-year-old she-camels. Then, the due amount remains fixed on every forty a two-year-old she-camel, and on every fifty a three-year-old she-camel. If they reach two hundred, the due amount becomes the same here and there, i.e. one can either give away four three-year-old she-camels or five two-year-old she-camels.

Second: Cows: No Zakah is due on cows unless they are thirty in number, on which the due Zakah is a one-year-old calf, male or female. The due Zakah on forty cows is a two-year-old cow and on sixty cows is two one-year-old calves. Then, on every thirty cows is a one-year-old calf and on every forty cows is a two-year-old cow.

Third: Sheep: No Zakah is due on sheep unless they are forty in number, on which the Zakah is one sheep, even if the sheep reach 120. But if they are even one sheep more up to 200 sheep, then the Zakah is two sheep. If they are more than that by even one sheep and up to 300, the Zakah is three sheep.

The Zakah on 300 sheep is four sheep. Then, on every hundred sheep there is one sheep. A one-year-old male goat or an old or defective sheep cannot be taken, neither can a sheep that has a lamb be taken, nor a pregnant or fat one. The same also applies to the best part of one’s property, as the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “but one should give animals of medium quality, for Allah did not demand from you the best of your animals, nor did He command you to give the animals of worst quality.” [Narrated by Abu Dāwūd] When livestock are mingled, they are treated like one property.

Chapter: Zakah on Land Produce

It is due on whatever could be measured and saved, whether it is food or anything else, with two conditions. The first condition is reaching the Nisāb, which is five Wasqs (one Wasq amounts to 60 Sā‘s). The fruits and plants of one year are to be combined together to complete the Nisāb. The second condition is owning the Nisāb-reaching produce at the time Zakah becomes due. No Zakah is due on what one picks up from scattered ears, or what is granted to him as a gift, or what he takes as a wage for harvesting. The Zakah on plants irrigated at no cost is one tenth, and half of one tenth if irrigated at a cost; and three quarters of one tenth if irrigated sometimes at no cost and some other times at a cost. If they differ in amount, what is more useful of them should be the basis of measure. In case of ignorance, Zakah is one tenth. Zakah on grains should be given out after they have been rubbed off and refined, and fruits should be given out when they are dry. It is not appropriate for a person to buy back his Zakah or charity. However, if it returns to him through inheritance, it is permissible. The ruler is to send an estimator, one would be enough, who should leave to the owner ripe fruits and plants that suffice him and his dependents. If he does not leave that, however, the owner can take it himself. Ahmad disliked harvesting and chipping by night. Zakah on land produce is due only once even if it remains for years, unless it is used for trade, in which case it is to be estimated every year.

Chapter: Zakah on Gold and Silver

The Nisāb in gold is 20 Mithqāls (one Mithqāl equals 4.25 grams), the Nisāb in silver is 200 dirhams. Zakah on gold and silver is one fourth of one tenth, or 2.5%. Gold and silver are to be combined together to complete the Nisāb, and the value of commercial commodities are to be added to both of them. No Zakah is due on permissible jewelry. But if it is acquired for the purpose of trade, Zakah becomes due. Silver is permissible for a man in the form of a ring, preferably on the little finger of the left hand. Ahmad considered the view about wearing rings on the right hand as weak. It is disliked for a man or a woman to wear a ring of iron, brass, or copper, as reported. Silver is permissible in the pommels of swords and the jewelry on the waist area, for the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) did so. Women are permitted to wear gold and silver in the traditional and usual manner. However, it is prohibited for a man to imitate women or for a woman to imitate men in terms of clothing and the like.

Chapter: Zakah on Commercial Commodities

Zakah becomes due on commercial commodities if their value reaches the Nisāb. But no Zakah is due on what is prepared for the purpose of renting, like real estates and animals, etc.

Chapter: Zakāt al-Fitr (fast-breaking Zakah)

It is a means of purification for the fasting person from vain talk and obscenity. It is an individual duty upon every Muslim if he has a surplus to his subsistence and that of his dependents on the eve and the day of Eid. It is a Sā‘ (a unit of measure) for a person and his Muslim dependents. Yet, he is not required to pay Zakah for his servant. If he cannot afford to pay it for everyone under his care, he should begin with himself and the nearest and the next in nearness. It is not due for a fetus, by consensus. If someone provides for a Muslim during the month of Ramadān, he is required to pay Zakāt al-Fitr for him. One may pay this Zakah one or two days before Eid, yet it is not permissible to pay it after Eid. Whoever pays it after Eid incurs a sin and is required to make up for it. What is preferable, however, is to give it on the day of Eid before the prayer. The due amount in Zakāt al-Fitr is one Sā‘ of dried dates, wheat, raisins, barley, or cheese. If nothing of these is available, one may give something similar from the local types of food. Ahmad favored the selection of good food and reported this view from Ibn Sīrīn. It is permissible for a group of people to give their Zakah to one person, and for one person to give his Zakah to a group of people.

Chapter: Giving out Zakah

It is not permissible for a person to delay the payment of Zakah beyond the time it becomes due, while he is able to pay it, except due to the absence of the ruler or the due recipient. Likewise, the Zakah collector may leave it with its payer beyond the appointed time due to some excuse like drought or famine. Ahmad based his view on ‘Umar’s action.

Chapter: The Due Recipients of Zakah

They are eight types, and Zakah may not be paid to anyone else, given the relevant verse:

First and second: The poor and the needy. It is not permissible for a person to beg from others while he has enough. There is nothing wrong with asking for water and borrowing. It is a duty to feed the hungry, clothe those who have no clothes, and set captives free.

Third: Those who are in charge of Zakah, like those who collect it, write it down, and those who count and measure. This is not permissible in case of one’s relatives. The ruler can assign someone with this task without a contract or he can specify something for him.

Fourth: Those whose hearts may be attracted to Islam. These are the leading and prominent figures among their tribes and people. They may be disbelievers who are hoped to embrace Islam, or Muslims who are hoped to have stronger faith as a result of receiving Zakah, or that any of their peers may become Muslim, get advised, or their harm is averted. It is unlawful for a Muslim to take what is given to him as a bribe in order to avoid his evil.

Fifth: For freeing those in bondage. It is permissible to use Zakah for ransoming a Muslim captive held by the disbelievers. One may also use Zakah to buy a slave and set him free, given the general meaning of the Qur’anic words: {for freeing those in bondage}.

Sixth: Those in debt. There are two types of debtors. The first is one who incurs a debt for the purpose of reconciling between two parties and ending a strife. The second is one who borrows money for himself for a lawful purpose.

Seventh: In the cause of Allah. Those are the fighters. They are to be given what is sufficient for their battles, even if they are well-off. Performing Hajj also falls under efforts in the cause of Allah.

Eighth: The wayfarer. This is a traveler who gets stranded and does not have the means whereby he can reach his hometown, even if he is rich back home. If someone claims to be poor and he is not known to be rich, his claim should be accepted. And if someone is strong and is known to have a source of income, giving to him is not permissible. Yet, if he is not known to have a means of living, it is permissible to give him, after telling him that a rich person or a strong one who has a means of living has no right to such money. If a foreigner is in dire need more than a relative, it is to be given to him. It should not be given to anyone on the basis of favoritism, nor should it be given to someone to avoid criticism. No one may use Zakah to utilize the services of someone or protect his own money. Voluntary charity is permissible and recommended at all times. It is better when given secretly, in good health, willingly, and during Ramadān, as the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) did, and also during the times of need, for Allah Almighty says: {On a day of hunger.} Charity to one’s relatives is deemed both charity and upholding of kinship ties, especially when there is estrangement. The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “And maintain the ties with he who severs ties with you.” It should also be given to neighbors, as Allah Almighty says: {Near and distant neighbors.} And to those in pressing need, as Allah Almighty says: {Or to a needy person in misery.} One should not give charity when it harms oneself, his creditor, or those for whom one is required to provide. If a person wants to give all his money in charity and he has a family that he can sufficiently support through his earning, and he feels that he possesses proper reliance upon Allah, his act is recommended, given the precedent of Abu Bakr; otherwise, he may not do so, and he should be legally restrained. Such an act is disliked for a person who cannot endure financial straits to deprive himself of self-sufficiency. Reminding the recipient of the charity given to them is prohibited; it is a major sin that annuls the charity’s reward. If a person gives something in charity and then something arises and seems to deter him, he is recommended to go ahead with the charity. Whenever ‘Amr ibn al-‘Ās brought out food for a beggar and did not find him, he would keep the food aside. In giving charity, one should choose what is good and not search for what is bad. The best type of charity is the effort of one who possesses little; this does not contradict the Hadīth that says: “The best charity is what is given in a state of self-sufficiency.” “The effort of one who possesses little” refers to what a person gives after the needs of his dependents are fulfilled.

The Book of Fasting

Fasting Ramadān is one of the pillars of Islam. It was prescribed in the second Hijri year. So, the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) observed the fasting of Ramadān for nine years. It is recommended to look out to see the crescent on the eve of the 30th of Sha‘bān. When the crescent is sighted, the fasting of Ramadān becomes due. If people fail to see the crescent despite the clear sky, they are to complete Sha‘bān as 30 days and then begin the fasting, by consensus. When one sees the crescent, one should proclaim Takbīr three times and say: “Allāhumma ahillahu ‘alaynā bi al-amn wa al-imān wa as-salāmah wa al-islām wa at-tawfīq limā tuhibbu wa tardāhu rabbī wa rabbuka Allāh hilālu khayr wa rushd (O Allah, bring us the new moon in security, faith, peace, and Islam, and in guidance to what You love and You are pleased with. My Lord and your Lord is Allah. Make this crescent that of goodness and guidance).” With regard to sighting the moon, the testimony of one reliable person is accepted, as reported by At-Tirmidhi from the majority of the scholars. Moreover, if he sees the moon alone and his testimony is rejected, he is required to observe the fast and only break it with people. And if he sights the moon of Shawwāl, he should not break the fast.

A traveler may break his fast if he moves beyond the populated area of his hometown. However, it is better for him to fast, to be on the side of caution concerning the difference of opinion among the majority of scholars. If a pregnant or a breastfeeding woman fears for her health or that of her baby, she is permitted not to fast. But if the fear concerns her baby alone, she should feed a poor person for each day she does not fast. If a sick person fears harm, it is disliked for him to fast, based on the relevant verse. Moreover, if someone is unable to observe the fast due to old age or a chronic illness, he may refrain from fasting and should feed a poor person for each day of not fasting. If a fly, dust, or water enters into one’s throat unintentionally, this does not break his fast.

The obligatory fast is not valid without prior intention from night. By contrast, voluntary fast can be validly observed with intention during the daytime, before or after noon.

Chapter: What Invalidates the Fast

If a person eats, drinks; or takes some ointment or the like through the nose and it reaches his throat; takes an injection; experiences induced vomiting; treats someone or gets treated by cupping, his fasting becomes invalid. Doing any of these out of forgetfulness does not break one’s fast. A person may eat and drink if in doubt about the coming of dawn, as Allah Almighty says: {And eat and drink until you see the light of dawn distinct from the darkness of night.} If a person invalidates his fast by sexual intercourse, he is required to make expiation like that for Zhihār (when a man tells his wife that she is like his mother to him) and make up for the broken fast. A kiss is disliked for a person who gets easily aroused. Lying, backbiting, cursing, and slander should be avoided at all times, but this is more emphatic for the one fasting. A fasting person should also refrain from what is disliked. If someone curses him, he should say in response: “I am fasting”. It is Sunnah to hasten Iftār (fast-breaking meal) if sunset is confirmed, and one may also begin Iftār if sunset is most probable. By contrast, it is Sunnah to delay Suhūr (pre-dawn meal) to the latter part of the night, unless it is feared the dawn is about to come. The merit of Suhūr is attained by eating and drinking, even if little. A person ought to begin his Iftār by ripe dates, or, if not available, dried dates, or, if not available, water. One should supplicate at the time of Iftār. Whoever gives Iftār to a fasting person will get a reward similar to his. It is recommended during Ramadān to frequently recite the Qur’an, remember Allah, and give charity. The best type of voluntary fasting is fasting on alternate days. It is Sunnah to fast three days every month, preferably the white days (13th, 14th, and 15th of every lunar month). It is also Sunnah to fast every Thursday and Monday and six days in Shawwāl, even if not successive, and to fast the nine days of Dhul-Hijjah; yet the most emphatic among them is the ninth day, the day of ‘Arafah.

Also it is Sunnah to fast in the month of Muharram, and the best of it is the fasting of the 9th and 10th days; and it is Sunnah to combine both of them. All what is reported about the day of ‘Āshūrā’ concerning deeds is baseless, other than fasting; rather, this is a religious innovation. It is disliked to single out the month of Rajab for fasting. All Hadīths speaking about the merit of fasting and praying in it are fabricated. It is disliked to fast Friday alone or to fast a day or two prior to Ramadān. It is also disliked to fast for two consecutive days or more without breaking fast. And it is prohibited to fast the two days of Eid and the days of Tashrīq and it is disliked to fast forever. The Night of Qadr (Decree) enjoys a great status, and supplication therein is hoped to be answered, as Allah Almighty says: {The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months.} Interpreters of the Qur’an said: Performing Qiyām (voluntary prayer at night) and righteous deeds in it is more meritorious than Qiyām for a thousand months free from the Night of Decree. It was called the “Night of Decree” because in it Allah decrees what will happen in the year to come. This night occurs within the last ten days of Ramadān and its odd-numbered nights, most probably the 27th night. We supplicate in this night saying what the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) taught ‘Ā’ishah: “Allāhumma innaka ‘Afuwwun Karīmun tuhibbu al-‘afwa fa‘fu ‘anni (O Allah, You are Pardoning, Generous and You like pardoning, so pardon me). Allah knows best, and may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.

 The Rulings Related to Prayer

By Shaykh al-Islam Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhāb (may Allah have mercy upon him).

In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

The conditions of prayer are nine:

Being Muslim, sanity, discernment, ritual purification, covering the ‘Awrah (parts of the body that must be covered), avoiding impurities, knowing its time has come, facing the Qiblah, and the intention.

The pillars of prayer are fourteen:

Standing if one is able to, the opening Takbīr, recitation of Surat al-Fātihah, Rukū‘ (bowing down), rising from Rukū‘, standing upright, prostration, rising from prostration, sitting between the two prostrations, doing all this with tranquility, observing the right order, the last Tashahhud, sitting for the last Tashahhud, and the first Taslīm (ending the prayer).

The invalidators of prayer are eight:

Intentional talk, laughter, eating, drinking, uncovering the ‘Awrah, swerving from the direction of the Qiblah, much needless movement, and the occurrence of ritual impurity.

The obligatory acts of prayer are eight:

1- The Takbīrs other than the opening Takbīr. 2- Saying “Sami‘allāhu liman hamidah (Allah hears he who praises Him) by the Imam or the person praying alone. 3- saying “Rabbanā wa laka al-hamd (our Lord, praise be to You). 4- Tasbīh (glorification of Allah) in Rukū‘. 5- Tasbīh in prostration. 6- saying “Rabbi ighfirlī (my Lord, forgive me) between the two prostrations - the obligation is once. 7- The first Tashahhud, for the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said it and continued to do so in a persistent manner and commanded people to say it, and he made the prostration of forgetfulness when he forgot to say it. 8- Sitting for the first Tashahhud.

The obligatory acts of ablution are six:

Washing the face, washing the hands up to the elbows, wiping over the head fully, washing the feet up to the ankles, observing the proper order, and doing all this in quick succession.

The conditions of ablution are five:

Pure water, being Muslim, discernment, the non-existence of impediments, the water reaching the skin, and the coming of the appointed time (of prayer) in the case of a person who constantly suffers from ritual impurity.

The invalidators of ablution are eight:

What comes out of the two passages; the excessive flow of any ritually impure substance out of the body; the loss of mind due to sleep or something else; touching a woman lustfully; touching the human sex organs; washing a deceased person; eating camel meat; and apostasy from Islam - Allah forbid. And Allah knows best.