Go Back And Pray [1]


 Az-Zuhree (RAH) said: "I entered upon Anas-bin Maalik (RA) in Damascus and he was crying. So I said to him: What makes you cry?' He said:

'I do not recognise anything which I used to know except this prayer and this prayer is being wasted/neglected. '" (Bukhari)

If Anas (RA) wept over a thousand years ago over the way the Muslims observed their salaat at that time, what would then be his reaction if he were to see its observance amongst the Muslims today? In the quest to correct the wrong observance of the salaat, we present a description of how to observe a correct salaat as gleaned from the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) himself.

Narrated Abu Huraira (RA):

“A man entered the mosque while Allah’s Messenger was sitting in one side of the mosque. The man prayed, came, and greeted the prophet. Allah’s messenger (Salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said to him,

“Wa 'Alaika-s-Salam” (returned his greeting). Go back and pray as you have not prayed (properly). 

The man returned, repeated his prayer, came back and greeted the Prophet. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Wa alaika-s-Salam (returned his greeting). Go back and pray again as you have not prayed (properly). 

The man said at the second or third time, “Oh Allaah's Messenger! Kindly teach me how to pray.”

The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

 “When you stand for prayer, perform ablution properly and then face the Qiblah and say Takbir (Allahu-Akbar), and then recite what you know from the Qur’an, and then bow with calmness till you feel at ease then rise from bowing, till you stand straight, and then prostrate calmly (and remain in prostration) till you feel at ease, and then raise (your head) and sit with calmness till you feel at ease and then prostrate with calmness (and remain in prostration) till you feel at ease, and then raise (your head) and sit with calmness till you feel at ease in the sitting position,  and do likewise in whole of your prayer.” And Abu Usama added, “Till you stand straight. (Bukhari)

Az-Zuhree (RAH) said:

"I entered upon Anas bin Maalik (RA) in Damascus and he was crying. So I said to him: 'What makes you cry? He said: 'I do not recognize anything which I used to know except this prayer and this prayer is being wasted / neglected (Bukhari)

If Anas wept over a thousand years ago over the way the Muslims observed their salaat at that time. what would then be his reaction if he were to see its observance amongst the Muslims today?

The Prayer is the second pillar from the pillars of Islaam and the most important pillar of Islaam after the shahaadah (testimony) of faith. It is a link between the servant and his Lord. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

 "Indeed when one of you prays, he speaks privately with his Lord" (Bukhari)

It is the first thing for which people will be made to account on the Day Judgment. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: 

"the first thing for which a slave will held to account is the solaat, if it is good, then the rest of his deeds will be good and if it is defective, then the rest of his deeds will be defective." (Bukhari)

The prayer is the means of support and assistance in times of distress and grief. Allaah says:

 “Seek assistance in patience and prayer" (Q2 [Baqarah 145)

 Sadly one of the greatest affliction bedevilling the Muslim Ummah today is the wastage of their salaat through improper observance. ,Inan atmosphere of pervading ignorance of the correct practice of the rites of worship. the salaat undoubtedly is one of the rites of Islaam that have suffered most. In the quest to correct the wrong observance of the salaat, we present a description of how to observe a correct salaat as gleaned from the Prophet himself.

Facing The Ka'bah

When the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) stood for prayer, he would face the Ka'bah in both obligatory and voluntary prayers and he ordered us to do that. saying: 

"When you stand for prayer, perform ablution perfectly, then face the qiblah and say takbeer." (Bukhari) 

During a journey, he would pray voluntary prayers and witr on his mount, wherever it faced carrying him [east or west]. (Bukhari)

Standing in Prayer

The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) used to stand in prayer for both obligatory and voluntary prayers, carrying out the command of Allaah:

 "And stand before Allaah devoutly." (Q2[Baqarah]:238). 

He prayed sitting during the illness of which he died. (Tirmidhi) This provides a basis for whoever is ill to pray while sitting when he is unable to stand. 'Imran ibn Husain (RA) said: "I was suffering from haemorrhoids (piles). so I asked the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and he said. 

"Pray standing; if you are not able, then sitting down; if you are not able to do so, then pray lying down." (Bukhari)

Praying in Shoes 

"He used to stand (in prayer) bare-footed sometimes and wearing shoes sometimes"  (Abu Dawud)

and he recommend this for his umrnah, saying: 

"When one of you prays, he should wear his shoes or take them off and put them between his feet, and not harm others with them. " (Abu Dawud)

The Sutrah

The sutrah is a barrier that a praying person must have in his front.

''The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) used to stand near to the sutrah, so that there was (a distance of) three cubits between him and the wall" (Bukhari) and "between the place of his prostration and the wall. (there was) enough space for a sheep to pass." (Bukhari)

He used to say: 

"Do not pray except towards a sutrah, and do not let anyone pass in front of you, but if someone continues (to try to pass) then fight him, for he has a companion (i.e. a shaytaan) with him."(lbn Khuzaimah)

If we pray without a sutrah, he warned US that somethings could cut off our prayers (I.e. requiring, that we start all over again). He said:

A man's prayer is cut off when there is nothing such as the end of a saddle in front of him, by a [menstruating] (matured) woman, a donkey or a black dog." 

Abu Dharr (RA) said, 'I said: "O Messenger of Allaah, why the black dog rather than the red one?" He said, 

"The black dog is a shaytaan." (Muslim)

Praying Towards a Grave

He used to forbid prayer facing the grave, saying: "

Do not pray towards the graves, and do not sit on them." (Muslim)


The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) used to say: 

All actions are by intention, and every man shall have what he intended." (Bukhari)

Thus, the person who is going to pray must have in his heart the intention to pray that particular Prayer, be it the Obligatory or the sunnah Prayers. This is a condition (shart) or a pillar (rukn). As for expressing that upon the tongue, then it is an innovation (bid'ah), contrary to the sunnah.


Then he (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) would commence the prayer by saying: Allaahu Akbar" (Allaah is the Greatest) (Muslim) and he emphasised its importance when he said: 

"Verily, the prayer of a person is not complete until he has made an ablution which has included the necessary parts of the body and has then said: 'Allaahu Akbar'. (Tabarani)

Also, "he used to raise his voice for the takbeer such that those behind him could hear." (Ahmad)

when he fell ill Abu Bakr (RA) used to raise his voice to convey the takbeer of the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) to the people." (Muslim) 

He would also say: 

"When the Imaam says: Allaahu Akbar, then say: Allaahu Akbar." (Ahmad)

Raising the Hands 

The Prophet would raise his hands sometimes with the takbeer, (Bukhari)

sometimes after it (Bukhari) and sometimes before it. (Bukhari)

"He would raise them with fingers apart [not spaced out, nor together]", (Abu Dawud)

and "he would put them level with his shoulders" (Bukhari),

although occasionally, "he would raise them until they were level with [the tops of] his ears."  (Bukhari)

Placing the Right Arm on the Left Arm 

Allaah's Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) used to place his right arm on his left arm"  (Muslim),

and he used to say: "

We, the corripany of prophets, have been commanded to hasten the breaking of the fast, to delay the meal before the fast, and to place our right arms on our left arms during prayer. " (Ibn Hibban) 

Also he passed by a man who was praying and had placed his left arm on his right, so he pulled them apart and placed the right on the left."  (Ahmad)

Sometimes he would grasp his left arm with his right." (Nasai) "

He used to place them on his chest." (Abu Dawud)

Look at the Place of Prostration

The sunnah is to look at the place of prostration for the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) used to incline his head during prayer and fix his sight towards the ground" (Bayhaqi)

He used to forbid looking up at the sky and he emphasised this prohibition so much that he said: 

"People must refrain from looking up at the sky in prayer, or their sight will not return to them (and in one narration: or their sight will be plucked away)." (Bukhari)

In another hadeeth, he said: 

"So when you pray, do not look here and there, for Allaah sets His Face for the face of his slave in his prayer as long as he does not look away." (Tirmidhi)

He recommends that any object of distraction should be removed from the place of prayer. He said: 

"It is not fitting that there should be anything in the House which disturbs the person praymg." (Abu Dawud)

Opening Supplications (Du'aa's)

Next, the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) would commence his recitation with many kinds of supplications in which he would praise Allaah the Exalted, and glorify and extol Him. He in fact ordered us to do so, saying to him: 

"No person's prayer is complete unless he says takbeer, praises Allaah the Mighty and Sublime and extols Him, recites of the Qur'aan what is easy for him.." (Bukhari)

A sample of such supplication is: 

Allaahumma baa'id baynee wa bayna khataayaaya kama baa'dta bayna al-mashrik wal maghrib. Allaahumma naqqinee min  hataayaaya kama yunaqqa aththawbul abyad minad-danas. Allaahumma-ghsilnee min khataayaaya bil-maai wa thalj wa-l barad." (O Allaah! Separate me (far) from my sins as you have separated (far) the East and West. O Allaah! Cleanse me of my sins as white cloth is cleansed from dirt. O Allaah! Wash me of my sins with water, ice and snow.) (Abu Dawud)


Next, the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) would seek refuge with Allaah the Exalted, saying (among other samples): '

'Audhu billahi min-ash-Shaytaani-r-Rajeem min Hamzihi wa nafkhihi wa nafthihi. " (I seek refuge with Allaah from the Evil One, the Rejected, from his madness, his arrogance, and his poetry) (Abu Dawud)

Then he would recite:

"Bismillaahi-r-Rahmaani-r-Raheem" (In the Name of Allaah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy", but not loudly (Bukhari). The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) would recite one verse at a time.

The Necessity of al-Faatihah

He would vehemently emphasise the importance of this soorah, saying: 

"There is no prayer for the one who did not recite [in it] the opening chapter [at least]" (Bukhari)

But he recommend to the one who could not recite it, either due to being new in Islaam or due to any other factor, to say instead (in the meantime): 

"Subhaanallaah, walhamdulillaah, wa laa ilaaha illa Allaah, wallaahu akbar wa laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa billaahi" (I declare Allaah free from all defects; all Praise be to Allaah; none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah; Allaah is the Greatest; there is no might or power except by Allaah) (Abu Dawud).

Recitation Behind the Imaam in the Loud Prayers

The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) He had given permission for those being led by the Imaam to recite Soorah al-Faatihah in the loud prayers, (Bukhari). Later, he forbade them from reciting in the loud prayers at all, (Abu Dawud).

He also made silence during the imaam's recitation part of the completeness of following the imaam when he said:

'The imaam is there to be followed, so when he says takbeer, say takbeer, and when he recites, be silent." (Ibn Abi Shaybah),

just as he made listening to the imaam's recitation enough to not have to recite behind him when he said:

"He who has an imaam, then the recitation of the imaam is recitation for him." (Ibn Abi Shaybah) This is applicable only in the loud prayers.

Recitation in the quiet Prayers

As for the quiet prayers, he urged them to recite during them; Jaabir (RA) said:

'We used to recite behind the imam in Zuhr and 'Asr: soorah al-Faatihah and another soorah in the first two rak'ahs, and soorah al-Fatihah in the last two." (lbn Majah)

Saying Aameen

When the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) finished reciting al-Faatihah, he would say: ''Aameen'' loudly, prolonging his voice. (Bukhari) He also used to order the congregation to say aameen: 

When the imaam says, "ghayril maghdubi 'alayhim walaaadh-dhaaleen." and in another narration: "when the imaam says “aameen " say “aameen"), so he whose aameen coincides with the aameen of the angels (in another narration: when one of you says "aameen" in prayer and the angels in the sky say "aameen", and they coincide), his past sins are forgiven." (Bukhari)

Recitation after al-Faatihah

Next, the Rasul (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) would recite another soorah after al-Faatihah, making it long sometimes, and on other occasions making it short because of travel, cough, illness or the crying of infants. Anas ibn Maalik (RA) said: "He made it [i.e. the recitation] short one day in the dawn prayer."

(In another hadeeth: he prayed the morning prayer and recited the two shortest soorahs in the Qur'aan.) So it was said: "O Messenger of Allaah, why did you make it short?" He said: "I heard the crying of a child, and I supposed that his mother was praying with us, so I wanted to tree his mother for him. '" (Ahmad)

Sometimes he would divide a soorah between two rak'ahs (Ahmad) and sometimes he would repeat the whole soorah in the second rak'ah. Some other times he would combine two or more soorahs in one rak'ah.

Quiet and Loud Recitation

The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) used to recite loudly in the morning prayer and in the first two rak'ahs of Maghrib and 'lshaa'' and quietly in Zuhr, 'Asr,the third rak'ah of Maghrib and the last two rak'ahs of lshaa'. It was possible to tell when he was reciting quietly from the movement of his beard and because he would sometimes let them hear a verse or so, (Bukhari)

He also recited loudly in Friday prayer and the two 'Eid prayers, in the prayer for rain, and in the eclipse prayer. (Bukhari)

The Rukoo' (Bowing) 

After completing his recitation, the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) would pause for a moment (Abu Dawud),

then raise his hands in the way described earlier under the "Opening Takbeer", say takbeer, and make rukoo'. (Bukhari)


In rukoo, he would place his palms on his knees". (Bukhari) He would put his hands firmly on his knees [as though he were grasping them]" (Bukhari),

and "would space his fingers out." (Haakim) He used to spread himself (i.e., not be in a compact position), and keep his elbows away from his sides." (Tirmidhi)

He would spread his back and make it level" (Bukhari),

"such that if water were poured on it, it (the water) would stay there (i.e., not run off)." (Tabarani)

"He would neither let his head droop nor raise it (i.e, higher than his back)" (Abu Dawud),

but it would be in between. (Muslim)

He used to be at ease in his rukoo', and he used to say,

 "The worst thief among men is the one who steals trom his prayer." They said, "O Messenger of Allaah, how does he steal from his prayer?" He said, "He does not complete its rukoo' and sujood." (Ibn Abi Shaybah)

He said in another hadeeth, "The prayer of a man does not count unless he straightens his back in rukoo' and sujood." (Abu Dawud)

The Adhkaar of Rukoo'

He would say different types of remembrance of Allaah and supplication, and one of such is "Subhaana Rabbee al-Adheem wa bi hamdihi" (How Perfect is my Lord, the Supreme!), three times. (Abu Dawud) But sometimes, he would repeat it more than that.

Forbiddance of Reciting the Qur'aan in Rukoo' 

"He used to forbid recitation of the Qur'aan in rukoo' and sujood." ( Muslim)

Further, he used to say, 

"Verily, I have indeed been forbidden from reciting the' Qur'aan in rukoo' or sujood. In the rukoo', therefore, glorify the Supremacy of the Lord, Mighty and Sublime, in it; as for the sujood, exert yourselves in supplication in it, for it is most likely that you will be answered." (Muslim)

Straightening up from the Rukoo' 

Next, the Rasul (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) would straighten up his back out of rukoo', saying, "samiAI/aahu liman hamidah" (Allaah listens to the one who praises Him). (Bukhari)

Next, "he would say while standing: "Rabbana walak al-hamd" (Our Lord, [and] to You be all Praise). (Bukhari)

He has commanded all worshippers, whether behind an imaam or not, to do the above on rising from rukoo', by saying "Pray as you have seen me praying. "(Bukhari) 

He used to raise his hands when straightening up, in the ways described under the Opening Takbeer.

Lengthening this Standing

He instructed us to be at ease in this standing posture when he said to "the one who prayed badly" 

"... Next, raise your head until you are standing straight [and every bone has taken its proper place]"  in another narration, "When you rise, make your spine upright and raise your head, until the bones return to their joints. " (Bukhari)

He also reminded us that no-one's prayer is complete unless he does that. He said: 

Allaah, Mighty and Sublime, does not look at the prayer of the slave who does not make his backbone upright in between his bowings and prostrations. " (Ahmad)


This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited


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