Skip to main content

Commonly Observed Mistakes in Prayer

Compiled by Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Examples of oft-made mistakes during and after prayer, as well as in the congregational prayers, and the necessary actions to correct them.

Introduction

Living in the later days of this ummah is evidenced by the observable widespread straying from the prophetic Sunnah, something that was prophesied by the noble Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم): “You shall indeed adopt the practices of the nations before you [in disobedience and contradiction to their messengers] hand-span by hand-span, arm length by arm length. To the extent that if they were to enter a lizard’s den you would follow them into it.” The companions asked: “O Messenger of Allāh! [Is it the practices] of the Jews and the Christians?” He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) replied: “Who else?”1 The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) also said: “Among the portents of the hour is the raising of knowledge, and accentuation of ignorance…”2

At the head of this is deviating from the conditions, pillars and practices of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in performing the prayer. The prayer is a pillar of Islām, as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Islām is built upon five [pillars]: The testification that there is nothing worshipped in truth except for Allāh, performing ṣalāh, paying zakāh, fasting in Ramādān and performing Ḥajj to the house [of Allāh]”.3

The prayer is the first thing one will be queried about on the Day of Standing, as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Indeed, the first action mankind shall be made to account for will be ṣalāh. Our Lord will say to His angels, while He knows better than them: “Look at the ṣalāh of my servant. Has he perfected its performance, or is it deficient?”4 In another narration: “The first action a servant is held accountable for on the Day of Standing will be ṣalāh. If it is upright and proper, the rest of his actions shall follow in uprightness. If it is corrupt, then the rest of his actions shall follow it in corruption.”5 The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Pray as you see me pray.”6 This is a command, not a matter of personal preference. It is incumbent upon the Muslims to pay due care and attention to praying properly, avoiding harmful innovations and practices that contradict the Sunnah. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “I caution you from newly adopted actions [of worship]. For every newly adopted action is an innovation and every act of innovation represents misguidance.”7 In another narration: “…and every act of misguidance leads to the Fire.”8

In light of this, we have compiled a list of commonly observed mistakes in prayer thorough observation and the consultation of our brothers. We have collected a number of fatāwá from the scholars, past and present. In doing so, we hope that it will be a source of correction, something that the reader may become aware of, educating others around him.

We ask Allāh the Mighty and Majestic to accept this effort, to make it among those that are done sincerely seeking His pleasure, and to make it a source of goodness to the Muslims.

Riyād al-Kanadī9
Shawwāl, 1445 AH (April, 2024 CE)

Commonly Observed Mistakes in Prayer:

  1. Mistakes in the Statements or Actions of the Prayer
    1.1 Performing Raʿf al-Yadayn (Raising the Hands) Improperly
    1.2 Touching One’s Ears When Making the Takbīr
    1.3 Elongating Words in the Takbīr and the Taslīm
    1.4 Rocking To and Fro During Recitation of the Qurʾān
    1.5 Reciting the Qurʿān Hastily or Incorrectly
    1.6 Closing One’s Eyes in Contemplation
    1.7 Glancing Around Distractedly and Allowing the Mind to Wander
    1.8 Unnecessary Movements (e.g. Fiddling with One’s Garments, Accessories, Face. etc.)
    1.9 Bending One’s Knees Whilst in Rukūʿ
    1.10 Moving the Entire Upper Torso When Making the Taslīm
    1.11 Unnecessarily Rushing the Prayer
    1.12 Pronouncing the Intention Aloud
  2. Mistakes After the Prayer
    2.1 Saying Taqabbal Allah (May Allah Accept it), Shaking Hands, and Giving Salāms Habitually After the Ṣalat
    2.2. Walking In Front of the Praying Person
  3. Mistakes in Congregational Prayer
    3.1 Preceding the Imām in His Statements or Actions
    3.2 Coinciding With or Delaying Following the Imām in the Statements or Actions of the Prayer
    3.3 The Worshipper Pronouncing the Takbīr Loudly Behind the Imām
    3.4 Overextending One’s Feet in Attempt to Close the Gaps
    3.5 Leaving Excessive Gaps in the Rows
    3.6 Children in the Masjid: Bringing Unruly Children to the Prayers, Removing Well-Behaved Children from the Front Rows
    3.7 Not Silencing a Smartphone During the Prayer
    3.8 Running to Join the Congregational Prayer
    3.9 Beginning a New Row with an Existing Row Incomplete

Mistakes in the Statements or Actions of the Prayer

1.1 Performing Raʿf al-Yadayn (Raising the Hands) Improperly

Narrated by Ibn ʿUmar (رضي الله عنهما): “The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to raise his hands until they were adjacent to his shoulders.”10

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn comments:

When raising the hands, the fingers should be held close to one another; tightened. Other scholars have also said: They should be splayed. However, the former opinion is more sound as narrated from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم).

The fingers, when the hand is raised, should also be extended. That is, not made into a fist by touching the tips of the fingers to the palm of the hand. Extending the fingers of the hand when raising it during ṣalāh was narrated in the books of al-Sunan.11

When raising the hands, the apex of its trajectory should be adjacent to one’s shoulders. That is, he should raise them, stopping when they are adjacent to his shoulders.12

1.2 Touching One’s Ears When Making the Takbīr

On the authority of Mālik ibn al-Ḥuwayrith: “The Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to perform the takbīr by raising his hands until they were parallel to his ears. When he would perform rukūʿ, he would also raise his hands until they were parallel to his ears. When he raised his head from the rukūʿ he would say “Samiʿ Allāhu liman Ḥamidah (Allāh hears the one who praises him)” and do as he had done before. In another narration: “[He would raise his hands] until they were parallel to the tips of his ears”.13

Imām Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī said:

As for touching the earlobes when performing the takbīr, it has no origin in the Sunnah. Rather, I consider it to be among the effects of [satanic] whisperings.14

1.3 Elongating Words in the Takbīr and the Taslīm

[Q]: How should one enunciate the takbīr during ṣalāh?

[A]: The scholars have said: It is disliked for one to stretch or draw it out. Even when saying the takbīr while rising from sujūd, or when descending to it from the standing position despite both movements being relatively prolonged. They say: This is because the elongation of this statement in ṣalāh was never narrated in the Sunnah. It should, therefore, be considered disliked. This is the position adopted by the scholars (رحمهم الله).

It was never narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) ever distinguished between the takbīrs of the ṣalāh in any way. So, his apparent manner of praying was completely devoid of such differentiation between the takbīrs. As he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, when his pulpit was built: “O people! This has only been built such that you may follow me, and learn the manner in which I perform my ṣalāh.” If he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) had ever differentiated between the takbīrs of his ṣalāh, the people would have definitely imitated that action, even when not praying on the pulpit [i.e., when he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) led the prayers].

The most important aspect of this matter is following the Sunnah, along with the added benefit of those being led having complete concentration while praying which facilitates them being fully aware of the number of rakʿahs that have been performed.

Some of the jurists have also stated: The takbīrs of descension into sujūd and standing up from it should both be stretched due to the prolonged movement between these two pillars of the ṣalāh. However, there is no evidence to support this view.15

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

1.4 Rocking To and Fro During Recitation of the Qurʾān

[Q]: Is rocking back and forth not from among the habits of the Jews during the recitation of their Torah? In consideration of the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) forbidding us from resembling them, what is the ruling of those who adopt this rocking motion during the recitation of the Qurʾān?

[A]: There is no doubt that such habits are considered needless excess. Although some people move in this way to give their voice a type of reverb or echo. The same way other reciters have adopted the excessive, frivolous practice of putting their fingers in their ears and moving their heads to their right and left sides during their recitation. All the while those around them exclaim: “Allāh! Allāh!” in exasperation, swooning over the recitation.

As for the claim that rocking back and forth is from the actions of the Jews, this has not been related in any ḥadīth or narration from the Companions. Rather, it is an opinion of some of the scholars. However, if it is authentically confirmed that this act is indeed among their habits, practised among them, and narrated by one who is well-aware of their habits, then adopting this practice should undoubtedly be considered a form of resembling them.16

Al-ʿAllāmah ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-ʿAbbād

[A]: If this rocking motion occurs unintentionally, then there is nothing wrong with it, as some may (subconsciously) find such motion helpful to their recitation. If, however, a person intends it as a form of worship then it should be considered an impermissible innovation. Even in consideration of this, we encourage those who have adopted this motion unintentionally to train themselves to abandon it completely. This is because others may observe this rocking motion from them and imitate it, wrongfully surmising it to be a legislated act.17

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

1.5 Reciting the Qurʿān Hastily or Incorrectly

[Q]: Is it permissible to recite a sūrah of the Qurʾān without tajwīd or implementation of its rules, especially in salāh?

[A]: Yes it is permissible, provided the reciter pronounces the words in a manner that is consistent with the Arabic language. However, it should still be considered better and more perfect to recite with tajwīd, paying due care and attention to its rules.

Imām ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz

[Q]: Is it obligatory to recite the Qurʾān with tartīl [a slow, pleasant tone and style], observing its madd [stretching its vowels for the appropriate duration], reciting verses repeatedly, reciting melodiously and superfluously?

[A]: This is the Sunnah and this is best. Otherwise, it is not obligatory provided the reciter pronounces the Arabic letters correctly. This is sufficient. If, however, he chooses to recite melodiously, observing the rules of tajwīd, this represents the attainment of even greater perfection.18

Imām ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz

[Q]: Some of the scholars of tajwīd have stated that reciting with tajwīd is obligatory. Is their statement valid?

[A]: The correct opinion is that reciting the Qurʾān with tajwīd is not obligatory. Rather, it is only meant as a means of increasing the excellence of the recitation itself. Thus, if a person was to recite while pronouncing the letters properly, observing the appropriate vowels [harakāt] of each word as written, this is sufficient. As for Allāh’s saying:

وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا

“And recite the Qurʾān (aloud) in a slow, (pleasant tone and) style.”
(Al-Muzammil, 73:4)

It is not referring to reciting with tajwīd. Rather, it refers to reading it in a measured, slow manner [that facilitates contemplation].19

He (رحمه الله) also said:

If we were to claim that being acquainted with the detailed rules of tajwīd as elucidated in the books of tajwīd is obligatory, it would necessitate us attaching sin to most of the Muslims today. We would also be compelled to order anyone who speaks traditional, literary, Arabic saying: “Implement the rules of tajwīd when relating ḥadīth, or reading the works of the scholars, or when teaching or exhorting the people”. It must be known that adopting the stance that observing the rules of tajwīd is obligatory requires evidence that facilitates the fulfilment of the responsibility before Allāh—the Exalted in Might—that accompanies such a claim. For it necessitates us obligating upon the servants of Allāh that which has not actually been made obligatory on them. This is taken from a book written by ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn al-Saʿdī in which he clarifies this position.

I was also acquainted with the statement made by Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah (رحمه الله) regarding the ruling of tajwīd as published in Majmūʿ ibn al-Qāsim lil-Fatāwá (16:50): “Let him not place his attention on that which has detracted so many from learning the true, real, meaning of the Qurʾān. Distracted by whisperings regarding the pronunciation of certain letters, saying them with elegance or polish, or pronouncing others emphatically, or with imālah [saying the vowel ‘a’ with a shaded ‘e’], or paying specific attention to stretching vowels for long, medium and shorter durations and other such matters. These act as a veil over the hearts, severing its ability to truly comprehend the meaning of the Lord’s words.20

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

1.6 Closing One’s Eyes in Contemplation

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn said:

Concerning closing one’s eyes in ṣalāh, the correct opinion is that praying in this manner is disliked. This is because it resembles the manner of worship adopted by the Majūs when they worship fire, as they close their eyes while worshipping it. It has also been said: It is a Jewish habit. Seeking to resemble those other than the Muslims should be considered ḥarām at the very least, as stated by Shaykh al-Islām [Ibn Taymiyyah] (رحمه الله). Herego, closing one’s eyes in ṣalāh is disliked at the very least except if there is a valid reason to do so. For example, in a circumstance wherein a person is surrounded by distractions such that he closes his eyes to ameliorate the deleterious effects of these stimuli.

[Q]: I personally find a greater sense of submissiveness, humility and concentration when I close my eyes during ṣalāh. Would you issue an edict for me to close my eyes when praying?

[A]: No. This is because that claimed sense of humility that you feel from engaging in that which is disliked is actually from Shayṭān. It may be likened to the claimed humility obtained from the various innovated forms of remembrance that the people of Ṣūfīyyah engage in, with which they claim to worship Allāh. It may be that Shayṭān distances himself from your heart when you close your eyes during ṣalāh such that he does not distract you with his whisperings in that state. All the while it is only for the purpose of ensuring that you fall into that which is disliked while you pray. Thus, we say: Open your eyes and try, to the very best of your abilities, to attain humility, submissiveness, and concentration in your ṣalāh. As for arbitrarily closing your eyes without a valid reason for the purpose of attaining this humility, we do not approve because this is from Shayṭān.21

Imām Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī said:

Closing one’s eyes in ṣalāh is disliked because it is amongst the habits of the Jews. Also, because the eyes have a responsibility to fulfil whilst a person is in ṣalāh which is gazing at the place of sujūd. Thus, if he instead chooses to close his eyes, this responsibility will go unfulfilled. We may also elucidate from the ḥadīth of ʿĀʾishah (رضي الله عنها) that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) would open his eyes when performing ṣalāh as he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was able to see the images depicted on a piece of cloth while he prayed.22 This proves that he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) would not close his eyes when praying.

If, however, there is a situation in which a person finds they need to close their eyes in ṣalāh, for example he is praying in his house and his toddler approaches him and begins running back and forth in his line of vision, then it may be that closing one’s eyes in such a circumstance facilitates a greater sense of solemnity and submissiveness when performing ṣalāh. As there are people who pose a question saying: When I close my eyes I find myself able to attain a greater degree of solemnity and submissiveness in my ṣalāh. We answer: This is only from Shayṭān, for he is the one who called you towards this disliked act causing you to believe that such an act will ultimately lead to greater solemnity in the ṣalāh. Instead, practise cultivating solemnity and submissiveness in your ṣalāh while keeping your eyes open. As for engaging in that which is disliked under the guise of attaining this solemnity in your ṣalāh, this is impermissible.

1.7 Glancing Around Distractedly and Allowing the Mind to Wander

Narrated by Imām Aḥmad (رضي الله عنه) and al-Tirmidhī, on the authority of al-Ḥārith al-Ashʿarī (رضي الله عنه), who narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “And, indeed, Allāh has ordered that you perform ṣalāh. So, if you begin praying, do not turn away. For Allāh puts His face to the face of His servant whilst he prays, provided His servant does not turn away.”23

Abū Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) said: My close, intimate friend [i.e. the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)] forbade me from turning away [during ṣalāh] the way a fox does”.24

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim comments:

This ‘turning away’ that has been forbidden in ṣalāh may be divided into two categories:

  1. Turning away from Allāh—the Exalted in Might—with one’s heart to other than Him—the Most High.
  2. Turning away from the ṣalah with one’s gaze.

Both forms are forbidden. And Allāh will continue to face His servant as long as His servant continues to face his ṣalāh without turning away from it. Such that should he turn away from it with either his heart or his gaze, then Allāh turns away from him. When the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was asked concerning a man who turns away during his ṣalāh, he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “It is an embezzlement [of his attention and care shown towards Allāh’s worship]. Shayṭān has managed to embezzle from the ṣalāh of the servant”.25

The parable of the one who turns away from his ṣalāh with either his heart or gaze may be likened to a ruler that seeks an audience with a man. The ruler positions this man before himself, calling and conversing with him. All the while, this man turns to the right and left of the ruler, or is completely absent-minded such that he does not even comprehend that which he is being addressed with, as his heart is not present with the one before him. So, how does this man surmise that this ruler will treat him? Would it not be accurate to say, at the very least, that he would leave his audience with this ruler in a state of shame, contempt, disdain, hate, with a demoted standing before him? Such a person could never be equivocated with the the one whose heart is present, fully concentrating and facing Allāh—the Most High— when performing ṣalāh. The one whose heart fully appreciates the magnanimity of the One he stands before. His heart is full of respect and reverence towards Him, his head lowered in humility, ashamed to turn his attention to other than his Lord, or turn away from Him. Ḥassān ibn ʿAṭiyyah said concerning this disparity between these two ṣalāhs: “Certainly, two men may perform the same ṣalāh although the disparity in blessings between them is like the distance between the heavens and the earth”. This is because the heart of one of them is fully present before Allāh—the Exalted in Might—while praying, while the other is mindless and unattentive.

For, if a person was to face another among the created beings but place a veil between himself and this other individual, he would not be considered as having fully faced him with concentration and attentiveness. What then should be said regarding one who intends to face the Lord of everything in existence but is separated from Him with the veil of false desires and perpetual whisperings? Despite his very soul being replete with the love to face Him in ṣalāh. Has the praying person who is distracted by external whisperings and foreign thoughts—whose consciousness continually traverses to a fro—truly faced Him?26

1.8 Unnecessary Movements (e.g. Fiddling with One’s Garments, Accessories, Face. etc.)

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn said:

The voluntary movements of a praying person are divided into five categories:

  1. Obligatory Movements
    They are those for which one of the obligatory aspects of the prayer is predicated. For example, the praying person who is notified by another that the qiblah is to his right or left. Here, this person would be obligated to face the direction of the qiblah. This occurred with the people of Qubāʾ where a person informed them that the direction of the qiblah had been changed from Bayt al-Maqdis to the Kaʿbah whilst they were performing the morning prayer. So, they turned to face the direction of the Kaʿbah after previously facing the direction of Shām (i.e. Jerusalem). 27 This represents a form of obligatory movement.28
  2. Recommended Movements
    They are those which a recommended act is predicated upon. For example, moving forward to fill the gaps in the preceding lines, or to one’s right or left sides. Here, one should seek closeness to his neighbour in the line and fill any gaps in the line in front of him. This is an example of a recommended movement.
  3. Permissible Movements
    They are minor movements that one makes whilst praying provided there is a need. For example, when the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was leading his companions in ṣalāh, he once carried Umāmah, daughter of Zaynab, the daughter of the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم); [Umāmah’s] father was Abū al-Āṣī ibn al-Rabīʿ. He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) prayed while holding this infant girl, carrying her when standing and placing her on the ground when performing the rukūʿ or sujūd.29 This is among the permissible movements in ṣalāh even if such movements are frequent, provided they are connected to a necessity. As the Most High said:

    فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ فَرِجَالًا أَوْ رُكْبَانًا

    “And if you fear (an enemy), perform ṣalāh (pray) on foot or riding.”
    (Al-Baqarah, 2: 239)

    That is, pray if you must whilst walking or riding.

  4. Forbidden Movements
    They are those that are frequent, needless and frivolous, completely invalidating a person’s ṣalāh. That is, a person moves constantly and perpetually to the extent that its frequency opposes the movements attributable to the ṣalāh itself. These movements are unnecessary and will result in invalidation of the ṣalāh in relation to the perpetration of that which is harām.
  5. Disliked Movements
    They are movements that are slight but frequent. Such movements have become quite common among those performing ṣalāh—you see them moving constantly without need. This person is constantly adjusting his garments, another is looking at his watch, another is taking out his pen, while others are frivolously playing around with their noses or beards and the likeness of such movements that are seen quite frequently. This is disliked except if the movements become so plentiful and continuous that they invalidate a person’s ṣalāh altogether due to the perpetration of ḥarām. The Muslim person who prays must be cognizant that he is standing before Allāh—the Exalted in Might. This should stipulate a modicum of reverence, veneration, solemnity, and submissiveness that manifest in the movement of his limbs. Among the people, there is a popular ḥadīth that is completely baseless which is that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) once saw a man playing with his beard whilst praying and said: “If this person was to have solemnity, his limbs would also display it”. This ḥadīth has no origin and there is no need for it as we may use the authentic ḥadīth in its stead in which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Indeed, there is certainly a lump flesh that resides in the body. If it is upright, the entire body finds uprightness. If it is corrupt, the entire body is corrupt. Indeed, it is the heart”.30 The solemnity and submissiveness one displays whilst praying represent a form of uprightness mentioned here. As such, if a person was to find this solemnity and submissiveness within his heart, his limbs would follow. 31 32

1.9 Bending One’s Knees Whilst in Rukūʿ

Narrated by ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib, Anas ibn Mālik, ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿAbbās, and Abū Barzah al-Aslamī (رضي الله عنهم): The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) would fully extend his back and straighten it completely when performing rukūʿ such that if water was poured on it, it would remain in place.33

On the authority of Anas ibn Mālik (رضي الله عنه) who heard the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) say: “Perfect the performance of the rukūʿ and sujūd. For, by the One in whose hands my soul resides, I am able to observe your states from behind my back when you perform the rukūʿ and sujūd.”34

Imām Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī comments:

To “perfect” here means to perform both the rukūʿ and sujūd perfectly and completely, fulfilling their respective prerequisites, in accordance with the Sunnah, displaying a respectful bearing when performing them, and fulfilling the requirement of stability in each, such that every limb settles into its appropriate place.

It is also incumbent to note here that the stability that has been commanded when performing rukūʿ is not achieved except by:

  1. Placing the hands on the knees
  2. Spacing out the fingers of the hands
  3. Stretching the back completely
  4. Stabilising oneself in the rukūʿ position and settling therein such that every limb rests in its appropriate place.35

On the authority of Abū Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) who said: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “The worst of those who steal are those who manage to steal from their own ṣalāh.” The people asked: “O Messenger of Allāh! How does one manage to steal from his own ṣalāh?” He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) replied: “By not perfecting its rukūʿ and sujūd”.36

Al-Bājī comments:

In this ḥadīth, he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) intended to teach them that carelessness in perfecting the performance of the rukūʿ and sujūd of ṣalāh is considered a major sin, worse even than the actions they fully recognise as obscene [like fornication]. He specifically brought their attention to the rukūʿ and sujūd because carelessness often accompanies their performance. It is likened here to a form of stealing due to the inherent betrayal in the performance of an action with which the servant was entrusted.37

1.10 Moving the Entire Upper Torso When Making the Taslīm

Narrated by ʿAbdullāh ibn Masʿūd (رضي الله عنه) who said: “The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to say the taslīm [at the end of ṣalāh] to his right and left sides such that the whites of his cheeks were visible [to those behind him].”38

Imām Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī comments:

The taslīm [at the end of ṣalāh] should be performed while still facing the direction of the qiblah [with one’s body]. As he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to only turn his head to his right such that those behind him were able to see the whites of his cheek. Thus, his shoulders never moved during the taslīm.39

1.11 Unnecessarily Rushing the Prayer

On the authority of Abū Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه): The Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) once entered the masjid. A man entered and prayed and then gave the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) salām. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) returned his salām and said: “Return and pray, for you have not prayed.” The man returned and prayed as he had before. Then, he approached and gave salām to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) again. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) repeated his previous statement two or three times. The man said: “By the One who has sent you with the truth, I am unable to perform it in a manner better than this so teach me”. He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “If you stand to pray, say the takbīr. Then, recite whatever you are able to from the Qurʾān. Then perform the rukūʿ such that you attain stillness within it. Then, stand from it such that you are completely stable in the standing position. Then, perform sujūd such that you attain stillness within it. Then sit such that you attain stillness in your sitting. Incorporate the likeness of this in the rest of your ṣalāh.”40

Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah comments:

This man was ignorant. Despite this, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) still ordered him to repeat his ṣalāh, informing him that he did not pray. Allāh and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) have informed us that the one who abandons stillness in his prayer has not actually prayed. For this reason, Allāh and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) have ordered him to repeat the ṣalāh. Whomsoever disobeys the command of Allāh and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) will be subjected to a painful torment.41

Hudhaifah ibn al-Yamān (رضي الله عنه) once observed a man praying who did not allow his bones to attain stillness in his rukūʿ and sujūd. He said: “How long have you been praying in this manner?” The man replied: “for forty years.” He replied: “Then you have not prayed for forty years. If you had died while praying thus, you would have past away upon that which is different to the disposition which Allāh had instilled in Muḥammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم).”42

On the authority of Anas ibn Mālik (رضي الله عنه) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) say: “That is the prayer of the hypocrite. He waits until the sun appears between the horns of the devil [i.e., sunset] then he stands and pecks out four [rakʿahs i.e., Ṣalāt al-ʿAṣr]. He does not remember Allāh during its performance save for a little.”43

Al-Ḥāfiẓ al-Nawawī comments:

This hadīth is explicit in indicating the blame attributable to rushing the performance of ṣalāh, to the extent that one is unable to perfect solemnity and submissiveness within it, nor complete stillness in its positions, saying the various forms of remembrance associated with it. “Pecking” here is meant to indicate the quickness of movement like that of a bird.44

Shaykh al-Islām continues:

This ḥadith is a clear proof that it is impermissible to perform ṣalāh in this pecking manner and that such an action acts as an indication of hypocrisy which is all ḥarām.
As Allāh—the Most High—says:

إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ وَإِذَا قَامُوا إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ قَامُوا كُسَالَىٰ يُرَاءُونَ النَّاسَ وَلَا يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allāh, but it is He Who deceives them. And when they stand up for al-ṣalāh (the prayer), they stand with laziness and to be seen by men, and they do not remember Allāh but little.”
(Al-Nisāʾ 4:142)

This represents a severe threat that applies to the one who prays in this pecking fashion, not perfecting or completing his performance of the rukūʿ or sujūd by attaining stillness and stability therein.45

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn said:

You will find some people not paying due care and attention to their ṣalāh by not attaining stability in its positions. This is because they perform it so quickly that they find themselves unable to attain stillness and stability within it. This is an error. It is obligatory to attain stillness when you perform rukūʿ, when rising from it, when performing sujūd, and when sitting between the sajdahs. As attaining stillness is a pillar among the pillars of the ṣalāh itself such it shall be deemed incorrect in its absence.

Regarding this, there are some people who have complained concerning some imāms that do not allow those praying behind them to fulfil this requirement. A man may say: “Our imām does not give me sufficient time to recite Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, what should I do?” or “I am not being given the opportunity to attain stillness in my sujūd, what should I do?” We say: If the matter is as described [i.e., you are not abnormally slow in movement, recitation, etc. and the fault is with the imām], then do not take this person as imām. This is because you have two choices before you: either you abandon the attainment of stillness in the ṣalāh completely and follow your imām or attain this stillness while being unable to follow him. Both options represent mistakes. So if you know that a particular imām will not give you a sufficient amount of time to recite al-Fātiḥah or attain stillness in your rukūʿ or sujūd, then simply do not pray behind him. However, advise him first saying: “Fear Allāh! You are not praying by yourself but with others who stand behind you. So fear Allāh with regards to them! Allow them time to attain stability in their positions, to recite al-Fātiḥah, to engage in the various statements of remembrance, tasbīḥ [in rukūʿ and sujūd], and supplication [in the sujūd and before the taslīm].”46

1.12 Pronouncing the Intention Aloud

[Q]: What is the ruling of pronouncing the intention for ṣalāh aloud?

[A]: Stating one’s intention is fundamentally considered an innovation. Additionally, saying it aloud represents an even more severe form of sin. For Allāh already knows both that which is secret and hidden47. He—the Exalted in Might—said:

قُلْ أَتُعَلِّمُونَ اللَّهَ بِدِينِكُمْ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ

Say: “Will you inform Allāh about your religion?” While Allāh knows all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth
(Al-Ḥujurāt, 49:16)

Furthermore, such a vocalisation has never been narrated from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), nor from a single person among his companions, nor from any of the imāms who are followed [in issues of jurisprudence]. Therefore, it is quite clear that such an act has not been legislated. Rather, it is only an innovative, invented practice. And to Allāh belongs true guidance.48

Imām ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz bin Bāz

[Q]: What is the ruling of pronouncing the intention for ṣalāh aloud?

[A]: Saying one’s intention was never a known practice at the time of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) nor the pious predecessors. It is merely a frivolous, futile practice that was invented by the people. As one’s intention resides in his heart, and Allāh already knows the contents of the hearts of His servants. Also, you would never desire to stand before a deity that is ignorant anyways, such that you must vocalise your intentions for his sake, otherwise he would not know what you intend. Rather, you desire to stand before One who is well acquainted with what a person’s own self whispers to himself, his movements, his past and present actions. Actual vocalisation of one’s intention was never a known practice at the time of the pious predecessors. If there was goodness attributable to such a practice, they would have surely preceded us to it. Therefore, it is most unbefitting that a person vocalises their intention regardless of whether he intends to perform ṣalāh or any other act of worship. Just as it is unbefitting that one’s intention is said aloud or in secret.49

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

2. Mistakes After the Prayer

2.1 Saying Taqabbal Allah (May Allāh Accept it), Shaking Hands and Giving Salāms Habitually Immediately After the Ṣalāt

[Q]: I hear some people say to their brothers immediately after the taslīm to conclude the ṣalāh: “Taqabbal Allāh al-ʿAdhīm (May Allāh the Greatest accept it)”. Then, this other person will reply: “Minnā wa minkum ṣāliḥ al-aʿmāl (our actions of righteousness from us and yourself)”. Is this practice from the Sunnah?

[A]: There is no foundation for this action, nor is it from the Sunnah. Rather, it is most befitting that such actions are abandoned completely [after the ṣalāh] as they have not been legislated.

As for generally supplicating for Allāh to accept our actions—as is the habit of some people—there is nothing inherently wrong with this. For example, a person says to another on the street “Ghafar Allāhu lanā wa-lak” (may Allāh forgive us and you) or “Taqabal Allāhu minnā wa-mink” (may Allāh accept from us and you) or when giving salāms to people visiting one’s home. There is nothing wrong with any of this. However, to adopt saying this statement specifically every time one says the taslīm to conclude his ṣalāh, this has not been legislated. Moreover, this represents a form of innovation.50

Imām ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz bin Bāz

[Q]: is it correct to say “Taqabal Allāh” (may Allāh accept it)”, offer salāms and shake hands with those around us after they have concluded the ṣalāh? As this has become quite widespread among the people.

[A]: If a person greets and shakes the hand of his brother after the ṣalāh, then there is nothing wrong with this if he did not have an opportunity to do so before the ṣalāh or upon entering the masjid. However, this greeting should only done after one has said istighfār three times, then the invocation:

اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ السَّلَام، وَمِنْكَ السَّلام، تَبَارَكْتَ يَاذا الْجَلَالِ وَالإِكْرَام. لَا إِلهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَه، لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِير، لَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِالله، لَا إِلهَ إِلَّا الله. وَلَا نَعْبُدُ إِلَّا إِيَّاه لَهُ النِّعْمَةُ وَلَهُ اْلفَضْلُ وَلَهُ الثَّنَاءُ الْحَسَن. لَا إِلهَ إِلَّا الله مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُون، اللَّهُمَّ لَا مَانِعَ لِمَا أَعْطَيْتَ وَلَا مُعْطِيَ لِمَا مَنَعَتْ وَلَا يَنْفَعُ ذَا الْجَدِّ مِنْكَ الْجَدّ

O’ Allāh! You are the Giver of Security, and security is granted by You. Blessed are You, O’ Owner of Majesty and Honour. There is nothing worshipped in truth except for Allāh alone. He has no partners. To Him belong the dominion [over all creation] and praise, and He is able to do all things. There is no change of state or power except by Allāh. There is nothing worshipped in truth except for Allāh, and we do not worship anyone but Him. To Him belong all blessings, grace, and exemplary commemoration. There is nothing worshipped in truth except for Allāh, we worship none but Him alone however much the disbelievers [in His oneness] may hate it. O’ Allāh! There is none who is able prevent that which You have granted, nor grant that which You have withheld, nor will the rank and standing of a person benefit him before You.

For such was the practice of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) after the taslīm to conclude the ṣalāh. After reaching “…Blessed are You, O’ Owner of Majesty and Honour”, he would turn around and show his honourable face (صلى الله عليه وسلم) to the people. Then, he would say the rest of this supplication [as mentioned above].

If, after this a person greets and shakes the hand of his brother on his right or left who he was not able to meet before the ṣalāh, then there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, such actions breed familiarity and amiability among the congregation. As the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said in the authentic ḥadīth: “Shall I not guide you towards an action that, when implemented, causes love to blossom amongst yourselves? Spread salāms to one another”.51 The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to greet and shake the hands of his companions. He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) also said: “If one of you meets his brother, then give him salām. If, then, he is separated from his [vision] by a wall, rock, or tree, after which he sees him, let him give him salām [again]”. When the companions would meet one another they would shake hands and greet one another with the salāms. Therefore, shaking hands and greeting with the salām is a confirmed Sunnah that leads to immense goodness, familiarity, amiability, breeding a more tightly knit community of Muslims. So, if a person is able to greet and give salām to his brother in the line before the ṣalāh has commenced, this alone—by Allāh’s will—should be sufficient.52

Imām ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz bin Bāz

2.2 Walking In Front of the Praying Person

Busr ibn Saʿīd once sent Zayd ibn Khālid to Abū Juhaym, asking him: “What did you hear from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) regarding the one who passes in front of a praying person?” He replied: The Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “If the one who passes in front of the praying person only knew the punishment attributable to it, it would have been better for him to stand for forty years instead of passing in front of him.”53

Imām ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz comments:

As for passing in front of a person who is being led (in prayer), there is nothing wrong with it, nor is there harm associated with it. Regarding passing in front of an imām leading a congregation or a person praying individually, this is impermissible, and the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) warned the people from it that “if the one who passes in front of the praying only person knew the punishment attributable to it, it would have been better for him to stand for forty years instead of passing in front of him”. Thus, it is impermissible to pass in front of a praying person closer than three arm lengths, or between him and his sutrah. As for passing in front of him at a distance greater than three arm lengths, there is no harm in it. This is because the praying person would be unable to prevent him from passing as he is too far out. Furthermore, the person who is attempting to pass is not doing so in front of him in actuality. The point of reference in this matter is that the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم), when praying in the direction of Kaʿbah would position himself at a distance of three arm lengths from the western wall.54 This proves that one’s sutrah should be placed at this distance or less.55

3. Mistakes in Congregational Prayer

3.1 Preceding the Imām in His Statements or Actions

On the authority of Anas ibn Mālik (رضي الله عنه), the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “The imām is only—or has only been positioned—such that he is followed. So if he says the takbīr, then say the takbīr. If he performs rukūʿ, then perform rukūʿ. If he rises from it, then rise. If he says: “Samiʿ Allāhu-liman Ḥamidah” then say: “Rabanā walak al-Ḥamd”. If he performs sujūd, then perform sujūd.”56

On the authority of Abū Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) who said: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Should the one among you who raises his head before his imām not be afraid that Allāh may transform his head into that of a donkey—or change his countenance to that of a donkey?”57

Al-Hāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar comments:

Preceding the imām is a completely futile action, stemming only from premature hastiness. Its cure is to be fully cognizant that one shall never perform the taslīm before the imām. So let him not be expeditious in the performance of the actions of ṣalāh.58

Al-ʿAllāmah ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-Abbād comments:

The one who precedes the imām will not conclude his ṣalāh except with the taslīm. Therefore, even if he precedes the imām he will never manage to leave his place of prayer until his imām has left (i.e. completed the prayer). So, since he is firmly attached to the imām, not leaving the ṣalāh until he leaves, preceding him in his actions is completely futile, unjustifiable. In consideration of this, some scholars have also said regarding such a person: You have neither prayed by yourself nor have you followed an imām. That is, you have actually neither prayed by yourself or in congregation. So if a person precedes his imām but then returns and follows him, there is no problem with this. Otherwise, he is not considered as having truly followed his imām.

Regarding the transformation mentioned in the ḥadīth, it is an actual, real transformation [not metaphorical].59

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn said:

As for the one being led who precedes his imām in the performance of one of the pillars of the ṣalāh, the scholars have two opinions regarding the invalidity of this ṣalāh. The correct opinion is that it is invalidated provided that this person is knowledgeable of the impermissibility of this action, fully aware of it when he preceded the imām.

Regarding the one who is either ignorant, forgetful, or merely inattentive to his actions, for example he heard a sound which he surmised to be the takbīr of his imām so he performed the rukūʿ, then the reality was clarified to him afterwards, he must return to his previous position in the ṣalāh and then perform his actions after his imām. It is the opinion of the author [Ibn Qudāmah] that if he does not return to his previous position, his ṣalāh is still valid as he would have still coincided with his imām in the performance of that pillar of ṣalāh. He says: This is a very brief preceding of the imām which is difficult to completely avoid. I say: As for it being brief, we may accept this statement. As for him saying that we may find difficulty in completely avoiding this preceding, we cannot accept this. Rather, it is something that can definitely be avoided by directing those being led to wait for their imām before moving.

If the one being led precedes his imām to the extent that he performs rukūʿ and rises from it and then performs sujūd before his imām even rises from his rukūʿ, intentionally with knowledge of impermissibility, then his ṣalāh is invalid due to him not following his imām in the majority of the rakʿah. This is an example of preceding the imām in the performance of one of the pillars of the ṣalāh as he would have performed the rukūʿ completely, having raised from it before his imām. This person would have invalidated his ṣalāh. If he had done so out of ignorance or forgetfulness, his ṣalāh is not invalidated because of this excuse, but that rakʿah will not count as he would have abandoned following his imām in most of the rakʿah itself.

In summary, preceding the imām is either by arriving at a pillar of the ṣalāh before him, or completing the performance of the pillar before him. As for the former, it occurs when the one being led arrives at a subsequent action of the ṣalāh before his imām does, although he manages to ultimately coincide with his imām in the performance of the action itself. There are two opinions regarding the invalidity of this person’s ṣalāh and the correct one is that it is invalid [provided this occurs intentionally, with knowledge of the impermissibility, and full awareness]. As for the latter, it occurs when the one being led manages to complete the performance of one of the pillars of the ṣalāh before his imām. For example, he performs rukūʿ and rises from it before his imām. If this person does so with knowledge of the impermissibility, fully cognizant of it at the time, his ṣalāh is invalid. If he is either ignorant or forgetful, then his ṣalāh is not invalidated but that rakʿah will not count because he would not have followed his imām in most of the rakʿāh.

In consideration of the aforementioned, there is actually no difference in ruling between these two types of preceding errors provided a person is ignorant and then realises his mistake. He should return and repeat the performance of the action he preceded his imām in. For example, a person hears a sound and surmises it to be his imām saying the takbīr, so he performs sujūd. Then, he hears another sound and rises from his sujūd to find his imām has not performed sujūd yet. This person is clearly ignorant so how can we say that he has invalidated his ṣalāh? Rather, we say: Upon rising he should resume following his imām by performing the sujūd again but after his imām. As for the extra sujūd he has added to the ṣalāh, it does not invalidate it because he is excused in this circumstance. In relation to this is the modern-day broadcasting of the sounds of ṣalāh using speaker systems in the minarets. In some masājid, the people hear the sounds from other masājid around them and surmise it to be their own imām, so they perform rukūʿ or sujūd (mistakenly).60

3.2 Coinciding With or Delaying Following the Imām in the Statements or Actions of the Prayer

On the authority of Anas ibn Mālik (رضي الله عنه), the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “The imām is only—or has only been positioned—such that he is followed. So if he says the takbīr, then say the takbīr. If he performs rukūʿ, then perform rukūʿ. If he rises from it, then rise. If he says: “Samiʿ Allāhu-liman Ḥamidah” then say: “Rabanā walak al-Ḥamd”. If he performs sujūd, then perform sujūd.”61

[Q]: There are some people who elongate their recitation of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah to the extent that the imām has begun his rukūʿ and they remain standing to recite it. Then, when the imām rises from his rukūʿ, they descend for their rukūʿ; missing the rakʿah with the imām. What is the ruling of the ṣalāh of such a person?

Imām ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz answers:

[A]: This is impermissible. It is obligatory for those being led to perform rukūʿ when their imām performs it as evidenced by the ḥadīth [mentioned above]. If the imām performs rukūʿ, they should also perform it and they will not be held responsible for whatever remains (unrecited) of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah. This is the same as the situation of the one who arrives at the congregation while the imām is in rukūʿ in that he must enter into the ṣalāh by also performing the rukūʿ while not being responsible for the recitation of al-Fātiḥah for that rakʿah. This was related in the ḥadīth of Abū Bakrah (رضي الله عنه) in which he came upon the congregation while the imām (the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)) was in rukūʿ. Abū Bakrah performed the rukūʿ before joining the row, then moved to join it. When the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) had concluded the ṣalāh with the taslīm, he said: “May Allāh increase you in ambition and drive, but do not repeat this action”. He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did not command him to repeat his ṣalāh. This may be used as evidence to indicate that his ṣalāh was correct as he missed the standing portion of that rakʿah in which al-Fātiḥah is read, so he was not responsible for reciting it. This would also apply to those being led if their imām performs rukūʿ before they are able to complete the recitation of al-Fātiḥah, they are alleviated from the responsibility of reciting its remaining portion.

Although those being led should also be cognizant of the responsibility of reciting it before their imām performs rukūʿ. Such that they recite it from the very beginning of the rakʿah so they finish it before their imām’s rukūʿ. Let them not be careless regarding it.62

Imām ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn said:

The relationship between the imām and those he leads should be based on closely following his actions. For this reason, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) [mentions the above ḥadīth]. Those being led (in prayer) fall into four categories in this regard:

  1. Carefully Following the Imām’s Actions
    A person performs the actions of ṣalāh immediately after his imām. For example, if his imām performs rukūʿ, he performs it immediately after him without delay. If his imām performs sujūd, he performs it after him without delay and so on.
  2. Coinciding with the Imām’s Actions:
    This occurs when a person performs the actions of the ṣalāh at the same time as his imām. For example, he performs rukūʿ, sujūd, his sitting, and standing in the ṣalāh at the same time as the imām.
  3. Preceding the Imām’s Actions:
    To perform the actions of ṣalāh before the imām. For example, he performs rukūʿ, sujūd, or sits before him.
  4. Delaying Following the Imām’s Actions:
    This occurs when the one being led delays following the imām’s actions. For example, if the imām performs rukūʿ, he remains standing to recite, or if his imām performs sujūd, he remains standing to say the taḥmīd (Samiʿ Allāhu liman Ḥamidah) and the likeness of such delays.

All categories mentioned here are blameworthy save for the first (carefully following the imām’s actions). As for the one who coincides his actions with that of his imām has opposed the command of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم): “Do not say the takbīr until the imām says the takbīr and do not perform the rukūʿ until he does.”

The one who precedes the imām in his actions has fallen into a severely dangerous matter which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) specifically warned regarding in his statement: “If the imām says the takbīr, then say it. If he performs rukūʿ, then perform it.” The prerequisite set here: “If the imām says the takbīr’ stipulates that one should only say it once thehis imām has done so. This also indicates that there should exist no delay between the two, as this is forbidden. Therefore, preceding the imām is ḥarām.

As for coinciding one’s actions with the imām, it is disliked according to one opinion and ḥarām according to another. As for delay in following the imām, it is at the very least disliked as well.

As for closely following the imām, it is the only manner of following that has been commanded by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم).

Another issue that requires elucidation here is which of these categories should be considered the most severe in punishment: preceding, coinciding, or delaying?

The answer: To precede is the most severe category as, according to the most correct opinion, the one who precedes the imām while being fully knowledgeable of the ruling of this action—cognizant of it at the time of ṣalāh—has invalidated his prayer regardless of whether he has merely preceded him to an action of the ṣalāh, or completed the performance of one of its positions before the imām. This is because the one who precedes the imām has perpetrated an act that is considered ḥarām whilst in ṣalāh.63

3.3 The Worshipper Pronouncing the Takbīr Loudly Behind the Imām

Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn said:

As for those being led, they should not say anything loudly in the ṣalāh. This includes the tasbīḥ, their recitation [of the Qurʾān], or their takbīrs. In relation to this point, many people have fallen into error especially in ṣalāh al-janāzah wherein they raise their voices in saying “Allāhu-Akbar” after the imām. Also, with regards to the added takbīrs when performing ṣalāt al-ʿīd. Raising their voices when saying the takbīrs represents an error. Those being led should recite silently, say the takbīr silently, the tasbīḥ silently, and supplicate silently.64

Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah said:

When the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) had fallen ill [at the end of his life], he led the people in ṣalāh but his voice was weak. So Abū Bakr (رضي الله عنه) prayed beside him and would deliver the takbīrs aloud to the congregation after hearing him65. The scholars have used this incident as evidence to support those being led saying the takbīr after the imām provided there is a need, like if the imām’s voice is weak. In the absence of such a need, they have all agreed that saying the takbīr loudly is disliked [makrūh], not legislated. They have also differed regarding the invalidity of the ṣalāh of the one who does so. There are two opinions in this matter [validity and invalidity] and the debate surrounding the validity of such a ṣalāh is well-known in the madh`habs of Aḥmad, Mālik and others. Although all the madhāhib have unanimously agreed that this action is disliked. And Allāh knows best.66

3.4 Overextending One’s Feet in an Attempt to Close the Gaps

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn said:

Regarding the amount of space between one’s feet when standing in prayer, I do not know of anything from the Sunnah that specifically pertains to it. Therefore, the extent of this space should be in accordance with the manner one normally stands. This is because any characteristic regarding which no legislation has been revealed should remain in its base, fundamental manner.67

He (رحمه الله) also said:

Ibn ʿUmar (رضي الله عنهما) would not exaggerate the spacing between his feet nor would he stand with them so close together that they would touch one another. Rather, his feet would be positioned between these two extremes, standing in his regular habitual way without forcing his feet together or overextending them. This is the manner in which a praying person should stand regardless of whether he is praying in a congregation (behind an imām), or by himself. They should all position their feet when standing in ṣalāh in the normal, habitual way they are accustomed to without either forcing their feet together or overextending them.

As for the action of some people who overextend their feet in an exaggerated manner—claiming to be following the example set by the companions—this opposes the Sunnah because it necessitates gaps between the shoulders of the people. Rather, the companions used to connect their heels in ṣalāh, with their shoulders contiguous with one another. This proves that they would stand in a tight formation. It may not be used to evidence the action of overextending the feet to touch the heel of another praying person.68

[Q]: We have noticed that some people exaggerate in lengthening the space between their legs [while in congregational ṣalāh] to the extent that they cause harm to those standing beside them.

[A]: It is most befitting that every praying person tries their utmost to refrain from harming those praying beside them. At the same time, they should also make an exerted effort to close the gaps in the rows. They should not spread apart or stretch their legs wide—harming their neighbour in doing so—in order to accomplish this. Nor should the one standing beside another prevent him from being close to him. Rather, every praying person should stand close to his brother and the gaps should be filled in this way, as commanded by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in his statement: “Fill the gaps”.69 Anas (رضي الله عنه) said: “Each one of us used to touch his foot to that of his neighbour”.70 Therefore, it is most befitting for you—O’ servant of Allāh—to take note of filling the gaps but without spreading your legs and causing harm to those beside you. Likewise, the one standing beside you should stand in an appropriate, correct manner, insofar as how he places his feet without either person causing harm.71

Imām ʿAbd al-Azīz bin Bāz

3.5 Leaving Excessive Gaps in the Rows

On the authority of Ibn ʿUmar (رضي الله عنهما), the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Straighten your lines, line up your shoulders, fill the gaps. Show tenderness to the hands of your brothers [i.e., make it easy for those joining the congregation late to join the row]. Do not leave spaces for the Shayāṭīn. For whomever connects the rows will be connected by Allāh and whoever severs them shall be severed by Allāh.”72

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn comments:

Standing in a tight formation (i.e. no gaps): This represents a form of perfection and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to command it. Encouraging his ummah to form lines that resemble the lines formed by the angels before their Lord, by standing in a tight formation, and completing the preceding front rows before forming subsequent ones. This tight formation represents a means by which spaces are not provided for the Shayāṭīn. A tight formation differs from crowding, jostling, or shoving one another. For this reason, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to say: “Straighten your lines, line up your shoulders…Do not leave spaces for the Shayāṭīn”. That is, do not allow spaces to occur in your rows which the Shayāṭīn may occupy. As the Shayāṭīn enter amidst the rows of the congregation like the young lambs of a sheep73, such that they disturb and distract a praying person from his ṣalāh.74

3.6 Children in the Masjid: Bringing Unruly Children to the Prayers, Removing Well-Behaved Children from the Front Rows

[Q]: Regarding children that are unable to pray properly, constantly turning around, or performing rukūʿ but not the sujūd with the imām—should we remove them from the line altogether or simply leave them be?

[A]: As for very young children that harm those praying, they should be made to leave the masjid. However, their extrication should not be forceful, nor should anyone scream at them. Rather, they should communicate with their guardians saying: “O so-and-so, your son or brother is disturbing and distracting us”. In this way, such small children are prevented from attending the masjid by their guardians. For you are well-aware of the fact that, had you instead chosen to scream at that child, he would show annoyance and hate the masjid, breeding a dislike for attending it. This may also breed resentment against you from the child’s guardian. However, approaching the situation from its proper channel ensures it is dealt with in an excellent fashion.

If the actions or speech of the child does not cause harm to the people in the masjid, it is impermissible to extricate him from it, nor may anyone relegate him from his place of sitting even if he is in the front rows. Rather, he should remain in his place even if he is standing immediately behind the imām. This is because the one who precedes another to a thing is more deserving of it than anyone else (i.e. the reward and the physical place). As the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) forbade a man from removing his brother from his place of sitting such that he may take his place. 75 76

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣālīh al-ʿUthaymīn

[Q]: Is positioning the children in the latter rows with the men in the front rows representative of attaining perfection in the rows?

[A]: Some scholars have adopted the opinion that such an act represents attainment of perfection in the formation and straightening of the rows. Such that only men over the age of puberty stand next to the imām, with the children occupying the latter rows. For example, if we have one hundred men that make a single, full row, and one hundred children that make up half a row, we would position the hundred men in the first row and the hundred children in the second row. Such that should a child attempt to join the first row, we would send him back as attaining perfection in the row is to have only the men in the front. The proponents of this stance use as evidence the saying of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم): “Let men who have reached puberty, and gained understanding and intellect stand close to me.”

Although this position requires reconsideration. We say: Any child that comes forward to occupy a space is more deserving of that place than anyone else. This is because of the general evidence which proves that a person who precedes another to a thing is more deserving of it. The masājid are the houses of Allāh and all His servants should be considered equal to one another therein. Such that if a child comes forward to fill a space in the first row, for example, he should be left in his place. Also, if we were to remove all of the children from the choicest, best places in the masjid and gather them all in one place, they will likely play with one another as they are all in a single row by themselves. Then, there is another problem with this: If men enter after the congregatory rows have been formed, should the children be sent back continuously during the ṣalāh? Even if they are left to occupy a full row by themselves, they will disturb the ṣalāh of those men praying in rows behind them.

Furthermore, extricating them from their places in the first row leads to two dangerous matters:

  1. The child begins harbouring hate for the masjid. This is because a child—despite being young—should not be made to feel small or insignificant. Such treatment may remain deep-seated in his heart.
  2. It breeds enmity and hatred within that child for the man who relegated him from the first row.

In summary, ordering children to the back of the masjid is a weak position. As for his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saying: “Let men who have reached puberty, and gained understanding and intellect stand close to me” it is only meant to encourage the men among the congregation to occupy the front rows. It does not stipulate relegating children to the back, away from their positions in the front.77

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣālīh al-ʿUthaymīn

3.7. Not Silencing a Smartphone During the Prayer

[Q]: You are well aware of the objectionable practice that has become commonplace—especially in this blessed masjid (Masjid al-Nabawī)—of music that plays on people’s phones while in the masjid. Would you offer a statement with regards to this?

[A]: In actuality, this is most objectionable. First of all, a person must refrain from listening to music anyways, wherever they may be. Then, what should be said regarding hearing it in the masjid which is a place dedicated to Allāh’s remembrance? As such, people should refrain from setting such sounds on their phones such that if someone calls them, this evil sound emanates. Rather, use a sound that is not a form of music.

Having said that, when a person enters the masjid he should turn his phone off, or silence the ring that consists of this music, something that is of great annoyance to the people which should not be on his phone anyways. Instead, upon entering the masjid a person should either turn his phone off completely or silence it (so he may know who is trying to reach him). Let him not allow his phone to make noise and disturb the people while they pray. This is impermissible and its matter is made even more vile if the sound emanating from these phones is as described in the question.78

Al-ʿAllāmah ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-ʿAbbād

3.8 Running to Join the Congregational Prayer

On the authority of Abū Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه), the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “If the iqāmah is called, then do not approach [the congregation] with rapidity and quickness. Rather, approach it by walking with calmness, tranquillity, adopting a respectable bearing. Perform the [remaining] portion of the ṣalāh you have managed to arrive in time for, and complete whatever you have missed [after the imām has concluded the ṣalāh]. For indeed a person among you is considered in ṣalāh while he proceeds towards it, intending it.”79

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn said:

Some scholars have taken the opinion that if a person fears he will miss the rukūʿ, then there is nothing wrong if he quickens his pace a little. Note here, this is not a quickening that would be considered inappropriate or detestable. It is most unbefitting that a person rushes forward with such momentum and force that it produces an uproar, to the extent that a clamouring sound is heard.80

Imām Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī commented:

This ḥadīth provides assured evidence that one should approach ṣalāh with calmness, in a state of tranquillity, adopting a respectable bearing. As for the prohibition of approaching it with quickness, it applies to the one approaching Ṣalāh al-Jumuʿah and other prayers; regardless of whether one fears missing takbīrat al-iḥrām or otherwise. This is the stance taken by al-Nawawī in his explanation of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim.

Al-Tirmidhī said: The scholars have differed regarding the manner one should adopt when walking towards the masjid. Among them are those who view quickening one’s pace to be permissible for the one who fears missing the first takbīr of the ṣalāh. To the extent that it has even been narrated that some of them used to walk quickly, in a hurried manner, to the ṣalāh. While other scholars dislike that one rushes towards the ṣalāh, opting instead that one walks purposefully, displaying an air of seriousness and respect. This is the opinion of Aḥmad [ibn Ḥanbal] and Ishāq [ibn Rāhūyah], both of whom say: We implement the ḥadīth of Abū Hurayrah [mentioned above] in this issue, except that Isḥāq also said: If one fears that he may miss the first takbīr of the ṣalāh, then there is nothing wrong if he quickens his pace when walking.

I [Shaykh al-Albānī] say regarding this: The correct opinion in this issue is that it is disliked for a person to quicken his pace when walking towards ṣalāh regardless of whether he fears missing the first takbīr or otherwise. The evidence of this is the generality of phrasing used in the aforementioned ḥadīth [of Abū Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) in which no exception is mentioned after “do not approach [the congregation] with rapidity and quickness”]. Regarding the aforementioned position of Isḥāq [that one may walk quickly if he fears missing the first takbīr], al-Nawawī said: “This position is severely weak, in opposition to the authentic Sunnah”.

The scholars say that the wisdom behind walking with calmness and the prohibition of a person quickening their pace is that a person who approaches ṣalāh does so while specifically intending it and, as such, is connected to it. It is therefore most befitting that he conducts himself in a meritorious, exemplary manner congruent with the ṣalāh he is connected to. This is the meaning of his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) statement as narrated by Mālik and others: “For indeed a person among you is considered in ṣalāh while he proceeds towards it, intending it.”

As for the specific mention of the iqāmah in the ḥadīth, it is only mentioned to bring attention to other timings besides it [in which rushing may be more commonplace]. As, if rushing at the time in which the iqāmah is called is prohibited even though one may fear missing some of the ṣalāh, then rushing before the iqāmah is called would be more deserving of being similarly forbidden. This is then further reinforced in his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saying: “For indeed a person among you is considered in ṣalāh while he proceeds towards it, intending it.” The prohibition of rushing applies to all times in which a person approaches the ṣalāh. This is further confirmed by his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saying: “Perform the [remaining] portion of the ṣalāh you have managed to arrive in time for, and complete whatever you have missed [after the imām has concluded the ṣalāh].” In this way, this ḥadīth contains both a precaution as well as that which reinforces it, all to prevent a person from surmising that the prohibition applies only to the one who does not fear missing any portion of the ṣalāh. To fully dispel this notion, the prohibition of rushing is stated explicitly, and that it remains in effect regardless of whether a portion of the ṣalāh is missed. As he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) also clarified in this ḥadīth the course of action taken when a portion of the ṣalāh is missed.81

3.9 Beginning a New Row with an Existing Row Incomplete

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn said:

Perfection in the rows may be accomplished by means of several acts. Among them is completing the front rows before the latter ones. This is a part of straightening the rows and is represented by not beginning the second row before completing the first one. Likewise, the third row should not be started until the second one is completed and so on. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has encouraged the completion of the first row of the congregation in his saying: “If the people only knew the reward of the adhān and the first row, then found no recourse but to draw lots for it, they would do so.”82 That is, if two people came upon the first row and one of them said to the other: “I am more deserving of it than you” and the other replied: “I deserve it more”. The first would say: “Let us draw lots to decide who will occupy this empty place”.

It is among the deceptive, playful mockery of Shayṭān with many people nowadays that they enter the masjid and, upon seeing only half of the first row occupied, they choose to start the second row. Then, when the iqāmah is called and it is said to them: “Complete the first row”, they begin turning around as if they are stunned or astonished. Such behaviour is related either to extreme ignorance, or because some imams lack the care and attention to straightening the rows of those praying behind them, ensuring that they are in a tight formation, or that the front rows are completed before the latter ones.83

Endnotes:
[1] Authentic: narrated by Muslim: 2669.
[2] Authentic: narrated by Muslim: 2671.
[3] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 8 and Muslim: 16.
[4] Authentic: narrated by Abū Dāwūd: 864. Graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in Ṣaḥīḥ Sunan Abī Dāwūd: 816
[5] Authentic: narrated by al-Ṭabarānī in al-Awsuṭ: 1859. Graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in al-Sirāj al-Munīr: 769.
[6] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 605 and Muslim: 674.
[7] Authentic: narrated by Abū Dāwūd: 4607 and graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb: 37.
[8] Authentic: addition narrated by al-Nasāʾī: 1578 and graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in Ṣaḥīḥ Sunan al-Nasāʾī: 1487.
[9] Riyāḍ al-Kanadī is a Canadian student of knowledge who graduated from the Islamic University of Madīnah (B.A., Faculty of Ḥadīth). He is currently a Masters student at Manchester Metropolitan University (Msc., Clinical Science).
[10] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 739 and Muslim: 390.
[11] Authentic: narrated by al-Tirmidhī: 240 and graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī. See Sunan al-Tirmidhī edited by Aḥmad Shākir.
[12] Source: Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 3: 25-31. Also, see: Raising the Hands in Ṣalāh (Rafʿ al-Yadayn) by Imām Ibn ʿUtahymīn.
[13] Authentic: narrated by Muslim: 391.
[14] Source: Jāmiʿ Turāth al-ʿAllāmah al-Albānī 3:420.
[15] Source: Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 3: 24-25. See also full article: The Ruling on the Imām Stretching and Differentiating the Enunciation of the Different Takbīrs During Ṣalāh by Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn.
[16] Source: Sharḥ Sunan Abī Dāwūd 22: 352
[17] Source: Liqāʾ al-Bāb al-Maftūḥ 25:150.
[18] Source: Fatāwá Nūr ʿalá al-Darb 4:242-243.
[19] Source: Liqāʾ al-Bāb al-Maftūḥ 6:12.
[20] Source: Al-ʿIlm lil-ʿUthaymīn: 128
[21] Source: Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 3:42. For further reading, see article: Positioning One’s Gaze in Ṣalāh by Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn.
[22] Authentic: narrated by Abū Dāwūd: 914 and graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in Ṣaḥīḥ Sunan Abī Dāwūd: 848.
[23] Authentic: narrated by al-Tirmidhī: 2863 and graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in Sunan al-Tirmidhi, edited by Aḥmad Shākir.
[24] Ḥasan: narrated by ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq al-Ashbīlī in al-Aḥkām: 1348 and graded Hasan by Shaykh al-Albānī in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb: 555.
[25] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 751.
[26] Source: Al-Wābil al-Ṣayyib: 37-50.
[27] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 4220.
[28] For further reading, see Facing the Qiblah by Imām Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī and The Responsibility of Determining the Direction of the Qiblah: For the Resident and the Traveller by Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn.
[29] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 5996 and Muslim: 543.
[30] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 52.
[31] For further reading, see: The Importance of Purity of the Heart by al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Rajab.
[32] Source: Fatāwá Nūr ʿalá al-Darb 8:2.
[33] Authentic: narrated by Ibn Mājah: 872 and graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in consideration of all its chains of narration as in Asl Ṣifat al-Ṣalāh 2: 638.
[34] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 6268.
[35] Source: Jāmiʿ Turāth al-Albānī 4: 199, 202.
[36] Ḥasan: narrated by al-Bayhaqī in al-Kubrá: 3397 and graded Ḥasan by Shaykh al-Albānī in Ṣalāh al-Tarāwīḥ: 117-118.
[37] Source: Jāmiʿ Turāth al-Albānī 4: 200.
[38] Authentic: narrated by Abū Dāwūd: 996 and graded authentic by Shaykh Albānī. See Sunan Abī Dāwūd edited by Muḥī al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd and Ṣifat al-Ṣalāh by Shaykh Albānī 3: 1023.
[39] Source: Jāmiʿ Turāth al-Albānī 4:585.
[40] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 724 and Muslim: 397.
[41] Source: Fatāwá al-Kubrá 2:220.
[42] Authentic: narrated by al-Nasāʾī: 1312 with this wording and al-Bukhārī: 791.
[43] Authentic: narrated by Muslim: 622.
[44] Source: Sharḥ al-Nawawī ʿalá Muslim 5:124.
[45] Source: Al-Qawāʿid al-Nuwrāniyyah: 59.
[46] Source: Al-Liqāʾ al-Shahrī 3:54.
[47] Referencing the verse in sūrah Tá-Há 20:7.
[48] Source: Majmūʿ Fatāwá 10:423.
[49] Source: Majmūʿ Fatāwá 12:442.
[50] Source: Fatāwá Nūr ʿalá al-Darb 9:210.
[51] Authentic: narrated by Muslim: 54
[52] Source: Majmūʿ al-Fatāwá 29:314.
[53] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 488 and Muslim: 508.
[54] Authentic: narrated by al-Nasāʾī: 749 and graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in Ṣaḥīḥ Sunan al-Nasāʾī: 723.
[55] Source: Fatāwá Nūr ʿalá al-Darb 12:199.
[56] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 700.
[57] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 659 and Muslim: 427.
[58] Source: Fatḥ al-Bārī 2:184
[59] Source: Sharḥ Sunan Abī Dāwūd 32:83.
[60] Source: Al-Taʿlīqāt ʿalá al-Kāfī 2:70-71.
[61] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 700.
[62] Source: Fatāwā Nūr ʿalá al-Darb 12:365.
[63] Source: Majmūʿ Fatāwá 15:117.
[64] Source: Liqāʾ al-Bāb al-Maftūḥ 6:101.
[65] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 680.
[66] Source: Al-Fatāwá al-Kubrá 2:331.
[67] Source: Majmūʿ al-Fatāwá 13:29.
[68] Source: Al-Taʿlīqāt ʿalá al-Kāfī 2:19.
[69] Authentic: narrated by Abū Dāwūd: 666 and graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī. See Sunan Abī Dāwūd edited by Muḥī al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd.
[70] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 725.
[71] Source: Fatāwá Nūr ʿalá al-Darb 12:236.
[72] Authentic: narrated by Abū Dāwūd: 666 and graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī. See Sunan Abī Dāwūd edited by Muḥī al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd.
[73] Authentic: narrated by Aḥmad 3:154 and graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Targhīb wa-al-Tarhīb: 491.
[74] Source: Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 3:9-19. For further reading see: The Obligation of Straightening the Rows and Attaining Perfection Therein by Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn.
[75] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 920.
[76] Source: Liqāʾ al-Bāb al-Maftūḥ 11:67.
[77] Source: Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 3:9-19
[78] Source: Sharḥ al-ʿArbaʿīn 28:30
[79] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 866 and Muslim: 602. The above wording is an amalgamation of the various narrations of this ḥadīth. See Jāmiʿ Turāth al-ʿAllāmah al-Albānī 1:233.
[80] Source: Sharḥ Riyāḍ al-Ṣāliḥīn 4:96.
[81] Source: Jāmiʿ Turāth al-ʿAllāmah al-Albānī 1:236-237.
[82] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 615 and Muslim: 437.
[83] Source: Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 3:9-19. For further reading, see: The Obligation of Straightening the Rows and Attaining Perfection Therein by Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn.

Published: June 15, 2024
Edited: June 16, 2024

Events & Activities