Knowledge that the time for prayer has begun:
If one is certain or fairly certain that the time has begun, he may pray. How he reached his decision is not important.
Purity From Major and Minor Impurities:
Says Allah in the Qur'an, "O you who believe, when you rise for the prayer, wash your faces, your hands up to the elbows, and lightly rub your hands and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. If you are unclean, purify yourselves." Ibn 'Umar reported that the Prophet said, "Allah does not accept any prayer that was not performed while in a state of purity, nor does he accept charity from what has been stolen from booty." (Related by "the group.")
Purity of the Body, Clothes and Place:
Such objects should be clean of physical impurities as much as possible. If one can not remove them, he may pray with the impurities present and does not have to repeat the prayer later. Concerning bodily purity, Anas related that the Prophet upon whom be peace, said, "Stay clean of urine, as the majority of punishment in the grave is due to it." This is related by ad-Daraqutni, who said it is hassan. Reported 'Ali, I used to have a great deal of prostatic fluid flowing, so I asked a man to ask the Prophet about it (as I was shy to ask him, due to my relationship with him through his daughter). He asked him and the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, "Make ablution and wash your penis." (Related by al-Bukhari and others.)
'Aishah also related that the Messenger of Allah said to women with a prolonged flow of blood, "Wash the blood from yourself and pray . "
Concerning purity of clothing, we have the following: Says Allah, "And purify your raiment" (al-Muddathir 4). Jabir ibn Sumrah reported that he heard a man ask the Prophet, "May I pray in the same clothes that I had on during intercourse with my wife?" He said, "Yes, but if you see some stains on it, you must wash it." This hadith is related by Ahmad and Ibn Majah. Its narrators are trustworthy. Reported Mu'awiyyah, "I asked Umm Habibah, 'Did the Prophet pray in the same clothes that he wore when he had intercourse?' She said, 'Yes, if there were no stains on it."'(Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah.) Abu Sa'eed reported that the Prophet removed his shoes and the people behind him did likewise. When he finished the prayer, he asked, "Why did you remove your shoes?" They said, "We saw you remove yours." He said, "Gabriel came to me and informed me that there was some filth on them. Therefore, when one of you comes to the mosque, he should turn his shoes over and examine them. If one finds any dirt on them, he should rub them against the ground and pray with them on." The hadith is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Hakim, Ibn Hibban and Ibn Khuzaimah. The latter grades it as sahih.
This hadith shows that if one enters the mosque (with his shoes on) and is unaware of some impurity or has forgotten it, and he suddenly remembers it during the prayer, he must try to remove it and proceed with the prayer. He does not have to repeat it later on.
Concerning the purity of the place where one is praying, Abu Hurairah said, "A bedouin stood and urinated in the mosque. The people got up to grab him. The Prophet said, 'Leave him and pour a container full of water over his urine. You have been raised to be easy on the people, not to be hard on them." (Related by "the group," except for Muslim.)
Commenting on this subject, ash-Shaukani says, "If what has been produced of proof is firmly established, then one would know that it is obligatory to have one's clothes free of impurities. Whoever prays and has impurities on his clothing has left one of the obligations of the prayer. But his prayer would not be voided." In ar-Raudhat an-Nabiyyah it states, "The majority of scholars are of the opinion that it is obligatory to purify three things: the body, the clothes, and the place of prayer. Some are of the opinion that this is a condition for the soundness of the prayer, and others say that it is just a sunnah. The truth of the matter is that it is obligatory. Whoever intentionally prays with impurities on his clothing has left one of the obligations (of the prayer), but the prayer is still valid."
Covering the 'Aurah:
Says Allah in the Qur'an, "O Children of Adam, take your adornment (by wearing proper clothing) for every mosque" ( al-A'raf 31). The meaning of "adornment" here is the covering of the 'aurah. The meaning of "mosque" is "prayer." Therefore, it means "Cover your 'aurah for every prayer." Salamah ibn al-Aku' said to the Prophet, "O Messenger of Allah, may I pray in a long shirt?" He said, "Yes, but button it, even with just a thorn." (Related by al-Bukhari in his Tareekh.)
A man must cover the front and back of his pubic region:
There is disagreement about the navel, thighs and knees. The reports seem to contradict each other. The following hadith are used to prove that such parts are not part of the man's 'aurah:
Exposing a man's thigh:
Says 'Aishah, "The Prophet was sitting with his thigh exposed when Abu Bakr asked, and received, permission to enter. The same thing happened with 'Umar. However, when 'Uthman sought permission to enter, the Prophet covered himself with his clothes. When they left, I said, 'O Messenger of Allah, you permitted Abu Bakr and 'Umar to enter while your thigh was exposed. When 'Uthman asked permission to enter, you covered yourself with your clothes.' He said, 'O 'Aishah, should I not be shy of a man who, by Allah, even the angels are shy of'?" (Related by Ahmad and al-Bukhari in mu'allaq form. )
Says Anas, "During the battle of Khaibar, the Prophet's gown was withdrawn from his thigh until I could see its whiteness." (Related by Ahmad and al-Bukhari.)
Says Ibn Hazm, "It is correct to say that the thigh is not part of the 'aurah. If it were so, why would Allah allow His Prophet, who is protected (from sin), to uncover his so that Anas and others could see it? Allah would have kept him from doing this. According to Jabir as recorded in the two Sahihs, when the Prophet was young (before his prophethood), he was one time carrying the stones of the Ka'bah, wearing only a loincloth. His uncle al-'Abbas said to him, 'O nephew, why don't you untie your waistcloth and put it on your shoulder for padding?' The Prophet did so and fell unconscious. He was never seen naked again after that."'
Muslim records from Abu al-'Aliya that 'Abdullah ibn as-Samit struck his thigh and said, "I asked Abu Dharr, and he struck my thigh as I struck yours, and he said, 'I asked the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, and he struck my thigh as I have struck yours and said, 'Perform the prayer in its time..." Ibn Hazm said, "If the thigh was 'aurah, why would the Messenger of Allah touch it?" If the thigh was 'aurah according to Abu Dharr, why would he have struck it with his hand? The same can be asked for 'Abdullah ibn as-Samit and Abu al-'Aliya. It is not allowed for a Muslim to strike with his hand another man's pubic area, or the clothes over the pubic area. Nor can a man touch the clothing over a woman's 'a urah .
Ibn Hazm mentions that Hubair ibn al-Huwairith looked at Abu Bakr's thigh when it was uncovered, and that Anas ibn Malik came to Qas ibn Shamas when his thigh was uncovered. However, the following hadith are used to show that the thighs and so on are part of the 'aurah: Reported Muhammad Jahsh, "The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, passed by Ma'mar while his thighs were uncovered. He said, to him, 'O Ma'mar, cover your thighs, for they are (part of the) 'aurah." This is related by Ahmad, al-Hakim and al-Bukhari in Tareekh and in mu'allaq form in his Sahih. Reported Jurhad, "The Messenger of Allah passed by me when the cloak I was wearing did not cover my thigh. He said, 'Cover your thigh, for it (is part of the) 'aurah." This is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi, who called it hassan, and by al-Bukhari in mu'allaq form in the Sahih.
Woman's aurah & hijab:
There is no such dispute over what constitutes a woman's 'aurah. It is stated that her entire body is 'aurah and must be covered, except her hands and face. Says Allah in the Qur'an, "And to display of their adornment only that which is apparent (do not expose any adornment or beauty save the hands and face)." It has been authentically related from Ibn 'Abbas, Ibn 'Umar and 'Aishah that the Prophet said, "Allah does not accept the prayer of an adult woman unless she is wearing a headcovering (khimar, hijab)." This is related by "the five," except for an-Nasa'i, and by Ibn Khuzaimah and al-Hakim. At-Tirmidhi grades it as hassan.
It is related from Umm Salamah that she asked the Prophet, "Can a woman pray in a long shirt (like a night shirt) and headcovering without a loincloth?" He said, "If the shirt is long and flowing and covers the top of her feet." This is related by Abu Dawud. The scholars say it is sahih in mauqoof form (as a statement of Umm Salamah and not that of the Prophet.)
It is also related that 'Aishah was asked, "In how many garments is a woman to pray?" She answered, "Ask 'Ali ibn Abu Talib and then return to me and tell me what he said." 'Ali's answer was, "In a headcover and a long flowing shirt." This was told to 'Aishah and she said, "He has told the truth." The clothes worn must cover the 'aurah, even if they are tight enough to highlight those features. If the clothes are so thin that one's skin color can be seen, they are not suitable for prayer.
Preferred to wear two garments in salat:
It is preferred for a person to wear at leat two garments, but he can wear just one if that is all he has. Ibn 'Umar reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, "If one of you is going to pray, he should wear two garments, for Allah has the most right that you should look good for Him. If one does not have two garments, he shoud cover himself with a cloak when he prays, but not like the Jews do." (Related by at-Tabarani and al-Baihaqi.)
'Abdurazaq related that Ubayy ibn Ka'b and 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud had an argument. Ubayy thought it was permissible to pray in one garment, while Ibn Mas'ud said that that was allowed only if one had no other clothes. 'Umar mounted the pulpit and said, "The correct position is: If Allah gives you more provisions, you should wear more clothes. A man can gather his clothes about him, or pray in a waist cloth and a cloak, or in a waist cloth and a shirt, or in a waist cloth and a caftan, or in trousers and a cloak, or in trousers and a shirt, or in trousers and a caftan, or in leather trousers and a caftan, or in leather trousers and a shirt.' And I (a narrator) think he said, 'Leather trousers and a cloak."
Uncovering the Head During the Prayer:
Ibn 'Asakir related that the Prophet would sometimes remove his cap and place it in front of him as a sutrah. According to the Hanifiyyah, one can pray with his head uncovered. In fact, they prefer this if it is done out of a sense of humility and awe.'ø There is no evidence whatsoever that it is preferred to cover one's head while praying.
Facing the Qiblah:
All scholars agree that one must face the Masjid al-Haram (in Makkah) during every prayer. Says Allah in the Qur'an, "Direct your face to the Masjid al-Haram. Wherever you may be, turn your faces to it" ( al-Baqarah 144).
Reported al-Barra', "We prayed with the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, for about sixteen or seventeen months towards Jerusalem, after which time he turned towards the Ka 'bah." (Related by Muslim.)
If one can see the Ka'bah, he must face that particular direction:
If he can not see it, he must turn in its direction, as this is all that he is able to do. Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet said, "The qiblah is between the East and the West." This is related by Ibn Majah and at-Tirmidhi. The latter considers it hassan sahih. This hadith refers to the people of Madinah and whoever has a position similar to them (i.e., the people of Syria, the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq. For the people of Egypt, the qiblah is between the East and the South.)
If one can not determine the direction of the qiblah:
He should ask one who knows. If he finds no one to ask, he should try his best to determine it. In such a case, his prayer will be valid, and he need not repeat it even though he discovers later on that he had faced in the wrong direction. If it is made clear to him while he is praying that he is facing the wrong direction, he need only turn in the proper direction without stopping his prayer. This is based on the following incident: Ibn 'Umar reported that the people were praying the morning prayer in the Quba' mosque when a person came to them and said, "Allah has revealed some of the Qur'an to the Prophet in which we have been ordered to face the Ka'bah, so face it." They immedately turned their faces from Syria to the Ka'bah." (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)
If one prays according to what he determined and then wants to make another prayer, he should again try to determine the qiblah's direction. If it turns out to be different from what he had determined earlier, he should pray in the new direction without repeating his earlier prayer.
Two cases in which one doesn't have to face the Ka'bah:
The first one is performing voluntary prayers while riding (an animal, car and so on). The rider may bend his head slightly for the bowings and prostrations of the prayer, but he should bend a little bit lower for the prostrations. He may face in whatever direction his ride is going.
Reported 'Amr ibn Rabi'ah, "I saw the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, pray while riding, and he faced the direction in which he was going." This hadith is related by Muslim, at-Tirmidhi and al-Bukhari. The latter added that "he bent his head slighty."
He did not, however, do this for the obligatory prayers. Ahmad, Muslim and at-Tirmidhi recorded that he would pray on his mount while travelling from Makkah to Madinah, facing away from Makkah. Upon this, Allah revealed, "Wherever you turn, you will find Allah's face." Says Ibrahim an-Nakha'i, "They would pray on their mounts and animals in the direction in which they were facing." Ibn Hazm comments, "This has been related from the companions and those of the following generation, during travel and residence. " The second case is praying while having to deal with forced conditions, illness and fear. Under such circumstances, it is allowed to pray without facing the qiblah. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, "If I order you to do something, do what you are capable of doing." Says Allah, "If you go in fear, then (pray) standing or on your mounts..." (al-Baqarah 239). Ibn 'Umar added, "Facing the qiblah or not facing it." (Related by al-Bukhari.)
The state of prayer, salah:
There are many prophetic hadith on this topic. Here, we will mention just two of them, one describing his actions and other quoting his statements.
'Abdullah ibn Ghanam related that Abu Musa al-Ash'ari gathered together his people saying, " O Tribe of Ash'ari, gather together, and gather your women and children to teach them how the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, prayed with us in Madinah." They all gathered to watch him perform ablution. After it, he waited until the sun had just passed the meridian and there was some shade, and then he made the adhan. He put the men in the row closest to him, the children in a row behind the men, and the women in a row behind the children. After the iqamah, he raised his hands and made the takbir, silently recited Surah al-Fatihah and another surah, repeated the takbir and bowed while saying, "Glory be to Allah and Praise be to Him" three times, after which he said, "Allah hears him who praises Him" and stood straight. He then made the takbir and prostrated, made another takbir, raised his head (and sat), repeated the takbir and prostrated again, after which he said the final takbir and stood up. In the first rak'ah he made six takbir, and he made another one when he stood for the second rak'ah. When he finished the prayer, he turned to his people and said, "Guard the number of my takbir and learn my bowings and prostrations, for this is how the Prophet prayed with us during this part of the day." (Then he said) when the Prophet, upon whom be peace, finished the prayer, he turned toward the people and said, "O people, listen and understand. Allah has slaves who are neither prophets nor martyrs, but both the prophets and martyrs envy them for their closeness to Allah." A bedouin stepped forward, pointed to the Messenger of Allah and said, "O Messenger of Allah, tell us about these people." The Prophet was pleased with the bedouin's request and said, "They are from various peoples and tribes who have no ties of relationship between them. They love each other purely for the sake of Allah. On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will present them pulpits of light for them to sit on. Their faces will be light and their clothes will be light. The people will be scared on the Day of Resurrection, but they will not be scared. They are the friends of Allah who will not have any fear upon them nor will they grieve. As to the authenticity of this report, it is related by Ahmad and Abu Ya'la with a hassan chain. Al-Hakim says its chain is sahih.
Reported Abu Hurairah, "A man entered the mosque and, after praying, went to the Prophet, upon whom be peace. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, responded to his salutations and said, 'Return and pray, for you have not prayed.' This happened three times, and the man finally said, 'By the One who sent you with the Truth, I do not know any better than that, so teach me.' He said, 'When you stand for the prayer, make the takbir and then recite what you can from the Qur'an. Then bow until you attain calmness and then come up again until you are standing straight. Then prostrate until you attain calmness in your sitting, and prostate until you attain calmness in your prostration. Do that during all of your prayer." (Related by Ahmad, Muslim and al-Bukhari.)
These are general hadith that describe how the Prophet, upon whom be peace, prayed or what he said about its performance. Now we shall discuss those acts of the prayer which are obligatory and those which are sunnah.
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