Fiqh As-Sunnah
Prayer (Salah)

The following acts are permissible during the prayer:
Crying, moaning, or groaning, regardless of whether it is due to a fear of Allah or to any other reason (e.g., a moan due to some pain or injury that one cannot contain), is permissible. This is based on the Qur'anic verse: "When the revelations of the Merciful were recited unto them, they fell prostrating and adoring." This verse is general and includes one who is praying.

'Abdullah ibn ash-Schikhir relates: "I saw the Messenger of Allah praying and his chest was 'buzzing', like the buzzing of a cooking pot, due to crying." This is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa'i, and at-Tirmidhi. The latter classifies it as sahih.

'Ali reports: "There was no horseman among us at the battle of Badr save al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad. I saw that not one of us was standing save the Messenger of Allah who was praying under a tree and crying until the dawn." This is related by Ibn Hibban.

'Aishah relates the incident that occurred during the fatal illness of the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam. The Messenger of Allah said: "Order Abu Bakr to lead the people in prayer." 'Aishah responded: "O Messenger of Allah, Abu Bakr is a very soft-hearted man and he cannot control his tears, and if he recites the Qur'an, he cries." 'Aishah later admitted: "I said that only because I hated that the people should blame Abu Bakr for being the first to take the place of the Messenger of Allah." The Messenger of Allah said: "Order Abu Bakr to lead the people in salah. You women are like the companions of Yusuf." This is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibn Hibban, and at-Tirmidhi who calls it sahih. The fact that the Prophet insisted that Abu Bakr lead the salah after he was inforrned that he would be overcome by weeping proves that it is permissible to cry while praying.

'Umar prayed fajr and recited Surah Yusuf, and when he reached the verse "I expose my distress and anguish only unto Allah," he raised his voice in crying. This is related by al-Bukhari, Sa'id ibn Mansur, and ibn al-Mundhir. In 'Umar's raising his voice in crying is a refutation of those who say that crying invalidates the salah if it causes a sound from the mouth, regardless of whether it is due to the fear of Allah or not. They argue that sound from the mouth due to crying is like speaking, but this is not acceptable as crying and speaking are two different things.

Turning to a side due to some need:
Ibn Abbas relates: "The Messenger of Allah would turn to his right and left he would not turn his head to see behind him." This is related by Ahmad.

Abu Dawud records that when the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam prayed, "he looked toward a valley because he had sent some horsemen to guard the valley."

Anas ibn Sireen says: "I saw Anas ibn Malik lift his eyes to something while he was praying." This is related by Ahmad.

Unneccessary turning during prayer:
Turning to look at something without any genuine need is disliked, for it is against the etiqettes of humility while facing Allah in Prayer.

'Aishah says: "I asked the Messenger of Allah about turning in salah and he said: 'It is the portion that the Satan steals from the slave's prayer.'" This is related by Ahmad, al-Bukhari, an-Nasa'i, and Abu Dawud.

Abu ad-Darda' narrates from the Prophet: "O people, be careful about turning for there is no salah for the one who turns. If you must do it, do it in the voluntary prayers and not in the obligatory prayers." This is related by Ahmad.

Anas relates that the Messenger of Allah said to him: "Be careful about turning during the salah as turning in the salah is disastrous. If you must do it, then do it in the voluntary prayers but not in the obligatory prayers." This is related by at-Tirmidhi who calls it sahih.

In the hadith of al-Harith al-Ash'ari, the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said: "Allah gave Yahya, son of Zakariyah, five commands that he was to abide by and was to order the tribe of Isra'el to abide by..." One of them was, "Verily, Allah orders you to pray, and when you pray, do not tum for Allah looks to the face of His slave in salah as long as he does not turn." This is related by Ahmad and an-Nasa'i.

Abu Dharr reported that the Prophet said: "Allah faces the slave while he is in the salah and keeps facing him as long as he does not turn. If [the slave] turns, [Allah] turns away from him." This is related by Ahmad and by Abu Dawud who said its chain of narrators (isnad) is sahih. The preceding hadith is concerned with turning the face during the salah. If one turns the whole (upper) body away from the qiblah, then the salah is invalidated, for not fulfilling the requirment of facing the qiblah. On this point, there is no difference of opinion.

Killing a snake, scorpion or other harmful animals:
If killing these would only require a small action on the part of the person in salah, then there is no harm in doing it. Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said: "Kill the snake and the scorpion during the salah." This is related by Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa'i, and Ibn Majah. The hadith is hasan sahih.

Taking a few steps due to some necessity:
'Aishah said: "The Messenger of Allah was offering salah in the house and the door was locked. I came and knocked on the door and he walked over to open it for me and then he returned to his place of prayer. The door was in the direction of the qiblah." This is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa'i, and atTirmidhi. The latter calls it hasan. It may be observed that in this hadith, he did not turn away from the qiblah either in opening the door, or in returning to his place. This is supported by what has been related that the Prophet would pray and if anyone knocked on the door, he would open the door provided the door was in the direction of the qiblah or on his right or on his left, but he would not turn his back to the qiblah. This is related by ad-Daraqutni.

Al-Azraq ibn Qais relates: "Abu Barzah Al-Aslami was at al-Ahwas, at the bank of a river, and he prayed while holding the reins of his horse. The horse started going back, and he (i.e.Abu Barzah) followed the horse. A man from the Khawarij said: 'O Allah, be rough on this man, see how he is doing his prayer.' When Abu Barzah finished his prayer, he said: 'I heard your statement. Certainly, I participated in six or seven or eight battles with the Prophet, and I am certainly aware of his leniency. Certainly, I would rather restrain my animal than let him run off loose as that would have caused me a great deal of trouble.' It was 'Asr prayer that Abu Barzah offered, and he prayed two rak'at." This is related by Ahmad, al-Bukhari, and al-Baihaqi.

Concerning taking a lot of steps, Ibn Hajr says in Fath al-Bari: "The jurists are agreed that taking many steps invalidates an obligatory prayer. They interpret the hadith of Abu Barzah as referring to taking just a few steps."

Carrying and holding a child during the salah:
Abu Qatadah reports that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam was offering salah and Umamah bint Zainab was on his neck [shoulder]. When he performed ruku', he put her down, and when he got up from his sajdah, he would place her back on his neck. 'Amr inquired during which salah this happened. Ibn Juraij said that it is related from Zaid ibn Abu 'Atab from 'Amr ibn Salim that this happened in the morning prayer. This is related by Ahmad, anNasa'i, and others. Al-Fakihani comments: "The purpose behind the action of the Prophet of carrying Umamah in the salah was to set an example before the Arabs who considered having daughters and carrying them around as something bad or shameful. The Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam acted differently from them, and carried a girl on his neck in the prayer, and making something clear by example is much more effective than a mere precept."

'Abdullah ibn Shidad relates that his father said: "The Messenger of Allah came to us either during the noon or afternoon prayers and he was carrying Hassan or Hussain. The Prophet proceeded to the front and put him down and made the takbir for the salah. During the salah, he made a long sajdah. I raised my head and saw the child on the back of the Messenger of Allah while he was in sajdah. I returned to my sajdah. When the Messenger of Allah finished the salah, the people said to him: 'O Messenger of Allah, you prostrated during your salah so long that we suspected you were thinking about some matter or you were receiving some revelation.' He said: 'None of that happened but my son was resting and I hated to rush him until he had finished what he desired."' This is related by Ahmad, an-Nasa'i, and al-Hakim.

An-Nawawi observes that this, according to the opinion of ash-Shaf'i and those who agree with him, points to the permissibility of carrying or holding a young child, male or female, or any pure animal during an obligatory prayer, and that it is permissible for both the imam and the followers. The companions of Malik say that the permissibility is only for voluntary prayers and not for obligatory prayers. This interpretation is incorrect as it is clear that the Prophet was leading one of the obligatory prayers, and as stated earlier it was the fajr prayer. Some followers of Malik claim that its permissibility has been abograted, while others say it was only permissible for the Prophet, and yet others hold that it was due to some necessity. All of this is wrong and to be rejected as there is no proof for any of it or any necessity. The authentic hadith clearly states that it is permissible and there is nothing in that ruling which contradicts any basic principle of the shari'ah as a human being is pure and what is in his/her abdomen is not relevant in this regard, as it remains within the stomach, its natural receptacle. Also, the clothing of a child is considered pure and the shari'ah is quite explicit on this point. Actions during the salah do not invalidate it if they are minor or few or dispersed. The fact that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam did this is an exposition of its permissibility, and this argument is built upon the principle which we have mentioned before.

This refutes what Abu Sulaiman al-Khattabi says, namely, that the Prophet did not carry the child intentionally but the child was holding onto the Prophet, and when he stood the child remained with him. He said: "Do not think that he held him again intentionally as that would be too much action and would distract the heart. If a curtain distracted him, how could [the child] not distract him?" This statement by al-Khattabi, may Allah have mercy on him, is incorrect and to be rejected. Among the things that refute it are the statements in Sahih Muslim, "when he stood, he carried him." And, "when he got up from his sajdah, he would return [the child to his place]." Further refutations are derived from a version other than Sahih Muslim, "He came to us while carrying Umamah and prayed..." Concerning the ruling about the curtain, it distracts the heart without there being any benefit to it. Concerning carrying Umamah, we are not convinced that it distracts the heart, and even if it does, it is allowed due to its benefit and the principles that we have mentioned. The source of that preoccupation is that benefit, which differs from the incident concerning the curtain. Thus, the correct position is that the hadith is a clear exposition that it is permissible to carry a child in salah and this will continue to be part of the Islamic law until the Day of Judgment. And Allah knows best.

Returning a Greeting by a motion:
The one in salah who is greeted or spoken to may reply to the one who greets or speaks to him by making some motion.

Jabir said: "The Messenger of Allah sent me somewhere while he was going to the tribe of Mustaliq. I came to him and he was praying while on the back of his camel. [When] I spoke to him, he and Zubair motioned with their hands. I heard him reciting and saw him gesturing with his head. When he finished, he said: 'What have you done about the thing I sent you for? Nothing kept me from talking to you save that I was in salah.'" This is related by Ahmad and Muslim.

'Abdullah ibn 'Umar narrates that Suhaib said: "I passed by the Messenger of Allah while he was offering salah. I greeted him and he responded to me by only signaling." 'Abdullah said: "The only thing that I know is that he said he signaled to him with his finger." This is related by Ahmad and by at-Tirmidhi. The latter calls it sahih.

'Abdullah ibn 'Umar says: "I asked Suhaib: 'How did the Messenger of Allah respond to the people when they greeted him while he was praying?' He said: 'He would signal to them with his hand.'" This is related by Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa'i, and Ibn Majah.

Anas says that the Prophet would signal while offering salah. This is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Khuzaimah and its isnad is sahih.

The same applies to signaling with one's finger or hand or by nodding the head. All of these actions have been related from the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam.

Saying Subhanallah and clapping:
It is allowed for men to say subhanallah and for women to clap if there is some need to do so (such as alerting the imam to a mistake or informing someone that he or she may enter the room or to warn a blind person, and so on). Sahl ibn Sa'd asSa'di relates that the Prophet said: "If someone is faced with something during the salah, he should say 'subhanallah.' Clapping is for the women and saying subhanallah is for the men." This is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and an-Nasa'i.

Correcting the imam's mistake:
If the imam forgets a verse, it is permissible for a follower to remind him of it, regardless of whether the recitation is a part of the obligatory recitation or not. Ibn 'Umar reports that the Messenger of Allah prayed and had some confusion in his recitation. When he finished, he said to 'Umar: "Were you present with us [during the prayer]?" He replied: "Yes." So, the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam asked him: "What prevented you from correcting me?" This is related by Abu Dawud and others and its narrators are trustworthy.

Praising Allah when one sneezes or recalls to mind a blessing:
Rifa'ah ibn Rafi' relates: "I prayed behind the Messenger of Allah, and I sneezed and said, 'Praise be to Allah, a great deal of praise, beautiful and blessed, as our Lord loves and is pleased with.' [Afterward,] the Messenger of Allah asked: 'Who spoke during the salah?' No one said anything. He asked again, and no one said anything. He asked again, and I said: 'It was I, O Messenger of Allah!' He then said: 'By the One in whose hand is Muhammad's soul, thirty some odd angels raced to get that phrase to raise it [to the Lord].'" This is related by an-Nasa'i and at-Tirmidhi, and by al-Bukhari with a different wording.

Prostrating upon one's clothing or headdress due to some excuse:
Ibn 'Abbas reports that the Messenger of Allah prayed in one garment and covered his face with a portion of it to avoid the heat or coldness of the ground. This is related by Ahmad with a sahih isnad (chain). It is disliked if it is done without any genuine reason.

A summary of other acts which are permissible during the prayer:
Ibn al-Qayyim has summarized some of the acts which are permissible during the salah and which the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam used to perform at times. He writes:

The Prophet would pray and 'Aishah would be lying between him and the qiblah. When he performed sajdah, he would signal to her with his hand and she would pull back her leg and when he would stand she would stretch out her leg again. The Prophet was praying and the Satan came to him to disturb his salah and the Prophet choked until his saliva came upon his hand. And the Prophet would pray upon the pulpit, making ruku' there, but when the time came to perform sajdah, he would descend, moving backward, and prostrate upon the ground, and then return to the pulpit. He once prayed toward a wall and an animal tried to pass between him and the wall. The Prophet prevented the animal from passing to the extent that its stomach was against the wall. Once while he was praying, two girls from the tribe of 'Abd al-Muttalib were fighting behind him and he separated them with his arms while he was praying. Ahmad's version says that they grabbed unto his knees and he separated them without leaving the salah. On another occasion, when he was praying, a boy came to him and he motioned to him to move back, and he moved back. Then a girl tried to pass in front of him, he beckoned her to move back, but the girl passed, and when he finished, he said: "They are more determined." Ahmad recorded it and it is also in the Sunan. He would also puff out air while praying. The hadith which states: " Puffing out is speech" cannot be traced to the Messenger of Allah, but Sa'id related it in his Sunan from Ibn 'Abbas as one of Ibn 'Abbas' statements - if it is authentic.

The Prophet would cry during his salah and would also clear his throat while praying. 'Ali ibn Abi Talib said: "I had a certain time at which I would visit the Messenger of Allah. When I came to him, he would permit me to enter. If I found him praying, he would clear his throat and I would enter. If he was free, he would give me permission to enter." This is recorded by an-Nasa'i and Ahmad. Ahmad's version says: "I could enter upon the Prophet during the day or night. If I came to him while he was praying, he would clear his throat [as a sign that I may enter]. This was related by Ahmad who used to act by it and he was not of the opinion that clearing one's throat invalidated the salah. Sometimes the Prophet would pray barefoot and sometimes while wearing shoes. This is what 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar said and he ordered people to pray with shoes on in order to differ from the Jews. Sometimes he would pray in one garment and sometimes in two garments and [this latter] was the majority of the cases.

Reciting from a copy of the Qur'an:
Dhakwan, the protege of 'Aishah, would lead her in prayer during Ramadan while reciting from a copy of the Qur'an. This is related by Malik. Ash-Shaf'i's opinion is that it is allowable. An-Nawawi holds: "If one sometimes turns pages during a salah, it does not invalidate it. If he looks at something that is written which is not the Qur'an and he reads it to himself, it does not invalidate the salah, even if it is done for a long period of time, nevertheless, it is a hated act." Ash-Shaf'i has made a statement about it in al-Imla'.

Occupying the heart with something other than the affairs of the prayer:
Abu Hurairah repons that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said: "When the call to prayer is made, the Satan takes to his heels... and when it is finished, he returns. He flees again when the iqamah is made and when it is finished, he returns until he comes between the man and his thoughts, saying: 'Remember this and remember that,' which he had not recalled, until the person does not know how much he has prayed, [i.e.,] three or four rak'at. Then, he makes two prostrations while sitting." This is reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

Al-Bukhari also records that 'Umar said: "I arrange the troops [in my mind] during the salah." Although it is true that such a salah is valid and sufficient, it is a must for the person in prayer to keep his mind and heart attuned to the salah and his Lord and to keep his thoughts on the meaning of the Qur'anic verses and the significance of the different acts of the salah since a person has for him only that portion of the salah which he is fully aware of [while performing it].

Au Dawud, an-Nasa'i, and Ibn Hibban record from 'Ammar ibn Yasir that he heard the Messenger of Allah say: "A man may complete the salah and only have recorded for himself one-tenth or one-ninth or one-eighth or one-seventh or one-fifth or one-fourth or one third or one-half."

Al-Bazzar records from Ibn 'Abbas that the Messenger of Allah said: "Allah, the Glorious, said: 'I accept the salah of one who humbles himself during it to My Greatness; and who does not perform the salah just for show; and who does not spend the night in disobedience to Me; and who spends the day remembering Me; and who is merciful to the poor, the wayfarer and the widows; and who is merciful to one who is suffering from an infliction. He has a light like the light of the sun. I protect him by My Glory and the angels guard over him. I give him light in darkness and sobriety in the presence of ignorance. And his similitude in My creation is like al-Firdaus in Paradise."'

Abu Dawud records from Zaid ibn Khalid that the Messenger of Allah said: "Whoever makes ablution and perfects it and then prays two rak'at, without being unheedful during them, forgiven for him will be his previous sins." Muslim records that 'Uthman ibn Abi al-'Aas said: "O Messenger of Allah, the Satan comes between me and my prayers and my recitation, confusing me therein!" The Prophet said: "That Satan is called Khanzab. If he affects you seek refuge in Allah from him and 'spit out' on your left side three times."

Muslim records from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said: "Allah, the Glorious, said: 'I have divided the salah [i.e., al-Fatihah] into two halves, between Me and My slave, and my slave shall receive what he asks for.' When the slave says 'All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds,' Allah, the Exalted, says 'My slave has praised Me.' When he says 'The Compassionate, the Merciful,' Allah, the Exalted, says 'My slave has lauded Me.' When he says 'Master of the Day of Judgment.' Allah, the Exalted says 'My servant has glorified Me and entrusted his affairs to Me.' And when he says 'It is Thee we worship and from Thee that we seek aid,' Allah, the Exalted, says 'This is between Me and My slave. And for My slave is what he asks.' And when he says 'Guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom you have blessed and not of those with whom you are angry nor of those who have gone astray.' Allah says 'That is for My slave and My slave shall get what he asks for.'" It is disliked for anyone to leave any of the sunnah acts described earlier

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