How to Perform a Prayer (Shafii)


How to perform a prayer? how to do a prayer?

The Dawn prayer is performed as follows: One should make his intention first to perform the Sunnah cycles of dawn prayer saying “I intend to pray the Sunnah cycles of dawn prayer for the sake of Allah”. It is recommended to lift the hands to shoulder level when one says “Allahu akbar”, meaning that one’s fingertips are even with the tops of the ears, the thumbs are even with the earlobes, and the palms are even with one’s shoulders. The fingers need to be slightly outspread and the palms should be turned towards the qiblah. Together with the intention, the person who prays should also utter the takbir saying “Allahu akbar”. After the opening Allahu Akbar, one places the hands between the chest and navel, grasping the left wrist with the right hand, and fixing one’s gaze on the place where one’s forehead will prostrate while standing in prayer. Feet are kept in line with shoulders in about a span (about 15 cm) away from each other.

Then before saying ta’awwudh (a’udhu billahi …), one recites the following Opening Supplication (Istiftah or tawajjuh):

“I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah. Indeed my salah (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of all that exists. He has no partner. And of this I have been commanded, and I am one of the Muslims.”

If one, intentionally or absentmindedly, omits the Opening Supplication (lstiftah) and begins saying “I take refuge, etc.” (Ta’awwudh), one may not return to the Opening Supplication. Then, one begins the recitation of Fatiha followed by ta’awwudh (saying a’udhu billahi mina al-shaytan al-rajim, bismillahirrahmanirrahim). The Basmala is seen as being separate from chapter al-Fatiha. The recitation of Fatiha, entirely from beginning to the end, is obligatory whether it is performed individually or in congregation.

After reciting the last words of the Fatiha, the word “Amin” is said quietly in prayers that are not prayed aloud and audibly in those recited aloud. After that, an additional chapter or some verses from the Qur’an are recited without making any break between them. This additional recitation is called damm surah. It is recommended to recite a longer part in the first cycle than the second cycle. It is also Sunnah to follow the order of the Qur’an in recitation (meaning to recite chapters in the first cycle, which come before in the Qur’an and then in the second cycle recite other verses, which come later in the Qur’an).

Then one bows from the waist. The optimal way is to raise one’s hands and say “Allahu akbar” so that one begins raising the hands as one starts saying it, and when the hands are at shoulder level, one bows. Whenever one says “Allahu akbar” during a movement from one prayer posture to another, it is recommended to prolong the words until one reaches the next posture. Then one puts the hands on the knees, fingers apart, with back and neck extended, legs straight, and elbows out, though women keep them close. One then says, “Subhana Rabbiya’l azim wa bihamdihi…” (My Lord Most Great is exalted above all limitation and I praise Him)” three times.

Then one lifts one’s head and the minimum act is to return to a standing position as one was before bowing, and then remain motionless for a moment. The optimal way is to raise the hands lifting them from the knees as one starts straightening up, raising them to shoulder level and the head together, saying “Samiallahu liman hamidah (Allah hears whoever praises Him)”. When one is standing upright, one says, “Rabbana laka’l hamd… (Our Lord all praise is Yours)”.  Then one says “Allahu akbar” and prostrates. One places the forehead, nose, two knees, two palms, and the tips of the toes on the ground. One says “Subhana Rabbiyal a’la wa bihamdihi (My Lord Most High is exalted above all limitation and I praise Him)” three times.

Then one raises the head by saying Allahu akbar and sits back before prostrating a second time. Sitting at this point is an integral. It is obligatory to sit motionlessly for at least a moment and to intend nothing but sitting by one’s movement. The optimal way is to say “Allahu akbar” as one raises the head, to sit in iftirash, which is to place the left foot on its side and sit upon it while keeping the right foot resting on the bottom of its toes, heel up, to place one’s two hands on the thighs near the knees, fingers extended and held together; and to say between two prostrations “Allahumma ghfirli wa-rhamni wa-’afini wa-jburni wa-hdini wa-rzukni (O Allah, forgive me, have mercy on me, pardon me, set me right, guide me, and sustain me.)”  This is called “jalsa (sitting between two prostrations)”. Then one prostrates for a second time saying “Allahu Akbar” and says   ”“Subhana Rabbiyal a’la wa bihamdihi” three times.

After this, one raises the head, saying “Allahu akbar”. It is Sunnah, here and in each rak’ah that is not followed by the Testification of Faith (Tashahhud), to briefly rest in the iftirash style of sitting before rising (this sitting is called istirahah). Then one quickly rises, helping oneself up with both hands palms down, and prolonging the Allahu Akbar until standing. If the imam omits this brief sitting, the follower performs it anyway. It is not done after a Qu’ran recital prostration.

Then one performs the second rak’a of the prayer just like the first, except for the initial intention, the opening Allahu Akbar, and the Opening Supplication (lstiftah). After two prostrations in the second rak’ah, one sits back (which is an integral) at the last of one’s prayer for the Testification of Faith in the tawarruk style of sitting, with one’s left posterior on the ground and the left foot on its side, emerging from under the right, which is vertical.

The wisdom in the difference between the ways of sitting during the two Testifications of Faith, namely, iftirash in the first and tawarruk in the second is that a latecomer to congregation may know by observing the former that the prayer has not finished and by the latter that it nearly has come to an end.

After sitting for the testification of faith (Tashahhud) and reciting the supplication of Tahiyyat, one then says the Blessings upon the Prophet (pbuh) and the members of his family by reciting the invocation, “Allahumma salli ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala ali Muhammadin kama sallayta ‘ala Ibrahima wa ‘ala ali Ibrahim innaka hamidun majid. Allahumma barik ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala ali Muhammadin kama barakta ‘ala Ibrahima wa ‘ala ali Ibrahim innaka hamidun majid (O Allah, bless Muhammad and the folk of Muhammad as You blessed Ibrahim and the folk of Ibrahim, for You are truly the Most Praiseworthy and Noble. And show grace to Muhammad and the folk of Muhammad as You showed grace to Ibrahim and the folk of Ibrahim, for You are truly the Most Praiseworthy and Noble.)”  This is an integral act after the final Testification of Faith, but merely Sunnah after the first one in three or four-cycle prayers. It is recommended after the second Testification of Faith (Tashahhud) of the prayer, though not after the first to supplicate to Allah for any permissible thing one wishes concerning one’s religion or this world. For example, one may recite the invocation beginning as, “Allahumma rabbana atina fi’l-dunya hasanatan wa fi’l akhirati hasanatan wa qina azaban’-nar (O Allah! O Our Lord, give us good in this world and good in the hereafter, and save us from the punishment of the fire)”.

Then one says the final Salams. The optimal way is to say, “As-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah (Peace be upon you, and the mercy of Allah)” and to turn the head to the right enough to show the right check. One thereby intends to finish the prayer and intends greetings of peace to the angels and Muslims (whether human or jinn) on the right. One then turns one’s head to the left and repeats the Salam, intending to greet those on the left.

The obligatory cycles of the Dawn Prayer: it consists of two cycles, which are performed just as the Sunnah cycles explained above.  One should say the call for the commencement of prayer (iqama) and express in the intention that the obligatory cycles are going to be performed. It is recommended to keep the Sunnah cycles of the Dawn Prayer short and obligatory cycles longer.

It is Sunnah muakkadah to recite the supplication of qunut after returning to a standing position from the ruku’ in the final obligatory cycle of the Dawn Prayer. The supplication of qunut is also recited in the final cycles of the Witr prayer performed during the second half of the month of Ramadan.

The supplication of qunut recited after returning to a standing position from the ruku’ and standing motionless (which is called ‘itidal) is as follows:

“Allahumma ihdini fiman hadayt, wa a’fini fiman a’fayt, watawallani fiman tawallayt, wa barik li fima a’atayt, wa qini sharra ma qadayt, fainnaka taqdi wala yuqda ‘alayk, wainnahu la yadhilu man walayt, tabarakta rabbana wat’alayt.”

(O Allah, guide me among those whom You have guided. Grant me safety among those whom You have granted safety. Take me into Your charge among those whom You have taken into Your charge. Bless me in what You have given me. Protect me from the evil that You have decreed, for You decree and nothing is decreed for You. And there is no humiliation for whom You take as a ward.  Blessed and exalted are You, our Lord).[1]

Imam recites all the invocations in the plural form. For example, he says “ihdina wa ‘afina” instead of “ihdini wa ‘afini”. While the imam recites the supplication of qunut, the congregation raises their hands and says amin to the invocations. (According to Hanafis, supplication of qunut is recited silently and hands are not raised[2]) After the recitation of qunut, it is not allowed to wipe the face with both hands, and instead the person goes directly to prostration by saying “Allahu akbar”.

It is Sunnah to say certain prayers, glorifications and remembrances of Allah after the prayer.

After the salaams, one says three times, “Astaghfirullah al-azim alladhi la ilaha illa huwa’l-Hayyu’l-Qayyuma wa atubu ilayh (I seek the forgiveness of Allah the Mighty, Whom there is none worthy of worship except Him, The Living, The Eternal, and I repent unto Him)”.

After that, it is said, “Allahumma anta’s-Salamu wa minka’s-salam. Tabarakta wa ta’alayta ya Zal-jalali wa’l-ikram (O Allah, You are the source of peace and from You comes peace, exalted You are, O Lord of Majesty and Honor)”.

This is followed by the recitation of verse of Throne (Ayat al-Kursi: chapter al-Baqara, (2) verse 255)

After that, it is said, “Subhanallah”, (Glory (be) to God) “Alhamdulillah”, (All the praises and thanks be to Allah) “Allahu akbar” (God is [the]greatest) thirty three times each which makes a total of 99 glorifications of Allah.

For the 100th glorification, it is said, “La ilaha illallahu wahdahu la sharika lah. Lahu’l-mulku wa lahu’l-hamdu wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadir (There is no god but Allah, alone, without partner. His is the sovereignty, and His the praise, and He has power over everything)”.

Then, one may recite the following invocation recorded in the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):

“Allahumma inni as’aluka mujibati rahmatika wa azaimi maghfiratik. Wa’s-salamata min kulli ismin wa’l-ghanimata min kulli birr. Wa’l-fawza bil-jannati wa’n-najata mina’n-nar. Allahumma inni a’dhu bika mina’l-hammi wal-huzni wa a’udhu bika mina’l-ajzi wal-kasal. Wa a’udhu bika mina’l-buhli wa’l-jubni wa’l-fashali wa min ghalabati’d-dayni wa qahri’r-rijal.”

(O Allah, I ask You for what makes Your mercy mandatory and for what brings about Your forgiveness and for safety from every sin and for booty from every act of piety and for the triumph of gaining the Garden and for safety from the Fire. O Allah, I seek refuge with You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being over powered by men).

While saying the above-mentioned invocations, the imam turns his right side to the congregation and left side to the prayer niche (mihrab). It is a Sunnah for the imam to turn his face towards the congregation after completing the prayer with the salams. The invocations after the prayer is said silently. Hands are raised up to the chest level while saying invocations. After the invocations, one says “amin” and wipes one’s face with both hands.

[1] Ahmed bin Hanbal, Musnad 3/162 al-Daraqutni, 2/39

[2] Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Mukhtar, II/9

Source: Fiqh1 (According To The Shafi’i School Of Islamic Law), Erkam Publications

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