What is the sajdas in islam? What are the issues related to sajdas? What are the conditions of sajda?
Prostration is the most advanced expression of respect and glorification to Allah Almighty. It is the state in which the servant comes closest to his Lord. Sajda is an important pillar that is repeated twice in every cycle in all ritual prayers except the funeral prayer. The prostration performed at the end of the prayer in order to make up some of the errors that occurred during the performance of prayer is called sajda al-sahw (prostration of forgetfulness) and the prostration performed when one of the verses of prostration is recited is called sajda al-tilāwah (prostration of recitation) and the prostrations performed to thank Allah Almighty for His blessings are called the “sajda al-shukr (prostration of gratitude)”. We will explain these three types of prostration below.
The Prostration of Forgetfulness
1) The Definition, Ruling, and Form of the Sajda al-Sahw (Prostration of Forgetfulness)
The word sahw which is rendered variously as ‘inattention’, ‘distraction’, ‘oversight’ etc., means to neglect or omit something unknowingly, and there is no essential difference, linguistically speaking, between this term and ‘forgetfulness’ (nisyān). According to all schools of Islamic law, two prostrations need to be performed at the end of the prayer due to certain deficiencies that may take place during the ritual prayer. However, there are several disagreements among them regarding what is the exact moment to perform two prostrations, and for what kind of deficiencies they need to be performed.
According to the Ḥanafis, when one of the essential pillars (arkān) of the prayer is delayed, or if one of the wājib acts is delayed, or if one of the wājib acts is neglected, are called the “sujūd al-sahw (prostrations of forgetfulness)”. The way it is done is as follows: When an essential pillar of ritual prayer is delayed or when a wājib act of prayer is delayed or neglected, the person recites only the taḥiyyāt in the last sitting, then offers greetings to both sides. Subsequently, two prostrations are performed by saying “Allāhu akbar” just as when performing the prayer. After performing the two prostrations, the worshipper sits back up by saying “Allāhu akbar”. After reciting the supplications of taḥiyyāt, ṣalli – bārik, and Rabbanā atinā, he offers salutes to both sides one more time and completes the prayer.
It is the view of Abu Ḥanīfa and Abu Yusuf to greet both sides before the sajda al-sahw. According to Imam Muhammad, it is more virtuous and more prudent to perform sajda al-sahw only after saluting to the right side. As a matter of fact, in order to prevent accidental dispersal of the people, it is deemed necessary to perform sajda al-sahw only after saluting to the right side in the congregational prayers.
According to Imam Shafiʿi and Ahmad Ibn Ḥanbal, the sajda al-sahw is performed before the final greeting of peace and after the recitation of the supplications of taḥiyyāt, and ṣalli – bārik with an inward intention. According to the Hanbalis, sajda al-sahw can also be performed after the salutation.
According to Imam Malik, if the sajda al-sahw is carried out because of a deficiency in the prayer, it is done before the salutation, if it is done because of excess, it is carried out after the salutation. If it is to be carried out because of both deficiency and excess, then the sajda al-sahw is done before the salutation. Deficiency in prayer occurs by abandoning one mu’akkad sunnahs or at least two non-mu’akkad sunnahs. The excess in the prayer is done by adding a small amount of action that does not invalidate the prayer, no matter whether the added act is something of the type of prayer or not, for example, bowing twice and prostrating three times in one cycle. In cases where it is done before the final greeting of peace, it is carried out after the recitation of the supplication of the taḥiyyāt, but before the recitation of the invocations of ṣalli and bārik. In addition, the Malikis hold that if the prostration of forgetfulness precedes the final greeting of peace, it requires no intention because one’s initial intention to perform ritual prayer suffices for this prostration as well. If, on the other hand, the prostration follows the final greeting of peace, it does require an intention since it may no longer be considered an integral part of the prayer itself.
According to the sound view of the Ḥanafis, performing the prostration of forgetfulness is wājib, and according to other schools of Islamic law, it is a sunnah.
The Ḥanafis say the following about this issue: A person who performs the ritual prayer will be a sinner by abandoning this prostration, but his prayer will not be invalid. For the sajda al-sahw is compensation for something left out. Compensation for something can only be wājib. The sajda al-sahw removes the sin arising from performing wājib acts such as reciting tashahhud and saluting, but it does not remove the deficiency that arises from not performing an essential pillar, such as a rukūʿ.
The sajda al-sahw is necessary for the imam and for those who pray alone. If a person who follows the imam makes a mistake in his prayer, he does not need to perform the sajda al-sahw. The mistake of the imam, on the other hand, necessitates the sajda al-sahw for himself and his congregation. The person who follows the imam -whether he starts following the imam at the beginning of the prayer or joins the congregation after the first cycle-when the imam performs the sajda al-sahw, he must join this prostration with him. If the imam does not perform the sajda al-sahw, the responsibility to perform this prostration will also fall on the congregation. This is because the congregation must follow the imam. However, the masbūq follows the imam only in prostrations, not in salutations, i.e. he performs the prostrations together with the imam, but does not salute when the imam salutes.
The sajda al-sahw becomes necessary when the time is convenient to perform the prayer. For example, if the sun rises after saluting while performing the dawn prayer, or if the redness of the sun on the horizon becomes clear while performing the late afternoon prayer, the sajda al-sahw discontinues from that person.
If there is a large congregation during Friday and Eid prayers, it is more appropriate to abandon the sajda al-sahw in order to avoid confusion. If a person makes a mistake while performing the sajda al-sahw, he does not need to do another sajda al-sahw.
2) Evidence on which the Sajda Al-Sahw is Based
The sajda al-sahw is based on the evidence from the sunnah. In a hadith reported from Abdullah ibn Masʿūd (ra), the following is stated, “If one of you has doubts in his prayer, he should search for the truth and complete his prayer according to his opinion, then he should salute and perform the prostration of forgetfulness, that is, he should make two more prostrations because he erred.” Moreover, Abu Saʿid al-Khudrī (ra) said, “The Messenger of Allah (saw) said; ‘If any of you doubts whether he has prayed four or three cycles, let him clear his doubts and complete the prayer based on what he knows for sure. Let him make two prostrations before saluting. If he has performed five cycles, these prostrations will intercede for his prayer, if he has performed it completely, these two additional prostrations will be instrumental in driving Satan away from him.’”
It is narrated from Abdullah Ibn Juhayna that he said, “Allah’s Messenger (saw) once led us in a prayer and offered two cycles and got up (for the third cycle) without sitting (after the second cycle). The people also got up with him, and when he was about to finish his prayer, we waited for him to finish the prayer with salutation but he said takbīr before salutation and performed two prostrations while sitting and then finished the prayer with salutation.” On another occasion, Allah’s Messenger (saw) offered five cycles at the noon prayer, and somebody asked him whether there was some increase in the prayer. Allah’s Messenger (saw) said, “What is that?” He said, “You have offered five cycles.” So Allah’s Messenger (saw) performed two prostrations of forgetfulness after the salutation. According to a narration from Abu Hurayra, while performing the noon or late afternoon prayers, the Messenger of Allah saluted after two cycles. When a Companion asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (saw)! Has the prayer been reduced?” The Prophet (saw) asked his Companions whether their friend had spoken the truth and they confirmed what he said. So Allah’s Messenger (saw) offered two more cycles and then performed two prostrations of forgetfulness.
The fact that the Prophet and his Companions performed the prostration of forgetfulness demonstrates that this prostration is necessary. Just as when one of the wājib acts of the pilgrimage is left out, a sacrifice needs to be offered to make up for it, the prostration of forgetfulness is needed to be performed to make up for the deficiencies in the prayer.
3) Situations that Require Performing the Prostration of Forgetfulness:
As it is known, there are farḍ acts in prayer such as recitation, bowing, and prostration, as there are wājib acts such as reciting the Fatiḥa and the added Qur’anic verses, observing the order of the ritual prayer, and sunnah acts such as reciting the supplications of ṣalli – bārik while in the sitting position. A prayer performed by observing all of these fully will be a complete and perfect prayer. In the event that these requirements of the prayer are not followed, it is important to know the ways and methods of mending this omission or addition. For trying to perform the prayer all over again due to every defect would only lead a person to a dead end.
Below, we will explain the ways to eliminate the deficiencies that may take place during the ritual prayer:
The Shafiʿis list six situations in which the prostration of forgetfulness is to be performed:
First, the imam or someone who is praying alone omits one of the emphatically enjoined Sunnah-based practices called abʿāḍ. Such as the recitation of the supplications of taḥiyyāt and qunūṭ. Second, the person suspects that he may have added something to the prayer. If he has doubts about the number of cycles he has performed, he should build on the number he is certain to have completed, finish the prayer, then perform a prostration of forgetfulness due to the possibility that he prayed more than the required number of cycles. Third, the person has unintentionally done something that does not invalidate prayer unless it is done deliberately. Examples of such actions include the prolongation of a short pillar, remaining still in a standing position, remaining seated momentarily between two prostrations, or speaking briefly due to inattention. Fourth, performing a verbal pillar out of place. This includes, for example, repeating the recitation of the Fatiḥa in whole or in part, while sitting down, or performing a verbal Sunnah-based practice, such as the recitation of a passage from the Qur’an after the Fatiḥa, out of place ( during the bow, for example, rather than before it). Fifth, the person suspects that he left out a particular abʿāḍ sunnahs of the ritual prayer. Finally, sixth is that the person has prayed behind someone whose prayer has a flaw in it, even if the flaw is only suspected by the person being led in prayer. This includes, for example, following someone who omitted the recitation of the supplication of qunūṭ in the dawn prayer, or someone who utters the supplication of qunūṭ before bowing.
The Hanbalis list three reasons for which a prostration of forgetfulness needs to be performed, namely: (1) addition, an example of this would be for a worshiper to stand up or sit down an additional time, even if the sitting lasts only for as long as what is referred to as the “sitting of repose” which some jurists support. (2) Omission, an example of this would be for a worshiper unintentionally to omit a bow, a prostration, or the recitation of the Fatiḥa, and (3) uncertainty concerning some part of the prayer, provided that the suspected error was unintentional. If the error occurs deliberately, one should not perform a prostration of forgetfulness; rather, the prayer is invalidated if the part of prayer concerned was an action, though it is not if it was an utterance that was made out of place.
The Malikis also specify three reasons for which the prostration of forgetfulness needs to be performed: Firstly, the worshiper has left out a Sunnah-based practice associated with ritual prayer. The Sunnah-based practice that was left out is an integral part of the prayer, such as the recitation of a passage from the Qur’an following the Fatiḥa. In order for prostration of forgetfulness to be required as a result of omitting a Sunnah-based practice, three conditions must be met: (a) The practice omitted must be an emphatically enjoined Sunnah-based practice. Otherwise, for example, if one were unintentionally to omit one of the utterances of allāhu akbar, which are made while bowing or prostrating, or a recommended practice such as utterance of the supplication of qunūṭ during the dawn prayer, no prostration of forgetfulness is required. (b) The Sunnah-based practice that was omitted must be an integral part of ritual prayer. If someone omits a Sunnah-based practice that is external to prayer, such as the wearing of appropriate attire, he is not to perform a prostration of forgetfulness on this account if it was a result of inattention. (c) The worshiper must have omitted the practice out of forgetfulness. If someone deliberately omits an emphatically enjoined Sunnah-based practice, which is an integral part of prayer, there is disagreement as to whether his prayer remains valid or not. Secondly, the worshiper has added an action that is not part of the prayer, such as unintentionally eating a small amount, or speaking, or adding an action-based pillar such as a bow, a prostration, or a ‘part’ of prayer such as one or two cycles. If what is added is an utterance and if the added utterance is not obligatory – for example, if the person unintentionally adds a passage from the Qur’an in the last two cycles of a four-cycle prayer-no prostration of forgetfulness is required. Thirdly, the worshiper has both omitted a Sunnah-based practice from the prayer and added something to it. Hence, if a worshiper neglects to recite aloud the Qur’anic passage following the Fatiḥa and if he unintentionally adds a cycle to the prayer, he has made an omission and even made an addition.
According to the Ḥanafis if one of the farḍ acts of the prayer is abandoned, if it is possible to make up for it during the prayer, it will be made up and an additional prostration will be performed at the end of the prayer due to the delay of the farḍ act(s). For instance, performing an omitted prostration in the next cycle. Without making up for the omitted farḍ act or a cycle, knowingly or unknowingly, the prayer becomes invalid and must be performed again. This is because the absence of a rukn or condition that constitutes the main pillar of prayer cannot be completed with the prostration of sahw.
Even though deliberately abandoning or delaying a wājib act in prayer is a bad deed and it is more appropriate to perform such a prayer again. The prostration of forgetfulness is not necessary. However, in case of intentionally or mistakenly abandoning the chapter Fatiḥa or the first sitting, the prostration of forgetfulness is deemed necessary. Intentionally or mistakenly abandoning a sunnah does not require the prostration of sajdah, but deliberately abandoning it is a defect that causes deprivation of merit and virtue of the ritual prayer.
According to the Ḥanafis, the reasons for the prostration of forgetfulness are as follows:
1) In case of delay in one of the essential parts of the prayer, the prostration of forgetfulness is required. In the case of reciting ṣalli – bārik prayers in the first sitting of the four-cycle farḍ prayers, it becomes obligatory to make the prostration of forgetfulness at the end since the farḍ acts in the third and the fourth cycles will be delayed.
2) When mistakenly abandoning one of the wājib acts of prayer the prostration of forgetfulness is required. This may happen either by having abandoned that wājib act completely, delaying it, performing it earlier than its proper time, adding something to the prayer, or omitting something that consists of eleven wājibs, and these are as follows:
a) To abandon all or most of the chapter Fatiḥa in the first two cycles of the obligatory prayers.
b) To abandon reciting at least three short verses or a long verse after Fatiḥa in the first two cycles of obligatory prayers.
c) To act against the principle of reciting aloud or silently in prayers. If a person recites it aloud during the prayers that require silent recitation such as the noon and late afternoon prayers, or if the imam recites silently in the prayers that he must recite aloud, such as the evening, night, and morning prayers, he must perform the prostration of forgetfulness at the end of the prayer. If most of the Fatiḥa is recited aloud where it needs to be recited silently, the rest of it should be recited silently. On the contrary, if a part of the Fatiḥa is recited silently in a prayer that needs to be recited aloud, then it should be recited aloud from the beginning. Thus, silent and aloud recitation should not be found together in one cycle. According to another view, it is not recited from the beginning, but the rest is recited aloud.
d) To abandon reciting taḥiyyāt in the first sitting of three or four-cycle prayers.
e) To abandon reciting taḥiyyāt in the last sitting.
f) Not following the order of doing the acts that need to be repeated in a cycle. For example, if a person makes a mistake and stands up for the next cycle after the first prostration instead of performing the second prostration, and after performing the next cycle with two prostrations, he remembers the prostration he omitted in the first cycle and performs that prostration, too, at the end of the prayer, it will be wājib for that person to perform the prostration of forgetfulness because of not following the order.
A person who does rukūʿ after the opening takbīr, and then realizes that he has made a mistake, turns back and recites the Fatiḥa and additional verses from the Qur’an, performs rukūʿ again, and he has to perform the prostration of forgetfulness because of not observing the order among the acts of prayer. Similarly, not performing the prostration of recitation in its proper place and leaving it requires the prostration of forgetfulness.
On the other hand, changing the place of a farḍ or postponing it, as in the case of sitting without an excuse instead of standing in prayer, or standing up instead of sitting, also requires the prostration of forgetfulness.
g) To abandon taʿdil al-arkān in rukūʿ and prostration. According to the authentic view, it becomes wājib to perform the prostration of forgetfulness upon a person who mistakenly abandons taʿdil al-arkān.
h) Changing the place of the recitation in farḍ For example, in cases such as reciting the Fatiḥa after the additional verses or reciting the additional verses in the last two cycles of the four-cycle prayers, it becomes necessary to perform the prostration of forgetfulness.
i) To abandon the qunūt in the witr This can happen by performing rukūʿ without reciting the qunūt. A person who omits the recitation of the qunūt performs the prostration of forgetfulness.
j) To abandon the takbīr before the supplication of qunūt.
k) It is necessary to perform the prostration of forgetfulness in cases such as abandoning all or some of the takbīrs of Eid prayer or abandoning the rukūʿ takbīr of the second cycle of the Eid prayer. Because these are wājib takbīrs. The rukūʿ takbīr of the first cycle is not in this category.
3) Adding something that is not part of the prayer: Like bowing twice. In such a case, the prostration of forgetfulness is required at the end of the prayer.
4) Going back to the act that was omitted by mistake:
If a person does not do the first sitting by mistake, there might be different situations if he remembers this sitting: If he is closer to the sitting position, he needs to go back and sit and recite the supplications. If it is closer to the standing state, he cannot go back and sit. At the end of the prayer, he needs to perform the prostration of forgetfulness.
If the person makes a mistake in the last sitting and stands up for the fifth cycle without sitting if he has not performed the prostration of the fifth cycle, he turns back and sits down, and at the end, he performs the prostration of forgetfulness. If that person has performed the prostration of the fifth cycle, the prayer will be invalidated. Now, the entire prayer he performs turns into nafilah. It is mandūb for such a person to add one more cycle and complete it to a six-cycle prayer. This ruling is according to Abu Ḥanīfa and Imam Muhammad.
If, after sitting in the amount of tashahhud in the last sitting, he erroneously stands up without saluting assuming that this sitting was his first sitting, there can be different situations: If he did not perform the prostration of the fifth cycle, he sits down again. If he has made the prostration of the fifth cycle, he adds one more cycle to this prayer as is recommended. The farḍ prayer performed by this person is complete because the last sitting was performed properly. As for the two cycles performed in excess, it will be considered supererogatory for that person.
5) Doubting the number of cycles in prayer:
If a person has doubts and does not remember whether he has prayed three or four cycles, if this is the first time that such doubt has happened to that person, that is, if such doubts have not become a regular habit of that person, he should perform the prayer again. The more appropriate way to do this is to sit down and salute. Foe the Messenger of Allah said, “If one of you has doubts about how many cycles he has performed, let him perform the prayer again.”
If such a person often experiences such doubts, he continues his prayer according to his stronger opinion. Whichever, three cycles or four cycles, his opinion outweighs the doubt and he should prefer that view for there are difficulties in repeating the prayer of a person who has frequent doubts. The Prophet (saw) said, “When one of you doubts, let him seek the truth and complete his prayer.”
A person who has doubts in the prayer and cannot come to a definite conclusion about how many cycles he has performed continues his prayer based on the fewest cycles. For the information about the least is certain. Such a person should sit wherever he thinks it is necessary to sit, in such a way that he does not abandon a farḍ or wājib sitting. For example, in a four-cycle prayer, a person who doubts whether the cycle he is performing is the first or the second acts according to his opinion. If his opinion does not yield any results, he continues the prayer based on the minimum number of cycles that he thinks he has performed. However, due to the possibility of this being the second cycle, he sits down because it is obligatory to sit in the second cycle. Then he gets up, performs another cycle, and sits down.
The proof of the necessity of acting based on the least is the following hadith narrated by Abu Saʿid al-Khudrī, “If one of you doubts his prayer if he does not know whether he has prayed three or four, let him stop doubting and continue his prayer based on the fewest cycles.”
If a person makes an error in the prayer twice or more, it is sufficient for all of them to perform one prostration of forgetfulness (two prostrations) at the end of the prayer. This is because the Messenger of Allah (saw) said. “When one of you is mistaken, let him prostrate twice.” This hadith includes making mistakes more than once.
On the other hand, this last hadith also includes the making of mistakes in all obligatory, sunnah and other supererogatory prayers with rukūʿ and prostrations.
According to a view among the Ḥanafis, the prostration of forgetfulness is not necessary for the person who prays alone due to mistakes related to audible and silent recitation. However, instead of it being recited silently, for example, if one deliberately recites it aloud in the noon prayer, it is considered a bad deed.
It is makrūḥ for a person who prays alone to recite aloud in supererogatory prayers performed during the daytime.
If the imam recites the Fatiḥa silently, for example, in the dawn prayer by mistake and remembers it later, he recites the additional verses aloud, he does not need to recite the Fatiḥa again.
In the first sitting of the four or three-cycle farḍ or witr prayers, saying “Allāhumma ṣalli ala Muhammad wa ʿalā āli Muhammad” by mistake after reciting the supplication of taḥiyyāt requires prostration of forgetfulness. However, reciting from the Qur’an and invocations after taḥiyyāt in the last sittings does not require the prostration of forgetfulness. This is because the last sitting is the place of invocation and praising and the Qur’an consists of invocation and praising.
Reciting the dhikr, invocations, and taḥiyyāt aloud in the ritual prayer does not require prostration of forgetfulness. When the imam makes a mistake, the Messenger of Allah said the following about how the congregation should warn him, “In such a situation, men should say subhānallah and women should clap their hands.”
 See Ibn al-Humām, ibid, I, 355, 374; al-Kāsānī, ibid, I, 163-179; al-Maydanī, ibid, I, 95-100; al-Shurunbulālī, ibid, p. 79-81; Ibn Qudāmah, ibid, II, 12 ff.; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, I, 87 ff. See states of those who follow an imam. The subjects of mudrik, masbūk, and lāḥiq. Al-Bukhari, Ṣalāh, 31; Muslim, Masājid, 88, 89; Abū Dawūd, Ṣalāh, 190, 191, 193; al-Nasā’ī, Sahw, 24, 25; Ibn Maja, ‘Iqāmah, 132, 133; Malik, Muwaṭṭā’, Nida, 61, 62, 63; Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, Musnad, I, 190, 193, 204-206. Al-Bukhari, Sahw, 6, 7; Muslim, Ṣalāh, 19, 20; Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, III, 12, 37, 42. Al-Bukhari, Sahw, 1. Al-Bukhari, Sahw, 2. Al-Bukhari, Sahw, 3. Al-Zaylaī called this hadith gharīb. See Naṣb al-Rāya, II, 173. Al-Bukhari, Sahw, 6, 7; Muslim, Ṣalāh, 19, 20; Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, III, 12, 37, 42. Al-Zaylaī, ibid, II, 174. Ibn Maja, ‘Iqāmah, 129. Al-Bukhari, Sahw, 9; al-Shawkanī, ibid, II, 320 ff.