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What is the right way to offer salah?

Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,

As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.  (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)

 

One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:

 

Dear Brother Burhan

 

What is the right way to offer salah? As there are various way people offer salah, hanafi way shafai way and so on I would like to know why there is difference?

And what is right in terms of

1.Rafaa yadain

2.Ameen

3.Raising the fingre during tashahud

4.And witr

 

jazakallah

 

mujtuba

 

(There may be some grammatical and spelling errors in the above statement. The forum does not change anything from questions, comments and statements received from our readers for circulation in confidentiality.)

 

Answer:

 

The way of offering prayers

In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.

 

Your Question: What is the right way to offer salah?

Allah Says in the Holy Quran Chapter 33 Surah Ahzab verse 21:

There is indeed the best example for you to follow in the Messenger of Allah, for every such person looks forward to Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.

 

The Messenger of Allah (saws) commanded and the guided the believers regarding their prayers and said: Pray as you have seen me pray.

 

Allah Subhanah has Commanded the believers to make the Prophet Mohamed (saws) their example for every aspect of their lives; and without an iota of a doubt, there is no person who ever walked on this planet earth who worshipped Allah Subhanah in a better or more perfect manner than the noble self of the Last and Final Messenger of Allah, Mohamed ar-Rasool Allah (saws).

 

Thus if one wishes to offer the salaah in the right or most perfect manner, then he should leave all else aside and strive only to follow the example of the Messenger of Allah (saws). For every act or rite or recitation one does in ones prayer, one must first determine whether that act or rite was performed by the Prophet (saws); if it was performed one should do it, and if one finds that that particular act or rite was not performed the Prophet (saws) in his prayers, one should abstain from it.

 

Your Question:As there are various way people offer salah, hanafi way shafai way and so on. I would like to know why there is difference?

First and foremost one must realize that all the major schools of Islam, be it Hanafi, Shafei, Maliki or Hanbali.all of them are absolutely unanimous in their opinion regarding what forms the obligatory acts of prayer and there is absolutely no difference amongst them here.

 

On some of the non-obligatory acts of prayer, or acts which do not violate the sanctity of prayer like rafayadain, or holding or leavings the hands straight, or saying ameen aloud or silently, etc at times one amongst the eminent scholars may differ slightly with another depending which hadith they choose to give more preference to.

 

Thus although it may at times seem to one that the four eminent Imams differ amongst one another in the rite of prayers, the truth is that all of them are absolutely unanimous in all of the obligatory parts or rites of prayer like..turning the face towards the qibla, the raising of the hands and declaring the opening takbeer, the standing in prayer, the recitation of Surah al-Fatihah in each rakah, the ruku, the sujood, etc.

 

And what is right in terms of

Q-1: Rafaa yadain

Rafayadain literally means to lift or raise both hands (unto the shoulder or ear).

 

All the scholars of Islam are absolutely unanimous in their opinion, that one must practice Rafayadain or lift both his hands unto his shoulders or ears when one starts his prayers by saying Allah-o-Akbar. This practice of Rafayadain signaling the start of prayer is an obligatory part of prayer.


But practicing Rafayadain in the prayer when one goes into ruku, or when one stands up from ruku, or going from a qiyam (standing) posititon to sajdah in prayer, etc. does not constitute an obligatory part of the prayer. There is a difference of opinion amongst the scholars in the practicing of Rafayadain during the prayers because there are authentic narrations to both arguments. Most companions of the Prophet (saws) narrated that he (saws) used to practice Rafayadain in the beginning as well as in between his prayers, while some other state that he did it only once at the beginning of prayers. Thus, both are part of the Sunnah or Way of the Prophet (saws).

 

Reported Ibn 'Umar, "When the Prophet (saws) stood to pray, he would raise his hands until they were the same height as his shoulders and then he would make the takbir. When he wanted to bow, he would again raise his hands in a similar fashion. When he raised his head from the bowing, he did the same and said, 'Allah hears him who praises Him.' (Related by al-Bukhari, Muslim and al-Baihaqi.)

 

Reported bn Mas'ud : "I prayed with the Prophet (saws) and he raised his hands only once (at the beginning of prayer)."

Related by At-Tirmidhi.

 

To the best of our knowledge both the above quoted narrations are accepted as authentic by the jurists in Islam, although most good jurists tend to give more weight to the narration of Abdullah ibn Umar because this narration has passed the strict criteria of and recorded in the sahihs of both, Bukhari and Muslim, as compared to the narration of Abdullah ibn Masud which is recorded only by Tirmidhi.

 

Thus if a believer today gives weight to the narration reported by Hadrat Ibn Umar (r.a.) and prays and practices Rafayadain in the beginning of prayer as well in his movements, his intention being to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (saws), it is fine. And if a believer giving weight to the narration reported by Hadrat Ibn Masud (r.a.), prays by practicing Rafayadain only at the beginning of prayer, his intention also being to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (saws), that too is fine. What is important is that every believer does an act or a deed with the intention to follow the Sunnah or Way of the Prophet (saws).

 

Q-2: Ameen

Although it is not considered obligatory, there is compelling evidence and a preferred Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saws) to say ameen aloud with the imam at the end of the recitation of Surah al-Fateha when praying in congregation, and silently when one is praying alone.

 

Fiqh-us-Sunnah Fiqh 1.136

Sunnah acts of prayer, Saying 'Ameen

It is Sunnah for everyone to say 'ameen after reciting al-Fatihah. The word ameen is not part of Surah al-Fatihah, but rather a supplication meaning, "O Allah, respond (to, or answer what we have said). It should be said aloud in the prayers where the recital is aloud, and quietly in the prayers where the recital is silent.

 

Said Na'eem al-Mujamir, "I prayed behind Abu Hurairah and he said, 'In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful,' then recited Surah al-Fatihah, and closed it with 'ameen. The people also said 'ameen. After the prayer, Abu Hurairah said, 'By the One in whose Hand is my soul, I have followed the prayer of the Prophet (saws)."

Related by Al-Bukhari, an-Nasa'i, Ibn Khuzaimah, Ibn Hibban and Ibn as-Siraj.

 

Ibn Shihab (az-Zuhri) said, "The Messenger of Allah (saws)would say 'ameen (after recitation of Surah al-Fateha in prayers)."

Related by Bukhari.

 

Abu Hurairah said, "When the Messenger of Allah (saws) would recite, '...Not with those with whom You are displeased, and not of those who have gone astray (end of Surah al-Fateha),' he (saws) would say 'ameen, such that those close to him could hear him." (Related by Abu Dawud.) Ibn Majah's version is, "Until the people in the first row would hear him, and the mosque would ring with the sound."

Related by Al-Hakim.

 

Wa'il ibn Jubair says, "I heard the Messenger of Allah (saws) recite, '...and not of those who have gone astray (end of Surah al-Fateha),' and then say 'ameen, and make it long with his voice." (Related by Ahmad.)

 

Reported 'Ata, "I have found two hundred companions of the Prophet (saws) in this mosque and when the imam recited,'...and not of those who have gone astray (end of Surah al-Fateha),' I heard them say 'ameen.

 

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (saws) said, When the imam recites, '... not of those with whom You are angered nor of those who have gone astray (end of Surah al-Fateha),' you should say 'ameen. If this corresponds to when the Angels say it, he will have all of his previous sins forgiven." (Related by al-Bukhari.)

 

Q-3: Raising the fingre during tashahud

Fiqh-us-Sunnah Fiqh 1.157

Ibn 'Umar reported that when the Prophet (saws) sat for the tashahud, he (saws) would place his left hand on his left knee and his right hand upon his right knee, and he would form a ring like (fifty-three) and point with his index finger. In another narration it is reported, "He would close his hand and point with his index finger." (Related by Muslim.)

 

Wa'il ibn Hajr reported that the Prophet (saws) would place his left palm on his left thigh and knee. He would place the end of his right elbow upon his right thigh and would then close his right hand, forming a circle. When reciting the shahaadah, he (saws) would make a circle with his middle finger and thumb and point with his index finger.

(Related by Ahmad.)

 

Reported az-Zubair, "When the Prophet (saws) sat for tashahud, he would place his right hand on his right thigh and his left hand on his left thigh. He would point with his index finger, and would not look beyond his pointing."

(Related by Ahmad, Muslim and anNasa'i.)

 

In light of the above evidence from the authentic traditions of the Messenger of Allah (saws), all the major schools of thought in Islam are unanimous in their opinion that it is a Sunnah to raise ones index finger when reciting only the first part of the Shahaadah (Ash hado an-laa ilaaha illalaah) during the recitation of tashahud in prayer.

There is no strong evidence in the authentic and established Sunnah either to raise the index finger continuously during the whole recitation of the tashahud, nor to keep moving the finger from the beginning of the recitation to its end.

 

Q-4: And witr

It is reported that Hadrat Ali (r.a.) said: "The witr prayer is not required like your obligatory prayers, but the Prophet (saws) would perform the witr prayer and say: 'O you people [followers] of the Qur'an, perform the witr prayer, for Allah is One and He loves the witr.'"

 

The Prophet (saws) said: 'The night prayer is sets of two rak'at. If one fears the coming of the dawn, he should perform one rak'ah, thereby making all of them odd [witr].'

 

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 2.112 Narrated by Abdullah bin Umar

The Prophet (saws) said, "Make Witr as your last prayer at night."

 

The witr prayers are not obligatory, but an extremely preferred Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saws), and he (saws) time and again exhorted the believers to offer the witr prayers and make it the last prayer of the night.

 

Fiqh-us-Sunnah Fiqh 2.13

It is permissible to perform the witr prayers by praying two rak'at combinations [and concluding each of them with a tashahud and the tasleems] and then praying one rak'ah with a tashahud and taslim. Likewise, it is allowed to pray all the rak'at with two tashahuds and one taslim. One may pray an even number of rak'ats, one after another, without making any tashahud, save in the one before the last rak'ah in which case one makes the tashahud and then stands to perform the last rak'ah wherein one will make another tashahud and end the prayer with the taslim. One may also make only one tashahud and the taslim, in the last rak'ah of witr. All of that is permissible and can be traced to the Prophet (saws).

Al-Bukhari and Muslim quote 'Aishah saying that the Prophet (saws) would perform thirteen rak'at during the night and would make the witr prayer, and he would not 'sit' except in the last rak'ah of them. In another hadith, 'Aishah reports that the Prophet (saws) would perform nine rak'at during the night and that he would not sit during them until the eighth rak'ah in which he would make remembrance of Allah, praising Him, and would make supplication. Then, he would stand without making the taslim and pray the ninth rak'ah, after which he would sit, make the tashahud and make the taslim in such a manner that we could hear him.

 

The Messenger of Allah (saws) performed the supererogatory tahuajjud and witr prayers in several ways:

  1. in two rakah combinations, each set concluding with a tashahud and tasleems, and then only one rakah of witr with a tashahud and tasleem.
  2. or pray two rakahs, then sit and recite the tashahud without tasleem, get up and offer one more rakah, and then the tashahud and tasleems.
  3. or pray an even number of rakahs one after another without any tashahud except in the one before the last rakah, then stand and perform the last rakah concluding with a tashahud and tasleems.
  4. or pray an odd number of rakahs one after another without any tashahud, except in the absolutely last rakah.

 

All of the above forms of offering the supererogatory tahajjud and witr prayers can be traced to the Prophet (saws), and thus regardless of any which one of the above ways one performs these prayers, they would be in accordance with the Sunnah or practice of the Messenger of Allah (saws).

 

Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me alone. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.

 

Your brother and well wisher in Islam,

 

 

Burhan


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