by Prof Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr.  presented at a Practical Skills Session at Hafsa College on 22nd November 1998

Concept of taharat: The concept of taharat in Islam refers to ritual, spiritual, and physical purity and cleanliness. It has social and civilizational dimensions. The Qur’an has devoted many verses on taharat (   ). There is a link between physical and ritual purity. Physical purity is ridding one-self of dirt and physical impurities, najasat. Being physically clean is conducive to ritual purity. In many cases both physical and ritual purity occur at the same time for example bathing, ghusl after sexual intercourse, at the end of menstruation, and after birth. Taharat embraces cleanliness. A clean environment and a clean body are part of aesthetic beauty and are also necessary for sanitation and health. There are some cases like tayammum in which taharat is achieved without cleanliness as usually understood by humans.  In tayammum the dust is blown off the hands before passing them over the face (MB # 226). Taharat is in itself a form of ‘ibadat as well as preparation for other forms of ‘ibadat. Since worship is direct communication with Allah, taharat can also be viewed as a protocol preparation for an important event. Some forms of ‘ibadat like salat and hajj can not be valid without taharat. The holy Qur’an can not be touched unless one is in a state of taharat. Physical purity for salat embraces the body, the clothes, the place, and the atmosphere. The prophet for example forbade eating of food with strong orders and then coming to the mosque in order to keep the mosque atmosphere clean and pleasant. One of the unique bounties for the ummat is that the earth was made a purifying agent. The cleaning agents are water and solids like dust or stones. There are several types of water: not clean in itself and not able to cleanse, clean in itself but not able to cleanse, clean in itself and also able to cleanse something else. Water that may appear clean may have filth, infectious organisms, or chemical pollutants that make it unsuitable for cleansing. The level or amount of impurity is important. A little impurity does not necessarily make water unsuitable for cleansing. When water is not available, tayammum, is carried out for both ablution, wudu, and ritual bath, ghusl.


Methods of taharat: Insitnjah is the process of removing excrement from the body. It has its specific regulations and etiquette. Entry into the toilet should be with the left foot reciting the following formula: 'Alahuymma inni a'udhi bika min al khubth wa al kahabaith'  (MB 116). It is forbidden to face the qibla when defecating or urinating (MB 118).  Water is the best cleansing agent (MB #121) but also solids can be used (MB #124). Salat is not accepted without wudhu (MB#110). Wudhu involves washing parts of the body exposed to the outside 1 or 2 or 3 times (MB #126, 127, and 128). Wudhu starts with washing the hands. Then the following are washed: the face, the lower arm to the elbow, and the feet to the ankles. The hair should be wiped with the wet hand; this may be any part of the hair or the whole hair (MB#143). The following are recommended additional cleaning but are not obligatory: rinsing the mouth, madhmadhat, putting water in the nose and the blowing it out, istinthar (MB#130), and cleaning the external auditory meatus. Oral hygiene by using a tooth pick (miswak) is encouraged by Islam. It is recommended to use a tooth-pick before each salat. The Prophet nearly made this compulsory but did not want to make life difficult for Muslims. One should start with then right side followed by the left (MB#133). It is also recommended to follow the order: face, arms, hair, and feet. Wudhu remains valid as long as no flatus, urine, or stool is passed (MB #138). Sleep other than a very light one nullifies wudhu. When socks, khuffain, are worn when a person had wudhu, it is not necessary to wash the feet on subsequent wudhu (MB153, 154, 155) for 24 hours for the non-traveler and 3 days for the traveler. It is recommended to stay in a state of wudhu even in inter-salat times or when asleep (MB 184). Tayammum is carried out when there is no water for both travelers and non-travelers (MB # 225). Ghusl is washing the whole body after sexual relations (MB 202), at the end of the menstrual period, at the end of post-partum bleeding, on becoming a Muslim or in relation to performing some types of ibadat such as hajj. It is necessary to separate the hair to make sure water reaches the skin of the scalp (MB195). Nakedness should not be exposed during bathing (MB 199).


Importance and advantages of salat: Salat is the most important formal act of ‘ibadat. It was ordained in heaven; the prophet had to make a special journey for this on the night of isra and miraaj (MB #228). Salat is so important that it is considered a distinguishing characteristic of Muslims. True Muslims keep it all the time, muhafadhat ala al salat (p 713 2:238…107:4-5). Deliberate refusal to pray puts the individual concerned outside the community of Islam. Neglect of salat is a great sin (107:4-5). Salat is obligatory on adult, sane Muslims. Salat has advantages and a lasting impact on the individual (p 710-11 23:1-2…87:14-15). Regular salat protects the worshipper from committing evils and transgression (29:45). Salat properly offered cleanses and expiates sins. Salat is direct communication between the worshipper and Allah. The actions of qiyaam, sujuud, and rukuu (p 564 2:58….96:19) are all direct actions of respect and reverence that the worshipper performs in front of the creator (23:1-2). Khushu is necessary for validity of salat otherwise it becomes a series of routine physical movements with no purpose. Salat has advantages for the society. Salat in congregation or in the mosque has the social advantage of bringing people together in worship and to strengthen their brotherhood. The call to prayer, adhan, is necessary to make sure that the whole community congregates (MB#370). The spirit of brotherhood and social organization is reflected in the requirement to straighten rows to stand shoulder to shoulder and to follow the imaam. The whole community meets five times a day in congregational prayer. The larger community meets once a week on Friday. An even larger gathering occurs during the 2 festival prayers, salat al eidain. The biggest gathering is at the Kaaba in Makka. Praying in congregation is so important that it is recommended that even if you have completed your obligatory prayer, you should repeat it as nafilat if there is a jamaat offering the same prayer. Salat also prevents committing  fahishat and munkar (29:45). Adhan must therefore be with a loud voice (MB #373). Congregational prayer is always better than individual prayer (MB #390, 391, 392, 395, 397). The gathering for salat is so important that the sick are excused from congregational prayer for a short time and must return to the mosque as soon as they feel a bit better (MB #399). Congregational salat is fardh kifayat for males resident in an area to establish the practice in public. It is sunnat for women and travelers. The smallest jamaat is 2 persons. Excuses for congregational salat are: illness, physical difficulties, and domestic responsibilities.


Obligatory salat: The obligatory prayers are the 5 daily salats, salat al jum’a, and salat al janazat. Friday is a special day. The Friday prayer is personally obligatory, fardh 'ain. Women and travelers are exempted from this obligation. The minimum number for holding salat al jumaat is 40 adult male residents. Physical barriers like rain or illness can excuse from salat al jumaat. On hot days salat al jumaat is delayed (MB 506). Bathing is recommended (MB 502). Perfume can be used (MB 494) and the hair can be oiled (MB 495, 496). The teeth should be cleaned with siwaak (MB 498, 499). The best clothes should be worn on Friday (MB 497). It is recommended to come early and to walk with tranquility towards the mosque. Dhikr should be made on the way to and from the mosque. A person should not push a brother from his seat on Friday (MB 508). Two calls to prayer are made on Friday (MB 509). The khutbah is given by the imam from the pulpit and the congregation must listen attentively (MB 520). The khutbat has 5 pillars: (a) praising Allah and the simplest formula for this is 'alhamdulillaahi' (b) enjoining the believers to have consciousness of Allah, taqwah (c) reciting at least a verse from the Qur'an (d) supplication, dua, for the believers in the second khutbat. The khutbat can be in any language. The speaker must sit between the two sermons. The khutbat has the following sunnats: the imaam (a) stands on the pulpit, (b) greets the congregation at the start with 'assalam alaykum',  (c) sits on the pulpit until the muadhin finishes the second adhan, (d) holds a weapon like a gun or a sword during the khutbat, (e) faces the congregation. Salat al jumaat is 2 rak'at.


Non-obligatory, supererogatory salat that are sunnat mu'akkadat: Most salats are voluntary or supererogatory and are of several types. It is better to offer them at home than in the mosque. 


salat al nafilat before and after the 5 prescribed prayers: 2 before fajr,  2 before dhuhr, 4 after dhuhr, 4 before asr, 2 after maghrib, and 2 after isha.


Salat al tahajjud or qiyam al layl (p 713 17:78-79…76:26, 17:79, 73:1-7, 73:20, 51:17): The Prophet prayed at night and encouraged others to do so (MB #590, 593). It is recommended to prolong the standing, qiyam (MB 600) and to pray in the last half of the night (MB 607).


Salat al tarawih is 20 rak'at prayed in Ramadhan on nights preceding each day of fasting.


Salat al witr is recommended as the last prayer of the night (MB 539, 540, 541, 542). The minimum for witr is one rak'at and the maximum is 11 rak'ats.


Salat al dhuha is prayed in mid-morning and is at the least 2 rak'at but can be 8 or 12 rak'at.


Salat al eid (MB 532, 533). Salat al eid is sunnat muakkadat. Its time begins from sunrise. It is recommended to be held in a mosque but if the space is not enough it can be held outdoors. It is recommended to eat a little before salat eid al fitr but not to eat before salat eid al adha. Among other recommendations are: bathing, ghusl, wearing the best available clothes, using perfume, coming early to the place of prayer, and returning by a different route. The imaam should arrive just before the start of the salat. The call for salat is al salat jamiat repeated twice. The salat itself is two rak'ats with 7 takbirs in he first rak'at and 5 in the second. Two khutbahs are given with 9 takbirs in the first and 7 in the second. It is recommended to repeat takbir throughout the days of eid. The short form is 'allahu akbar allahu akbar la ilaaha illa llahu wa allahu akbar allahu akbar wa lillaahi al hamd.'. The longer form is: al hamdu li laahi kathiiran wa subhana llaahi bukratan wa asiilan la ilaaha illa allaahi wa la na'abudu illa iyaahu mukhliswiin lahu al diin was law kariha al kafiruuun. La ilaaha illa allaahu wahdahu sadaqa wa'adahu, wa nasara 'abdahu wa a'azzza jundahu, wa hazama al ahzaab wahdahu la illaha illa al llaahu wa allaahu akbar".


Salat al janazat is a special type of prayer on burial of a dead person. It is fardh kifayat fulfilled on behalf of the whole community by at least one male. If there are no males, females can fulfil the obligation. It is offensive, makruh, to offer this salat in a cemetery. The corpse is washed and is shrouded. It is then placed on its right side with the face facing the qiblat. The imaam stands by the head of the male corpse and at the posterior end of the female corpse. One salat can be offered for several corpses at the same time. Salat al janazat for an absent corpse, salat al gahib,  is allowed. There is no bowing or prostration in salat al janazat. There are 4 takbirs. The first is followed by recitation of the al fatiha. The second is followed by prayer for blessings to be on the Prophet, al salat ala al nabi. The third is followed by supplication, dua, for the deceased (umdat p. 232). The 4th is followed by taslim and a dua as follows: allahumma la tahrimuna ajrahu wa la taftinna ba'adahu..


Non-obligatory, supererogatory salat that are for special reasons or situations

Prayer of peril/fear (salat al khawf (MB 524, 525) is prayed when in legally-sanctioned military action. Some fighters pray while the others engage the enemy. If the fighting is very intense, prayer can be by nodding instead of bowing and prostration.


Consultation (salat al istikharat),is prayed when there is a matter that requires decision and the right solution is not known. After praying 2 rak'ats a special prayer is said: allahumma inni astakhiruka bi 'ilmika wa astaqdiruka bi qudratika wa as 'aluka min fadhlika al adhiim fa innka taqdiru wa la aqdiru wa ta'alamu wa la a'alamu wa anta allaamu al ghuyuub. Allahumma in kunta ta'alamu anna hadha al amr khair li fo diini wa ma'ashi wa aqibat amri fa aqdiruhu li wa yassiruhu li thumma barik li fiihi. Wa in kunta ta'alamu anna hadha al amr sharru li fi diini wa ma'ashi wa aqibat amri fa asrifuhu anni wa asrifni anhu wa aqdir li al,khair haith kaana thumma radhini bihi'. (umdat p. 161)

Drought prayer (salat al istisqaa (MB 547) it is 2 rak'ats like those of eid followed by 2 khutbahs.


Solar eclipse, salat al kusuf (MB 561) has no adhan or iqamat. It consists of 2 rak'ats but each rak'at has 2 fatiha recitations and 2 bowings. Two sermons like those of the Friday prayer are recommended at the end of the salat


Salat of greeting the mosque,  tahiyyat al masjid (MB #279) is offered as 2 rak'ata on entering the mosque. However the best greetings for the Makka mosque is circumbulation of the kaaba.


Salat on starting a journey is 2 rak'ats


Salat on return from a journey is 2 rak'at


Salat sunnat al I'iktikaaf 2 rak'ats


Sunnat al wudhu 2 rak'ats at conclusion of the wudhu.


Times of salat: Obligatory prayers have fixed times (4:103, MB # 325). The prayer times for each city are computed for all days of the year and are available all over the world. The best of 'ibadat is prayer in its time (MB #329). It is preferable to offer salat at the start of its respective time interval (MB #393). To ensure this and to avoid late-coming, it is recommended to sit in the mosque and wait for the prayer (MB # 396). Salat times are set in such a way that there is continuous communication with the creator (MB #331). Each of the 5 obligatory salats is offered at any time somewhere on the globe thanks to the different time zones. Salat al isha can be offered until mid-night (MB #353).  The 5 obligatory prayers are an expiation of sins (MB #330). There are times in which salat can not be offered. Salat is not allowed at sunrise and sunset to avoid confusion with worshippers of the sun. In practice this means that no salat is offered after salat al asr (MB #358, 359, 360, and 361) and after salat al fajr until sunrise (MB #357). Prayer just before sunset is discouraged (MB #361). Salat is also not allowed when the sun is exactly overhead, ie at the highest point of the horizon at mid-day. These rules are relaxed for make-up prayers, salat al qadha (MB #362, 363) and supererogatory prayers performed for a specific purpose like sunnat tahiyyat al masjid or sunnat al wudhu. Time restrictions are also not observed for salat al janazat. There are no restrictions at all on prayer at any time in the sanctuary, haram, of Makka. Salat should also be delayed if the physical conditions will not allow undivided attention and concentration for example conditions of extreme heat, extreme cold, or hunger is the presence of food. Salat al dhuhr is delayed on hot days (MB #332, 333).


Preliminaries for salat: before prayer attention must be paid to clothes, the place, and the direction. Covering of awrat is obligatory even if praying alone because the angels and the jinn are also watching. The color of the clothes does not matter (MB#248). Shoes could be worn in salat (MB #254) but this is frowned upon when prayer is in the mosque. Prayer in leather socks, khuff, is allowed and is encouraged especially for travelers (MB #255). It is offensive, makruh, for men to wear tight clothes that reveal the shape of the body. Clothing that reveals the shape of the body is strictly forbidden for women. Men can not wear silk or gold ornaments but women are allowed to do so. Prayer is not valid in any cloth that has any form of najasat. Among the bounties of Allah on the ummat is that salat can be offered anywhere on earth and not necessarily in prescribed places. Any place used for salat takes on a special significance. There must be a sutra to demarcate it (MB 312, 313). Walking within the sutra is forbidden because it interrupts the worship (MB 320, 321).  It does not  matter what object is used as sutra: animal, trees, or a human (MB 318, 319, 322). Obligatory prayers can be offered at home but the mosque is preferred (MB #270). Being in the mosque, itikaaf (2:187) even without active engagement in salat is a source of reward. Muslims are encouraged to offer supererogatory prayers in their homes so that the houses do not become graves. Prayers in cemeteries are discouraged (MB #275, 276).  It is offensive to pray in the following places: bathhouse, middle of the road, rubbish dump, slaughter-house, church, and towards a tomb. Prostration is allowed on wood or a mat (MB #250). It is allowed to pray on a bed (MB #251 & 252). Men can separate their arms away from the trunk during prostration but this is discouraged for women (MB#250). A child can be carried while praying (MB #323). The direction of Makka must be ascertained before start of salat. Prayer must always be in the general direction of the qiblat (MB#257, 2:142-144) but not necessarily the accurate compass point. Non-obligatory prayers offered while on a moving vehicle are valid even if not facing the qiblat (MB #267).


Call to salat: Adhan and iqamat are sunnat even for an individual praying alone. They are also required for a second jamaat held in the same place for those who come late. If women are praying in a group they only need recite the iqamat without the adhan. Adhan for salat al fajr can be pronounced before the time for salat; for all other prayers adhan can only be pronounced when the time for the salat enters. Wudhu and facing the qiblat are both required for validity of adhan. The words of adhan are repeated twice. The words of iqamat are the same as those of adhan and are repeated only once with the exception of 'qad qaamat al salaat' which is repeated twice. On hearing the adhan you should repeat after the muaddhin with the exception of qad qaamat al salat for which you respond 'la hawla wa la quwat illa billah. The response to the adhan is required even if reciting Qur'an, in a state of ritual impurity following sexual intercourse,janabat, or in menstruation, haidh. If in the midst of another salat or during copulation, the response to the adhan is after the conclusion of that act. At the end of adhan the following dua is recited: allahuma rabba hadhihi al dawat al taamat, aati sayyidna muhammad al wasiilat wa al fadhilat wa irfa'uhu maqamat mahmudat allati w;adatuhu innaka la takhlifu al mi'ad (MB #377). A non-obligatory prayer, nafilat, can be offered between the adhan and iqamat (MB #382). When iqamat is called you should not stand up until you see the imaam (MB #387). No non-obligatory salat can be offered after iqamat (MB #388) but emergencies should be attended to (MB 385, 398). When several people are encamped in an area and they all hear the adhan and iqamat, they can pray each in their respective places (MB #385)..


Physical acts of salat: The physical actions of salat must be done exactly in order to get spiritual involvement. Islam being a complete civilization emphasizes perfection, excellence and order. Disorderly salat is not conducive to spiritual elevation. Salat has pillars, arkaan al salat, conditions for validity, shurut al salat, and actions that nullify it, mubtilaat al salat. There are 17 pillars of salat explained below:


Intention, niyyat: the intention to pray is implicit and pronouncing it in words is a sunnat but is not necessary for validity of the prayer.


Takbirat al ihraam: The hands are raised to the level of the shoulders while reciting Allahu akbar or allahu al akbar. The takbir is repeated at all major movements during the salat: bowing, rukuu (MB 451), rising up from bowing (MB 452), prostration, sujuud (MB462) and rising from prostration (MB 468).

Standing up, qiyaam: Men should stand up on both legs and with feet separated. Women can hold their legs together. While standing up the right hand is placed over the left hand (MB 426) with the position of both hands over the chest wall or the abdomen being variable. The supplication to open the salat, dua iftititaah al salat is variable (MB 428), the most popular in South-East Asia being:  Allahu akbar kabiirat, wa al hamdu lilaahi kathirat wa subhana llahu bukratan wa asila. Wajjahutu wajhiya lilladhi fatara al samawaati wa al ardh hanifan musliman wa ma ana mina al mushrikin. inna salati wa nuski wa mahyaaya wa mamaati li lllahi la sharika lahu wa bidhalika umiritu wa ana min al muslimiin.


Recitation of surat al fatihat is compulsory in each rak'at (MB 434). Al fatihah is followed by verses or a complete surat of the Qur'an  in the first 2 rak'ats (MB 437).  Only al fatihat is recited in the last 1 or 2 rak'ats (MB 447). The recitation is loud in salat al maghrib (MB 440), salat al fajr (MB 444), salat al isha (  ),  salat al juma'at, salat al tarawiih, salat al kusuuf, salat al istisqa, salat al eidein. Recitation is loud for missed day prayers that are offered at night and is soft for missed night prayers offered during the day. It is obligatory for the follower to recite al fatiuhah for himslef and not rely on the imaam's recitation. He however can listen to the imaam's recitation of  the Qur'an. The recitation of al fatihah requires ta'awudhu and basmalah at the beginning. Both the imaam and the followers repeat the formula amiin at the end of the recitation of al fatihah (MB 448, 449). 


Bowing, rukuu:  You should bow as much as is necessary to be able to put hands on the knees (MB 453). The bowing is at waist.  The formula repeated during the bowing: 'subhana rabbi al adhiim'  3, 5, 7, 9, or 11 times. The back must be straightened at the end of the bowing (MB 454)


Being momentarily stationary, tama'aninat, after bowing.


Standing straight   'itidaal: is required after bowing (MB 461). The head is raised to the position before start of the rukuu while saying 'samia allaahu liman hamidahu.. rabbana laka al hamd mil'a al samawaati wa mil'a al alrdh wa mil'a ma shi'ita min shay'I ba'adahu.


Tamaininat: being stationary after raising from the bowing. Must remain stationary momentarily after rising from bowing.


Prostration, sujuud: prostration is on 7 bones (MB 464): the forehead, the 2 hands, the 2 knees, and the 2 feet.. The forearm should not be stretched out on the ground during sujuud as dogs do. The ground must bear the weight of the head during sujuud. The rear of he trunk must be higher than the front. The uncovered forehead must touch the ground. It is not obligatory for the nose to touch the ground. During sujuud the following formula is repeated: 'subhana rabbi al a'ala three times. In sujuud the men separate the knee and feet but the women keep them together.


Being stationary in prostration, tama'aninat.

 Sitting between the two prostrations, juluus bayna al sajdatayn: A brief sitting is required between the two prostrations (MB 465)


Being stationary in the sitting posiiton, tama'aninat.


Reciting the last tashahhud: The tashahud at the end of the first 2 rak 'ats is brief and is not obligatory; the one at the end of the salat is longer and is the one that is obligatory. (MB 472). There is a supplication, dua, after the last tashahhud (MB 473, 475).  The minimum for tashahhud is: al tahiyaat li laahi al salaam alayka ayyuha al nabiy wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu salaam alayna wa ala ibaad laahi al salihiin. As'hadu al la ilaha illa llah wa shhadu anna muhammamdan rasulullahi. The complete tashahhud is: 'al tahiyaat al mubarakaat al salawaat al tayibaat li laahi. Al salaam alaika ayyuha al nabiy wa rahmat al llaahi wa barakatuhu. Al salaam alayna wa ala ibaad al laahi al salihiiin. Ash'had an la ilaaha illa al laahi wa ash'had anna Muhammadan rasuuul al laahi'


Sitting during the last tashahhud.


Prayer for the prophet, salat ala al nabi: The brief form is Allahumma saklli ala muhammad.. The more extensive one is: allahumma sali ala muhammad wa ala aali muhammad kama sallayita ala ibrahima wa ala aali ibrahima wa barik ala muhammad wa ala aali muhammad kama baarakta ala ibrahuma wa ala aali ibrahima fi al alamiin innaka hamidun majiid.


The first salaam, al tasliim al awaal: signifies the formal end of the prayer (MB 476, 477). The second taslim is sunnat. The minimum taslim is: assalam alaykum. The more complete one is: assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.


Carrying out the above acts in order, tartiib. 


Dua before taslim is recommended as followed: allahumma ighfir li ma qadamtu wa ma akkhartu wa ma asrartu wa ma a'alantu wa ma asraftu wa anta 'a'alamu bihi minni anta al muaqaddimu wa anta al muakkhiru la ilaaha illa anta. 


Dhikr after taslim is recommended but is not obligatory (MB 478, 479, 480). The dhikr is silent unless the imaam wants to teach people in which case he will repeat the dhikr aloud. The recommended dhikr consists of the following: (1)  ayat al kursi verse 2:225, (2) surat al ikhlaas S.112,  (3) surat al falaq S.113, (4) surat al naas S.114, (5) astaghfirullah  (6) alahumma anta al salaam wa mijka al salaalu wa ilaika ya'udu al salam ta 'alayita wa tabarakta ya dha al jalal wa al ikraam (7) allhuma la mania lima a'atayita, wa la mu'tiya lima mana'ata wa la raddan lima qadhayta (8) subhana laah x 33 times (9) alhamdulillahi x 33 times (10) allahu akbar x 33 times (11) la ilaaha illa laahu wahdahu la sharika lahu al mulk wa lahu al hamdu wa huwa ala kulli shay'I qadiir. 


The following qunuut supplication is repeated in salat al fajr after rising from bowing in the second rak'at: allahuma ihdini fiman hadayta wa afini fiman afayta wa tawallani fiman tawallayta wa barik li fiman a'atayata, wa qini sharra ma qadhayta, fa innakia taqdhi qa la yuqdha alayka wa innahu ;la yadhillu man aalayta wa la ya'izzu man adayta tabarakta rabbana wa ta'alayta falaka al hamdu ala ma qadahyta astaghfiruka wa atuubu ilayka.


Conditions (shuruut al salat), invalidators (mubtilaat al salat), offensives (makruhaat al salat), and sunnat  of salat: The following conditions for validity of salat (shurut al salat) nullify the salat if left out: (a) taharat, (b) covering the awrat, (c) facing the qiblat, (d) avoiding extraneous speech & movements (e) avoiding eating (e) ascertaining the entry of salat time before starting to pray (f) knowing the obligation of prayer and (g) and knowing the method of prayer. The following sunnats of salat if left out require sujuud al sahaw: .(a) the first tashahhud (b) sitting in the first tashahhud (c) prayer for blessings on the prophet in the first tashahhud (d) prayer for blessings on the relatives of the Prophet in the first tashahhud (e) reciting al qunuut (f) standing up in qunuut. Salat is invalidated by mubtilaat al salat: extraneous speech, extraneous movements, and eating. Speech of any kind is forbidden in salat (MB 624, 625). Greetings are not returned during prayer but can be returned at the end (MB 629). Among the offensives, makruhat al salat,  to pray when holding onto urine or stool and when food or drink are presented and the person praying is hungry or thirsty. When food is served it is preferable to start with food and pray later to ensure complete concentration during prayer (MB 403)


Other prostrations: Mistakes can occur in prayer; they may be mistakes of omission or mistakes of commission. They should be corrected immediately and a prostration of forgetfulness, sajdat al sahaw, is oferred at the end (MB #262, 631).  Two prostrations are made just before tasliim. The imaam must be followed even if he makes a mistake and the prostration of forgetfulness is offered at the end. The follower may prostrate for his personal mistakes after the taslim of the imaam. When a salat is forgotten, it should be offered in total whenever it is remembered (MB #366). Sujuud al sahaw is not necessary in such cases. Adhan (MB#364) and salat al jamaat are allowed in make-up prayers (MB # 365). The missed prayers should be made up in the order in which they were missed and there is no need for sujuud al sahaw. Sujuud al tilawat is prostration on reciting any verse of the Qur'an with the word sujuud or any of its conjugates. This prostration does not require facing the qiblat. It is sunnat for the reader, the active listener, mustam'u, and the passive listener, samiu,. The prostration starts with takbir and ends with taslim unless it is in salat in which case the taslim is not necessary. The rules for sujuud al shukr are the same as those for sujuud al tilawat.


Salat in difficult circumstances: Salat is so important that it can not be left even in difficult circumstances. While on a journey the salat can be shortened, qasar al salat,  or offered before or after its prescribed time (4:101). Only 2 rak'at of a 4-rak'at salat are offered while on a journey (MB 575). Maghrib and fajr are 3 and 2 rak;at respectively whether at home or on a journey. Qasar can be made for dhuhr, asr, and isha. Dhuhr and asr can be offered together at the time of dhuhr, jam'u taqdiim, or at the time of asr, jam'u ta'akhir. Maghrib and isha can be offered at the time of maghrib or the time of isha (MB 581, 586). Joining, jam'u, can be done in case of rain preventing return for another salat, for a nursing woman, for a woman with a chronic vaginal discharge who is not sure she will be in a clean state for the next salat, fear of urinal contamination for those with urinary incontinence, fear for life, fear for property, and fear for honor. In the cases mentioned above, the joining of salat can be only apparent and not real, jam'u suuri.  The first salat is offered at the end of its time while the next one is offered at the start of its period. The shortest journey for which salat is shortened is 81 km (MB 580). What matters is the distance and not the time required to cover that distance. Qasr is carried out during the journey and only for 3 days after arriving at the final destination. On arrival at the destination with the intention of travelling again, qasar can be continued for 18 days and no more. The sick are permitted to abridge or modify the physical movements of the salat. If a sick person can not stand he can sit down (MB 587) and bow down or prostrate to the extent possible or just nod. It is also possible to pray lying on the back or on one side. If all is impossible, bowing and prostration can be done by the eyes only.  Soldiers on the battle field can pray abridged prayers and physical movements are changed. Women are excused from salat during the period of menstruation because of the associated physiological stress (MB 216).


Congregational prayer: Salat in congregation requires a leader, imaam, for cordination. The most-learned person should be given preference (MB 406). Additional criteria in order of importance are: memorization of the Qur'an, the older in age, good moral reputation muru'at, cleanliness of person and clothes, and a good voice. Usually the owner of the home, the regular imaam of the mosque, and sultan have precedence in leading salat. It is offensive for a person to lead others who he knows dislike him. The imaam must be followed in all actions. It is a sin to make any step ahead of the imaam (MB 412). Lagging behind the imaam is excusable only for short durations. The followers must stand behind the imaam but if there are only 2 the follower stands to the right of the imaam (MB 415). The rows must be straightened (MB 421) with the forward ones being filled first.  The rows of men are first followed by boys then the women. If a woman is leading women she should stand in the middle of the row. The imaam must not prolong the standing (MB 417, 418). The imaam should not prolong the Qur'anic recitation unless he knows that all the followers are people who do not mind or can manage a lengthy salat. If the imaam forgets what comes next in a recitation of the Qur'an, the followers remind him by saying it. If the imaam forgets an action, men can draw his attention by saying  ' subhana al laah' and women by clapping hands. If the imaam omits a pillar of salat the followers can cease following him. If however the imaam omits a sunnat, the followers can perform it on their own provided it does not lead to a considerable lag behind the imaam. If the imaam has to leave the salat for an emergency like urinary urgency, he can choose a successor from the followers who leads the salat to its completion. A wall could separate the imaam from the followers (MB 423). The imaam sits facing the congregation after taslim. (MB 481, 482).  It is permissible for the imaam to lead followers praying a different salat for example supererogatory & obligatory prayers and vice versa. The imaam may pray qasar while the followers are completing the prayer, the converse is not valid. The imaam may pray salat al dhuhr while the follower is praying salat al asr. The imaam may pray a make-up prayer while the follower is praying a current prayer.

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule November 1998