Chapter 4: Anatomy of Salat
What parts of the Salah are absolutely crucial for it to be valid? Which are essential, but do not invalidate it? And which enhance Salah, but are neither crucial nor essential? This is what this section will discuss, and in my opinion is what most of us need to both learn about Salah, be conscious of mistakes made during Salah and strive to correct them, as well as quell the many differences among Muslims about what is:
1) Crucial [invalidates the whole Salah or parts of it],
2) Essential [does not invalidate, but should be remedied] ,
3) and a Salah enhancement factor [which are optional].
Shurut of Salah
Linguistic meaning: Shurut is the plural of Shart, and it means “the sign” or “the indicator.”
In other words, it means is that it is a precondition. So in regards to Salah it refers to something necessary to be complete before the actual Salah. So a Shart is what is necessary for it, but before it.
Technical meaning: an evident and constant attribute whose absence necessitates the absence of the hukm, but whose presence does not automatically bring about its object. And it is separate from the essence of the act itself. That is a mouthful, I know! Let’s illustrate with an example. Tahara [purification, be it Wuduu or Ghusl from a major hadath] is a condition for the validity of the Salah. But it is not part of the Salah itself, it is completely separate. If you purify yourself you do not have to necessarily pray, but if you pray you do have to purify yourself. Make sense?
2. Pre-requisite for obligating Salah
Pre-requisite of Salah are the attributes sought to obligate salah on an individual, and they are not part of the salah itself.
a) Islam: in order to obligate salah on a person, they first have to be Muslim. Narrated Ibn Abbas: When the Prophet sent Muadh to Yemen, he said to him, “You are going to a nation from the people of the Scripture, so let the first thing to which you will invite them, be the Tawhid of Allah. If they learn that, tell them that Allah has enjoined on them, five prayers to be offered in one day and one night. And if they pray, tell them that Allah has enjoined on them Zakat of their properties and it is to be taken from the rich among them and given to the poor. And if they agree to that, then take from them Zakat but avoid the best property of the people.” [Bukhari]
Q. is it obligatory on a convert to Islam to make up for the missed Salah during his/her lifetime prior to Islam? No. When they came to Islam, their files of bad deeds are expunged and the good deeds remain.
b) Puberty: Aishah narrated that the Prophet (saw) said: “The pen has been lifted for three: the insane until he regains his sanity, the child until he reaches puberty, and the sleeper until he wakes up.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Q. Are we obligated to order our minors to perform Salah? Yes. But note that we are not obligating them because it has become incumbent upon them, but the purpose is to train them and create a routine for them for the road to Salah ahead once they hit puberty. To suppose that our children will assume their obligation of Salah once they hit puberty is unrealistic. Allah (SWT) says, “Enjoin prayer on your family [and people], and be steadfast therein. We do not ask you to provide sustenance: We provide it for you. But the (fruit of) the Hereafter is for righteousness.” [20:132] In addition, know that as long as your children live under your roof you can enforce Salah on them.
c) Sound mind: Aishah narrated that the Prophet (saw) said: “The pen has been lifted for three: the insane until he regains his sanity, the child until he reaches puberty, and the sleeper until he wakes up.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Q. What is the ruling on someone who loses his mind voluntary [by intoxication, or medication] or by force [by sickness or passing out], and remains as such until the time of one Salah or more expires? If that person is in the primary stages of intoxication and they can pray [that is they are conscious of what they are saying and doing in salah] then they can pray. If they are totally wasted, then they need to recover first and then make up for it. The same goes for medication.
3. Conditions of validating Salah
These are the acts required and acquired to validate Salah, prior to the establishment of Salah; they are not part of the act of Salah itself. Such as Wudu or Ghusl for instance.
a) To be performed after the time has certainly started.
“Indeed prayer has been decreed upon the believers, a decree of specified times” [4:103]
Q. What is the ruling on praying while doubting the start of its time? You cannot pray when you doubt the start of the prayer time. You can estimate based on when you know prayer started the day before for example, but taking a wild guess is not acceptable. Prayers are performed at appointed times—they have a start and expiration time.
b) Purification from minor and ritual impurities.
There are two forms of impurities: minor [that just needs wudu] and major like Janabah [from sexual intercourse] that needs ghusl.
“O you who believe! When you rise to prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles.” [5:6]
Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) “Allah does not accept the prayer of a person who has released gas until he makes a new ablution. A person from Hadhramaut asked Abu Hurayrah, “What does releasing gas mean?” He answered, “Wind with or without sound.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
c) Removal of physical filth [impurities], from the body and place of worship
“And your clothing purify.” [74:4]
Note: Najes does not mean dirty. Najes means urine, stool of human beings and animals [some animals but that is a totally different story altogether—may you get a chance to take a Fiqh of Tahara class –Al Maghrib offers it through a one week course called “Purification Act.” It’s absolutely essential for every Muslim].
Narrated Anas bin Malik: “A Bedouin came and passed urine in one corner of the mosque. The people shouted at him but the Prophet stopped them till he finished urinating. The Prophet ordered them to spill a bucket of water over that place and they did so.” [Bukhari]
Abu Dawood narrated in his Sunan with his isnaad that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri said: “Whilst the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was leading his companions in prayer, he took off his shoes and placed them to his left. When the people saw that, they took off their shoes. When the Messenger of Allaah had finished the prayer he said, “What made you take off your shoes?” They said, “We saw you take off your shoes, so we took off our shoes.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Jibreel (peace be upon him) came to me and told me that there was some dirt on them.” And he said: “When one of you comes to the mosque, let him check his shoes, and if he seeds any dirt on them, let him wipe them and pray in them.”
You must also consider the place where you pray, and make sure that there is no Najasa—mud and dirt does not constitute Najasa.
Q. What is the ruling on praying while carrying Najas [impure filth] unaware of it? Does not invalidate Salah, because not in direct contact with it. Patients who carry a bag of urine or stool around with them, can pray.
d) Covering the ‘Awrah
Definition: it is a term that denotes the parts of the body that are not meant to be exposed in public.
“O children of Adam, take your adornment [by wearing proper clothing] for every masjed.” [7:31] Ibn Abbas said about this ayah, “It means proper clothing for Salah” and this includes for Salah in the home as well so we clear any misunderstanding. What you wear for the Salah should be something that you would feel comfortable wearing while receiving a guest into your home. What would be better is if you have special clothing for Salah. Teach this to your kids as well, so they understand the significance of Salah.
Verdict: by unanimous agreement, it is most preferable to fully dress up in the best manner in preparation for Salah. Beyond that, there is a difference of opinion on the minimum extent of covering for the validity of Salah:
The ‘awrah of a man in Salah:
He has to cover what it between the navel and thighs. There is a disagreement about the exposing of the navel, thighs and knees.
The ‘awrah of a woman in Salah:
Her entire body, must be covered, except her hands and face. Allah says, “ . . . and to display of their adornment only that whci his apparent” [24:31]
Q. What is the ruling on covering the feet in Salah for women? Various opinions:
First Opinion: The most preferable opinion in the Madhab of Abu Hanfiah is that women are not obligated to cover their feet for Salat because they are treated like the hands, but they ought to do so outside of Salah.
Second Opinion: Women should cover their feet in Salah and outside Salah. Umm Salamah asked the Prophet (saw), “Can a woman pray in a long shirt [like a long dress] and head covering without a loincloth?” He said, “If the shirt is long enough, flowing and covers the top of her feet [i.e. it’s allowed to do so].” This is related by Abu Dawud. [Malik, Shafi’I and Ahmed]
Q. What is the ruling of Salah if the ‘awrah was accidentally exposed? If it is a one time exposure that can be fixed quickly then it is okay. But if it requires repetitive fixing, and the exposure is with every raka’a then the prayer is invalid, and must be restarted. Evidence that it does not invalidate Salah is a hadith of the Prophet (saw). And it was narrated in Saheeh al-Bukhaari that ‘Amr ibn Salamah al-Jarami said: “My father came from the Prophet (saw) and said that he had heard the Prophet (saw) say, ‘When the time for prayer comes, let the one among you who knows the most Qur’aan lead you in prayer.’ They looked and they did not find anyone who knew more Qur’aan than me, so they made me lead them in prayer, and I was a boy of six or seven years.” The boy wore nothing but a loincloth, and when he would make sujood his ‘awrah would show. So the women complained. So, money was gathered to buy him some clothes, and he was so happy with them. If the Salah was invalid, he would have been replaced right then and there, and the salah would have be redone, but the fact that he wasn’t points to the fact that the Salah was still valid. The young boy was never as happy as when he received the clothes for his imam position.
Summary of Opinions
Imam Abu Hanifah
The most preferable opinion in the madhab is that women are not obligated to cover their feet for Salah because they are treated like the hands, but they ought to do so outside of Salah
Women should cover their feet in Salah and outside Salah
Umm Salamah that she asked the Prophet, “Can a woman pray in a long shirt [like a long dress] and head covering without a loincloth?” He said, “If the shirt is long enough, flowing and covers the top of her feet [i.e. it’s allowed to do so].” This is related by Abu Dawud. And many scholars attribute this statement to Umm Salamah.
e. Facing the direction of the Qiblah:
“And from wherever you go out [for prayer], turn your face in the direction of the sacred Mosque; and wherever you believers may be, turn your faces toward it.” [Al Baqara:150]
First Scenario: If the Ka’bah is visible
By unanimous agreement, if the person can see the actual structure of the ka’bah [i.e. being in the Haram in Makkah], he or she is obligated to face the Ka’bah itself.
Second Scenario: If the Ka’bah is not visible
First opinion: Abu Hanifah, Malik and Ahmed
Facing an estimated direction of the Ka’bach is enough.
Second opinion: Shafi’i
Facing the qiblah exactly is an obligation, and it has to be done by following someone’s knowledge of the qiblah; otherwise, it should be by the best ijtihad possible.
Ministry of Islamic affairs in Makkah they realized that there were two hundred masajed in Makkah that are not facing the Ka’bah—they found this out using laser technology. So, they now need to fix the direction of the Qiblah. Shaykh Uthaymeen one day, in Hajj season, and some brothers brought the compass to figure out the direction of the Qibalah. While they did that the Shaykh asked which way is the Ka’bah. They pointed and he started the salah. So, do not stress yourself because you are unable to pinpoint the exact direction of the Ka’bah. Use your best judgment.
Q. What is the exact direction of the Qiblah for people living in the West? [North America in particular]
There is a huge dispute between ahl as sunnah wa ahl al jama’ah and some sects who believe that the qiblah is to the south east. Ahl as Sunnah has two opinions. The Malikis hold the opinion that the direction of the qiblah is to the east directly. The majority, which is held by the prominent Islamic organizations such as ISNA, is that the qiblah direction is the NE. Scientists say that the best direction is the NE because the earth is flat. If you look at a flat map, then the direction is east, but the earth is round. The actual physical measurement of the qiblah will lead to the NE as the closest direction between America and Makkah.
Since we live in America at different degrees. Generally speaking, it is NE. However, you need to measure the degrees from the local location where you live. You need to check online to determine the exact degree. Always remember when you do is that you go by the compass to that direction. Without a compass, make the best guess.
How do you determine the direction of the qiblah? It is decided when you know one of the four major directions. How do you determine one of the major directions? If you can see the sun, then it is easy. You can check the highways as well: even numbered highways travel easy-west, and odd numbered highways travel north and south. If you do not see the highways, sometimes the even the streets will give an indication and have: N, S, E or W. If there is no way to determine direction of the qiblah, then use your best judgment and make the salah.
Q. If after salah you realize that you were facing the wrong direction, what do you do? If there is still time to pray, you can pray the salah again. If it is past its time then your salah is considered valid.
Q. What if you see someone praying in the wrong direction? You can turn them in the right directly, gently. If they resist then do not argue, just let them be.
Summary of Opinions
Imams Abu Hanifah, Malik and Ahmed
To face and estimate the direction of the Ka’bah is enough.
Facing the Qiblah exactly is an obligation, and it has to be done by following someone’s knowledge of the qiblah, if not then by the best ijtihaad possible.
Savor the sweetness of the qiblah:
Do you know the significance of the moving the qiblah form Jerusalem to Makkah?
The prophet (saw) was hoping that the qiblah would be moved for many years. Allah (swt) said, “we see your face pleading with Allah to move the qiblah towards Makkah.” The sweetness of keeping it towards Jerusalem was to seal the deal with lineage of Ibrahim. Muhammad (saw) and his followers are not the bearers of the torch of guidance, it moved from another line to our line. Also, remember that you are not the only facing the direction of the qiblah, people from the other side of the globe are facing the same direction. It proves a sense of unity. Plus, Ibrahim (as) made dua that Allah make Makkah a place of worship, and Allah answered his dua.
f. An-Niyyah, the intention for Salat
Definition: it is the act of the heart concerning the action of the Mukallaf [the accountable party]
When a person makes wudu and goes to the masjid, he is doing these actions with the intention of salah. The determination for what you are doing is the intention itself. When you make wudu and take the prayer rug and put it in the direction of the qiblah, the intention is for the present salah, and you know which salah you are praying. The actual intention is the act of the heart.
Umar narrated, the Messenger (saw) said, “Deeds are judged by their intentions. . .” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Scenarios related to the niyyah:
– Should the niyyah in the heart match the actual act of that particular salat?
Yes, you cannot make the intention for dhuhr and pray asr, which may happen as a mistake. A mu’adhin said that his imam had a heavy lunch after dhuhr salah and took a nap, and when he was woken up for salat al-asr, the imam started reciting aloud. The people said, “Subhan Allah,” The imam stopped then continued reciting aloud. The people again said, “Subhan Allah.” For the third time, the imam began reciting aloud. The people said, “Subhan Allah.” Out of frustration, hes aid, “Tayyib, assalaam alaykum wa rahmatulla, assalaam alaykum wa rahmatullah” and then asked the congregation what was happening and they explained that it was salat al asr and not salat al maghrib. If you are praying a fard salah, your intention must be for the fard. Similarly with the sunnah.
– Should the niyyah be uttered by tongue?
There is not authentic evidence that the Prophet (saw) uttered the intention out loud. Although some imams do so to announce it.
– Should the niyyah start with the first takbir simultaneously?
For some fuqaha, you need to have the intention right when you start the takbeerat ul ihram. You have to have it at the time you raise your hands. Unfortunately in the Shafi’I school they are so meticulous about this issue that it causes so much obsession because when people try to the match the intention at the time of takbir and then miss it, then they will have to start again. Some people start their salah over and over again. As long as the intention is in the heart, say Allahu Akbar and start the salah.
– When is the niyyah made? Does the niyyah begin when raising the hands or when you are standing in line or when you are setting up the prayer rug? All of the preparations for the Salah are enough, and you do not have to measure the beginning of salah when you raise your hands. The Shafi’I madhan is very meticulous about this, and to come it extends to the wud’u and they do it over and over. Do not fall into the wiswas. The actual act itself as you move for the salah is already deciding what you are doing and is the intention insha Allah.
– Should the niyyah of the Ma’moom match the niyyah of the imam? The ma’moom is the one follow the imam. If the imam is praying asr, can you pray duhr behind him if you had missed it? According to Imam Abu Hanifa, the intention must match the imam. Can you pray fard behind someone who is praying nafl? Scenario: you come to the masjed for salat at-taraweeh and you have not prayed isha, can you join him in th esalat al taraweeh and pray isha? According to the Hanafi’s no, because the imam was made to be followed and this applies to the intention as well.
However, there is a hadith of Mu’adh ibn Jabal, he would pray isha with the Prophet (saw) in the masjed and then would lead his community in the salah in his neighborhood. When he lead his people, he would be praying nafl because he already prayed his fard, and the people would pray their fard behind him. One time, Mu’adh recited all of Surat Al Baqarah in the salah, and one of the people praying behind him could not take it and ended the salah early and went home. some people told Mu’adh what the man had done, and he replied that man is a munafiq. When the people talked about it, someone told the man that Mu’adh called him a munafiq, and the man went to the prophet (saw) and complained they are shepherds, and spend most of the day in the sun and Mua’dh led them with Surat Al Baqara. A companion said he had never seen the prophet so furious when giving advice and said, “What is wrong with you? Are you going to cause people to leave this deen? If you are praying by yourself, read what you wish, but when you are you leading the jama’ah then recite a shorter surah.” This is unless he knows that the congregation wants to be led in a long salah and likes to listen to his recitation.
– What if the Imam starts the salah with the wrong intention? If when the imam finishes he realizes the time that the prayer is dhuhr and not asr does it invalidate the salah of the followers? According to the majority, it invalidates the imam’s salah but not the salah of the followers. If the imam remembers while in salah, then he must interrupt and stop the salah and start over. An alternative option is that the imam pulls someone from behind to finish leading the salah.
– Can you change your intention while you are in salah? You can downgrade the intention, but you cannot upgrade it. You can make fard into nafl and nafl to nafl but you cannot make nafl into fard.
g. The continuation of the acts of salah without long intermission
When you start the salah, the actions must be done in sequence and cannot be interrupted. If too much scratching, fidgeting during salah then you must stop and restart. If it is brief then it is fine. If someone is in salah, and sees something dangerous [i.e. a baby approeaching something hazardous for instance], then the person can move from the spot and protect the child, but if it will take time for you to chase the child around, then the salah has been interrupted.
If in the middle of salah you sneeze uncontrollably—for several minutes—or you recite al fatihah and then there is a long silence then the salah has been interrupted and is invalid.
h. To avoid foreign speech
Means any speech that is not part of the adhkaar and permissible words for the act of ibaadah.
If someone sneezes and by mistake says, ‘alhamdullilah’ –if it is a mistake then it is fin. If someone responds ‘yarhamukum Allah’ then the person’s salah is invalidated. You cannot respond to the salam while you are in salah. The uleme said the minimum foreign speech is to have a word of three letters.
Exceptions: if imam made a mistake in salah say ‘suban Allah’ , forget the next ayah you can say the ayah to remind him. If you are in salah and need to alert someone of an emergency, you are allowed to say ‘subhan Allah’ or if someone is calling you can simply say ‘subhan Allah’ as well.
Zayd ibn Arqam narrated, “we used to speak in salat, unit the ayah ‘…and stand before Allah in devout [frame of mind]’ (al Baqarah: 238) was revealed. Thereafter, we were ordered to remain silent and we were forbidden from talking.” [Muslim]