Salat – A Review


What is Salat

In the Qur'an it is mentioned that:


"The true believers are those who feel a fear in their hearts (of the consequences of violating the commands of Allah) when Allah is mentioned. And when His Revelations are recited to them, they find their faith strengthened. They do their best and then put their trust in their Lord." (8:2)

and also:


“To those whose hearts when Allah is mentioned, are filled with fear, who show patient perseverance over their afflictions, keep up regular prayer, and spend (in charity) out of what We have bestowed upon them” (22:35)


Salat is one of the 5 pillars of Islam. It was prescribed to mankind by Allah and it is a very important part of the deen. It is one of the keys to Jannah.


Bukhari: Volume 2, Book 21, Number 250: Narrated Abu Huraira:  At the time of the Fajr prayer the Prophet asked Bilal, "Tell me of the best deed you did after embracing Islam, for I heard your footsteps in front of me in Paradise." Bilal replied, "I did not do anything worth mentioning except that whenever I performed ablution during the day or night, I prayed after that ablution as much as was written for me."



Where did Salat come from

Salat came from an order that Muhammad (pbuh) received in his Night Ascension.  The journey from the Kaba to the Prophet’s Mosque is defined in the Quran as follows:


Sura Al-Isra, 17:1 - Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things


Sura Al-Isra, 17:60 - Behold! We told thee that thy Lord doth encompass mankind round about: We granted the vision which We showed thee, but as a trial for men


Originally Allah commanded us to do 50 prayers in a 24 hour period but with His Mercy, it was reduced to 5 times a day and  the blessings are still as if we did 50 prayers in a day.


Bukhari Volume 9, Book 93, Number 608:  Narrated Anas bin Malik:  <more to this hadith than this>

 "Every good deed will be rewarded as ten times so it is fifty (prayers) in the Mother of the Book (in reward) but you are to perform only five (in practice)."


Cleanliness and dress

  • The clothes that are worn and the place of prayer must be clean.
  • The aurah must be covered in reasonably loose-fitting garments.
  • Women must cover their heads. A kufi cap is optional for men.
  • During 'sujud' the forehead should be in contact with the floor and not covered by hair.


Ritual ablution

  • Wudu must be performed. 
  • The following are mandatory: washing the mouth, face, arms to the elbows and the  feet; It is sunnah to blow the nose as well and to do each washing three times each. Covered feet do not need to be rewashed during the day.
  • Tayammum can also be performed, if water is not readily available and consists of wiping only the hands and face with sand or dust.
  • Major ablution (ghusl) is required when sexual intercourse has occurred or after the menstrual cycle. It is part of Sunnah to bathe on Fridays before Jummah.


Wudu is considered to cleanse a Muslim in a permanent fashion, such that he does not have to re-perform it for each salah (unless he commits an act that breaks his wudu). Tayammum however has to be re-performed before each salat.


The direction of salat used to be towards Jerusalem until Allah ordered it to be changed to the direction of the Kaba while our Prophet (pbuh) was performing Asr. He turned while in salat to the new direction.


The traveler can perform salat in whatever direction their vehicle is going but the Fard portion MUST be performed in a stationaryy position.


Bukhari: Volume 2, Book 20, Number 202: Narrated 'Amir bin Rabi'a,  I saw the Prophet on his Mount praying Nawafil by nodding his head, whatever direction he faced, but Allah's Apostle never did the same in offering the compulsory prayers. Narrated Salim: At night'Abdullah bin 'Umar used to offer the prayer on the back of his animal during the journey and never cared about the direction he faced. Ibn 'Umar said, "Allah's Apostle used to offer the optional prayer on the back of his Mount facing any direction and also used to pray the Witr on it but never offered the compulsory prayer on it."


Salat cannot be offered at sunrise, true noon, or sunset. The prohibition against salat at these times is to prevent the practice of sun worship and from Allah’s commands.



4 Categories of salat


Fard salat

  • fard al-ayn (obligation of the self and answerable to Allaf for own actions) – Must be performed by all Muslims who are able and sound of mind above the age of puberty.
  • Compulsory 5 daily prayers; Jummah for men; Jama’t for men.
  • fard al-kifayah (obligation of sufficiency by members of the community) – if performed by some in the community , it is sufficient for the whole of the community – Janazah;
  • Janazah - four takbirs performed in the standing position, with various Qur'anic verses and supplications read between each
  • Qada can be performed to make up missed prayers.
  • Qasr – shortened prayers while traveling; 2 rakats in place of the fard of Duhur, Asr and Isha; Our Prophet did this always while on journey. (a gift)
  • Jamak – combined prayers; Duhur and Asr if Duhur time has not started when the journey starts; Maghrib and Isha
  • Eid prayers  after Fajr and before Duhur on Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha; 2 rakats with 7 takbirs in first rakat and 5 takbirs in second rakat followed by a Khutbah.


Wajib salat

  • Compulsory to some schools such as Hanafis; non-performance of which renders one a sinner and the denial of its obligatory nature renders one a 'fasiq' a transgressor whose witness would not be accepted in an Islamic court. There are some who believe that as the 5 prayers are obligatory, it automatically renders all other prayers optional.


Sunnah salat

  • Optional and were additional voluntary prayers performed by Muhammad (pbuh)
  • The 'Sunna Muakaddah', those practiced on a regular basis which if abandoned cause the abandoner to be regarded as sinful by the Hanafi School – Sunnah from Fajr; Witr from Isha
  • The 'Sunnah Ghair Muakkadah' those practiced on a semi-regular practice by Muhammad (pbuh) which all are agreed upon that its abandonment doesn't render one sinful.
  • Witr - Some Muslims consider Witr wajib while others consider it optional.  It may contain any odd number of raka'ah from one to eleven according to the different schools of jurisprudence.
  • To end prayers for the night after Isha'a, the odd numbered raka'ah must have the niyyah of "Wajib-ul-Lail", which is mandatory to "close" one's salat for that day.


Nafl salat

  • Optional and regarded as extra prayers which bring more reward.
  • Tahajjud, Hajjat, Istikhara, Duha


Prayer in congregation

Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 11, Number 620:  Narrated Abu Huraira:  Allah's Apostle said, "The reward of the prayer offered by a person in congregation is twenty five times greater than that of the prayer offered in one's house or in the market (alone). And this is because if he performs ablution and does it perfectly and then proceeds to the mosque with the sole intention of praying, then for every step he takes towards the mosque, he is upgraded one degree in reward and his one sin is taken off (crossed out) from his accounts (of deeds). When he offers his prayer, the angels keep on asking Allah's Blessings and Allah's forgiveness for him as long as he is (staying) at his Musalla. They say, 'O Allah! Bestow Your blessings upon him, be Merciful and kind to him.' And one is regarded in prayer as long as one is waiting for the prayer."


  • The blessings of doing prayers in congregation are 25 times greater than prayer alone.
  • Men lead; Children are between the men and women
  • Rows should be straight and close together.
  • One person can also be considered a row.
  • When there are two people praying, one should act as the imam and the second person should stand to the right of the imam.
  • Recite Ameen when the Imam says Ameen after the recital of Sura Fateha. -  if one's utterance of 'Ameen' coincides with that of the angels, then his past sins will be forgiven."
  • Follow the imam in whatever he does and do not go ahead of him. -  if he says: Sami'a-l-lahu Liman Hamidah (Allah hears whoever sends his praises to Him) you should say: Rabbana walakal-Hamd (O our Lord! All the praises are for You.") (See Hadith No. 656 Vol. 1).
  • Prayers in congregation should be kept short and simple so as to make it easier on the supplicants.
  • Never hurry to catch a Jama’t – you could full blessings for catching the Jama’t and completing it on own.
    • Catch a rakat before the ruku and the full rakat is accepted
    • Catch a rakat after the ruku, and that rakat must be offered
    • When Imam gives salat, you should not give salam but wait for the Imam to finish salam and then you get up to offer the missed rakats.
  • During the Fateha, if the Imam's recitation is not loud enough for you to hear, you should be thinking of Surah al-Fatihah using you heart and mind without moving your tongue.



  • Consists of rakats from qiyaam to sujood
  • Must make niyaah before Takbir
  • All rakats must recite the Fatiha or it will be incomplete
  • The first 2 rakats, one should recite an additional surah after the Fateha
  • Ruku is performed with peace of mind and ease
  • Sujood is performed with peace of mind and with ease
  • Every two rakats requires the tashahhud
  • The end of the prayer, one recites darud sharif and then salam is performed by Sunni muslims and the prayer ends
  • If you make a mistake in the Fatiha, it must be repeated as it is Fard.  A mistake in the second sura should be repeated but since it is Sunnah, it is not required.
  • If you think you’ve missed a rakat, repeat it. If at the time of the Attahiyat, you realize you may have made a mistake in the rakats performed, repeat the rakat. At the end, recite the Attahiyat and darud, then do sujood again and repeat Attahiyat and darud and end with salam. (also known as Sujood as-Sahw)




It is important that a prayer does not let their elbows touch the floor or spit in the way of another supplicant.


Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 10, Number 509: Narrated Anas:   The Prophet said, "Do the prostration properly and do not put your fore-arms flat with elbows touching the ground like a dog. And if you want to spit, do not spit in front, nor to the right for the person in prayer is speaking in private to his Lord."



Etiquettes in Prayer 


  1. Saying your prayers just loud enough for the congregation to hear.
  2. While in Jama’at, recite the quran during Zuhur and Asr prayers silently.
  3. Depending on school, moving the index finger during the Attahiayat or pointing it towards the Imam or moving it in circles.
  4. Saying dua during ruku and in sujood. - Subhanka Allahumma Rabbana wa bihamdika; Allahumma ighfirli,"
  5. Do not pray if you are too tired to pray (does not apply to Fard prayers which must be performed).
  6. Do not pray at the hottest part of the day or on the coldest part of the day because it is from the raging of the hell-fire that was given a respite (to take two breaths), one in winter and one in summer.
  7. Favoring some surah’s over others based on the Sunnah and prolonging the first rakat.
  8. Errors in prayer should be corrected as soon as possible.

Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 11, Number 682:  Narrated Abu Huraira:  Once Allah's Apostle prayed two Rakat (instead of four) and finished his prayer. Dhu-l-yadain asked him whether the prayer had been reduced or whether he had forgotten. Allah's Apostle asked the people whether Dhu-l-yadain was telling the truth. The people replied in the affirmative. Then Allah's Apostle stood up, offered the remaining two Rakat and then finished his prayer with Taslim and then said, "Allahu Akbar." He followed it with two prostrations like ordinary prostrations or a bit longer.

  1. Prayers can be done while standing, while sitting, and even while lying down if it is necessary.
  2. Use of a sutra in the prayer should be used to prevent sin on the person crossing the supplicant’s path.




  • A woman is not required to pray nor is it required that she do Qada for the prayers.
  • Menstruation is a blessing from Allah and should not be treated as a disliked thing nor should the women be treated as if she were untouchable.  
  • Menstruating women can go to the religious gatherings such a Eid prayers and perform the takbir and Quranic recitations.
  • They should just stay away from the actual prayer area where people will make sujood.
  • If no clothes are available, then rubbing the blood off with a little water is sufficient to perform prayer in that garment.

Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 6, Number 307:  Narrated 'Aisha:  "One of the wives of Allah's Apostle joined him in l'tikaf and she noticed blood and yellowish discharge (from her private parts) and put a dish under her when she prayed."

  • Bleeding between periods is a sickness and not considered part of the cycle.


Interesting Point:  Bukhari: Volume 3, Book 31, Number 172:  Narrated Abu Said:  The Prophet said, "Isn't it true that a woman does not pray and does not fast on menstruating? And that is the defect (a loss) in her religion."



5 Daily Prayers


The five prayers are all given certain prescribed times (waqt) in which they must be performed, unless there is a compelling reason for not being able to perform them on time.



Prescribed time period (waqt)

Voluntary before fard


Voluntary after fard

Fajr (فجر)

Dawn to sunrise

2 Raka'ah  Sunnah

2 Raka'ah



Sura Al-Baqarah 2:187 - The white thread of light becomes distinguishable from the dark thread of night at dawn."     52:49 - ..and at dawn as the stars fade away."


Sunna of Fajr can be done long before the Fard of the prayer. 

Bukhari: Volume 2, Book 21, Number 258: Narrated 'Aisha :  After offering the Sunna of the Fajr prayer, the Prophet used to talk to me, if I happen to be awake; otherwise he would lie down till the Iqama call was proclaimed (for the Fajr prayer).


Muhammad (pbuh) emphasized the importance of the Fajr Sunna.

Bukhari: Volume 2, Book 21, Number 260: Narrated 'Aisha: The Prophet was never more regular and particular in offering any Nawafil than the two Rakat (Sunna) of the Fajr prayer.


It is witnessed.

Sura Al-Isra 17:78 - Establish regular prayers - at the sun’s decline till the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer and reading: for the prayer and reading in the morning carry their testimony.


Dhuhr (ظهر)

After true noon until Asr

2-4 Raka'ah Sunnah

4 Raka'ah

2 Raka'ah Sunnah


Duhur is replaced by Jummah on Friday for men which consists of a Khutba followed by 2 rakats.


62: 9-10 - O you who believe, when the Salat is announced on Friday, you shall hasten to the commemoration of God, and drop all business. This is better for you, if you only knew. Once the prayer is completed, you may spread through the land to seek God's bounties, and continue to remember God frequently, that you may succeed.


Bukhari: Volume 2, Book 13, Number 51:  Narrated Abu Huraira:  The Prophet said, "When it is a Friday, the angels stand at the gate of the mosque and keep on writing the names of the persons coming to the mosque in succession according to their arrivals. The example of the one who enters the mosque in the earliest hour is that of one offering a camel (in sacrifice). The one coming next is like one offering a cow and then a ram and then a chicken and then an egg respectively. When the Imam comes out (for Jumua prayer) they (i.e. angels) fold their papers and listen to the Khutba."


Asr (عصر)


2-4 Raka'ah Sunnah

4 Raka'ah



Be early to do Asr.

Sura Al-Baqarah 2:238 - Guard strictly your (habit of) prayers, especially the Middle Prayer; and stand before Allah in a devout (frame of mind).


According to Imam Abu Hanifa, "Asr starts when the shadow of an object becomes twice its height (plus the length of its shadow at the start time of Dhuhr)." For the rest of Imams, "Asr starts when the shadow of an object becomes equal to its length (plus the length of its shadow at the start time of Dhuhr)." Asr ends as the sun begins to set.


Maghrib (مغرب)

After sunset until dusk

2-4 Raka'ah

3 Raka'ah

2 Raka'ah Sunnah

Isha'a (عشاء)

Dusk until dawn

4 Raka'ah

4 Raka'ah

2 Raka'ah
+ 3 Raka'ah Witr


Isha can be done long after the time that the prayer comes in. It was even desired to be done after the prescribed time. It should be noted that Allah comes down to listen for the prayers of Muslims as the evening progresses.


Bukhari: Volume 9, Book 90, Number 345:  Narrated 'Ata:  One night the Prophet delayed the Isha' prayer whereupon 'Umar went to him and said, "The prayer, O Allah's Apostle! The women and children had slept." The Prophet came out with water dropping from his head, and said, "Were I not afraid that it would be hard for my followers (or for the people), I would order them to pray Isha prayer at this time."




Prayer Details Defined


Salah is a pillar of Din. Doing it just right in accordance with Sunnah is the responsibility of every Muslim. Unfortunately, we go about performing the cardinal dictates of Salah in a carefree manner following our whims, hardly caring to see that those dictates have to be carried out in the manner they were passed on to us by the Holy Prophet

Before you begin the Salah
( Top )
Check the following and be sure that you are doing things the way they should be done

It is necessary that you face the Qiblah.
2. You should stand upright and your eyes should be focused on the spot where you make your Sajdah.
3. Both feet should be in the direction of the Qiblah.
4. While in jama'ah, satisfy yourself by making certain that your arms are close to the arms of those who are standing on your right and left and that there is no gap in between.
5 For men, be sure that the dress you are wearing is higher then your ankles.
6. For women, sleeves should be full, covering the whole arm. Only hands remain uncovered.
7. It is makruh to stand for Salah while wearing clothes which one would not normally wear in public.

When you begin the Salah ( Top )

1. Make niyyah or intention in your heart to the effect you are offering such and such Salah. It is not necessary to say the words of the niyyah verbally.
2. Raise your hands upto your ears in a way that palms face Qiblah and the end of the thumbs either touch the lobes of the ears or come parallel to them. The rest of the fingers stay straight, pointing upwards. All other practices are incorrect and contrary to Sunnah.


When you are standing

1. Do not move any part of your body without the need. Stand in peace..
2. Transferring all the weight of the body on to one leg and leaving the other weightlessly loose to the limit that it shows a certain bend is against the etiquette of Salah.
3. If you feel like yawning, try your best to stop it.


When in Ruku
When you bend for Ruku', watch out for the following:

1. Bend the upper part of your body upto a point where the neck and back nearly level up. Do not bend any more or less then that.
2. While in Ruku', do not bend the neck to the limit that the chin starts touching the chest, nor raise it is high that the neck goes higher than the waist level. Instead, the neck and the waist should be in one level.
3. In Ruku', keep feet straight. Do not place them with an outward or inward slant.
4. Place both hands on your knees in a way that fingers on both hands stay open. In other words, there should be space between every two fingers when you thus go on to hold the right knee with your right hand and the left knee with your left hand.
5. In the state of Ruku', wrists and arms should remain stretched straight. They should not bend, curve or sag.
6. In the state of Ruku', the eyes should be looking towards the feet.

Returning to the standing position from Ruku
1. Three are those who simply make a ‘gesture' of rising from the Ruku' instead of rising fully and standing upright when it is time to do so and who, in that every state, when their body is still bent downwards, go on to do their Sajdah - for them it becomes obligatory that they make their Salah all over again. Therefore, abstain from it very firmly. Unless you make sure about having become perfectly straight in your standing position, do not go for Sajdah.

When going down for Sajdah
Remember the following method when going down for Sajdah:

1. Bending the knees first of all, take them towards the prayer floor in a way that the chest does not lean forward. When the knees have already been rested on the floor, the chest should then be lowered down.
2. Until such time that the knees have come to rest against the floor, abstain, as far as possible, from bending or lowering the upper part of the body. These days negligence in observing this particular rule of etiquette while getting ready to go for Sajdah has become very common. Many people would lower down their chest right from the start and go on to do their Sajdah. But, the correct method is what has been stated in #1 and #2 above. Unless it be for a valid reason, this method should not be bypassed.
3. After having rested your knees on the floor, place your hands first, then the tip of the nose, then the forehead.

In Sajdah

1. While in Sajdah, keep your head in between your two hands in a way that the ends of the two thumbs come parallel to the ear-lobes.
2. In Sajdah, fingers on both hands should remain close together, that is, the fingers should be adjacent to each other leaving no space in between them.
3. The direction of the fingers should be towards the Qiblah.
4. The elbows should stay raised off the floor. It is not correct to rest the elbows on the floor.
5. Both arms should stay apart from armpits and sides. Never keep them tucked in.
6. Do not, at the same time, poke your elbows far out to your right and left causing discomfort to those making Salah next to you.
7. The thighs should not come in contact with the stomach-wall. The stomach and the thighs should stay apart.
8. During the entire Sajdah, the nose-tip should continue to rest on the floor.
9. Both feet should be placed upright on the floor with heels showing on top and all fingers turned flat on the floor in the direction of the Qiblah. Those who cannot turn all their fingers because of the physical formation of their feet, they will still do well to turn them as much as they can. It is not correct to place the fingers vertically on the floor just for no valid reason.
10. Be careful that your feet do not lift off the floor during Sajdah. Some people do their Sajdah while none of the fingers on their feet come to rest on the floor even for a moment. This way the obligation of Sajdah is not liquidated at all, as a result, the Salah too becomes invalid. Be very particular in abstaining from this error.
Raising the forehead immediately after having rested it on the floor is prohibited.

In between the two Sajdahs
Rising from the first Sajdah, sit up straight, on the hams, calmly and comfortably. Then go for the second Sajdah. Doing the second Sajdah after raising the head just a little bit and without becoming straight is a sin. If one does it like that, it becomes obligatory that the Salah be made all over again.
2. Spread out the left foot (like the blade of a hockey stick) and sit on it. Let the right foot stand vertically with fingers turned towards the Qiblah. Some people let both feet remain in upright position and sit on the heels. This method is not correct.
3. While sitting, both hands should be placed on the thighs and fingers should not taper down onto or over the knees, instead, the far ends of the finger tips should reach only as far as the beginning edge of the knee.
4. While sitting, let your eyes be on the lap.
5. Sit for a time during which could be said at least once and if you can sit for a time during could be recited, it is better. But, reciting this during Fard (obligatory) Salah is not necessary. It is better to do so in Nafl Salah.

The second Sajdah and rising from it
1. When rising from Sajdah, first raise the forehead off the floor, then the nose-tip, then the hands, and then the knees.

In Qa'dah
1. The method of sitting in Qa'dah shall be the same as mentioned in connection with the method of sitting between Sajdahs.
2. When you reach while reciting raise the shahadah finger (the fore-finger or the index finger) with a pointing motion and let it fall back at
3. The method of making a pointing motion is that you make a circle by joining your middle finger and the thumb, close the little finger and the ringfinger (the one next to it), then raise the shahadah finger in a way that it is tapered towards the Qiblah. It should not be raised up straight in the direction of the sky.
4. However, lower the shahadah finger while saying but retain, right through the end, the initial formation of the rest of the fingers you already had when making the pointing motion.

When turning for Salam ( Top )
1. When turning for Salam on both sides, you should turn your neck just enough that your cheeks become visible to the person sitting behind you.
2. When turning for Salam, eyes should be towards the shoulders.


The Masjid Some Essential Rules Of Conduct ( Top )
1. While entering the Masjid, recite the following Du'a:
( I enter with the name of Allah and with the prayer that Allah bless His Messenger and bestow upon him. O Allah, open for me the doors of Thy mercy.)
2. Immediately on entering the Masjid, make an intention that ‘I shall be in I'tikaf for whatever time I stay in the Masjid: By doing so, Insha'-Allah, the spiritual reward of I'tikaf can also be hoped for.
3. Following entry into the Masjid, it is better to sit in the front row. But, in case space in the front has already been taken up, sit wherever you find an opening. Advancing forward by leap-frogging people's necks is not permissible.
4. Salam greeting should not be offered to those already sitting in the Masjid and busy in Dhikr or recitation of the Qu'ran. However, should one of them be not so engaged and looking at you on his own, there is no harm in offering such Salam greeting to him.
5. If you have to offer Sunnah or Nafl Salah in the Masjid, select a spot where there is the least likelihood of people crossing in front of you.
6. After entering the Masjid, if you find that you are there a little ahead of the Salah timing, then, before you sit down, make two raka'ahs with the intention of Tahiyyah al-Masjid. This has great merit. If there is not time for that, you can combine the intention of Tahiyyah al-Masjid within the Sunnah Salah. And if, you do not have the time even to make your Sunnah Salah and the jama'ah is ready, this intention could also be combine with that of the Fard Salah.
7. As long as you sit in the Masjid, keep doing Dhikr. Specially, keep reciting the following Kalimah devotedly:
            Sanctified is Allah and for Allah is all praise and there is no god but Allah is great.
8. Do not engage yourself in unnecessary conversation while sitting in the nothing else that may disturb those devoting to their Ibadah of Salah or Dhikr.
9. If the jama'ah is ready, fill in the front rows first. If space is open in the front row, it is not permissible to stand in the back row.
10. From the time when the Iman takes his place on the Mimber to deliver the Friday Khutbah right through the end of the Salah, it is not permissible for anyone to talk, make Salah or to offer Salam to anyone or to answer Salam offered. However, should anyone start talking during this time, it is also not permissible that he be asked to keep quiet.
11. Sit during the Khutbah as you sit in Qa'dah when reciting at-Tahiyyat.
12. Abstain from everything that may spread filth or smell in the Masjid or cause pain to anyone.
13. When you see anyone doing something wrong, ask him not to do so, quietly and softly. Totally avoid insulting him openly, or rebuking him, or quarrelling with him