The Prophet's Prayer (SAWS)
Previous Next Table of Contents
In the Name of Allaah, the Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy
Praise be to Allaah, who made Prayer compulsory on his slaves and ordered them to establish it and perform it well; who linked success and felicity to humility in Prayer; who made it the criterion to distinguish between Eeman and Kufr ; and who made it a restrainer from shameful and unjust deeds.
Prayers and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad, who was addressed in the Words of the Exalted:
"And We have sent down to you the Message, that you may explain clearly to the people what is sent for them"1, and who fully carried out this task. The Prayer was one of the most important things which he explained to the people, verbally and practically, even praying on the pulpit once - standing, bowing and prostrating, and then saying to them, I have done this so that you may follow me and learn my prayer.2 He obligated us to copy him in his prayer, saying, Pray as you have seen me praying.3 He also gave the good tidings to whoever prayed like him that such a person has a covenant with Allaah that He will enter him into the Garden, saying, There are five prayers which Allaah, Mighty and Sublime, has made compulsory: he who performs ablution well for them, prays them at their proper times, and is complete in their bowings, prostrations and humility, he has a guarantee from Allaah that He will forgive him; but he who does not do so, has no guarantee from Allaah: if He wishes, He will forgive him or if He wishes, He will punish him.4
Prayers and peace be also on his family and his pious and just Companions, who passed on to us his worship, prayer, sayings and actions (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), and who made these, and these alone, a Madhhab and a path for them to follow; and also on those who follow in their footsteps and tread their path until the Day of Judgment.
When I finished reading the book of prayer in At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb by al-Haafiz al-Mundhiri (rahimahullaah) and teaching it to our brothers, four years ago, it became clear to us all the important position of the Prayer in Islaam; and the reward, grace and respect awaiting those who establish and perform it well; and that all this varies, depending on its closeness to the Prophet's prayer (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam). This is what he indicated in his saying, Verily the slave prays a prayer of which nothing is written down for him except a tenth, ninth, eighth, seventh, sixth, fifth, quarter, third or half of it.5 Therefore, I reminded the brothers that it is not possible for us to perform prayer as it should be performed, or even approach that, unless we know the detailed description of the Prophet's prayer (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), including its essentials, manners, forms, supplications (du'aas) and remembrances (adhkaar), and then we make an effort to put that knowledge into practice carefully, for then we could hope that our prayers would restrain us from shameful and unjust deeds, and that the reward and blessings mentioned in the narrations would be written down for us.
However, detailed familiarity with all these aspects of prayer is unlikely to be achieved by most people nowadays, even many scholars, because of their limiting themselves to a particular Madhhab. But, as anyone concerned with assisting in compiling and studying the purified Sunnah knows, in every Madhhab there are sunnahs which are not found in other Madhhabs; moreover, in every Madhhab there are sayings and actions which cannot be authentically traced back to the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) - most of these are found in the sayings of the later scholars6, many of whom we see firmly attributing these to the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam)!7 This is why the scholars of Hadeeth - may Allaah reward them well - have produced books of Takhreej on the famous books of the later scholars, explaining the rank of each hadeeth given in them: whether e.g. authentic, weak or fabricated. Examples of these books of Takhreej are: Al-'Inaayah fi Ma'rifah Ahaadeeth al- Hidaayah and At-Turuq wal-Wasaa'il fi Takhreej Ahaadeeth Khulaasah ad-Dalaa'il by Shaikh 'Abdul Qaadir ibn Muhammad al- Qurashi al-Hanafi; Nasb ar-Raayah li Ahaadeeth al-Hidaayah by Haafiz Zayla'i, and its abridged version ad-Dirayah by Haafiz Ibn Hajr al-Asqalaani, who also wrote Talkhees al-Habeer fi Takhreej Ahaadeeth ar-Raafi'i al-Kabir; there are many others, naming which will only lengthen this discussion.8
Reasons behind the Compilation of this Book, and some of its Features
Since I had not come across a comprehensive book covering this topic, I felt obliged to produce a book which collected together as many features of the Prophet's prayer (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) from the takbeer to the tasleem as possible, for the benefit of my Muslim brothers who wished to follow the guidance of their Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) in their worship, such that it would be easy for any who truly loved the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) to use this book to fulfil his command, "Pray as you have seen me praying."
Thus I embarked on a difficult task, and researched the relevant ahaadeeth from the various sources of Hadeeth, the book in your hands being the end result of it all. I stipulated on myself that I would only give ahaadeeth which had an authentic sanad according to the principles and regulations of the science of Hadeeth. I disregarded any hadeeth which depended on unknown or weak narrators, whether it dealt with the outward form, adhkaar, excellence, etc. of the Prayer. This is because I hold that the authentic ahadeeth9 are sufficient, leaving no need for anything weak, for the latter does not amount to anything except zann (conjecture, suspicion), and incorrect conjecture at that; as the Exalted says:
"... And conjecture is of no use against the truth"10
and the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, Beware of suspicion, for truly, suspicion is the most false of speech.11 Therefore, we cannot worship Allaah by acting according to inauthentic ahaadeeth; in fact, the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) forbade us from this saying, Keep away from saying things about me, except what you know12; since he has forbidden us from relating weak narrations, it goes without saying that it is forbidden to act according to them.
I have compiled the book as two texts: the main text and the subsidiary text.
The main text includes the text of ahaadeeth or phrases taken from them, as well as appropriate words to string them together to give the book a fluency from start to finish. I have been careful to preserve the text of each hadeeth as it is found in the books of Sunnah; where a hadeeth has different wordings, I have chosen the version which best fits the fluency etc., but I have brought together other wordings thus: "(in one version: ... )" or "(in one narration: ...)". Only rarely have I given the Companion who narrated the hadeeth, or explained in the main text which of the Imaams of Hadeeth have collected each hadeeth, in order to provide easier reading and reference.
As for the subsidiary text, it is a commentary on the main text. In it I have traced the ahaadeeth to their sources, exploring their various versions and routes of narration. Along with this, I have commented on their isnaads and supporting narrations, with authenticating and disparaging remarks on narrators, whether authentic or weak, judged according to the rules of the science of Hadeeth. Often, one route of narration has additional words which are not found in other routes, so I have inserted these into the original hadeeth in the main text whenever it is possible to do so without destroying the fluency, enclosing the addition in square brackets: [...], usually without stating which of the sources were alone in containing that addition. This has been done only if the hadeeth is originally on the authority of the same Companion, otherwise I have given it separately, e.g. in the opening supplications etc. This insertion of additional wordings is a tremendous advantage which you will not find in many books - Praise be to Allaah, by Whose Favour good actions are completed.
Next, I have mentioned in the subsidiary text the madhhabs of the scholars regarding the hadeeth traced, as well as the evidence and counter-evidence for each view, along with the strengths and weaknesses of each argument. We have then selected out of that the correct view which we have given in the main text. Also in the subsidiary text, we have given some issues for which there is no text in the Sunnah, but which require ijtihaad, and do not come under the title of this book.
Since the publication of this book with both main and subsidiary texts is not feasible right now due to various reasons, we have decided to publish only the main text of the book (along with brief footnotes) by Allaah's Will, and named it "Sifah Salaah an-Nabi (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), min at-takbeer ilaa at-tasleem ka'annaka taraahaa (The Prophet's Prayer Described, from beginning to end, as though you were watching it)".
I ask Allaah to make this work sincerely for His Face, and to help my brothers in faith to benefit from it, for He is the Hearer, the Answerer.
Methodology of this Book
Since the purpose of this book is to convey the guidance of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) regarding Prayer, it was elementary that I would not limit myself to a particular Madhhab, for the reasons mentioned previously. Therefore, I would give whatever is authentically proved from him (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), as has always been the way of the scholars of Hadeeth13, whether of old or of the recent past14, as the excellent saying goes:
The People of Hadeeth are the People of the Messenger, although They accompany him not, they are with his every movement.15
Thus this book would, Allaah Willing, gather whatever is relevant to each topic from the various contents of the books of Hadeeth and the books on the differences between the Madhhabs, such that the correct verdicts found in this book would not be found totally in any one Madhhab. Hence the one acting on it, Allaah Willing, would be among those whom Allaah had guided "by His Grace to the Truth concerning that in which they differed, for Allaah guides whom He will to a path that is straight."16
When I adopted these principles for myself, i.e. to adhere to the authentic Sunnah, and to implement them in this book as well as others, I knew for sure that this would not satisfy every group of people or sect; in fact, it would result in some, if not most of them, insulting or criticising me. This does not matter to me, for I also know that to please everyone is an unattainable notion, and that "He who pleases the people by angering Allaah, Allaah will entrust him to the people", as the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said.17 The reward is with Allaah for the author of the following lines:
Nor could I ever escape from abuse, Even were I in a cave in a rugged mountain; For who can escape from the people unharmed, Even if he hides behind the eagle's wings?
It is enough for me that I believe that this is the most upright way, which Allaah has commanded the believers to take; which our Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), Chief of the Messengers, has explained. This is the path which was trodden by the Pious Predecessors: the Companions, their Successors and those after them, including the four Imaams to whose Madhhabs the majority of Muslims today attribute themselves. All of them were agreed on the obligation to stick to the Sunnah and to refer to it; to ignore every view contradictory to it, no matter how great the holder or propounder of that view, for the status of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) is far greater, and his example is far truer. Because of this, I have acted on their guidance, followed in their footsteps and carried out their commands to stick to the authentic hadeeth, even if this opposes their view. These commands of theirs have influenced me greatly in my perusal of this path, and my rejection of blind taqleed (following of opinion). I ask Allaah Exalted to reward them greatly.
Sayings Of The Imaams Regarding Following The Sunnah And Ignoring Their Views Contradictory To It
It would be beneficial if we gave some of these here, for perhaps this will admonish or remind those who follow the opinion of the Imaams - nay, of those far below the Imaams in rank - blindly18, sticking to their madhhabs or views as if these had descended from the heavens! But Allaah, Mighty and Sublime, says:
"Follow (O men!) the revelation given to you from your Lord, and follow not, as friends and protectors, other than Him. Little is it you remember of admonition."19
1) Abu Haneefah (rahimahullaah)
The first of them is Abu Haneefah Nu'maan ibn Thaabit, whose companions have narrated from him various sayings and diverse warnings, all of them leading to one thing: the obligation to accept the Hadeeth, and to give up following the opinions of the imaams which contradict it:
1. "When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my madhhab."20
2. "It is not permitted21 for anyone to accept our views if they do not know from where we got them."22
In one narration, "It is prohibited23 for someone who does not know my evidence to give verdicts24 on the basis of my words."
Another narration adds, "... for we are mortals: we say one thing one day, and take it back the next day."
In another narration, "Woe to you, O Ya'qub25! Do not write down everything you hear from me, for it happens that I hold one opinion today and reject it tomorrow, or hold one opinion tomorrow and reject it the day after tomorrow."26
3. "When I say something contradicting the Book of Allaah the Exalted or what is narrated from the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), then ignore my saying."27
2) Maalik ibn Anas (rahimahullaah)
As for Imaam Maalik ibn Anas, he said:
1. "Truly I am only a mortal: I make mistakes (sometimes) and I am correct (sometimes). Therefore, look into my opinions: all that agrees with the Book and the Sunnah, accept it; and all that does not agree with the Book and the Sunnah, ignore it."28
2. "Everyone after the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) will have his sayings accepted and rejected - not so the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam)."29
3. Ibn Wahb said: "I heard Maalik being asked about cleaning between the toes during ablution. He said, 'The people do not have to do that.' I did not approach him until the crowd had lessened, when I said to him, 'We know of a sunnah about that.' He said, 'What is that ?' I said, 'Laith ibn Sa'd, Ibn Lahee'ah and 'Amr ibn al-Haarith narrated to us from Yazeed ibn 'Amr al-Ma'aafiri from Abu 'Abdur-Rahman al-Hubuli from Mustawrid ibn Shaddaad al-Qurashi who said, 'I saw the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) rubbing between his toes with his little finger.' He said, 'This hadeeth is sound; I had not heard of it at all until now.' Afterwards, I heard him being asked about the same thing, on which he ordered cleaning between the toes."30
3) Shaafi'i (rahimahullaah)
As for Imaam Shaafi'i, the quotations from him are most numerous and beautiful31, and his followers were the best in sticking to them:
1. "The sunnahs of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) reach, as well as escape from, every one of us. So whenever I voice my opinion, or formulate a principle, where something contrary to my view exists on the authority of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), then the correct view is what the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) has said, and it is my view."32
2. "The Muslims are unanimously agreed that if a sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) is made clear to someone, it is not permitted33 for him to leave it for the saying of anyone else."34
3. "If you find in my writings something different to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), then speak on the basis of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), and leave what I have said."
In one narration: "... then follow it (the Sunnah), and do not look sideways at anyone else's saying."35
4. "When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my madhhab."36
5. "You37 are more knowledgeable about Hadeeth than I, so when a hadeeth is saheeh, inform me of it, whether it is from Kufah, Basrah or Syria, so that I may take the view of the hadeeth, as long as it is saheeh."38
6. "In every issue where the people of narration find a report from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) to be saheeh which is contrary to what I have said, then I take my saying back, whether during my life or after my death."39
7. "If you see me saying something, and contrary to it is authentically-reported from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), then know that my intelligence has departed."40
8. "For everything I say, if there is something authentic from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) contrary to my saying, then the hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) comes first, so do not follow my opinion."41
9. "Every statement on the authority of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) is also my view, even if you do not hear it from me."42
4) Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimahullaah)
Imaam Ahmad was the foremost among the Imaams in collecting the Sunnah and sticking to it, so much so that he even "disliked that a book consisting of deductions and opinions be written."43 Because of this he said:
1. "Do not follow my opinion; neither follow the opinion of Maalik, nor Shaafi'i, nor Awzaa'i, nor Thawri, but take from where they took."44
In one narration: "Do not copy your Deen from anyone of these, but whatever comes from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and his Companions, take it; next are their Successors, where a man has a choice."
Once he said: "Following45 means that a man follows what comes from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and his Companions; after the Successors, he has a choice."46
2. "The opinion of Awzaa'i, the opinion of Maalik, the opinion of Abu Haneefah: all of it is opinion, and it is all equal in my eyes. However, the proof is in the narrations (from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and his Companions)."47
3. "Whoever rejects a statement of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) is on the brink of destruction."48
These are the clear, lucid sayings of the Imaams (Allaah Exalted be pleased with them) about sticking to the Hadeeth and forbidding the following of their opinion without clearly- visible evidence, such that mere opinion and interpretation is not acceptable.
Hence, whoever adhered to whatever of the Sunnah that was proved authentic, even if it opposed some of the Imaams' sayings, he would not be conflicting with their madhhab, nor straying from their path; rather, such a person would be following all of them and would be grasping the most trustworthy hand-hold, which never breaks. However, this would not be the case with the one who abandoned any of the authentic Sunnah simply because it contradicted their views; nay, such a person would be being disobedient to them and opposing their above mentioned sayings, while Allaah says:
"But no, by Your Lord, they can have no (real) faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction."49.
He also says:
"Then let those beware who withstand the Messenger's order, lest some trial befall them or a grievous penalty be inflicted on them."50
Haafiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (rahimahullaah) says:
"Therefore it is obligatory on anyone who hears of a command of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) or knows it, to explain it to the Ummah, advise them sincerely, and order them to follow his command, even if it contradicts the opinion of someone great. This is because the authority of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) has the most right to be respected and followed, over and above the opinion of anyone great who has unknowingly contradicted the Messenger's command in any matter. This is why the Companions and those after would refute anyone who contradicted the authentic Sunnah, sometimes being very stern in their refutation51, not out of hatred for that person, for they loved and respected him, but because the Messenger of Allaah was more beloved to them, and his command was superior to the command of any other created being. Hence, when the order of the Messenger and that of someone else conflicted, the order of the Messenger would be more fitting to be enforced and followed. None of this would stop them respecting the person they had opposed because they knew that he would be forgiven52; in fact, the latter would not mind his instruction being opposed when the command of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) was clearly shown to be opposite."53
Indeed, how could they mind that, when they had ordered their followers to do so, as we have seen, and had enjoined on them to abandon any of their views which contradicted the Sunnah. In fact, Imaam Shaafi'i (rahimahullaah) told his companions to attribute the authentic Sunnah to him also, even if he had not adopted it or had adopted something contradictory to it. Hence, when the analyst Ibn Daqeeq al-'Eid (rahimahullaah) collected together, in a bulky volume, the issues in which one or more of the four Imaams' madhhabs had contradicted the authentic hadeeth, he wrote at the beginning of it, "It is prohibited to attribute these answers to the Mujtahid Imaams, and obligatory on the jurists who follow their opinions to know of these so that they do not quote them regarding these and thus lie against them."54
The Imaams' Followers Leaving their Views if these Contradicted the Sunnah
Due to all that we have mentioned, the disciples of the Imaams, a number of people from those of old, and a few from those of later time55, would not accept all of their Imaam's views; they actually ignored many when they found them to be clearly against the Sunnah. Even the two Imaams, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan and Abu Yoosuf (rahimahullaah) differed from their shaikh Abu Haneefah "in about a third of the Madhhab"56, as the books of masaa'il prove. Similarly is said about Imaam al- Muzani57 and other followers of Shaafi'i and other Imaams; were we to start giving examples, the discussion would become exceedingly, long, and we would digress from what we set out to do in this Introduction, so we shall limit ourselves to two instances:
1) Imaam Muhammad says in his Muwatta'58(p. 158), "As for Abu Haneefah, he did not regard there being a prayer to ask for rain, but we hold that the imaam prays two rak'ahs and then supplicates and holds out his wrapping garment ..."
2) We have 'Isaam ibn Yoosuf al-Balkhi, one of the companions of Imaam Muhammad59 and a servant of Imaam Abu Yoosuf60, who "would give verdicts contrary to Imaam Abu Haneefah because he did not know the latter's evidence, and other evidence would present itself to him, so he would give verdicts using that."61 Hence, "he would raise his hands on bowing (in prayer) and on rising from it"62, as is the mutawaatir sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam); the fact that his three Imaams (i.e. Abu Haneefah, Abu Yoosuf and Muhammad) said otherwise did not prevent him from practising this sunnah. This is the approach which every Muslim is obliged to have, as we have already seen from the testimony of the Four Imaams, and others.
To sum up: I sincerely hope that no follower of an Imaam will race to condemn the principles of this book and abandon benefiting from the sunnahs of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) which it contains, with the argument that they are contrary to his Madhhab. I hope that such a person will instead consider what we have given of the exhortations of the Imaams towards the obligation to act on the Sunnah and ignore their sayings contradictory to it. I hope also that he will realise that to condemn the attitude of this book is to condemn whichever Imaam he is following, for we have taken these principles from those Imaams, as we have explained. Therefore, whoever refuses to be guided by them on this path is in great danger, for such refusal necessitates turning away from the Sunnah, the Sunnah to which we have been ordered to refer in cases of difference of opinion and on which we have been commanded to depend.
I ask Allaah to make us among those about whom He says,
"The answer of the believers, when summoned to Allaah and His Messenger, in order that he may judge betweeen them, is no other than this: they say, "We hear and we obey" - it is such as these that will attain Success. It is those who obey Allaah and His Messenger, and fear Allaah, and keep their duty to Him, who will triumph."63