The Conditions of Salat
There are certain conditions for proper performance of salat without fulfilling which salat will remain unperformed. They are:
- The commencement of the time earmarked for a specific salat. The Quran says:
إِنَّ الصَّلاةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَاباً مَوْقُوتاً (النساء: 103)
“Verily, salat is a time-bound obligation upon the believers” (Al-Nisa: 103).
- This means one should have undertaken wadhu [ablution], should not be in the need of full wash. In case of a woman, she must be clean of menstrual flow and lochia. Likewise, it is essential that the dress of the person be also clean. Similarly, the floor and the mat meant for prayer should be clean. The Prophet, (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) observed that no salat is acceptable to Allah without cleanliness.
- The person should wear a dress properly covering his satr. Salat represents one’s being in audience with Allah. Propriety demands that at least his satr should be covered. The satr for males is the part of his body from the navel to his knees. For females the whole of their body, except the face and the palms, constitutes the satr.
- Orientation in the direction of the Ka’ba. Allah ordains:
وَمِنْ حَيْثُ خَرَجْتَ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ
(البقرة : 150)
(Translation of meaning) Wherever you pass through turn your faces towards the inviolable House of Prayers. And wherever you may be turn your faces towards it.” (Al-Baqarah: 150). The condition of facing qibla applies when one is able to do so and is in the state of security. If somebody finds himself in a place where he cannot determine the qiblah or direction to Makkah himself nor there is anybody else to guide him then he should act at his own discretion. This is enough. If, however, during the course of the salat he comes to know of the true direction of Makkah or some other person turns him towards it, he should change the direction and complete the rest of his prayers. The obligation will be discharged. Even if the true direction is discovered after the completion of prayers, he need not repeat his salat and his salat will be deemed to have been performed correctly. Nevertheless, there are two exceptions when the requirement of being in the direction of Makkah is waived.
First, if somebody riding on an animal or vehicle is performing nafl salat he ought to be in the direction of Makkah while reciting takbir-i-tahreema but the rest of salat he can perform on the animal (or running vehicle) regardless of where it turns its face. Hadrat Ja’bir, RadhiAllahu Anhu has narrated that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to perform nafl prayers in the riding position irrespective of whether it was in the direction of qiblah. But he used to come down to perform the fardh salat. If, however, the journey was long or there was the probability of losing the time of salat if alighted and during emergency he would perform his prayers in disregard of the qiblah. The same rule will apply to persons who are under duress or in a state of fear or suffering from some infirmity which prevents them from facing the qiblah. The condition of qiblah shall be waived in their case.
- Being a Muslim.
- Being sane. That is, the insane persons and youngsters are exempted.
- Being awake and in full senses. This means, one should not be sleepy or intoxicated or unconscious.
- Not being engaged in an activity which could detract him from the performance of salat. In this case one should complete his activity first.
The Pillars of Salat [Arkaan]
Once a person came to offer salat in the Mosque of the Prophet and afterwards he saluted the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and sat down. Returning his salutation, he asked him to go and pray again. Twice he did so. But the third time requested the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to teach him how to offer salat. The Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) explained: When you intend to offer salat, first perform ablution properly, then say your takbeer, then recite something from the Quran, then kneel yourself and keep poise in your kneeling; then stand erect in poise; then prostrate and remain in poise in your prostration; then raise your head and sit, and remain in poise, and then prostrate again in poise; then stand up erect again and complete the rest of your prayer calmly quietly (Narrated by most of narrators).
There are a total of 11 pillars of the salat. If any one of them is skipped the salat remains incomplete. They are:
- Intention: Allah’s Messenger (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: «إِنَّمَا الْأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّاتِ» “Verily actions are judged by intentions” (Al-Bukhari). For a Muslim it is enough to intend the performance of salat in his mind. He need not articulate it loudly by his mouth. Nothing in the Quran or Hadith makes it compulsory. Nevertheless, some jurists see no qualms if the intention is uttered by tongue also so that there remains no doubt or misgiving. When intending, one should also keep in his mind what salat he wants to perform, whether fajr or zohr, whether fardh or watr or nafl, etc.
- Takbeer-i-tahreema: Takbeer means that one should begin his salat with the chanting of “Allah-o-Akbar”. Allah’s Messenger, (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
«مِفْتَاحُ الصَّلَاةِ الطُّهُورُ، وَتَحْرِيمُهَا التَّكْبِيرُ، وَتَحْلِيلُهَا التَّسْلِيمُ»
Ablution is the key of salat; its tahreem [veneration] is recital of “Allah-o-Akbar”; its tahleel [conclusion] is the recital of “Assalam-o-alaikum wa Rahmatullah” (Abu Dawood, Ibn Maja, Tirmizi, Ahmad).
- Standing: All fardh prayers ought to be performed in the standing position. Allah says:
وَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ قَانِتِينَ (البقرة : 238)
“And stand up to Allah obediently” (al-Baqarah: 238). However, if for some reason it is inconvenient for somebody to pray in the standing mode then he can pray either in the sitting mode or reclining on support or whatever else is convenient according to his condition. Allah’s Messenger (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
«صَلِّ قَائِمًا فَإِنْ لَمْ تَسْتَطِعْ فَقَاعِدًا، فَإِنْ لَمْ تَسْتَطِعْ فَعَلَى جَنْبٍ»
“Pray standing. If it is not possible, pray sitting or on sides” (Al-Bukhari).
- Recitation of Surah al-Fatiha: Recitation of Surah Fatiha is compulsory in each rak’ah (cycle) of every prayer. The Prophet, (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: «لَا صَلَاةَ لِمَنْ لَمْ يَقْرَأْ بِفَاتِحَةِ الْكِتَابِ» He who does not recite Surah al-Fatiha, his salat is not performed (most narrators). Recitation of this surah is compulsory in each rak’ah (cycle) of obligatory and supererogatory salat. If somebody has not memorized this surah, he may recite any other aayah of the Holy Quran. If ever this is not possible for a person, he shall remember Allah in his heart and say Allah, Allah.
- Kneeling [Ruku’]: Ruku’ means kneeling in such a way that hands are placed on the knees and the back is kept straight and the head is parallel with the back. The head should be neither raised up nor bowed down. Not only in Ruku’ but in all other parts of the salat it is essential to maintain equipoise. According to a narration, the Prophet, (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
«إِنَّ أَسْوَأَ النَّاسِ سَرِقَةً الَّذِي يَسْرِقُ مِنْ صَلَاتِهِ» قَالُوا: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، وَكَيْفَ يَسْرِقُ مِنْ صَلَاتِهِ؟ قَالَ: «لَا يُتِمُّ رُكُوعَهَا وَلَا سُجُودَهَا»
the worst thief is one who commits theft in his salat. The Companions asked how a theft can be committed in a salat? He, (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) replied: A thief of salat is one who neither goes in ruku’ properly nor goes in sajdah [prostration] properly (Ahmad, Tibrani, and Bihaqui).
- After ruku’ to stand again in poise. The Mother of the Believers Sayyidah Ayesha narrated that when the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) raised his head from ruku’, he did not go for sajdah before he stood again straight in poise (Muslim).
- Sajdah [prostration]: prostration involves the following parts of the body: the face, both palms, both knees, both feet. Allah’s Messenger (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
«أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَسْجُدَ عَلَى سَبْعَةِ أَعْظُمٍ عَلَى الجَبْهَةِ، وَأَشَارَ بِيَدِهِ عَلَى أَنْفِهِ وَاليَدَيْنِ وَالرُّكْبَتَيْنِ، وَأَطْرَافِ القَدَمَيْنِ »
I have been ordered to prostrate on seven bones: the face (and he pointed towards his nose), both hands, both knees and fingers of both feet (Al- Bukhari and Muslim).
- Rising from sujud [prostration].
- To sit in poise between the two sajdahs.
- Qa’dah [sitting in poise] and tashahhud [recitation of testimony]: In the second sitting after the second sajdah the worshipper recites the tashahhud as follows:
التَّحیَاتُ لله والصَّلواتُ والطَّیِّبَاتُ ،السلَّاَمُ عَلَیکَ أَیُّھا النَّبِیُّ وَ رَحمَۃُاللہِ وَبَرَکاَتہ،
السلَّاَم ُعَلَینَا وَعَلی عبَادِاللہِ الصَّالِحِین ، أَشھَدُأَن لاَ إِلَہ إلاَّ اللہ وَحدَہ لاَ شَرِیک َلَہ،
وَاَشھَدُ اَن َّمُحمداً عَبدہ وَ رَسُولَہ
“Attahiyyaat-o-lillah-i-wassalawaat-o-wattayyibaat. Assalaam-o- alaika Ayyuhan Nabi wa Rahmatullah-i-wa-Barqakaatuh. Assalaam-o-alaina wa-ala’ Ibadillahissaliheen. Ashhadu an la ilaha illallah Wahdahu la shareeka lah. Wa Ashhadu anna Muhammadan Abduhu wa Rasooluh”.
[Greetings for Allah and prayers and good praises. Peace be upon you O Vicegerent of Allah and Allah’s mercy and His blessings. Peace be upon us and on all righteous slaves of Allah. I testify that there is no ilah but Allah. He is alone having no co-partner. And I testify that Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is His slave and messenger] (Al- Bukhari and Muslim).
- Salaam: According to the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), cleanliness is the key of salat and its tahreem is to recite allah-0-Akbar and its tahleel is to recite assalaam-o-alaikum (Abu Dawood, Tirmizi, Ibn Maja). It is not valid to recite salaamun alaikum or alaikum assalaam. Saying Assalamo Alaikum once is a rukn (pillar) of salat and saying it once again is a sunnah.
- Poise and moderation: It is obligatory to perform salat in solitude and with due moderation. The Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) had objected to those who pray hurriedly and had advised solitude and moderation.
- The order of the parts of salat: It is obligatory to perform salat in the same order as the Allah’s Messenger (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did and taught to his followers. This means first standing straight, then ruku’, then sajdah. If this order is not followed, salat will be void.
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