The Pillars of Prayer and its conditions of validity

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيم

Praise be to God the Creator of the world, the One Who exists without beginning, without end, without location, without a “how” and Who does not depend on time. Nothing resembles Him in anyway and He hears and sees everything without organs. Whatever you imagine, God is different from that. May the elevation in degree and preservation of his community of what he fears for it, be granted to our master Muhammad Al-‘Amin, the Honest One, who called for following Islam, the religion of truth, the religion of all the Prophets: of the First, Adam, to the last Muhammad.

There are five prayers which must be performed by the Muslims and are called obligatory prayers. It is a great sin to neglect performing any of these obligatory prayers.

Among the merits of performing the obligatory prayers is that one’s small sins, which may be committed between prayers, are forgiven. The Prophet, may Allâh raise his rank, said:

« من توضأ فأحسن وضوءه خرجت منه خطاياه حتى تخرج من تحت أضافره »

which means: « Whoever makes a complete wudu', his sins will depart his body, until they leave from under his nails. » [Muslim]

How to perform the Prayer well in Islam?

Good intention is not enough for the validity of the acts of worship. See: Conditions for the Validity of Prayer

The Pillars of Prayer

The pillars of prayer are seventeen:

1- The intention: It is obligatory to intend in your heart performing the obligatory Dhuhr prayer or the obligatory `ASr prayer for example. It is not a duty to utter the intention with his tongue. Do that while saying: « Allâhu akbar » (God is great). An example is to say in your heart: « I intend to pray the obligatory Dhuhr prayer. » If one says this with his tongue without to have the intention in the heart, the prayer is not valid.

2- The Opening Takbir: It is obligatory to say: « Allâhu akbar » at least as loud as you can hear yourself, while raising your hands next to your ears. Raising your hands is a recommended part.

3- The standing (qiyâm): It is obligatory to stand in the obligatory prayer when able. It is recommended to hold the wrist of the left hand with the right hand, placing both above the navel.
If unable to stay, one prays sitting. If unable, one prays lying one one's side. If unable, one prays lying on one's back.

4- Reciting the FâtiHah: It is obligatory to recite the FâtiHah (the first chapter of the Qur’ân) at least as loud as you can hear yourself. It is an obligation to recite the FâtiHah properly, that is, to pronounce all the letters correctly. Also, doubling the letters that must be doubled, in order and succession without lengthy interruption, articulating its letters properly, and avoiding the error which breaches the meaning, such as saying (an^amtu) instead of (an^amta). It is prohibited to commit an error that does not breach the meaning. However, it does not invalidate the prayer [unless done intentionally]. Learn the recitation of the Fâtihah from a qualified teacher.

Suratu l-FâtiHah

سورة الفاتحة
بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيمِ {1} الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ {2} الرَّحْمـنِ الرَّحِيمِ {3} مَـلِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ {4} إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ {5} اهدِنَــــا الصِّرَاطَ المُستَقِيمَ {6} صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنعَمتَ عَلَيهِمْ غَيرِ المَغضُوبِ عَلَيهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّالِّينَ {7}

Bismi l-Lâhi r-RaHmâni r-RaHîm (1) Al-Hamdu li l-Lâhi Rabbi l-`âlamîn (2) Ar-RaHmâni r-RaHîm (3) Mâliki yawmi d-Dîn (4) ‘iyyâka na`budou wa ‘iyyâka nasta`în (5) ‘Ihdina S-SirâTa l-mustaqîm (6) SirâTa l-ladhîna ‘an`amta `alayhim ghayri l-maghDûbi `alayhim wa la D-Dâllîn (7)

The Meaning of the FâtiHah

1- I start my recitation with the Name of Allâh (the One Who deserves to be worshipped), Who is Ar-RaHmân (the One Who is merciful to both Muslims and non-Muslims in this life), and Ar-RaHîm (the One Who is merciful to Muslims only in the Hereafter).

2- Praise and thanks to Allâh, the Rabb (Owner) of the worlds (of angels, humans, jinn, and others) for the givings He granted without Him being obligated to do so.

3- He is Ar-RaHmân (the One Who is merciful to both Muslims and non-Muslims in this life), and Ar-RaHîm (the One Who is merciful to Muslims only in the Hereafter).

4- He is the Owner of the Day of Judgment.

5- To You (Allâh) only we dedicate worship (the ultimate subjugation), and from You (Allâh) only we seek help.

6- Keep us guided (firmly) on the Straight Path (Islam).

7- Which is the Path of those upon whom You bestowed guidance by Islam (prophets and other Muslims), not the path of those whom You willed to punish, or the path of those who went astray.

Whoever cannot recite the FâtiHah correctly must recite other parts of the Qur’ân, the number of letters of which should be at least equal to that of the FâtiHah (156 letters). If one knows one or more âyahs of the FâtiHah, one may repeat them as many times as would render minimally the same number of letters in the FâtiHah. If one cannot recite any âyah of the FâtiHah, one recites other ayahs of the Qur'ân the letters of which add up to at least the same number of letters of the FâtiHah. If one cannot recite any part of the Qur’ân, one must recite certain words of dhikr, such as:

سُبحانَ اللّهِ والحَمدُ لِلّهِ ولا إله إلا اللّهُ واللّهُ أَكْبَرُ

(subHâna l-Lâh wa l-Hamdu li l-Lâh wa lâ 'ilâha il-la l-Lâh wa l-Lâhu akbar)

This means: « I declare that Allâh is clear of all imperfections, praise and thanks to Allâh, no one is God but Allâh, and Allâh is the Greatest » as many times as would render minimally the same number of letters in the FâtiHah. Ibn Hibban and an-Nawawiyy reported:

« في صحيح ابن حبّان أنّ رجلاً أتَى النبيِّ فقال : يارسولَ اللّه إنّي لا أستطيعُ أتعلّم القرءانَ فَعلِّمْنِي ما يُجزينِي من القرءان. فقال : « قُلْ سُبحانَ اللّهِ والحَمدُ لِلّهِ ولا إله إلا اللّهُ واللّهُ أَكْبَرُ ولا حول ولاقوة إلا باللّه العليّ العظيم .» وفي حديث المسىءِ صلاته : « فإنْ كان معكَ قرءانٌ فاقرأ وإلا فحمد اللّه تعالى وهَلِّلْهُ وكَبِّرْهُ » قال النوويُ حسنٌ »

For example, reciting Allâhu akbar twenty times is sufficient. In the unusual case of someone being unable to recite the FâtiHah, other parts of the Qur’an, or dhikr statements one stands as long as reciting the FâtiHah with moderate speed takes.

It is recommended to say: Amin (0 Allâh, fulfill my request) after finishing the FâtiHah, and to recite at least one verse from another chapter of the Qur’ân in the first and second rak`ah.

5- The Bowing (Ruku`): It is obligatory to bend at the waist until your palms can reach your knees and stay still in this position for at least the time it takes to say subHânallâh. It is recommended upon bending to raise your hands next to your ears and say Allâhu akbar. Also it is recommended while in ruku`, to say three times: subHâna Rabbiy Al- `ADHîm (Praise be to my Great Lord).

6- The immobilization in this pillar At-Tuma'nînah: It is to stay still in this position for at least the time it takes to say subHânallâh. It is the fixed immobilization of every bone in position, at one time.

7- The Straightening up (I`tidal): It is obligatory to straighten your back and stay still in this position for at least the time it takes to say subHânallâh. It is recommended while raising your trunk to raise your hands next to your ears and to say: sami`a lLâhu liman Hamidah (Allâh hears who praises Him). While your back is straight up it is recommended to say: Rabbanâ wa laka l-Hamd (0 our Lord, to You the praise is due).

8- The immobilization in this pillar At-Tuma'nînah

9- The Prostration (Sujiud) two times: It is obligatory to go down to the floor and prostrate by pressing your bare forehead, and putting your palms, knees, and pads of the toes on the floor. Both feet are kept vertical with the heels up and the toe pads down touching the floor. Stay still in this position for at least the time it takes to say subHânallâh.

It is recommended upon going down to the floor to raise your hands next to your ears and to say Allâhu akbar. Also it is recommended while in sujud to say three times: subHâna Rabbiya l-'A`lâ (Praise be to my Supreme Lord). It is also recommended while in sujud to place your hands next to your shoulders, having your fingers together directed towards the Qiblah.

It is recommended for the male to keep his elbows away from his sides in his sujud and in his ruku`, and to keep his abdomen lifted away from his thighs in his sujud. However, the female keeps her elbows pulled in to her sides in her sujud and ruku` and keeps her trunk close to her thighs in her sujud.

10- The immobilization in this pillar At-Tuma'nînah

11- The Sitting between the two Sujuds: It is obligatory to raise your trunk from prostration and sit, staying still in this position for at least the time it takes to say subHânallâh.

It is recommended to say Allâhu akbar while coming to sitting. Also, it is recommended while sitting to say:

اللهمَّ اغفِرلي وارحمني واهْدِني وعَافِني وارْزُقْني

(Allâhumma ghfir lâ wa rHamnî wa hdinî wa `âfinî wa rzuqnî)

This means: « 0 my Lord, forgive me, have mercy on me, guide me, protect me from sickness and provide for me. » It is also recommended to do the sitting with the left foot tucked under the buttocks while the right foot is kept vertical as in sujud. An alternate recommended way of sitting is to rest the buttocks on the heels of both feet which are kept as in sujud. It is recommended that the hands be placed on the thighs at the knees with the fingers extended and spread slightly towards the Qiblah.

12- The immobilization in this pillar At-Tuma'nînah

13- The last seated position: to recite the Tashahhud. There is a minimum and a complete form. The minimum of tashahhud is:

« التَّحِيَّاتُ لله سَلاَمٌ عَلَيْكَ أَيُّها النَّبِيُّ و رَحْمَةُ الله و بَرَكاتُهُ سَلاَمٌ عَلَيْنَا وَ عَلَى عِبَادِ الله الصَّالِحِينَ أَشهَدُ أَن لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ الله وَ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً رَسُولُ الله »

(at-taHiyyatu lil-Lâh, salâmun `alayka ‘ayyuha n-Nabiyyu wa raHmatu l-Lâhi wa barakâtuh, salâmun `alaynâ wa `alâ `ibâdi l-Lâhi S-SâliHîn, ‘ach-hadu ‘an lâ ‘ilâha ‘il-la l-Lâh wa ‘anna MuHammadan-raçûlou l-Lâh)

When in the complete tachahhoud, it is:

« التَّحِيَّاتُ المُبارَكَاتُ الصَّلَوَاتُ الطَّيِّباتُ لله السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكَ أَيُّها النَّبِيُّ و رَحْمَةُ الله و بَرَكاتُهُ السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْنَا وَ عَلَى عِبَادِ الله الصَّالِحِينَ أَشهَدُ أَن لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ الله وَ أَشْهَدُ وَ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً رَسُولُ الله »

(at-taHiyyatu l-mubarakâtu S-Salawâtu T-Tayyibatu lil-Lâh, as-salâmu `alayka ‘ayyuha n-Nabiyyu wa raHmatu l-Lâhi wa barakâtuh, as-salâmu `alaynâ wa `alâ `ibâdi l-Lâhi S-SâliHîn, ‘ach-hadu ‘an lâ ‘ilâha ‘il-la l-Lâh wa ‘ach-hadu ‘anna MuHammadan-raçûlu l-Lâh)

15- The invocation in favour of the Prophet:

«الَّهُمَ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّد»

(Allâhuma Salli `alâ MuHammad)

The recitation of the invocation ' Ibrâhîmiyyah completely after the last one tachahhoud:

اللهم صلّ على سيّدنا محمّد وعلى آل سيّدنا محمّد كما صلّيت على سيّدنا إبراهيم وعلى آل سيّدنا إبراهيم وبارك على سيّدنا محمّد وعلى آل سيّدنا محمّد كما باركت على سيّدنا إبراهيم وعلى آل سيّدنا إبراهيم

Allâhumma Salli `alâ sayyidinâ MuHammad wa `alâ ‘âli sayyidinâ MuHammad kamâ Sallayta `alâ sayyidinâ Ibrâhîm wa `alâ ‘âli sayyidinâ Ibrâhîm wa bârik `alâ sayyidinâ MuHammad wa `alâ ‘âli sayyidinâ MuHammad kamâ bârakta `alâ sayyidinâ Ibrâhîma wa `alâ ‘âli sayyidinâ Ibrâhîm fi l-`âlamîna innaka Hamîdun majîd

The Meaning of the Tashahhud and Salatul-’Ibrâhimiyyah

The blessed salutations, Five Prayers, and the good deeds are all owned by Allâh. 0 Prophet of Allâh, may the safety from infirmities, and the mercy of Allâh and His blessings be upon you. May safety be upon us and upon the righteous slaves of Allâh.

I profess (know, believe, and declare) that no one is God but Allâh, and I profess that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allâh.

0 Allâh, we ask You to raise the rank of MuHammad, and have mercy upon the Al (wives, Muslim kin, and pious Muslim followers) of MuHammad, as You raised the rank of Ibrâhîm, and the Al of Ibrâhim. Verily, You are the One Who deserves to be praised and thanked, and the One Who is glorified. 0 Allâh, we ask You to bless MuHammad, and the Al of MuHammad, as You blessed Ibrâhîm, and the Al of Ibrâhîm. Verily, You are the One Who deserves to be praised and thanked, and the One Who is glorified.

It is recommended to sit with the feet. An alternate way of sitting is to rest the buttocks on both crossed feet. It is also recommended to keep both hands on your thighs. The fingertips of your left hand should be spread towards your knee. In this sitting, the fingers of the right hand are lightly fisted except for the index finger which is extended slightly down. The index finger is lifted slightly at saying illallâh (in the Tashahhud) and is kept as such until the end of this sitting.

16- The Ending Salam: It is obligatory to say السلامُ عليكُم as­salamu `alaykum at least as loud as you can hear yourself. It is recommended to say:

السلامُ عليكُم ورحْمَةُ اللهِ وبركَاتُهُ

as-salamu `alaykum wa RaHmatullâh first to one’s right and then to one’s left.

17- The order: that is to say, carry the pillars in order, as they have just been mentioned.

Picture of Positions of Prayer

Picture Positions of Prayer

Sunni Islamic Jurisprudence Islamic Prayer Islamic Remindersbowing of prayer integrals of prayer pillars of prayer prayer ruku` salah straightening up of prayer