Pillar of Islam

Mistakes in Salat

Mistakes in Salat

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Assalam o Alaikum rahamutullahi wa barakuthu.

Salat is the 2nd pillar of Islam, which we Muslims are ordered to pray 5 times a day. Allah has orders Salat in Quran and the ways of performing Salat are mentioned in Sunnah. Unfortunately, we do not spend much time seeking knowledge about Islam, even though Salat is a basic part of Islam, there are still many common mistakes that people commit when performing Salat. Muslim brothers and sisters must avoid them, and try to perfect their prayer according to their ability.

Common mistakes before Salat

1. Making intention verbally

I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.”

(Sahih Bukhari 1)

The intention is one of the conditions required for performing Salat. However, it is not correct to say it verbally, rather it must be done in the heart.

2. Not taking care of hygiene and cleanliness

It is best to keep your appearance clean and tidy. Some people do not bother to wear clean clothing and pray Salat in dirty, or untidy clothing.

He (the Holy Prophet) remarked: Verily, Allah is Graceful and He loves Grace.

(Sahih Muslim 91 a)

Some come with a bad smell. This is offensive to the worshippers and the Angels. The hadith says that whoever has such odor must not come to the masjid.

He who eats of this (offensive) plant, i. e garlic, and sometimes he said: He who eats onion and garlic and leek, should not approach our mosque for the angels are harmed by the same things as the children of Adam.

Sahih Muslim 564 c

3. Not covering their mouth when yawning

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Yawning is from Satan and if anyone of you yawns, he should check his yawning as much as possible, for if anyone of you (during the act of yawning) should say: ‘Ha’, Satan will laugh at him.”

4. Praying sunnah/nafl prayer during Iqama

Praying sunnah/nafl prayer while iqama has started, makes your prayer invalid. Unfortunately, this mistake is common, especially in Fajr.

Narrated by Abu Hurairah: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) as saying: When the iqamah is pronounced for prayer, no prayer is valid except the obligatory prayer.

(Sunan Abi Dawud 1266 and Nasai 865)

Any missed sunnah prayers before farz should be made up after the farz.

Narrated Qays ibn Amr:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saw a person praying after the congregational prayer at dawn was over. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: There are two rak’ahs of the dawn prayer (i.e. the prescribed rak’ahs). The man replied: I did not pray the two rak’ahs before the dawn prayer. Hence I offered them now. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) kept silent.

(Abi Dawud 1267)

5. Closed eyes while praying

Some people close their eyes while praying, but there is no report about this.

6. Racing with the Imam

Unfortunately, this is one of the most common mistakes. When the imam moves from one part to another (standing to ruku etc), people race with him. This is not the right way, because the imam has not reached the part completely.

Narrated Al-Bara’ bin `Azib:

(He was not a liar) We used to pray behind the Prophet (ﷺ) and when he said, “Sami`a l-lahu liman hamidah”, none of us would bend his back (to go for prostration) till the Prophet (ﷺ) had placed his, forehead on the ground.

(Sahih Bukhari 811)

Al-Bara’ (b. ‘Azib), and he was no liar (but a truthful Companion of the Holy Prophet), reported:

They used to say prayer behind the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). I never saw anyone bending his back at the time when he (the Holy Prophet) raised his head, till the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) placed his forehead on the ground. They then fell in prostration after him.

(Sahih Muslim 474 a)

7. Praying without covering the shoulder

Usually in Umrah and Hajj, some people in their ihram do not cover their shoulder. It is against the command of Prophet peace be upon him who said:

“None of you should offer prayer in a single garment that does not cover the shoulders.”

(Sahih al-Bukhari 359)

8. Praying with folded clothing

Folding clothes during prayer is forbidden, as Prophet peace be upon him said:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: I was commanded to prostrate myself on the seven (bones) and forbidden to fold back hair and clothing.

(Sahih Muslim 490 e)

9. Some people in the congregation especially the young, do not start praying after the imam has started until he reaches bowing then they start praying

This is not good, and a sign of laziness. The parents should not allow them to do this. Salat is a very important part of Islam for parents to teach to their children.

Starting Salat, and while in Qiyām (the standing position)

1. Raising the hands by touching earlobes

There is no report about touching the earlobes while raising the hands. Rather the hands should be raised from shoulder to ear level, both can be combined by keeping the palm on the level of the shoulders, while fingers can be on ears level., it is reported in Sahih Muslims:

Salim narrated it on the authority of his father who reported: I saw the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) raising his hands apposite the shoulders at the time of beginning the prayer and before bowing down and after coming back to the position after bowing. but he did not raise them between two prostrations.

(Sahih Muslim 390 a)

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) raised his hands apposite his ears at the time of reciting the Takbir (i. e. at the time of beginning the prayer) and then again raised his hands apposite the ears at the time of bowing and when he lifted his head after bowing he said: Allah listened to him who praised Him, and did like it (raised his hands up to the ears).

(Sahih Muslim 391 b)

Both ahadith can be combined. the palms should be on shoulders level, while the fingers should be on ears level.

2. Not raising the hands properly

Some people do not raise their hands properly, some raise it loosely, others raise it below the recommended level as mentioned above. Both are mistakes.

3. Placing the hands below the navel

The ahadith concerning placing the hands below the navel are weak, it is reported that it should be placed on the chest:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to place his right hand on his left hand, then he folded them strictly on his chest in prayer.

(Abu Dawood 759)

4. Putting hands on the waist

It is wrong to put the hands on the waist, as reported in hadith:

The Prophet (ﷺ) forbade praying with one’s hands on one’s waist.

(Sunan an-Nasa’i 890)

5. Putting hands by sides

This is not the correct method, because it is reported in ahadith that the hands must be placed over the left forearm.

Narrated Tawus:

The people were ordered to place the right hand on the left forearm in the prayer. Abu Hazim said, “I knew that the order was from the Prophet (ﷺ) .”

(Sahih al-Bukhari 740)

“I said: ‘I am going to watch how the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) prays.’ So I watched him and he stood and said the Takbir, and raised his hands until they were in the level with his ears, then he placed his right hand over his left hand, wrist and lower forearm

(Sunan an-Nasa’i 889)

6. Making the feet position too extreme

Some people keep their feet too close to each other, while others keep their feet go too far away. The feet must be in moderate between these extremes.

7. Not letting the feet face the Qibla

Qibla is one of the essential conditions of prayer, which without fulfilling it, the salat will be invalid. The feet must face the Qibla. Some people do not let their feet face the Qibla, they keep them away instead.

8. Not straightening the gaps properly

Straightening gaps such that no gap is left empty, (feet to feet, shoulders to shoulders) is obligatory, unfortunately, many people do not pay attention to this obligation.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Set the rows in order, stand shoulder to shoulder, close the gaps, be pliant in the hands of your brethren, and do not leave openings for the devil. If anyone joins up a row, Allah will join him up, but if anyone breaks a row, Allah will cut him off.

(Abu Dawood 666)

Anas narrated:

“Make your rows solid and close together, and keep your necks in line. By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad! I can see the shaitan entering through the gaps in the rows as if they are small sheep.”

(Sunan an-Nasa’i 815)

Aishah narrated:

“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Allah and His angels send blessings upon those who complete the rows, and whoever fills a gap, Allah will raise him one degree in status thereby.’”

(Ibn Majah 995)

9. Lack of humility

Humility is the spiritual condition of Salat, it is meant to keep you in peace, and firm, remembering Allah. Looking around or towards the sky while praying is prohibited.

Looking up:

Jabir b. Samura reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: The people who lift their eyes towards the sky in Prayer should avoid it or they would lose their eyesight

(Sahih Muslim 428)

Looking around:

“I asked the Messenger of Allah about looking around during the Salat. He said: ‘It is a portion which the Shaitan snatches during a man’s prayer.'”

(Jami` at-Tirmidhi 590)

10. Making movements for no reasons

Some people make unnecessary movements, such as fiddling with their watch, ghutrah (Arabian headscarf, wore by the Arab people), nose or beard. These are not good and affect the prayers. One should always stay devoted and humble before Allah. Allah says regarding the prayer:

قَدۡ أَفۡلَحَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ ١

Certainly, will the believers have succeeded:

ٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ فِى صَلَاتِهِمۡ خَٰشِعُونَ ٢

They who are during their prayer humbly submissive

Surah Mu’minun: 1 to 2

حَٰفِظُواْ عَلَى ٱلصَّلَوَتِ

“Guard strictly on the prayers.”

(Surah Baqarah: 238)

11. Not moving the lips and tongue while reciting the Quran

This is among the common mistakes that people are doing. It is wrong to say in the mind, instead, the lips and tongue must be moving while reciting the Quran.

It is reported in hadith:

A man said: “O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), indeed, the legislated acts of Islam have become too much for me, so inform me of a thing that I should stick to.” He (ﷺ) said: “Let not your tongue cease to be moist with the remembrance of Allah.”

(Jami` at-Tirmidhi 3375)

This includes the Quran being recited in prayers, because it is Dikhr.

In Ruku (Bowing) and getting up to the standing position

1. Saying Allah Akbar before going to ruku, or after reaching:

The Takbir must be said while going in ruku, and not before or after. It is called Takbir of Movement.

Whenever Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) stood for the prayer, he said Takbir on starting the prayer and then on bowing.

(Sahih Bukhari 789)

Abu Salama reported:

Abu Huraira led a prayer for them and recited Takbir when he bent and raised himself (in ruku’ and sujud) and after completing (the prayer) he said: By Allah, I say a prayer which has the best resemblance with the prayer of the Prophet (ﷺ) amongst you.

(Sahih Muslim 392a)

2. Not bending properly

Some people do not bend properly, their back is not completely straight at 90-degree angle. While others go extreme by going below the straight level. While in ruku, one must bend at a straight level only.

I was sitting with some of the companions of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and we were discussing about the way of praying of the Prophet. Abu Humaid As-Sa`idi said, “I remember the prayer of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) better than anyone of you. I saw him raising both his hands up to the level of the shoulders on saying the Takbir, and on bowing he placed his hands on both knees and bent his back straight

(Sahih al-Bukhari 828)

The hands also must grab the knees, it should be spread, and the arms should be away from the sides as well.

Abu Humaid, Abu Usaid, Sahl. B Sa’d and Muhammad b. Maslamah (once) got together and discussed how the Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) used to offer his prayer. Abu Humaid said: I am more informed than any of you regarding the prayer offered by the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). Then he mentioned a part of it and said: He then bowed and placed his hands upon his knees as if he caught hold of them; and bent them, keeping (his arms) away from his sides

(Sunan Abi Dawud 734)

3. Benting the head down or pointing it up while in ruku

It must not be tilted down or pointed up, rather it should be between these two extremes, the head should be straight.

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to begin prayer with Takbir (saying Allahu Akbar) and the recitation: “Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Universe.” When he bowed he neither kept his head up nor bent it down, but kept it between these extremes

(Sahih Muslim 498)

4. Hastening to stand up as soon as Subhana Rabbi Al-Azeem is recited

The bones while in the ruku should be relaxed, the Subhana Rabbi Al Azeem should be recited once or 3 times. One should not hasten it.

5. Not saying Sami Allah liman Hamid or Rabbana wa lakal hamd (when praying behind imam) properly

It must be recited while moving, and not before or after reaching the standing form, like the Allah Akbar before going to ruku.

6. Not reaching the standing position properly

Some people do not reach the standing position and while they are about to reach it, they hasten to prostrate instead. This is not the Islamic way. The standing up after ruku is the pillar of the prayer, and without completing it, the prayer is invalid.

4. In the standing position after Ruku

1. After reaching the standing position, some people raise their hands for the Qunoot supplication.

This is not the correct way, rather this is done in Witr prayer. If one wishes to supplicate while in prayer, then one should make duas while in Sajdah and before the Salam.

In the prostration and the sitting between two prostrations

1. Not setting the seven bones firmly

It is obligatory to put the seven bones firmly on ground without letting them lift intentionally. They are:

  1. Forehead
  2. Nose
  3. Hands
  4. Knees
  5. Feet

Some people do not let their nose touch the ground firmly, others keep their feet in the air, and, some lift some of their fingers or rubbing the ground with it. This goes against the hadith concerning the seven bones.

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: I was commanded to prostrate myself on the seven (bones) and forbidden to fold back hair and clothing. (The seven bones are): forehead, nose, hands, knees, and feet.

(Sahih Muslim 490 e)

There are many ahadith concerning this matter.

2. Not spreading the hands while prostrating

As the hadith mentioned above, the hands must be spread. Some people make fist instead of spreading the hands on the ground.

3. The hands not facing the Qibla

Qibla (Facing the direction of Kaaba) is one of the essential condition of salat. Without fulfilling it, the salat is invalid. Allah says regarding the qibla.

قَدۡ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجۡهِكَ فِى ٱلسَّمَآءِۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبۡلَةً تَرۡضَٰهَاۚ فَوَلِّ وَجۡهَكَ شَطۡرَ ٱلۡمَسۡجِدِ ٱلۡحَرَامِۚ وَحَيۡثُ مَا كُنتُمۡ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمۡ شَطۡرَهُۗۥ وَإِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ ٱلۡكِتَٰبَ لَيَعۡلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ ٱلۡحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمۡۗ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ بِغَٰفِلٍ عَمَّا يَعۡمَلُونَ

We have certainly seen the turning of your face, [O Muhammad], toward the heaven, and We will surely turn you to a qiblah which you will be pleased. So turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haram. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces toward it [in prayer]. Indeed, those who have been given the Scripture well know that it is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.

(Surah Baqarah 144)

4. Resting the forearm on the ground

Prophet peace be upon him forbade this:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Be straight in the prostrations and none of you should put his forearms on the ground (in the prostration) like a dog.”

(Sahih al-Bukhari 822)

5. Extreme position while in prostration

Some people make their prostration too close, their arms being closer to the sides. While others make their prostration spread too much. It should be moderate between these. The arms must be apart from the side while the hands should be next to the shoulders or the ears.

Hazrat Maminua – Mother of the Believer (may Allah be pleased with her) said:

When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) prostrated himself, if a lamb wanted to pass between his arms, it could pass.

(Sahih Muslim 496)

She also said:

When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) prostrated himself, he spread his arms, i. e. he separated them so much that the whiteness of his armpits became visible from behind and when he sat (for Jalsa) he rested on his left thigh.

(Sahih Muslim 497 a)

6. Not sitting between prostration completely

This is another act of lacking humility and makes the salat incomplete. Like the previous parts of the salat, during ruku, some people do not reach the sitting position and instead hasten to prostrate again. Rather one should reach the sitting position completely and let his bones relax, saying Rabbighfir lee (My Lord forgive me)

In the sitting position for Tashahudd until the salam.

1. Incorrect sitting positions

Some people do not keep their right foot erect and sit on the left foot, and instead, sit cross-legged or with both feet erect or other positions. But if the right foot erect and sitting on the left foot is too painful or one suffers from a problem that is preventing them from performing the position, he can skip the position. It is reported that Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar sat cross legged, because his feet cannot bear his weight:

I saw Abdullah bin Umar crossing his legs while sitting in the prayer and I, a mere youngster in those days, did the same. Ibn `Umar forbade me to do so, and said, “The proper way is to keep the right foot propped up and bend the left in the prayer.” I said questioningly, “But you are doing so (crossing the legs).” He said, “My feet cannot bear my weight.”

(Sahih al-Bukhari 827)

2. While reciting the Tashahudd, some people raise their finger to circle, or up to down

This is wrong. While reciting the Tashahudd and raising the finger, one should move it slowly.

3. In the congregation behind the imam, while in the Tashahud, some people make gestures with their hands

This is forbidden by Prophet peace be upon him

We said our prayer with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and, while pronouncing salutations, we made gestures with our hands (indicating)” Peace be upon you, peace be upon you.” The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) looked towards us and said: Why is it that you make gestures with your hands like the tails of headstrong horses? When any one of you pro- nounces salutation (in prayer) he should only turn his face towards his companion and should not make a gesture with his hand.

(Sahih Muslim 431 b)

4. Following the Imam in Salaam

When the Imam says his 1st salam, some people also follow him, even before he completes his 1st salam. This is wrong, one should wait until the Imam finishes both his Salams, they should then recite the salams.

5. Not showing the cheeks behind when saying the salam

Some people do not show their cheek while saying the salams. The Sunnah way of saying the Salams is to show the cheeks while reciting.

‘Amir b. Sa’d reported:

I saw the Messenger of Allah (may peace be open him) pronouncing taslim on his right and on his left till I saw the whiteness of his cheek.

( Sahih Muslim 582)

6. Incorrect way of saying salam

Some people say Salam on left, and then recite it when they reach the right side, others do the same, except that they pause at the middle side, then they reach the right side. While others touch their clothing while moving to the sides, and others don’t let keep their body firm on Qibla. These are wrong. The correct way of saying the salams is to reach the left and right sides saying salam without pausing.

7. After finishing the salam, some people put their hand on their heads

This is not the Sunnah, there is no report that Prophet peace be upon him did this.

Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah)

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