Fatawa >Chapter Four :The Common Parts of Prayer
Chapter Four :The Common Parts of Prayer
68.Takbiratul ihram, or the statement of "Allahu Akbar"
is the inaugural part of prayer. A prophetic hadith concludes,
"The moment takbiratul ihram is uttered, paarayer enters a
state of consecration, and the moment that state comes to an end is
when the worshipper finishes reciting tasleem", meaning that when
the worshipper recites takbir, the prayer starts, and thus they
should refrain from all that which may render prayer batil
until all is done with the recitation of tasleem where and when the
worshipper is considered having discharged their obligation.
For that reason takbiratul ihram, and not niyyah, has
been treated as the first part of prayer. That is because niyyah
alone does not set prayer rolling.
"Allahu Akbar", as we have already mentioned is the
precise wording of takbiratul ihram. That is, no other wording,
such as "al-Khaliqu Akbar", or Allahul Adheem Akbar, is not
admissible. Similarly, any equivalent in any other language is not
permissible. Whomever is ignorant of this takbir has to learn
it. Should there be not enough time, the worshipper has to be trained
into learning how to utter it. If this also fails, they should recite
it to best of their ability. If it is not feasible for non-Arabic
speaking people to say it in its Arabic form, they should do their
utmost to say it as close as possible to Arabic. Alternatively, they
may utter what is equivalent to the Arabic phrase.
70. Insofar as its meaning is concerned, takbiratul ihram
has to be recited independent of any other utterance, i.e. neither
prior to it nor after it. Thus, it is not permissible for the
worshipper to say it as part of, say, "Qaalal Mala’ikatu wa
Ulul Ilm Allahu Akbar", or, "Allahu Akbar Min Kulli
71.As an utterance, takbiratul ihram has to be initiated
independently. That is, if the worshippers were talking prior to
uttering the phrase, "Allahu Akbar", they have to stop at
the last letter in such a way that it forms a complete halt of the
last sound to avoid encroaching on the sound of hamzah of the
72. Those who could not utter takbiratul ihram could intend
to do so in his heart or with sign language where possible, as a
matter of al ahwatil awla( a kind of optional precaution).
73.Conditions: Takbiratul ihram must be recited from a
standing position. Indeed, the worshipper has to be standing prior to
uttering takbir to ensure that it be recited in that position.
Just as it is obligatory to recite it standing, so is it obligatory to
maintain a certain posture of the standing position. That is, the
worshipper must be calm, collected, stable, and upright. This will be
elaborated in para. (115) , Allah willing.
74.Number of Times: It is obligatory to utter takbiratul ihram
once. However, it is recommended (mustahab) to recite "Allahu
Akbar" six, four, or two times before the actual one which
heralds the start of prayer. In all circumstances, it is preferable to
make niyyah that the last of these takbirs is the
obligatory one through which prayer is entered into.
75.During takbiratul ihram, it is mustahab for the
worshippers to raise their hands close to their ears or face with the
palms pointing towards the qiblah and the fingers tucked
76.Irregularities: Whomsoever skips takbiratul ihram, their
prayer would not count. That is, irrespective of whether it was done
deliberately and knowingly that it is obligatory, or inadvertently,
including if they were ignorant of it being compulsory. He who
abandons the standing position while reciting takbiratul ihram,
preferring to do it from a sitting position should receive the same
The prayer of a person, uttered from a standing position that is
neither a stable nor an upright one, can be sanctioned, provided they
were ignorant of the fact that movement in the standing position
cannot be tolerated. Conversely, the prayer be deemed batil.
Whomsoever recites a second takbir, it is considered as an
extra one which might invalidate prayer, if it was done intentionally;
should this be the case, they have to recite takbir anew to
ensure that the prayer is valid. If the action has emanated from
ignorance of what is obligatory or it has been done inadvertently, the
prayer should stand.
77.Doubt: If the doubt, as to the utterance of takbiratul ihram
has been done or not, arises prior to the obligatory recitation of
suratul-Fatiha, the worshipper must utter it. If the doubt arises
after the recitation of al-Fatiha has actually begun, they must
continue with what they are doing.
However, should the worshippers be aware that they recited the takbir,
yet they doubted whether it was sound, they must rule out such a
doubt. That is, regardless where the doubt took place, i.e. after or
before embarking on al-Fatiha.
2.Recitation During the First and the Second Ruka’
By recitation, we mean the recitation from the Holy Qur’an in
prayer. Hadith has it, "No prayer will count, unless the
Fatiha ,inaugural surah of the Qur’an, is recited in
78.The obligatory part of recitation:
What is obligatory on the worshipper, after uttering takbiratul
ihram, is to recite al-Fatiha and part of any other surah,
albeit a whole one, after al-Fatiha is preferable as a matter of
ihtiyat mustahab. All this goes for first as well as the second
The recitation of the surah would not be complete unless it
is done with Basmalah, i.e. Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim, wherever it is
mentioned at the start of the surah in the Holy Qur’an.
Basmalah is an integral part of all surahs in the Qur’an
79.There can be no prayer without surah-al-Fatiha.As for the
surahs which are recited after it, they are obligatory, except
in the following cases:
a. It is not obligatory to recite other surahs ,besides al-Fatiha,
in the daily supererogatory prayers and other voluntary ones, although
it is preferable to recite those surahs, even it turned, by way
of nadhr or the like, to be an obligatory one.
b. The recitation of other surahs can be forgone in the
event the worshippers find it difficult to do so because of, say,
sickness, or being in a hurry to attend a business of his.
c. When time does not allow for reciting both al-Fatiha and another
surah, abandoning the recitation of the second surah
becomes paramount for the sake of ensuring that the entire prayer in
hand, or at least a greater part thereof, would be said within the
There is though a fourth case which will be discussed in the rules
governing congregational prayer, Inshallah.
Conditions Concerning the Recitation of the Second Surah
Although the Law-giver has left it to the worshippers to choose
which surah, after al-Fatiha, they like to recite, the
following conditions have to be observed.
80.a.The worshippers are free to recite a long or a short surah
from the Holy Qur’an, provided that there is ample time to recite
the longer surahs. Should they, despite the short time left,
deliberately choose to recite a long surah, their prayer would
be rendered batil. If this is done inadvertently, only to
realize their mistake, they must switch to reciting a shorter surah,
time permitting. Should they remain unaware of their mistake until
they finished prayer, their prayer would be deemed batil.That
is, if they were not able to do at least one ruka’ inside the
appointed time of that prayer . In such a case, they have to repeat it
by way of qadha’’ as a matter of ihtiyat. Otherwise, the
prayer is valid.
81. b. It is not permissible for the worshipper to recite any of
the four surahs of Azaa’im, already mentioned in para 45 of
the Chapter on Ghusl. The reason why it is forbidden to recite them is
because they contain ayahs which, when recited, makes it incumbent on
the worshipper to prostrate themselves; thus, they could be putting
themselves in an untenable situation.
However, should this happen, they should perform the prostration as
required by the ayah and repeat their prayer as a matter of ihtiyat.
Should the worshipper not prostrate themselves, they would be
considered guilty, yet their prayer would still be valid. That said,
pointing to the place of sujood while reciting the ayah, i.e.
notionally, cannot be ruled out, provided that prostration is
performed after the prayer has finished as a matter of ihtiyat,
If the worshippers find themselves in that untenable situation,
having inadvertently recited one of these ayahs, what should they do?
A. If they realize their mistake before reciting the ayah which
requires them to prostrate themselves, they can switch to another surah;
their prayer should be good enough. It should be alright also, even if
they remembered after reciting the surah and performing the
prostration because such an inadvertent addition in the prayer would
not invalidate it.
What would the worshippers do if they heard the ayah which calls
for prostration recited while they are in prayer?
A. If they heard it just by chance, i.e. without being attentive,
they must carry on with their prayer, in which case it shall be deemed
valid; they do not need to worry about anything else. Should they
listen to it attentively, they can nod in the direction of the place
of sujood, finish their prayer, which will be considered a
All what we have been discussing thus far, concerning the surahs
of Azaa’im, is confined to the obligatory daily prayers. As for
reciting them in any voluntary prayer, it is permissible, and there is
no problem in carrying out the required sujood and carrying on
with one’s prayer as normal.
82.It is not obligatory to decide on the name of the surah
right at the start of basmalah. That is, you can recite the basmalah
then recite any surah other than, say, the one you have
intended, for this reason or the other, in that you do not need to
repeat the basmalah.
83.Just as the worshippers are free to choose the surah they
like to recite besides al-Fatiha, so are they free to switch to any
other one, except in the following cases:
a. Should they be half way through the surah they are
reciting, they are not allowed to make the switch.
b.Should they choose to recite al-Ikhlas or al-Kafiroun right at
the outset, they are not permitted to switch to another surah,
as a matter of obligatory precaution, even if they did not get as far
as the half way mark.
c. The worshippers, in Juma’ prayer or dhuhr prayer on the day of
Juma’, may choose to recite surah al-Juma’ in the first ruka’
and surah al-Munafiqoun in the second. Should they proceed with
the recitation, it is not permissible for them to switch to other surahs.
84.The instances where switching to another surah is
prohibited do not cover the following:
a. The situation where the worshippers are forced to do the switch,
such as having started reciting, they forgot part thereof or there was
not enough time to finish it. That is, irrespective of what surah
it was or how long it was.
b. A worshipper performing a supererogatory prayer is free to do
the switch as they please.
c. A worshipper performing Juma prayer or dhuhr that day
inadvertently started reciting surahs other than the intended
ones, i.e. al-Juma’ in the first ruka’ and al-Munafiqoun in
the second. Such are free to make the switch to the intended surahs.
Suppose a worshipper intended to recite surah al-Qadr when
he started the basmalah; however, he recited al-Ikhlas instead without
actually intending to do so. There is no harm in his reverting his
first niyyah by reciting al-Qadr. He would not be treated as
though they have made the switch from al-Ikhlas.
Conditions for Recitation
85.a.The recitation of the second surah has to follow the
recitation of al-Fatiha, i.e. it is not permissible to recite it
86.b.The recitation has to be correct. This could be achieved
through the following:
87.a/1. In identifying the Qur’anic text, one can rely on what is
contained in the Holy Book, i.e. the print form, or on a recognized
way of recitation dating back to the early days of Islam and the Imams
(a.s.).This may include the seven official recitations. Accordingly,
the worshipper is free to recite any variation of such as that found
in surah al-Fatiha for the phrases, "Maaliki yawmiddin"
and "Meliki yawmiddin", "Siratal lathena" either
with a ’Seen’ or with a ’Sad’, or that found in surah
al-Ikhlas concerning the word, "Kufuwan", "Kufwan",
"Kufu’an", and "Kuf’an". These variations are
all acceptable because they have already been covered by the seven
officially recognized recitations.
If the recitation is an odd one, i.e. not commonly known at the
first era of Islam, it is not permissible to rely on in identifying
the correct recitation of the ayahs of the Holy Qur’an. For example,
some had recited, "Malaka yawmiddin" by making ’malaka’
as a past tense verb; this is very odd and therefore should not be
recited on in prayer.
There is no harm if the worshippers recited in the Holy Qur’an or
was made to repeat the ayahs after they have been recited by someone
who is proficient in the recitation. This is particularly true when
the worshippers have just embraced Islam [and may not have any
knowledge of Arabic].
If this is not feasible, yet the worshipper can recite al-Fatiha
and a part of a second surah, this would be sufficient, even
with their ability to learn the surah in its entirety. Should
the case be that the worshippers only know how to recite part of al-Fatiha,
reciting this part would do. However, they should, as a matter of
voluntary ihtiyat, make up the shortfall by whatever they know of
other ayahs. In this case, what counts is not the number of missing
ayahs of al-Fatiha, rather the quantity. That is, the compensatory
ayah should not be shorter than the recited ayah of al-Fatiha that was
not recited .
In case the worshippers are not in a position to recite anything,
be it al-Fatiha or other ayahs, they have to resort to takbir,
tasbih, and exaltation (the utterance of La illaha illal lah).As a
matter of ihtiyat, the latter should be on a par with al-Fatiha, i.e.
88.a/2.The worshipper should observe the harakat (symbols appearing
above or below the Arabic characters that denote and aid the proper
pronunciation of the words), the words. However, when stopping at the
last letter of a word, there is a choice of either pronouncing that
harakah or not, i.e. by resorting to sukoon. This is also true when
one decides to recite it as a run-on ayah.
89.a/3.The worshippers must ]do their best[ to achieve the proper
pronunciation of each and every letter in the word as the Arabic
speaking people do.
90.a/4.One has to be mindful of the proper pronunciation of the ’hamzah’
which is found, for example, above the ’alif’ of the word
’Allah’, or ’Iyyaka’. That is, if you start with it, you have
to pronounce it; if it was part of a sentence and preceded by a word
ending with a letter with harakah, like dhammah or kasrah, you have to
drop the ’hamzah’, if it was ’hamzat wasl’,and keep it
if it was ’hamzat qat’.
For example, if you were to read, "Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim"
in one go, you have to drop the ’hamzah’ that appears above
all the ’alifs’ of the words Allah, Arrahman, and Arrahim, as the
’hamzah’ here is that of ’wasl’.
As for the ’hamzat qat’, if you were to read, "Maaliki
yawmiddin, Iyyaka na’budu, wa Iyyaka nasta’een", you have to
keep the ’hamzah’ above the first letter of the word Iyyaka.
91.a/5.’al’ ,which is equivalent to the definite article
’the’ in English, may be added to certain words, such as ’al-hamd’,
’ar-rahman’, ’ar-rahim’.At some instances you have to
pronounce the ’l’ of ’al’ fully, at others you have to drop
it, the latter is called idgham )amalgamation, or assimilation.
Idgham takes place with thirteen letters of the Arabic alphabet,
such as ta’ , tha’, and dal. So, you should not pronounce the
’lam’ in the words, al-rahman, al-rahim, al-sirat, and al-dhalleen;
,instead the ’l’ sound replaced by the sound of the next letter
thus: ar-rahman, ar-rahim, as-sirat, and adh-dhalleen.This is in
contrast to pronouncing the ’l’ sound in such words as al-hamd,
al-’alamin, and al-mustaqeem.
92.For a variety of reasons, there may be worshippers who are not
proficient enough in Arabic; some may stammer, others may be
non-Arabs… etc. They must do their best to learn Arabic. Should this
not yield results, they are excused. Accordingly, the prayer they
recite in any way possible shall be valid. They may also resort to
praying behind another worshipper who is proficient in Arabic to make
do with their recitation; this though is not obligatory.
93.Saying prayer to one’s best ability is applicable to the
ignorant, who is willing to learn, although it is not obligatory on
him to say his prayer behind an imam. The ignorant we are talking
about is the one who cannot do both, i.e. learning and prayer, at that
point in time. That is, he could take to being coached in reciting at
some other time.
95.As for the ignorant, who is capable of learning before the time
of prayer and is aware of his responsibility to seek learning, yet he
did not bother, he has to seek to say his prayer behind another person
where possible. Failing to so and ending in saying his prayer solo,
his prayer would be deemed batil. If he kept procrastinating
till it was late, and did not succeed in his bid to find an imam, it
is obligatory on him to perform his prayer to the best of his ability;
although such a prayer shall count, he would be considered guilty for
95. A worshipper in prayer became doubtful as to the correct
pronunciation of a word. They have to seek guidance in this regard,
even if it led them to cut short their prayer, i.e. time permitting.
If this was not feasible, even on grounds of time, they have to resort
to ihtiyat in pronouncing the word in both the possibilities; in so
doing, they do not need to repeat their prayer. This is so because the
]doubtful pronunciation[ is not part of the ordinary man’s talk.
96.c.The worshipper has to pronounce each and every word in the
usual manner, i.e. as is commonly recognized. That is, breaking the
word into syllables is not acceptable. Should anything of this sort
inadvertently happen, the word cannot be admissible; the worshipper
has to repeat it as it should be pronounced. If the worshipper resorts
to this intentionally at the outset, it would invalidate the entire
prayer. However, should they do it while pronouncing the word, they
have to repeat pronouncing it in a proper way; their prayer would be
This also applies to playing with the other rules of Arabic syntax
The worshipper has to maintain the order of the ayahs, be they
those of al-Fatiha or the second surah, as they appear in the
Holy Qur’an. They should also maintain an unbroken sequence between
the ayahs, i.e. there should not be undue pauses between them as well
as between any two sentences in one ayah. The criterion here should be
judged against the established practice .However, halting the
recitation for a cough or the like, albeit long, should not be a
97.d.It is obligatory that the worshipper should recite [the surahs]
audibly at times, and inaudibly ( at others.
Where should each mode of speech used?
It is obligatory on a man to recite al-Fatiha and the second surah
in subh prayer, the first and second ruku’ of maghrib and
isha’ audibly. He must inaudibly recite al-Fatiha and the second surah
in the first and second ruku’ of both dhuhr and asr.
However, it is not obligatory to recite the basmalah inaudibly. It
is mustahab that it be recited audibly in each and every
prayer. Dhuhr prayer on a Friday can be said in either way. As for
Juma’ prayer, the imam has to recite the surahs audibly.
Women have to observe inaudible recitation in the same way men do.
As for cases of audible recitation, they have the choice between
audible and inaudible recitation.
98.At any rate, the worshippers, be they men or women, should
overdo neither. That is, audible reciting should not border on
screaming and inaudible reciting should not border on mumbling.
As for utterances, other than al-Fatiha and the second surah,
such as takbir, dhikr, tashahhud, etc. the worshipper is
free to recite them either audibly or inaudibly.
99.e. Just as the worshippers are required to recite takbiratul
ihram from a standing position, they are required to maintain a
standing position while reciting al-Fatiha and the second surah.
It is also obligatory on them to maintain a stable position while
reciting. However, certain situations may arise where the worshippers
are required to move sideways, forward or backward. Provided that they
maintain facing the qiblah, they should abandon the recitation
at the moment of making the move and resume it after that.
100.Lapses: If the worshippers deliberately do anything which may
in any way detract from the recitation, ]of that which has so far been
discussed[, their prayer shall be deemed batil.
However, if they have done so inadvertently or through ignorance,
their prayer should be deemed valid. So, if they realized their
oversight after they had finished their prayer, they need not worry.
The same applies, if the realization occurs during prayer, but after
the worshipper had performed ruku’ where the lapse in
recitation took place. They may become aware of the error prior to
actually bowing for ruku’. In such a case, they must take
remedial action, unless they no longer maintained stability of the
standing position, or audible/inaudible recitation where required, in
that they are not required to repeat the recitation so long as the
mistake was made either unintentionally or due to forgetfulness or
The mukallafs may be vaguely aware of the requirements of the two
modes of recitation, i.e. audibly or inaudibly. However, on embarking
on a particular prayer, they were not sure what mode is actually
required of them. Suppose that audible reciting was required, yet they
did the reverse, only to discover their mistake, having finished their
prayer. A prayer thus performed would still count, provided that, at
the outset, they intended that Allah, the Exalted, would accept it as
it was recited.
101.Doubt: The worshipper may harbor doubt about the soundness of
their recitation of al-Fatiha and the second surah or part
thereof. Should this happen, after they have finished the recitation,
they do not have to worry.
If the doubt arises about whether the worshipper recited, say, the
first ayah of al-Fatiha while they were reciting the second ayah, they
should not worry.
If the doubt arises as to whether or not al-Fatiha was recited
while the recitation of, say, al-Ikhlas was in progress, they need not
However, it is obligatory to recite al-Fatiha and the second surah,
if the worshippers found themselves, immediately after takbiratul
ihram, speechless not knowing whether they recited them.
Should the worshippers resolve the doubt that they really did
recite al-Fatiha, yet they are at a loss whether they recited the
second surah, they must hasten to recite it.
Any doubt about any of the preceding situation which may arise
after the worshipper had bowed for ruku’ must be ruled out.
102.Decorum: It is mustahab to say, "A’oudhu Billahi
Minash Shaitanir Rajim", I seek refuge with Allah from the
accursed Satan, before the inauguration of recitation in the first ruku’.
A short pause is also mustahab after the recitation of al-Fatiha,
just before reciting the second surah.
It is mustahab to say, "Alhamdu Lillahi Rabil A’lamin",
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, upon finishing al-Fatiha; also
saying, "Kathalikal Lahu Rabi", That is My Lord, upon
It is mustahab that the worshippers recite, in their prayer,
once a day at least al-Ikhlas.
Although it is recommended for the worshippers not to recite, after
al-Fatiha, two complete surahs of the Holy Qur’an, there is
no harm if they chose to do so.