acts of prayer
For it to be acceptable, the method of prayer must conform to the norms spelled out in the Islamic law.
A: Obligatory acts of prayer, Intention
Says Allah, “And We did not command them save to worship Allah, making the religion sincerely for Him” (al-Bayinah 5). The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “Every action is based upon intention. For everyone is what he intended. Whoever made the migration to Allah and His Prophet, then his migration is to Allah and His Prophet. Whoever’s migration was for something of this world or for the purpose of marriage, and then his migration was to what he migrated to.” (Related by al-Bukhari.)
In Ighatha al-Lufan, Ibn al-Qayyim states, “The intention is the aim and purpose of something. It is a condition of the heart, and it does not come from the tongue. For that reason, the Prophet and his companions never spoke their intentions. What has been introduced into this matter during the actions of purity and the prayer comes from Satan and is a trap for those who are unsure about how to make it. You will find them repeating it over and over, but that is not part of the prayer at all.”
Obligatory acts of prayer, Saying the Opening Takbir and Beginning the Prayer
Ali reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “The key to prayer is purity. What puts one into its inviolable state is the takbir, and the tasleem releases one from it.”
As to the authenticity of the report, it is related by ash-Shai’i, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah and atTirmizhi, who called it the most authentic report on this topic. Al-Hakim and Ibn as-Sakin consider it as Sahih. The takbir consists of saying Allahu Akbar. Abu Hameed reported that when the Prophet stood for prayer, he would stand straight, raise his hands and say, “Allahu Akbar.” This is related by Ibn Majah, and in the Sahihs of Ibn Khuzaimah and Ibn Hibban. Al-Bazzar related something similar to it, but with a chain that is Sahih according to Muslim’s criterion. ‘Ali and others also reported this.
A: Standing During the Obligatory Prayers
One must stand during the prayer, if at all possible. Says Allah, “Guard and preserve the prayers and the mid-most prayer, and stand for Allah with devotion.” Reported ‘Umar ibn Hussain, “I had some physical problem, so I asked the Prophet, upon whom be peace, about the prayer, and he said, ‘Pray standing; if you are not able to; pray sitting, if you are not able to; pray (while lying) on your side.” (Related by al-Bukhari.) Most scholars say that one should not put his feet together while standing in prayer.
For voluntary prayers, one can pray sitting even if he can stand, but one who stands receives a larger reward than one who sits. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar related that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “The prayer of one who sits is half of the prayer.” (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)
If one cannot stand, he may pray according to what he is capable of doing, as Allah does not burden a soul beyond its ability. He will get a complete reward for the prayer. Abu Musa reported that the Prophet said, “If a slave (of Allah) is sick or travels, he will get a reward for those acts are similar to what he would get if he was healthy and at home.”
B: Obligatory acts of prayer, Reciting al-Fatihah in Every Rak’ah of the Prayer
There are many authentic hadith which state that it is obligatory to recite al-Fatihah in every rak’ah. Thus, there is no difference of opinion on this point. Some of these hadith are:
‘Ibadah ibn as-Samit related that the Prophet said, “There is no prayer for one who does not recite the opening of the Book al-Fatihah).” This is related by “the group.”
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet said, “Whoever prays a prayer and does not recite the opening chapter of the Qur’an has not prayed correctly.” (Related by Ahmad, al-Bukhari and Muslim.) Ad-Daraqutni also recorded a hadith with a Sahih chain with almost exactly the same wording.
Said Abu Sa’eed, “We were ordered to recite the opening chapter of the Qur’an and what (else) was easy (for us).” This is related by Abu Dawud. Al-Hafez and Ibn Sayyid an-Nass consider its chain as Sahih.
In some of the narrations dealing with the prayer’s incompleteness, it states, “And then recites the ‘Mother of the Book’ (al-Fatihah),” and he said, “And do that in every rak’ah.”
It is confirmed that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, recited al-Fatihah in every rak’ah of every prayer, obligatory or superogatory. Since this is an act of worship, we can only follow what he did. And the Prophet said, “Pray as you have seen me pray.” (Related by al-Bukhari.)
Obligatory acts of prayer, Bismillah
The scholars are agreed that the bismillah (the words “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful) is a verse in Surah al-Naml, but they differ over whether or not it constitutes a verse of every surah. There are three opinions on this point:
1. It is a verse of al-Fatihah and of every surah of the Qur’an. Therefore, it is to be recited with alFatihah during those prayers that are said aloud or quietly. The strongest support of this opinion comes from the hadith of Na’em al-Mujammir who said, “I prayed behind Abu Hurairah and he recited, ‘In the name of Allah...’ and then he recited al-Fatihah.” At the end of the hadith, he is quoted as saying, “By the One in whose Hand is my soul, I have done what resembles how we prayed with the Messenger of Allah.”
2. It is a verse by itself and was revealed to demarcate different surahs. It is allowed to recite it with alFatihah (in fact it is preferred), but it is not Sunnah to recite it aloud. Anas said, “I prayed behind the Messenger of Allah, Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman, and they did not recite it aloud.”
This hadith is related by an-Nasa’i, Ibn Hibban and at-Tahawi with a sahih chain according to the criterion of the two Sahihs.
3 It is not a verse of al-Fatihah or of any other surah. It is disliked to recite it aloud or quietly during the obligatory prayers, but not for the superogatory prayers. This opinion, however, is not strong.
Ibn al-Qayyim has reconciliated the first and second opinions by saying, “Sometimes the Prophet would recite it aloud, but most of the time he would say it quietly and not aloud.”
To be continued