It is preferred to make one of the following supplications between the two prostrations. One may repeat them more than once if one wishes to do so. An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah recorded that Huzhaifah reported that between the two prostrations, the Prophet would say, “O Lord, forgive me.” Abu Dawud recorded from Ibn ‘Abbas that while prostrating, the Prophet, upon whom be peace, would say, “O Allah, forgive me, have mercy on me, grant me well-being, guide me and provide for me.”
Sunnah acts of prayer, The Sitting of “Rest”
This refers to a quick sitting that one makes after the second prostration of the first and third rak’ah. The scholars differ over this regulation due to the differing hadith. Says Ibn al-Qayyim, “The jurists differ over this act. Is it a Sunnah of the prayer that one should perform, or is it only done due to some necessity? There are two statements on this question and two narrations from Ahmad. Said al-Khallal, ‘Ahmad referred to the hadith of Malik ibn al-Huwairith regarding the intermediate position of rest (between the two prostrations). He said, ‘Yusuf ibn Musa informed me that Abu Umamah was asked about standing up (in the prayer) and he said, ‘It should be done on the tops of the feet according to the hadith of Rafa’.’ In the hadith of Ibn ‘Ajlan there is no proof that he would stand on the tips of his feet. Many of the companions and others who described the prayers of the Prophet did not mention this sitting, except in what is related by Abu Humaid and Malik ibn al-Huwairith. If it was part of his guidance, he would always do it, and those who described his prayers would have mentioned it. The fact that he may have done so does not necessarily make it one of the Sunnahs of the prayer, unless he did it as a regular practice for the people to follow. Otherwise, he may have done it out of some need to do so, and this would not prove that it is a Sunnah of the prayer.”
Sunnah acts of prayer, sitting for Tashahud
One should sit for the tashahud and place his hands in the following manner:
1. Ibn ‘Umar reported that when the Prophet sat for the tashahud, he would place his left hand on his left knee and his right hand upon his right knee, and he would form a ring like (fifty-three) and point with his index finger. In another narration it is reported, “He would close his hand and point with his index finger.” (Related by Muslim.)
2. Wa’il ibn Hajr reported that the Prophet would place his left palm on his left thigh and knee. He would place the end of his right elbow upon his right thigh and would then close his right hand, forming a circle. In another narration it states, “He would make a circle with his middle finger and thumb and point with his index finger. Then he would raise his finger, and (Wa’il) saw him moving it to make supplications.” (Related by Ahmad.) Explaining the hadith, al-Baihaqi says, “The implication of ‘he would move it’ is that he would point with it, not that he would continue to move it.” This would be in agreement with the narration of Ibn az-Zubair who reported, “The Prophet would point with his finger while supplicating, and he would not move it.” This is related by Abu Dawud with a Sahih chain. An-Nawawi also mentioned it.
3. Reported az-Zubair, “When the Prophet sat for tashahud, he would place his right hand on his right thigh and his left hand on his left thigh. He would point with his middle finger, and would not look beyond his pointing.” (Related by Ahmad, Muslim and an-Nasa’i.) This hadith shows that one is to place the right hand on the right thigh without closing the hand (making a fist), and that he is not to look beyond his pointing. The preceding three hadith are all authentic, and one may act by any of them.
One should point with one’s right index finger, bending it a little, until one says the salaams at the end of the prayer. Reported Numair al-Khaza’i, “I saw the Messenger of Allah sitting in the prayer with his forearm along his right thigh. His index finger was raised, curved (or bent) a little, and he was supplicating.” This is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah and Ibn Khuzaimah with a good chain.
Said Anas ibn Malik, “The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, passed by Sa’d while he was making supplications (and using) two fingers. The Prophet said to him, ‘Just one, Sa’d”’ This is related by Ahmed, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa’i and al-Hakim.
Ibn ‘Abbas was asked about a man who pointed with his finger while supplicating and he said, “This is sincere devotion.” Says Anas ibn Malik, “That is imploring.” Mujahid maintains “Doing this hinders Satan.” According to the Shai’iyyah, one points with the finger only once, when saying “except Allah” in the statement bearing witness. The Hanifiyyah raise the finger in the denial part of the statement (there is no god) and put it back down during the confirmation part (except Allah). The Malikiyyah move the finger to the left and right until they finish the prayer. The Hanbaliyyah point with the finger every time they mention Allah, as a reflection of the oneness of Allah, and they do not move it.
Sunnah acts of prayer, Sitting for the First and Second Tashahud
When Abu Humaid described the prayer of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, he said, “When he sat after two rak’ah, he would sit upon his left leg and keep his right foot upright. When he sat for the last rak’ah, he would pull over his left foot and put his right foot upright (over the left foot) and sit upon his entire posterior.” (Related by al-Bukhari.)
Most scholars say that the first tashahud is Sunnah
This is based on the hadith of ‘Abdullah ibn Buhainah who reported that once the Prophet stood during the noon prayer when he should have sat (for the first tashahud). When he finished the prayer, he made two prostrations. He made a takbir for each prostration (and it was) while he was sitting before he made the tasleem. He made those two prostrations because he had forgotten to sit (for the first tashahud). (Related by “the group.”) In Subul as-Salaam, it is stated that this hadith proves that one who forgets the first tashahud must make the prostrations of forgetfulness. The Prophet is, however, reported to have said, “Pray as you have seen me pray.” This would point to the first tashahud being obligatory, and one would have to do some act to make up for it. But, this also proves that it is not obligatory, for if one misses an act that is obligatory, the two prostrations of forgetfulness are not sufficient to make up for it. That is what Ibn Hajr says in Fath al-Bari.
Says Ibn Batal, “The proof is that the two prostrations due to forgetfulness cannot replace something that is obligatory. If one forgets the opening takbir, they will not replace it. In the case of the tashahud, it is a remembrance that is not said aloud and it is not obligatory.” Some say otherwise, because the Prophet used to perform it and, as such, he let others follow him in performing it after he found out that they were leaving it intentionally. But there is some doubt about this argument. Those who say that it is obligatory include al-Laith Ibn Sa’d, Ishaq, ash-Shaf’i and the Hanafiyyah. At-Tabari argues that it is obligatory because originally only two rak’ah and the tashahud were obligatory. When they were made longer, the original obligations were not done away with. Therefore, it is still obligatory.
It is preferred to make the first tashahud quickly
Reported Ibn Mas’ud, “When the Prophet sat after the first two rak’ah, it seemed as if he was (sitting) on hot stones.” This is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa’i, at-Tirmizhi and Ibn Majah. At-Tirmizhi grades it as Hassan and says, ‘Ubaidah (ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud) did not hear (hadith) from his father. He also says, “The scholars act according to this hadith. They prefer that one should not sit too long after the first two rak’ah, and that he should not add anything to the tashahud.” Says Ibn al-Qayyim, “It is not reported from the Prophet that he would say prayers upon himself or his family during the first tashahud. Nor would he seek refuge from the torment of the grave or the Hellfire, or from the test of life, death and of the false Messiah.
Those who say such supplications are deducing their arguments from the general application (of the supplications and the word tashahud), but the correct position is that their proper place is in the last tashahud.
To be continued