47 Islamic articles on: formal prayer (salah)

Table of contents for the topic formal prayer (salah)
  1. Dealing with someone who doesn’t pray because he thinks he has enough good deeds already
  2. The proper way to sit during salah and where to gaze during tashahhud
  3. Is the best salah the longest?
  4. The ruling on praying while bleeding or with blood on clothing
  5. Difficulty in praying due to a mental block
  6. How to pray when classes get in the way
  7. Is it hypocritical to perform salah when it feels like a burden?
  8. The proper way to position feet when sitting in salah
  9. Is it better to delay salah until you are in the mood for it?
  10. What should one think about during salah?
  11. Who does “Woe to those who pray” refer to?
  12. What is the one right way to pray (perform salah)?
  13. Is the fajr prayer valid if the sun rises while performing it?
  14. Praying on a car, bus or airplane (salah)
  15. How to focus better when praying (performing salah)
  16. Is it sunna to raise the index finger in tashahhud?
  17. Rolling sleeves and pants in prayer
  18. Repeating prayers due to uncertainty about having performed them correctly
  19. What to do if you cannot pray on time at school or work
  20. Can you start praying before all the athans are finished?
  21. Can a woman lead male family members in prayer if necessary?
  22. The difference between sunna and nafl
  23. Can a Muslim enter Paradise if they do not pray?
  24. Can you perform the prayer (salah) according to the Quran alone?
  25. Can you take breaks between prayers in Islam?
  26. Is not praying worse than adultery?
  27. How to achieve khushoo in salah
  28. The ruling on the prayer of an alcohol-drinker
  29. A woman’s prayer is still valid if part of her hair is unintentionally uncovered
  30. Is it permissible to write down prayer words when learning how to pray (salah)?
  31. The sunna prayer of dhuhr (ẓuhr) can be prayed in units of two or four
  32. On raising the hands during salah as a Hanafi
  33. On praying (making dua) during salah and whether one can do it in English
  34. Do Muslims need to make up prayers intentionally missed for years?
  35. How to pray on an airplane when you do not know the qibla
  36. What are the manners and rules of performing wudu and prayer?
  37. On intentionally delaying the isha prayer
  38. What to recite next after finishing salah
  39. When to stand up during the iqamah, at the beginning, a specific point or at the end?
  40. What to do if you make a mistake during salah (formal prayer)?
  41. Will one’s prayers be valid if they unknowingly make an error in them for a long period of time?
  42. How long can you delay the isha prayer?
  43. Raising and lowering the finger during salah (formal prayer)
  44. How soon are the sunnah prayers performed after the fard prayers?
  45. Why do different Muslims (such as Hanafis) follow different prayer timings?
  46. How to make up multiple missed prayers (salah)
  47. What to do if you have intentionally missed many days of prayers

IslamQA: Dealing with someone who doesn’t pray because he thinks he has enough good deeds already

Al salam alikom i have a problem with my brother he doesnt pray and im trying to tell him to pray but he told me that i already did alot of good deeds so im sure im gonna go to jannah and i responded and told him he will get punished on every thing he did wrong knowingly such as not praying but he told me that in the judgment day if i have 50 good deeds and 49 bad deeds i would enter jannah without punishment which i know is false but i couldnt respond because i didnt have 100% proof that is correct so brothers and sisters if anyone knows how to respond to my bros argument

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Performing the prayer (salah) is one of God’s rights on us. Ignoring this right is an act of rebellion and a major sin that as far as I’m aware cannot be erased through other good deeds. Nothing will make up for not praying. So a person who doesn’t pray risks receiving God’s wrath, and even if they give away the whole world’s wealth in charity that may not be able to make up for a single intentionally missed prayer.

You may also find this answer helpful: What is there to do if you suffer because someone you love is far away from God?

IslamQA: The proper way to sit during salah and where to gaze during tashahhud

Salam! I have two questions about prayer: during tashahud, do you have to look at your raised finger and does not looking invalidates the prayer? What about the tashahud position: do you have to sit on your left foot? I find that that position difficult and I've always sat on my both crossed feet, is that wrong? Thanks!

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There are different opinions on that and I prefer the Maliki opinion that there is no need to look at the finger during tashahhud, and I prefer the opinion that we can look comfortably ahead and down (such as at the place where we put our foreheads at prostration, although it doesn’t have to be strictly there, just whatever is most comfortable).

As for the sitting position, it is permitted to sit in any comfortable position as long as it generally resembles the common way people sit in the prayer. So according to Imam al-Nawawi and others there is no issue with sitting on your crossed feet, which is in fact what I do. Sitting on the left foot is considered Sunna, it is not obligatory.


IslamQA: Is the best salah the longest?

Assalamualaikum. I want to ask that is it true that the best salah is when you stand the longest… Is it true? And why is that?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The reward for a good deed depends on the effort and sacrifice we put into it. So standing longer in prayer is better because we spend more time and effort and we sacrifice more of our leisure for its sake.

IslamQA: The ruling on praying while bleeding or with blood on clothing

If one has bleeding wound and that ends up on his clothes, is his wudu or prayer still valid?

It is permitted to pray while bleeding. It is also permitted to pray in clothes that have your own blood on them as long as it is not blood from menstruation or childbirth. If it is from menstruation or childbirth, then praying in them is not permitted.

There is only an issue if it is someone else’s blood, in that case it is only permitted to pray in them if it is a small amount of blood (the size if a baghli dirham, which is a coin that is about three centimeters in diameter).

IslamQA: Difficulty in praying due to a mental block

I don't know how to word this properly, but for a really long period of time, I just feel when troubles come up in life, I get extremely emotional and overly sensitive. I can't focus on school and my worth ethic drops and I spend all my time crying or distracting myself. A lot of people have been telling me that I'm too overly-sensitive, but then again I take that as an offence and get hurt when people tell me my reaction is bad or too much. Am I prideful? Do I think my feelings are more valid?

2/x This is a continuation of my previous question about being too emotional. I also don’t pray all five times a day. I know it’s important and I know there is lots of emphasis on the Qur'an on it, and I honestly do care and try my best. Do you think maybe because I get so sad and lonely and angry at times is because I don’t fully establish prayer?

It sounds like you might suffer from depression. Wanting to do something (such as wanting to pray) but not being able to do it due to some mental block is a clear symptom of depression. I recommend that you see a mental health professional and possibly get on a medication if you need it. That can give you back your energy and motivation and take away your emotional issues.

IslamQA: How to pray when classes get in the way

السلام عليكم I live in Finland where in the winter the days are very short and because of that we have to pray duhur, asr, and maghrib within short hours of one another. My school is far from home and while we do have a place to pray there’s often many of men there and the prayer times are when I have important classes. I feel bad about not praying on time but it’s very difficult for me to pray next to men. Making wudu is also difficult because of the long lines. What should I do brother?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It is permitted to combine the dhuhr prayer with asr and maghrib with isha if you would have extreme difficulty in performing them the usual way due to work or school. Please see this answer for details: What to do if you cannot pray on time at school or work

Maybe this will make things easier for you. You could also combine this with going to the prayer room when there are fewer people around.

Best wishes.

Assalamu Alaikum brother. Thank you for your reply about how to pray when I can’t pray on time. I was wondering however if it’s possible to pray both duhur and asr after noon but before maghreb? Could you please clarify it for me? Thank you. جزاك الله خير

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Iyyana wa iyyakum. When combining dhuhr with asr, you can either perform them at the dhuhr time (between dhuhr and asr) or asr time (between asr and maghrib). The same applies to combining maghrib with isha. You should also perform the full number of rakats (4 for dhuhr and 4 for asr, 3 for maghrib and 4 for isha) since the shortening is permitted for traveling.

IslamQA: Is it hypocritical to perform salah when it feels like a burden?

assalamu aleikum, is it hypocritical to still pray when salah feels like a burden sometimes?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

No, quite the opposite. Praying when you do not feel like it proves your loyalty toward God: you are able to override your instincts and make your ego perform its duties whether it wants to or not. Umar b. Abd al-Aziz says:

The best good deeds are the ones that one has to force the ego to perform.

IslamQA: The proper way to position feet when sitting in salah

Selam what is the proper way of positioning feet during sitting/ kneeling aspect of prayer. I see some websites instruct to sit on the L foot and right foot is erect. I like to sit on top of my heel while my feet are next to one another keeling of course. It is easier position for me to maintain because sometimes I have pain if I hyperextend my foot. Is my prayer valid or do I have to follow what those websites instruct? thx

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The way of sitting you described is how the Prophet PBUH is said to have sat when praying. However, there is no hadith where the Prophet PBUH commands people to sit in this way. It is a way of copying the Prophet’s way of sitting, and we do not know with absolute certainty if it is the only correct way of sitting. So while we can consider it the recommended way of sitting, if you have difficulty sitting in that position then you can sit in whatever way is easiest for you. We know that Ibn Umar [ra] did not sit in the recommended way because it caused him pain due to an injury he had suffered in the past.

IslamQA: Is it better to delay salah until you are in the mood for it?

Which one is better: delaying salah until we do it in the mood or forcing ourselves to salah and feel compelled to do it? And why?

I would say doing it as soon as the time comes in is better because the Quran says:

The prayer is a timed obligation upon the believers.

The Quran, verse 4:103.

An important part of the prayer is to subdue the ego’s desires and break one’s routine for the sake of God. Doing this as soon as the time comes in is the best way to achieve it. As for how you feel about it, this is not as important; the point is to be able to force the ego to perform this act of worship regardless of what the ego wants. I believe this is the best way of proving to God one’s submission and eagerness to please Him.

IslamQA: What should one think about during salah?

Assalamu alaikum! I know you are supposed to focus and have "khushoo" during prayer, but what exactly are you supposed to think about? Are you supposed to focus on reciting and performing the steps properly? Are you supposed to think about Allah? If so, what exactly are you supposed to think about regarding Allah? Sorry if this is a weird question, but I find my mind wandering during salah because I don't know a specific idea to focus on.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The ideal thing to do is to focus on the meaning of the words you utter. When reciting al-Fatiha, when you say “Guide us to the straight path”, you should create in your mind a state of supplication; this should be a desperate and sincere prayer for guidance. When you say allahu akbar during the movements, you should think of God’s greatness; sincerely saying in your heart “God is Great” and doing your best to believe it and create a state of awe in your heart.

The best way to avoid letting your mind wander is to speak the words in a whisper that you yourself can hear clearly. Some Muslims pray with their mouths shut; this makes it very easy for the mind to wander and also goes against the command of the Quran:

Say, “Call Him God, or call Him the Most Merciful. Whichever name you use, to Him belong the Best Names.” And be neither loud in your prayer, nor silent in it, but follow a course in between. (The Quran, verse 17:110)

Take the time to speak each word carefully and clearly. Hearing your own voice helps you focus on the meaning of what you are saying.

IslamQA: Who does “Woe to those who pray” refer to?

Assalamualaikum brother. In this verse "So woe to those who pray. [But] are heedless of their prayer – Those who make show [of their deeds]. And withhold [simple] assistance." [Quran 107: 1-7] is it only referring to those who pray just for 'show' or also those who struggle to concentrate during prayer? / sometimes I become overwhelmed with emotion during prayer and I'm not sure why and It affects it do you have any advice for this? May Allah bless you.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It is referring to those who pray for show without their heart being in it. The context makes it clear that all the verses together refer to the same type of person.

As for having difficulty paying attention when you sincerely want to, that is a different matter. Please see this previous answer on how to focus better when praying: How to focus better when praying (performing salah)

Best wishes.

IslamQA: What is the one right way to pray (perform salah)?

Asalam Walikum, I was still wondering what would be the right way to pray? Ik different scholars have different opinions but in a ONE answer, what would be the right way to pray?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

It is sufficient to learn to pray from a source you like and respect, which is how most Muslims learn to pray. After that as your knowledge increases, you may choose to make small changes.

You may want to check out Being Muslim: A Practical Guide. It teaches how to pray in the Maliki way. The Maliki pratice of Islam is often the easiest for beginners, and since the Maliki school relies on three sources (the Quran, hadith and Medinan amal), it is often more reliable than the other schools which often only rely on the Quran and hadith.

I am not actually a Maliki so please do not consider this propaganda for that school. For my views on the different schools please see: On deciding which madhhab to follow and the multi-madhhab approach

IslamQA: Is the fajr prayer valid if the sun rises while performing it?

Assalamualaikum, if someone intends to pray Fajr but they wake up 5minutes before sunrise and then whilst they are praying it goes past sunrise, is their prayer invalid? Because when I first searched this online all the answers says just to wake up and pray immediately even if you're late. So I assumed you didn't have to make intention of qaza? Jzk

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The Prophet PBUH says:

"Whoever could get one rak`a (of the Fajr prayer) before sunrise, he has accomplished the (morning) prayer and whoever could get one rak`a of the `Asr prayer before sunset, he has accomplished the (`Asr) prayer."

Sahih al-Bukhari 579; a version is also in Sahih Muslim 608 a

So if you start the prayer, finish one rakʿa, then if the sun rises, then you have performed it correctly and there is no need to redo it. But if the sun rises during the first rakʿa, there are different opinions on whether the prayer is valid or not. According to some scholars, if the sun rises during the first rakʿa, then the prayer becomes a qaḍāʾ prayer, meaning the person has missed fajr (but they should still continue the prayer, considering it a qaḍāʾ prayer for fajr). According to others, if a person performs the takbirat al-iḥrām (the first “Allahu akbar” at the beginning of the prayer) before sunrise, then they have accomplished fajr and it is not qaḍāʾ.


IslamQA: Praying on a car, bus or airplane (salah)

Can I pray while sitting? For example if prayer comes while I’m sitting in the bus.

There are different opinions on that, but the general opinion is that performing the sunna (non-obligatory) prayers is permitted while riding on a horse or camel or riding in a car, bus or airplane.

As for the obligatory prayers, the general opinion is that it is not permissible to perform them like that unless one has an excuse. The person should delay the prayer until they are able to perform it normally. The exception is when a person fears that they will not have the opportunity to perform the prayer normally, in such a case it is permitted to perform the obligatory prayers in that way while sitting (if they cannot stand).

According to Imam al-Nawawi if the obligatory prayer is performed while riding, the person should redo the prayer once they are able. However other scholars believe that it is not necessary to make these prayers up.


IslamQA: How to focus better when praying (performing salah)

Assalamualaikum. I'm a PhD student & often my research leads to complicated problems which keep coming into mind during my non-working activities & even in my salah. When I catch my mind drifting into my research problem I quickly say istighfar & focus on salah again, but then it keeps happening. Sometimes I can't even keep my focus between 2 takbir. Do you have any advice on how to deal with this? Is it alright to be distracted in salah as long as I'm trying to focus again? Thank you very much

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I too sometimes struggle to disengage my mind from my work when I’ve been busy. It is just a struggle that we have to accept and try to overcome during the prayer, whether we can overcome it or not is not entirely in our control. When the brain is tired it is not easy to force it to concentrate on the thing you want.

The best thing for focus during the prayer that I have found is to say the words loudly enough that you can hear it with your ears clearly. The act of pronouncing the words clearly and carefully makes it quite difficult for the mind to wander.

I also make up for my occasional lack of concentration by making sure to perform the sunna prayers, and by performing dhikr after every prayer (saying subhanallah, alhamdulillah, allahu akbar and astaghfirallah 34 times each). Different numbers of repetitions are mentioned in hadith, I do 34 of each to keep it simple.

I also listen to the Quran an hour a day, which I hope is another way of making up for my failings in my prayers.

Asalamu alaykum, Regarding the recent Q you answered. Is it permissible to say the prayers our loud in Shari'ah as it is supposed to be the movement of the tongue and lips only? Also, advice for the questioner, what one focuses on outside of his/her prayer will be his/her focus in prayer. Therefore, it may be worth mentioning to be conscious of God even outside of prayer.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The correct way is to pray loudly enough for yourself to hear it, but not so loudly as others praying beside you would be bothered by it. God tells us:

Say, “Call Him God, or call Him the Most Merciful. Whichever name you use, to Him belong the Best Names.” And be neither loud in your prayer, nor silent in it, but follow a course in between. (The Quran, verse 17:110)

Moving your tongue and lips is not sufficient, your voice should be audible to yourself in a quiet room (which is what I recommended).

Women are not meant to recite out loud during prayer though, correct?

That only applies in the presence of strangers. At home or in the presence of other women the rule is the same as for men.


However, what I mentioned regarding the prayer being audible to yourself is a different matter and applies to all of the prayers. I was not referring to being loud during the fajr, maghrib and isha prayers.

IslamQA: Is it sunna to raise the index finger in tashahhud?

Isn't it the sunnah of prophet to lower your index finger and raise it?

The clearly established sunna is to point with the index finger during the tashahhud. As for raising the index finger or moving it, there are conflicting narrations about it which has led to the different schools having different stances about it. One narration says the Prophet PBUH did not move his index finger while another mentions that he moved it. Because of this the different schools have different opinions on whether to do it or not. But keeping the finger still or moving it are both acceptable according to the Mālikī scholar Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr.

The Ḥanafī opinion is to point during the tashahhud and lift the finger when you say lā ilāha illā allāh then lower it again.

The Mālikī opinion is to continuously move the finger from the beginning to the end of the tashahhud.

The Ḥanbalī opinion is to lift the finger each time the name of God is mentioned in the tashahhud.

The Shafiʿi opinion is to lift the finger when you say illā allāh and to keep it lifted until the end of the tashahhud.

There is no conclusive evidence for any of these options.


IslamQA: Rolling sleeves and pants in prayer

Salamu alaikum. Brother, I want to ask that I read somewhere a very long time ago that we are not suppose to roll our shirt's sleeves or our pants to pray. Is it true and what does that mean? Shukran.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There is a hadith mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim that says it should not be done:

Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

I have been commanded to prostrate myself on seven bones:" forehead," and then pointed with his hand towards his nose, hands, feet, and the extremities of the feet; and we were forbidden to fold back clothing and hair.

Sahih al-Bukhari Book 10, Hadith 207; Sahih Muslim 490 d

The meaning of the hadith is somewhat vague regarding folding clothes. The word it uses is kaff, which means “to gather together”, “to fold together” according to Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani. It is not entirely clear if this applies to sleeves and pants as it may have been a reference to folding together one’s robes and holding it with one’s hand in prayer. But just to be safe, it is best to avoid all kinds of folding and rolling.

However, it does not nullify the prayer if someone prays in such a state as it is considered makruh (“disliked”) rather than forbidden.


IslamQA: Repeating prayers due to uncertainty about having performed them correctly

Assalamu alaikum I keep forgetting things in my prayer or more likely doubt it. Like I would say the Basmalah before reciting and I would start doubting or say the dua in rukoo and maybe when am in sajdah I will start feeling like I didn't say it. sometimes I tried to continue praying but I my heart will be tight and I feel scare like am doing something wrong. If I say I'll pray sujood sahw then I'll be praying it my every salah. I feel like I have a mental problem because sometimes I found myself praying a particular prayer more than five times like I would be starting over and over please help.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Sorry to read about your condition. It sounds like OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and there are drugs that help with it, so I recommend seeing a doctor. The Prophet PBUH says:

When any one of you is in doubt about his prayer and he does Dot know how much he has prayed, three or four (rak'ahs). he should cast aside his doubt and base his prayer on what he is sure of. then perform two prostrations before giving salutations. If he has prayed five rak'ahs, they will make his prayer an even number for him, and if he has prayed exactly four, they will be humiliation for the devil. (Sahih Muslim 571 a)

If you are not sure whether you made a mistake or not, then try to continue the prayer and cast away your doubts. At the end perform the sujud al-sahu just to be sure. You can do this with every prayer if you have to, there is no issue with doing it every time.

Best wishes.

IslamQA: What to do if you cannot pray on time at school or work

Salam. I live in a non Muslim country where prayer space is not provided in buildings and stuff. I have a job that makes me skip two prayers. Is there some other way I can pray my prayers?

According to a fatwa on IslamOnline (which is overseen by the respected Egyptian scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi), a person may combine the ẓuhr and ʿaṣr prayers and the maghrib and ʿishāʾ prayers if they have no other choice. You could perform the first two prayers at noon and the other two prayers at night. The prayers should be performed in full rather than shortened as is done when traveling.

Fatwas by the Qatari Fatwa Authority and the UAE Fatwa Authority also permit combining the prayers if a person has no choice.

IslamQA: Can you start praying before all the athans are finished?

The area that I'm in has many masjids and therefore has many azans. When one is finished I heard a few more being called. Do i have to wait till all masjids finish call to prayer or just listen out for one to be completed?

According to the Qatari Fatwa Authority it is permitted to pray once the athan of one of the mosques has finished if the athan was said at its proper time.


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