Salat (Prayer) is the pillar of faith
Author: Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn at-Tabataba\'i
As mentioned in the beginning of this book, the precepts and teachings of Islam are divided into three parts: beliefs, ethics, and commandments. After knowing Allah, we must perform actions such as reciting salat and observing sawm which are the signs of the worship and obedience to Allah. Now, we would explain the precepts of salat which would be followed by the precepts of sawm.
The Almighty Allah states: \"What has brought you into Hell? They shall say: \'We were not of those who recited salat\' (74:42-43).\"
The Holy Prophet (S) states: \"Prayer is the pillar of faith. If it is accepted by Allah, the other worships will also be accepted and if it is not accepted, the other worships will not be accepted either.\" Just like a man who removes dirt and uncleanliness from his body by washing himself five times a day in a river, he will also purify himself from sins by reciting salat five times a day.
Surely, it should be known that the one, who recites salat but attaches no significance to it, is like the one who does not recite salat.
The Almighty Allah states in the Holy Qur\'an: \"So woe to the ones who recite salat but unmindful of their salawat (107:4-5).\"
One day, the Holy Prophet (S) entered the mosque and saw that a man was reciting salat but without performing proper ruku\' (a part of the salat in which one bows down, genuflexion) and sujud (the acts of prostration in the salat or worship to Allah). The Holy Prophet (S) stated: \"If this man dies in this condition, he will not die as a Muslim.\"
Thus a man should recite salat with humility and respect. He should realize to whom he is talking while reciting salat. He should perform ruku\', sujud, and all other actions correctly in order to be benefited by best results of reciting salat.
The Almighty Allah states in the Holy Qur\'an: \"...Surely the salat keeps (one) away from indecency and evil... (29:45).\"
Surely, this is true, for the rules of reciting salat are such that, if observed, the person who recites salat will never be tempted to evil acts.
For example, one of the rules of reciting salat is that the place where one recites salat and the clothes with which one recites salat should not be usurped or unlawful. His salat is not accepted even if a single thread of his clothes is usurped. One, who shuns haram things to such an extent, will never use haram wealth and property at all and will never deny the rights of others.
Also the salat will be accepted provided that man keeps himself away from avarice, jealousy, and other indecent and bad qualities. It is certain that the source of all indecencies is these bad qualities. If one who recites salat keeps himself away from these qualities, he will definitely be free from all indecencies and evil acts.
If some people perform indecent deeds even though they recite salat, it is because they do not exactly follow the necessary rules of reciting salat. As a result, salawat are not accepted and they do not enjoy the excellent advantages of reciting salat.
The holy religion of Islam has attached such an importance to salat that it has made it wajib for every Muslim under all the circumstances, even at the point of death. If one cannot recite Surat al-Hamd and the other surah, and other dhikr (words for remembering Allah) of salat, he should pass these through his heart. If he is unable to recite salat in a standing posture, he should recite salat in a sitting position. If he is unable to recite salat even in sitting position, he should do so in lying down. In any case, under no circumstances a man is exempted from reciting salat.
If one who wants to recite salat cannot face the Qiblah (facing towards Ka\'bah while recitingsalat) in the state of war, for the fear of the enemy, or in emergency cases, he can recite salat without facing the Qiblah and he should recite salat in whatever condition or direction he is.
There are six wajib salaat:
(i) Al-salat al-yawmiyyah (the daily prayers);
(ii) Salat al-ayat (the prayer of the signs of Allah\'s creation);
(iii) Salat al-mayyit (the prayer for the dead person);
(iv) Salat of wajib tawaf (the ritual prayer of circumambulation around the Ka\'bah);
(v) Qada\' (settling the salawat which had not been performed in time) Salawat of the father which become wajib on the eldest son upon the death of the father; and
(vi) Salawat which become wajib upon a person due to: ijarah (receipt of money by him for their recitation), nadhr (vow), qasam (oath), and \'ahd (promise).
Prerequisites of Salat
Reciting salat, i.e. standing before Allah, expressing servitude to Him, and worshipping Him, requires certain prerequisites. Salat is not valid unless these prerequisites are met. These essential requirements are: (i) taharah (specified Islamic way of purification), (ii) time, (iii) dress, (iv) place, and (v)Qiblah.
These prerequisites have been explained in detail here.
One who recites salat should be tahir; that is, he should recite salat as per the requirements, viz: by having wudhu’ (statutory ablution according to Islamic Shari\'ah) before salat, or by wajib ghusl (taking bath according to the Islamic Shari\'ah) or by tayammum (statutory Islamic ablution with soil, sand, etc) and also his body and dress should not be polluted with najasah.
There are several substances which are najis (inherently impure). They are as follows:
First and Second: The urine and faeces (The outlet of urination must be made tahir only by water, but the outlet of faeces can be washed with water or cleaned with three pieces of stone and the like provided the faeces have not exceeded the outlet of defecation; otherwise, it will not be cleaned by anything other than water.
It should be reminded that if faeces are not cleaned by three pieces of stone, more pieces of stone can be used to clean the outlet thoroughly) of animals whose meat is haram for eating and whose blood gushes out, meaning the animals whose blood will gush out if their blood vessels are cut, such as cats, foxes, rabbits, etc. If the flesh of chicken or birds or animals has become haram for eating due to their eating faeces, then the urine and faeces of such birds or animals are also najis.
Third: The carcass of an animal whose blood gushes out (if its blood vessels are cut) whether its flesh is halal or haram for eating. But some parts of the carcass, such as its wool, hair, and nails which are soulless, are tahir.
Fourth: The blood of an animal whose blood gushes out (if its blood vessels are cut) whether its meat is halal or haram for eating.
Fifth and Sixth: All parts of the body of wild dogs and pigs, even their hair, are najis.
Seventh: Wine and anything which intoxicates a man and is basically in liquid form.
Anything which purifies (and makes tahir) najis substances is called amutahhir (purifier which purifies a najis). Mutahhirat are as follows:
(i) Water is a mutahhir which makes tahir all najis substances provided that the water is mutlaq (pure). Thus mudaf (mixed) water, such as the juice of watermelon and rose-water are not mutahhirat and do not maketahir the najasah. Wudhu’ and ghusl with mudaf water are not valid either (There are two kinds of water: kurr and qail (small quantity, i.e., less thankurr). Kurr water is a certain quantity of water which can make tahir anynajis object as long as its colour, taste, and smell have not been altered.
It is 128 manns of Tabriz (Mann is a unit of weight of approximately 3 kg.) minus 20 mithqal (unit of weight of about 4.6 g) and is equal to 384 kg.Kurr water will not become najis if a najis object reaches it. Qalil water, i.e., less than kurr is the water which becomes najis if a najis object reaches it. Its taharah is dependent upon its connection to the flowing water or rain or the addition of kurr water to it.).
(ii) Ground: It makes tahir the sole of the shoes and the sole of the feet.
(iii) Sun: The najis ground and strawmats will become tahir by the direct rays of the sun.
(iv) Istihalah (The transformation or a chemical change of the state of an object): In this chemical process, the very commodity of the najis object transforms and becomes tahir, for example, a dog that falls in a salt lake and transforms into salt.
(v) Blood transfusion: It means the transfusion of a man\'s blood or the blood of an animal whose blood gushes out, into the body of an animal whose blood does not gush out, such as the transfusion of man\'s blood into the body of a mosquito, fly, etc.
(vi) The removal of the very najasah from the outer parts of an animal and the inner parts of a man, for example, if the back of an animal or the nostril of a man becomes najis with blood, it will be tahir after blood is removed, and there is no need for flowing water over it.
(vii) Following: It means that a najis becomes tahir as a result of becoming the najis the tahir, for example, if a kafir becomes Muslim, his child will also become tahir as a result of following him.
(viii) Diminishment, i.e., loss of two-thirds of volume of grape-juice: If the grape-juice is boiled, it becomes najis. However, if it loses two-thirds of its volume as a result of boiling, the remainder becomes tahir.
Wudhu’ and Its Precepts
It is mustahabb for a man to brush his teeth and rinse his mouth with .clean water before performing wudhu’. . It is also mustahabb for a man to inhaletahir water up his nostrils.
The Instructions For Wudhu’
In performing wudhu’, the face must be rinsed first by taking water in the hand and wiping it over the face beginning from the place of growing hair of head (forehead) downward to the chin. Next, the right elbow should be rinsed by taking water in the left hand and wiping it from the elbow downward to the fingertips.
This procedure should also be exactly performed for the left elbow using the right hand. Then for mash (anointing), the front portion of the head must be anointed. Then the right foot followed by the left foot must be anointed from the toe-tips to the upper part of both feet with the fingers. The following should be observed while performing wudhu’.
(1) The parts of body related to wudhu’ must be tahir while performing wudu,
(2) The water for wudhu’ must be tahir, mutlaq and mubah (permissible).
(3) Niyyah (intention), i.e., wudhu’ must be performed for the pleasure of Allah; and hence if someone performs wudhu’ with an intention of cooling and comforting himself or for any other purpose, his wudhu’ will not be right.
(4) Tartib (the order as prescribed by Islamic Shari\'ah), that is, wudhu’ must be performed in the prescribed order. The face must be washed first, next the right hand which should he followed by washing of the left hand. The head and the feet should be anointed afterwards.
(5) Muwalat (performing the parts of an Islamic act in succession without undue delay): It means that wudhu’ must be performed in succession without undue delay. One should not allow a time gap while washing or anointing the subsequent part to the extent that the previous part gets dried up. However, if wudhu’ is performed consecutively but the moisture gets dried up due to hot weather, the high temperature of the body, and the like, the wudhu’ will be valid.
Note: While performing mash, it is not necessary to anoint the scalp; rather it is also correct to anoint the hair of the front portion of the head. But if the hair of other parts of the head gather in the front portion of the head, then these should be pushed back. If the hair in the front portion of the head is very long, i.e., if combed, these reach up to the face, then the root of the hair must be anointed or the hair should be parted and the scalp must be anointed.
Mubtilat of the Wudhu’
The things or acts which make the wudhu’ invalid are called the mubtilat (things or acts through which, the salat, the sawm, the wudhu’, etc become invalid). There are eight items which render the wudhu’ invalid:
(iii) Wind or flatus (wind in the stomach or intestines) this is when flatus comes out from the usual outlet or from an outlet that is changed due to illness and surgery;
(vi) Falling asleep when the eyes cannot see and the ears cannot hear; however, if the eyes are unable to see, but the ears can hear, the wudhu’ will not be batil(invalid);
(vii) Insanity; and
(viii) Janabah (major ritual impurity or al-hadath al-akbar caused by the sexual intercourse, or the like) resulting from sexual intercourse or by seminal ejaculation and other things for which one should perform ghusl. Also, istihadah (menstrual bleeding), whenever noticed by women, makes the wudhu’ batil.
The ghusl can be performed in two ways: ghusl tartibi (performing ghuslby washing the body part by part as specified in Islamic Shari\'ah) and ghusl irtimasi (performing ghusl by the immersion of the whole body in water).
The ghusl tartibi should be performed in the prescribed order, i.e., the head and the neck should be washed with water first, then the right side of the body, and finally the left side of the body.
For the ghusl irtimasi, one should completely immerse h is body into the water at once.
There are two types of ghusl: wajib and mustahabb.
The mustahabb ghusul are numerous in Islamic Shari\'ah but the wajib ghusul are seven:
(i) Ghusl al-janabah;
(ii) Ghusl almayyit (bathing the dead body);
(iii) Ghusl mass al-mayyit (performing ghusl due to touching of the dead body), i.e., if one touches a dead body after it has become cold and before its ghusl al-mayyit, he must perform ghusl mass al-mayyit.
(iv) Performing ghusl for the fulfilment of a nadhr, \'ahd, or qasam;
(v) Ghusl al-hayd; (performingghusl after menstruation);
(vi) Ghusl al-nifas (performing ghusl after puerperal period); and
(vii) Ghusl al-istihadah. The first four ghusul are wajib both for men and women and the last three are wajib for only women.
While one is in the state of janabah, the following acts are haram for him:
(i) Touching the writing of the Holy Qur\'an, the name of Allah, and the names of the Prophet (S) and the infallible Imams (as);
(ii) Entering al-Masjid al-Haram and the Masjid al-Nabi in Madinah;
(iii) Staying in other mosques and leaving something in them; and
(iv) Reciting any one of the four suwar of the Holy Qur\'an which require wajib sajdah, viz, the suwar of al-Najm, Iqra\' Alif-Lam-Mim Tanzil, and Ha-Mim Tanzil.
For the other precepts on janabah, hayd, nifas and istihadah one should refer to al-Risalah al-\'Amaliyyah.
Note: Like in the case of wudhu’, niyyah is also required while performing ghusl. The body should be tahir before performing ghusl and there should be no obstacle for the water to reach the whole body.
If a person is unable to perform wudhu’ or ghusl for reciting salat and the like due to the lack of time, illness, or non-availability of water and the like, he should perform tayammum (statutory Islamic ablution with soil, sand, etc).
Procedures for Tayammum
There are four obligatory factors in doing tayammum:
(ii) Simultaneous striking both palms on soil or on something upon which tayammum is valid;
(iii) Drawing both palms on the whole forehead starting from the hairline to the eyebrows and the top of the nose. It is better to draw the hands over the eyebrows as well.
(iv) Then drawing the left palm on the entire back of the right hand (from wrist to fingertips). Next, drawing the right palm on the entire back of the left hand: This much is sufficient when tayammum is performed instead of wudhu’ However, if the tayammum is being performed instead of ghusl, one should strike both palms on the soil, etc once again and draw the palms on the back of the hands, as mentioned above.
The Precepts Pertaining to Tayammum
(i) The tayammum should be performed on tahir soil. If soil is not available, the tayammum may be performed on sand or pebbles. In the absence of pebbles, it can be performed on stones. In the case of the non-availability of all of these, the tayammum can be performed on dust accumulated at a place.
(ii) The tayammum is not valid on lime and other minerals.
(iii) If water is sold at a high price and in case one can afford to buy it, he is not permitted to perform tayammum, rather he must purchase the water and perform wudhu’ and ghusl.
The next prerequisite for reciting salat is the time. The salawat must be recited in a sequence. Salat al- Zuhr (noon prayer) and Salat al-’Asr (afternoon prayer) each has a specific and common time. The specific time for Salat al-Zuhr is from beginning of zuhr (If a piece of wood or a similar object is erected on a flat ground, its shadow is cast towards the west when the sun begins to shine in the morning. The more the sun rises up, the smaller this shadow becomes.
The shadow becomes the smallest at zuhr or noon. As the zuhr passes, the shadow changes its direction and tends towards the east. The more the sun moves towards the west, the longer the shadow gets.
Thus, when the shadow reaches the smallest length and begins to get longer again, it indicates the zuhr. But it should be remembered that in some cities, like Makkah, the shadow disappears entirely at noon. In cities like this the time at which the shadow reappears indicates the zuhr.) or noon until the time required to recite Salat al-Zuhr.
If a person recites the Salat al-\'Asr even inadvertently at this time, it will be invalid. The specific time for the Salat al-\'Asr is the time before the evening just enough to recite the Salat al-\'Asr. If a person has not recited the Salat al-Zuhr until then, his Salat al-Zuhr has become qada\'
And he should recite the Salat al-\'Asr. Between the specific time of theSalat al-Zuhr and the specific time of the Salat al-\'Asr\' is the common time for reciting the both. If one inadvertently recites the Salat al-\'Asr\' before theSalat al-Zuhr during this entire common time, his salat is valid. And he should recite the Salat al-Zuhr afterwards.
The Salat al-Maghrib (evening prayer) and Salat al-\'Isha\' (night prayer) each has a specific and common time. The specific time for Salat al-Maghrib (The maghrib is approximately 15 minutes after the sunset. It is signified by the disappearance of the redness which appears in the east after the sunset.) is from the evening until the time required for reciting the Salat al-Maghrib.
The specific time for Salat al-\'Isha\' is the time before the midnight (The midnight, from Islamic point of view, is eleven hours and fifteen minutes after zuhr.) just enough to recite the Salat al-\'Isha\'. If a person has not recited the Salat al-Maghrib up to this time, he should first recite the Salat al-\'Isha\' and then the Salat al-Maghrib.
Between the specific time of the Salat al-Maghrib and the specific time of the Salat al-\'Isha\' is the common time for reciting the both. If during this common time, one inadvertently recites the Salat al-\'Isha\' before the Salat al-Maghrib, his salat is valid and he should recite the Salat al-Maghrib afterwards.
The time for the Salat al-Subh (Morning Prayer) is from the beginning of true aurora or the first light of dawn (At dawn, whiteness in the sky moves upward from the east which is called the first or false aurora. When the whiteness is spread, it is the true aurora and the time for the Adhan (call) for the Salat al-Subh, and the beginning of the time of the Salat al-Subh.) Till just before sunrise.
The third prerequisite for reciting the salat is the dress of the person who recites salat. The dress should meet the following conditions:
(i) The dress should be mubah. It should be owned by the person reciting the salat. If it does not belong to him, its owner should be willing to let him recite salat with it.
(ii) It should not be najis.
(iii) It should not be made of the skin of carcass, irrespective of the carcass belonging to the animals whose meat is halal or haram to eat.
(iv) It should not be made of the wool, hair, and the fluff of an animal whose meat is haram to eat, but it is possible to recite salat with a fur dress.
(v) The dress of a male person who recites salat should not be made of silk and gold threads. He must also not wear ornaments or dress made of gold or silk while reciting the salat. Putting on silken dress and using ornaments made of gold are haram for men even while not reciting the salat.
A few conditions apply to the place where one recites salat:
(i) It must be mubah., i.e., it should not be usurped.
(ii) The place for reciting salat should be stationary. If one is compelled to recite salat in moving vehicles, such as automobiles or ships, he may do so provided he attempts to pray towards the Qiblah. If the direction of the vehicle changes during the salat, one must change his direction also accordingly so that he always faces the Qiblah.
(iii) If the place where one recites the salat is najis, it should not be so wet that the moisture permeates to his dress and body. But if the place where one puts his forehead on is najis, the salat is batil even though the place may be dry.
(iv) The place where one puts his forehead on should not be more than four closed fingers lower or higher than where one puts his knees and toes at the time of performing sujud.
The Ka\'bah, located in the holy city of Makkah, is the Qiblah of the Muslims and anyone who recites salat must always face the Qiblah. But if a person, who is far away from it, stands or sits in such a way that it is said he is reciting salat in the direction of Qiblah, his salat is valid. Similarly, other acts such as slaughtering of animals must be done while facing the Qiblah.
If it is not possible for a man to recite salat even in a sitting posture, he should lie down on his right side such that the front section of his body faces the Qiblah. If this is also not possible, he should lie down on his left side such that again the front section of his body faces the Qiblah. If this is not possible either, he should lie down on his back such that the soles of his feet face the Qiblah.
If one who wants to recite salat is unable to discover the direction of Qiblahafter a thorough investigation, he must go by the opinion which he has from the altars of the Muslims, or their graves, or other means available to him.
Mandatory Acts While Reciting The Salat
The following eleven acts are mandatory while one recites salat:
(i) Niyyah; (ii) Takbirat al-ihram (the first takbir, i.e., Allahu Akbar -Allah is Great - said at the beginning of the salat just after the niyyah,); (iii)qiyam (the standing erect while reciting the salat; (iv) qira\'ah (the recitation in the salat), (v) ruku\' (vi) sujud; (vii) tashahhud (testifying for Tawhid of Allah and prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (S)]; (viii) salam; (ix)tartib. i.e., recitation of salat in accordance with the prescribed sequence without changing the order of performance; (x) tuma\'ninah; i.e., recitation of salat with quietude and repose; and (xi) muwalat, i.e., reciting all parts of salat in succession without undue delay.
Five out of the eleven items mentioned above are called the rukns (basic parts) of the salat. Deliberate or inadvertent additions or deletions of therukns will render the salat \"batil\" But the rest of the above-mentioned items are not rukns. It means that the addition or deletion of these items (other than rukns) will not render the salat \"batil\" unless they are done intentionally.
The Rukns of The Salat
The rukns of the salat consist of the following: (1) niyyah, (ii) takbirat al-ihram, (iii) qiyam, i.e., standing erect while saying takbirat al-ihram and also the qiyam just before the ruku\', and (iv) ruku\', and (v) the two sujud.
(i) Niyyah: Niyyah means that the sole purpose of the person who recitessalat is to seek qurbah (pleasure of Allah) to Allah and to comply with His commands. It is not necessary to pass the niyyah through the heart or, for example, to mention: \"I recite four raka\'at (sections of salat) of Salat al-Zuhr with the intention of seeking pleasure of Allah.\"
(ii) Takbirat Al-Ihram: The salat begins right after Adhan (the specified wordings called out at salat time) and Iqamah (the specified wordings, almost similar to the Adhan and recited after it, before commencing thesalat), with niyyah and saying Allahu Akbar. Since at this point of time, several acts such as eating, drinking, laughing, and turning the back toQiblah become haram, this takbir (saying \"Allahu Akbar\" i.e., Allah is Great) is called \"takbirat al-ihram\". It is mustahabb to raise both the hands while saying takbirat al-ihram. By this action, we take the Greatness of Allah into consideration and consider other than Allah insignificant and pay no attention to them.
(iii) Qiyam: The qiyam while saying takbirat al-ihram and also the qiyamjust before the ruku\' is one of the rukns of the salat; but the qiyam or standing erect while reciting the Surat al-Hamd and the other surah and theqiyam after ruku\' are not the rukns. Thus, if one forgets to perform ruku\'and remembers it before reaching ground for performing sujud, he should stand erect and then perform ruku\'. If he performs ruku\' in a bent position, his salat is batil because he did not have qiyam as is required just before performing ruku\'.
(iv) Ruku\': After the qira\'ah, one should bend his body in such a way that his palms reach his knees. This action is called ruku\'. While in ruku\', one who recites salat, must say once: \"Subhana Rabbiyal-\'Azimi wa bihamdih(all glory and praise is for my Lord, the Mighty)\", or he must say thrice:\"Subhanallah (all glory is due to Allah)\". After the completion of ruku\', one must always stand erect before performing sujud.
(v) Sujud: Performing sujud means that one should lay his forehead, palms, knees, and the tips of his toes on the ground. He should then say once:\"Subhana Rabbiyal-A\'la wa bihamdih (all glory and praise is for my Lord, the Most High)\';, or he must say thrice: \"Subhanallah (all glory is due to Allah)\". After completing the first sajdah, he must sit before performing the second sajdah and repeating the previous recitation.
The forehead must be laid on the ground or on something growing from the ground. Sujud is not ja\'iz (permissible) on foodstuffs, clothing materials, and minerals.
Tashahhud and Salam
If the salat consists of two raka’at one should stand up after performing two sujud and should recite the Surat al-Hamd and the other surah. One must then perform qunut [After the recitation of the Surat al-Hamd and the other surah in the second rak\'ah of the salat, one holds his palms before his face and recites any dhikr and supplication that he wishes.
For example, he may say: \"Rabbana atina fiddunya hasanah wa fil-Akhirati hasanah waqina \'adhabannar (O our Lord grant us goodness in this world and the Hereafter and save us from the torment of the Fire).\"] and recite tashahhud [The following should be recited in tashahhud: \"Ashhadu an la ilaha illalah, wahdahu la sharika lah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan \'abduhu wa rasuluh, allahumma salli \'ala Muhammadin wa ali Muhammad (I bear witness that there is no god except Allah; He is One, for Whom there is no partner; I bear witness that surely Muhammad (S) is His servant and His Prophet; O Allah shower Your blessings on Muhammad (S) and his progeny.)\"]
And salam [The following should be said in salam:\"Assalamu \'alayka ayyuhan-Nabiyyu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh; assalamu \'alayna wa \'ala \'Ibadillahissalihin; assalamu \'alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh (May peace be upon you, O Prophet (S), and mercy and blessings of Allah. May peace be upon us and on all servants of Allah who guard against evil. May peace be upon you all together with mercy and blessings of Allah.)\"]
After ruku\' and both the sujud. If the salatis of three raka\'at, one should stand up after reciting tashahhud and must recite the Surat al-Hamd only or must say: \"Subhanallahi walhamdu lillahi wa la ilaha illallahu wallahu akbar (All glory and praise to Allah, and there is no god but Allah, and Allah is Great.)\" three times, performruku\' and two sujud and recite tashahhud and salam. If the salat consists of four raka\'at, one must perform the fourth rak\'ah like the third rak\'ah and recite tashahhud and salam.