The Prophet’s Guidance in Prayer
a. His Guidance in Beginning and Recitation
When he began prayer, he would say: "Allahu akbar" (Allah is most great). He would not say anything before that and never pronounced the intention (niyyah).
He would raise his hands to the earlobes or shoulders with his fingers straight, facing the Qiblah, 16 and then place his right hand over the back of his left.
Sometimes he would say: “O Allah, distance me from my sins as you have distanced the east from the west. O Allah, cleanse me of my sins as a white garment is cleansed of dirt. O Allah, wash away my sins with water, ice and hail.”
Sometimes he said: “I have turned my face to Him who created the heavens and earth, inclined to truth, in submission, and I am not of those who associate [others with Allah]. Indeed my prayer, my sacrifice, my life and my death are for Allah, Lord of the worlds,
no partner has He; this I am commanded and I am the first of the Muslims.”
After the opening words, he would say: “A`udhu billahi minash-shaytanir-rajeem” (I seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the ejected). Then he would recite Surah al-Fatihah.
He would pause slightly between "Allahu akbar" and the recitation of al-Fatihah and it is reported that he also did so after the recitation or before bowing.
After completing al-Fatihah, he would begin another surah19, prolonging it or shortening it according to circumstances such as travel, but usually he would recite medium length passages.
In the fajr (dawn) prayer, he used to recite around 60 to 100 verses. Sometimes he recited Surah "Qaf" or Surah "Ar-Rum". Or he recited "At-Takweer", "Ar-Rum" or "AlZalzalah" in both rak`ahs.
He recited Surahs "Al-Falaq" and "An-Nas" during a journey. He once began to recite Surah "AlMu'minun" in the first rak`ah until he reached the mention of Moses and Aaron when he started coughing, so he ended the recitation and bowed.
On Fridays, he would often recite in the fajr prayer "As-Sajdah" and "Al-Insan".
He often prolonged recitation in thuhr (noon) prayer. When it was long he reduced it to half that length in `asr (late afternoon)prayer, but when shorter, then accordingly.
While performing maghrib (sunset) prayer, he was heard to recite "At-Tur", and once, "AlMursalaat".
As for `ishaa' (night) prayer, he was heard to recite Surah "At-Teen", and limited his companion, Mu`adh, to Surah "Ash-Shams",
"Al-A`la", "Al-Layl" and similar surahs and disapproved of reciting "Al-Baqarah" in it.
His guidance included reciting the entire surah. Sometimes he would divide it between two rak`ahs.
He might recite the beginning verses of a surah, but it has not been reported that he recited only the end or the middle portion of a surah.
However, he used to recite two surahs in one rak`ah during naafilah21 prayers, but seldom recited the same surah in both rak`ahs.
He did not specify a certain surah for any particular prayer except for Friday and the two Eid prayers.
He supplicated with qunoot22 in the fajr prayer after ruku`'23 for one month and then discontinued it. This was due to a particularsituation, so when it ceased his qunoot ended.
His guidance was to supplicate with qunoot during calamities, but without confining it to the fajr prayer.