The Prophet’s Guidance in Prayer; his Guidance in Beginning and Recitation

  • when he pbuh began prayer, he would say: "allahu akbar" (allah is most great). he pbuh would not say anything before that and never pronounced the intention (niyyah).

  • he pbuh would raise his hands to the earlobes or shoulders with his fingers straight, facing the qiblah,1 and then place his right hand over the back of his left.

  • sometimes he pbuh 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.”2

  • sometimes he pbuh 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 pbuh would say: “a`udhu billahi minash-shaytanir-rajeem” (i seek refuge in allah from satan, the rejected). then he would recite surah al-fatihah.3

  • he pbuh 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 pbuh would begin another surah4, 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 pbuh 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 "al-zalzalah" in both rak`ahs.5 he pbuh recited surahs "al-falaq" and "an-nas" during a journey. he pbuh once began to recite surah "al-mu'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 pbuh would often recite in the fajr prayer "as-sajdah" and "al-insan".

  • he pbuh 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, "al-mursalaat".

  • as for `ishaa' (night) prayer, he pbuh 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 pbuh 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 pbuh used to recite two surahs in one rak`ah during naafilah6 prayers, but seldom recited the same surah in both rak`ahs. he pbuh did not specify a certain surah for any particular prayer except for friday and the two eid prayers.

  • he pbuh supplicated with qunoot7 in the fajr prayer after ruku`'8 for one month and then discontinued it. this was due to a particular situation, so when it ceased his qunoot ended. his guidance was to supplicate with qunoot during calamities, but without confining it to the fajr prayer.

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    1 the direction of makkah.

    2 al-bukhari and muslim.

    3the opening chapter of the qur'an.

    4 any chapter of the qur'an.

    5 units of prayer.

    6 additional voluntary prayers.

    7 a supplication recited while standing in prayer.

    8 bowing at the waist.

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