The Prophet’s Guidance in Prayer; his Guidance in how to Perform Prayer

  • he pbuh used to make the first rak`ah longer than the second in every prayer.

  • upon completing recitation of the qur'an he pbuh would pause long enough to regain his breath, then he pbuh would raise his hands, saying "allahu akbar" and bow in ruku`. he would place his hands on his knees as if grasping them. distancing his arms from his body, he straightened his back horizontally, keeping his head level with his back, without raising or lowering it.

  • he pbuh used to repeat "subhana rabbi al-atheem" (glory to my great lord)1 or say: "subhaanak allaahumma rabana wa bihamdik. allaahumm-aghfir lee." (glory be to you, o allah, our lord, and praise. o allah, forgive me.)2 he pbuh also used to say:

"subbuhun quddusun rabbul-mala'ikati war-rooh." (most glorious and most pure is the lord of the angels and spirit.) 3

  • his usual ruku` was long enough to repeat "subhana rabbi al-atheem" ten times and his sujood4 was the same length. sometimes he made the ruku` and sujood equal to the time he stood in recitation, but he did that predominantly while alone during night prayer. his usual guidance was to make the positions of his prayer balanced in length.

  • he pbuh then lifted his head, saying: “sami` allahu liman hamidah” (allah hears whoever praises him).5 he pbuh would raise his hands and straighten his back. he pbuh did the same when raising his head from prostration, and said, “prayer is unacceptable when a man does not straighten his back in ruku` and sujood."6 when he stood upright, he would say: "rabbana wa lakal-hamd" (our lord, and to you is due all praise.)

  • he pbuh would remain in this position the length of his ruku` and recite: “rabbana wa lakal-hamd mil'as-samawaati wa mil'al-ardhi wa mil'a ma baynahuma wa mil'a ma shi'ta min shay'in baad. ahl uth-thanaa’i wal-majdi, ahaqqu ma qal al-`abdu, wa kulluna laka `abd. la mani`a lima `atayta wa la mu`tiya lima mana`ta, wa la yanfa`u dhal-jaddi minkal-jadd.” (our lord, to you is due all praise as much as to fill the heavens, the earth, whatever is between them and whatever else you should will, beyond that. that you are worthy of all praise and glory is most worthy to be said by a servant, and all of us are your servants. o allah, there is no preventer of what you grant and no granter of what you prevent, and no means will benefit a man of means against you.” 7

  • then he pbuh would say "allahu akbar" and prostrate without raising his hands. he pbuh placed his knees first followed by his hands, then his forehead and nose. he pbuh prostrated on his forehead and nose without including the turban. he pbuh frequently prostrated on the bare ground, even with water and mud, or on a palm leaf mat or a tanned animal skin.

  • when prostrating he pbuh would firmly place his forehead and nose on the ground, distancing his arms from his body so widely that the whiteness of his armpits could be seen.

  • he pbuh would place his hands beside his shoulders and ears, and hold his body in prostration with the tips of his toes pointed towards the qiblah. his hands were stretched towards it with the fingers together.

  • in this position, he pbuh would say: "subhaanak allaahumma rabana wa bihamdik. allaahumm-aghfir lee." (glory be to you, o allah, our lord, and praise. o allah, forgive me.)8 he pbuh also repeated “subbuhun quddusun rabbul-malaa'ikati war-rooh.9

  • he pbuh would lift his head, saying: "allahu akbar" without raising his hands. then he would sit, spreading his left foot under him and straighten his right foot, placing his hands on his thighs with his elbows resting on the thighs and fingertips on his knees. he would make a circle with his thumb and middle finger, raising the index finger and moving it in supplication while saying:

allahumm-aghfir lee warhamnee wajburni wahdinee warzuqnee.” (o allah, forgive me, have mercy on me, correct my faults, guide me and grant me sustenance.)10

  • it was his practice to make his sitting as long as his prostration.

  • he pbuh then stood up with his weight on the balls of his feet and hands on his thighs. he would start reciting the qur'an without pausing as when he began the prayer. the second rak`ah is performed like the first but without the initial "allahu akbar", the pause, the opening supplication, and lengthening the rak`ah. he made the first rak`ah longer than the second, perhaps until approaching footsteps could no longer be heard.

  • when sitting for the tashahhud,11 he pbuh placed his left hand on his left thigh and his right hand on his right thigh and pointed with his index finger. he pbuh would not make it vertical or horizontal, but move it while slightly curved. he pbuh made a circle with the thumb and middle finger, raising the index finger in supplication with his eyes upon it.

  • in this sitting position he pbuh always recited the tashahhud, teaching his companions to say:

"attahiyatu lilalahi was-salawaatu wat-tayyibaat. assalaamu ‘alaika ayyuhan-nabiyyu wa rahmatulalahi wa baraakatuh. assalamu ‘alaina wa ‘ala ‘ibadillaahis- saaliheen. ash-hadu an la illaaha ill-allaahu wash-hadu anna muhammadan `abduhu wa rasooluh." (all greetings are for allah and all prayers and all good things. peace be upon you o prophet pbuh, and the mercy of allah and his blessings. peace be upon us and on the righteous servants of allah. i testify that there is no god but allah and that muhammad pbuh is his servant and messenger.)12 he pbuh would make it very brief as if he was praying on hot stones. then, saying "allahu akbar", he would arise with his weight on the balls of his feet and hands on his thighs, then raise his hands and stand straight again. he would recite al-fatihah alone in the last two rak`ahs, or he might recite other verses of the qur'an in addition to al-fatihah.

  • during the final tashahhud, he pbuh would sit back on the ground with his foot protruding from the side.13 the left foot would be between his thigh and leg while the right foot was erect or extended to the right. he placed his right hand on his right thigh, closing three fingers and raising the index finger.

  • he pbuh used to say the following supplication at the end of the prayer:

allaahumma innee a`udhu bika min `adhaabil-qabri wa a`udhu bika min fitnatil-maseehid-dajjaali wa a`udhu bika min fitnatil-mahya wal-mamaat. allaahumma innee a`udhu bika minal-ma'thami wal-maghram." (o allah, i seek refuge with you from the torment of the grave, i seek refuge with you from the sedition of the false messiah, and i seek refuge with you from the trials of life and death. o allah, i seek refuge with you from sin and insurmountable debt.)14

  • finally, he pbuh would turn his head to the right side, saying, "assalaamu `alaykum wa rahmatullaah" (may the peace and mercy of allah be upon you) and then to the left side, repeating it.

  • he pbuh ordered the worshiper to pray behind a sutrah,15 even a stick or an arrow. he pbuh used to place a spear before him while on a journey or praying outdoors. he pbuh also used his riding camel as a sutrah while praying. he pbuh would also take a saddle and pray toward its back.

  • when he pbuh prayed toward a wall, he would leave space enough to allow a goat to pass. he pbuh prayed close to it and ordered others to do so.


1 narrated by muslim.

2 al-bukhari and muslim.

3 al-bukhari and muslim. "the spirit" refers to the angel gabriel.

4 prostration.

5 al-bukhari and muslim.

6 abu dawud, at-tirmidhi, an-nasa'i and ibn majah.

7 muslim.

8 al-bukhari and muslim.

9 muslim.

10 abu dawud, at-tirmidhi and ibn majah.

11 witnessing that there is no god but allah and that muhammad is his servant and messenger.

12 al-bukhari and muslim.

13 abu dawud.

14 al-bukhari.

15 an object placed in front of a person to prevent people from crossing in front of him while he is praying.

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