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SALAT (PRAYER) -II

  1. How to pray
    • The dawn (early morning [fajr]) prayer
    • The noon, afternoon, and night (zuhr, ‘asr, and ‘isha’) prayers
    • The evening (maghrib) prayer
  2. Prostrations of Forgetfulness
  3. Prostrating while Reciting
  4. The Sunna Prayers
  5. The Prayer of the Sick (Salat al-Marid)
  6. The Prayer during Times of Fear or Danger (Salat al-Khawf)
  7. The Prayer of a Traveler (Salat al-Musafir)
  8. Specific Sunna Prayers
    • Asking for What Is Good (Salat al-Istikhara)
    • The Prayer of Glorification (Salat al-Tasbih)
    • The Prayer for Need (Salat al-Haja)
    • The Prayer of Repentance (Salat al-Tawba)
    • The Prayer during a Solar or Lunar Eclipse (Salat al-Kusuf and al-Khusuf)
    • The Prayer for Rain (Salat al-Istisqa’)
  9. Supererogatory Prayers
    • Offering Supererogatory Prayers at Home
    • Reciting Long Passages
  10. The Friday Congregational Prayer
    • When and Who
    • Preparations
    • Conditions for Its Validity
    • The Adhan
    • The Sermon
    • Prayers before and after the Friday Prayer
  11. ‘Iyd (Religious Festive Days) Prayers (Salat al-‘Iydayn)
    • The Religious Festive Days
    • The Prayer
    • Offering the ‘Iyd Prayer
    • Sermon
  12. The Funeral Prayer
    • The Rights of a Dead Muslim upon Living Muslims
    • Visiting a Sick Person
    • Washing the Corpse
    • Offering the Funeral Prayer
    • Burying the Deceased
  13. Congregational Prayer
    • Women
    • Conditions To Be Met by the Muezzin (the Caller to Prayer)
    • Whoever Makes the Adhan Makes the Iqama
    • The Adhan and Iqama for Women
    • The Imam
    • Where the Imam and the Congregation Stand
    • Correcting the Imam’s Mistake
    • Straightening the Rows and Filling the Gaps
    • The Imam’s and Congregation’s Recitation
    • Following the Imam
    • Putting a Partition in front of Oneself While Praying
    • Joining the Congregation
    • Earth as a Mosque
  14. Making Up Missed Prayers

How To Pray
The dawn (early morning [fajr]) prayer. Having done what is necessary to have the prayer accepted, one recites the iqama even if praying alone. Women are not required to recite the iqama. The iqama is as follows:

Allahu akbar (God is the Greatest): 4 times.
Ashhadu an la ilaha illa’llah (I bear witness that there is no deity but God): twice.
Ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasululu’llah (I bear witness that Muhammad is God’s Messenger); twice.
Hayya ‘ala’s-salah (Come on, to prayer): twice.
Hayya ‘ala’l-falah (Come on, to salvation): twice.
Qad qamatu’s-salah (Now the prayer is about to be performed): twice.
Allahu akbar (God is the Greatest): twice.
La ilaha illa’llah (I bear witness that there is no deity but God): once.

One should pause between each phrase of the adhan, but be quick when reciting the iqama.
After the iqama, one intends to perform the dawn (fajr) prayer, and, while reciting the opening takbir (Allahu akbar), raises the hands with the palms facing the qibla to one’s ears, with the thumbs touching the earlobes, and then puts them (according to the Hanafis) under the navel with the right hand grasping the left one at the wrist. Then, recite a supplication with which the Messenger, upon him be God’s peace and blessings, used to begin his prayers. The Hanafis prefer: Subhanaka’llahumma wa bi-hamdik. Wa tabaraka’smuk. Wa ta‘ala jadduk. Wa la ilaha ghayruk (Glory be to You, O God, and to You is the praise. Blessed is Your Name and most high is Your honor. There is no deity besides You.).

Then recite Surat al-Fatiha, say Amin at its end, and recite a portion from the Qur’an. Then bow down and say: Allahu akbar and, attaining calmness with one’s back straightened, say three times: Subhana Rabiyya’l-‘Azim (Glory be to my Lord, the Mighty). Afterwards, rise up and say: Sami‘a’llahu li-man hami-dah (God hears him who praises Him), and then: Rabbana wa-laka’l-hamd (Our Lord, and to You is all praise). After a short pause, prostrate and say: Allahu akbar with one’s palms, knees, toes, forehead, and nose touching the ground. While prostrating, recite three times: Subhana Rabbiya’l-A‘la (Glory be to my Lord, the Most High). Then, sit up and say: Allahu akbar, and, after a short pause while sitting, prostrate again and say: Allahu akbar. Recite the same things that were recited during the first prostration. This is the first rak‘at in all prayers except the ‘Iyd (religious festive day) prayers and salat al-tasbih (prayer of glorification), which will be described below.

Rise from prostration saying: Allahu akbar, and then perform the second rak‘at just as the first one was performed. After the second prostration, sit up and recite the tashahhud or tahiyyat, which is as follows: At-tahiyyatu li’llahi wa’s-salawatu wa’t-tayyibatu as-salamu ‘alayka ayyuha’n-nabiyyu wa-rahmatu’llahi wa-barakatuh. As-salamu ‘alayna wa ‘ala ‘ibadi’llahi’s-salihin. Ashhadu an la ilaha illa’llah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa-rasuluh (Eternity and all dominion is God’s, and from Him are all blessings and benedictions. Peace be upon you O the [greatest] Prophet, and God’s mercy and gifts. Peace be also upon us and God’s righteous servants. I bear witness that there is no deity but God, and I also bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.).

Afterwards, one calls God’s blessings and peace upon His Messenger: Al-lahumma salli ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala Al-i Muhammad, kama sallayta ‘ala Ibrahima wa ‘ala Al-i Ibrahim. Innaka Hamidun Majid. Allahumma barik ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala Al-i Muhammad, kama barakta ‘ala Ibrahima wa ‘ala Al-i Ibrahim. Innaka Hamidun Majid (O God, bestow Your blessings upon our master Muhammad and the Family of Muhammad, as You bestowed Your blessings upon Abraham and the Family of Abraham. Assuredly, You are All-Praised, All-Illustrious. O God, send Your abundant gifts and favors unto our master Muhammad and the Family of Muhammad, as You sent them unto Abraham and the Family of Abraham. Assuredly, You are All-Praised, All-Illustrious.).

Then, pray to God. Choose prayers from the Qur’an and the prayers of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. Then, give greetings, turning your head to your right and left, saying: As-salamu ‘alaykum wa rah-matu’llah (Peace be upon you, and God’s Mercy.). While giving greetings on your right, direct them to those sitting on the right (if praying in congregation) and the noble angel who records our good deeds, and while giving greetings on your left, direct them to those sitting on the left (if praying in congregation) and the noble angel who records our evil deeds. However, according to Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, one may also intend, while giving greetings on the right, God’s Messenger, other Messengers, the believing members of their families, Companions, and all other saintly, pure, and scholarly people who have emigrated to the other world and, while giving greetings on the left, all believers to come until the Last Day.

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The noon, afternoon, and night (zuhr, ‘asr, and ‘isha’) prayers. Having done what is necessary to have the prayer accepted, recite iqama even if praying alone. Women are not required to recite iqama.

Then, perform the first two rak‘ats just as in the dawn prayer, except that when sitting in the second rak‘at, recite the tashahhud, stand up, and say: Allahu akbar (God is the Greatest). Perform another two rak‘ats without reciting the opening takbir, and, while standing, recite only al-Fatiha preferably; although you can recite, instead of al-Fatiha, words of glorification (Sub-hana’llah), praise (al-hamdu li’llah), and exaltation (Allahu akbar); and declare God’s Oneness (La ilaha illa’llah). While sitting in the last (fourth) rak‘at, recite that which was recited in the dawn and all other prayers. End the prayer by giving salutations to the right and left.

The evening (maghrib) prayer. One begins the prayer and prays the first two rak‘ats as outlined above. After reciting the tashahhud while sitting in the second rak‘at, perform the third rak‘at in the same way as the third rak‘at of the noon, afternoon, and late evening prayers. (Recite only al-Fatiha without any portion from the Qur’an.) However, after the second prostration, sit again, as in the second (or last sitting) of the other prayers or in the second rak‘at of the dawn prayer. Do what is done in them.

Prostrations of Forgetfulness
If any of the necessary acts are omitted or delayed for some time due to forgetfulness (e.g., sitting between the second and third rak‘ats of those prayers having three or four rak‘ats, stopping between the obligatory acts more than a few seconds, or omitting the qunut in the witr prayer) after giving the first salutation to the right, make two prostrations just like the other prostrations and recite the tashahhud (tahiyyat) and calling of God’s peace and blessings on God’s Messenger. Then, give salutations and finish the prayer.

In the congregational prayer, the imam recites only the tahiyyat and the initial part of calling God’s blessings and peace upon the Messenger and his Family (i.e., Allahumma salli ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala Al-i Muhammad) before making the prostrations of forgetfulness.

Prostrating while Reciting
Whoever recites a verse of prostration or hears it, whether during a prayer or outside it, should pronounce the takbir, prostrate, recite Subhana Rabbiya’l-A‘la three times, and rise from the prostration. There are 15 such verses in the Qur’an. If one of them is recited during a prayer, prostrate without interrupting the prayer and then continue it.

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The Sunna Prayers

  • Praying two rak‘ats before the dawn prayer was highly recommended and stressed by God’s Messenger. They are performed just as in the dawn prayer, except that one recites shorter Qur’anic passages after al-Fatiha.
  • Praying four rak‘ats before the zuhr (noon) prayer was highly advised and stressed by God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. They are performed just as in the noon prayer, except that one recites Qur’anic passages after al-Fatiha in all rak‘ats. He also prayed another two or four rak‘ats after the prescribed prayer, and Muslims are urged to follow his example.
  • Praying four rak‘ats before the afternoon prayer is also recommended. They are performed just as in the noon prayer, except that one recites the calls of God’s blessings, peace, and gifts upon our master Muhammad and his Family after the tashahhud during the first sitting, and the supplication before al-Fatiha in the third rak‘at, which one recites while beginning the prayer after the opening takbir.
  • Praying two rak‘ats after the evening and late evening prayer is highly recommended, while praying four rak‘ats before the late evening prayer, just as in the afternoon prayer, is an unstressed sunna prayer.

Tahajjud and Witr
The tahajjud prayer has an extremely important place among the highly advisable, stressed sunna prayers. It was obligatory for the Messenger from the very beginning of his mission. Interrupting sleep for God’s sake and turning to Him with devotion and pure feelings during the night is a great support and source of feeding for human spirit. While ordering the Messenger to pray it, the Almighty declared:

O you, folded in garments! Rise to pray by night, but not all night – half of it, or a little less, or a little more, and recite the Qur’an in measured rhythmic tones and with great care and attention. We are about to cast upon you a weighty Word. Indeed, rising by night is most potent and good for governing the soul, and most suitable for reciting and understanding the Word. There is for you by day prolonged occupation with ordinary duties. So, keep in remembrance of God’s Name and mention It, dedicating yourself devoutly to Him. He is the Lord of the east and the west. There is no deity save Him. Take Him for your Guardian and Disposer of Affairs (73:1-9).

Since every Muslim is a devoted servant of God and dedicated to His cause, the tahajjud prayer’s importance is clear. According to most acceptable reports from the Messenger, together with the Witr prayer, it consists of eleven rak‘ats and is performed in cycles of two, just like the morning prayer (Bukhari, “Tahajjud,” 10). Although the witr prayer can be performed after the late evening prayer before going to bed, so that one will not miss it because of sleep, its preferable time is after tahajjud. It consists of three rak‘ats and is performed like the evening prayer, but with the following exceptions:

In the third rak‘at, a Qur’anic passage and the qunut prayers are recited after al-Fatiha. Before praying qunut, say takbir (Allahu akbar) by raising the hands as is done when beginning the prayer. The Messenger’s reported qunut prayers are: Allahumma inna nasta’inuka wa nastaghfiruka wa nastahdika wa nu’minu bika wa natubu ilayk; wa natawwakkalu ‘alayka wa nuthni ‘alayka’l-khayra kullahu nashkuruka wa la nakfuruk. Wa nakhla’u wa natruku man yaf-juruk. Allahumma iyyaka na‘budu wa laka nusalli wa nasjudu wa ilayka nas’a wa nahfidu; narju rahmataka wa nakhsa ‘adhabaka inna ‘adhabaka bi’l-kuffari mulhiq (O God! We ask You for help, forgiveness, and guidance. We believe in You and turn to You in repentance for our sins, and place our trust in You. We praise You by attributing all good to You, and thank You, and never feel ingratitude to You. We reject and cut our relations with those who are in constant rebellion against You. O God, You alone do we worship, and we pray and prostrate for You alone. We endeavor in Your way to obtain Your good pleasure and approval. We hope and expect Your Mercy and fear Your chastisement, for Your chastisement is to surround the unbelievers.).

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Tarawih
The specific prayers during Ramadan, which are known as tarawih, are sunna for both men and women and are to be performed after the prescribed late evening prayer and before witr. As generally accepted, it consists of 20 rak‘ats and is performed preferably in cycles of two rak‘ats.

Tarawih prayers can be performed in congregation or alone. The majority of scholars, however, prefer to pray them in congregation. The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, prayed it in congregation but then stopped doing so, fearing that it would be made obligatory. ‘Umar established the practice of praying tarawih behind one imam.

The Prayer of the Sick (Salat al-Marid)
Whoever cannot stand due to illness or another valid reason can pray sitting. If this is not possible, one can pray while lying on one’s right side by making gestures. In such a case, the gestures for sajda should be lower than those for ruku‘.

The Prayer during Times of Fear or Danger (Salat al-Khawf)
All scholars agree about the legality of such prayers:

(O Messenger!) When you are among the believers (who are on an expedition and fear that the unbelievers might harm them) and rise to lead the prayer for them, let a party of them stand in prayer with you and retain their arms (while letting the other party take their positions against the enemy). When the first party has prostrated (and finished the rak‘at), let them go behind you (to take their positions against the enemy), and let the other party, which has not prayed, come forward and pray with you, being fully prepared against danger and retaining their arms. Those who disbelieve wish that you should be heedless of your weapons and your equipment, so that they might swoop upon you in a surprise attack. But there shall be no blame on you if you lay aside your arms (during prayer) if you are troubled by rain (and the ground impedes your movement), or if you are ill. However, (always) be fully prepared against danger. Surely God has prepared for the unbelievers a shameful, humiliating chastisement. (4:102)

The Prayer of a Traveler (Salat al-Musafir)
If one begins a journey of at least 3 days, one shortens the prescribed prayers of four rak‘ats (the noon, afternoon, and night prayers) and offers them as two rak‘ats, just like the dawn prayer. Since at that time travel was generally by foot and a day’s travel was counted as 6 hours, the distance of 3 days on foot was regarded as 90 kilometers (54 miles). However, many contemporary scholars maintain that since many people now travel by bus or train, the above-mentioned prayers can be shortened only if the distance is around 1,200 kilometers (720 miles).

Travelers are defined as people who have left their home and their town. So long as they are traveling, the above-mentioned prayers can be shortened. If they reach a place and intend to stay there for less than 15 days, they are considered as travelers and are therefore allowed to shorten their prayers as outlined above. If they are still there on the fifteenth day for reasons beyond their control, although they originally intended to stay for less than 15 days, they are still considered travelers and can shorten the appropriate prayers. Most scholars opine that travelers may offer the sunna and supererogatory prayers without shortening them.

The main reason for shortening the above-mentioned prayers is traveling, not the hardships of travel. Thus, these prayers are shortened even if no difficulty is encountered while traveling. The cause for establishing a rule differs from its expected wisdom and benefit. Wisdom or benefit is the reason for its preference, while the cause requires its existence. So, traveling Muslims shorten their prayers. The cause for this Divine dispensation is traveling, and the underlying wisdom is the hardship of traveling. Thus prayers are shortened even if no hardship is encountered, for the cause exists. Muslims who encounter hardships while at home cannot shorten their prayers, for the wisdom or benefit cannot be the cause for this dispensation.

Those who are traveling must pray whether they are on a ship or a train or a plane, if the prayer will be missed before reaching a place where one can offer it.

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Specific Sunna Prayers
Asking for What Is Good (Salat al-Istikhara). The Messenger advised all Muslims to follow his practice when confronted with having to make a choice between permissible alternatives: pray two non-obligatory rak‘ats and then ask God to enable one to choose what is good or better.

The Prayer of Glorification (Salat al-Tasbih). Ibn ‘Abbas reports that God’s Messenger said to ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib:

O ‘Abbas, O Uncle, shall I not give you, present to you, donate to you, tell you of ten things which, if you do them, God will forgive your first and last sins, past and present sins, intentional and unintentional sins, private and public sins? The ten actions are: pray four rak‘ats, reciting in every rak‘at al-Fatiha and a sura. When you finish the Qur’anic recitation of the first rak‘at, say, while standing: Subhana’llah, al-hamdu li’llah, wa la ilaha illa’llahu wa’llahu akbar (Glory be to God, all praise be to God, there is no deity save God, and God is the greatest) 15 times. Then make ruku‘, and while in ruku‘, say the same phrases 10 times. Then stand and say the same 10 times. Then go down and make sajda, and while you are in sajda, say the same phrases 10 times. Then sit after sajda and say the same phrases 10 times. Then make sajda and say the same phrases 10 times. Then sit after the second sajda, and say the same phrases another 10 times. That is 75 (repetitions of the phrases) in each rak‘at. Do that in each of the four rak‘ats. If you can pray it once a day, do so. If you cannot, then once every Friday. If you cannot do that, then once a year. And if you cannot do that, then once during your life. (Abu Dawud, “Salat,” 303; Tirmidhi, “Salat,” 350.)

After saying the phrases 10 times following the second sajda in the second rak‘at, recite the tashahhud and calls of God’s blessings and peace upon the Messenger and his Family, and then end the first two rak‘ats by giving salutation. Pray the second two rak‘ats in the same way.

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The Prayer for Need (Salat al-Haja). Make the proper ablution, pray two rak‘ats, and say the prayer reported from the Messenger concerning it (Tirmidhi, “Witr,” 345). If God’s overall Wisdom requires it to be met, God will grant whatever is asked, either sooner or later.

The Prayer of Repentance (Salat al-Tawba). Make the appropriate minor or major ablution, offer a prayer of two rak‘ats, and ask for His forgiveness. Hopefully, God will grant it.

The Prayer during a Solar or Lunar Eclipse (Salat al-Kusuf and al-Khusuf). Scholars agree that this is a sunna mu’akkada, a stressed or confirmed one, which is to be performed by both men and women. It is best, but not absolutely necessary, to pray it in congregation. Its time is from the eclipse’s beginning until its end. It is preferred to say takbir, supplicate, give charity, and ask God for forgiveness during the eclipse. It should be noted that this has nothing to do with asking for the eclipse to end, for its beginning and end are clear. An eclipse is only an occasion for such a prayer.

The Prayer for Rain (Salat al-Istisqa’). This prayer is performed to entreat to God for rain during a drought.

Supererogatory Prayers
Supererogatory prayers are important in that they make up for any deficiencies in performing the prescribed prayers and to bring us closer to God, Who declares:

My servant cannot get near to Me through anything else more lovable to Me than doing the obligatory religious duties. However, by doing supererogatory duties he gets nearer to Me, and when he becomes near to Me, I shall be his eyes to see with, his ears to hear with, his hands to grasp with, and his legs to walk on. (Bukhari, “Riqaq,” 38)

Supererogatory prayers are offered in cycles of two rak‘ats. Praying two rak‘ats when around three quarters have passed after sunrise (ishraq), two to eight rak‘ats in broad daylight until the sun reaches its zenith (duha), and four rak‘ats between the evening and late evening prayers (awwabin).

Such supererogatory prayers are important, for as recorded by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Muslim, and Abu Dawud, the Messenger said the following about the duha (broad daylight) prayer:

Charity is required from every part of your body daily. Every saying of “Glory be to God” is charity. Every saying of “All praise be to God” is charity. Every saying of “There is no deity but God” is charity. Every saying of “God is the Greatest” is charity. Ordering good is charity. Eradicating evil is charity. And what suffices for that (as a charity) are the two rak‘ats of the duha (broad daylight prayer). (Muslim, “Musafirun,” 84)

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Offering Supererogatory Prayers at Home. Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Muslim relate from Jabir that the Messenger of God said: “If one of you offers his prayers in the mosque, then he should offer a portion of his prayers at home, as God has made saying prayers in one’s home a means of betterment (for him).” Ahmad records from ‘Umar that the Messenger of God said: “The supererogatory prayers prayed by a person at home are a light. Whoever wishes should light up his house.”

Reciting Long Passages. It is preferred to prolong one’s recitation during supererogatory prayers. God’s Messenger would stand and pray until his feet or shanks swelled. When he was asked about it, he said: “Should I not be a thankful servant?” (Bukhari, “Tahajjud,” 16)

The Friday Congregational Prayer
The Friday congregational prayer is obligatory and a significant Islamic symbol. God’s Messenger declared that God seals the heart of one who misses it three consecutive times without a valid excuse (Abu Dawud, “Salat,” 215; Tirmidhi, “Salat,” 359). It also has aspects concerning the Muslim community’s political freedom and condition, and cannot be offered alone.

When and Who. It is offered during the noon prayer’s time, for the latter prayer is not performed on Friday. Every free, adult, sane, and resident Muslim who can attend must attend, unless he has a valid reason not to do so. It is not obligatory upon women, children, those with valid excuses (e.g., illness, lack of security, extreme cold), and travelers.

Preparations. Increase prayers, supplications, and calling God’s blessings and peace upon the Messenger and his Family on Friday, especially before the Friday prayer. Perform the major ablution (ghusl) and wear the best clothes and the best allowable perfume. It is recommended to follow the Messenger’s example of reciting 10 verses from the beginning and end of Surat al-Kahf. Also, go to the mosque early.

Conditions for Its Validity. The Friday congregational prayer has aspects.

  • It is offered in a city (misr) that contains a government or a village having 30, 40, or more houses – which looks like a city in its outward form.
  • It is preferably offered in a central, large mosque and led by the district or city governor or imam (prayer leader) who is able to lead it and has been appointed by the governor to do so. In the capital city, it is preferably offered by the president or a capable imam appointed by him.
  • There must be at least three people to form a congregation after the imam.

The Adhan. The call to prayer (adhan) is made before the Friday sermon.

The Sermon. A sermon must be made before the Friday prayer. The imam gives it on a pulpit while standing. He begins it by praising God and calling God’s blessings and peace upon His Messenger and his Family. Next, he gives a sermon in which he exhorts Muslims to good deeds, discourages them from evil, advises them, and seeks to enlighten them mentally and spiritually and to guide them. He should not lengthen the sermon. After this part of the sermon, he sits for a short while and then, standing up, praises God, calls God’s blessings and peace upon God’s Messenger and his Family, and prays for all Muslims. The congregation must listen carefully and silently.

Prayers before and after the Friday Prayer. The Friday prayer consists of two rak‘ats. It is sunna to offer four rak‘ats before it, just like the four rak‘ats offered before the noon prayer. After the prayer, another supererogatory prayer of four rak‘ats is recommended.

Scholars have had some doubts about the Friday prayer’s validity for many centuries, due the Muslim community’s condition. Therefore, to be sure about performance of the prescribed noon prayer, they have ruled that another prayer of four rak‘ats, just like the noon prescribed prayer and with the intention of offering a later noon prayer, should be offered after the four-rak‘at supererogatory prayer. They also advise to follow this with another supererogatory prayer of two rak‘ats with the intention of offering the sunna prayer for that time.

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‘Iyd (Religious Festive Days) Prayers (Salat al-‘Iydayn)
The two ‘Iyd prayers are considered necessary (wajib) and are to be offered on the two annual religious festive days: ‘Iyd al-Fitr (marking the end of Ramadan) and ‘Iyd al-Adha (on Dhu al-Hijja 10, the Day of Sacrifice). The former continues for 3 days, and the latter for 4 days.

The Religious Festive Days. On these days, Muslims visit, congratulate and offer gifts to one another, and display greater generosity by honoring the elders and pleasing the needy and children especially. They amuse themselves within religious and moral bounds, occupy themselves with reciting the Qur’an, mentioning God’s Names, and supplicating. It is advisable to perform ghusl (major ablution) and wear the best clothes and religiously allowed perfume. On the Day of Sacrifice, they offer cattle or sheep or goats to God as a sacrifice, as will be explained below.

The Prayer. The ‘Iyd prayers can be offered from when the sun is three spears above the horizon (approximately three quarters after sunrise) until it reaches its zenith. All men, women (regardless of marital status, age, or if they are menstruating), and children go to the place of prayer. Menstruating women do not attend the prayer. There is no adhan or iqama, unlike the Friday prayer.

Offering the ‘Iyd Prayer. The ‘Iyd prayer consists of two rak‘ats and is offered like the Friday prayer, except for extra takbirs (Allahu akbar [God is the Greatest]). Like other prayers, the imam and the congregation make the intention and the opening takbir, and then recite the supplication silently. After the supplication and before reciting al-Fatiha, the imam leads the congregation in three extra takbirs by raising his hands while saying the opening takbir. After the first two takbirs, they leave their arms down, and after the third, they hold their hands under the navel and begin to recite al-Fatiha. After completing the first rak‘at and reciting al-Fatiha and another Qur’anic passage in the second rak‘at, the imam leads the congregation in extra takbirs again. This time they say four takbirs and, leaving the arms down after the first three, bow after the fourth one. Then they complete the prayer.

Sermon. After the prayer, the imam gives a sermon just as he does during the Friday congregational prayer.
Takbirs during the ‘Iyds. Muslims must exalt God on the Festive Days of Sacrifice by pronouncing: Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar; la ilaha illa’llahu wa’llahu akbar; Allahu akbar wa li’llahi’l-hamd (God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest. There is no deity but God, and God is the Greatest. God is the Greatest and for His is all praise.). It is pronounced after every prescribed prayer after the dawn prayer on the day before the Festive Day, and ends after the afternoon prayer on the fourth day of ‘Iyd.

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RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS
Almost every nation has religious festivals to commemorate important events in its history or to celebrate special occasions. There are two religious festivals in Islam: ‘Iyd al-Fitr (marking the end of Ramadan’s month-long dawn-to-sunset fast) and ‘Iyd al-Adha (the festival of sacrifice), which falls on Dhu’l-Hijja 10, the last month of the Islamic year in which the pilgrimage is performed. Both festivals enjoy a special place in the life of Muslims, and leave indelible impressions upon their cultures.

Religious festivals are times of deepened Islamic thoughts and occasions of paradoxical feelings – pangs of separation and hopes of reunion, regrets and expectations, and joys and sorrows.

Muslims enjoy the pleasure of reunion and universal brotherhood and sisterhood on festive days. They smile at each other lovingly, greet each other respectfully, and visit each other. Members of families divided by modern, industrialized life and forced to live in different towns come together and enjoy the delight of eating and living together once again, if only for a few days.

Religious festivals are occasions for spiritual revival through seeking God’s forgiveness and through praising and glorifying Him. Muslims are enraptured by special supplications, odes, and eulogies for the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings. Especially in traditional circles where traces of the past are still alive, people experience the festival’s meaning in a more vivid, colorful fashion, on cushions or sofas, or around furnaces in their humble houses, or under the trees among their garden’s flowers, or in the spacious halls of their homes. They feel its meaning in each morsel they eat, in each sip they drink, and in each word they speak about their traditional and religious values.

Religious festivals have a much greater significance for children. They feel a different joy and pleasure in the warm, embracing climate of the festivals, which they have been preparing to welcome a few days before. Like nightingales singing on branches of trees, they cause us to experience the festivals more deeply through their play, songs, smiles, and cheerfulness.

Religious festivals provide the most practical means for improving human relationships. People experience a deep inward pleasure, and meet and exchange good wishes in a blessed atmosphere of spiritual harmony. When the festival permeates hearts with prayer and supplications performed consciously, souls are elevated to the realm of eternity. They then feel the urge to abandon the clutches of worldly attachments and live in the depths of their spiritual being. In the atmosphere overflowing with love and mercy, a new hope is injected with life.

Believing souls welcome the religious festivals with wonder and expectations of otherworldly pleasures. Indeed, it is difficult to understand fully what believing souls feel in their hearts during these religious festivals. To perceive the feelings thus aroused in pure souls who lead their life in ecstasies of other-worldly pleasures, we must experience such pleasures to the same degree. Having reached the day of the festival after fulfilling their prescribed duty of praying and responsibility, these souls display such a dignity and serenity, and such a grace and spiritual perfection, that those who see them think that they have all received a perfect religious and spiritual education. Some of them are so sincere and devoted to God that each seems to be the embodiment of centuries-old universal values. One may experience through their conduct and manners that taste of the fruits of Paradise, the peaceful atmosphere on its slopes, and the delight of being near to God.
(M. Fethullah Gülen, Towards The Lost Paradise [trans.], Kaynak, 1995.)

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The Funeral Prayer
The Rights of a Dead Muslim upon Living Muslims. A dead Muslim has four rights over living Muslims: The right to be washed, shrouded, prayed over, and buried. However, Muslims are not obliged to do so for those who die as apostates or while fighting against them.

Visiting a Sick Person. It is a highly recommended and meritorious act to visit a sick person. Muslims suggest to the dying that they should declare God’s Oneness: La ilaha illa’llah, Muhammadun Rasulu’llah (There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is His Messenger) or the profession of faith: Ashhadu an la ilaha illa’llah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasuluh (I bear witness that there is no deity but God, and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.).

Washing the Corpse. When a Muslim dies, the corpse should be washed by a knowledgeable Muslim three times. Before washing, he or she is given minor ablution. Women wash dead women, and men wash dead men. However, a woman can wash her dead husband. The deceased’s relatives and others should not see the corpse being washed, and the corpse should be scented with camphor, musk, and similar scents.

Offering the Funeral Prayer. After washing, a dead Muslim is wrapped in a shroud and put in a coffin. This holds true for everyone except martyrs, who are buried in the clothes in which they were martyred. The corpse is placed upon a raised platform or a smooth stone so that its right side faces the qibla. The congregation then stands to pray before corpse. While this prayer is obligatory upon all Muslims and must be prayed in congregation, when only some of them offer it, the others do not have to. Women also can attend.

The imam makes the intention to pray for the deceased (the deceased’s gender should be specified) for God’s sake and good pleasure. The congregation makes the same intention and then adds the intention to pray behind the imam. Then, following the imam, they begin the prayer with the opening takbir (as in all other prayers), supplicate, say takbir while keeping the hands under the navel, call God’s blessings and peace upon His Messenger and his Family (as in the final sittings of other prayers), repeat takbir while keeping the hands under the navel, pray for the deceased and all other Muslims (both alive or dead), say takbir for the third time, and give salutations to the right and left.

Burying the Deceased. Muslims place the deceased in the grave while saying: “Bi’smi’llahi ala millet-i Rasuli’llah” (In God’s Name and according to the religion and way of God’s Messenger.). The deceased is laid on the right side facing the qibla, and the shroud is then untied. A stone or something similar is placed in the grave diagonally and in a slanting position so that the corpse should not be covered with soil. Soil is placed on the stone and then is used to cover the grave. After reciting some Qur’anic passages and praying to God for the deceased one, the people leave.

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Congregational Prayer
Performing the prayers in congregation is a sunna mu’akkada (a sunna emphasized by the Messenger). Many scholars consider it necessary (wajib).

Women. It is better for women to pray in their houses than to attend congregational prayers. However, they may go to the mosque and attend the congregational prayer if they do not wear any attractive clothing or use any tempting perfume.

Conditions To Be Met by the Muezzin (the Caller to Prayer). The Messenger praised muezzin and gave them good tidings of great reward (Bukhari, “Ezan,” 5). However, in order to deserve this praise and reward, they have to meet certain conditions, as follows:

  • Make the call to prayer for God’s sake, not for wages.
  • Be clean from major or minor impurities.
  • Stand and face the qibla.
  • Turn his head, neck, and chest to the right upon saying: “Hayya ‘ala’s-salah” and to the left upon saying: “Hayya ‘ala’l-falah.”
  • Insert his index fingers into his ears so that his voice may be higher.
  • Raise his voice for the call, even if he is alone in the desert.
  • Pause between each phrase of the adhan.
  • Adorn the adhan with his beautiful voice and tune.

The adhan is one of the important, collective symbols of Islam, for it shows that the place in which it is called is a Muslim land. In addition, it is a declaration of Islam’s basic principles.

Whoever Makes the Adhan Makes the Iqama. It is highly recommended and preferable that whoever makes the adhan makes the iqama. A man who prays alone is encouraged to make the adhan, if he did not listen to its public recitation, and should make the iqama.

The Adhan and Iqama for Women. Although some scholars state that there is no adhan or iqama for women, some maintain that women can form a congregation and pray, and that one of them can serve as the imam. However, she must stand in the middle of the first row.

The Imam. The imam must meet several conditions, as follows:

  • If the congregation includes men and women, the imam must be a man.
  • He must be well-versed in Qur’anic recitation and knowledgeable of the prayer’s obligatory, necessary, and sunna acts.
  • He should be of good character and reputation.
  • He should be the most knowledgeable (of those present) of Islamic jurisprudence and Qur’anic recitation, have excellent qualities and character, a good voice, and a sound body.
  • He should not have a health problem that causes him to continually lose his ablution, unless all others in the congregation have the same or a similar problem.
  • According to scholars, anyone whose prayer is valid for himself is valid for others if he serves as the imam. However, Muslims do not like to pray behind an evildoer or an innovator.

Where the Imam and the Congregation Stand. The imam stands before the congregation. Preferably, one person stands to the imam’s right. If there are two or more people, they stand behind the imam. The Messenger placed the men in front of the young boys and the women behind the young boys.

Correcting the Imam’s Mistake. If the imam forgets a verse, recites incorrectly, or makes a mistake in praying, someone in the congregation should correct him, and anyone who is known to be able to correct him is preferred to stand just after the imam.

Straightening the Rows and Filling the Gaps. The imam should tell the members of the congregation, or the congregation should do so even if the imam does so, to straighten the rows and fill in any gaps before starting the prayer.

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The Imam’s and Congregation’s Recitation. It is enough for the imam to recite al-Fatiha and another Qur’anic passage, and for the congregation to keep silent. The congregation makes all other recitations, including takbirs, the supplication before al-Fatiha, the words of glorification in ruku‘ and sujud, and tashahhud and calls of God’s blessings and peace upon God’s Messenger and his Family.

Following the Imam. Every member of the congregation must follow the imam without delay, and must not to precede him in any action during the prayer.

Putting a Partition in front of Oneself While Praying. Anything that one sets in front of himself or herself while praying qualifies as a partition, even if it is only the bed’s end. The Messenger said: “When one of you prays, he should make a partition for his prayer, even if it is an arrow.” (Ibrahim Canan, Hadis Ansiklopedisi [An Encyclopedia of Hadiths], Ist., 8:179) This is done so that others cannot pass in front of one who is praying. It is forbidden to pass in front of one who is praying (i.e., between the person and his or her partition). If there is no such probability, making a partition is not necessary. The partition should be close enough that there is only room enough to prostrate.

One can make a gesture to stop someone from passing in front of him or her; however, this must not of the kind that will invalidate one’s prayer, like speaking. The prayer is not invalidated if a person or an animal passes in front of the one who is praying.

Joining the Congregation. Whoever joins a congregation must say the opening takbir while standing and then move directly to the act that the congregation is performing. For instance, if the congregation is prostrating one should perform the opening takbir and then prostrate. If one joins the congregation during the ruku‘ following any standing position (qiyam), one is considered to have performed that rak‘at. If it belongs to the first rak‘at, one who joins the congregation during it and completes the prayer after the imam is considered to have performed the whole prayer.

If one joins after the ruku‘, one is considered to have missed the rak‘at or rak‘ats preceding it. If one joins during the second rak‘at, no matter in which prayer it occurs, after the imam gives the first salutation (to his right), one stands up and performs the first missed rak‘at, reciting al-Fatiha and a Qur’anic passage, performs the ruku‘, sujud, and the final sitting, and ends the prayer with salutations.

If one joins after the ruku‘ of the second rak‘at in the dawn prayer, one stands up after the imam gives the first salutation and performs the prayer completely, without, however, saying the opening takbir. If one joins the evening prayer, one follows the imam until he gives the first salutation, and then stands up, recites al-Fatiha and a Qur’anic passage, performs the ruku‘ and sujud, and sits. This is one’s second rak‘at. After reciting the tashahhud, one stands up and recites al-Fatiha and a Qur’anic passage, does the ruku‘ and sujud, performs the final sitting, and ends the prayer with salutations. If one joins the noon, afternoon, or late evening prayers, one follows the imam until he gives the first salutation and then stands up. One completes the prayer by performing the two first rak‘ats missed as if performing a prayer of two rak‘ats.

If one joins the congregation in the fourth rak‘at or after the ruku‘ following the third rak‘at, one follows the imam until he gives the first salutation and then stands up. One performs the first rak‘at missed by reciting al-Fatiha and a Qur’anic passage, doing the ruku‘ and sujud and sits. After reciting the tashahhud, one stands up, recites al-Fatiha and a Qur’anic passage, does the ruku‘ and sujud, and stands up. Then one recites only al-Fatiha, does the ruku‘ and sujud, and sits to recite tashahhud, calls of God’s blessings and peace upon the Messenger and his Family, and end the prayer by giving salutations.

If one joins the congregation after the ruku‘ of the last rak‘at of any prayer, one has missed that prayer and, standing when the imam gives the salutation to the right, offers the prayer completely without, however, saying the opening takbir.

If one is offering the dawn (fajr) or evening (maghrib) prayer alone and people form a congregation behind an imam in the place where one is praying, and if one has not yet prostrated after the second rak‘at, one must join the congregation.

If one is offering a prayer of 4 rak‘ats and is offering the first rak‘at, one also joins the congregation. If one is offering the second rak‘at, one completes the first two rak‘ats, as if performing a prayer of 2 rak‘ats, and joins the congregation. If one is offering the third rak‘at, one joins the congregation. If one is offering the fourth rak‘at, one completes the prayer without joining the congregation.

Earth as a Mosque. A Muslim can pray anywhere, provided that the place does not have enough dirt to invalidate the prayer, has not been usurped, or belongs to one who will not allow prayer therein. This is a special blessing of God Almighty for the Muslim community. Given this, the whole Earth can serve as a mosque.
Three Most Excellent Mosques. One can pray in any mosque. However, three mosques have a particular sacredness and provide those praying within far more merit than praying in others. In order of merit and sacredness, they are the Sacred Mosque (al-Masjid al-Haram) in Makka, the Prophet’s Mosque (al-Mascid al-Nabawi) in Madina, and the Masjid al-Aqsa in Quds (Jerusalem).

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Making Up Missed Prayers
Prayer is the most important kind of worship. It is the support of religion, and therefore can never be omitted. However, scholars agree that any prescribed prayer that has been missed for whatever reason (e.g., forgetfulness, sleep, having an operation or a serious illness) must be made up. One can perform the missed prescribed prayer at any time, except when praying is prohibited. Missed prayer must be made up without delay.

Missed prayers should be performed in the proper order. For example, if one has missed less than six prayers, he or she should first perform that missed prayer before performing a new prayer whose time it is in. Doing so shows that one is a person of order, and making up missed prayers reinforces this. However, if one has missed more than six prayers, one can make up them in all times when praying is permissible.

One who missed a prayer during journeying, he/she makes it up as 2 rak‘ats except the evening prayer, no matter where he/she prays it.


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Last Updated on December 15, 2004

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