The Prophet's Prayer [صلى الله علیه وسلم] Described

Author: Imaam Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen al-Albaanee

Published: Thursday 21st January, 2016

The Rukoo' (Bowing)

After completing his recitation, he (صلى الله علیه وسلم) would pause for a moment [1], then raise his hands [2] in the way described earlier under the "Opening Takbeer", say takbeer [3], and make rukoo'. [4]

He also ordered "the one who prayed badly" likewise, saying to him,

"Indeed, the prayer of one of you is not complete until he makes an excellent ablution as Allaah has commanded him to ... then he celebrates Allaah's greatness, praises and glorifies Him, then recites the Qur'aan as much as is easy for him from what Allaah has taught him and allowed him, then says takbeer and makes rukoo' [and places his hands on his knees] until his joints are at ease and relaxed." [5]

The Rukoo' Described

"He (صلى الله علیه وسلم) would place his palms on his knees" [6], and "would order them to do likewise" [7], as he ordered "the one who prayed badly" in the afore-mentioned hadeeth.

"He would put his hands firmly on his knees [as though he were grasping them]" [8], and "would space his fingers out" [9], ordering "the one who prayed badly" likewise, saying:

"When you make rukoo', place your palms on your knees, then space your fingers out, then remain (like that) until every limb takes its (proper) place." [10]

"He used to spread himself (i.e., not be in a compact position), and keep his elbows away from his sides." [11]

"When he made rukoo', he would spread his back and make it level" [12], "such that if water were poured on it, it (the water) would stay there (i.e., not run off)." [13] He also said to "the one who prayed badly",

"When you make rukoo', put your palms on your knees, spread your back (flat) and hold firm in your rukoo'." [14]

"He would neither let his head droop nor raise it (i.e. higher than his back)" [15], but it would be in between. [16]

The Obligation Of Being At Ease In Rukoo'

He used to be at ease in his rukoo', and ordered "the one who prayed badly" to be so, as has been mentioned in the first section on rukoo'.

He used to say,

"Complete the rukoo' and sujood, for by Him in whose Hand is my soul, I surely see you behind my back [17] when you make rukoo' and sujood." [18]

"He saw a man praying not completing his rukoo' properly, and pecking in his sujood, so he said,

"Were this man to die in this state, he would die on a faith other than that of Muhammad, [pecking in his prayer as a crow pecks at blood; he who does not make rukoo' completely and pecks in his sujood is like the hungry person who eats one or two dates, which are of no use to him at all." [19]

Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه‎) said, "My close friend (صلى الله علیه وسلم) forbade me from pecking in my prayer like a cockerel, from looking around like a fox, and from squatting like a monkey." [20]

The Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم) also used to say,

"The worst thief among men is the one who steals from his prayer.

They said, "O Messenger of Allaah, how does he steal from his prayer?" He said,

"He does not complete its rukoo' and sujood." [21]

Once, "he was praying, when he glanced out of the corner of his eye at a man not settling his backbone in rukoo' and sujood. When he finished, he said,

"O assembly of Muslims! Verily, the prayer is not valid of the one who does not settle his spine in rukoo' and sujood." " [22]

He said in another hadeeth,

"The prayer of a man does not count unless he straightens his back in rukoo' and sujood." [23]

The Adhkaar Of Rukoo'

He would say different types of remembrance of Allaah and supplication, any one of the following at a time:

  1. Image

    "How Perfect is my Lord, the Supreme!," three times. [24]

    But sometimes, he would repeat it more than that. [25]

    Once, in night prayer, he repeated it so much that his rukoo' became nearly as long as his standing before it, in which he had recited three of the Long Soorahs: Baqarah, Nisaa' and aal- 'Imraan. This prayer was full of supplication & seeking forgiveness, and the hadeeth has already been mentioned under "Recitation in Night Prayer".
  2. Image

    "How Perfect is my Lord, the Supreme, and Praised be He," three times. [26]

  3. Image

    "Perfect, Blessed, [27] Lord of the Angels and the Spirit." [28]

  4. Image

    "How Perfect You are O Allaah, and Praises are for You. O Allaah, forgive me.

    He would say it often in his rukoo' and sujood, implementing (the order of) the Qur'aan. [29]
  5. Image

    "O Allaah! To You I have bowed; in You I have believed; to You I have submitted; [You are my Lord]; humbled for You are my hearing, my seeing, my marrow, my bone (in one narration: my bones), my sinews, [and whatever my feet carry [30] (are humbled) for Allaah, Lord of the Worlds]." [31]

  6. Image

    "O Allaah! to You I have bowed; in You I have believed; to You I have submitted; in You I have placed my trust; You are my Lord; my hearing, my seeing, my blood, my flesh, my bones, and my sinews are humbled for Allaah, Lord of the Worlds. [32]

  7. Image

    "How Perfect is He Who has all Power, Kingdom, Magnificence and Supremity,"

    He (صلى الله علیه وسلم) used to say this in the night prayer.

Lenghtening The Rukoo'

"He (صلى الله علیه وسلم) used to make his rukoo', his standing after rukoo', his sujood, and his sitting in between the two sajdahs, nearly equal in length." [33]

Forbiddance Of Reciting The Qur'aan In Rukoo'

"He used to forbid recitation of the Qur'aan in rukoo' and sujood." [34] Further, he used to say,

"Verily, I have indeed been forbidden from reciting the Qur'aan in rukoo' or sujood. In the rukoo', therefore, glorify the Supremity of the Lord, Mighty and Sublime, in it; as for the sujood, exert yourselves in supplication in it, for it is most likely that you will be answered." [35]

Straightening Up From The Rukoo', & What Is To Said Then

Next, "he (صلى الله علیه وسلم) would straighten up his back out of rukoo', saying,


"Allaah listens to the one who praises Him." [36]

He also ordered "the one who prayed badly" to do that, when he said to him: No person's prayer is complete until ... he has said takbeer ... then made rukoo' ... then has said "Allaah listens to the one who praises Him" until he is standing straight." [37] When he raised his head, he would stand straight until every vertebra returned to its place. [38]

Next, "he would say while standing:


"Our Lord, [and] to You be all Praise." [39]

He has commanded all worshippers, whether behind an imaam or not, to do the above on rising from rukoo', by saying

"Pray as you have seen me praying." [40]

He also used to say,

"The imaam is there to be followed ... when he has said 'Allaah listens to the one who praises Him' then say, '[O Allaah!] Our Lord, and to You be all Praise'; Allaah will listen to you, for indeed, Allaah, Blessed and Exalted, has said via the tongue of His Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم): Allaah listens to the one who praises Him." [41]

He also gave a reason for this command in another hadeeth, saying:

"for he whose saying coincides with that of the angels will have his past sins forgiven." [42]

He used to raise his hands when straightening up [43], in the ways described under the Opening Takbeer.

While standing, he would say, as previously-mentioned,

  1. Image

    "Our Lord, and to You be all Praise." [44];

  2. Image

    "Our Lord, to You be all Praise." [45]

    Sometimes, he would add at the beginning of either of these:
  3. Image

    "O Allaah! ... [46]

    He used to order others to do this, saying, "When the imaam says:

    "Allaah listens to the one who praises Him",

    then say:

    "O Allaah! Our Lord, to You be all Praise, for he whose saying coincides with that of the angels will have his past sins forgiven." [47]

    Sometimes, he would add either:
  4. Image

    "... Filling the heavens, filling the earth, and filling whatever else You wish" [48],

  5. Image

    "... Filling the heavens, [filling] the earth, whatever is between them, and filling whatever else You wish." [49]

    Sometimes, he would add even further:[/quote]
  6. Image

    "Lord of Glory & Majesty! None can withhold what You grant, and none can grant what You withhold; nor can the possessions of an owner benefit him in front of You. [50]

    Or, sometimes, the addition would be:
  7. Image

    "Filling the heavens, filling the earth, and filling whatever else You wish. Lord of Glory and Majesty! - The truest thing a slave has said, and we are all slaves to You. [O Allaah!] None can withhold what You grant, [and none can grant what You withhold,] nor can the possessions of an owner benefit him in front of You." [51]

    Sometimes, he would say the following during night prayer:
  8. Image

    "To my Lord be all Praise, to my Lord be all Praise", repeating it until his standing was about as long as his rukoo', which had been nearly as long as his first standing, in which he had recited Soorah al-Baqarah. [52]

  9. Image

    "Our Lord, and to You be all Praise, so much pure praise, inherently blessed, [externally blessed, as our Lord loves and is pleased with]. [53]

    A man praying behind him (صلى الله علیه وسلم) said this after he (صلى الله علیه وسلم) had raised his head from rukoo' and said:

    "Allaah listens to the one who praises Him."

    When the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم) had finished his prayer, he said,

    "Who was the one speaking just now?"

    The man said, "It was I, O Messenger of Allaah." So the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم) said,

    "I saw over thirty angels hurrying to be the first one to write it down." [54]

Lengthening This Standing, & The Obligation To Be At Ease In It

He (صلى الله علیه وسلم) used to make this standing about as long as his rukoo', as has been mentioned; in fact, "he would stand (for so long) sometimes that one would say, 'He has forgotten', [because of his standing for so long.]" [55]

He used to instruct them to be at ease in it; hence, he said to "the one who prayed badly", ...

"Next, raise your head until you are standing straight [and every bone has taken its proper place]" - in another narration, "When you rise, make your spine upright and raise your head, until the bones return to their joints." [56]

He also reminded him: that no-one's prayer is complete unless he does that, and used to say:

[hadeeth]"Allaah, Mighty and Sublime, does not look at the prayer of the slave who does not make his backbone upright in between his bowings and prostrations." [57][/quote]


[1] Abu Daawood & Haakim, who declared it saheeh & Dhahabi agreed.

[2] Bukhaari & Muslim. This raising of the hands is reported as mutawaatir from him (صلى الله علیه وسلم), as is the raising of the hands on straightening up after rukoo`. It is the madhhab of the three Imaams Maalik, Shaafi`i and Ahmad, and of the majority of scholars of hadeeth and fiqh. Imaam Maalik - (رحمه الله) - practised it right up to his death, as reported by Ibn `Asaakir (15/78/2). Some of the Hanafis chose to do it, among them `Isaam bin Yusuf Abu `Asamah al-Balkhi (d. 210), a student of Imaam Abu Yusuf - (رحمه الله) -, as has been explained in the Introduction. `Abdullaah bin Ahmad reported from his father in his Masaa'il (p. 60),

"It is related from `Uqbah bin `Aamir that he said about a man raising his hands during prayer, 'He earns ten good deeds for each such movement'."

This is supported by the hadeeth qudsi,

"... he who intends a good deed and then does it, Allaah writes it down with Himself as from ten to seven hundred good deeds", transmitted by Bukhaari & Muslim. See Saheeh at-Targheeb, no. 16.

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] Abu Daawood & Nasaa'i. Haakim declared it saheeh & Dhahabi agreed.

[6] Bukhaari & Abu Daawood.

[7] Bukhaari & Muslim.

[8] Bukhaari & Abu Daawood.

[9] Haakim , who declared it saheeh; Dhahabi & Tayaalisi agreed. It is given in Saheeh Abi Daawood (809).

[10] Ibn Khuzaimah & Ibn Hibbaan in their Saheehs.

[11] Tirmidhi, who declared it saheeh, & Ibn Khuzaimah.

[12] Bukhaari, and Baihaqi with a saheeh isnaad.

[13] Tabaraani in Mu`jam al-Kabeer and Mu`jam al-Sagheer, `Abdullaah b. Ahmad in Zawaa'id al-Musnad & Ibn Maajah.

[14] Ahmad & Abu Daawood with a saheeh isnaad.

[15] Abu Daawood & Bukhaari in Juz' al-Qiraa'ah with a saheeh isnaad.

[16] Muslim & Abu `Awaanah.

[17] This vision was physically real, and was one of his miracles; it was confined to during prayer: there is no evidence for it being of a general nature.

[18] Bukhaari & Muslim.

[19] Abu Ya`laa in his Musnad (340/3491/1), Aajuri in al-Arba`een, Baihaqi, Tabaraani (1/192/1), Diyaa' in al-Muntaqaa (276/1), Ibn `Asaakir (2/226/2, 414/1, 8/14/1, 76/2) with a hasan isnaad, & Ibn Khuzaimah declared it saheeh (1/82/1). Ibn Battah has a supporting mursal narration for the first part of the hadeeth, minus the addition, in al-Ibaanah (5/43/1).

[20] Tayaalisi, Ahmad & Ibn Abi Shaibah; it is a hasan hadeeth, as I have explained in my footnotes on al-Ahkaam (1348) by `Abdul Haqq Ishbeeli.

[21] Ibn Abi Shaibah (1/89/2), Tabaraani & Haakim , who declared it saheeh and Dhahabi agreed.

[22] Ibn Abi Shaibah (1/89/1), Ibn Maajah & Ahmad, with a saheeh isnaad.

[23] Abu `Awaanah, Abu Daawood & Sahmi (61); Daaraqutni declared it saheeh.

[24] Ahmad, Abu Daawood, Ibn Maajah, Daaraqutni, Tahaawi, Bazzaar, & Tabaraani in Mu`jam al-Kabeer, on the authority of seven Companions. Hence this refutes those who did not accept the specification of the glorifications to three times, such as Ibn al-Qayyim and others.

[25] This can be deduced from the ahaadeeth which make it clear that he (صلى الله علیه وسلم) used to make his standing, rukoo` and sujood equal in length, as mentioned after this section.

[26] A saheeh hadeeth, transmitted by Abu Daawood, Daaraqutni, Ahmad, Tabaraani & Baihaqi.

[27] Abu Ishaaq said: subbooh means "the one who is free of any defect", while quddoos means "the Blessed" or "the Pure". Ibn Saidah said: Glorified and Blessed are attributes of Allaah, Mighty and Sublime, because He is glorified and sanctified by others. (Lisaan al-`Arab)

[28] Muslim & Abu `Awaanah.

[29] Bukhaari & Muslim. "Implementing the Qur'aan" refers to the saying of Allaah:

"Then glorify with the Praises of your Lord, and seek His Forgiveness, for He is Oft-Returning." (Nasr 110:3)

[30] This is an example of use of a general phrase coming after mention of individual items.

[31] Muslim, Abu `Awaanah, Tahaawi & Daaraqutni.

[32] Nasaa'i with a saheeh isnaad.

NOTE: Is there proof for combining two or more of these adhkaar in one rukoo`, or not ? The scholars have differed about this. Ibn al-Qayyim was uncertain about this in Zaad al-Ma`aad. Nawawi chose the first possibility in al-Adhkaar, saying,

"It is best to combine all of these adhkaar if possible, and similarly with the adhkaar of other postures."

Abu al-Tayyib Siddeeq Hasan Khan disagreed with him, saying in Nuzul al-Abraar (84),

"It is narrated with one of them here, another one there, but I see no evidence for combining. The Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم) would not combine them in one go, but he would say one of them sometimes, another one sometimes; to follow is better than to start something new."

This latter view is the correct one, Allaah willing, but it is proved in the Sunnah to lengthen this posture, as well as others, until it is about the length of the standing: hence, if the worshipper wishes to follow the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) in this sunnah, the only way is to combine adhkaar, as Nawawi said, and as Ibn Nasr has related it in Qiyaam al-Layl (76) from Ibn Juraij as done by `Ataa', or to repeat one of the adhkaar for which there is text for repetition, and this is closer to the Sunnah. Allaah knows best.

[33] Bukhaari & Muslim. It is given in Irwaa' al-Ghaleel (331).

[34] Muslim & Abu `Awaanah. The forbiddance is general, hence covering both obligatory and voluntary prayers. The addition in Ibn `Asaakir (17/299/1), "as for voluntary prayers, then there is no harm" is either shaaddh or munkar - Ibn `Asaakir pointed out a defect in it - so it is not permissible to act according to it.

[35] ibid.

[36] Bukhaari & Muslim.

[37] Abu Daawood & Haakim , who declared it saheeh and Dhahabi agreed.

[38] Bukhaari & Abu Daawood; Ar. faqaar: vertebrae, "the bones making up the spine, from the base of the neck to the coccyx" according to Qaamoos; see also Fath al-Baari (2/308).

[39] Bukhaari & Ahmad.

[40] ibid.

[41] Muslim, Abu `Awaanah, Ahmad & Abu Daawood.

NOTE: This hadeeth does not prove that those following an imaam should not share with the imaam in saying: Allaah listens to the one who praises Him, just as it does not prove that the imaam does not share with those following him in saying: Our Lord, to You be all Praise. This is because the purpose of this hadeeth is not to set out exactly what the imaam and his followers should say in this position; rather, it explains that the followers' tahmeed should be said after the imaam's tasmee`. This is supported by the fact that the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) used to say the tahmeed when he was the imaam, and also because the generality of his saying, "Pray as you have seen me praying", dictates that the follower should say what the imaam says, e.g. tasmee`, etc. Those respected brothers who referred to us in this issue should consider this, and perhaps what we have mentioned is satisfactory. Whoever would like further discussion on this issue should refer to the article by the Haafidh Suyooti on this matter in his book al-Haawi lil Fataawi (1/529).

[42] Bukhaari & Muslim; Tirmidhi declared it saheeh.

[43] Bukhaari & Muslim. The raising of the hands here is narrated in a mutawaatir way from the Messenger (صلى الله علیه وسلم), and the majority of scholars have supported it, including some Hanafis. See the previous footnote under Rukoo`.

[44] ibid.

[45] ibid.

[46] Bukhaari & Ahmad. Ibn al-Qayyim - (رحمه الله) - erred on this point in Zaad al-Ma`aad, rejecting the combination of "O Allaah!" with "and", despite the fact that it is found in Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Musnad Ahmad, in Nasaa'i & Ahmad again via two routes of narration from Abu Hurairah, in Daarimi as a hadeeth of Ibn `Umar, in Baihaqi from Abu Sa`eed al-Khudri, & in Nasaa'i again as a hadeeth of Abu Musa al-Ash`ari.

[47] Bukhaari & Muslim; Tirmidhi declared it saheeh.

[48] Muslim & Abu `Awaanah.

[49] ibid.

[50] jadd: wealth, might, power; i.e., the one who has wealth, sons, might and power in this world will not benefit from them in front of You; his possessions will not save him from You: only righteous deeds will benefit or save anyone.

[51] Muslim & Abu `Awaanah.

[52] Muslim, Abu `Awaanah & Abu Daawood.

[53] Abu Daawood & Nasaa'i with a saheeh isnaad. It is given in Irwaa' (335).

[54] Maalik, Bukhaari & Abu Daawood.

[55] Bukhaari , Muslim & Ahmad. It is given in Irwaa' (no. 307).

[56] Bukhaari & Muslim (first sentence only), Daarimi, Haakim, Shaafi`i & Ahmad. By 'bones' here is meant those of the spinal structure, the vertebrae, as has preceded in the main text.

NOTE: The meaning of this hadeeth is clear and obvious: to be at ease in this standing. As for the usage of this hadeeth by our brothers from the Hijaaz and elsewhere as evidence to justify placing the right hand on the left in this standing, it is far-removed from the meaning of the multitude of narrations of this hadeeth. In fact it is a false argument, since the placing mentioned is not referred to with regard to the first standing in any of the narrations or wordings of the hadeeth; therefore, how can "the bones taking their proper places" mentioned in the hadeeth be interpreted as referring to the right hand taking hold of the left before rukoo`?! This would apply if all the versions of the hadeeth could be construed to mean this, so what about when they imply an obviously different meaning? In fact, this placing of theirs cannot be inferred from the hadeeth at all, since what is meant by "bones" is the bones of the spine, as confirmed by the Sunnah, "... he would stand straight until every vertebra returned to its place."

I, for one, am in no doubt that to place the hands on the chest in this standing is an innovation and a leading astray, for it is not mentioned in any of the ahaadeeth about prayer, despite their large number. Had this practice any foundation, it would have reached us by at least one narration. Further, not one of the Salaf practised it, nor has a single leading scholar of hadeeth mentioned it, as far as I know.

This is not inconsistent with what Shaykh Tuwaijiri has quoted in his article (pp. 18-19) from Imaam Ahmad - (رحمه الله) -, "if one wishes, he may leave his hands by his sides, or, if he wishes, he can place them on his chest", for Imaam Ahmad did not attribute this to the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم), but said it from his own ijtihaad and opinion, and opinion can be erroneous. When authentic evidence establishes the innovatory nature of any practice, such as this one, then the saying of an imaam in its favour does not negate its being an innovation, as Shaykh-ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah - (رحمه الله) - has written. In fact, I see in these words of his, an indication that Imaam Ahmad did not regard the above-mentioned placing as being proved in the Sunnah, for he allowed a choice between practising it and leaving it! - Does the respected shaykh think that the Imaam also allowed a similar choice regarding placing the hands before rukoo`? Thus, it is proved that the placing of the hands on the chest in the standing after rukoo` is not part of the Sunnah. This is a brief discussion of this issue, which could be dealt with in more detail and depth, but due to lack of space here, that is done instead in my Refutation against Shaykh Tuwaijiri.

[57]5757 Ahmad & Tabaraani in Mu`jam al-Kabeer with a saheeh isnaad.


Return to “Worship”