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

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

Published: Friday 15th January, 2016


Then he (صلى الله علیه وسلم) would commence the prayer by saying:

Allaah is the Greatest [1]

He ordered "the man who prayed badly" to do likewise as has been mentioned, and he said to him:

"Verily, the prayer of a person is not complete until he has made an ablution which has included the necessary parts of the body and has then said: 'Allaahu Akbar'." [2]

He would also used to say:

"The key to the prayer is purification, it is entered by takbeer and exited by tasleem." [3]

Also, "he used to raise his voice for the takbeer such that those behind him could hear." [4] But, "when he fell ill Abu Bakr used to raise his voice to convey the takbeer of the Messenger (صلى الله علیه وسلم) to the people." [5]

He would also say:

"When the Imaam says: Allaahu Akbar, then say: Allaahu Akbar." [6]

Raising The Hands

He would raise his hands sometimes with the takbeer, [7] sometimes after the takbeer, [8] and sometimes before it. [9]

"He would raise them with fingers apart [not spaced out, nor together]", [10] and "he would put them level with his shoulders" [11], although occasionally, "he would raise them until they were level with [the tops of] his ears." [12]

To Place The Right Arm On The Left Arm, And The Command For It

"He (صلى الله علیه وسلم) used to place his right arm on his left arm" [13], and he used to say:

"We, the company of prophets, have been commanded to hasten the breaking of the fast, to delay the meal before the fast, and to place our right arms on our left arms during prayer." [14]

Also "he passed by a man who was praying and had placed his left arm on his right, so he pulled them apart and placed the right on the left." [15]

To Place The Hands On The Chest

"He used to place the right arm on the back of his left palm, wrist and forearm" [16], "and he commanded his companions to do likewise" [17], and (sometimes) "he would grasp his left arm with his right." [18]

"He used to place them on his chest." [19]

Also "he used to forbid putting one's hand on the waist during prayer [and he put his hand on his waist (to demonstrate)]." [20] And this is the "silb" which he used to forbid. [21]


[1] Muslim & Ibn Maajah. The hadeeth contains an indication that he did not use to commence it with the words of some people: "I intend to pray etc." which is in fact agreed to be an innovation. But they differ as to whether it is a good or bad innovation, to which we say:

"Indeed all innovations in worship are misguided, from the generality of his statement (صلى الله علیه وسلم),

'... and all innovations are misleading, and every misleading thing is in the Fire.'"

But this is not the place for a detailed discussion of this.

[2] Tabaraani with a saheeh isnaad.

[3] Abu Daawood, Tirmidhi and Haakim who declared it saheeh and Dhahabi agreed. It is given in Irwaa' (no. 301).

Literally, "the takbeer makes it haraam", i.e. the actions which Allaah has made haraam during it, "and the tasleem makes it halaal" i.e. what is allowed outside prayer. Just as the hadeeth proves that the door to prayer is shut, no worshipper being able to open it except with purification, it similarly proves that the prayer cannot be entered except with takbeer, and that it cannot be exited except with tasleem. This is the view of the majority of scholars.

[4] Ahmad & Haakim, who declared it saheeh and Dhahabi agreed.

[5] Muslim & Nasaa'i.

[6] Ahmad & Baihaqi with a saheeh isnaad.

[7] Bukhaari & Nasaa'i.

[8] ibid.

[9] Bukhaari & Abu Daawood.

[10]1010 Abu Daawood, Ibn Khuzaimah (1/62/2, 64/1), Tammaam & Haakim who declared it saheeh and Dhahabi agreed.

[11] Bukhaari & Nasaa'i.

[12] Bukhaari & Abu Daawood.

[13] Muslim & Abu Daawood. It is also given in Irwaa' (352).

[14] Ibn Hibbaan & Diyaa', with a saheeh isnaad.

[15] Ahmad & Abu Daawood, with a saheeh isnaad.

[16] Abu Daawood, Nasaa'i & Ibn Khuzaimah (1/54/2) with a saheeh isnaad, and Ibn Hibbaan declared it saheeh (485).

[17] Maalik, Bukhaari & Abu `Awaanah.

[18] Nasaa'i and Daaraqutni with a saheeh isnaad. In this hadeeth there is evidence that grasping is from the sunnah, and in the previous hadeeth that so is placing, so both are sunnah. As for the combination of holding and placing, which some of the later Hanafis hold to be good, then that is an innovation; its form as they state is to place the right hand on the left, holding the wrist with the little finger and the thumb, and laying flat the remaining three fingers, as described in Ibn `Aabideen's Footnotes on Durr al-Mukhtaar (1/454); so do not be confused by what they say.

[19] Abu Daawood, Ibn Khuzaimah in his saheeh (1/54/2), Ahmad & Abu Shaikh in Taareekh Isbahaan (p. 125); Tirmidhi declared one of its isnaads hasan, and its meaning is found in Al-Muwatta' and Saheeh Al-Bukhaari if considered carefully. I have fully quoted the isnaads of this hadeeth in my book Ahkaam al-Janaa'iz (p. 118)

NOTE: To place them on the chest is what is proved in the Sunnah, and all that is contrary to it is either da`eef or totally baseless. In fact, Imaam Ishaaq ibn Raahawaih acted on this sunnah, as Marwazi said in Masaa'il (p. 222):

"Ishaaq used to pray witr with us _he would raise his hands in qunoot, and make the qunoot before bowing, and place his hands on his breast or just under his breast." Similar is the saying of Qaadi `Iyaad al-Maaliki in Mustahabbaat as-Salaah in his book al-I`laam (p.15, 3rd edition, Rabat): "the right arm is to be placed on the back of the left, on the upper part of the chest." Close to this is what `Abdullaah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal related in his Masaa'il (p. 62): "I saw that when praying, my father placed his hands, one on the other, above the navel." See Appendix 4 .

[20] Bukhaari & Muslim. It is given in Irwaa' (374) as well as the following one.

[21] Abu Daawood, Nasaa'i and others.


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