Solutions for your salaah


here are some nagging issues about salaat (prayers) which many people just don’t get down to ask about, or are confused about after all these years. Here is a list of such common questions, and their answers, according to the Hanafi Madhab (school of thought), to aid you in correctly fulfilling this important pillar of Islam.


1.Can I use a tissue during salaat if my nose runs?

Yes, you can do so, provided that you fear that the matter from your nose will run down your mouth and soil your clothes, and maybe even the carpets. In this case, swiftly retrieve the tissue from your pocket with one fluid movement, and clean your nose as softly as possible.

The same ruling would apply to a mobile phone that rings in your pocket during salaat. Without fumbling, simply switch it off in your pocket in one fluid movement. 


2.Many times, people pass in front of me whilst I’m performing salaat in the Masjid. Does my salaat break due to this?

No, it does not break at all. However, doing so is a major sin. Care should be taken that one should not perform salaat at a place where people normally enter and exit the Masjid. If there is no other place to perform salaat, place a sutrah (barrier) like a chair or a desk which should be at least an arm’s length or 46 cms long, in front of you.


3.I was invited to a wedding reception and I applied nail polish. When I returned home, I performed wudhu (ablution) and salaat without removing it. Is my salaat valid?

No, your salaat is not valid. Nail-polish is generally non-porous (except for a certain type which the manufacturers claim to be porous), and even if a hair’s breadth space is not washed during wudhu, your salaat is not valid. The same applies to substances such as oil paint and super glue.


4.I have a shop in a busy part of the city. When I reach the Masjid for Zuhr or Asr, I normally catch the Imam only in the fourth rakaat (unit). How do I complete my missed rakaats?

In this instance, you came late for three rakaats. After the Imam makes one salaam, stand up to complete them in this manner: Stand up, recite thana, Surah Fatihah and some portion of the Qur’an. This is your first rakaat. After this, do your ruku and two sajdahs, and sit in tashahhud. Then stand up for your second rakaat. In this rakaat, recite also Surah Fatihah, and some portion of the Qur’an, then complete the entire rakaat. When you wake up for your third missed rakaat, it is sunnat (not compulsory) to recite Surah Fatihah, or you could remain silent. Thereafter, sit for the final tashahhud and complete your salaat as usual.   


5.It has become a fashion nowadays for people to rush in for Jumu’ah when the Arabic khutbah (sermon) starts, and leave immediately after the two rakaats of Jumu’ah Salaat without making any sunnats. Is this negligence allowed?

It is indeed sad that Muslims have become so careless about the main salaat of the week. Before the Arabic khutbah, there are four rakaats Sunnatul Mu’akkadah – a type of sunnat which is very close to wajib (mandatory) in rank, and which our Master, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) hardly missed. Listening to the Arabic khutbah is also wajib, so no one should fall asleep whilst it is being delivered. After the two rakaats fardh with the Imam, there are four rakaats and then two rakaats – both Sunnatul Mu’akkadah, which can be followed up by two rakaats of nafl (optional). At most Masjids, the Imam completes his salaat by about 1:05 or 1:10, and people have ample time before 2:00 PM to perform the Sunnnats thereafter, have lunch and report back for work. Thus, there is no excuse at all for neglecting these sunnnats of Jumu’ah.         


6.Sometimes I catch the Imam in the ruku’ (genuflexion) of the first rakaat. Is my salaat still complete, or should I make up for the one rakaat?

Your salaat is complete – only if you managed to make a proper takbeer, stand for at least one Subhanallah and catch the Imam in ruku’ for the duration of at least one Subhana Rabbiyal ‘Azeem. However, if you ran to catch up with the Imam, made a hurried takbeer, you hardly stood at ease, and then went in ruku‘ just as the Imam was standing up, you will have to make up for that rakaat. People should never rush to join the Imam. Rather, walk at ease, and join the Imam in whichever posture he is, with due dignity and reverence.


7.During my recent holiday break to Durban, I missed a few salaats due to the excitement at the Souk. When I got back home, I realised my error and decided to make Qada (expiation). How many rakaats should I perform?

Any salaat missed whilst you are regarded as a Musaafir (having travelled more that 77.8 kms and stayed less than 15 days at that particular destination), when they are made up, even at home, then it will not be the full number of fardh rakaats. It will be the number of rakaats normally made as a Musaafir. Similarly, if you missed some prayers at home, and decided to make up for it whilst travelling, then it will be the full number of fardh rakaats. Please note that it is allowed to give adhan and iqamah for qada salaat as well, but the salaat will still be valid if these are omitted. 

It must be noted that Qadha can be performed at all times of the day, except the forbidden times. If one had only missed one to five salaats of the day, then he should make up for it before the next stipulated fardh salaat and when one does so, it should be in the order that it was missed. But if six and above were lost, sequence is not necessary and it can be made at any time.  


8.When standing behind the Imam in salaat, should I also recite Qira’at?

No. You don’t need to recite any portion of the Qur’an behind the Imam whilst standing. However, if for some reason you are making your fardh salaat individually at home, you have to recite Surah Fatihah and a portion of the Qur’an in all the rakaats – similar to sunnat and nafl prayers.


9.I normally carry a compass whilst on journey, but on this particular journey, my child broke it. How was I supposed to determine the direction of the Qiblah (direction of the Ka’bah in Makkah)?

First, ask some people of the area if they know. If there are no such people around, try to determine the direction using the position of the sun in sky. If one is unable to do this due to it being cloudy or dark, ponder deeply as to the most probable direction and perform salaat in this direction. If after performing the salaat, one finds out that it was the wrong direction, one’s salaat will still be valid.  

10.Is the salaat of women exactly like that of men according to the Hanafis? Many ladies are confused on this issue.

No. Due to the fact that women are to be concealed, their salaat is also a manifestation of modesty. Thus, they will not make the first takbeer by fully lifting their arms to their ears. Rather, they will only lift their hands up to shoulder level beneath their burqa. They will also not fold their hands beneath the naval, but place them on their chest; nor will they keep their feet apart whilst standing. In ruku and sajdah, they will incline their bodies closer to themselves and in sajdah and qa’dah, they will sit on their posterior, not on their legs. Men may recite aloud in salaat, even during their nafl salaat at night if they so wish, but women are never allowed to recite loudly under any circumstance.

11.Due to sleeping late, I sometimes wake up a few minutes late for Fajr. The sun is rising and I hurriedly perform my Fajr before rushing to work. Someone told me that this is this not allowed?

Yes. You were informed correctly. No salaat can be performed during the forbidden times: During sunrise (about 15 mins), at midday (about 10 minutes) and before sunset when the sun loses its heat and becomes yellowish. If the sun rises whilst performing Fajr, then your salaat will have to be repeated, but if the sun sets whilst performing Asr of that day, it will be valid. Please also note that no qada, or nafl salaat can be made from after Fajr to sunrise, but qada salaat can be made after ‘Asr until just before the sun turns yellow – about 40 minutes before sunset itself.  


12.I’m a female on medication which causes severe drowsiness. As such, I perform salaat at home before adhan is given so that I have more time to rest. Is this allowed?

Yes. It is allowed, provided the time of salaat has set in. For example, the time for Zuhr sets in at 12:20 PM, but adhan is only given at 1:00 PM at the local Masjid. You can perform your salaat at 12:20 PM.  

13.In our local Masjid, I notice that some people, when coming up from ruku, only stand halfway then go straight in to sajdah. Likewise, they do not sit up fully during the two sajdahs. What is the position of their salaat?

You are a very observant person. The above are serious errors and should be avoided at all costs. Standing up straight after ruku for the duration of one tasbeeh is called Qaumah, and to sit properly between the two sajdahs, is called Jalsah. If Qaumah, is not observed, then a sajdah sahw (remedial prostration) will have to be made before ending the salaat. The salaat will have to be repeated if sajdah sahw was not made.  The same applies to the Jalsah.


14.Particularly in summer, many people attend prayers with T-shirts which lifts up in sajdah, revealing their behinds. Also, many actually lift their legs off the ground during sajdah. Are these acts allowed in salaat?

Lifting both the feet off the ground during the sajdah for the duration of even one Tasbeeh, invalidates the salaat immediately. Thus, people should be aware of the seriousness of this practice. Now regarding those whose T-shirts lift up during sajdah, revealing their backs: if the T-shirt lifted due to carelessness and negligence, then the salaat will break immediately if part of the ‘awrah (compulsory part to be covered) was revealed. However, if it lifted by mistake, by a gust of wind for example, then if quarter of a limb or less was revealed for the duration of three tasbeehs or more, the salaat will break. But if it was revealed for less than three tasbeehs, the salaat will not break. If more than a quarter of a limb was revealed for even a second, the salaat will break immediately. Most of the time, at least half of the back which is beneath the naval area is exposed, and sometimes even part of the bum shows. This invalidates the salaat immediately.


15.Due to negligence, I sometimes do not observe sequence in the surats in my salaat i.e. I sometimes recite Surah Katuthar in the first rakaat, then Surah Ma’oon in the second rakaat. Is this acceptable?

Although not observing sequence in the Qur’an during salaat is makrooh-e-tahrimi (severely reprehensible), the salaat will be valid. No sajdah sahw is necessary.


16.At times, I’m on a journey and settled comfortably in my hotel room. Can I perform full salaat, instead of Qasr (concessionary prayer)?

No. It is compulsory to perform Qasr and accept the concession. However, if you are in a Masjid, you can perform the full salaat, including sunnats and nafl. 


17.I find it sometimes very difficult to remember what rakaat I am in, especially when I’m tired. How do I work this out?

If you normally don’t forget the amount of rakaats, then rather start the salaat afresh. However, if you have this problem constantly, then ponder deeply as to which rakaat you are in and complete the salaat as normal, without any sajdah sahw. But if you can not make up your mind, then opt for the lesser number, sit in tashahhud after every rakaat, and do a sajdah sahw at the end.


And our Creator knows best 

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