There are seven obligations in the Namaaz which should be performed correctly lest the prayer is considered invalid. Please refer to the important topic “Speech and Action during Namaaz” before proceeding further. These obligations are enlisted below:
To take the Niyyat for the prayer that is to be offered.
To say Takbeerat ul-ehraam after taking the Niyyat . He who has omitted it should say the prayer afresh.
To engage your vision at the place of prostration.
To recite Surat ul-Faateha in every raka'at.
To perform bowing.
To perform prostration.
To sit for the tashahhud and tasleem (the ending of prayer).
Rasoolullaah (SAWS) has said: Namaaz is based on four foundations. The first is to perform wuzu properly; the second is the bowing (ruku') ; the third is the prostration (sujood) ; and the fourth is humility (khushu') . When Rasoolullaah (SAWS) was asked about the khushu', He replied, ‘It is the humility in the prayer with which a servant should approach His Allaah with all his heart and attention.'
Rasoolullaah (SAWS) added to His explanation of khushu' that, ‘When you perfect in ruku', in sujood, and all other foundations of prayer, then the prayer ascends to the Heaven illuminated by Light, and the gates of the Heaven are open for it. Such a prayer then says, “You have preserved me carefully, so may Allaah preserve you.”' The angels will say, “The blessings of Allaah be upon you who worships in this manner.” But if the prayer is not completed in its four foundations, it ascends and finds itself in darkness, and the gates of the Heaven are closed and barred against it. Such a prayer then calls out, “You (the worshipper) have ruined me; may Allaah ruin you.” And then such a prayer will be thrown back on the face of the worshipper.
The main features of the Namaaz are discussed in the order they are performed. You should follow the same order and perform according to their particular instructions. The exclusive features of other Namaaz are discussed elsewhere with the description of that Namaaz. These features apply to all the types of Namaaz:
After performing the wuzu and wearing neat, clean and pure clothes one should unfold his/her masalla (the cloth on which Namaaz is to be offered) and stand in the direction of Qiblah. If you are in the mosque then you should obey the decorum and respect of the mosque.
You should stand erect on the masalla facing the Qiblah. Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (AS) has said that Rasoolullaah (SAWS) has prohibited the worshippers to stand with their legs apart. He said that this was the practice of Jews. The best way to stand is to put both the feet together unless there is a valid cause against doing so. If such attire is difficult to maintain then you can separate your feet by a distance of a span of a hand or less. You should not leave a large distance between your feet, the way the commonalty do.
Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (AS) said that you should not put your weight alternatively on one leg and on the other or put your foot forward or backward during prayer. He further added that, ‘When you stand up to pray; do not put your right hand above the left on the abdomen, or vice versa. Surely, this is the style in which ahl-e-kitaab (The People of the Book) viz. Jews and Christians express their self-abasement to their superiors. For it is the best that while praying you should not be distracted by anything else.'
After this you should proceed to take the niyyat (intention) of the namaaz.
Taking the Niyyat:
Rasoolullaah (SAWS) has said: “Verily, actions shall be judged with reference to their intentions, and man is entitled to be rewarded only for that which he intends.” Taking the niyyat (intention) is one of the obligations of prayer.
You should take the niyyat of the prayer you intend to offer. A typical niyyat of prayer comprises of three things; the first is the type of prayer, that is, whether obligatory (faraz) or supererogatory (sunnat and naafelat) prayer; the second is the name (time) of the prayer; and the third is the number of rak'ats that are to be performed. The format of the niyyat is given below with the names of the prayer and the number of rak'ats to be offered at a particular time.
For an example; if you intend to offer two rak'at obligatory (faraz) prayer of the dawn (fajr) , then the niyyat of this prayer would be as under:
“I am offering two rak'ats of obligatory prayer (faraz) of dawn (fajr) for the sake of Allaah the Almighty, the Powerful, in the time facing the Holy Ka'bah, following the Imaam (entrusted with imaam) . Allaah is the greatest.”
Look at the above niyyat carefully.
Firstly, the word “farza” in the niyyat denotes the type of prayer. If you want to offer the sunnat or naafelat prayers, instead of “farza”, you have to say “sunnata” or “naafelata”.
Secondly, the word “rak'atayne” denotes the number of rak'ats to be performed. Here this word means ‘two rak'ats'. Different words are used for different number of rak'ats, which are given below.
Thirdly, the word “fajre” denotes the name of the prayer. Instead of “fajre” you should use the names of other prayer if you intend to offer in its particular time. For the noon & afternoon prayer you should use the word, “zohre wal 'asre”; for the sunset & the last prayer you should say, “maghribe wal 'ishaail aakherate”. For the other prayers, the name of that particular prayer is inserted in the niyyat. For example; for the prayer of tatawwa' you should use the word “tatawwa'e”; for the funeral prayer you should say “janaazate” in the niyyat.
Mumineen should add the word “mo'tamman bil Imaam” in the niyyat whenever the prayer is offered in congregation (the prayer of imaamat) behind the Imaam.
“Usalli farza salaatil Zohre arba'a rak'aatin lillahe azza wa jalla adaa'an mustaqbelal ka'batil haraame mo'tamman bil Imaam Allaaho Akbar.”
Muminaat should say the word, "mustaqbelatal" instead of mustaqbelal and “mo'tammatan bil Imaam” in the niyyat whenever the prayer is offered in congregation (the prayer of imaamat) behind the Imaam. If one is offring namaaz alone then there is no need to add “mo'tammatan bil Imaam”.
“Usalli farza salaatil Zohre arba'a rak'aatin lillahe azza wa jalla adaa'an mustaqbelatal ka'batil haraame mo'tammatan bil Imaam Allaaho Akbar.”
This rule should be followed in the niyyat of every Farz namaaz whenever it is offered behind a person of Razaa means Imaam
No. of Rak'ats
The word to be used in the niyyat
Name (time) of the Namaaz
Type of Namaaz
The number in the columns denotes the number of Rak'ats
The namaaz of Shafa' has 2 rak'at, Watar has 1, Juloos has 2, and Tatawwa' has 4 rak'ats respectively.
While taking the niyyat, both the hands are to be held together near the chest, as shown in the figure, such that your sight is centered at the place of prostration (sajdah) . After taking the niyyat proceed to the next step.
At the end of reciting the niyyat, you have to say “Allaaho Akbar” by raising your hands at the level of your ears. This act is called as “Takbeerat ul-Ehraam”.
Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (AS) has said: ‘The beginning of the prayer is Takbeerat ul-ehraam; he who has omitted it should say it again.' “The takbeer is sanctification of the prayer and so after saying Takbeerat ul-ehraam all the actions are forbidden; and tasleem is the sending of salutations at the end of prayer after which all the actions are permitted.”
Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (AS) has said: ‘When you commence the prayer, raise the palms of your hands to the level of ears (shown in the figure), but do not raise them beyond the ears, then leave them to extend downwards and say Allaaho Akbar. ' He also said that, “Give full attention to your prayer after you have uttered Takbeerat ul-ehraam, for if you do so, Allaah will turn towards you. But if you turn your attention away from prayers, Allaah will turn away from you.” In proportion to the attention of the worshipper, only half or a third or fourth or sixth part of the prayer reaches Allaah. Allaah does not bestow any favour on an inattentive mind.
Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (AS) has said: ‘When you stand up to pray, do not put your right hand above the left hand or vice versa and rest both the hands on the abdomen; for this is the way in which the commonalty (non-Isma'ilis) express their humbleness to their superiors or elders. Let your both the hands hang at your sides. For it is best that during prayer you should not be distracted by anything else.' Women should rest their left hand over the right hand on their chest.
Imaam Mohammad Ul-Baaqir (AS) has said: “The reward of prayer is limited or restricted to that part of prayer on which you concentrate fully. Accordingly when your attention is diverted in the prayer, the entire prayer is folded and thrown back on your face.”
Maulaana Ali (AS) was like an unshakable structure or an immovable pillar when he commenced his prayer. Sometimes when he offered ruku' or sujood, birds would sit on his back mistaking his back as a part of land. Imaam (AS), when they were engrossed in the prayer, their faces changed colour, sometimes pallid and sometimes flushed with blood, as if they were addressing someone visible to them.
No one was able to offer prayer, the way Rasoolullaah (SAWS) did, except Maulaana Ali (AS) and Imaam Ali Zayn-ul-Abedin (AS).
Recitation of the Surah (Qeraat):
Rasoolullaah (SAWS) and Ahl-ul-Bayt (AS) used to recite
“Bismillaah” audibly before reciting Surat ul-Faateha and before reciting any other Surah in each rak'at of prayer in which the surah are recited loudly. They used to recite “Bismillaah” inaudibly in the beginning of both the surah where they are recited silently.
The Imaam (AS) has said: “Begin each rak'at of the prayer with the Bismillah and then recite Surat ul-Faateha . And in the first two rak'ats of every obligatory prayer recite the surah of Qur'an after Surat ul-Faateha. Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (AS) said: ‘Dissimulation ( Taqiya) is my religion and the religion of my fathers, except in three things: the drinking of intoxicants; the rubbing of water over the foot covering (socks or shoes) in ablution; and avoiding the utterance of the Bismillah audibly.'
Rasoolullaah (SAWS) has said: “My Ummat (community) will never falter from the right path and the excellent and beautiful Shari'at (law) of their religion so long as they do not walk over upon the Qiblah or turn away while praying, or make a vociferous noise in uttering “ameen” after reciting Surat ul-Faateha. To recite ameen after Surat ul-Faateha is the practice of “nasrani” (Christians).
In the obligatory prayer (faraz) of fajr, maghrib and ‘ishaail aakherat, the qeraat (recitation of Qur'anic Surahs) is recited loudly in their first two rak'ats while in the zohr and ‘asr, qeraat is recited silently. In all other prayers of sunnat and naafelat, the qeraat is recited silently. You should recite Surat ul-Faateha silently in the remaining rak'at of all obligatory prayers.
In the faraz (obligatory prayers) of fajr, zohr, ‘asr, maghrib and ‘ishaail aakherat, you should recite the surah in the descending order along with the Surat ul Faateha.
For example: If you have recited Surat un-Nasr ( Iza jaa'a nasrullaahe ) with the Surat ul-Faateha in the first rak'at, then you should recite Surat ul-Lahab ( Tabbat yada ) or Surat ul-Ikhlaas ( Qul howallaaho ahad ) or Surat ul-Falaq ( Qul a'oozo berabbil falaq ) or Surat un-Naas ( Qul a'oozo berabbin naas ) with Surat ul-Faateha in the second rak'at.
In the sunnat and naafelat prayers you should recite the surah in the ascending order along with the Surat ul-Fateha.
For example: If you have recited Surat un-Naas with Surat ul-Faateha in the first rak'at then you should recite Surat ul-Falaq with Surat ul-Faateha in the second rak'at. If the prayer is of six rak'ats, then you should recite till Surat ul-Kaaferun ( Qul yaa ayyohal kaaferoon ) in the ascending order. You should always begin the second surah with Bismillah after the Surat ul-Faateha in every rak'at. It is meritorious for a man praying alone to prolong his prayer, always subject to his capacity to do so.
Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (AS) has said: ‘If a man begins reciting a particular surah of the Qur'an, he is entitled to drop it and begin another if he so wishes, so long as he has not completed the recitation of one half of it.' The one exception to this is in the Surat ul-Ikhlaas, for this cannot be dropped. Rasoolullaah (SAWS) forbade the recitation of less than one whole surah in the faraz (mandatory) prayers. He also forbade the recitation of surah in parts in the faraz prayers.
Maulaana Ali (AS) said: ‘You should utter the words of surah distinctly and clearly so that let your hearts get moved by its charming eloquence while reciting and you should not scatter them about as if they were discarded dates. You should not recite them in the manner of reciting poetry. You should never be anxious for a surah to end.'
If you intentionally forget to recite Surat ul-Faateha in any rak'at of the prayer then you should repeat the prayer, but if you overlook the recitation unintentionally then you need not repeat the prayer again. The fact is that no one can fulfill his religious obligations when he chooses deliberately to discard the practice ( sunnat ) of Rasoolullaah (SAWS). After you have completed reciting the qeraat, then you should proceed to the next step of bowing.
Performing the Ruku' (Bowing):
After you have completed the recitation, then you should raise your hands at the level of your ears, in the similar way as you do in saying Takbeerat ul-ehraam, and say “Allaaho Akbar” audibly and bend for the ruku' (bowing). It is related that, Rasoolullaah (SAWS) used to raise his hands up to his ears while uttering the Takbeerat ul-ehraam, and while saying takbeerah in bending for the ruku', and while saying takbeerah in raising himself after the ruku'.
Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (AS) said: ‘When you are performing the posture of bowing, keep the palms of your hands on the knees and hold it tightly and keep your back level, and do not raise your head upwards or bend it downwards. When Rasoolullaah (SAWS) bowed for his ruku', if water was to be spilt on his back, it would have stood still, so straight was the level of his back.' ‘When you bow for your ruku', keep your fingers open on your knees and allow them to reach around the knees to the fullest extent. Refer to the figure. You should keep your vision engaged at the place of prostration will bowing.
Women should keep their palms slightly above the knees while bowing and they should not spread their fingers on the knees. They should not keep their elbows protruding out to their sides to a greater extent. They should keep their heads a little higher than their back and should not bend their heads to a greater extent. x
While bowing your head in the ruku', you should recite the following du'aa three times:
“Most magnificent and Great is my Allaah, whom I am praising.”
After reciting the above du'aa three times, you should lift up your head from the ruku' and raise your hands up to the level of your ears in the similar way as you do while going in the ruku'. While performing this act you should recite the following verse:
After reciting both the verses, you should say “Allaaho Akbar” (Allaah is the greatest) aloud and perform sajdah (prostration).
Performing the Sajdah (Prostration):
After saying “Allaaho Akbar”, you should bow down to prostrate. Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (AS) has said: ‘When you bow down to prostrate yourself, put your hands a little earlier than your knees, while women should put her knees first followed by the hands.'
Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (AS) has said: “When you perform sajdah (prostration), let your palms be extended on the ground and the ends of your fingers be parallel to your ears, just as they would be when you raise them for the takbeerah. Keep your elbows upwards, above the ground, and do not put your forearms on the ground. Set your tip of nose and forehead on the ground; put your hands out of your sleeves and place them squarely on the ground or on the masalla. Do not perform the prostration so that only the edge of your topi touches the ground. Move your topi slightly upwards and lay your forehead bare on the ground or masalla; for your forehead should come in contact with the ground or masalla at least to the extent of a dirham.
Women should keep their knees first and then the hands on the ground while bowing down to perform the prostration. They should neither perform prostration on the edge of their dupatta nor should they cover up their forehead with hairs or dupatta or maqnaa .
In the state of prostration, you should rest your both feet on the ground or masalla . You should not raise your feet while performing prostration. While in the state of prostration you should recite the following tasbeeh three times:
Namaazi should not raise his/her feet or widen the arms while performing Prostration
A Prostration with Laziness having wrong posture of hamds and legs
After reciting the verse you should raise yourself from the prostration and say “Allaaho Akbar” and sit briefly. While sitting, you should bend both the legs and rest your right leg on the left leg, in such a way that the sole of both the feet is visible on your right side. Great toe of the right leg should bear the weight of your right foot. You should keep your palms open on your thighs. You should not sit on your both the legs, in such a way that both the soles of your feet are visible from behind. Women should not support the weight of their right foot on its great toe, but they should rest their right foot on the ground.
While sitting, you should recite the following du'aa once:
“Allaahummagh firli warhamni wajburni wa rafa'ni.”
“O Allaah, forgive me; have mercy on me; guide me and give me prosperity.”
After reciting this verse, you should say “Allaaho Akbar” and again perform the second prostration and recite the tasbeeh three times in the prostration in the same way as mentioned above.
If you have performed all the above mentioned steps in their order, till the second prostration, then you are said to have completed ‘one full rak'at.'
Proceeding to the second rak'at:
While rising from the second prostration you should say “Allaaho Akbar” and stand up for the second rak'at. Men should lift their knees first while standing up for the second rak'at. Women should lift their hands first from the ground.
Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (AS) has said: ‘When you intend to rise from your prostration, do not close your fists, that is, do not close and lean on them in the act of rising. But open them and then get up onto your feet, bearing your weight on your legs and not on your hands.'
After you stand up for the second rak'at; recite the following du'aa:
“Allaahumma inni behauleka wa quwwateka aqoomo wa aq'odo.”
“O Allaah, I indeed with Your help and strength (power) bestowed by You that I stand up and sit down.”
You should offer the prayer in the same procedure in the remaining rak'ats for which the niyyat has been taken.
Tashahhud is also a part of the rak'at. It is of two types viz. small and big tashahhud . The small one is recited in the faraz prayer while sitting after the second prostration of the second rak'at. The exception is the faraz of fajr prayer in which the big tashahhud is recited at the end of the second rak'at. The big tashahhud is recited at the end of the last rak'at of each faraz prayer and also at the end of every two rak'ats of sunnat and naafelat prayers. The posture of sitting in the tashahhud is same as that of sitting between the two prostrations.
Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (AS) has said: ‘When you have completed your tashahhud (big), send salutations, turning to your right and to your left.' The du'aa of both these tashahhud will be dealt in detail in the topic ‘The different Supplication of Prayer.'