The objective of this concise pamphlet is to explain how the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to perform his prayers. I would like to present this explanation to every male and female Muslim so that they may strive to take up the Prophet's manner in performing their prayers as a model for them. It was narrated by Al-Bukhari that Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, had said, "Perform your prayers in the same manner you had seen me doing."
Therefore, here is the explanation for the Prophet's manner of prayer:
1. To perform completely the ablution, adopting the method commanded by Allah in the Qur'an:
"O you who believe, when you prepare for prayer, wash your faces and your hands (and arms) to the elbows, rub your heads (with water) and (wash) your feet to the ankles."
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said, "Prayer without ablution is invalid."
2. To turn one's face and whole body towards the Ka'bah, the Holy House at Makkah, intending by heart to perform the prayer which he wants to fulfill, whether it is an obligatory prayer or a supererogatory prayer, the worshipper in all cases, should not pronounce his intention openly, because neither the Prophet nor his companions used to utter the intention for prayer. Thus, pronouncing the intention for prayer in audible voice is a heresy and an illicit action. Whether the individual be an Imam or performs his prayer individually, he should make a sutra i.e. a curtain for his prayer. Directing the face towards the qiblah (the Ka'bah at Makkah) is an imperative condition for every prayer. However, there are few exceptions for this rule explained in authoritative books for whom who wish to refer.
3. To pronounce takbirat al-ihram that is to say Allahu Akbar celebrating by that the greatness of Allah and looking meanwhile, downwards to the place where he will prostrate.
4. To raise one's hands up to the level of the shoulders or near to the lobes of his ears, while pronouncing takbirat al-ihram.
5. To put one's right hand over his left hand and left wrist, and put them both over his chest, as the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to do.
6. It is advisable that the worshipper recite this opening supplication saying:
"Allahumma ba'id bayni wa bayena khatayaya kama boadta bayena al-mashriki wa'l-maghribi, allahumma naqqiniy min khatayaya kama yonaqa ath-thawbo alabyndo min ad-dans. Allahumma igysilniy min khatayaya bilmai wathalgi walbarad."
This supplication means, "O Allah, separate me from my sins as You have separated the east and west. O Allah, cleanse me of my sins as the white rope is cleansed from dirt. O Allah, wash off my sins with water, snow and hail."
Or, may say instead, "Subhanaka allahumma wa bihamdika watabaraka ismoka wata'la jaddoka wala ilaha ghayroka"
Meaning, "Praise and glory be to Allah. Blessed be Your Name, exalted be Your Majesty and Glory. There is no god but You."
Or he may say any other supplications which the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, used to say in his prayers.
It is better to recite these supplications alternately, the first one in the morning prayer fajr, the second in the noon prayer dhuhr, each one by turn, in conformity with what the Prophet used to do.
After reciting the opening supplication, the worshipper says, "Audhuzo billahi min ash-shaytan ar-ragim." Which means, "I seek protection of Allah against the accursed Satan."
Then says, "Bismillahi rahmani raheem." Which means, "In the name of Allah, the All Merciful, the All Compassionate." And recites the Fatihah (The opening surah of the Glorious Qur'an). Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him, said, "Prayer without reciting the Fatihah is invalid." The worshipper should say Amin after reciting the Fatihah loudly if the prayer is said loudly, and whisper it in inaudible prayers.
To be in conformity with the traditions of the Prophet, the worshipper is advised to recite verses from medium size chapters of the Qur'an in the Dhuhr (noon), 'Asr (late afternoon), and Isha' (night) prayers. As for the Fajr (morning) prayer, the worshipper is advised to recite a passage from the long chapters of the Qur'an. He has the choice in Maghrib prayer (evening prayer) either to recite passages from the long or short chapters of the Qur'an.
7. Then, the worshipper bows in ruku' raising his hands up to the level of his shoulders or ears while saying Allahu Akbar (Allah is Great) then bends down, making his head and back on one level and putting his hands with the fingers spread on his knees. The worshipper should feel serenity and tranquillity while bowing, he should say thrice at least, "Subhana rabbi al-a'dhim." Which means, "Glory be to my Lord, the Almighty."
It is advisable to say while bowing in addition to that, "Subhanak allahumma rabbana wa bihamdika, allahumma ighfirli." Which meansm "Glory be to Thee, O Allah, and I praise Thee, forgive me my sins."
8. To raise one's head up from bowing, raising one's hands to the level of his shoulders or ears, saying, in case of being Imam or praying alone, "Sami' allahuliman hamidah." Which means, "Allah listens to him who praises Him." While resuming the standing position, he should say, "Rabbana walaka al-hamdu hamdan kathira'n tayyiban mubarakan fihi mil'a samawati wa mila al-ardhi wa mil'a ma baynahuma wa mil'a ma shita min shiyin ba'ad." This supplication means, "Our Lord, praise be for You Alone, praises plentiful and blessed as to fill the heavens, the earth, what in between, and fill that which will please You besides them."
But if the worshipper is a follower, and led in his prayer by the Imam he should say when rising up, "Rabbana wa lak al-hamd ...", etc. It is advisable for the Imam, the follower, or who prays alone to add also, "You Allah who deserve all praises and all glory, your praising is the best and most true of whatever Your servant can say, we all are Your servants, Our Lord, no one can ever deprive aught of what You have bestowed and no one can ever give aught of what You have deprived."
The worshipper is advised to put his hands on his chest, as he had done before he bowed. Both Wa'il ibn Hajjar and Sahl ibn Sai'd reported that this was the manner of the Prophet when he used to raise his head up after bowing.
9. To prostrate saying Allahu Akbar
He should touch the ground with his knees before touching it with his hands, if that is possible to him. If not, he is permitted to touch the ground by his hand before his knees. His fingers and toes should be directed towards the qiblah Makkah, and his hands should be stretched, and the fingers close together and not separated. In prostration, the worshipper should use these seven organs; the forehead, the nose, both hands, both knees and the internal parts of the toes. These seven organs should touch the ground.
Then the worshipper should say thrice or more, "Subhana rabbi al-A'la." Which means, "Glorified is my Lord, the Exalted." It is advisable to say, "Subhanaka allahuma rabbana wa bi hamdika, allahuma ighfir li." This means, "Glory be to You, Our Lord, and I praise You. Our Lord, forgive me my sins." It is recommendable for the worshipper to exceed more and more in supplications and ask for more from his Lord, because the Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said, "As for bowing (ruku') you should glorify your Lord during performing it, as for prostration, you should do your best to supplicate and ask for more from Him, because your supplications during prostration are more worthy to be accepted." The worshipper should ask his Lord for prosperity both in this worldly life and in the Hereafter.
Whether it is an obligatory prayer or an optional prayer, the worshipper, while prostrating, should neither bring his hands close to his sides, nor stick his abdomen to his thighs, or his thighs to his legs. The worshipper's arms should be raised up from the ground because the Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be on him, prohibited putting the arms and stretching them on the ground, ordering that "adjust your prostration, keep straight in it, and stretch not your hands on the ground as dogs do."
To be continue...