Question: How should I pray tasbeeh salat?
From: Sri Lanka
It is recommended to pray Salat al-Tasbih once a day; however, if one is unable then one should perform it once every Friday, once a month, once a year, or at least once in a lifetime. Qadi Husayn, Imam al-Baghawi, Imam al-Mutawalli, and Imam al-Ruyani were some of the earlier imams that affirmed its recommended nature (al-Majmu 3:546). The later Shafi’is held to this view despite the fact that Imam al-Nawawi in al-Majmu’ and al-Tahqiq had some reservations about the prayer (Nihayat al-Muhtaj 2:124).
Salat al-Tasbih consists of four rak’ats, and one can either pray all four with one closing salam or separate the four rak’ats with two closing salams. Imam Al-Ghazali mentions in al-Ihya that it is better to perform the prayer with one closing salam if offering the prayer during the day, but if one is offering the prayer at night it is better to perform it with two closing salams (ibid 2:123).
In his work al-Kalim al-Tayyib wa al-’Amal al-Salih, Imam al-Suyuti describes the method of how Salat al-Tasbih is performed:
Salat al-Tasbih consists of four rak’ats wherein surahs: al-Takathur, al-‘Asr, al-Kafirun, and al-Ikhlas are recited. After reciting a surah, one recites سبحان الله والحمدلله ولا اله الا الله والله أكبر (Subhan Allah wal Hamdulillah wa La ilaha illa Allahu wallahu Akbar) fifteen times whilst standing, and ten times in ruku’ (bowing), ‘itidal (standing after bowing), the two prostrations, sitting between two prostrations, the brief repose after completing the prostrations (jalsat al-istirahah), and sitting for the tashahhud. One may also add ولا حول ولا قوة الا بالله (wa La Hawla wa La Quwwata illa Billah) to the above supplication.(qtd. in Shabramillisi 2:123)
In other words, one opens the prayer by intending Salat al-Tasbih, and after one recites Fatiha and a surah–Takathur in the 1st rak’at, ‘Asr in the 2nd, Kafirun in the 3rd, and Ikhlas in the 4th–one recites the above tasbih silently 15 times. Thereafter, one recites the same tasbih but only ten times in ruku’, standing after ruku’ (‘itidal), the two prostrations, sitting between the two prostrations, in the brief repose after prostrating, and in the tashahhud.
It is valid in our school to separate the four rak’ats and pray one set at night and the remaining set the following day. In such instance, the prayer will be counted as Salat al-Tasbih, even if there is a long separation between the two sets of rak’ats (Bughyat al-Mustarshidin 62).
It also should be noted that Salat al-Tasbih is a wholly supererogatory prayer–a prayer without a specific reason or allocated time–thus it severely disliked to offer the prayer in the forbidden times.