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Step-by-Step Prayer Guide For Muslim Women

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by MuslimaCoaching.com
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Bismi Llahir Rahmanir Rahim

by Naielah Ackbarali

Allah Most High says: “Successful indeed are the believers: those who humble themselves in prayer.” [Surat al-Mu’minun, v. 1-2]

The word humble (khushu’) means to bring about a state of perfect concentration, such that one’s focus is only on remembering Allah Most High alone.

For the believing woman, she approaches the prayer with a heart that is alive and filled with love for her Lord. Deep down, she longs for a strong connection with her Creator, and a way to be with Him continuously.

The prayer is her purpose, her salvation, her hope, and her comfort in this world. It is special and sacred to her. Thus, she strives to perfect it and perform it to the best of her ability.

This step-by-step guide was created to help Muslim sisters learn how to perform the actions of the prayer in a correct manner, and in a way that is pleasing to their Lord inshaAllah. It is based on the rulings of the Hanafi madhhab.

Before Beginning the Prayer:

  • Remove any actual filth from one’s clothes, body and place of prayer, especially if it exceeds the excused amount. Actual filth consists of blood, vomit, pus, human feces or urine, wine/alcohol and so forth. The excusable amount is equal to 5 cm in diameter for liquid filth and 5 grams in weight for solid filth.
  • Perform the ritual ablution (wudu). For a step-by-step guide for ablution, click HERE.
  • Ensure that one’s body is covered properly and one is not wearing sheer clothing that exposes the hair or the color of the skin. A woman must cover her entire body except for the face, hands, and feet in the prayer. However, it is superior to cover the feet due to the difference of opinion amongst the scholars.
  • Ensure that the relevant prayer time has entered, whether it be Fajr, Zhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, or Isha.
  • Face the qibla.
  • Make the intention for the specific prayer that one is praying. One must intend either Fajr, Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha or Witr for the obligatory and necessary prayers. For the sunna or nafl, one can intend to perform a sunna prayer without specifying which sunna it is. If one is praying behind an imam, then one must also intend to follow the imam for a group prayer.
  • Regardless of the type of prayer, one does not need to intend the amount of cycles (raka’at).

Step 1: Stand.

Stand with one’s feet close together, raising one’s hands to the level of the shoulders, palms facing the qibla, fingers naturally outspread, with one’s wrists and forearms covered.

Step 2: Pronounce the opening takbir.

Say ‘Allahu Akbar’ (الله أكبَر) with a lowered voice. One should pronounce the opening takbir loud enough such that one can hear oneself. This is a condition for all prayers, and it also applies to one’s recitation of the Qur’an and reciting the tashahud in each sitting.

The first takbir commences the prayer and all actions foreign to the prayer – like drinking and eating – are prohibited until one finishes praying.

For the remainder of the prayer, one does not raise one’s hands when pronouncing the takbir except for the qunut of the Witr prayer and the extra takbirat of the Eid prayer.

Step 3: Place one’s hands on the chest.

Place one’s right palm on top of the left hand without clasping it, resting both of them on top of the chest, with one’s gaze focused on the place of prostration. Remain in this position for Steps 4 to 9.

Step 4: Say the opening du’a.

Say the opening supplication with a lowered voice. This applies to the follower too, providing that the imam has not started to recite.

سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وبِحَمْدِكَ وتَبَارَكَ اسْمُكَ وتَعَالَى جَدُّكَ ولا إِلَهَ غَيْرُكَ

Subḥānakal-lahumma wa biḥamdika wa tabārakas-muka wa taʿālā jadduka wa lā ilaha ghayruka

Glory to You, Oʾ Allah, with Your praise.  Blessed is Your name, Exalted is Your Honor. There is no deity besides You.

Step 5: Seek refuge in Allah Most High.

Say the ta’wwudh with a lowered voice. If one is a follower behind the imam, remain silent.

أَعُوذُ بِاللهِ مِن الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيْم

Aʿūdhu biLlahi minash-shayṭānir-rajīm

I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed devil.

Step 6: Start with Allah’s name.

Say the basmala with a lowered voice. If one is a follower behind the imam, remain silent.

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيْم

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

In the name of God, The Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Step 7: Recite Surat al-Fatiha.

Recite all verses of Surat al-Fatiha. If one is a follower behind the imam, remain silent and listen attentively.

(Note: This is different from the Shafii madhhab, which requires a person to recite Surat al-Fatiha in all cycles (raka’at) even if one is praying behind the imam.)

Step 8: Say Ameen afterwards.

Upon finishing Surat al-Fatiha, say ‘Ameen’ (آمِين) to oneself in a lowered voice. This applies to the follower too.

Step 9: Recite another chapter (sura) or verses (ayat).

Recite at least one small chapter (sura) of the Qur’an or a long verse that is the equivalent of a short chapter. If one is a follower behind the imam, remain silent and listen attentively.

Examples of short chapters (sura) are: Surat al-Ikhlas, Surat al-Falaq, or Surat al-Nas.

Examples of long verses are: Ayat al-Kursi.

Step 10: Say Allahu Akbar.

Say ‘Allahu Akbar’ (الله أكبَر) with a lowered voice while moving into the bowing position, such that one finishes saying it once the desired position is reached.

If a follower, wait for the imam to move first before moving. Once he begins to move, move with him.

Step 11: Bow. (Ruku’)

Bow to the extent needed to touch the knees, placing the hands on top of knees without clasping them, fingers together, and eyes gazing at the top of one’s feet. One keeps the upper arms (the area from the shoulder to the elbow) as close as possible to the sides of the body.

Step 12: Say the tasbihat for bowing (ruku’).

Say the tasbihat at least three times in a lowered voice. This applies to the follower too.

سُبْحَانَ رَبِّي الْعَظِيْم

Subḥāna rabbīl-ʿaẓīm

Glory be unto my Lord, the Great.

Step 13: Say the supplication for rising from bowing.

Say this supplication in a lowered voice while moving into the standing position. The follower remains silent while the imam says this phrase.

سَمِعَ اللهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَه

Samiʿa Llahu liman ḥamidah

Allah hears those who praise Him.

Step 14: Say the supplication for standing up.

Stand up completely. Say this supplication in a lowered voice while in the standing position with one’s gaze fixed on the place of prostration. This applies to the follower too.

ربَّنا لَكَ الحَمْد

Rabbanā lakal-ḥamd

Our Lord, all praise is for You alone.

It is optimal to say: Allahumma rabbanā wa lakal-ḥamd (اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّنَا و لَكَ الْحَمْد)

Step 15: Say Allahu Akbar.

Say ‘Allahu Akbar’ (الله أكبَر) with a lowered voice while moving into the prostrating position, such that one finishes saying it once the desired position is reached.

If a follower, wait for the imam to move first before moving. Once he begins to move, move with him.

Step 16: Prostrate. (Sujud)

Place one’s knees on the floor first, followed by the hands, and then the head.

Prostrate with one’s thighs drawn to the stomach, elbows close to the sides of the body, forearms on the floor, toes not erect, placing one’s head between one’s hands, fingers close together and pointing towards the qibla, with the eyes gazing at the tip of one’s nose.

The sunna for men is to point their toes towards the qibla. The fiqh texts used for this article state that a woman does not straighten her toes upwards. The most likely reason is that it would raise her lower body and draw attention to her rear. For more details about the differences between a woman and man’s prayer, click HERE.

(Note: In India and Pakistan, women are taught to prostrate with their feet to the side of their bodies like in Step 24. In the Middle East and Turkey, women make prostration with their feet under their buttocks, like what is shown in the picture. A woman can choose to do what is easiest for her body.)

Step 17: Say the tasbihat for prostration (sujud).

Say the tasbihat for prostration in a lowered voice at least three times. This applies to the follower too.

سُبْحَانَ رَبِّي الأَعْلَى

Subḥāna rabbīl-ʿalā

Glory be unto my Lord, the Most High.

Step 18: Say Allahu Akbar and sit up.

Say ‘Allahu Akbar’ (الله أكبَر) with a lowered voice while moving into the sitting position. Make sure to sit up completely, placing the hands on the thighs, such that the tips of the fingers reach the knees. The left hand is placed on the left thigh and the right hand is placed on the right thigh.

If a follower, wait for the imam to move first before moving. Once he begins to move, move with him.

Step 19: Say the supplication while sitting.

Say this recommended supplication with a lowered voice while sitting or remain silent for a moment.

رَبِّ اغْفِر لي  رَبِّ اغْفِر لي

Rabbigh-fir lī, Rabbigh-fir lī

My Lord, forgive me. My Lord, forgive me.

Step 20: Say Allahu Akbar and prostrate again.

Say ‘Allahu Akbar’ (الله أكبَر) with a lowered voice while moving into the prostrating position for a second time.

If a follower, wait for the imam to move first before moving. Once he begins to move, move with him.

Step 21: Say the tasbihat for prostration (sujud).

Say the tasbihat for prostration in a lowered voice at least three times.

سُبْحَانَ رَبِّي الأَعْلَى

Subḥāna rabbīl-ʿalā

Glory be unto my Lord, the Most High.

***This completes one cycle (rak’a).

Step 22: Stand up.

Stand up from prostration. When one rises, lift the head first, then the hands, and then the knees, while saying ‘Allahu Akbar’ in a lowered voice.

If a follower, wait for the imam to move first before moving. Once he begins to move, move with him.

Step 23: Perform another cycle (rak’a).

Repeat steps 6-21 another time.

Step 24: Sit.

At the end of the second cycle (rakʿa), one sits. The sunna position for women is called tawarruk.

Draw both legs to the right side, thighs on top of each other, sitting on the left buttock, hands on top of thighs such that the tips of the fingers reach the knees, fingers together, and eyes gazing at one’s lap.

Stay in this position for Steps 25 to 29.

The left hand is placed on the left thigh and the right hand is placed on the right thigh.

Step 25: Recite the tashahud.

Recite the tashahud in a lowered voice. This applies to the follower. One says:

التَّحِيَّاتُ للِه وَ الصَّلَوَاتُ و الطَّيِّبَاتُ السَّلامُ عَليْكَ أيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ و رَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَ بَرَكاتُهُ السَّلامُ عَلَيْنا و عَلَى عِبَادِ اللهِ الصَّالِحِيْنَ أشْهَدُ أنْ لاَ إلَهَ إلاَّ اللهُ و أشْهَدُ أنَّ مُحمَّداً عبْدُهُ و رَسُولُهُ

Attaḥiyyatu-Llahi was-ṣalawātu wat-ṭayyibātu as-salāmu alayka ayyuhan-nabiyyu wa raḥmatu-Llahi wa barakātuhu as-salamu ʿalaynā wa ʿalā ʿibādiLlahis-ṣālīhīn. Ashadu an lā ilaha illaLlahu wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ʿabduhu wa rasūluhu.

Greetings are for Allah, as well as prayers and all things pure. Peace be upon you, Oʾ Prophet, as well as the mercy of Allah and His blessings. Peace be upon us and all righteous servants of Allah. I testify that there is no deity except Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.

When one says ‘Ashadu an lā ilaha’ one lifts the right index finger towards the qibla and when one says ‘illaLlahu’ one puts it down. It is best to form a circle by touching the thumb with the middle finger, while the ring finger and pinky finger are brought close together.

Step 26: Send blessings on the Prophet ﷺ if praying a two-cycle (raka’at) prayer. If praying a three or four-cycle prayer, skip to step 31.

Send blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in a lowered voice and say:

اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ على مُحَمَّدٍ وَ عَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَلَى إبْراهيمَ و عَلَى آلِ إبْراهِيمَ و بَارِكْ على مُحَمَّدٍ و عَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كما بَارَكْتَ عَلَى إبْراهِيمَ و عَلَى آلِ إبْراهِيمَ في العَالَمِينَ إنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ

Allahumma ṣalli ʿalā Muhammadin wa ʿalā āli Muhammadin kamā ṣallayta ʿalā Ibrāhīma wa ʿalā āli Ibrāhīma wa bārik ʿalā Muhammadin wa ʿalā āli Muhammadin kamā bārakta ʿalā Ibrāhīma wa ʿalā āli Ibrāhīma fīl-ʿālamīna innaka ḥamīdun majīd

Oʾ Allah, send mercy upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, just as You sent mercy upon Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim, and send blessings upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, just as you sent blessings on Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim; indeed, You are Praiseworthy and Majestic.

The follower also says salawat during this time.

Step 27: Make du’a.

Say any supplication from the Qur’ān or Prophetic narrations (ḥadīth). Supplications (du’a) must be made in Arabic during the prayer. For example:

ربَّنا آتِنا في الدُّنْيا حَسَنَة و في الآخرةِ حَسَنَة وَقِنا عَذابَ النّار

Rabbanā ātinā fīd-dunyā ḥasana wa fil-ākhirati ḥasana waqinā ʿadhāban-nār

Our Lord, give us the good in this world and the good in the Next world. Save us from the punishment of the Fire.

Step 28: Say the final salam to the right.

To end the prayer, turn the face to the right such that the person behind can see one’s entire right cheek. One’s gaze should be on the right shoulder, while intending to greet the angels and pious jinn when saying:

السَّلامُ عَليْكُمْ وَ رَحْمَةُ الله

As-salāmu ʿalaykum wa raḥmatuLlah

Peace and mercy be upon you.

If a follower, wait for the imam to say it first and then join him in it. One intends to greet the angels, those praying with one, and the leader of the group prayer.

Step 29: Say the final salam to the left.

Turn the face back to the qibla and pause. Then, turn the face to the left such that the person behind can see one’s entire left cheek. One’s gaze should be on the left shoulder, while intending to greet the angels and pious jinn when saying:

السَّلامُ عَليْكُمْ وَ رَحْمَةُ الله

As-salāmu ʿalaykum wa raḥmatuLlah

Peace and mercy be upon you.

If a follower, wait for the imam to say it first and then join him in it. One intends to greet the angels, those praying with one, and the leader of the group prayer.

***This ends the two-cycle (raka’at) prayer.

Step 30: Make du’a.

One repents especially for one’s shortcomings in the prayer, makes du’a for what one pleases, recites any supplication from the Qur’ān, or says a supplication related from the Prophet ﷺ like:

اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ السَّلامُ و مِنْكَ السَّلامُ تَبارَكْتَ يَا ذا الجَلالِ و الإكْرام

Allahumma antas-salāmu wa minkas-salāmu tabārakta yā dhāl-jalāli wal-ikrām

Oʾ Allah, You are peace and from You is peace. Blessed are You, Owner of Majesty and Honor.

One also says: SubḥanaLlah thirty-three times (Glory be to Allah), AlhamduLlilah thirty-three times (Praise be to Allah) and Allahu Akbar thirty-three times (Allah is the greatest).

Outside of the prayer, supplications (du’a) can be made in any language.

Step 31: Continue praying for third or fourth-cycle (raka’at) prayer.

  • If it is a three-cycle (raka’at) prayer like Maghrib, one stands after step 25. One adds another cycle (rak’a) by repeating steps 6-21, but omits step 9 of reciting an additional chapter (sura) after the Fatiha for the 3rd cycle (rak’a). Then one follows steps 24-30 to finish the last cycle (rak’a).
  • If it is a four-cycle obligatory prayer, one stands after step 25. One repeats steps 6-23 for the 3rd cycle, but omits step 9. For the 4th cycle, on repeats steps 6-21, but omits step 9, and then follows steps 24-30 to finish the prayer.

Please refer to these related links for more details:

What are the differences between a man and woman’s prayer?

Step-by-Step Ablution (Wudu) Guide

Check out our courses for women and teens HERE.


References:

  • Imam Ala al-Din Abidin, الهدية العلائية
  • Imam ibn Abidin, رد المحتار على الدر المختار
  • Imam Shurunbalali, مراقي الفلاح شرح نور الإيضاح
  • Imam Tahtawi, حاشية الطحطاوي
  • Imam Shurunbalali, إمداد الفتاح شرح نور الإيضاح

 

This answer was collected from Muslimacoaching.com, which was founded by Ustadha Naielah Ackbarali. She studied Islamic studies (Hanafi Fiqh) in Syria for about 6 years with various scholars, including Sheikh Hassan al-Hindy, Sheikh Adnan Darwish, Sheikh AbdurRahman Arjan, and Sheikh Abdullah Rahal. She also studied Hanafi Fiqh in Jordan with Sheikh Faraz Rabbani, and aqeedah with Sheikh Hamza Karamali.

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