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THE IMMACULATE RAIMENT: The Essentials of Prayer

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Answered by Sidi Mostafa Azzam

THE IMMACULATE RAIMENT: The Essentials of Prayer

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

The Essentials of Prayer

Compiled by Mostafa Azzam

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.  Praise Allah, Lord of the Worlds.  I testify that there is no god but Allah, alone, without partner, and I testify that our master Muhammad is His slave and messenger.  Allah favor and salute our master Muhammad, his family, his companions, the righteous, and the scholars of Islam who have preserved for us the religion. 


1.1              The validity of prayer (salah) depends on fulfilling its essentials (furud, sing. fard) and avoiding its invalidators (mubtilat, sing. mubtil).  Some essentials must be fulfilled before beginning the prayer and remain throughout it, called conditions (shurut, sing. shart), and others are necessary elements within it, called integrals (arkan, sing. rukn).


Conditions (Shurut)

2.1              The main conditions of prayer are five: (1) removal of filth (najasah), (2) ritual purity (taharah), (3) entrance of the time, (4) covering the shameful area (`awrah), and (5) facing the prayer direction (qiblah).

Removal of Filth (Najasah)

2.2             The following must be free of unexcused filth: your body, what you are supporting, and everything touching or connected to them.

2.3             Filth includes the following bodies: (1) dogs and pigs and what comes from them, (2) any liquid exiting the private parts, (3) anything the stomach has digested, (4) vomit, (5) blood and pus, (6) liquid intoxicants, and (7) every part of any dead animal, except the corpses of humans, locusts, aquatic animals, or slaughtered edible animals.  Any part separated from a live animal is like its unslaughtered dead, except hair and the like from edible animals.

2.4             All the above are filth in themselves, and if any of them touches a solid that is pure in itself, with moisture between them, the filth is transferred and that solid is filthified.

2.5             If filth touches a volume of liquid, the entire volume is filthified, unless a large volume of water, of which only what the filth changes is filthified.

2.6             A small volume of water that flows over a spot is as filthified as the spot it just separated from.

2.7              A filthified solid is purified by washing it with unfilthified, unused water such that none of the filth’s traces—its body, taste, color, or smell—thereafter remains, without the water acquiring any of them; or if the filth is from dog or pig, doing that and then washing it six more times, one of those seven being with dirt mixed throughout the water.

The above applies to removing filth from yourself after using the toilet (istinja’), though you may merely wipe, instead of using water, if you fulfill the conditions of wiping.

Ritual Purity (Taharah)

2.8             You must not be in a state of ritual impurity (hadath), minor or major.  Minor ritual impurity is lifted by ablution (wudu’) and major ritual impurity is lifted by bathing (ghusl).

2.9             The integrals of ablution are six: (1) intending permission for the obligatory prayer, when first washing the face; (2) washing the face, its limits being from where the hairline normally is to the end of the jawbone and from ear to ear; then (3) washing both arms from the fingertips to past the elbows; then (4) wetting some of the head; then (5) washing both feet to past the ankles, though you may wipe your footwear (khuff), instead of washing your feet, if you fulfill the conditions of wiping; and (6) the sequence mentioned.

2.10         Four things nullify ablution: (1) anything exiting the private parts; (2) directly touching any person’s genitals or anus with the inside of the hand; (3) skin-to-skin contact with a mature, marriageable person of the opposite sex; and (4) losing reason.

2.11          The necessitators of bathing are five: (1) ejaculate exiting, (2) sexual intercourse, (3) menstruation, (4) childbed (nifas), and (5) childbirth.

2.12         The integrals of bathing are two: (1) intending permission for the obligatory prayer, when beginning to wash the body, and (2) washing the whole body.

2.13         It is necessary for ablution and bathing that unfilthified, unused water flow over all that must be washed.

2.14         You must also know that the ablution and bath and their essentials mentioned in this text are obligatory.

2.15         If you are unable to use water, you perform dry purification (tayammum).

Start of the Time

2.16         You must believe that the prayer’s time has started, by determining it with certainty or confidence through estimation, but not by merely following someone else’s estimate when able to estimate it yourself.

2.17          The time of the dawn prayer (fajr) starts at dawn, of the afternoon prayer (zuhr) when the sun passes its peak, of the late afternoon prayer (`asr) when any object’s shadow exceeds its length plus its shadow’s length at midday, of the sunset prayer (maghrib) at sunset, and of the nightfall prayer (`isha’) when the red twilight disappears.

Covering the Shameful Area (`Awrah)

2.18         You must wear a barrier that conceals the color of your shameful area from all its directions but below.  The shameful area of a man is between his navel and knees and of a woman all but her face and hands.  You must make sure to cover the entire area by covering slightly beyond it.

Facing the Prayer Direction (Qiblah)

2.19         You must face the practically exact prayer direction, by determining it with certainty, near certainty, or confidence through estimation, but not by merely following someone else’s estimate when able to estimate it yourself.

Other Conditions

2.20        You must also know that the five daily prayers and their essentials mentioned in this text are obligatory.


Integrals (Arkan)

3.1  The integrals of prayer are thirteen: (1) standing, (2) intending, (3) saying Allahu akbar, (4) reciting the Fatihah, (5) bowing (ruku`), (6) straightening up, (7) prostrating (sujud) twice, (8) sitting between prostrations, (9) the last sitting, (10) reciting the Greetings (Tahiyyat), (11) praying for the Prophet (Allah favor and salute him), (12) saying the Salaam, and (13) the sequence.

3.2 You must stand straight.

3.3 You must intend to pray the specific obligatory prayer.

3.4 You must open by saying Allahu ‘akbar with the intention, while standing, loud enough to hear yourself in the absence of a hindrance, pronouncing every letter correctly.

3.5 You must then recite the Fatihah loud enough to hear yourself, pronouncing every letter correctly, and without interruption except for a breath.

The Fatihah is, Bismi Llahi r-Rahmani r-Rahim.  al-Hamdu liLlahi Rabbi l-`Alamin.  ar-Rahmani r-Rahim.  Maliki Yawmi d-Din.  ‘Iyyaka na`budu wa ‘iyyaka nasta`in.  Ihdina ssirata l-mustaqim.  Sirata lladhina ‘an`amta `alayhim ghayri l-maghdubi `alayhim wa la ddallin.

You must recite the whole Fatihah in the standing of every cycle (rak`ah) of every prayer, whether praying alone or in a group, unless in that cycle was insufficient time to recite the whole Fatihah behind the imam, because of his quick recital or because of your coming late, in which case you recite as much as you can (making up for any lost time), then bow.

3.6 You must then bow deep enough for your palms to reach your knees, staying still for a second.

3.7  You must then straighten up, staying still for a second.

3.8 You must then prostrate by lowering your upper body below your behind, pressing some bare part of your forehead to your prostration place, placing some part of the inside of each hand, some part of each knee, and some part of the bottom of each foot’s toes, staying still for a second.

3.9 You must then sit straight, staying still for a second.

3.10         You must then prostrate exactly as before.

3.11          After completing the last cycle, you must then sit straight for the last sitting.

3.12         You must recite the Greetings (Tahiyyat) while sitting, loud enough to hear yourself, pronouncing every letter correctly, without interruption.

Its minimum is, At-tahiyyatu liLlah.  Salamun `alayka ‘ayyuha n-nabiyyu wa rahmatu Llahi wa barakatuh.  Salamun `alayna wa `ala `ibadi Llahi ssalihin.  ‘Ashhadu ‘al la ‘ilaha ‘illa Llah(u), wa ‘anna Muhammadar rasulu Llah.

3.13         You must then pray for the Prophet (Allah favor and salute him), loud enough to hear yourself, pronouncing every letter correctly.  Its minimum is, Allahumma salli `ala Muhammad.

3.14         You must then say the Salaam loud enough to hear yourself, pronouncing every letter correctly.  Its minimum is, As-salamu `alaykum.

The Sequence

3.15         You must fulfill all the above integrals in their proper sequence by starting the prayer with standing (3.2), intending (3.3), and saying Allahu akbar (3.4), then continuing through to the second prostration (3.10).  Upon completing the second prostration, you have completed a cycle (rak`ah).  For each remaining cycle, you repeat the standing through to the second prostration exactly as before, without repeating the intention or the opening Allahu akbar.  Upon completing the second prostration of the last cycle, you perform the last sitting (3.11), the Greetings (3.12), the Prayer for the Prophet (Allah favor and salute him) (3.13), and the Salaam (3.14), after which the prayer is complete.

3.16         The cycles of the dawn prayer are two, the afternoon prayer four, the late afternoon prayer four, the sunset prayer three, and the nightfall prayer four.

3.17          If you deliberately violate the proper sequence, you invalidate your prayer; if you absentmindedly violate it, you must return to it as soon as you realize, and anything you had done out of sequence does not count.



Invalidators (Mubtilat)

4.1              The main invalidators of prayer are three: (1) ingestion, (2) utterance, and (3) movement.


4.2             Your prayer is invalidated by deliberate ingestion, even if just a speck between your teeth.


4.3             Your prayer is invalidated by deliberate extraneous utterance, even if just a little.


4.4             Your prayer is invalidated by avoidable extraneous movement, even if done absentmindedly, by doing (a) three continuous large movements, (b) one gross movement, or (c) one movement in play, even if small.

Other Invalidators

4.5             It also invalidates your prayer to lack conviction in your intention, by for example, considering cutting short your prayer, changing your intention, or forgetting what it was.

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