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How is Sujud al-Sahw (prostration of forgetfulness) Made?

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Shafiifiqh.com


Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatahu.

Could you please clarify how to perform sajdah as sahu (prostration of forgetfulness).

I understand WHEN it is required, but I am not confident on HOW to perform it. I am finding my texts very confusing. So if you could explain as basically as possible.


May Allah reward you for this site and all your efforts also.


Wa alaykum salam wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuHu,

All praise is to Allah. And, prayers and salutations are on the Prophet Muhammad.

Imam al-Nawawi says,

Sujud al-sahw is recommended not obligatory…” (Rawdah al-Talibin 1/404)

This is the Shafi’i School’s view. As for the other three schools, Imam Ahmad and Karkhi (Karkhi is a Hanafi) maintained that it is obligatory. According to one narration, Imam Abu Hanifah held it to be recommended. Imam Malik held that if one omitted something, then it is obligatory. While holding it recommended if one added something. (Fath al-’Allam bi Sharh Murshid al-Anam 2/282)

Sujud al-sahu consists of two prostrations. It is performed like the prostrations in the prayer, including the prostration’s integrals, such as: placing the limb’s of prostration on the ground, remaining motionless for a moment, etc. As well, it may include the recommended acts, such as: sitting in iftirash between prostrations, tawarruk after the second, the recommended dhikr, etc.

Some considered it recommended that the supplication, “سبحان من لا ينام ولا يسهو” be made during the prostrations. However, Hafiz Ibn Hajar mentioned that he did not find any source for this. (Talkhis al-Habir 14-15) In the footnote in Rawdah, both Mutawalli and Adhra’i are cited relating that the supplications in sujud al-sahw are the same as what is read during the prayer. (Rawdah al-Talibin 1/420)

Regarding formulating an intention for sujud al-sahw, Sheikh Abd Allah al-Jurdani mentions that it is necessary. By intention one should have it in their mind that the prostration is for forgetfulness. This should be when he begins sujud al-sahw. And, one must not utter it. Furthermore, Sheikh Sa’id Ba’Ishn states that the prayer is nullified by uttering such. (Fath al-’Allam 2/281; Bushra al-Karim 1/302) The intention is for the imam and one praying alone, while it is not necessary for a follower. (Fath al-’Allam 2/281)

Imam Shafi’i has three views [aqwal] on the place of sujud al-sahw:

1)      Before taslim and after the tashahhud, etc.

2)      If one added something, then after. And, if one omitted something, then before. This is also Imam Malik’s view.

3)      One may choose between before or after, perhaps this is also a view of Imam Malik.

The first view is the relied-upon [qawl azhar]. It is Imam Shafi’is qawl jadid (new school). Therefore, the place of sujud al-sahw, in relation to before or after taslim, is a matter differed upon. In support of the qawl jadid, Bukhari 1/210 #829, 1/312 #1224, 1225, and Muslim 6/809-10 relate:

صلى بهم الظهر فقام من الركعتين الأوليين ولم يجلس فقام الناس معه حتى إذا قضى الصلاة وانتظر الناس تسليمه كبر وهو جالس فسجد سجدتين قبل أن يسلم ثم سلم

“The Prophet prayed Thuhr with his companions. He stood from the first two rak’ah without sitting [for the first tashahhud]; the people stood with him. When the prayer was concluding the people were anticipating his making salam. He said ‘Allah akbar’, and then prostrated twice before taslim. Then, [after the prostrations] he made salam.”

The wording comes in Muslim:

ثم يسجد سجدتين قبل أن يسلم

“Then, he would prostrate twice before he made salam.”

Ibn al-Salah mentions that if the deciding factor in preferring the qawl azhar, is selecting hadith regarding the issue, then sujud al-sahw before taslim is asahh [the most authentic] by way of isnad, aqwa [the strongest], and azhar [most clear] in meaning. And the reason for the Prophet’s making sujud al-sahw after taslim is said to be because he did not remember it until afterwards. (al-Badr al-Munir 4/233; Sharh al-Wasit 2/200) It has also been considered that making sujud al-sahw before taslim was the last way that the Prophet Muhammad performed it. Bayhaqi related it from Zuhri. (al-Sunan al-Sughra 1/517)

Imam al-Nawawi discusses the place of sujud al-sahw, and says:

والجديد أن محله بين تشهده وسلامه

“The jadid (new school’s) view is that its place is between one’s tashahhud and salam.”

Ibn Hajar and Ramli commented on Imam Nawawi’s words, “its place [Ramli: regardless as to whether it is on account of omitting something, adding something, or both] is between one’s tashahhud [Ibn Hajar and Ramli: and what comes after the tashahhud such as praying on the Prophet Muhammad, his people, and the supplication] and salam [Ibn Hajar: without any separation between them. Ramli: such that nothing from the prayer separates the two (i.e sujud al-sahw and salam)]. (See: Nihayat al-Muhtaj 2/90; Tuhfat al-Muhtaj 2/200)

Sheikh ‘Abdullah al-Jurdani discussed the situation of one performing sujud al-sahw after the tashahhud and prayer for the Prophet Muhammad. He said:

“Sujud al-sahw should take place after the tashahhud and what comes after it, such as: praying for the Prophet Muhammad, his people, and the supplication. Yet, if one performs it before praying for his people, etc. Then, that is sufficient; the sunnah has been attained. It is not permissible to repeat sujud al-sahw a second time.”

He continues to say that in consequence of the above, it is obligatory to perform sujud al-sahw after the integrals (i.e. tashahhud and prayers for the Prophet). Whereas, it is merely recommended that it be performed after the recommended acts (i.e. the prayer upon his people and the subsequent supplication). Also, when one performs it before completing the integrals, then one’s prayer is invalidated; except for a latecomer [masbuq] to the prayer. When one is not a latecomer, then one’s prayer is invalidated according to Ramli. Differing with his view, Ibn Hajar held that neither the prayer of the latecomer nor the non-latecomer is invalidated in this instance. (Fath al-’Allam 2/280; Bushra al-Karim 1/302)

Sujud al-sahw before taslim is the jadid view. In contrast here are two opinions in the qadim (old school). The qadim is also in line with Imam Malik’s opinion. In Sharh Sahih Muslim, Imam Nawawi assessed that Malik’s view is the strongest, followed by the qawl azhar. (6/814) Imam al-Haramayn mentions the different ways that the Prophet performed it imply permissibility. And, what is related from Zuhri does not negate the permissibility of what was done previously. (Sharh al-Wasit 2/199-201)

In conclusion, sujud al-sahw is performed just like the prostrations in the prayer. When one is the imam or praying alone, it should be intended. But, this is not necessary for a follower. According to Imam Shafi’is relied-upon opinion, sujud al-sahw is made before taslim after the final tashahhud, prayer for the Prophet and his people, and the supplication. Moreover, it is part of our beloved Prophet Muhammad’s sunnah as established by authentic hadith-evidence.

And Allah knows best.

Shafiifiqh.com Fatwa Dept.

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