Optional Parts of Prayer

We continue with the series on prayer by focusing this week on optional acts or Sunnah acts in prayer.

Before we talk on this topic, it is worth mentioning that there are many different sunnah acts in prayer and that there is difference of opinion on some of the acts according to the four schools of thought.

The reminder today is to just highlight the ones we should all be aiming to perform as part of the acts of Sunnah. It is not designed to provide anyone with an opportunity to do less because it falls into sunnah acts because as the Prophet SAWS said in a hadith:

              Pray as you see me pray

And so today’s reminder is to talk of these acts. First are the wajibat acts and these are those which some schools of thought don’t distinguish at all from mandatory acts. In other words, these shouldn’t be missed.

The imam reminded us of them and these are listed now.

  1. Takbir aka saying Allahu Akbar, i.e. Allah is the Greatest in the correct places during prayer. So we say Allahu Akbar at the start of the prayer, but to omit this in the other places is also a mistake.
  2. Reciting during Ruku, i.e. when hands are on knees and what we recite before we go into full prostration or sajda is also something that can’t be missed.
  3. No prayer can be valid without Tashahud, i.e. the part of the prayer where we sit. Even if we join congregation part way through, we must complete this part of the prayer for it to be valid.

For those of us who sometimes mistakenly forget to recite something in prayer and remember it before the end of the prayer, it is recommended to perform two prostrations at the end of the prayer before you say the Taslim, i,e before you say salaam to the right and left.

Dear brothers and sisters, the next list consists of sunnah acts which are considered acceptable to omit although we ought to encourage one another to perform these as well.

The imam listed a few of these and they are:

  1. To lift the hands when you are going into Ruku or bowing.
  2. To keep the eyes focused when standing on the point of where you head will go when you go into sujood or prostration.
  3. To put the right hand over the left when standing
  4. To have a slight gap between your legs when standing in prayer
  5. To look right and left with salaam at the end of the prayer as opposed to just looking right

Dear brothers and sisters, it’s worth emphasisng again that with reminders such as these, shaitaan will use this opportunity to move you away from your faith. By knowing the sunnah acts you may come across some in today’s reminder that you may have thought to be mandatory before, remember, it is the trick of shaitaan to try and convince you to lessen your prayers as that is the first step to try and stop you altogether.

Don’t fall into this trap and so if you are already performing a sunnah act of prayer that you’ve already established a habit of doing, don’t change it now for the sake of time or convenience.

The final list is of those sunnah acts of prayer which are to do with speaking during the prayer. The imam spoke of these and they are listed as:

  1. Once you first say Allahu Akbar and raise hands to begin prayer, the duas you recite and the authu part and the bismillah part is part of the Sunnah and is recommended as part of the sunnah.
  2. When Sura Fatiha has finished, it is sunnah to say Ameen. Both opinions are valid on whether this is said loudly or quietly but it is sunnah to say it.
  3. To recite some part of the Quran after the Sura Fatiha has been read.
  4. To do salawat, i.e. send Salaam upon the Prophet in the final sitting part of the prayer.

Alongside this, there is also a sunnah obligation on the imam himself to recite the parts of the prayer he is responsible for in a loud audible manner.

Dear brothers and sisters, today’s reminder is designed to provide both a checklist of items that can be performed in order to perfect the salat further but alongside this it is also a reminder that for many of us, we are also performing our prayers beyond the minimum and so let’s work on this high standard and aim to raise it even higher in our future prayers.

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