19.3 PHYSICAL ACTS OF SALAT, harakaat al salaat

By Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.


The physical acts of salat must be performed properly because disorderly salat is not conducive to spirituality. There 17 pillars of salat are: 1. niyyat, 2. takbirat al ihraam 3. qiyaam (standing up) 4. qira at (recitation of surat al fatihat) 5. rukuu (bowing) 6. tama'aninat (being temporarily stationary after bowing). 7. 'itidaal (standing straight after bowing). 19. Tamaininat (being temporarily stationary after bowing). 9. sujuud (prostration) 10. tama'aninat (being stationary in prostration) 11. juluus bayna al sajdatayn (sitting between the two prostrations). 12. tama'aninat (being stationary in the sitting posiiton). 13. the lasy tashahhud. 14. sitting during the last tashahhud. 15. Prayer for the prophet, salat ala al nabi. 16. The first salaam, al tasliim al awaal 17. Carrying out the above acts in order, tartiib.


19.3.2 THE START

The following is the sequence of the pillars: niyyat, is implicit. Its pronouncement is sunnat and not a condition for validity of salat. Salat starts with takbirat al ihraam. The hands are raised to the level of shoulders when reciting takbirat al ihraam. The right hand is put over the left hand. The position of the hands on the chest or abdominal walls is variable. Takbir is repeated every time there is a change of position. The next physical acts are bowing, ruku’u, rising from bowing, prostration, sujuud, and rising from sujuud. In standing, qiyaam, men stand on both feet with their legs separated while women stand with their legs together. The worshipper looks at the imaam. It is prohibited to look at the sky or to allow distraction of the eyes. Supplication to start the salat, dua iftitaah al salat takes various forms some long and some short.



Recitation of surat al fatihat follows dua iftitaah al salat. No salat is valid without this recitation. The recitation may or may not include basmalah at the start of surat al fatihat and ta'amiin at the end. Surat al fatihat is followed by one other surat in the first 2 raka’ats and is recited without an additional surat in the third and fourth raka’ats. Recitation is loud in salat al maghrib, salat al fajr, salat al isha, salat al jumu’at, salat al tarawiih, salat al kusuuf, salat al istisqaau, and salat al eid. Recitation is loud for missed day prayers offered at night and is soft for missed night prayers offered during the day. The follower must recite surat al fatiha for himself and not rely only on the recitation of the imaam. Both the imaam and the follower repeat the formula ‘amiin’ at the end of the recitation of surat al fatihat.



Bowing is at the waist. Hands are put on the knees and the fingers are spread out or are joined closely together. The formula ‘subhana rabbiy al ‘adhiim’ is repeated 3, 5, 7, or 9 times. Then the back is straightened and the trunk is erect with the head is raised to the position before the start of rukuu while repeating ‘sami’a al llaahu li man hamidahu rabbana laka al hamdu mil’a al samawaati wa mi’a al ardh wa mil’a ma shi’ita min shay’I ba’adahu’.  The qunuut supplication is repeated in salat al fajr after rising from bowing in the second rak'at. Prostration, sujuud, is on the forehead, the two hands, the knees, and the 2 feet. The ground bears the weight of the head. The rear of the trunk is higher than the front. The forehead touches the ground but the nose need not touch the ground. The palm is put firmly on the ground while the elbow is raised. Sitting down between two prostrations is required. The formula 'subhana rabbi al a'ala is repeated 3 times during sujuud. Men separate the knee and feet but the women keep them together. Separating arms from the trunk is recommended for men but is discouraged for women. The prostration of recitation, sujuud al tilawat, is does not require facing the qiblat. It starts with takbir and ends with taslim unless it is in salat in which case the taslim is not necessary.



The tashahud at the end of the first 2 rak 'ats is brief and is not obligatory; the one at the end of the salat is longer and is the one that is obligatory. There is a supplication, dua, after the last tashahhud. Recitation of tashahhud, has several variants. The index finger is used to point or it can be moved. There is a supplication, dua al tashahhud, and a prayer for the prophet, salaal ala al nabi. Prostration for forgetting, sujuud al sahaw, is 2 prostrations for each act of forgetting just before tasliim. The salat is formally closed after the first tasliim. The second tasliim is sunnat. Dua before taslim is recommended. The following can be done after the formal closure of the salat: supplication, dua, remembrance of Allah, dhikr, and recitation of ayat al kursi. Dhikr after taslim is recommended but is not obligatory. The dhikr is silent unless the imaam wants to teach people in which case he will repeat the dhikr aloud.

(c) Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. 2004