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The Prophet's Prayer (SAWS)

Standing in Prayer

 

Standing in Prayer

He (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) used to stand in prayer for both obligatory and voluntary prayers, carrying out the command of the Exalted:

"And stand before Allaah devoutly." (Baqarah, 2:238)

As for during a journey, he would pray voluntary prayers on his riding beast.

He set the example for his ummah to pray during severe fear on foot or while mounted, as has been mentioned, and that is the purpose of the saying of Allaah:

"Guard strictly your (habit of) prayers, especially the Middle Prayer14, and stand before Allaah devoutly. If you fear (an enemy) then pray on foot, or while riding. But when you are in security, celebrate Allaah's praises in the manner He has taught you, which you did not know before." (Baqarah, 2:238-9)

He (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) prayed sitting during the illness of which he died."15 He also prayed sitting on another occasion before that, when he was injured, and the people behind him prayed standing; so he indicated to them to sit, so they sat (and prayed). When he finished, he said, You were going to do as the Persians and the Romans do: stand for their kings who sit. So do not do so, for the Imaam is there to be followed: when he makes rukoo', make rukoo', when he rises, rise; and when he prays sitting, pray sitting [all of you].16



The Prayer of a Sick Person in a Sitting Position

'Imran ibn Husain (radiallaahu 'anhu) said, "I was suffering from haemorrhoids (piles), so I asked the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and he said, Pray standing; if you are not able, then sitting down; if you are not able to do so, then pray lying down.17

'Imraan ibn Husain also said, "I asked him (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) about the prayer of a man while sitting, so he said: He who prays standing, that is better; he who prays sitting, his reward is half that of the former. He who prays lying down (and in another narration: reclining), has half the reward of the one who sits.18This applies to the sick person, for Anas (radiallaahu 'anhu) said, "The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) came out to the people while they were praying sitting due to illness, so he said: Verily, the prayer of one who sits is (worth) half of the prayer of the one who stands.19

Once "he (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) visited a sick person and saw him praying (leaning) on a pillow, so he took it and cast it aside. So the man took a stick to pray (leaning) on it, but he took it and cast it aside and said: Pray on the ground if you can, but otherwise make movements with your head, making your sujood lower than your rukoo."20



Prayer on a Ship

He (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) was asked about prayer on a ship, so he said, Pray on it standing, unless you are afraid of drowning.21

When he grew old he took a support at his place of prayer to lean on22.



Sitting and Standing in the Night Prayer (Tahajjud)

He (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), used to pray long through the night standing, and long through the night sitting, and if he recited standing, he would bow standing, and if he recited sitting, he would bow sitting."23

Sometimes, "He would pray sitting, so he would recite sitting until about thirty or forty verses of his recitation wre left; he would then stand up to recite these standing and then bow and prostrate, and he would do likewise in the second raka'ah."24

In fact, "he prayed as-subhah25 sitting down towards the end of his life when he had grown old, and that was a year before his death."26

Also "he would sit cross-legged."27



Prayer Wearing Shoes and the command to do so

"He used to stand (in prayer) bare-footed sometimes and wearing shoes sometimes."28

He allowed this for his ummah, saying: When one of you prays, he should wear his shoes or take them off and put them between his feet, and not harm others with them.29

He encouraged prayer wearing them sometimes, saying: Be different from the Jews, for they do not pray in their shoes nor in their khuffs (leather socks).30

Occasionally he would remove them from his feet while in prayer and then continue his prayer, as Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri has said:

"The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) prayed with us one day. Whilst he was engaged in the prayer he took off his shoes and placed them on his left. When the people saw this, they took off their shoes. When he finished his prayer he said, Why did you take your shoes off? They said, 'We saw you taking your shoes off, so we took our shoes off.' He said, Verily Jibreel came to me and informed me that there was dirt - or he said: something harmful - (in another narration: filth)on my shoes, so I took them off. Therefore, when one of you goes to the mosque, he should look at his shoes: if he sees in them dirt - or he said: something harmful - (in another narration: filth) he should wipe them and pray in them.31

"When he removed them, he would place them on his left"32 and he would also say: When one of you prays, he should not place his shoes on his right nor on his left, where they will be on someone else's right, except if there is no one on his left, but he should place them between his feet.33



Prayer on the Pulpit (Minbar)

"Once he (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) prayed on the pulpit (in another narration: '... which had three steps')34. Hence [he stood on it and said takbeer and the people behind him said takbeer while he was on the pulpit,] [then he made rukoo' on the pulpit,] then he rose and descended backwards to make sajdah at the foot of the pulpit. Then he returned, [and did on it as he had done in the first rak'ah], until he completed his prayer. He then turned to the people and said: O people! I have done this so that you may follow me and learn my prayer.35



The Sutrah36, and the Obligation to have one

"He (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) used to stand near to the sutrah, so that there was (a distance of) three cubits between him and the wall"37 and "between the place of his prostration and the wall, (there was) enough space for a sheep to pass."38

He used to say: "Do not pray except towards a sutrah, and do not let anyone pass in front of you, but if someone continues (to try to pass) then fight him, for he has a companion (i.e. a shaytaan) with him."39

He would also say: "When one of you prays towards a sutrah, he should get close to it so that Shaytaan cannot break his prayer."40

Sometimes "he would seek to pray at the pillar which was in his mosque."41

"When he prayed [in an open space where there was nothing to use as sutrah] he would plant a spear in the ground in front of him and pray towards it with the people behind him"42; Sometimes "he would to set his mount sideways and pray towards it"43 but this is not the same as prayer in the resting-place of camels44, which "he forbade"45, and sometimes "he would take his saddle; set it lengthways and pray towards its end."46

He would say: When one of you places in front of him something such as the stick on the end of a saddle, he should pray and not mind anyone who passes beyond it.47

Once "he prayed towards a tree"48 and sometimes "he would pray towards the bed on which 'Aa'ishah (radi Allaahu anhaa) was lying [under her sheet]."49

He (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), would not let anything pass between him and his sutrah, hence once "he was praying, when a sheep came running in front of him, so he raced it until he pressed his belly against the wall [and it passed behind him]."50

Also, once "while praying an obligatory prayer, he clenched his fist (during it), so when he had finished, the people said: 'O Messenger of Allaah, did something happen during the prayer?' He said: No, except that the devil wanted to pass in front of me, so I strangled him until I could feel the coldness of his tongue on my hand By Allaah! Had my brother Sulaimaan not beaten me to it51, I would have tied him (the devil) to one of the pillars of the mosque so that the children of Madinah could walk round him. [So whoever can prevent something intervening between him and the qiblah, he must do so]."52

He also used to say:

When one of you prays towards something which is a sutrah between him and the people and someone intends to cross in front of him, then he should push him in the throat [and repel, as much as he can], (in one narration: he should stop him, twice) but if he refuses (to not pass) then he should fight him, for verily he is a devil.53

He also used to say: If the person who passed in front of someone praying knew (the sin) on him, it would be better for him to wait forty than to pass in front. (Abu an-Nadr said, "I do not remember exactly whether he said forty days, months or years.").54



What Breaks the Prayer

He used to say: A man's prayer is cut off when there is nothing such as the end of a saddle in front of him, by: a [menstruating]55 woman, a donkey or a black dog. Abu Dharr said, 'I said: "O Messenger of Allaah, why the black dog rather than the red one?" He said, The black dog is a shaytaan.56



Prohibition of Prayer Facing the Grave

He used to forbid prayer facing the grave, saying: Do not pray towards the graves, and do not sit on them.57

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