Wajib and Sunnah Acts of Ablution and Prayer
Fatwa No: 84841

Question

What are Fard and Sunnah of ablution? Also the Fard and Sunnah of Salat.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

Allah Says (what means): {O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of janabah, then purify yourselves.} [Quran 5:6]

This verse above states the obligatory acts and components of ablution on which all scholars agreed upon.

These obligatory acts are as follows:

(1) Washing the whole face once;

(2) Washing both arms up to the elbows once;

(3) Wiping over the head with wet hands; according to the dominant opinion, one should wipe over his whole head;

(4) Washing both feet up to the ankles once. There are other obligatory acts of ablution about which the scholars differed in opinion. Some scholars consider them as Sunnah while others consider them as obligatory acts. Among these obligatory acts are:

1) Intention: It is an obligatory part of ablution according to the correct opinion for the Prophetic Hadeeth: “Indeed, actions are judged by intention.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

2) Starting by saying Bismi Allah (i.e. 'In the Name of Allah). According to Imam Ahmad, the scholars who interpret the texts according to their literal meaning, and others, it is obligatory to say Bismi Allah for the Prophetic Hadeeth: “There is no prayer for one who does not perform ablution and there is no ablution for one who does not mention Allah's Name when performing it.” [Abu Daawood, At-Tirmithi and Ibn Maajah]

Since there is a difference of opinion concerning the soundness of this Hadeeth, it does not provide a decisive evidence. Thus, according to the majority of Muslim scholars, saying Bismi Allah is Sunnah. The majority of the scholars depend on the Prophetic Hadeeth reported by Abu Daawood from Rifa'ah Ibn Raafi', in which the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “One's prayer is incomplete unless he performs ablution as Allah commands him (in the Quran); i.e. he washes his face, his arms, wipes over his head and washes his feet up to the ankles.” This is a clear reference to the obligatory acts as mentioned in Surah 5 verse 6 mentioned above, but saying Bismi Allah is not mentioned in the verse.

Furthermore, if Bismi Allah is an obligatory part of ablution, the ablution as stated in the verse becomes incomplete.

3) Rinsing the mouth, and sniffing water up into the inside of the nostrils and blowing it out. Imam Ahmad believes that it is obligatory to do these two actions (i.e. Rinsing and sniffing). His evidence is Laqit's Hadeeth that reads: “… and sniff water up the nose and blow it out strongly if you are not fasting.” [Abu Dawood] They majority of Muslim scholars believe that these actions are Sunnah since they are not mentioned in the Hadeeth of Rifa'ah that states the obligatory acts of ablution.

4) Performing the obligatory acts of ablution in the specific order mentioned in the verse of ablution [Quran 5:6] This is the opinion of ash-Shaafi'i and Ahmad . Their evidence is the verse and the Hadeeth of ‘Uthman that reads: “Whoever performs ablution as I have done, and then, performs two Raka'hs without having any other concern in his mind, all his past sins will be forgiven.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

5) Close sequence: According to Ahmad, Maalik and those who agree with them, it is obligatory to wash each bodily part after the other; i.e. without separating the washing of parts with acts that are not related to ablution. Ahmad and Maalik provide evidence of the Hadeeth reported by Abu Daawood from Khaaled Ibn Ma'daan  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him from some of the Prophet's  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) wives that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) saw a man praying and a small spot of his foot was not washed, so he ordered him (the man) to perform ablution again. Another narration reads: “(Ordered him) To perform ablution again and the prayer.Ahmad said: 'This Hadeeth has a good chain of narrations as stated in al-Muntaqa’. Ash-Shaafi'i and Abu Haneefah and their followers believe that close sequence is only a Sunnah.

The Sunan (plural of Sunnah) of ablution are as follows:

1) Saying Bismi Allah according to some opinion among the jurists.

2) Using Siwaak.

3) Washing the hands up to the wrist, thrice, at the beginning.

4) Rinsing the mouth and cleansing the nostrils with water thrice, according to some opinion of the jurists.

5) Running one's fingers through his beard and running water through one's fingers and toes.

6) Repeating each washing thrice.

7) Beginning each action with the right side.

8) Close sequence (mentioned above), according to same opinion of the jurists.

9) Wiping the ears.

10) Being economical in using water.

11) Supplicating after performing ablution. However, some scholars believe that some of the above actions are Sunnah, while others believe that they are obligatory.

The acts of the prayer are as follows:

1) Intention.

2) Saying the opening Takbeer (Allah is the Greatest).

3) Standing during the obligatory prayers.

4) Reciting al-Faatihah (the opening Chapter of the Quran) in every Rak’ah.

5) Bowing down.

6) Standing erect after the bowing down.

7) Prostration.

8) Sitting between the two prostrations.

9) Tranquility and calmness.

10) The final sitting.

11) Recital of the Tashahhud.

12) Saying: "O Allah! Bless Muhammad" after the Tashahhud.

13) Concluding the prayer with Assalam Alaykum wa rahmatu Allah (peace be upon you and Mercy of Allah).

14) The performance of the acts should be in accordance with the above-stated order.
Other actions of prayer are two in number according to Hanafi and Hanbali Schools of jurisprudence. There is a difference of opinion between the two schools; we only mention the opinion of the Hanbali School since they have the dominant evidence from our point of view.

* Wajibaat (sub-essentials).

* Sunan (supererogatory acts).

The Wajibaat include the following:

1) Saying Takbeers upon moving from one position to another.

2) At-Tasmee': Saying: "Allah listens to him who praises Him", upon standing up from the bowing position. It is a Wajib on the Iman and the one who prays alone.

3) At-Tahmeed: Saying: "Our Lord, and to You is all Praise" after standing up from the bowing down position. It is a Wajib on the Iman and the one who prays alone.

4) At-Tasbeeh while in the bowing down position; which is to say: subhaana rabiyal-‘Adheem "Glory be to my Lord, The Most Great".

5) At-Tasbeeh while prostrating, which is to say: ‘How perfect my Lord is, The Most High.’(three times)

6) Saying: "O my Lord! Forgive me" between the two prostrations.

7) The first Tashahhud and the sitting while reciting it.

Here, it is important to state that if one forgets a pillar of the prayer, and then, remembers it, he has to perform it and prostrate for forgetfulness; otherwise, his prayer becomes invalid. As for the Wajib (obligatory act), one is not required to do it if he forgets it, but he has to perform the prostration of forgetfulness only; otherwise, his prayer becomes invalid.
The Sunan of prayer are as follows:

1) Raising hands up with Takbeer at the beginning of prayer, bowing, on returning to the erect position (after bowing down) and at the beginning of the third Raka'h.

2) Placing the right hand over the left one.

3) The opening supplication and "I seek the protection of Allah from Satan" after the first Takbeer (of Ihram).

4) Reciting a portion from the Quran after al-Faatihah.

5) Saying "Ameen" at the end of al-Faatihah by the Imam, the people led in prayer, and the one who prays alone. It is to be in secret in Thuhr and ‘Asr prayers, while aloud in the other prayers.

5) Placing one's knees on the floor before hands according to the Hanbali, Shaafi'i and Hanafi Schools, although this is not the dominant opinion.

6) Resting on knees upon moving for standing.

Actions which are disliked during the prayer:

1) Putting a garment on one's shoulders without returning one of its ends on the other shoulder.

2) Enveloping one's body with a garment and performing a prayer without uncovering any parts of his body even hands and feet.

3) Covering one's mouth with a garment and so on.

4) Bringing one's hair and garment together to prevent them from spreading or being soiled.

5) Placing one's hands on hips or tightening one's waist with belt as a form of imitation of disbelievers.

6) Taking the position of animals such as (1) squatting of a dog in sitting for Tashahhud, i.e. to sit on buttocks with the legs drawn up and putting hands on the ground, (2) stretching of a dog in prostration, i.e. to stick its front legs to the ground while in the position of prostration, and (3) turning around like the fox.

7) Making little motions for no need such as: fidgeting one's clothing or body or turning face.

8) Making one's belly touching the two thighs while in the position of prostration.

9) Performing the prayer in one garment or in a place where one's attention might be distracted.

Allah knows best.

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