(Chapter 2, contd.)

2. PLACE FOR SALAT

A place or a building, which is used for the purpose of worship and prayer, is called a masjid (Mosque). A hadith tells us that "all the earth has been rendered for the Muslims, a mosque (Pure and clean)."

This means that wherever a Muslim might be he can offer his prayer but the reward of a prayer offered in a mosque is far greater than that offered in an ordinary place. The following points should be noted when choosing a pace for prayer.

(a) The place should be dean and pure. Salat in a dirty, filthy and impure place such as a rubbish tip, slaughterhouse, bathing place and a camel pen is forbidden.

(b) The place should be free from danger. The danger could be due to someone or something that may disturb the worshipper.

(c) A prayer place where the worshipper might hinder movement of others should be avoided, e.g. busy pavements, public roadways etc.

(d) It is forbidden to pray on the roof of Baitullah (Ka'bah).

(e) It is forbidden to pray on top of or facing towards a grave.

3. DRESS FOR SALAT

MEN

  1. The dress for the men should be such that it covers from the navel to the knees at least.
  2. The shoulders should not be left uncovered.
  3. Salat can be prayed if one garment of it covers the body from the knees as well as the shoulders.

"None of you must pray in a single garment of which no part comes over the shoulder:" (Bukhari and Muslim)

If, however, the garment is not long enough to cover the shoulders then parts of the body between the navel and the knees should at least be covered

WOMEN

The dress of the woman should be such that it covers her whole body, from head to feet leaving only the face and the hands uncovered. Prayer offered in transparent clothing is not valid. Also tight fitting clothing which shows the shape of the body should be avoided.

4. TYPES OF SALAT

a) Fard or Obligatory Salat.

Fard prayer is an obligatory prayer. Every believer is ordered by Allah(swt) to offer five obligatory prayers in a day. Failure to observe any one of the five obligatory prayers is a serious and punishable sin.

b) Nafl Prayer

This is a voluntary prayer which the Prophet(saw) observed before or after Fard at special and isolated occasions. It also includes those which he encouraged Muslims to pray.

The Nafl Prayer can be divided into three categories:

(i) Sunnat Mu'akkadah (compulsory): These are those which are emphasized by the Holy Prophet(saw) and offered regularly by him before or after the Fard prayer.

(ii) Ghair Mu'akkadah (optional): These are those that are offered only occasionally by Prophet Muhammad(saw).

(iii) Nafl Prayer (Extra): This is an extra prayer. There is a reward for praying it and no sin for not. It can be offered at any isolated instance according to the time and capacity of the believer. Prophet Muhammad(saw) encouraged believers to pray Nafl to help make up for minor omissions or other defects in the obligatory prayer.

5. NUMBER OF RAKATS FOR THE FIVE OBLIGATORY PRAYERS

(i) Fajr Prayer

2 rakats sunnat Mu'akkadah, 2 Rakats Fard.

(ii) Zuhr Prayer

2 or 4 rakats sunnat Mu'akkadah, 4 rakats fard, 2 rakats sunnat Mu'akkadah and an unspecified number of nafl as time and capacity allows.

Ibn Umar(ra) said "I prayed alone with Allah's messenger(saw) 2 rakats before and 2 rakats after the 'Zuhr' prayer." (BUKHARI & MUSLIM)

It is a familiar practice to offer 4 rakats sunnat before Zuhr prayer, but this hadith proves that 2 rakat sunnat before the Zuhr prayer is also allowed.

(iii) Asr Prayer.

2 or 4 rakats sunnat ghair Mu'akkadah, 4 rakats fard.

A!i(ra) said, "Allah's messenger(saw) used to pray 4 rakats before Asr prayer separating them with a salutation.." (TlRMIZI)

Another hadith narrated by Ali(ra) says, "Allah's messenger(saw) used to pray two rakats before Asr prayer." (ABU DAWUD)

(iv) Maghrib Prayer.

2 rakats nafl, 3 rakats fard, 2 rakats sunnat Mu'akkadah and an unspecified number of nafl as time and capacity allows.

2 rakats nafl after sunset and before the maghrib prayer are allowed for those who wish to do so. For this hadiths in BUKHARI are a sure proof. However, some people forbid this and others find it very strange if they see a person offer 2 rakats nafl before Maghrib.

(v) Isha Prayer.

An unspecified number of nafl rakats according to the time and capacity, 4 rakats fard, 2 rakats sunnat Mu'akkadah, unspecified number of nafl as time and capacity allows and 3 witr.

Some people insist very emphatically upon the offering of 4 rakats optional sunnat before-the isha prayer but during our entire research we could not at a single proof, any practice or order from Prophet Muhammad(saw) or his companions to justify this claim. Certainly it's allowed to pray nafl while waiting for Jama'at.

Some people offer 2 rakats nafl after the witr prayer. However, there is an authentic hadith which states that the witr prayer should be offered after all the nafl which the person wishes to pray, have been offered.

Ibn Umar(ra) reported that the Messenger of Allah(saw) said, "Make witr as the last prayer of your night prayer." (MISHKAT)