Fiqh-us-Sunnah - 1.120

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Obligatory acts of prayer, Saying the Opening Takbir and Beginning the Prayer

Ali reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, "The key to prayer is purity. What puts one into its inviolable state is the takbir, and the tasleem releases one from it."

As to the authenticity of the report, it is related by ash-Shai'i, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah and at-Tirmidhi, who called it the most authentic report on this topic. Al-Hakim and Ibn as-Sakin consider it as sahih. The takbir consists of saying Allahu akbar. Abu Hameed reported that when the Prophet stood for prayer, he would stand straight, raise his hands and say, "Allahu akbar."

This is related by Ibn Majah, and in the Sahihs of Ibn Khuzaimah and Ibn Hibban. Al-Bazzar related something similar to it, but with a chain that is sahih according to Muslim's criterion. 'Ali and others also reported this.

Standing During the Obligatory Prayers

One must stand during the prayer, if at all possible. Says Allah, "Guard and preserve the prayers and the mid-most prayer, and stand for Allah with devotion." Reported 'Umar ibn Hussain, "I had some physical problem, so I asked the Prophet, upon whom be peace, about the prayer, and he said, 'Pray standing; if you are not able to; pray sitting, if you are not able to; pray (while lying) on your side." (Related by al-Bukhari.) Most scholars say that one should not put his feet together while standing in prayer.

For voluntary prayers, one can pray sitting even if he can stand, but one who stands receives a larger reward than one who sits. 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar related that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, "The prayer of one who sits is half of the prayer." (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

If one can not stand, he may pray according to what he is capable of doing, as Allah does not burden a soul beyond its ability. He will get a complete reward for the prayer. Abu Musa reported that the Prophet said, "If a slave (of Allah) is sick or travels, he will get a reward for those acts similar to what he would get if he was healthy and at home."

Obligatory acts of prayer, Reciting al-Fatihah in Every Rak'ah of the Prayer

There are many authentic hadith which state that it is obligatory to recite al-Fatihah in every rak'ah. Thus, there is no difference of opinion on this point. Some of these hadith are:

'Ibadah ibn as-Samit related that the Prophet said, "There is no prayer for one who does not recite the opening of the Book al-Fatihah)." This is related by "the group."

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet said, "Whoever prays a prayer and does not recite the opening chapter of the Qur'an has not prayed correctly." (Related by Ahmad, al-Bukhari and Muslim.) Ad-Daraqutni also recorded a hadith with a sahih chain with almost exactly the same wording.

Said Abu Sa'eed, "We were ordered to recite the opening chapter of the Qur'an and what (else) was easy (for us)." This is related by Abu Dawud. Al-Hafez and Ibn Sayyid an-Nass consider its chain as sahih.

In some of the narrations dealing with the prayer's incompleteness, it states, "And then recite the 'Mother of the Book' (al-Fatihah)," and he said, "And do that in every rak'ah."

It is confirmed that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, recited al-Fatihah in every rak'ah of every prayer, obligatory or superogatory. Since this is an act of worship, we can only follow what he did. And the Prophet said, "Pray as you have seen me pray." (Related by al-Bukhari.)

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