Common Mistakes Before, During and After Salah (Prayer)

  • Delaying the salah intentionally – The salah should be done within its time.  Many people delay it due to laziness or some other unnecessary matter.  Each salah has fixed times within which it must be performed.
  • Walking too fast towards the masjid – A Muslim should not walk too fast or run towards the masjid in order to catch the salah.  Rather, he should walk calmly to it and make up whatever he has missed.

  • Leaving gaps in lines during congregational salah – A Muslim should try his best to assure that there are no gaps between him and his brother to the left and/or right.  If there are any gaps, he should close them by moving closer to his brother and asking the one next to him to move close to him as well.  The objective is to stand close to each other as much as possible without gaps.  This same rule applies to the sisters as well.

  • Saying out loud the intention – The intention’s place is in the heart and it should not be said out aloud.  There is nothing in the Qur’an and authentic sunnah that tells us to say out loud our intention for salah with specific words/phrases.

  • Eating bad smelling foods or not smelling good – A Muslim should not come to the masjid smelling bad. This disturbs and hurts the rest of the people in the masjid and goes against the rule of doing good towards each other.

  • Not turning off the phone or other loud devices – This is very common and is extremely distracting to other worshippers.  Please turn off the phones and other electronic devices before starting the salah.

  • Neglecting salah when one is sick or ill – Some Muslims believe that if one is sick, then he does not have to pray his salah.  However, this is a dangerous error because a Muslim must do his salah at all times when the salah time comes in.  The Prophet (pbuh) always did his salah even until his last days during his final painful illness.  In Islam, we are obligated to do our salah while standing (the obligatory salah), and if we cannot, then while sitting, and if we cannot even do that, then while we are laying down.  We must perform salah in whichever way possible in our given situations.  To intentionally miss one of the five daily prayers is a major sin.

  • Eyes not still and Closing the eyes (25848; 22174; – The eyes of the Muslim should always focus at the place of sujud (where he is going to place his head).  A Muslim should not be looking around here and there with his eyes.  This goes against kushu’ (concentration) in salah.  The eyes should remain still staring at the place of sujud in all positions except the tashhud (the sitting posture where Attahiyyatu… is read and the finger pointed).  During the tashhud, the eyes should focus on the finger.  As for closing the eyes, then this is disliked and should not be done unless there is something so distracting in the view that it is causing the person to not be able to concentrate in salah, in which case, he can close his eyes.
  • Not staying still during salah (12683) – Constantly fidgeting during salah, looking at a watch, fiddling with one’s fingers or clothes, constantly scratching one’s body parts, moving feet, or other parts of the body restlessly are all things which should be avoided.  When a Muslim stands before Allah, he should be still and not do such things.  All such things go against the kushu’ of salah.
  • Not moving the lips (70577) – The words of the salah, which include the Qur’an, supplications (du’a), tasbeeh, etc. need to be said by physically moving the lips and tongue.  The practice of doing salah internally in the heart without moving the lips or tongue is incorrect and against the sunnah.

  • Doing the adhkaar of salah too quickly (146675) – A Muslim should take his time when saying the different words or phrases of salah. He should not be hasty and remember that one is speaking to Allah, hence, he should be humble and respectful.
  • Moving too quickly between positions during salah (146675; 117779) – Many Muslims perform their salah very quickly and they shift between different positions of salah as though they are crows pecking at food.  A Muslim should remain calm and move between each position slowly and with humbleness.  The correct way to move between positions is to not do so until, at minimum, all the joints of the body come to rest in that position and then we should move to the next position.
  • Racing with the imam (33790) – A Muslim should neither move to the next position before the imam does, nor should he do so with the imam, nor should he delay it a long time after the imam has reached the position.  The correct way to follow the imam is to do so as soon as the imam reaches his position.  For example, if everyone (including the imam) is in ruku, a Muslim should remain in that position and not move until the imam has reached the next position.

  • Doing the bowing (ruku’) incorrectly – Some Muslims while doing ruku’ lower their heads excessively, others do not lower their heads enough, and others arch their backs during it.  All these are wrong.  The correct way to do so is to make a 90 degree angle of your back when doing it.  This angle should be so straight that a glass of water placed on such a person’s back would not fall over.  However, if one is not able to physically do so, then he should try to straighten his back to the best of his ability.

  • Doing the prostration (sujud) incorrectly – Seven bones must touch the ground during this position: nose and forehead (count as one bone), the two hands, the two knees, and the toes of the two feet.  Many Muslims don’t touch their nose on the ground nor their feet.  These things must touch the ground and your toes should be facing the Qiblah.  Some Muslims have a bad habit of playing with one foot against the other during this position, this should be avoided.  Another thing to avoid in this position is that the elbows should never touch the ground; rather, they should always remain standing.  Finally, the belly is also not to touch the thighs.

  • Getting up before imam completes the salam – Sometimes people who come late to the salah and miss a rak’ah (unit) or two of salah behind the imam get up before the imam even completes his taslim (when he says Asslam u Aliekum wa rahmatullah).  A Muslim should wait until the Imam finishes the taslim completely and then stand up to make up his missed portion of the salah.

    Mistakes After Salah


  • Neglecting to do dhikr after Salah – Many Muslims drop the dhikr after salah and do not engage themselves in the tasbeeh and other adhkaars mentioned in the authentic sunnah.  This dhikr after salah is like the dessert and the salah is the main meal, how can a Muslim refuse this beautiful dessert after the salah?  If all of the adhkaars mentioned in the authentic sunnah were said after a salah, a Muslim could spend a good 15+ minutes engaged in it.  Additionally, many rewards have been mentioned about the adhkaars after the salah.

  • Tasbeeh too quickly – It is seen in many places that one finds many Muslims doing tasbeeh, those who engage in it, very quickly without contemplating or concentrating.  A Muslim should take his time and do the tasbeeh after the salah with ease, focus and concentration.  It is recommended to do the tasbeeh with the right hand as it will be made to speak on the Day of Judgment and bear witness on behalf of the one who used to engage it with tasbeeh.

  • Making dua habitually in congregation after every salah – Some Muslims ignorantly think that the imam must make supplications (du’a) after the obligatory salah out loud while they say ameen behind him.  However, this is not the case.  There is no authentic narration that says that the Prophet (pbuh) ever did this act.  In fact, at that time the people used to engage in individual dhikr and supplications on their own and never in a congregational format.  Therefore, this should not be done and everyone should do their own individual dhikr and supplications after salah.  However, if this action is done once in a while without turning it into a habit, then there is no harm.

  • Du’a without paying attention – Many times one finds people making supplications (du’a) after salah without thinking or knowing what they are saying.  One of the conditions of supplications to be accepted is that one should be sincere in what he is asking and that one’s heart be in that du’a.  How can this be if the Muslim is not even concentrating or knowing what he is saying?  A Muslim should not make his supplications after salah into lip services or just a habitual chore, rather, he should know and understand what he is saying and put his heart and soul into it even if it means that most of his supplications are going to be in his native tongue.

  • Always shaking hands after finishing obligatory salah – The Muslims should not hasten to shake hands upon finishing the salah as some people do believing it to be part of the salah. It should be after saying the adkhar that people should exchange Salam by shaking hands with those on the right and left out of brotherhood and cooperation.  Also, after the obligatory salah, one should not make it a habit to shake hands or say, “may Allah accept from you and us.” But to do this occasionally, from time to time, is permissible.

  • Ruling on Sitting Briefly Before Getting up after the First or Third Rak’ah in the Salah – Shaykh Al-‘Uthyameen

    Translator’s Note: This is known in Arabic as Jalsat ul Al-Istiraahah (The Sitting of Rest)

    There are three opinions on this issue among the scholars:

    First: It is definitely recommended.

    Second: It is not recommended at all.

    Third: It is dependent on the condition of the person.  If he finds it difficult to stand immediately after [the second prostration], then he should sit.   However, if he does not find it difficult, then he should not sit.  The author of Al-Mughni said, “This opinion combines the two [opposite] opinions and is the middle position between them.”  And the author mentioned in the page following it [a statement] from ‘Ali bin Abu Talib that he said, “Verily, it is from the sunnah of the obligatory prayer that when a person gets up to stand in the first two rak’ahs [after the second prostration] that he not place his hands on the ground unless he is a very old man and cannot do so.” (Reported by Al-Athram)

    Then the author [of Al-Mughni] said:

    “The hadith of Malik ibn Al-Huwayrith which states that when the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) raised his head from the second prostration, he would sit [briefly] and then would support himself on the ground [with his hands before getting up] possibly did so because he found it difficult to stand due to his old age.  He (pbuh) is reported to have said [in his later life], “I have become heavy, so do not compete with me in bowing and prostration.” (Abu Dawud)

    And this is the opinion that I incline towards in the end [as well].  This is because Malik bin Al-Huwayrith came [and met] the Prophet (pbuh) when he (pbuh) was preparing for the Battle of Tabuk.  During that time, the Prophet (pbuh) had grown old and began to become weak [due to old age].  It is reported from Aisha that she said, “When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) grew bulky and heavy he would observe (most of his Nafl) prayers sitting.” (Muslim)  Hafsah [another wife of the Prophet (pbuh)] is reported to have said, “Never did I see the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) observing supererogatory prayer sitting till one year before his death when he would observe Nafl prayer in a sitting position.” (Muslim)

    All of the above reports show that the Hadith of Malik ibn Al-Huwayrith about relying on the ground or something else [with one’s hands after a brief sitting of rest to get up after the second prostration] is only done when there is a need for it.


    Brief Explanation of the Words of Salah

    The Takbeer

    The takbeer is repeated throughout the prayer. The prayer is started by it and positions are changed by it.

    الله أكبر
    Allah is Greater

    Allah is greater and higher than everything else. 

    Istiftaah (The Opening)

    There are different supplications reported in the hadith literature but the following one is the most common, therefore, I will stick to it alone.

    سبحانك اللهم وبحمدك، وتبارك اسمك، وتعالى جدك، ولا إله غيرك
    How perfect You are O Allah, and with You is all praise. Blessed be Your name, and lofty is Your position and none has the right to be worshiped except You

    سبحانك اللهم – How perfect You are O Allah

    How sacred/pure You are O Allah and free from every deficiency and defect.

    وبحمدك – And with You is all praise

    All praise and thanks belong to You alone because You are the originator of everything.

    وتبارك اسمك – Blessed be Your name

    Glorified and respectable is Your name and abundantly blessed.

    وتعالى جدك – Lofty is Your position

    Your greatness and power are elevated and ascended.

    ولا إله غيرك – None has the right to be worshiped except You

    There is no deity worthy of worship other than You.

    Ta’awwuz (Seeking Refuge)

    Allah has legislated for every reciter of the Qur’an to seek refuge with Him from the expelled Shaytan (Satan). He said, “So when you recite the Qur’an, [first] seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the expelled [from His mercy]” [Qur’an 16:98]. That is because the Qur’an is a guidance for mankind and a cure for what is in the hearts. Shaytan is a means to evils and misguidance, therefore, Allah commanded every reciter of the Qur’an to seek protection in Him from the expelled Shaytan, his whispers, and his party. Since the worshiper is about to start reciting the Qur’an, it is befitting that he recite the ta’wwuz before moving forward.

    Here is the wording of the ta’wwuz:

    أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم
    I seek refuge in Allah from the expelled Shaytan

    أعوذ بالله – I seek refuge in Allah

    I seek protection/recourse in Allah alone.

    من الشيطان – from the Shaytan (Satan)

    From every rebellious and arrogant being from among the jinn and mankind that diverts me from obeying my Lord and reciting His book.

    الرجيم – The expelled

    The one who is expelled or ousted from every good. It is also often translated as ‘cursed’.



    Nurturing Children in Salah: A Path to Obedience

    As my daughter approaches the age of seven, my wife and I have been contemplating how to initiate her into the practice of Salah. She had already committed the words and actions of Salah to memory over a year ago, and we would occasionally prompt her to pray on special occasions like Eid and Fridays and just do a weekly review where she tells us verbally what to say in each step. However, as she nears the age designated by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ for starting children in Salah, we felt compelled to take a more deliberate approach:

    مُرُوا أَوْلاَدَكُمْ بِالصَّلاَةِ وَهُمْ أَبْنَاءُ سَبْعِ سِنِينَ وَاضْرِبُوهُمْ عَلَيْهَا وَهُمْ أَبْنَاءُ عَشْرِ سِنِينَ

    “Command your children to pray when they become seven years old and discipline them [for not praying] when they become ten years old.” [Sunan Abi Dawud 495]

    In our quest to guide our daughter on this spiritual journey, we have implemented a strategy that appears to be yielding positive results, and I would like to share it with you in the hopes that it may prove beneficial to you as well.

    We introduced a NEW RULE in our household: whenever Salah time arrives and she is awake at home, she *must* join us in congregational prayer. The entire family now gathers together to pray, setting aside any other activities at that moment. We have transformed it into a cherished family event. Surprisingly, she seems to enjoy this collective experience more than simply being instructed to pray alone in her room. We uphold this practice with the same level of dedication as her bedtime routine, meal times, and homework schedule. No excuses are accepted.

    In fact, we have been mentally preparing her for this transition since she turned six, emphasizing that she should commence her regular prayers at the age of seven. This way, there were no surprises for her. While we currently exempt her from the Fajr and Isha prayers (during summer) due to her sleeping schedule, we plan to gradually introduce them in a year or two, insha’Allah.

    I urge all parents to recognize that it is our utmost responsibility to instill the essence of faith, habits, and a righteous lifestyle in our children. I recall a parent once mentioning that we can effectively teach instructions and establish habits until our children reach the age of around thirteen. Beyond that, maintaining existing routines becomes more challenging, while instilling new ones becomes exceptionally difficult. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize instilling the habit of Salah as soon as possible, alongside consistently teaching them about the Prophet’s life, manners, creed, and fostering love for Allah and His religion.

    As Allah states in the Qur’an:

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ

    O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones.” [Qur’an 66:6]

    We are continuously learning and evolving in this process, realizing that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each child is unique and may require different approaches. As parents, it is our duty to experiment and adapt, discovering what works best for our children in their journey towards obedience to their Lord. While we can draw inspiration from the solutions offered by other parents, ultimately, we must engage in our own exploration and determine the most effective methods to guide our children towards the same destination: submission to their Creator.