What Happens to My Prayer If I Use Dhikr to Clear My Throat?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Irshaad Sedick




What if I utter something during Salah that is considered dhikr, such as the Isti‘adhah (seeking refuge), but without intending to perform dhikr? For instance, I have mucus in my throat and wish to articulate words correctly before commencing the Tashahhud. In this case, I recite the Istiadhah primarily to confirm my pronunciation. Would my Salah remain valid? I came across information indicating that according to the Hanafi madhhab if one utters something during Salah without any specific intention, the Salah becomes invalid.




In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him. Amin.
Reciting dhikr without intending dhikr during the prayer will not invalidate the prayer, and Allah knows best.
No form of invocation of Allah (dhikr) invalidates the prayer unless it is a direct address such as “Allah have mercy on you” or “And upon you be peace”. However, it does not invalidate the prayer if it refers to someone not present, such as “Allah have mercy on Zayd” (nor is it invalidated by addressing Allah or the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)). [Keller, Reliance of the Traveller]
Speech That Invalidates Prayer
If one utters sounds or speech during the prayer, it can invalidate the prayer, depending on the circumstances. The prayer is invalidated by uttering two or more letters or sounds or sounds equivalent to two or more letters’ worth. [Misri, ‘Umdat al-Salik]
Such sounds include laughter, crying, groaning, clearing the throat, blowing, sighing, etc. If much sound is emitted, equivalent to more than six words, even with valid excuses like blurting out words unintentionally, laughter or coughing overtaking one, speaking due to absentmindedness, or due to being a new Muslim unaware of the prohibition of speech during prayer, the prayer is invalidated. However, a slight amount of speech does not necessarily invalidate the prayer if there is a valid excuse. [ibid.]
If someone speaks knowingly, although unaware that it invalidates the prayer, it becomes invalid. Similarly, uttering the exclamation “Aah” out of fear of Hell during the prayer also invalidates it. [ibid.]
Clearing the Throat for Obligatory Recitation
In cases where it is necessary to recite quietly but the Fatiha or other necessary components cannot be pronounced without clearing the throat, one may do so even if it approximates two letters in sound. If, on the other hand, recitation is impossible without making a sound, it is more appropriate to recite silently to oneself. [Hammadi, Fath al-Wahhab al-Malik]
It is essential to note that the conditions not commonly known to invalidate the prayer, such as clearing the throat, do not affect the validity of the prayer for ordinary individuals whose ignorance of these matters is excusable. However, a scholar must be aware of these conditions and act accordingly. [ibid.]
Urgent Communication During the Prayer
Furthermore, if one observes a blind person, for instance, in a potentially hazardous situation during the prayer, one must speak to alert them if nonverbal communication is insufficient.
Invocations and supplications directed toward Allah (dhikr) during the prayer generally do not invalidate the prayer unless they involve direct addresses, such as saying “Allah have mercy on you” or “And upon you be peace.” Speaking in such a manner does not affect the prayer if it is directed towards someone who is not present, such as saying “Allah have mercy on Zayd.” [ibid.]
Using Dhikr to Validly Communicate During Prayer
When something occurs during the prayer that requires a response, such as someone requesting permission to enter or reminding the imam of something, one may respond in specific ways without invalidating the prayer.
A male worshipper may say “Subhan Allah” while intending only to invoke Allah (dhikr), avoiding other intentions like mere information sharing. For a female, clapping the right palm onto the back of the left hand is an appropriate way to signify her response, not palm-to-palm clapping.
Reciting a Quranic Phrase as an Instrument to Validly Communicate in Prayer
However, reciting a Quranic verse to convey information and not intend dhikr does invalidate the prayer. But the prayer remains valid if the intention is recital and information sharing or recital alone. [ibid.]
I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.