Answered by Sidi Salman Younas
Question: I am aware that one is closest to Allah during prostration within prayer. I believe it is strongly recommended to supplicate to Allah at this time and though it is preferred to make supplication in Arabic, supplicating in English is permitted as well. Can you confirm this?
Answer: assalamu `alaykum
I pray you are well.
In general, there is no harm in supplicating while one is in a state of prostration, though there are some details pertaining to this that will be clarified below.
The merits of prostration can fill pages, and there are also a number of narrations where the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) told people to supplicate in their prostrations.
Thawban (Allah be well pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “There is no slave [of Allah] who performs a single prostration to Allah except that Allah raises him a degree due to it and lifts from him a mistake.” [Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ahmad]
Abu Huraryah (Allah be well pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “The closest a slave is to his Lord is while he is in a state of prostration, so increase you supplications [therein].” [Muslim, Abu Dawud, Nasa`i, Ahmad]
Supplicating in Prostration
From the above, it is clear that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) advised his followers to supplicate while in a state of prostration, as it is a moment where one is closest to his Lord. It is established that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) himself supplicated while in a state of prostration. [Bukhari, Muslims, Nasa`i, and others]
Among the supplications that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) recited while in a state of prostration are:
اللَّهُمَّ لَك سَجَدْت وَبِك آمَنْت وَلَك أَسْلَمْت ، سَجَدَ وَجْهِي لِلَّذِي . خَلَقَهُ وَصَوَّرَهُ وَشَقَّ سَمْعَهُ وَبَصَرَهُ تَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِين
سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّنَا وَبِحَمْدِكَ ، اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي
سُبُّوحٌ قُدُّوسٌ رَبُّ الْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالرُّوحِ
However, there are some minor legal details that need to be clarified regarding such supplications.
The Position of the Hanafis & Shafi`is:
The basis within the Hanafi school is that the above narrations are specific to night-vigil prayers, or to any supererogatory prayer, not obligatory prayers. According to the Hanafi school, the obligatory prayers are to be prayed as the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) prayed them, with all the sunna actions, but to not increase anything beyond that. However, since in supererogatory prayers one aims to make his prayer as long as possible these additions would be recommended therein. [Sarakhsi, Mabsut; Zayla`i, Tabyin al-Haqa’iq; Haskafi, Durr al-Mukhtar]
However, Ibn `Abidin indicates that one can also recite these additional supplications in an obligatory prayer, as long as one is not leading others who may be burdened by such additions. Therefore, if one is praying an obligatory prayer alone, or leading people who will not be burdened by such additions, or praying a supererogatory prayer, these supplications would be permitted for one to recite. [Ibn `Abidin, Hashiyah; Shurunbulali, Imdad al-Fattah]
These was also the position of the Shafi`i school, as confirmed by Nawawi in his Majmu` and the commentaries on it stating that adding to the three tasbihs [s: subhana rabbi al-`azim/subhana rabbi al-a`la] is recommended for the one praying alone. As for the one leading others in prayer, he should not add anything to the three tasbihs except if those following him are satisfied with elongating the prayer. [Ramli, Nihayat al-Muhtaj; Haytami, Tuhfat al-Muhtaj]
Therefore, if one is a follower of the Hanafi school, it is best to restrict oneself to the three tasbihs and not to increase anything beyond that. If one does, however, there would be no harm per se in doing so as their is leeway within the school itself, as well as explicit recommendations in other schools to do so. In times of religious decadence, individuals should not be turned away from such righteous actions, which may become a cause for their guidance and salvation in the next life.
Supplicating in English
Within the ritual prayer itself, one should supplicate in Arabic. It is best to supplicate with the words conveyed in the Qur’an and the sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). It would also be permitted to recite a supplication not found in the Qur’an or sunna, as long as it is not something normally possible to ask for from human beings, such as “Oh Allah, give me a car.” [Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
And Allah knows best
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani