Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas
Question: Assalam aleykum
Sometimes I find myself rocking slightly up and down and/or rocking back and forth in prayer, usually in the standing or tashahud positions. Sometimes when I do this while standing, a part of my heel may even lift off of the ground.
Does this motion invalidate my prayer?
Answer: assalamu alaykum
The movement you describe will not invalidate your prayer.
The default is that prayer should be performed in a state of serenity with the limbs at rest. Slight movement without need is considered slightly disliked, while regular fidgeting is prohibitively disliked. These do not invalidate prayer, however. But if the movement is excessive such that an onlooker would presume you are not praying, the prayer would be invalidated.
As for slightly rocking back-and-forth, this is not necessarily from fidgeting. Rather, it is often a form of movement that comes naturally to an individual and assists in strengthening focus and concentration. As such, while it may be better to avoid, it would not be at the same level of dislikedness as the actions previously mentioned especially when occurring unintentionally.
Please see this answer.
[Ustadh] Salman Younas
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman where he spent five years studying Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford and continues his traditional studies with scholars in the United Kingdom.