What Should I Do When Doubting the Number of Cycles I Have Prayed?
Answered by Ustadh Sufyan Qufi
When performing Isha, I was confused if I was in the third or fourth rak’a but later became certain that I was in the third and finished the prayer. Have I erred in some way?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
I pray this finds you in the best of states.
If it was not the first time that you were in doubt about the number of cycles you have prayed, then you have done the best thing to do in this situation. Namely, using your judgment and building your prayer on the number of cycles you were the most inclined to. [Shurunbulali, Nur al-Idah under the light of contemporary scholars’ position]
The Messenger of Allah, Peace and blessings upon him, said: “If one of you is in doubt, he should strive to find the truth and build on it.” [Bukhari]
Thus your prayer was valid.
Doubting for the First Time
If it was the first time in your life that you had doubts about how many cycles (rak’a) you have prayed you should have repeated the prayer. [Shurunbulali, Nur al-Idah]
The reason for this ruling is that your prayer became invalid when you were in doubt. [Ibid]
You will have to repeat this prayer because it is invalid.
And Allah knows best.
[Ustadh] Sufyan Qufi
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Sufyan Qufi is an advanced seeker of knowledge, originally from Algeria, who grew up in France. He began searching far and wide for answers to the fundamental questions of life and was disappointed at the answers he found. Then he connected with various traditional teachers and gradually connected with SeekersGuidance. He embarked on his journey of learning through the various teachers at SeekersGuidance, including his mentor Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. He studied numerous texts in Islamic Law, Theology, Hadith, and other areas with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and other teachers, including Shaykh Abdurrahman al-Sha‘ar, Shaykh Ali Hani, and others. He is an active instructor at SeekersGuidance and answers questions through the SeekersGuidance Answers Service.