What Kind of Extraneous Motion Invalidates the Prayer?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad


Does swallowing saliva in the middle of a prayer invalidate it? What are the movements that nullify the prayer?


Thank you for your question.

Swallowing Saliva

“The prayer is invalidated when any (even if a little) substance (A: other than saliva) reaches the body cavity intentionally. It also invalidates the prayer if it occurs absentmindedly or in ignorance of its prohibition, provided the amount of the substance is commonly acknowledged to be much (def: f4.5), though not if it is little.“ [The Reliance of the Traveller, f9.5]

Extraneous Motion

I have copied and pasted the whole section on extraneous motion here from the Reliance of the Traveller, so please read it in full:

f9.6 Adding a surplus action that is an integral, such as bowing, invalidates the prayer if done intentionally, but does not invalidate it if done because one has forgotten (O: that one has already performed it). The prayer is not invalidated by intentionally or absentmindedly adding a surplus spoken integral such as repeating one’s recital of the Fatiha or the Testification of Faith (Tashahhud) or reciting them in the wrong place.

f9.7 The prayer is invalidated by adding, even if absentmindedly, a motion that is not one of the actions of prayer, provided it is both (O: considered by common acknowledgement (def: f4.5) to be) much and uninterruptedly consecutive, such as three steps (O: or successively moving three separate body parts like the head and two hands, though an up-and-down motion is considered just one) or three or more consecutive motions.

f9.8 The prayer is not invalidated by action that is not much, such as two steps, or is much but is separated so that the subsequent motion is considered to be unconnected with the preceding one. But if a (O: slight) action is grossly improper, such as jumping, it invalidates the prayer. Slight actions such as scratching oneself, or turning a rosary (subha, dis: w27) do not affect the validity of the prayer, nor does remaining silent at length.

I pray this benefits you and answers your questions. Please see these links as well:
Should I Repeat a Prayer in Which I Was Fidgeting? [Shafi’i]
Does Adding a Surplus Integral in the Prayer Invalidate It? [Shafi’i]

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani 

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.