Doubts on the Validity of Prayer

Ustadh Salman Younas dispels misgivings on performing certain acts in prayer.

I’m one who frequently questions the validity of the prayer and genuinely questions whether I have committed a mistake. This has recently been magnified by my reading of that delaying a necessary act by the length of three tasbih is itself a wajib. Now I constantly question whether or not I have left too long a gap.

I used to take long pauses to reflect on prayer and now no longer do. This has been particularly problematic because I often make mistakes and/or stutter in my prayer and thereafter repeat the line, whether it be a takbirat or a verse, but now I am unsure if this would mean I am leaving this wajib.

Specifically: When performing Isha today in my third or fourth rak‘a when saying “Rabbana laka al-hamd,” I believe that I trailed off, failing to say the end. So I repeated “Rabbana laka al-hamd.” I then immediately went into sujood but then I questioned whether this would be classed as delaying the necessary act. Do I repeat the prayer?

A second question: I led my younger brother in prayer for maghrib, but I didn’t know then that the imam does not say “Rabbana laka al-hamd,” so I said it. Must this prayer be repeated?

You are suffering from waswasa, or baseless migivings. You must ignore these baseless misgivings otherwise you will find yourself in a situation where they will likely increase and make your life even more difficult.

You should ignore the three tasbih ruling. Even though scholars deemed it as wajib, leaving a wajib does not invalidate the prayer. There is no reason for you to focus on this minor wajib act to the point of constantly questioning whether you have contravened the ruling.

Further, this ruling of delaying a necessary act applies to completely finishing one act and then moving on to another. If you are still reciting, or correcting your recitation, etc., this is not counted as a “delay.”

Here, it should be pointed out that you are also suffering from baseless misgivings when it comes to recitation. Why the constant need to correct yourself? The rulings of recitation in the Hanafi school are extremely relaxed. “Trailing off” does not require repetition of the word, nor does it invalidate your prayer. The imam saying “Rabbana laka al-hamd” is also harmless. Stuttering does not require repetition either. Neither do common errors in tajwid. You should stop repeating your recitation for such mistakes.

It is extremely difficult to invalidate the prayer in the Hanafi school. My advice to you is pray a normal prayer and stop thinking too much and hyper-analyzing your prayer.


Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Can I Pray Behind an Open Sinner? (Video)

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalamu alaykum

Can I pray behind an open sinner?

Answer:  Wa’leykum Salam,

Here is a video answer by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani to this question:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and Executive Director of SeekersHub Global After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersHub Global to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He has been repeatedly listed as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims (The Muslim500).

Was the Prayer of a Follower Valid If He Has Said the Salam Before the Imam?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum,

Was the prayer of a follower valid if he has said the Salam before the Imam? I was trying not to finish saying my Salam before the Imam but the Imam made such a long Salam that I had to end saying my Salam before him.

Answer: Assalam alaykum wa rahmatuLlah,

Yes, your prayer would be valid in such a scenario. Completing the prayer before the imam is disliked, yet not invalidating. This is because the obligation is to follow him in his actions, which include, the closing salams of the prayer. Practically, if you know he is going to say an extended salam, consider waiting till he is done before saying your own salams to exit the prayer.

[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]

Please also consider taking the following free class: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Basic Hanafi Jurisprudence (STEP)

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam was born and raised in Ipswich, England, a quiet town close to the east coast of England. His journey for seeking sacred knowledge began when he privately memorized the entire Qur’an in his hometown at the age of 16. He also had his first experience in leading the tarawih (nightly-Ramadan) prayers at his local mosque. Year after year he would continue this unique return to reciting the entire Qur’an in one blessed month both in his homeland, the UK, and also in the blessed lands of Shaam, where he now lives, studies and teaches.

Should the Imam Say “Amin” Loudly After Finishing the Recitation of the Fatiha? [Shafi’i]

Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

Question: Assalam aleykum,

Should the Imam say “Amin” loudly after finishing the recitation of the Fatiha during the first two cycles of Maghreb, Isha and Fajr?

Answer:Wa alaykum salam

I pray you are well and enjoying Allah’s Countless Blessings.

The Imam, after reciting Surah al-Fatihah aloud in the first and second units of prayer, does not repeat the recitation of Surah al-Fatihah, neither audibly nor silently. The Imam pauses silently allowing for the followers (ma’mum) to complete their recitation of Surah al-Fatihah. The followers should whisper while reciting, causing themselves to hear while not disturbing others.

And Allah Knows best

Abdurragmaan Khan

Photo: Gunawan Kartapranata

What Are the Rulings Related to Loud Recitation, and Being Joined by Someone If I Pray Alone?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: As salam ‘alaykum,

1) If someone is praying alone with the intention of being his own imam, should he recite aloud for Fajr, Magrib and isha?

2) Can a man join someone in congregation who has started on his own with the intention of being his own imam?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

(1) Yes, reciting aloud during the Fajr prayer, and the first two cycles (rak`ats) of the Maghrib and `Isha prayers, would be superior, yet it is not a requirement, because the basis is that the men’s prayer is prayed in congregation and reciting aloud here bears a stronger resemblance to the congregational prayer.

(2) Yes, because the basis for the men’s prayer, as before, is that it is prayed in congregation, and here, he is the imam of himself. Thus the man does not need a specific intention to lead other men. However, the same is not true for leading congregations that include women. In this situation, the imam does have to make a separate intention.

[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah, with Tahtawi’s Gloss (1.346)]

Please also see: Reciting Aloud in Quiet Prayers

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

قال في الطحطاوي على مراقي الفلاح: ((قوله : والمنفرد بفرض مخير فيما يجهر فإن شاء جهر لأنه إمام نفسه لكن لا يبالغ في الجهر مثل الإمام لأنه لا يسمع غيره وجهره هكذا أفضل ليكون الأداء على هيئة الجماعة)) اهـ.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Should I Follow the School of the People of My Local Mosque When Praying With Them?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam aleykum,

I usually go to a nearby mosque. In the congregational prayer after Sura Fatiha the people there say ameen loudly and at the end of the prayer they give salam after the imam gave salam to his right and left. As I follow the Hanafi school should I do the above mentioned things different than them?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

Yes, you should continue to follow the dictates of our school, namely, by saying the “amin” quietly. As for the salams, doing so with everybody else in this case would be fine as the expectation is to follow the imam (1) at the same time as him, as per the position of Imam Abu Hanifa (Allah Most High be pleased with him), or (2) immediately thereafter, as per the position of Qadi Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad (Allah be pleased with them both), remaining behind him in both cases.

[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah (1.375)]

And Allah Most High alone knows best.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Shaeekh Shuvro

Can I Pray in Public With a Man Who Is Not Related to Me?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: As a woman, is it permissible to pray with a non-mahram man when it is just the two of us and we are in a public area (not secluded) but relatively empty?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

The basis is that such a prayer would be valid and permitted in light of it being in a public place provided the interaction between the two individuals is appropriate and adheres to Islamic norms of gender interaction. [Ibn Abidin, Hashiya (1:381)]

With this said, it may still be best to avoid this unless there are other factors involved, such as concern for safety in public when praying alone or the like.

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Photo: Heather Anne Campbell

As a Shafi’i Should I Avoid to Raise My Hands When Praying Behind a Hanafi Imam? (Shafi’i School)

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam’aleykum,

1. As a Shafi’i should I avoid to raise my hands when praying behind a Hanafi Imam?

2. Should I recite the Fatiha while praying behind an Imam?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

Following the Imam

As a follower, you are supposed to follow the Imam leading the prayer. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The Imam was only put in that position to be followed” [Bukhari, Muslim].

Raising the Hands when the Imam does not do so

In the Shafi’i school, raising the hands when changing positions in prayer is a Sunnah act. The Hanafi school does not likewise consider it recommended.

If you are praying behind someone who does not raise his hands, such as a Hanafi, raising your hands remains recommended. This does not contradict the general obligation to follow the Imam, as raising the hands is not considered an act that grossly contradicts the Imam’s prayer.

Reciting the Fatiha while the Imam is Reciting it

In the Shafi’i school, it is obligatory to recite the Fatiha in every rak’ah (unit of prayer) for any prayer, obligatory or otherwise. This is irrespective of whether one is praying alone or following behind an Imam, or whether the prayer is recited aloud or silently. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “A prayer in which the Fatiha is not recited is not valid” [Ibn Khuzaymah].

A person can recite the Fatiha at any moment during the standing portion of the unit of prayer. It is recommended to recite it following the Imam’s recitation.

Reciting another Chapter of the Qur’an while Following an Imam

Reciting a chapter or portion of the Qur’an following the recitation of the Fatiha is recommended in the first two rak’ahs of any prayer, obligatory or otherwise. It is not recommended when a person is following an Imam. In this case, it is recommended to listen to the Imam’s recitation. If one cannot hear the Imam’s recitation for whatever reason, it remains recommended for one to also recite.

Please also see: Should I Follow a Fast Imam Even if It Entails Not Reciting the Fatiha? [Shafi’i School]

Source: al-Hawashi al-Madaniyyah, Hashiyat al-Bujayrami

Shuaib Ally

Is It Valid to Pray an Obligatory Prayer Alone Despite the Presence of a Congregation Praying the Same Prayer?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: As salam alaykum,

Is my obligatory prayer prayed alone valid despite the fact that a congregation praying the same prayer started right after me?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

Yes, your prayer would remain valid in the scenario you mention because you did not do anything invalidating.

However, in the case that you are praying alone and a congregation starts, it would be permitted to break your prayer and then join the congregation.

But there is detail on how to break the prayer:

(1) If you are in the first cycle (rak`at) of Zuhr, `Asr or `Isha’, and have not yet prostrated, you would say the salam and then exit the prayer.

(2) The same ruling as (1) applies if you actually prostrated for the first cycle in Fajr or Maghrib.

(3) If you prostrated for Zuhr, `Asr or `Isha’, you would add a second cycle, and then exit the prayer.

(4) If you prostrated for the second cycle in Fajr or Maghrib, you would simply complete the prayer.

[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]

And consider taking the following free class at SeekersHub: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Basic Hanafi Jurisprudence (STEP)

And Allah alone knows best.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Does Praying in a Row by Myself Invalidate My Prayer?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: As salam alaykum,

Is a man’s prayer invalid if he prays in congregation yet stands in a row by himself?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

No, praying in a row by yourself is not invalidating. Rather, it may be disliked if there is space in the row ahead of you, but in any case, it doesn’t affect the validity of the prayer.

See also: How Should Two Persons Pray Together?

And Allah alone knows best.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani