The Meaning of Worship and Submission in Islam

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: What is the meaning of worship (ibada) and of submission (islam)? A friend who I believe is close to accepting islam asked me this, but I was not able to respond correctly.


Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states. May God guide your friend to accepting Islam, and reward you for your aiding in this process.

Worship (ibada) refers to our efforts of devotion towards the Divine, such as daily ritual prayer (salat), fasting in Ramadan (sawm), yearly almsgiving to the poor (zakat), and the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj). It also includes one’s (optional) daily routine of litanies, such as reading the Qur’an, supplication, etc.

Submission (islam) basically refers to the entire religion, which is called ‘islam’ since all of it is an expression of one’s submission to God Almighty.

And Allah knows best.

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Related Answers:

Quranic Reflections – Why We Worship Allah: Lessons from the First Divine Call

What Role Should the Intellect Play When Seeking God?

The Truth of Islam, the Qur’an, & the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)

Forgetting to Perform an Obligatory Action of the Prayer

Answered by Ustadha Sulma Badrudduja

Question: If one misses a fard of prayer forgetfully, then remembers while in prayer, does one immediately stop the prayer and begin again (since it’s invalidated)? I can’t say I’ve actually missed a fard before, so I’m not sure about the way to deal with it.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Maintaining proper order between the obligatory actions of the prayer (e.g. standing, bowing, prostrating) is also obligatory. The validity of the prostration, for example, is dependent on its following the bowing. If one prostrated without bowing first, then the prostration would be considered inconsequential and it would need to be repeated. One would return to the standing position, perform the bowing that one forgot, stand up again, and then return to the prostration.

If one misses the bowing or both prostrations completely and moves forward with the prayer, they must repeat this rak`ah because it is not considered to be a proper rak`ah. If one misses one of the two prostrations of a rak`ah, one only needs to make up the missed prostration. This should be done when one remembers it, even if it is in a following rak`ah.

In summary, missing an obligatory action does not immediately invalidate the prayer because it can be corrected by repeating the actions properly, or in the case of the second prostration, by performing it later. One would also need to make the forgetfulness prostrations at the end if the mistake was done forgetfully.

There are more details depending on the specific scenario, but these are some basic points.

[Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Al-Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah; Al-Kasani, Bada’i` al-Sana’i`]

And Allah knows best.


Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Finishing One’s Supplications Before the Imam

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: When praying in jama’a, and you finish your recitations/supplications before the Imam, what are the things you can say in that time?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are well, insha’Allah.

If one finishes saying the tasbih of the bowing or the prostration before the Imam, one can either: [1] Recite additional tasbihs (keeping them ideally to an odd number), or [2] recite a short supplication.

`Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) relates that “the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to say often in his bowing and prostration, ‘Glory be to You, O Allah, our Lord, and with Your praise. O Allah, forgive me! (Subhank Allahumma rabbana wa bi hamdik Allahumma ighfirli)’” [Agreed upon]

سُبْحَانَكَ الْلَّهُمَّ رَبَّنَا وَبِحَمْدِكَ اَللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْلِي

If one finishes reciting in the final sitting before the Imam, one can recite further supplications until the Imam gives the closing salams. [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]

And Allah alone gives success.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Forcing Young Children to Be Quiet During Prayer

Answered by Ustadha Shaista Maqbool

Question: Assalamu alaikum.  Is it obligatory to force your 4 year old daughter to keep quiet during the whole prayer?

Is it allowed to pray behind my stepson if he intends to repeat the prayer because he says he cannot concentrate if she is talking and he thinks she should be quiet the whole time?

Is it obligatory to always pray with him , or can i pray alone to avoid fitna?

How far should I make her keep quiet?  As for me, i am used to children’s noise

Answer: Wa’alaikum assalaam warahmatu Allah,

No, it is not obligatory to keep your kids quiet during the prayer; rather this should be regarded as part of their upbringing to teach them to have a veneration for the prayer. To train your 4 year old to practice being quiet during the prayer would be teaching her good etiquette.

You may still pray behind your stepson even if he intends to repeat the prayer unless his intention while being the imam is to pray an optional (nafl) prayer and to pray the fard after it, while you are intending to pray the fard behind him; then this would not be allowed. But if he intends to pray the fard as imam and just intends to repeat it again, this is okay.

No, it is not obligatory to pray with him, though it is superior to do pray in congregation if the opportunity for you is there. However, if this does cause fitnah, then it would be better to pray by oneself, unless praying by yourself will cause an even greater fitnah, in which case you should do that which will cause less tension/fitnah.

As I said, just as you would train your child in other matters, you can train her to be quiet during prayer. You should not be too excessive on either end by demanding her to keep completely quiet after your first request, nor be too complacent by allowing her to make as much noise as she wants even after your requests.

May Allah ta’ala give you tawfiq.

Shaista Maqbool

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

What Islamic Perspective is Taught at SeekersGuidance?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Are the courses at SeekersGuidance, such as the beliefs course Kharida al-Bahiyya and others, representative of Sunni Islam? Also, could you explain what is meant by Sunni Islam?

Answer: wa `alaykum assalam

The courses at SeekersHub and the texts taught in these courses are based on the orthodox Sunni tradition (Ahl al-Sunna). This is a tradition accepted and followed by the vast majority of Muslim scholars and laity from the time of the Companions (Allah be well pleased with them) up to our own times.

Thus, the Kharida al-Bahiyya, which is the text we are reading for this class, was written by Imam Dardir, who was considered one of the greatest scholars of the Maliki school of his time, an expert in the field of Islamic belief, as well as an accomplished spiritual master.

Understanding Sunni Orthodoxy

The best way to understand the tradition of Ahl al-Sunna is through the hadith of Gibril (Allah bless him), narrated by Abu Hurayra (Allah be well pleased with him) as follows:

“One day while the Prophet was sitting in the company of some people, (The angel) Gabriel came and asked, ‘What is faith (iman)?’ Allah’s Apostle replied, ‘Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Apostles, and to believe in Resurrection.’ Then he further asked, ‘What is submission (islam)?’ Allah’s Apostle replied, ‘To worship Allah Alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan.’ Then he further asked, ‘What is Ihsan (perfection)?’ Allah’s Apostle replied, ‘to worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot see Him, then be sure that He is seeing you.'” [Bukhari, Muslim]

This narration sums up the orthodox and accepted tradition of Islam, which is divided into three main sub-categories:

a. Faith (iman), namely what we need to believe, discussed under the science of Islamic belief (`aqida),

b. Submission (islam), namely the ritual practices we need to perform, discussed under the science of Islamic Law (fiqh), and

c. Perfecting our belief and worship (ihsan), namely spirituality and purification of the self, discussed under the science of tasawwuf, tazkiyya, or, as you refer to it, Sufism.

Together, these three formulate the “religion” (din) as a whole and so none of them should be neglected.

The Sciences & Relying on Authority

Each of these three sciences, namely belief (`aqida), law (fiqh), and spirituality (tasawwuf/tazkiyya), have been well-defined, developed, and transmitted by thousands of scholars for the past 1400 years, from the very time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) up to our own times.

Our duty is to recognize this scholarly way and benefit from it, following the command of Allah to “ask those who know if you know not.” (16:43)

Thus, when it comes to Islamic belief (`aqida), we have the Ash`ari and Maturidi schools. Both helped define the contents of faith, the proof for it, and defended it from those who sought to undermine it.

Likewise, when it comes to Islamic law (fiqh), we have the four schools (madhabs): the Hanafi, Shafi`i, Maliki, and Hanbali schools. Each of these legal schools have a long, nuanced tradition of dealing with aspects of Islamic practice like prayer, fasting, Zakat, and Hajj, and have been accepted as the standard of this science for centuries.

Similarly, when it comes to Islamic spirituality (tasawwuf), we have the spiritual masters who are trained in identifying and fixing the ailments of the self (nafs), purifying the heart, and making one’s worship sincere. This is the reality of Sufism.

The authoritative figures of each of the sciences can be found in every generation including our own. As a living tradition, there is no era where experts in each of these fields do not exist, guiding people, answering questions, coming up with answers to new problems, and spreading the light of this religion.

Focus & Aim

Thus, we strive to follow the hadith of Gibril (Allah bless him) and teach our courses with a focus on all three of the main categories mentioned in this noble narration without neglecting any one of them. This is the way of balance and the way the scholars of this religion tread throughout the past.

Thus, you will find that we teach courses covering all of these science, such as law, belief, hadith, and spirituality. In doing so, we teach from the most authoritative and widely-accepted texts in each field and recognize the importance of constantly going back to this long accepted tradition of scholarship that has its roots in the very earliest generations of Muslims, namely the Companions (Allah be well pleased with them).

I hope that answers your questions. Please do not hesitate to post a follow-up.

I would also advise reading the following:

The Asharis & Maturidis – Standards of Mainstream Sunni Beliefs

A Reader on Following Schools of Thought (Madhabs)

Excellent lecture by Shaykh Faraz


Recommended Class:

Islamic Beliefs for Seekers: Dardir’s Kharidah Explained

Can One Pray Sitting Down or in the Car Due to Fear of Harm?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: Because of all the Islamophobia going around, is it permissible to pray either sitting down or in the car if you are afraid that someone might cause harm to you? Also please let me know if there a fiqhi difference in opinion on this issue.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health states.

By and large, the atmosphere for Muslims in the United States is not that bad, by Allah’s infinite grace. Muslims are still able to live in peace, pursue their personal and societal goals, and practice the religion. Overall, we can perform the prayer and attend mosques without persecution, although there have been some unfortunate instances of hate-crimes.

As for your specific question, the main issue is distinguishing legitimate fear (that is recognized by the Sacred Law) from mere delusion or exaggeration. Hence, one could pray sitting only if their fear of harm is legitimate, that is, based on either (a) past experience or (b) a clear and obvious sign, regarding which no two (reasonable) people would disagree over.

If there is legitimate fear, then one would try to pray sitting on the ground while still performing actual prostration (sujud). If that too is legitimately feared, then one would pray with head motions (bending the neck for ruku and bending it more for sujud); this can be done while standing or sitting (on the ground or in a seat), yet while facing the qibla. And if even that is legitimately feared (which is quite far-fetched), then one may leave that prayer altogether until the fear has subsided, after which one must make up the prayer.

[Shurunbulali, Maraqi Falah; Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

And Allah knows best.

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

PrayerKit: iPhone App for Salah Prayer Management

PrayerKit: iPhone App for Salah


PrayerKit is a concise prayer application containing all a Muslim needs to know in order to perform their daily obligations.

  • a Qibla Compass,
  • Prayer Times with Alerts,
  • a Distance calculator for Traveling,
  • A Qadaa Counter
  • Quick Lists detailing the legal rulings of the various aspects of prayer complete with Audio Assistance.

The rulings relating to Prayer and Ablution have been produced by Sheikh Haroon Hanif in accordance with the Hanafi School of Thought. If you have any questions with regard to this application please contact us directly at [email protected]

Praying Behind a Fast Imam

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: Is one’s prayer valid if he/she is not able to completely recite Surah Fatiha in 3rd or 4th rakat behind an imam because he went to ruku early?  I noticed that many imams recite surah fatiha in loud part (first 2 rakahs) slowly but during 3rd and 4th rakah (silent), they recite fast and I am not able to complete it at normal pace. I have to rush without thinking to complete. This also happens in the final tashahud so I am not able to complete salams on the Prophet PBUH. Is my prayer valid? If I know someone who is going to pray quickly, is it permitted for me to allow him to lead or should I lead the prayer?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.

Your prayer is valid in the scenarios you describe.

Fatiha Behind the Imam

In the Hanafi school, it is sinful to recite the Fatiha behind the Imam in any raka of any prayer: rather, the follower simply remains silent.

So there is no problem if the imam recites Fatiha quickly.

The Final Tashahhud

Scenario One

If the imam makes his closing salams, the follower should make sure he finishes the tashahhud itself (up to the shahada: Ashhadu an laa ilaha illa Allah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluh), as reciting up to that point is wajib. He should then also make his closing salams.

The reasoning is that, although immediately following the imam is wajib, one does not leave a current wajib for another one, so one does not miss the wajib of finishing the tashahhud for the wajib of immediately following the imam in his closing salams.

Scenario Two

Once the follower has finished the tashahhud itself, if the imam then makes his closing salams, the follower should stop reciting and make his salams with the imam, since sending the blessings upon the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the final du`a of the prayer are both sunnas, while it is wajib to immediately follow the imam, and one does leave a sunna in order to fulfill a wajib, which is of higher priority.

Who Should Lead the Prayer

The basic criteria for this is not how fast or slow one prays, but rather who best knows the legal rulings of the prayer and who has more Qur’an memorized.

[Shurunbulali, Nur al-Idah; Ala al-Din Abidin, Hadiyya Ala’iyya]

And Allah knows best.



Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

A Reader on the Virtues of Prayer

The Virtues of Prayer

Riyad al-Salihin: On the Virtues of Prayer

The Virtues of Witr at the End of the Night

The Virtues of Lengthy Standing in Prayer

The Virtues of Praying Between Maghrib and Isha Prayers

The Virtues of Prayer at Night

The Virtues of the Voluntary Prayer at Home

The Virtues of Standing in Prayer in the Month of Ramadan

The Virtues of Four Rakats Before `Asr

The Virtues of the Sunnah of Fajr

The Virtues of the Friday Prayer

The Virtues of the Five Daily Prayers

The Virtues of Duha’ Prayer

The Virtues of Tahmeed After Ruku

The Virtue of Saying Amin

The Virtue of Praying in the First Row

The Virtues of Prostrating to Allah Alone

The Excellence of Rising at Night to Pray – from Imam Nawawi’s Gardens of the Righteous (Riyad al-Salihin)

Tahajjud Prayer: Description & Merits

Worship & Prayer on Laylat al-Qadr

Prayer in Congregation and at the Masjid

Key Steps to Increasing One’s Prayer in Congregation

Prophetic Guidance on the excellence of walking to the mosque

Praying in Congregation

The Increase In Reward Related To Praying In The Masjid al-Haram & The Prophet’s Mosque

The Masjid and Its Etiquettes – Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar

Helpful Organizational Tools for Muslims

Helpful Organizational Tools for Muslims

This brief post is intended to highlight organizational tools that may be helpful to Muslims on a practical level. These tools are simple aids but they can do a lot to keep track of one’s deeds (muhasaba) and in seeing one’s progress there is immense motivation to continue and to challenge oneself. Let’s get started…

Daily Goals and Tasks

This Monthly Tracker is helpful for students in keeping track of lessons, reviewing notes, personal struggles, health and fitness goals and other tasks that are repeated on a daily basis. You can download it here, fill in your daily repeated tasks and simply check them off for each day. Try focusing on goals such as praying on time, performing sunnah and nafilat, eating less than usual, safeguarding yourself from certain sins, being generous and caring with others. There is research to suggest after 21 days a repeated observance will become a habit and after 40 days it will become ingrained in one’s behavior.

“Allah loves those deeds that are consistent.” (Hadith)

Keeping track of Qadha (missed) Prayers

At times, when Muslims become more practicing in their religious observance they may realize that they have old prayers to make up that they used to miss at one point in time. This Qadha chart is helpful in keeping track of 1 years worth of 5 daily prayers. This may seem daunting but if one sticks to a schedule they can make short work of this. Please see our answers section if you have any questions regarding the fiqh.

Planning for the Moods of Friends and Family

It can be hard to understand how people work but its important to try our utmost to accommodate people through adab, akhlaq and give them 70 excuses if we find any fault in their behavior. This Mood Planner can help you keep track of what affects the moods of your friends and loved ones and how to cheer them up. One can keep track of sensitivities, likes and dislikes, past experiences, and plan based on their personal idiosyncrasies.

“The most beloved of people according to Allah is he who brings most benefit, and the most beloved of deeds according to Allah the Mighty, the Magnificent, is that you bring happiness to a fellow Muslim, or relieve him of distress, or pay off his debt or stave away hunger from him…” [Tabarāni]

Keeping track of Worship

Many people nowadays have an iPhone or a related Mac product (you may be using one now!). One great App that is worth getting is QamarDeen. Its free and it keeps track of your the quality of your prayers, charity, fasting and latest Qur’an readings. It’s a great way to assess yourself and challenge yourself to do more.

“Blessed be He in Whose hands is Dominion; and He over all things hath Power. He Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed: and He is the Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (Quran, 67, v. 1-2)

See also:

Remember the Milk

5 Best Getting Things Done Applications