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Ash-Shakk in the Salat [Doubt in the Prayer]

A Musalli may doubt the number of Rak’ahs he has already performed, while still in the Salat. That is, he may doubt whet her he has performed one or two Rak’ahs, three or four Rak’ahs, etc. Certain cases of Shakk1 [doubt] in the Salat can be corrected, allowing the Musalli to continue his Salat and regard it to be valid, then to perform Salatul-Ihtiyat2, after finishing the original Salat.

In this way he can correct the Shakk, provided that he has not done any of the acts which invalidate the Salat. There are irremediable doubts which invalidate the Salat and thus must be repeated. Hereunder we are expounding the most important cases, and how to make remedial measures where it is possible:

1. If the Musalli doubted (had Shakk) between the first and the second Rak’ahs in the 4 Rak’ah Salat, his Salat would be invalid, and he must repeat it.

2. If he doubted in the number of the Rak’ahs of Salatus-Subh and Salatul-Maghrib in any position of the Salat, his Salat would be invalid, and he must repeat it.

3. The Shakk between performing two and three Rak’ahs: If the Shakk occurred after the second Sajdah it could be corrected. But if it occurred before finishing the second Sajdah, the Salat would be Batil. In the first case, it is to be regarded as the third Rak’ah and one is to perform the fourth, the Tashahhud and Taslim, then one is to perform Salatul-Ihtiyat: one Rak’ah in standing position, or two Rak’ahs in sitting position.

4. The Shakk between the second and the fourth, after reciting the Dhikr of the last Sajdah: In this case one is to regard it as the fourth, and finish the Salat. Then one is to perform Salatul-Ihtiyat, which is the same as Salatul-Subh with reciting only Sutratul-Fatihah.

5. The Shakk between the third and the fourth. This Shakk can be corrected in any position of the Salat: in the Ruku, the Sujud, the Qiyam, etc. Correction of the Shakk is done by regarding it as the fourth Rak’ah, finishing the Salat, then performing Salatul-Ihtiyat, which is one Rak’ah in the standing position, or two Rak’ahs in the sitting position.

6. Shakk between the fourth and the fifth, after the Dhikr of the last Sajdah: In this case one is to regard it as the fourth, finish the Salat, then perform the two Sajdahs of Sahw, with no need for Salatul­Ihtiyat.

7. The Shakk between the fourth and the fifth, during the Qiyam position: One is to return to the sitting position, regarding the doubted Rak’ah as the fourth, and finish the Salat, then perform Salatul-Ihtiyat; one Rak’ah standing, or two Rak’ahs sitting.

Salatul-Ihtiyat

It consists of:

1. The Niyyah: (Usalli Salatul-Ihtiyat Qurbatan Ila-Llahi Ta’ala) [I perform Salatul-Ihtiyat to please Almighty Allah].

2. Takbiratul-Ihram

3. Reciting Suratul-Fatihah3 only, without reciting any other Surah.

4. Ruku.

5. Qiyam (if done in the Qiyam position).

6. Sujud.

7. Tashahhud.

8. Taslim.

In Salatul-Ihtiyat all the usual conditions required for any obligatory Salat, such as Taharah, orientation to the Qiblah, etc. are to be observed.

Discussion

Q1. Correct that which is incorrect in the following statements:
a. Every Shakk in the Salat can be remedied by Salatul-Ihtiyat after the end of the Salat.

b. It is not allowed to stop a 4 Rak’ah Salat and repeat it, if the Shakk was between the first and the second.

c. If the Shakk was between the fourth and the fifth Rak’ahs, in the Qiyam position, the Musalli must return to the sitting position, consider it to be the fourth and finish his Salat.

Q2. What would you do if you doubted between the third and the fourth Rak’ahs of your Salattul-Isha, before finishing the second Sajdah?

Q3. Hearing a friend of yours saying that Salatul-Ihtiyat is two Rak’ahs in all cases, would you confirm him or not?

  • 1. The Shafi'is, the Malikis and the Hanbalis say: "If one doubts the number of the Rak'ahs knowing not how many Rak’ahs one has performed, one is to consider it to be the least and complete it.'' The Hanafis say: "If it was his first Shakk in his life, he must repeat his Salat from the beginning. If it was not his first Shakk, he must think and ponder, and then act according to his most probable guess. If the Shakk is still there, he is to consider it to be the least, taking it as a matter of fact.
  • 2. Salatul-Ihtiyat: This Salat is to he demonstrated by the teacher to the students so that they may learn it. It is either one Rak'ah in the Qiyam position or two Rak’ahs in the sining position, or two Rak’ahs in the Qiyam position and two Rak’ahs in the sining position.
  • 3. As a precaution, this Surah is to be recited in Ikhfat.