Doubts in Salah Simply Explained

Bismillahi, ar-Rahmani, ar-Rahim. You are in prayer when a thought comes to your mind, is the COVID-19 vaccine safe? Shall I take it? What happens if I do not? Immediately you wonder, how many rakats, units, have I actually prayed? I know many of us have been in these situations and it is important to know the rulings on how we should deal with doubts during Salah. In this video, I will explain the doubts that do not invalidate the prayer, the ones that do, and the ones that have a remedy for them, it can be quite complex for some. So here are two really important points at the outset.

Number 1, a doubt is when you are 50:50 about something. If you are 60 percent sure, for example, that you are in the 4th rakah, then you should ignore the doubt and continue as normal. Number 2, if you do have a doubt, you are permitted to end the Salah there and then, by moving away or turning your head, for example, and then starting the prayer again. Just make sure, though, that there is enough time to pray the salah again.

A)Doubts you can ignore: Basically, if you have any of these doubts, do not worry and continue with your prayers as normal. Number 1, a doubt about an act for which the time of the performance has passed. For example, your are in ruku and you doubt whether you have recited Surat ul-Hamd or not. Number 2, a doubt after you finish the prayer about something during the prayer. Number 3, a doubt that comes to you after the time of the prayer has actually finished, for example, it is the night time and you doubt something about Salat al-Dhuhr. Number 4, if you are someone who doubts excessively, i.e. more than normal, referred to as Kather ush-Shakk, you should ignore it. Number 5, doubts in recommended prayers, as well as a prayer known as Salat ul-Ihtiyat should be ignored.

B) Doubts that invalidate the Prayers: Number 1, if you doubt the number of units of prayer, rakats, in either Fajr Salah or Magrib prayers whilst praying, Salah is void. This also applies in the prayer of a traveler. Number 2, in a prayer with four rakats such as Isha, if before going into the second sajdah of the second rakat, you doubt whether you have done 2 rakats or more. For example, before you go into the second sajdah, in Isha you doubt, have I prayed 2 rakats or 3? Number 3, a doubt about the number of rakats when you do not know at all how many rakats you have actually done. Number 4, a doubt on whether you have performed two or five rakats, or two or more than five rakats, and a few other which are less common. But it is important to remember, if you do have any of these doubts, think about it first, see if you can move out of the doubt before you break your Salah.

C) Doubts that can be fixed: First of all, let us talk about doubts that happen after the second sajdah of the second rakat. Number 1, if you doubt whether you have performed two rakahs or three rakahs, this is what you do. You assume that you have prayed three rakats, and hence perform one more rakat and complete the prayer. After you have finished, you perform one rakah of what is known as salat ul-Ihtiyat in a standing position, now how to pray salat ul-Ihtiyat is explained in another video. Number 2, you doubt whether you have prayed 2 rakats or 4 rakats. In this situation, you assume you have performed 4 rakats, and complete the prayer. After you have done so, you perform 2 rakats of salat ul-Ihtiyat in a standing position. Number 3, you doubt whether you have performed two, three or four rakats, in this situation, you assume you have done 4 rakats and after the prayer, perform two rakats of salat ul-Ihtiyat in a standing position, as well as two rakats in a sitting position. Number 4, you doubt whether you have prayed 4 or 5 rakats, in this situation, you must assume you have prayed 4 rakats, complete the prayer and after the prayer, immediately perform what is known as such Sajdatay Al-Sahw [two prostrations of error]. Another video explains how to do this. The same applies if you doubt whether you have prayed four or six rakats.

Now, let us talk about the doubts that happen in other situations in salah. Say you are at any stage of the salah and doubt whether you have done three or four rakats. You should assume you have prayed 4 rakats, complete the prayer and after the prayer, perform one rakat of salat ul-Ihtiyat in a standing position or two rakats in a sitting position. Or while standing, you doubt whether you have performed four or five rakats. In this situation, you sit down, you say the Tashahhud and the Salam of the prayer and then perform one rakat of salat ul-Ihtiyat in a standing position. Or if you want 2 rakats in a sitting position. Sometimes whilst standing you doubt, whether you have performed three or five rakats. In these situations, you sit down, you say the Tashahhud and Salam of the prayer, then you perform 2 rakats of salat ul-Ihtiyat in a standing position.

Sometimes while standing, you doubt whether you have performed three, four, or five rakats. In this situation, you sit down, you recite the tashahud, and the salam, and then you perform two rakats of salat ul-Ihtiyat in a standing position and then perform two rakats in a sitting position as well. And finally, sometimes when you are standing, you doubt whether you have performed five or six rakats in this situation you sit down, you recite the tashahud and the salam and then you perform what is known as sajdatay Al-Sahw. This might be quite difficult, so it is worth reflecting on it, perhaps watching this a few times and at the same time watch the video on how to perform salat ul-Ihtiyat and Sajdatay Al-Sahw as well. For any questions that you may have, please go to our website, islamiced.org and use the "Ask the Sheikh" section to submit your questions.