Common Mistakes Before, During and After Salah (Prayer)

Mistake Prayer

Mistakes Before Salah

  1. Delaying the salah intentionally – The salah should be done within its time.  Many people delay it due to laziness or some other unnecessary matter.  Each salah has fixed times within which it must be performed.
  2. Walking too fast towards the masjid – A Muslim should not walk too fast or run towards the masjid in order to catch the salah.  Rather, he should walk calmly to it and make up whatever he has missed.

  3. Leaving gaps in lines during congregational salah – A Muslim should try his best to assure that there are no gaps between him and his brother to the left and/or right.  If there are any gaps, he should close them by moving closer to his brother and asking the one next to him to move close to him as well.  The objective is to stand close to each other as much as possible without gaps.  This same rule applies to the sisters as well.

  4. Saying out loud the intention – The intention’s place is in the heart and it should not be said out aloud.  There is nothing in the Qur’an and authentic sunnah that tells us to say out loud our intention for salah with specific words/phrases.

  5. Eating bad smelling foods or not smelling good – A Muslim should not come to the masjid smelling bad. This disturbs and hurts the rest of the people in the masjid and goes against the rule of doing good towards each other.

  6. Not turning off the phone or other loud devices – This is very common and is extremely distracting to other worshippers.  Please turn off the phones and other electronic devices before starting the salah.

  7. Neglecting salah when one is sick or ill – Some Muslims believe that if one is sick, then he does not have to pray his salah.  However, this is a dangerous error because a Muslim must do his salah at all times when the salah time comes in.  The Prophet (pbuh) always did his salah even until his last days during his final painful illness.  In Islam, we are obligated to do our salah while standing (the obligatory salah), and if we cannot, then while sitting, and if we cannot even do that, then while we are laying down.  We must perform salah in whichever way possible in our given situations.  To intentionally miss one of the five daily prayers is a major sin.

Mistakes During Salah

  1. Eyes not still and Closing the eyes (25848; 22174islamqa.info/en/ref/books/21) – The eyes of the Muslim should always focus at the place of sujud (where he is going to place his head).  A Muslim should not be looking around here and there with his eyes.  This goes against kushu’ (concentration) in salah.  The eyes should remain still staring at the place of sujud in all positions except the tashhud (the sitting posture where Attahiyyatu… is read and the finger pointed).  During the tashhud, the eyes should focus on the finger.  As for closing the eyes, then this is disliked and should not be done unless there is something so distracting in the view that it is causing the person to not be able to concentrate in salah, in which case, he can close his eyes.
  2. Not staying still during salah (12683) – Constantly fidgeting during salah, looking at a watch, fiddling with one’s fingers or clothes, constantly scratching one’s body parts, moving feet, or other parts of the body restlessly are all things which should be avoided.  When a Muslim stands before Allah, he should be still and not do such things.  All such things go against the kushu’ of salah.
  3. Not moving the lips (70577) – The words of the salah, which include the Qur’an, supplications (du’a), tasbeeh, etc. need to be said by physically moving the lips and tongue.  The practice of doing salah internally in the heart without moving the lips or tongue is incorrect and against the sunnah.

  4. Doing the adhkaar of salah too quickly (146675) – A Muslim should take his time when saying the different words or phrases of salah. He should not be hasty and remember that one is speaking to Allah, hence, he should be humble and respectful.
  5. Moving too quickly between positions during salah (146675; 117779) – Many Muslims perform their salah very quickly and they shift between different positions of salah as though they are crows pecking at food.  A Muslim should remain calm and move between each position slowly and with humbleness.  The correct way to move between positions is to not do so until, at minimum, all the joints of the body come to rest in that position and then we should move to the next position.
  6. Racing with the imam (33790) – A Muslim should neither move to the next position before the imam does, nor should he do so with the imam, nor should he delay it a long time after the imam has reached the position.  The correct way to follow the imam is to do so as soon as the imam reaches his position.  For example, if everyone (including the imam) is in ruku, a Muslim should remain in that position and not move until the imam has reached the next position.

  7. Doing the bowing (ruku’) incorrectly – Some Muslims while doing ruku’ lower their heads excessively, others do not lower their heads enough, and others arch their backs during it.  All these are wrong.  The correct way to do so is to make a 90 degree angle of your back when doing it.  This angle should be so straight that a glass of water placed on such a person’s back would not fall over.  However, if one is not able to physically do so, then he should try to straighten his back to the best of his ability.

  8. Doing the prostration (sujud) incorrectly – Seven bones must touch the ground during this position: nose and forehead (count as one bone), the two hands, the two knees, and the toes of the two feet.  Many Muslims don’t touch their nose on the ground nor their feet.  These things must touch the ground and your toes should be facing the Qiblah.  Some Muslims have a bad habit of playing with one foot against the other during this position, this should be avoided.  Another thing to avoid in this position is that the elbows should never touch the ground; rather, they should always remain standing.  Finally, the belly is also not to touch the thighs.

  9. Getting up before imam completes the salam – Sometimes people who come late to the salah and miss a rak’ah (unit) or two of salah behind the imam get up before the imam even completes his taslim (when he says Asslam u Aliekum wa rahmatullah).  A Muslim should wait until the Imam finishes the taslim completely and then stand up to make up his missed portion of the salah.

    Mistakes After Salah

  10. Neglecting to do dhikr after Salah – Many Muslims drop the dhikr after salah and do not engage themselves in the tasbeeh and other adhkaars mentioned in the authentic sunnah.  This dhikr after salah is like the dessert and the salah is the main meal, how can a Muslim refuse this beautiful dessert after the salah?  If all of the adhkaars mentioned in the authentic sunnah were said after a salah, a Muslim could spend a good 15+ minutes engaged in it.  Additionally, many rewards have been mentioned about the adhkaars after the salah.

  11. Tasbeeh too quickly – It is seen in many places that one finds many Muslims doing tasbeeh, those who engage in it, very quickly without contemplating or concentrating.  A Muslim should take his time and do the tasbeeh after the salah with ease, focus and concentration.  It is recommended to do the tasbeeh with the right hand as it will be made to speak on the Day of Judgment and bear witness on behalf of the one who used to engage it with tasbeeh.

  12. Making dua habitually in congregation after every salah – Some Muslims ignorantly think that the imam must make supplications (du’a) after the obligatory salah out loud while they say ameen behind him.  However, this is not the case.  There is no authentic narration that says that the Prophet (pbuh) ever did this act.  In fact, at that time the people used to engage in individual dhikr and supplications on their own and never in a congregational format.  Therefore, this should not be done and everyone should do their own individual dhikr and supplications after salah.  However, if this action is done once in a while without turning it into a habit, then there is no harm.

  13. Du’a without paying attention – Many times one finds people making supplications (du’a) after salah without thinking or knowing what they are saying.  One of the conditions of supplications to be accepted is that one should be sincere in what he is asking and that one’s heart be in that du’a.  How can this be if the Muslim is not even concentrating or knowing what he is saying?  A Muslim should not make his supplications after salah into lip services or just a habitual chore, rather, he should know and understand what he is saying and put his heart and soul into it even if it means that most of his supplications are going to be in his native tongue.

  14. Always shaking hands after finishing obligatory salah – The Muslims should not hasten to shake hands upon finishing the salah as some people do believing it to be part of the salah. It should be after saying the adkhar that people should exchange Salam by shaking hands with those on the right and left out of brotherhood and cooperation.  Also, after the obligatory salah, one should not make it a habit to shake hands or say, “may Allah accept from you and us.” But to do this occasionally, from time to time, is permissible.