The Accessible Conspectus: Integrals of Prayer

This is the seventh installment from a series of posts aimed at making The Ultimate Conspectus accessible to readers who have never read fiqh before or are looking for a refresher.


2.3.2 Integrals

There are eighteen integrals [arkān] of prayer. Each of them is required of the imam, his follower, or an individual praying alone. The absence of a single one along with its conditions prevents a prayer from being valid. So if a single one is missing, the prayer must be made up. These eighteen are mentioned in their order of occurrence in the prayer.

The first is the intention. The place for the intention is the heart. If the prayer is obligatory, one must intend to perform an obligatory prayer and specify what the prayer is. One might say, for example, “I intend to pray the obligatory Noon Prayer” (“nawaytu an uṣalī farīḍat al-ẓuhr”). If the prayer is recommended and it has a specific time or cause (like the recommended prayers that are associated with the performance of obligatory prayers), or if it has a particular cause (like the Drought Prayer), then one needs to intend to perform the prayer and specify what that prayer is. One might say, “I intend to pray the recommended prayer cycles before Dawn Prayer” (“nawaytu an uṣalī al-rakʿāt al-nāfilah li-l-ṣubḥ”), or “I intend to pray the ʿEid Prayer” (“nawaytu an uṣalī ṣalāt al-ʿeid”). When formulating the intention, it is recommended to add that the prayer is being performed solely for Allah Most High.

The intention is an act of the heart. It is not necessary to utter it on the tongue though it is permissible and facilitates making it in the heart.

The intention needs to be made concurrent with the opening utterance of “Allāhu akbar.” However, Imām al-Nawawīs preference is that whatever custom considers to be the presence of intention suffices here.

The second integral is standing when one is capable of doing so. If, for whatever reason, one cannot stand, they can pray sitting down. More details about this will come in section 2.3.8.

The third integral is saying the opening “Allāhu akbar.” It must be said in Arabic if one can pronounce it. If they cannot learn it in time, then it is possible for them to use a translation, like “Allah is most great.” The intention to pray needs to be present in their mind as they say “Allāhu akbar.

The fourth integral is reciting Al-Fātiḥah [Q1] – and “Bismi llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm” is one of its verses. Reciting this verse is required since it is one of its verses. Al-Fātiḥah must be recited in order, consecutively, and without breaking it into pieces. Imām al-Nawawī says that someone who is not able to recite Al-Fātiḥah can recite something else from the Quran that has the same length. If he cannot recite something else from the Quran, he recites invocations (“adhkār”) of the same length. If he is not able to do any of the above, he stands for the amount of time required to recite Al-Fātiḥah before performing the next integral.

The fifth integral is bowing. When bowing one must descend enough that their palms can be placed on his knees. When one reaches the extent of his bowing, he needs to come to a complete stop to perform the sixth integral: reposing therein.

The seventh integral is rising and standing straight. Once fully erect, one comes to a complete stop, as the eighth integral is reposing therein.

The ninth and tenth integrals are prostrating and reposing therein. The minimal prostration is to put a part of your knees, palms and forehead on the ground; with part of the bottom of your toes facing the direction of prayer (“qiblah”). This is the minimal performance for the prostration. It is best for your knees to go down first, and that some of your nose is placed on the ground. Shoes and thick sandals can prevent any part of the bottom of the toe from facing the direction of prayer. Many thin, flexible soles do not prevent this. So it is sometimes valid to pray while wearing shoes or sandals.

The eleventh and twelfth integrals are sitting between the two prostrations and reposing therein.

The thirteenth and fourteenth are the final sitting and saying the tashahhud therein.

The shortest version is “Greetings to Allah. Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings. Peace be upon us and upon the righteous servants of Allah. I testify that there is no deity except Allah, and I testify that Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allah” (“Al-taḥiyyāt li-Llāh, salāmun ʿalayka ayyuhā al-nabī wa raḥmatu Llāhi wa barakātuhu, salāmun ʿalaynā wa ʿalā ʿibādi Llāhī al-ṣāliḥīn, ashhadu an lā ilāha illā Allāh, wa ashhadu anna Muḥammadan rasūlu Llāh”). If someone is not able to memorize the minimal tashshahud, then they need to at least sit long enough to have recited it.

The fifteenth integral is saying the prayers upon the Prophet ﷺ in this final sitting. The minimum form is to say “Allāhumma ṣali ʿalā Muḥammad” (“O Allah, bless Muḥammad”). Its complete form is “Allāhumma ṣali ʿalā Muḥammadin wa ʿalā ālī Muḥammad, kamā ṣalayta ʿalā Ibrāhīma wa ʿalā ālī Ibrāhīm, wa bārik ʿalā Muḥammadin wa ʿalā ālī Muḥammadin kamā barakta ʿalā Ibrāhīma wa ʿalā ālī Ibrāhīm, fi-l-ʿālamīna innaka ḥamīdun majīd” (“O Allah, bless Muḥammad and the folk of Muḥammad as you blessed Ibrāhīm and the folk of Ibrāhīm. O Allah, show grace to Muḥammad and the folk of Muḥammad as You did to Ibrāhīm and the folk of Ibrāhīm in the worlds, for You are truly the Most Praiseworthy and Noble”). If one cannot memorize the minimal supplication, he needs to sit long enough to have read it.

The sixteenth integral is saying the first “al-salāmu ‘alaykum” (“peace be upon you”). It should be said while facing the direction of prayer. When you begin to say “al-salāmu ʿalaykum,” you should be facing towards the right. You should add “wa raḥmatullāh,” but you should not add “wa barakātuhu.

The seventeenth integral is intending to exit from prayer. The intention to leave prayer removes one from prayer. So if one does intend to exit the prayer, it must be done after the first “al-salāmu ʿalaykum,” since beforehand would invalidate the prayer. However, the preponderant opinion is that intending to exit from the prayer is not a requirement.

The eighteenth integral is performing the integrals in this order. That is: in the order of their mention above.


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