Tashahhud in Salah (Sitting in Prayers)

Origin of Tashahhud:

In the books of Fiqh, it has been mentioned that the Tashahhud is a dialogue that took place in the night of ascension (Mi’raj). When the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was granted entry into the Holy Presence, he offered a worshipper’s tribute to Allah thus:

التحيات لله والصلوات والطيبات

The answer to this was received thus:

السلام عليك ايها النبي ورحمة الله وبركاته

The Prophet peace be upon him not contented without including his ummah pronounced:

السلام علينا وعلى عباد الله الصالحين

Which means, “May peace be upon us and upon Allah’s righteous slaves.”

Later on the words of Shahadah were added to these memorable statements spoken during the night of Mi’raj, and so this ‘remembrance’ came to be known as ‘Tashahhud.’

However, Allamah Shaami opined that the ‘Tashahhud’ is the word of Jibreel (AS)[1].

It should be noted that there is no basis of this story in hadith collection. As such, it should not be propagated as authentic.

[1] Tuhfa vo; 2, pg 83/Shaami vol 1, pg 342

On forgetting the final witnessing (tashahhud):

In the compulsory (fard) prayers of 2 or 4 units, when one forgets to sit in the final witnessing and stands up after second prostration, one should sit down when realised provided the prostration of that extra unit is not done; and then offer a prostration of forgetfulness (sajdah sahw). If remembered after the prostration of the extra unit, then in order to avoid the nullification of 3rd or 5th units, stand up again after prostration and offer yet another unit (thus making it from 2 to 4; or from 4 to 6) and convert the whole compulsory (fard) prayer into supererogatory (nafl). As such there is no need to offer a prostration of forgetfulness. However, the fard will have to be done again separately.

On standing up for extra unit (rak’ah) after the final tashahhud:

If one forgets that it is the last unit and stands up after the sitting in the final witnessing and realised it after the prostration of the extra unit, he should offer one further extra unit and offer prostration of forgetfulness. This way the compulsory prayers will be accepted and the last two extra units will be counted as extras (nafl). These two nafl will not be a substitute for the recommended (Sunnah mu’akkadah) two units after Dhuhr, Maghrib and Isha as these should be prayed separately with Tahrimah. These two nafl units will not be disliked (makrooh) after Fajr and ‘Asr as they are prayed accidentally .

When one forgets to sit for first witnessing (qa’dah oola) and stands up to continue the third unit in the nafl prayers of 4 units, then he should go back to tashahhud if he remembers before prostration of the third unit; otherwise he should continue the unit as normal. Prostration of forgetfulness will have to done in both cases – unlike the case of fard where the whole prayer becomes nafl so no need for prostration of forgetfulness. In nafl prayer, the first sitting is essential (rukn). However, when its omitted unintentioanlly it becomes waajib – similar to fard prayer. Hence performing sajdah sahw will compensate for missing a waajib (first sitting).

Rule of extending the index finger during the Witnessing (tashahhud)

Extending the right index finger during the tashahhud is a sunnah. This has been agreed upon by all four major schools of Islamic jurisprudence. There are three methods of sitting for tashahhud:

1. Resting the right hand on the right knee, making the sign of 53 with right hand. It is done by folding the ring, the middle and the little finger, folding the thumb at the base of index finger while keeping the index finger straight – raising it when reciting tashahhud.

2. Making a circle with thumb and index finger while keeping the other three fingers folded – only raising it while reciting tashahhud.

3. Making a fist and raising finger while reciting tashahhud.

All three are accepted ways whether assuming a position from the beginning or just before the time of raising finger for tashahhud. However there is difference of opinion among the great jurists as regards what to do after completion of tashahhud. Imam Abu Hanifah’s view is to drop the finger down after completion. Mawlana Thanwi retracted from his initial fatwa of continued pointing with lowered index finger . Imam ash-Shafi’i recommends continuous pointing until the end; whereas Imam Malik suggests moving the index finger slightly sideways throughout.

Recitation during the first sitting (qa’dah)

In the three-unit and the four-unit compulsory (fard) and necessary (wajib) prayers, one must recite only tashahhud and nothing beyond that in the first sitting. All the schools of thought are in agreement with this practice. According to one opinion this is the case with the four-unit Sunnah mu’akkadah before the Dhuhr prayers as well. {If recited, Sajdah Sahw will be due for delaying the Qiyaam (standing of next Rak’at (unit)}.

In all the other prayers, that is Sunnah and nafl prayers one should recite durood and supplication after it during the first sitting just like one would in the final sitting. This is not known to most people. In fact majority consider it incorrect to recite anything after witnessing in the first sitting of Nafl/Sunnah prayers just like in the compulsory prayers and end up offering salutation of forgetfulness if they recite durood after witnessing by mistake. This is not correct.

When is Sajdah Sahw due for reciting durood in first sitting of fard prayer?

There are four opinions on this: 1) recitation up to the end 2) recitation until ‘allhuma salli ‘ala Muhammad’ 3) recitation until ‘wa ‘ala aali Muhammad’ 4) recitation until ‘hameedun majeed’. Allama Shamee has preferred the third opinion as it is a middle path and safest one as well.