Mistakes in Prayer

This week’s reminder is about Mistakes in Prayer


Dear brothers and sisters, we are carrying on from last week’s reminder about praying Salah in a correct manner. Obviously the number of mistakes that can possibly be made are too great to list. So as part of today’s reminder, we are sticking to the most common in the hope that this benefits us all today.


The Imam reminded us about the following hadith in which the Messenger of Allah SAWS said:

‘Adhere to righteousness even though you will not be able to do all acts of virtue. Know that among the best of your deeds is prayer and that no one maintains his ablution except a believer.'”

So lets remind ourselves with the 10 most common mistakes in both prayer and ablution or wudu as some know it.

Firstly, changing the way ablution is done, such as washing 4 times thinking is better, is wrong.

The imam mentioned a hadith which says:

“A Bedouin came to the Prophet (ﷺ) to ask him about Wudu’, so he showed him how to perform Wudu’, washing each part three times, then he said: ‘This is Wudu’. Whoever does more than that has done badly, done to extremes and done wrong.”

Another mistake of ablution is not washing all parts. The imam mentioned a hadith which says:

Once the Prophet (ﷺ) remained behind us in a journey. He joined us while we were performing ablution for the prayer which was over-due. We were just passing wet hands over our feet (and not washing them properly) so the Prophet (ﷺ) addressed us in a loud voice and said twice or thrice: “Save your heels from the fire.”

Also a common mistake is of wiping the head. Many people do it more than once, however, the scholars have agreed that the wiping should be once, and no benefit in doing it more than once.

Another mistake is not pouring water in between the fingers and toes. This is especially true when we are in a hurry sometimes.

Regarding the prayer, there is a mistake of running to the masjid to join prayer. We often think that this is better for us. However, imagine it for the people in congregation and you run up behind them to make prayer. At the very least they are going to break focus. This point is mentioned in the hadith said by the imam which says:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying, “When the Iqamah are pronounced, do not come to it running, you should walk calmly with tranquillity to join the congregation. Then join in what you catch for and complete what you miss.”
Another mistake is doing extra prayers when the Iqama has started. We may think that we are benefiting by making our Sunnah prayers and can join the prescribed or fardh prayers before it ends but this is a mistake. This point was illustrated by the imam in the hadith which says:

“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) aid: ‘When the Iqamah for prayer is said, there is no prayer except the prescribed prayer.”‘

A common problem also, which is addressed by most imams before prayer begins, is not keeping a straight line. This is also illustrated in today’s reminder in a hadith which says:

Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Straighten your rows (during Salat) or Allah would create dissension amongst you”.

The next one is something that I have seen growing up but is less of an issue now. It is the mistake of sitting down when you can stand up to pray. And there is a wisdom to this also. Unless you are physically unable, you should not sit on the floor to pray or on a chair. The prayer contains moves that benefit the body, it’s muscles bones and nerves so it is both beneficial for our health and our soul.

Another mistake is moving ahead of the Imam. This is not much of a problem here but it can be in some places where the place of worship is a building that was not designed as so. For example, a building is bought like a church and so there may be a side room that is filled during busy times but it overlaps the Imams position. Be wary of this as it invalidates the prayer. This is why today we only open one side room as the other could potentially have people ahead of the imam.

And finally it is the mistake of leaving the masjid quickly after prayer, leading to congestion and going past others that praying. Dear brothers and sisters, myself along with most of you are often here as part of a lunch break. Often we are working alongside others who only know of our faith through the media. The last thing we want to do is to shine a light on ourselves by being late back from our lunch breaks and be subject to awkwardness in the office.

This point ought to be tackled on two fronts. Firstly, the masjid has a responsibility to keep track of time during the khutba which the imam and I attempt to do each week. Secondly, when leaving, use it as reminder that it is with the blessing of Allah SWT that you made it to the masjid this week, that you are able to pray, that you are a Muslim and that you are in a place of work that allows for this during a lunch break. Use that sentiment to continue to pray to Allah SWT that he makes your journey back to work a pleasant one, that he makes it easy for you and that if you are late by a few minutes that it is because you are doing it for His pleasure, His commandment and that He is in control of all things including the traffic back to your work and your colleagues at work.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is under your control as that is the whole point of Jumma. A reminder that all that you have experienced over the past week and the week to come is by Allah SWT and all that you do is for the sake of Allah SWT. With this in our minds, we can leave with tranquillity and sabr in our hearts as well  as avoiding infringing on other people’s prayers by walking in front of them.

And practically, aim to walk to the back and past the side of anyone praying and then leave from the back of the prayer hall. Those wishing to stay should wait a few minutes to allow others to get past.

Dear brothers and sisters, our Lord is full of Mercy and we should ultimately be praying that any mistakes are forgiven by Allah SWT. However, we ought to do our bit and constantly learn and with that perfect our worship of Allah SWT.

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