The Conditions Of Prayer (Sharaaet)
The 6 conditions of Prayer are as follows:
Purity – The body and the clothes of the one offering Prayer must be pure. Further, the place of worship must be clean. One must either have a bath (if the bath is compulsory) or else just the ablution (which is a must).
Concealing the body – This is also called Satr-e-Aurat. That is to conceal/cover the necessary parts of the body. For men, this consists of the body between the navel up to and including the knees. For women, this consists of the entire body, except the face, hands, and soles of the feet. Women must hide their faces from strangers whilst not in Prayers. Wearing clothes that are so thin that body color is exposed will make the Prayer void. Similar is the case of the headscarf if the shine of the hair is revealed. In fact, wearing such clothes is prohibited even outside Prayer.
Direction towards the “Qiblah” (Kaaba) – this is called “Istiqbaal-e-Qiblah”. The face and the chest must be directed towards the “Qiblah”, whilst offering Prayer.
The Time of Prayer – proper timing is the fourth condition of Prayer. The time for Dawn Prayer starts from actual dawn and ends at the beginning of sunrise. It should be offered within this period. The time for Afternoon Prayer starts from the time the sun crosses its zenith until the shadow of any object becomes double its actual length. (The actual length means the length of a shadow when the sun is at the meridian – i.e. half distance between sunrise and zenith).
The time for Evening (Asr) Prayer starts from the time the Afternoon (Zohr) Prayer ends and finishes at sunset. The period of 20 minutes before sunset is undesirable (Makrooh), therefore one should complete the Evening Prayer before this. If the Prayer could not be offered before this due to some reason, then one should offer it during this period before sunset. The time for the Sunset (Maghrib) Prayer starts immediately after the setting of the sun and ends up on the disappearance of twilight. The period for Night (Isha) Prayer begins upon the disappearance of the twilight and lasts up to dawn. However, delaying it after midnight (half time between sunset and sunrise) is Disliked (Makrooh).
Intention (Niyah) – This is the fifth condition of Prayer. Shariah classifies “Niyah” as the firm intention within the heart. The lowest rank of such resolve is that when a person is asked about which Prayer he is offering, he should be able to answer the question promptly. If he answers after some consideration, the Prayer is void.
It is better (Mustahab) to declare the “Niyah” in a soft voice. There is no condition as to the language in which this should be said. It is better to have the intention in mind while proclaiming the “Takbeer Oola” (the first declaration of Allah’s greatness, at beginning of Prayer).
“Takbeer Tahreemah” (declaration of Allah’s greatness, which prohibits other actions except for the Prayer.) – This is the sixth condition of Prayer. This means to recite aloud “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the Greatest) to begin the Prayer.
Prayer becomes void if the word “Allah” is pronounced as “Aaallah” or if the word “Akbar” is pronounced as “Akbaar”. Rather the person will become an infidel if the words are purposely pronounced this way whilst knowing their derogatory meanings.
Times when prayer is prohibited
- The following are the times when Prayer is regarded as Disliked (Makrooh).
- From sunrise until 20 minutes have elapsed.
- From 20 minutes before sunset, until sunset.
- Mid-morning (meridian noon) until the sun reaches the zenith.
Within these periods Prayer of any type or the Prostration (for Quran recitation, etc.) is not permitted. Except within these periods, all the lapsed Prayers and the Voluntary Prayers can be offered at any time. However, Voluntary Prayers are not permitted after dawn until sunrise and after one has offered the Evening Prayer until sunset. Both Sunnah and Nafil Prayers are prohibited during the time of the Sermon.