Wudhu and Salah - Clearing Doubts
  • Question:

    I have this question and it has been bothering me since long. Whenever I am making wudhu or praying my salah, I always have these doubts in my mind that, 'Oh I did not do this or did not do that', which frustrates me. Also when I have wudhu, I have doubts that i have broken my wudhu. What should I do to clear my mind from these doubts? Also, are we allowed to do two sajdah sahws in one salah?

    Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

    Thank you for your question.

    May Allāh provide relief and mercy in your situations.

    In matters of wudhū, you can thoroughly wash each limb three times, following this, you are to ignore any swaying doubts that come into the mind. Disregard the doubts and carry on with the completion of your wudhū. Washing an area more than thrice is not appropriate.

    `Amr bin Shu’ayb reported from his father, who reported from his grandfather who asked, “O Messenger of Allāh, how is purification [attained]?” Allāh’s Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) asked for some water in a container and washed his hands thrice. Thereafter he washed his face thrice, his forearms thrice and wiped his head. He then inserted his index fingers in his ears and wiped the external portion of his ears with his thumbs and the internal portion with his index fingers. He then concluded with washing his feet thrice and expressed, “This is how wudhū [is performed]. Whoever does anything additional upon this or omits something [from it] has committed a wrong act and an act of injustice.” (Sunan Abī Dāwūd)

    ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mubārak stated, "If one is uncertain about his condition of purity, he does not need to perform a new wudhū"

    In regards to prayer, doubts are common as well. In fact the devil tries his utmost to distract and create doubts while in prayer. The remedy for this, in most cases is to perform the two prostrations of error (sujūd al sahw) at the conclusion of the prayer.

    Abū Hurairah (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported, “Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) said, “When one of you stands to pray, Shayṭān approaches him and confuses him to the extent that he becomes unsure of how many raka’āt he has performed. When any of you experience this then you should prostrate twice while sitting.” (Muslim)

    However one will only resort to the two additional prostrations of sahw, if he or she:

    • performs an additional posture amongst the required postures of the prayer
    • omits a necessary (wājib) action from the prayer
    • delays the performance of a necessary (wājib) action in the prayer
    • unintentionally delays the performance of an integral action (fardh) of the prayer. (Hidāyah)

    Hence with this in mind the following is the course of action you should adopt when experiencing the aforementioned complications in your prayer:

    • If you are unsure of whether you recited Surah al fātiḥa during the prayer or not, conclude the prayer with sujūd al sahw, for reciting Surah al fātiḥa is among the necessary performances (wājibāt) of the prayer and its omission can be amended by performing this type of prostration. (Hidāyah)

    • If you are uncertain of whether you had said the takbīr whilst going into rukū` , you should just continue with your prayer, for uttering the takbīr for changing postures is amongst the sunnah performances of the prayer and omitting a sunnah performance does not invalidate the prayer nor does it necessitate sujūd al sahw.

    • When in prostration, if you are unsure whether you had performed prostration prior to it, perform prostration again after it and conclude the prayer with sujūd al sahw, just in case you have performed an additional prostration.

    • If you feel that you have omitted the first sitting (tashahhud) in a 4 raka’āt prayer, you may conclude the prayer with sujūd al sahw. (Hidāyah)

    • If you genuinely feel that you failed to utter the opening takbīr whilst performing the prayer behind the imām, you should utter it as soon as you remember.

    • If you felt that you did not utter āmīn upon the conclusion of the imām’s recitation of Surah al fātiḥa, you need not worry, as uttering amīn is among the sunnah performances of the prayer. (Nūr al Idhāḥ)

    You are to also note that one set of sūjud al sahw suffices for all the errors /doubts as per the explanation above.

    Once you have completed the prayer with the above instructions, you should just leave it to Allāh and anticipate acceptance from Him.

    May Allāh allow us to always improve our salāh through His mercy.

    And Allah knows best.

    Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Badat
    Hadith of the Day Imam
    Imam of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto and Director of Mathabah Institute
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