Eight most common mistakes in the prayer

These are some of the eight most common mistakes in prayer that we need to stop doing immediately.

Praying too fast

The Prophet ﷺ commanded us to pray in a manner that we sense tranquility in every portion of the prayer. To bow until you feel tranquility in your bowing, to prostrate until you feel tranquility in your prostration and to sit until you feel tranquility in your sitting.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ entered the Masjid, then a man entered and prayed, then he came and greeted the Messenger of Allah ﷺ with Salam.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺreturned his greeting and said: Go back and pray, for you have not prayed.” So he went back and prayed as he has prayed before, then he came to the Prophet ﷺ and greeted him with Salam, and the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to him: “Wa alaika as-salam (and upon you be peace). Go back and pray for you have not prayed.” He did that three times, then the man said: “By the One Who sent you with the truth, I cannot do any better than that; teach me.”

He said: “When you stand to pray, say the Takbir, then recite whatever is easy for you of Quran.

Then bow until you have tranquility in your bowing, then stand up until you are standing straight.

Then prostrate until you have tranquility in your prostration, then sit up until you have tranquility in your sitting.

Then do that throughout your entire prayer.”

Sunan Al-Nisai’ (Sahih)

Moving around excessively

Most of the scholars are of unanimous agreement that excessive and continuous movement invalidates your prayer. And whether such movements are disliked or prohibited, there is no doubt that such movements distract from one’s prayer and will reduce one’s Khushoo’ or concentration.

Certainly the believers have succeeded. Those who during their prayers are humbly submissive.

Quran 23:1-2

Preceding the Imam

Going in front of the Imam is also a common mistake in prayer. The Prophet ﷺ taught us that the Imam was appointed to be followed. He also warned us that the one who raises his head before the Imam should fear that Allah would turn his face into that of a donkey’s. Whether this is physical or figurative is a matter of debate, but nevertheless, the warning is severe.

Our Prophet ﷺ said

“The Imam is to be followed. So, bow when he bows, and raise your head when he raises his head.”

Sahih Al-Bukhari

The Prophet ﷺ said

“Isn’t he who raises his head before the Imam afraid that Allah may transform his head into that of a donkey or his figure (face) into that of a donkey?”

Sahih Al-Bukhari

Incorrect Sujood

The Prophet ﷺ advised that seven bones must touch the ground during the Sujood; The forehead, two hands, two knees and two feet. Unfortunately, many of us will lift our feet into the air during the Sujood, making it invalid.

The Prophet ﷺ said:

“I was commanded to prostrate myself on the seven (bones) and forbidden to fold back hair and clothing. (The seven bones are): forehead, nose, hands, knees and feet.”

Sahih Muslim

Resting forearms on the ground

Another common mistake is resting our forearms on the ground, despite the clear Prophetic prohibition:

“Do not rest your forearms on the ground like a dog when prostrating”.

Sahih Muslim

Not covering the ‘Awrah

From the conditions of the prayer is that one covers his or her ‘Awrah before they begin. For a woman, this is everything but her face and hands. While for a man it is the area between the navels and knees.

While some of us might remember to cover our ‘Awrah, unfortunately, we might unknowingly reveal our ‘Awrah when we prostrate, so we need to be careful.

Failing to do the Takbir Al-Ihraam

One of the pillars of the prayer is to do the Takbir Al-Ihraam with Qiyaam, and that is to say “Allahu Akbar” and to stand up straight at the beginning of the prayer.

Many of us when joining the prayer late and the Imam is in Rukoo’ or Sujood, we fail to perform the Qiyaam, the standing, for even a brief moment and miss out on this pillar of prayer.

Looking around during the prayer

The Prophet ﷺ warned that those who look up during prayer must avoid doing so, or else Allah may take away their eyesight. It is rather recommended that one keep his eyes fixed at the place of prostration.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

“How is it that some people raise their eyes towards the sky during Salaah (the prayer)?” He stressed (this point) and added, “People must refrain from raising their eyes towards heaven in Salaah (prayer), or else their sights will certainly be snatched away.”

Sahih Al-Bukhari