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The Sealed Nectar

 The Sealed Nectar by Shaykh Safi ur-Rahman

a. His Guidance in Beginning and Recitation

When he (peace be upun him) began prayer, he would say: "Allahu akbar" (Allah is most great). He (peace be upun him) would not say anything before that and never pronounced the intention (niyyah).

He (peace be upun him) would raise his hands to the earlobes or shoulders with his fingers straight, facing the Qiblah, and then place his right hand over the back of his left.

Sometimes he (peace be upun him) would say: “O Allah, distance me from my sins as you have distanced the east from the west. O Allah, cleanse me of my sins as a white garment is cleansed of dirt. O Allah, wash away my sins with water, ice and hail.”

Sometimes he (peace be upun him) said: “I have turned my face to Him who created the heavens and earth, inclined to truth, in submission, and I am not of those who associate [others with Allah]. Indeed my prayer, my sacrifice, my life and my death are for Allah, Lord of the worlds, no partner has He; this I am commanded and I am the first of the Muslims.”

After the opening words, he (peace be upun him) would say: “A`udhu billahi minash-shaytanir-rajeem” (I seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the rejected). Then he would recite Surah al-Fatihah.

He (peace be upun him) would pause slightly between "Allahu akbar" and the recitation of al-Fatihah and it is reported that he also did so after the recitation or before bowing.

After completing al-Fatihah, he (peace be upun him) would begin another surah , prolonging it or shortening it according to circumstances such as travel, but usually he would recite medium length passages.

In the fajr (dawn) prayer, he (peace be upun him) used to recite around 60 to 100 verses. Sometimes he recited Surah "Qaf" or Surah "Ar-Rum". Or he recited "At-Takweer", "Ar-Rum" or "Al-Zalzalah" in both rak`ahs. He (peace be upun him) recited Surahs "Al-Falaq" and "An-Nas" during a journey. He (peace be upun him) once began to recite Surah "Al-Mu'minun" in the first rak`ah until he reached the mention of Moses and Aaron  when he started coughing, so he ended the recitation and bowed.

On Fridays, he (peace be upun him) would often recite in the fajr prayer "As-Sajdah" and "Al-Insan".

He (peace be upun him) often prolonged recitation in thuhr (noon) prayer. When it was long he reduced it to half that length in `asr (late afternoon) prayer, but when shorter, then accordingly.

While performing maghrib (sunset) prayer, he was heard to recite "At-Tur", and once, "Al-Mursalaat".

As for `ishaa' (night) prayer, he (peace be upun him) was heard to recite Surah "At-Teen", and limited his companion, Mu`adh to Surah "Ash-Shams", "Al-A`la", "Al-Layl" and similar surahs and disapproved of reciting "Al-Baqarah" in it.

His guidance included reciting the entire surah. Sometimes he would divide it between two rak`ahs. He (peace be upun him) might recite the beginning verses of a surah, but it has not been reported that he recited only the end or the middle portion of a surah.

However, he (peace be upun him) used to recite two surahs in one rak`ah during naafilah prayers, but seldom recited the same surah in both rak`ahs. He (peace be upun him) did not specify a certain surah for any particular prayer except for Friday and the two Eid prayers.

He (peace be upun him) supplicated with qunoot in the fajr prayer after ruku`' for one month and then discontinued it. This was due to a particular situation, so when it ceased his qunoot ended. His guidance was to supplicate with qunoot during calamities, but without confining it to the fajr prayer.

b. His Guidance in How to Perform Prayer

He (peace be upun him) used to make the first rak`ah longer than the second in every prayer.

Upon completing recitation of the Qur'an he (peace be upun him) would pause long enough to regain his breath, then he (peace be upun him) would raise his hands, saying "Allahu akbar" and bow in ruku`. He would place his hands on his knees as if grasping them. Distancing his arms from his body, he straightened his back horizontally, keeping his head level with his back, without raising or lowering it.

He (peace be upun him) used to repeat "Subhana rabbi al-Atheem" (Glory to my great Lord) or say: "Subhaanak Allaahumma rabana wa bihamdik. Allaahumm-aghfir lee." (Glory be to You, O Allah, our Lord, and praise. O Allah, forgive me.) He (peace be upun him) also used to say:
"Subbuhun Quddusun Rabbul-Mala'ikati war-rooh." (Most glorious and most pure is the Lord of the angels and spirit.)

His usual ruku` was long enough to repeat "Subhana rabbi al-Atheem" ten times and his sujood was the same length. Sometimes he made the ruku` and sujood equal to the time he stood in recitation, but he did that predominantly while alone during night prayer. His usual guidance was to make the positions of his prayer balanced in length.

He (peace be upun him) then lifted his head, saying: “Sami` Allahu liman hamidah” (Allah hears whoever praises Him). He (peace be upun him) would raise his hands and straighten his back. He (peace be upun him) did the same when raising his head from prostration, and said, “Prayer is unacceptable when a man does not straighten his back in ruku` and sujood." When he stood upright, he would say: "Rabbana wa lakal-hamd" (Our Lord, and to You is due all praise.)

He (peace be upun him) would remain in this position the length of his ruku` and recite: “Rabbana wa lakal-hamd mil'as-samawaati wa mil'al-ardhi wa mil'a ma baynahuma wa mil'a ma shi'ta min shay'in baad. Ahl uth-thanaa’i wal-majdi, ahaqqu ma qal al-`abdu, wa kulluna laka `abd. La mani`a lima `atayta wa la mu`tiya lima mana`ta, wa la yanfa`u dhal-jaddi minkal-jadd.” (Our Lord, to You is due all praise as much as to fill the heavens, the earth, whatever is between them and whatever else You should will, beyond that. That You are worthy of all praise and glory is most worthy to be said by a servant, and all of us are Your servants. O Allah, there is no preventer of what You grant and no granter of what You prevent, and no means will benefit a man of means against You.”

Then he (peace be upun him) would say "Allahu akbar" and prostrate without raising his hands. He (peace be upun him) placed his knees first followed by his hands, then his forehead and nose. He (peace be upun him) prostrated on his forehead and nose without including the turban. He (peace be upun him) frequently prostrated on the bare ground, even with water and mud, or on a palm leaf mat or a tanned animal skin.

When prostrating he (peace be upun him) would firmly place his forehead and nose on the ground, distancing his arms from his body so widely that the whiteness of his armpits could be seen.

He (peace be upun him) would place his hands beside his shoulders and ears, and hold his body in prostration with the tips of his toes pointed towards the Qiblah. His hands were stretched towards it with the fingers together.

In this position, he (peace be upun him) would say: "Subhaanak Allaahumma rabana wa bihamdik. Allaahumm-aghfir lee." (Glory be to You, O Allah, our Lord, and praise. O Allah, forgive me.) He (peace be upun him) also repeated “Subbuhun Quddusun Rabbul-malaa'ikati war-rooh.”

He (peace be upun him) would lift his head, saying: "Allahu akbar" without raising his hands. Then he would sit, spreading his left foot under him and straighten his right foot, placing his hands on his thighs with his elbows resting on the thighs and fingertips on his knees. He would make a circle with his thumb and middle finger, raising the index finger and moving it in supplication while saying:
“Allahumm-aghfir lee warhamnee wajburni wahdinee warzuqnee.” (O Allah, forgive me, have mercy on me, correct my faults, guide me and grant me sustenance.)

It was his practice to make his sitting as long as his prostration.

He (peace be upun him) then stood up with his weight on the balls of his feet and hands on his thighs. He would start reciting the Qur'an without pausing as when he began the prayer. The second rak`ah is performed like the first but without the initial "Allahu akbar", the pause, the opening supplication, and lengthening the rak`ah. He made the first rak`ah longer than the second, perhaps until approaching footsteps could no longer be heard.

When sitting for the tashahhud, he (peace be upun him) placed his left hand on his left thigh and his right hand on his right thigh and pointed with his index finger. He (peace be upun him) would not make it vertical or horizontal, but move it while slightly curved. He (peace be upun him) made a circle with the thumb and middle finger, raising the index finger in supplication with his eyes upon it.

In this sitting position he (peace be upun him) always recited the tashahhud, teaching his companions to say:
"Attahiyatu lilalahi was-salawaatu wat-tayyibaat. Assalaamu ‘alaika ayyuhan-nabiyyu wa rahmatulalahi wa baraakatuh. Assalamu ‘alaina wa ‘ala ‘ibadillaahis- saaliheen. Ash-hadu an la illaaha ill-Allaahu wash-hadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa rasooluh." (All greetings are for Allah and all prayers and all good things. Peace be upon you O Prophet (peace be upun him), and the mercy of Allah and His blessings. Peace be upon us and on the righteous servants of Allah. I testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad (peace be upun him) is His servant and messenger.) He (peace be upun him) would make it very brief as if he was praying on hot stones. Then, saying "Allahu akbar", he would arise with his weight on the balls of his feet and hands on his thighs, then raise his hands and stand straight again. He would recite al-Fatihah alone in the last two rak`ahs, or he might recite other verses of the Qur'an in addition to al-Fatihah.

During the final tashahhud, he (peace be upun him) would sit back on the ground with his foot protruding from the side. The left foot would be between his thigh and leg while the right foot was erect or extended to the right. He placed his right hand on his right thigh, closing three fingers and raising the index finger.

He (peace be upun him) used to say the following supplication at the end of the prayer:
“Allaahumma innee a`udhu bika min `adhaabil-qabri wa a`udhu bika min fitnatil-maseehid-dajjaali wa a`udhu bika min fitnatil-mahya wal-mamaat. Allaahumma innee a`udhu bika minal-ma'thami wal-maghram." (O Allah, I seek refuge with You from the torment of the grave, I seek refuge with You from the sedition of the false messiah, and I seek refuge with You from the trials of life and death. O Allah, I seek refuge with You from sin and insurmountable debt.)

Finally, he (peace be upun him) would turn his head to the right side, saying, "Assalaamu `alaykum wa rahmatullaah" (May the peace and mercy of Allah be upon you) and then to the left side, repeating it.

He (peace be upun him) ordered the worshiper to pray behind a sutrah, even a stick or an arrow. He (peace be upun him) used to place a spear before him while on a journey or praying outdoors. He (peace be upun him) also used his riding camel as a sutrah while praying. He (peace be upun him) would also take a saddle and pray toward its back.

When he (peace be upun him) prayed toward a wall, he would leave space enough to allow a goat to pass. He (peace be upun him) prayed close to it and ordered others to do so.

c. His Guidance in Actions During Prayer

It was not his practice to look around during prayer.

He (peace be upun him) did not close his eyes while praying.

He (peace be upun him) used to bow his head during prayer. Sometimes he started the prayer with the intention to make it long but upon hearing the crying of a child, he shortened it to avoid hardship on his mother.

He (peace be upun him) sometimes performed the obligatory prayer carrying his granddaughter Umamah on his shoulders. When standing he held her and during ruku` and sujood put her down.

When praying, his grandson, al-Hasan or al-Hussein would climb on his back. He prolonged the prostration to prevent him from falling.

When he (peace be upun him) was praying, [his wife] Aisha arrived and he stepped forward to open the door for her and returned to his place.

He (peace be upun him) would respond to a greeting during prayer by a sign of the hand.

He (peace be upun him) would sigh, weep or clear his throat when necessary.

He (peace be upun him) used to pray barefoot at times or with his shoes on, and ordered prayer-wearing shoes in order to be different from the Jews.

He (peace be upun him) sometimes used to pray in one garment, but more often in two garments.

d. His Guidance in Recitation After Prayer

Upon finishing prayer he (peace be upun him) would ask Allah for forgiveness three times and then say:
"Allaahumma antas-salaamu wa minkas-salaamu, tabaarakta ya dhal-jalaali wal- ikraam." (O Allah, You are peace and from You comes peace. Blessed are You, O Owner of Majesty and Honour.” He (peace be upun him) remained facing the Qiblah only long enough to complete this supplication. Then he would immediately turn to face the worshippers, either to the left or to the right.

After concluding the fajr prayer, he stayed in his place of prayer until sunrise.

He (peace be upun him) also used to say after every obligatory prayer:
"La ilaaha ill-Allaahu wahdahu la shareeka lahu, lahu-mulku wa lahul-hamdu wa huwa `ala kulli shay'in qadeer. Allaahumma la maani`a lima a`tayta, wa la mu`tiya lima mana`ta, wa la yanfa`u dhal-jaddi minkal-jadd.”
(There is no god but Allah, alone, having no partner. His is sovereignty and to Him is all praise and He (peace be upun him) is over all things competent. O Allah, there is no preventer of what You grant and no granter of what You prevent, and no means will benefit a man of means against You.)
“La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah. La ilaaha il-Allaahu, wa la na`budu illa iyyaah. Lahun-ni`matu wa lahul-fadhlu wa lahuth-thanaa'ul-hasan. La ilaaha ill-Allaahu, mukhliseena lahud-deena wa lau karihal-kaafiroon."
(There is no might or power except through Allah. There is no god but Allah and we worship none but Him. All blessing is His and all favour, and to Him is due the best praise. There is no god but Allah. We are sincere in religion to Him alone, even if the disbelievers dislike it.)

He (peace be upun him) urged his followers to say after the obligatory prayer: "Subhan Allah" (Glory be to Allah) thirty three times, "Al-hamdulillah" (Praise be to Allah) thirty three times, "Allahu akbar" (Allah is most great), thirty three times and complete one hundred by saying,
“La ilaha 'ill-Allaahu wahdahu la shareeka lahu, lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu wa huwa `ala kulli shay'in qadeer."
(There is no god but Allah, alone, having no partner. His is sovereignty and to Him is all praise and He is over all things competent.)

e. His Guidance in Voluntary and Night Prayers

He (peace be upun him) generally performed sunnah prayers and other voluntary prayers at home, particularly the sunnah of maghrib.

He (peace be upun him) regularly performed ten rak`ahs when not travelling: two before thuhr and two after it, two after maghrib and two after `ishaa' in his house, and two before fajr prayer.

He (peace be upun him) adhered more strictly to the sunnah of fajr than any other voluntary prayer to the extent that he never missed it and the witr prayer, whether he was travelling or at home. It is not reported that he performed any voluntary prayers during his travels except the sunnah of fajr prayer and the witr prayer.

He (peace be upun him) used to lie down on his right side after the sunnah before fajr prayer.

Sometimes he (peace be upun him) performed four rak`ahs before thuhr prayer, and if he missed the two sunnah rak`ahs after thuhr he performed them after `asr.

He (peace be upun him) usually performed the night prayer standing, although he might pray sitting, or recite the Qur'an while sitting until he was about to finish the recitation, when he would stand up and then bow for ruku`.

At night, he (peace be upun him) used to perform eight rak`ahs, two at a time, followed by witr of five consecutive rak`ahs sitting only after the fifth. Or he might perform a witr of nine rak`ahs sitting after the eighth and then rising to perform the ninth, at the end of which he would sit for tashahhud and conclude the prayer. After that he might perform another two rak`ahs prayer. Or else he might perform witr as seven rak`ahs in the same manner, followed by two rak`ahs while sitting.

He (peace be upun him) might perform witr prayer in the early, middle or later part of the night. He (peace be upun him) said:
“Make witr your last voluntary prayer for the night."
 He (peace be upun him) would sometimes perform two more rak`ahs sitting after witr and might recite the Qur'an while sitting but when he was about to make ruku` would stand up.

If he (peace be upun him) was overcome by sleep or pain, he would perform twelve rak`ahs during the following day.

Once he performed the night prayer reciting one single verse of the Qur'an, which he kept repeating until the morning.

He (peace be upun him) sometimes recited the Qur'an in a low voice during night prayer and other times aloud. He (peace be upun him) would sometimes stand a long time during prayer and sometimes would decrease it.

He (peace be upun him) would recite in the witr prayer the surahs al-A`la, al-Kafirun and al-Ikhlaas. After concluding the prayer, he would say: “Subhan al-Malik il-Quddus” three times.

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