Akhsar al-Mukhtasarat | Book of Salah | Prostration of Forgetfulness

Prostration of Forgetfulness – سُجُودُ اَلسَّهْوِ

وَيُشْرَعُ سُجُودُ اَلسَّهْو ِ لِزِيَادَةٍ وَنَقْصٍ وَشَكٍّ

Sajdah is to prostrate and Sahw means to forgetfulness, mistake or error. 

Sajdah Sahw is legislated (and this could be obligatory or recommended) for 3 things: for an addition to the salah, a suntraction to the salah or having a doubt in the salah.

لَا فِي عَمْدٍ
وَهُوَ وَاجِبٌ لِمَا تَبْطُلُ بِتَعَمُّدِه ِ 
وَسُنَّةٌ لِإِتْيَانٍ بِقَوْلِ مَشْرُوعٍ فِي غَيْرِ مَحَلِّهِ سَهْوًا, وَلَا تَبْطُلُ بِتَعَمُّدِهِ, وَمُبَاحٌ لِتَرْكِ سُنَّةٍ

Sujud as-Sahw is not legislated if the person did it with an intention. If any of the required action like a pillar or obligation is skipped then the salah is invalidated. Doing a Sujud as-Sahw is wajib. Ex: Leaving out recitation of Surah al-Fatihah. 
Sujud as-Sahw is a Sunnah if someone comes up with a legislated statement in the wrong place. Ex: Reciting Surah al-Fatihah in sujud. The salah is valid if the sujud as-sahw is not done in this case. Sujud as-Sahw is recommended when a person who is travelling makes the intention to pray 2 rakats and instead prays 4. The salah is valid even if its not done. 
Sujud as-Sahw can be Mubah if a person leaves the Sunnah. Ex: Leaving recitation of a Surah after Surah al-Fatihah (others opine this being Mustahab). 
Sheikh Abdur Rahman as-Sa’adi, teacher of the Faqih Ibn al-Uthaymeen and Imam al-Hanabilah Abdullah Ibn Aqeel opines that this sujud should be done for those Sunnah that a person is generally accustomed to be doing regularly or a strongly recommended Sunnah and not all the related Sunan of the Prophet in general.

وَمَحَلُّهُ قَبْلَ اَلسَّلَامِ نَدْبًا إِلَّا إِذَا سَلَّمَ عَنْ نَقْصِ رَكْعَةٍ فَأَكْثَرَ فَبَعْدَهُ نَدْبًا. 
وَإِنْ سَلَّمَ قَبْلَ إِتْمَامِهَا عَمْدًا بَطَلَتْ, وَسَهْوًا فَإِنْ ذَكَرَ قَرِيبًا 

There is pretty much an ijma that sujud as-sahw is allowed after the tasleem as well as before it. Scholars differ over when it should be performed. The Hanabila prefer the sujud as-sahw to be done before the tasleem with the exception of a person making tasleem before finishing the prayer where it’s done after the tasleem. Ex: Doing tasleem after 3 rakah of Isha.
If someone intentionally does tasleem before the salah has finished, then the salah is invalidated. If the salah is stopped for a legitimate reason, then a person is not sinful but the salah is to be repeated. Accidentally leaving the prayer also invalidates it unless completed in a very short period of time. 
Proof: Narrated `Abdullah: The Prophet ﷺ prayed (and the sub-narrator Ibrahim said, “I do not know whether he prayed more or less than usual”), and when he had finished the prayers he was asked, “O Allah’s Messenger ﷺ! Has there been any change in the prayers?” He said, “What is it?’ The people said, “You have prayed so much and so much.” So the Prophet ﷺ bent his legs, faced the Qibla and performed two prostration’s (of Sahw) and finished his prayers with Tasleem. When he turned his face to us he said,

 إِنَّهُ لَوْ حَدَثَ فِي الصَّلاَةِ شَىْءٌ لَنَبَّأْتُكُمْ بِهِ، وَلَكِنْ إِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ مِثْلُكُمْ، أَنْسَى كَمَا تَنْسَوْنَ، فَإِذَا نَسِيتُ فَذَكِّرُونِي، وَإِذَا شَكَّ أَحَدُكُمْ فِي صَلاَتِهِ فَلْيَتَحَرَّى الصَّوَابَ، فَلْيُتِمَّ عَلَيْهِ ثُمَّ يُسَلِّمْ، ثُمَّ يَسْجُدْ سَجْدَتَيْنِ

“If there had been anything changed in the prayer, surely I would have informed you but I am a human being like you and liable to forget like you. So if I forget remind me and if anyone of you is doubtful about his prayer, he should follow what he thinks to be correct and complete his prayer accordingly and finish it and do two prostrations (of Sahw). [Sahih al-Bukhari]
If the period is too long after the accidental tasleem, then the salah is invalidated and the salah must be repeated. This time period is determined by what the people consider as too long like driving away from the Masjid and then remembering on the way.

وَإِنْ أَحْدَثَ أَوْ قَهْقَهَ بَطَلَتْ كَفِعْلِهِمَا فِي صُلْبِهَا, 
وَإِنْ نَفَخَ أَوْ اِنْتَحَبَ لَا مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اَللَّهِ, أَوْ تَنَحْنَحَ بِلَا حَاجَة ٍ . فَبَانَ حَرْفَانِ بَطَلَتْ, 

If one who forgetfully finishes the salah and breaks his wudhu, or laughs then his salah becomes baatil just as it would have become in the duration of the prayer. According to the Madhab, talking is not allowed during this period and it breaks the salah for a person is still considered to be in the state of salah.
Proof: The Prophet said,

إِنَّ صَلاَتَنَا هَذِهِ لاَ يَصْلُحُ فِيهَا شَىْءٌ مِنْ كَلاَمِ النَّاسِ إِنَّمَا هُوَ التَّسْبِيحُ وَالتَّكْبِيرُ وَتِلاَوَةُ الْقُرْآنِ

This prayer of ours is not the place for ordinary human speech, rather it is glorification and magnification of Allah, and reciting Qur’an. [Sunan an-Nasai]

There is a second position in the madhab which states that if a person was to intentionally speak in this period of time of accidentally exiting the salah, but it being regarding the salah, then in this case the speech doesn’t invalidate the salah. This is the position adopted by Imam Musa al-Hajjawi in al-Iqna.
If a person blows (sighs), cries for other than the fear of Allah, or clears the throat without a need and two letters become apparent then his prayers becomes invalid. بَانَ حَرْفَانِ – two letters here means the sounds a person makes on clearing the throat. 
Sighing heavily out of boredom etc is considered or equated to the level of talking in the salah and invalidates the salah. Clearing the throat without a need like trying to indicate to the Imam to hurry up also invalidates the salah. Crying out of stress, frustration or fight with someone like a spouse etc is not allowed in the salah as this is not crying out of the fear of Allah. 
Ibn Qudammah in al-Mughni says that if these things are not in the control of the person then it doesn’t harm and invalidate the salah.

وَمَنْ تَرَكَ رُكْنًا غَيْرَ التحريمةِ
فَذَكَرَهُ بَعْدَ شُرُوعِهِ فِي قِرَاءَةِ رَكْعَةٍ أُخْرَى بَطَلَتْ اَلْمَتْرُوكُ مِنْهَا, وَصَارَتْ اَلَّتِي شَرَعَ فِي قِرَاءَتِهَا مَكَانَهَا,

If someone leaves a pillar except the tahreema (takbeeratul Ihram) out of forgetfulness but only remembers it after the recitation of the next rakah then consider that rakah to be non-existent and continue with the salah with that being your first rakah.
Ex: Someone misses Surah al-Fatihah in the first rakah and remembers this error in the second rakah. The first rakah is considered to never have happened and the person continues praying with the current rakah becoming the primary rakah. If the person remembers in the 4 rakah, then he prays as though he has prayed only 3 rakah. 

Why except tahreema? Because if the tahreema is missed then the person isn’t even considered to have entered the salah in the first place.  

Why after the recitation of the next rakah? Because now the person has started a new pillar which stands on its own. But if a person remembers in the same rakah, then they stand back up and rectify that rakah accordingly followed by sujud as-sahw at the end before tasleem.

وَقَبْلَهُ يَعُودُ فَيَأْتِي بِهِ وَبِمَا بَعْدَهُ, وَبَعْدَ سَلَامٍ فَكَتَرْكِ رَكْعَة.

The Hanabilah say that it is Wajib to complete and rectify the rakah without a delay. The pillar should be performed and all that which follows it in order. if a person remembers after the tasleem, then it is as though the person has missed a rakah. Stand and pray the rakah as long as the time period is very short and tasleem followed by sujud as-sahw.

وَإِنْ نَهَضَ عَنْ تَشَهُّدٍ أَوَّلَ
نَاسِيًا لَزِمَ رُجُوعُه ُ وَكُرِهَ إِنْ اِسْتَتَمَّ قَائِمًا, وَحَرُم َ وَبَطَلَتْ إِنْ شَرَعَ فِي اَلْقِرَاءَةِ لَا إِنْ نَسِيَ أَوْ جَهِلَ,

If someone performs the 4th sajdah of the salah (2 rakah), they are supposed to sit for tashahhhud. If a person forgets and starts to stand then they should sit down. If the person has fully stood up then it is Makruh to go back and sit down. If the person has stood up and started recitation then it is impermissible to go back and sit down. Carry on praying and do the sujud as-Sahw at the end before the tasleem.
What is done out of complete ignorance or forgetfulness, leave that be as the salah is valid.

وَيَتْبَعُ مَأْمُوم ٌ  وَيَجِبُ اَلسُّجُودُ لِذَلِكَ مُطْلَقًا 

وَيَبْنِي عَلَى اَلْيَقِينِ -وَهُوَ اَلْأَقَلُّ- مَنْ شَكَّ فِي رُكْنٍ أَوْ عَدَد ٍ 

The follower should follow the Imam in all the actions. In all cases one must perform Sujud as-Sahw.
If someone forgets completely which part of the salah he is in, then he should revert to that which he is certain about and that has to be the lesser number be it regarding a pillar or something else.
Ex: Person loses track if he is in the 3 or 4 rakah. The person reverts to 2 rakah because he is sure of having prayed that.

Some scholars and this is the position of the Hanafis to do ijtihad to the best of a persons abilities and continue the salah with that. It’s better to be on the safer side instead of making assumptions and reverting to the last certain action.

Mohammad Zahid


Born Najdi, Bred Hijazi, Brought Up Nawabi. Founder - Currently pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Islamic Studies as well as a Masters Degree in Information Technology at International Islamic University Malaysia. Studying Islamic Sciences under the guidance of Sheikh Ibrahim Nuhu. An ardent interest in Islamic History especially the Seerah of our Beloved Prophet. Aims to rekindle the spark to read amongst the Muslim Youth through various projects and activities. An ever expanding appetite for books - Bibliophile. Life is just a transit and we pass away as strangers, a legacy left behind is all that matters.

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