[A couple of years ago (maybe longer?) some sisters asked me to come up with a Ramadan quiz for them to work on during Ramadan in the hope that it might encourage them to learn throughout the month. I’ve decided to post the answers to those questions as a series this month Inshallah.]

Today’s question is: What are the conditions of Salat which must be fulfilled in order for the prayer to be accepted?

There are quite a few conditions which must be fulfilled in order for the Salat to be accepted. Alhamdulillah we know them (even if we don’t know we know them, 🙂 ) and do them automatically, but it’s interesting to be reminded of them from time to time and reexamine them. So without further to do, here are the prerequisites of Salat – the conditions which must be met before we even say that first Takbeer (Allahu Akbar):

1) Being Muslim / knowing that Salat is Fard: This is kinda obvious. You have to be a Muslim and submit to Allah for your prayers to be accepted. And Salat isn’t fard unless you know it’s fard. (Note: denying it’s fard doesn’t qualify as ignorance – once you’ve been told, you know, and once you know, you have to perform it.)

2) Sanity / not being asleep: When a Muslim is insane or asleep (I like how they fall under the same category 😀 ) the angels do not record his/her deeds, and s/he isn’t responsible for his/her actions. And this includes missing Salat. This is why if you don’t pray fajr on time because you slept through, you can make it up – it’s not like you deliberately thought: nah! I can’t be bovvered this morning.

3) Taharah (cleanliness): This means having done Ghusl (if necessary) or Wudoo and ensuring that your clothes and the area you are going to pray on are all free from anything impure (urine, etc). For a woman, it also means that she shouldn’t be on her period, or have post-natal bleeding, as these both lift the order to pray.

4) Covering the Awrah (that of the body which should be covered): For men, in Salat it is between the knees and the shoulders, and they must cover their shoulders due to a hadith of the Prophet ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ). And I mean, today, who doesn’t have a T-shirt? For women, it is all of her body except her hands up to the wrists and her face.

5) Facing the Qiblah: This one’s also kinda obvious.

6) Start of the time for prayer: You cannot pray a prayer before it’s time, unless you’re travelling and combining prayers. This means that you cannot pray Maghrib until the sun sets – not half an hour before. If you do perform a prayer before it’s time, then it is not accepted and you have to pray it again when the time comes in. This is because any given prayer is not compulsory until the time for it has come in.

7) Intention: The intention for Salat should be to perform it to for the sake of Allah alone. There is, however, absolutely no evidence in the Shariah that the intention should be stated out loud, and as such it is a Bid’ah to do so. According to Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips (in his Islamic Studies book 3), before you start to pray, you should consider your intention and ask yourself why you are doing it. This helps to improve both your concentration and sincerity in prayer. I’ve never actually thought of doing this myself – it’s a good idea mashallah.

Do you question your niyah / intention before you pray? I think I’m gonna start doing this, see if it helps with the whole sincerity angle. The next question Inshallah will be: What does ‘Al-Farouq’ mean, and why was Omar Ibn Al-Khattab given this name?