THE PREREQUISITES OF SALAAH
1. Before commencing with salaah, several things are wajib. If one does not have wudu (ablution), then wudu (ablution) should be made. If there is a need to have a bath, then a bath should be taken. If there is any impurity on the body or clothes, it should be purified. The place where salaah is being offered should also be pure. Apart from the face, hands and feet, the entire body from head to toe should be well covered. One should face the qiblah. An intention should be made for the salaah which one wishes to offer. The salaah should be offered after the entry of that salaah time. All these are prerequisites or conditions for salaah. If any one of these prerequisites are not found, salaah will not be valid.
2. It is not permissible to offer salaah with a very thin, flimsy or lacy scarf.
3. If a quarter of a woman's calf, thigh or arm gets exposed while offering salaah and it remains exposed to the extent that she can read Sub'haanallah three times; then her salaah will break and she will have to repeat it. But if she covers that part the moment it is exposed, her salaah will still be valid. In the same way, if a quarter of any part that is supposed to be covered when offering salaah gets exposed, then the salaah will not be valid. For example, if a quarter of the ear, head, hair, stomach, back, neck, bosom, chest, etc. gets exposed; then the salaah will not be valid.
4. If the scarf of a girl who has not reached the age of puberty as yet slips off while offering salaah and her head gets exposed, her salaah will still be valid.
5. If there is any impurity on the body or clothing but water cannot be found anywhere, then the salaah should be offered with the impurity.
6. If the entire clothing is impure, or most of it is impure,i.e. less than a quarter of it is pure and the balance of it is impure, then in such a case one could either offer the salaah while wearing those impure clothes or remove those clothes and offer the salaah while naked. However, it is preferable to offer the salaah with the impure clothes. If a quarter or more of the clothes are pure, it will not be permissible to offer the salaah naked. It will be wajib to offer the salaah in those impure clothes.
7. If a person offering salaah is wrapped in a sheet which is so large that its impure section does not move about with the standing and sitting movements of the person, then there is no harm in it. Similarly, the thing which a person offering salaah is carrying also has to be pure. This is on the condition that it does not hold on to the person of its own accord. For example, a person offering salaah is carrying a child and that child did not come onto him out of its own accord, then it is a prerequisite that the child be also pure for the validity of salaah. If that child's clothing or body is impure to an extent which does not permit salaah, then in such a case, that person's salaah will not be valid. But if that child sits on him or clings to him of its own accord, then there is no harm in this because the child sat on him of its own accord and of its own will. So this impurity on the child will be attributed to the child and will not be connected to the person offering salaah.
Similarly, if there is such an impurity on the person offering salaah which is still in its actual place of formation and whose traces have not come outside as yet, then there is no harm in this. For example, a dog comes and sits on the person offering salaah and there is no saliva coming out of its mouth - there is no harm in this. This is so because its saliva is inside its body, and that is where it is formed. It is the same as that impurity which is in the stomach of man and for which purity is not a prerequisite.
Similarly, if there is an egg whose yolk has turned into blood and it is on the person offering salaah, there is no harm in this. This is so because its blood is in that very place from where it was formed and its effect has not come out as yet.
On the contrary, if urine has been filled in a bottle and it is on the person offering salaah, then this is not proper even if the bottle is completely sealed. This is so because this urine is not in its actual place of formation.
8. The place on which salaah is being offered has to be pure of all impurities (such as urine, stool, semen, etc.). However, if the impurity is of an excusable amount, there is no harm in this. The "place on which salaah is being offered" refers to that place where the feet are placed and also those places which touch the ground when in sajdah, i.e. wherever the knees, hands, forehead and nose are placed.
9. If the place of only one foot is pure and the person lifts his other foot, this will be sufficient.
10. If a person is offering salaah on a piece of cloth, even then the same extent as mentioned above will have to be pure. It is not necessary for the entire piece of cloth to be pure. This is irrespective of whether the cloth is big or small.
11. If a cloth is spread out over an impure place and salaah is offered on it, then it is also a prerequisite that the cloth must not be so thin that whatever is under it can be clearly seen.
12. If the clothing of a person offering salaah touches any impure place which is dry, there is no harm in this.
13. If a person has no clothes at all, he should offer his salaah naked. However, the salaah should be offered at such a place where no one can see him. Furthermore, the salaah should not be offered standing, but sitting; and he should make gestures (ishaarah) for the ruku and sajdah. But if he offers his salaah while standing and even goes down for his ruku and sajdah, his salaah will still be valid. However, it is preferable to offer the salaah sitting.
14. If a person is excused from wearing clothes because of some reason which has been caused by a human being, he will have to repeat his salaah when this excuse is no more. For example, a person is in prison and the wardens have removed his clothes, an enemy has removed his clothes or an enemy tells him that if you wear your clothes I will kill you - in all the above cases he will have to repeat his salaah. But if it is not because of a human being, he does not have to repeat his salaah. For example, if he has no clothes at all.
15. A person has only one piece of cloth and has the choice of either covering himself or spreading it on the floor and offering salaah on it. He should rather cover himself with it and offer salaah on the impure place if no clean place can be found.
16. A person is travelling and has so little water that if he had to wash off the impurity he will not have sufficient water for wudu. And if he had to make wudu first, he will not have sufficient water to wash off the impurity. Such a person should utilise the water to wash off the impurity and make tayammum for his wudu.
17. A person offered zuhr salaah. On completing his salaah, he realized that the zuhr time had already expired and asr time had already entered. He will not have to make qada of that salaah. The salaah which he had offered will come under the rule of qada and it will be considered to be a qada salaah.
18. But if he offered a salaah even before the entry of its time, it will not be valid.
19. It is not necessary to make a verbal intention. If a person thinks in his heart that I am reading the fard of zuhr for today, or if it is a sunnah, then I am reading the sunnah of zuhr; then this will be sufficient. All those lengthy intentions which are popular among the people are not necessary at all.
20. If one wants to make a verbal intention, it is sufficient to say thus: I am making intention for todays fard of zuhr, or, I am making intention for the sunnah of zuhr. To say: I am reading four rakaats for zuhr salaah, facing the qiblah, etc. is not necessary. If one wishes, he could say so, if not, then he does not have to.
21. In his heart a person has the intention of zuhr salaah, but when he utters his intention, he mistakenly says asr salaah. Even then his salaah will be valid.
22. If he mistakenly says six rakaats or three rakaats instead of four rakaats, his salaah will still be valid.
23. If a person has missed several salaahs and decides to make qada of them, he should specify the time of the salaah when making his intention. That is, he should make intention in this way: I am offering the fard of fajr salaah. If it is the qada of zuhr, then he should say: I am offering the fard of zuhr salaah. In the same way, he should make the intention of whichever salaah he wishes to make qada of. If in his intention he merely said: I am offering qada salaah, and did not specify which salaah it is, then this qada will not be valid. It will have to be repeated.
24. If salaah of several days has been missed, one should also specify the day and date when making the intention. For example, a person missed the salaahs of Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. When making his intention it will not be proper for him to merely say that he is making qada of fajr salaah. Instead he will have to make intention in the following way: I am making qada for the fajr salaah of Saturday. When zuhr time comes, he must say: I am making qada for the zuhr salaah of Saturday. In this way he should continue making intention. Once he completes making the qada of all the salaahs of Saturday, he should say: I am making the qada for the fajr salaah of Sunday. In this way he should offer all his qada salaahs. If he is making qada for several months or years, he should also specify the month and year and say: I am offering the qada of fajr salaah of a particular day in a particular month and in a particular year. Without saying it in this way, the intention will not be correct.
25. If a person does not remember the date, month or year, he should make his intention as follows: Of all the fajr salaahs that I have to make qada of, I am making qada of the first one that I had missed, or, of all the zuhr salaahs that I have to make qada of, I am making qada of the first one that I had missed. He should make his intention in this way and continue offering his qada salaah. Once the heart is satisfied that qada of all the missed salaahs has been made, he can stop offering qada salaah.
26. For sunnah, nafl and taraweeh salaahs; it will be sufficient to merely say: I am offering salaah. It will be proper even if he does not mention whether it is a sunnah or nafl salaah. However, caution demands that he makes a specific intention for the sunnah of taraweeh salaah.
27. It is a prerequisite for the muqtadi to make the intention of following the imam.
28. As for the imam, he has to make intention for his own salaah only and does not have to make an intention for imaamat. But if a woman wishes to follow him in salaah, and she is standing in line with the men, and the salaah is not a janaazah, jumu'ah, or eid salaah, then in order for her iqtidaa to be correct, he will have to make the intention of imaamat for her. But if she is not standing in line with the men, or the salaah is a janaazah, jumu'ah, or eid salaah; then this will not be a prerequisite.
29. The muqtadi does not have to specify the imam by name, that he is following Zayd or Umar. Instead, it is sufficient for him to say that I am offering salaah behind this imam. If he specifies the imam by name, and later learns that he was someone else then his salaah will not be valid. For example, a person made intention that he is offering salaah behind Zayd when in actual fact the imam is Khalid, then this person's salaah will not be valid.
30.The following intention should be made for the janaazah salaah: I am offering this salaah for the pleasure of Allah Ta'ala and as a dua for this deceased person. But if the person does not know whether the deceased is a male or female, it will be sufficient for him to say: For whomever my imam is offering this salaah, I am also offering it.
According to some ulama, the correct procedure is that apart from fard and wajib salaahs, it is sufficient to make a general intention for all the other salaahs. It is not necessary to specify that it is a sunnah or mustahab salaah. Nor is it necessary to specify that the sunnah is for fajr time or zuhr time, or that this sunnah is tahajjud, taraweeh, kusuf or khusuf. However, the preferred opinion is that one should make a specific intention.