Doubt in Prayers
Q 512: A person in the third rak‘ah of his prayer doubts whether he has performed the qunūt or not. What should they do? Should he complete the prayer or should he break it when the doubt occurs?
A: The doubt should be ignored. His prayer is correct and there is no obligation upon him in this case.
Q 513: Should a person pay heed to doubts that occur in nāfilah prayers (other than the doubt concerning the number of performed rak‘ahs)? For example, he is unaware whether he has done one prostration or two.
A: The rule of doubts in the words and deeds of nāfilah prayer is the same as those of obligatory prayers, i.e. the doubt is heeded if its pertinent place has not passed, and is ignored after that.
Q 514: Knowing that those who doubt excessively are not to pay heed to their doubts, what are they to do if the doubts occur during prayer?
A: They must posit the occurrence of the act which they doubt unless doing so would lead to the invalidation of their prayers, in which case they must hold the opposite to be true. There is no difference whether the doubt is with regard to the number of rak‘ahs, the words or acts of prayer.
Q 515: What is the religious duty of a person who realizes after a number of years that his worship was invalid, or doubts its correctness?
A: Doubts after the performance of a deed are ignored. In case he is certain of its invalidity, he must perform the qaḍā’ of what is possible.
Q 516: Does the prayer of a person become void if he mistakenly performs some parts of his prayer in the place of other parts, or looks away at some point during the prayer, or speaks by mistake?
A: Unintentional acts in prayer do not bring about its invalidation. In some cases they call for the performance of two prostrations of inadvertence. But, of course, the prayers are invalid if additions are made to the rukns of the prayer or if some are left out.
Q 517: What is the duty of a person who forgets to perform a rak‘ah of his prayer and then remembers it in the last rak‘ah? For example, thinking first rak‘ah of his prayer to be the second one, he performs the third and the fourth rak‘ah; then in this last rak‘ah he realizes that it is really only the third rak‘ah. What should he do?
A: It is obligatory for him before reciting the final salām of the prayer to perform the rak‘ah he has missed and then recite the salām. As he had not done an obligatory tashahhud in its proper place, it will be obligatory for him, based on a caution, to perform its qaḍā’ and two prostrations of inadvertence.
Q 518: How can a person know the number of rak‘ahs of caution prayers he is liable to perform? (That is whether it is one rak‘ah or two).
A: The number of rak‘ahs of caution prayers corresponds to the number of rak‘ahs that he may have missed in the obligatory prayer. So when it is doubted whether two rak‘ahs were performed or four, then it becomes necessary to perform a two-rak‘ah prayer of caution. However, if he doubts whether he prayed three or four rak‘ahs, then a one-rak‘ah prayer of caution must be done in standing position or a two-rak‘ah one in sitting position.
Q 519: Do two prostrations of inadvertence become obligatory if a word of the dhikrs of the prayer, of the verses of the Holy Qur’an, or of the supplication of qunūt is mistakenly recited?
A: No, it is not obligatory.
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