Waswas While Offering Salah


When I intend to offer Sallah (Prayer), some kind of Waswas (insinuating or distracting thoughts instigated by Satan) and suspicions preoccupy my mind that sometimes I no longer know what I have recited or the number of Rak‘ahs (units of Prayer) I offered. Please guide me. What should I do?


It is prescribed for those offering Salah, men and women, to enter into Salah attentive and humbly submissive to Allah, calling to their mind that they are standing before their Lord, to drive away Satan and decrease Satanic incitements. This is to act upon Allah’s Saying (سبحانه وتعالى):

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ ١۝

 “Successful indeed are the believers.

الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ ٢۝

Those who offer their Salât (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness.” [Surah Al-Mu'minun: 1-2]

Once insinuations are repeated, it is prescribed that one should seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Satan. Even when this takes place during Salah, the praying person should then spit dryly to their left side three times and seek refuge with Allah from Satan three times, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) commanded ‘Uthman ibn Abul-‘Aas to do so when the latter told the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) that Satan made him doubt his Salah.

If a person who is performing Salah is not sure about the number of Rak‘ahs they performed, then they should base their Salah upon the lesser actions they have performed which they are certain about. They should continue completing their Salah and then perform Sujud-ul-Sahw (Prostration of Forgetfulness) twice before concluding Salah with Taslim (salutation of peace ending the Prayer), because Abu Sa‘id (رضي الله عنه) reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: If any of you doubts during their Salah and does not know whether they have performed three or four (Rak‘ahs), they should cast aside their doubts and build on what they are sure of. Then they should perform two prostrations before offering Taslim. If the Rak‘ah they have prayed is the fifth, they (the two prostrations) will make their Salah of an even number of Rak‘ahs; and if by praying it they have completed four Rak‘ahs, they (the two prostrations) will cause chagrin to Satan.  (Related by Muslim in his Sahih [Authentic Hadith Book]) Allah is the One Who grants success!

[Majmoo ’al-Fataawa Ibn Baaz, Vol. 11; pp. 258 - 259]

And Allah knows best

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This text is one of the many fatwa (answers to questions based on authentic Islamic provisions) that are made available by Malam Khamis Yusuf. You can follow him on Facebook, Telegram, and WhatsApp.

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