Islamic Practical Laws: Doubts in Namaz

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Laws pertaining to doubts in namaz:

There are eight situations during prayers wherein if a person doubts or gets confused then his namaz is void (batil). There are six situations wherein a person should not give heed to his doubt and in nine situations he should act according to the laws of the Shariat (ahkam) by which his prayers will be in order. In all there are 23 kinds of doubts, which can arise while praying.

Those situations wherein namaz becomes void:

  1. Doubts about the number of rakats in obligatory prayers of two rakats, like morning prayers, or prayers offered by the traveler (Namaz-e-Qasr). However doubts about the number of rakats in mustahhab prayers or in Namaz-e-Ehteyat does not make the prayers void.
  2. Doubts about the number of rakats occurring in prayers consisting three rakats, viz Maghrib prayers.
  3. Doubts occurring in prayers of four rakats, where one cannot ascertain whether one has performed one rakat less or one rakat more.
  4. Doubts occurring in prayers of four rakats, as to whether one has performed 2 rakats or more. But the doubt should have occurred before the completion of the Zikr of second sajdah.
  5. Doubts between 2 and 5 rakats or between 2 or more than 5 rakats.
  6. Doubts between 3 and 6 rakats or between 3 or more than 6 rakats.
  7. When there is a doubt in namaz regarding the number of rakats in such a way that one cannot ascertain how many rakats he has prayed.
  8. Doubts between 4 and 6 rakats or between 4 or more than 6 rakats. Details of this will be outlined later.

Regarding the doubts and confusion that occur in namaz, namaz will be void when after pondering and reflecting the doubt persists in the mind of the person.

Laws related to doubts:

Situations wherein doubts should be ignored:

  1. Doubt about an act when the time of its performance has already passed, like during ruku a person doubts as to whether he has recited Sura-e-Hamd (in Qiraat).
  2. Doubts regarding an action after the salaam of prayers. Or if there is a doubt whether the namaz is offered correctly or not after salaam.
  3. Doubt whether one has performed the namaz or not after the time of prayers has already passed.
  4. Doubts occurring in such condition, where he is said to doubt excessively, i.e. when he doubts in 3 namaz consecutively or in one namaz he doubts thrice.
  5. Doubts by Imam-e-Jamat (one who leads the congregation prayers) about the number of rakats when the mamum (following the Imam in prayers) is aware of the number of rakats and similarly the doubts of the mamum when the Imam knows the number of rakats.
  6. Doubts which occurs in mustahhab namaz.

When a person gets theses doubts, then he should ignore them, and his namaz will still be correct.

Doubts which are valid:
There are 9 situations wherein a person can have doubts about the number of rakats in namaz consisting of 4 rakats. In such situations, one should pause to think, and if he arrives at a decision, he should accordingly complete the namaz. But if he is unable to reach to a decision and the doubt still persists, then he should act on these ahkam, which are discussed below:

  1. If after the second prostration, a person doubts whether he has performed two rakats or three rakats, he should consider it to be third rakat and finish the namaz after performing the fourth rakat. After finishing namaz he should offer one rakat of Namaz-e-Ehtiyat, (in standing position) as an obligatory precaution.
  2. If after the second prostration, a person doubts whether he has performed two or four rakats and finishes his prayers, he should then stand up to perform 2 rakats Namaz-e-Ehtiyat.
  3. If after the second prostration, a person doubts whether he has performed two or three or four rakats and finishes prayers, he should perform two rakats of Namaz-e-Ehtiyat standing and two rakats in sitting position.
  4. If after the second prostration, a person doubts whether he has performed four or five rakats, he should consider it as the fourth rakat and conclude his prayers. After namaz he should perform two Sajda-e-Sahw.If in any of the four situations mentioned above, the doubt occurs after the first prostration, but before the second one, the prayers will be void.
  5. If a person doubts at any stage during his prayers, whether he has performed three or four rakats, he should consider it as the fourth rakat and conclude his prayers. Thereafter he should offer Namaz-e-Ehtiyat of one rakat standing or two rakats in sitting position.
  6. If a person doubts while standing, as to whether he has performed four or five rakats, he should sit down and recite Tashahhud and Salaam of prayers. Then he should stand up to offer Namaz-e-Ehtiyat of one rakat standing or two rakats sitting.
  7. If a person doubts while standing, as to whether he has performed three or five rakats, he should sit down and recite Tashahhud and Salaam of prayers. After that, he should offer two rakats Namaz-e-Ehtiyat standing.
  8. If a person doubts while standing, as to whether he has performed three, four or five rakats, he should sit down and recite Tashahhud and Salaam of prayers. Thereafter, he should offer Namaz-e-Ehtiyat of two rakats standing and another two rakats in sitting position.
  9. If a person doubts while standing, as to whether he has performed five or six rakats, he should sit down and recite Tashahhud and Salaam of prayers. Thereafter he should offer two Sajdah-e-Sahw.

Doubts that are valid.

  1. When a person has any of the above valid doubts, he should not terminate the prayers, as by terminating them he will be committing a sin. But if he has performed any action, by which his Namaz becomes void like for e.g. if he has turned his face away from the Qibla and then starts the Namaz afresh, then his other Namaz will also be void. (And if he performs an action by which the Namaz gets void and he gets occupied in the Namaz, then his other Namaz will be correct).
  2. If a person has one of those valid doubts for which offering of Namaz-e-Ehtiyat becomes obligatory, he completes the Namaz and without praying Namaz-e-Ehtiyat, if he starts the Namaz afresh then he will be committing a sin. But if before any such act occurs which invalidates Namaz, he starts, even then it will become void. But if in the meantime, an act occurred which renders his Namaz void and after that he gets occupied in the Namaz, then his other Namaz is valid (in order).
  3. If initially the impression of a person is inclined towards one side, and later he is equally convinced on both sides, he should act according to the rules of doubt. And if initially both sides are equally strong and he decides to act according to his obligation, but later his feeling shifts to the other side, he should adopt it and complete the prayers.
  4. If a person does not know whether his feeling is inclined on one side, or is equal in both sides, he should act according to the rules of doubt.
  5. If a person learns after prayers, that while in Namaz, he was in a state of doubt as to whether, he offered 2 rakats or 3 rakats and then he decided in favour of 3 rakats, but does not know whether his strong feeling favoured offering 3 rakats or whether it favored both sides equally, he should offer Namaz-e-Ehtiyyat.
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