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Things which invalidate prayers » Doubts that must be dismissed

Ruling 1153. Doubts that must be dismissed are as follows:

1.
a doubt about an act for which the time of performance has passed. For example, in rukūʿ one doubts whether he recited Sūrat al-Ḥamd or not;
2. a doubt that arises after the salām of the prayer;
3. a doubt that arises after the time of prayers has expired;
4. a doubt of one who doubts excessively (kathīr al-shakk);
5. a doubt held by an imam of congregational prayers about the number of rakʿahs performed when a follower is sure about it; and similarly, a doubt held by a follower when the imam is sure of the number of rakʿahs performed;
6. a doubt in recommended prayers and in ṣalāt al-iḥtiyāṭ.

These six types of doubt will now be dealt with in sequence.

1.
A doubt about an act for which the time of performance has passed

Ruling 1154. If during prayers one doubts whether he performed a certain obligatory act of the prayer or not – for example, he doubts whether he recited Sūrat al-Ḥamd or not – then, in the event that he has started to perform an act that legally (sharʿan) one must not perform if he intentionally misses that previous act – for example, while reciting the other surah he doubts whether he recited Sūrat al-Ḥamd or not – in such a case, he must dismiss his doubt;(1) otherwise [i.e. if he has not started to perform the other act], he must perform the act about which he doubts.

Ruling 1155. If while reciting a verse one doubts whether or not he recited the previous verse, or, if while reciting the end of a verse one doubts whether or not he recited the beginning of it, he must dismiss his doubt.

Ruling 1156. If after rukūʿ or sajdah one doubts whether or not he performed its obligatory acts, such as dhikr and keeping the body still, he must dismiss his doubt.

Ruling 1157. If while going to sajdah one doubts whether or not he performed rukūʿ, or he doubts whether or not he stood up after rukūʿ [before going into sajdah], he must dismiss his doubt.

Ruling 1158. If while standing up one doubts whether or not he performed sajdah or said tashahhud, he must dismiss his doubt.

Ruling 1159. With regard to someone who performs prayers in a sitting or lying position, if while reciting Sūrat al-Ḥamd or al-tasbīḥāt al-arbaʿah he doubts whether or not he performed sajdah or said tashahhud, he must dismiss his doubt. However, if before one starts to recite Sūrat al-Ḥamd or al-tasbīḥāt al-arbaʿah he doubts whether or not he performed sajdah or said tashahhud, he must perform them.

Ruling 1160. If a person doubts whether or not he performed one of the rukns of prayers, in the event that he has not started to perform the act after it, he must perform it. For example, if before saying tashahhud he doubts whether or not he performed two sajdahs, he must perform them. And in the event that afterwards he remembers that he had performed that rukn, then based on obligatory precaution his prayer is invalid as he will have performed an additional rukn.

Ruling 1161. If a person doubts whether or not he performed an act that is not a rukn of the prayer, in the event that he has not started to perform the act after it, he must perform it. For example, if before reciting the other surah he doubts whether or not he recited Sūrat al-Ḥamd, he must recite Sūrat al-Ḥamd. And if after performing it he remembers that he had recited it, his prayer is valid as he will not have performed an additional rukn.

Ruling 1162. If a person doubts whether or not he performed a rukn of the prayer – for example, while saying tashahhud he doubts whether or not he performed the two sajdahs – and he then dismisses his doubt but later remembers that he had not performed that rukn, then in case he has not started to perform the next rukn, he must perform it. However, if he has started to perform the next rukn, then based on obligatory precaution his prayer is invalid. For example, if before he performs the rukūʿ of the next rakʿah he remembers that he did not perform the two sajdahs, he must perform them; but, if he remembers this while performing rukūʿ or after it, his prayer is invalid, as mentioned earlier.

Ruling 1163. If a person doubts whether or not he performed an act that is not a rukn, in the event that he has started to perform the next act, he must dismiss his doubt. For example, if while reciting the other surah he doubts whether or not he recited Sūrat al-Ḥamd, he must dismiss his doubt; and if he later remembers that he did not perform it, then in case he has not started to perform the next rukn, he must perform it and whatever comes after it; but, if he has started to perform the next rukn, his prayer is valid. Therefore, if, for example, while performing qunūt he remembers that he did not recite Sūrat al-Ḥamd, he must recite Sūrat al-Ḥamd and the other surah, and if he remembers this in rukūʿ, [he must continue and] his prayer is valid.

Ruling 1164. If a person doubts whether or not he said the salām of the prayer, in the event that he has started reciting taʿqībāt or he has started to perform another prayer or he has done something that invalidates prayers, he must dismiss his doubt. If his doubt arises before he has performed these, he must say the salām. And if one doubts whether or not he said the salām correctly, he must dismiss his doubt no matter what stage of the prayer he is in.

2.
Doubt after salām

Ruling 1165. If a person doubts after the salām of the prayer whether or not his prayer was valid – for example, he doubts whether or not he performed rukūʿ, or after the salām of a four rakʿah prayer he doubts whether he performed four or five rakʿahs – he must dismiss his doubt. However, if both sides of his doubt are such that each possibility would mean his prayer is invalid – for example, after the salām of a four rakʿah prayer he doubts whether he performed three or five rakʿahs, his prayer is invalid.

3.
Doubt after the time of prayers

Ruling 1166. If after the time for prayers has expired one doubts whether or not he performed the prayer, or he supposes(2) that he has not, it is not necessary for him to perform that prayer. However, if before the time for prayers has expired he doubts whether or not he performed it, he must perform it even if he supposes he has done so.

Ruling 1167. If after the time for prayers has expired one doubts whether or not he performed the prayer correctly, he must dismiss his doubt.

Ruling 1168. If after the time for ẓuhr and ʿaṣr has expired one knows that he performed a four rakʿah prayer but he does not know whether he performed it with the intention of ẓuhr or ʿaṣr, he must perform another four rakʿah prayer with the intention of making up the prayer that is obligatory on him.

Ruling 1169. If after the time for maghrib and ʿishāʾ has expired one knows that he has performed a prayer but he does not know whether he performed a three or four rakʿah prayer, he must make up both the maghrib and ʿishāʾ prayers.

4.
An excessive doubter (kathīr al-shakk)

Ruling 1170. An excessive doubter is someone who doubts excessively, i.e. a person who doubts more than usual when compared with other people who are like him in terms of being subject to the same factors that cause one to have an unsettled mind. An excessive doubter is not only someone who has already made a habit of doubting excessively; rather, it is sufficient for one to be in a state of developing a habit of doubting [for him to be considered an excessive doubter].

Ruling 1171. If someone who doubts excessively doubts whether or not he has performed an obligatory component of the prayer, he must assume he has performed it. For example, if he doubts whether or not he has performed rukūʿ, he must assume he has performed rukūʿ. If he doubts whether or not he has performed an act that invalidates prayers – for example, he doubts whether he performed ṣubḥ prayers as a two rakʿah prayer or as a three rakʿah one – he must assume he has performed it correctly.

Ruling 1172. If a person doubts excessively about a particular act of the prayer such that his excessive doubting is considered to be only with regard to that particular act, in the event that he has a doubt about another act of the prayer, he must act according to the instructions concerning that doubt. For example, if someone who doubts excessively about whether or not he has performed sajdah also doubts whether he has performed rukūʿ or not, he must act according to the instructions concerning that doubt; i.e. if he has not gone into sajdah he must perform rukūʿ, and if he has gone into sajdah he must dismiss his doubt.

Ruling 1173. If a person always doubts excessively in a particular prayer – for example, in the ẓuhr prayer – such that his excessive doubting is considered to be only with regard to that particular prayer, then, if he doubts in another prayer, such as the ʿaṣr prayer, he must act according to the instructions concerning that doubt.

Ruling 1174. If a person doubts excessively only when he performs prayers in a particular place in the same manner that was mentioned in the previous ruling, then, if he performs prayers in another place and has a doubt, he must act according to the instructions concerning that doubt.

Ruling 1175. If a person doubts whether or not he has become an excessive doubter, he must act according to the instructions concerning doubts [and not consider himself to be an excessive doubter]. Furthermore, as long as someone who is an excessive doubter is not certain that he has returned to a state that is normal among people, then, if his lack of certainty about this stems from being unsure about a change having taken place in his condition rather than from a doubt in the meaning of being an excessive doubter, he must dismiss his doubt [and consider himself to be an excessive doubter].

Ruling 1176. If an excessive doubter doubts whether or not he has performed a rukn and dismisses his doubt but later realises that he had actually not performed it, in the event that he has not started to perform the next rukn, he must perform that rukn [about which he doubted] and what follows it. However, if he has started to perform the next rukn, then based on obligatory precaution his prayer is invalid. For example, if he doubts whether he has performed rukūʿ or not and dismisses his doubt, in the event that before performing the second sajdah he remembers he has not performed rukūʿ, he must go back and perform rukūʿ; but if he remembers this in the second sajdah, then based on obligatory precaution his prayer is invalid.

Ruling 1177. If a person who doubts excessively doubts whether or not he has performed an act that is not a rukn and dismisses it and later realises that he had not performed it, in the event that the time for performing that act has not passed, he must perform it and what follows it. However, if the time for performing it has passed, his prayer is valid. For example, if he doubts whether or not he has recited Sūrat al-Ḥamd and dismisses his doubt, in the event that he remembers in qunūt that he has not recited Sūrat al-Ḥamd, he must recite Sūrat al-Ḥamd and the other surah; but if he remembers this in rukūʿ, his prayer is valid.

5.
Doubt of an imam and a follower in congregational prayers

Ruling 1178. If an imam of a congregational prayer has a doubt about the number of rakʿahs – for example, he doubts whether he has performed three rakʿahs or four rakʿahs – then, in the event that a follower is certain or supposes that he has performed four rakʿahs and makes it known to the imam that he has performed four rakʿahs,(3) the imam must complete the prayer and it is not necessary for him to perform ṣalāt al-iḥtiyāṭ. Similarly, if the imam is certain or supposes that he has performed a certain number of rakʿahs and a follower has a doubt about the number of rakʿahs, the follower must dismiss his doubt. The same applies with regard to a doubt that they may have about the acts of prayers, such as a doubt about the number of sajdahs performed.

6.
Doubts in recommended prayers

Ruling 1179. If a person doubts about the number of rakʿahs he has performed in a recommended prayer, in the event that the greater of the two numbers he is doubtful about would invalidate the prayer, he must assume the lesser number is correct. For example, in the nāfilah of ṣubḥ, if one doubts whether he has performed two rakʿahs or three rakʿahs, he must assume he has performed two rakʿahs. However, if the greater of the two numbers would not invalidate the prayer – for example, he doubts whether he has performed two rakʿahs or one rakʿah – then his prayer is valid whichever side of the doubt he acts upon.

Ruling 1180. Not performing a rukn invalidates nāfilah prayers; however, performing an additional rukn does not invalidate them. Therefore, if one forgets one of the acts of nāfilah prayers and remembers it when he has started to perform the next rukn, he must perform the act and then perform the rukn again. For example, if while performing rukūʿ he remembers that he has not recited Sūrat al-Ḥamd, he must go back and recite Sūrat al-Ḥamd and then perform rukūʿ again.

Ruling 1181. If a person doubts about one of the acts of nāfilah prayers – irrespective of whether it is a rukn or not – then, in the event that its time of performance has not passed, he must perform it; and if its time of performance has passed, he must dismiss his doubt.

Ruling 1182. If in a two rakʿah recommended prayer one supposes that he has performed three rakʿahs or more, he must dismiss his doubt and his prayer is valid. However, if he supposes that he has performed two rakʿahs or less, then based on obligatory precaution he must act according to that supposition. For example, if he supposes that he has performed one rakʿah, he must as a precautionary measure perform another rakʿah.

Ruling 1183. If in a nāfilah prayer one does something that would make it obligatory on him to perform sajdatā al-sahw were he to do that thing in an obligatory prayer, or, if he forgets to perform one sajdah, then it is not necessary for him to perform sajdatā al-sahw or to perform a qaḍāʾ sajdah after the prayer.

Ruling 1184. If a person doubts whether or not he has performed a recommended prayer, in the event that the prayer does not have a specific time for its performance, such as the Prayer of Jaʿfar al-Ṭayyār,(4) he must assume he has not performed it. The same applies if the recommended prayer does have a specific time for its performance, such as the daily nāfilah prayers, and before its time has expired one doubts whether or not he has performed it. However, if after its time has expired one doubts whether or not he has performed it, he must dismiss his doubt.

(1) In normal circumstances, if one intentionally does not recite Sūrat al-Ḥamd, he is not permitted to recite the other surah. However, in a situation where one has not missed Sūrat al-Ḥamd intentionally and while he is saying the other surah he doubts whether or not he recited Sūrat al-Ḥamd, he must dismiss his doubt.
(2) In Islamic law, the difference between a ‘doubt’ (shakk) and a ‘supposition’ (ẓann) is as follows: with a doubt, the person regards the two sides of a possibility as having an equal likelihood of being correct; for example, he does not know whether he has performed two rakʿahs or three and he deems both of these possibilities as having an equal likelihood of being correct. His uncertainty here is referred to as his doubt. With a supposition, however, the person regards one side of the possibility as having a greater likelihood of being correct than the other. In the example above, if the person deems it more likely that he has performed three rakʿahs rather than two, then this stronger possibility is his supposition.
(3) For example, the follower can make it known to the imam that he has performed four rakʿahs by saying ‘alḥamdu lillāh’ after the second sajdah of the fourth rakʿah in a manner that is audible to the imam so as to alert him to the fact that he must now start saying the tashahhud of the prayer.
(4) The Prayer of Jaʿfar al-Ṭayyār is a four rakʿah recommended prayer taught by the Holy Prophet (Ṣ) to his cousin, Jaʿfar al-Ṭayyār. See, for example, Shaykh ʿAbbās al-Qummī’s Mafātīḥ al-Jinān, in the section on the recommended acts for Friday.
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