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Forgetfulness in Prayer

Many people may not know about the Sujood for forgetfulness in the prayer. Some of them leave the Sujood when it is obligatory on them. Others perform the prostration in other than its correct place. Some perform it before the salaam (salutation at the end of the prayer) even in cases when’ it has to be performed after the salaam. Others prostrate after the salaam even when it should be performed before it. So, it’s important to become aware of its rulings.

The Prostration of Forgetfulness is two prostrations that the one praying makes in order to compensate for mistakes occurring in the prayer due to forgetfulness. It can be because the person may have added something, omitted something, or have a doubt.

If the person praying deliberately adds an extra standing, sitting, bowing or prostration, then the prayer is nullified. If however, he or she does so due to forgetfulness and doesn’t remember the addition until having completed it, then there’s not obligation except for the Prostration of Forgetfulness and his or her prayer will be correct. If he or she remembers while performing the addition, then it’s obligatory to leave that addition and also to perform the Prostration of Forgetfulness and his prayer will be correct.

For example: A person who prays the Dhuhr prayer as five rakahs, but doesn’t remember that he added except while in the Tashahhud. So he should complete the Tashahhud, and make the salutations (salaam) and then prostrate for forgetfulness, and then give the salutation (again). If he doesn’t remember the addition until after the salutation, then he should perform prostration for forgetfulness and give the salutation (again).
Giving salutation before the completion of the Prayer is a case of addition in the Prayer. So the prayer is nullified for whoever gives the salutation before the completion of the Prayer deliberately.

If the salutation being done before the completion of the prayer is done because of forgetfulness, and he doesn’t remember this until after a long time then he should repeat his prayer again. If he remembers a short time later, as in about two or three minutes, then he should complete his prayer and salutation, and then prostrate for forgetfulness, and then give salutation (again).

If a person omits a Pillar from his prayer, then if it is in the initial Takbeer, then there’s no prayer for him or her whether he or she left it out deliberately or forgetfully because the prayer hasn’t been established. If it’s something other than the initial Takbeer, then if it is left deliberately, the prayer is nullified. However, if it’s left out because of forgetfulness, then he goes on and reaches its place in the next rak’ah, then he discards the rak’ah which he forgot it in, and the following one takes its place. If he hasn’t reached its place in the next rak’ah, then it is obligatory upon him to return to the missed pillar and to perform it and whatever comes after it. In either of these two cases it will be obligatory upon him to perform prostration for forgetfulness after the salutation.

Example of missing a pillar of prayer: a person who forgets the second prostration in the first rakah, but remembers this whilst sitting between the two prostrations in the second rakah. So he should discard the first rakah and the second one will take its place, so he counts that as his first rakah and completes his prayer based upon that. Then he should give the salutation, prostrate for forgetfulness, and then give salutation.
Another example: a person who forgets the second prostration and the sitting before it in the first rakah. But he remembers this after standing straight from the rukoo in the second rak’ah. He should go back to sit and to prostrate, and then complete his prayer from there on. Then he should give the salutation, prostrate for forgetfulness, and finally give salutation.

Of course, If the person praying leaves out an obligation from the obligations of the prayer deliberately, then his prayer is nullified. But if it’s because of forgetfulness, and he or she remembers it before moving on from its place in the prayer, then he or she should perform it, and there is no obligation on him or her.

If it’s remembered after having moved on from its place in the prayer, but before reaching the pillar that follows it, then return to it and perform it. Then complete the prayer and give salutation, prostrate for forgetfulness, and give salutation. However, if it’s remembered after reaching the pillar that follows it, then it’s cancelled, so he or she shouldn’t go back to it but should continue the prayer and then prostrate for forgetfulness before giving the salutation.

For example, a person raises himself up from the second prostration in the second rakah in order to stand for the third rakah, forgetting the first tashahhud. But he remembers BEFORE actually getting up, so he should remain in the sitting position, perform the tashahhud, and then complete his prayer and there is nothing upon him. However, if he remembers after BEGINNING to stand, but BEFORE standing straight, then he should return to the sitting position and perform the tashahhud. He should then complete his prayer and give the salutation, prostrate for forgetfulness, and give the salutation. If he remembers AFTER standing straight, then the tashahhud is cancelled for him, he does not return to it. Rather he continues and completes his prayer, and prostrates for forgetfulness before giving the salutation.

“Doubt” is to be uncertain about which of the two matters has occurred, and doubt is not taken notice of in matters of worship in three cases:
1. If its just a self-delusion, having no reality, like devilish whisperings.
2. If it occurs so frequently to a person that he doesn’t perform any act of worship without having a doubt in it.
3. If it occurs after the completion of the acts of worship, then it is not taken account of, as long as he isn’t certain of it, in which case he’ll act upon what he’s certain of.

For example: A person prays Dhuhr, and after finishing his prayer he doubts whether he prayed three or four rakahs. He takes no action on this doubt unless he is certain that he only prayed three rakah, in which case he should complete his prayer if it occurs a short while later, then he should give the salutation, prostrate for forgetfulness and then perform the salutation. However, if he doesn’t remember until a long time has passed, then he must repeat the whole prayer.

As for doubt in other than these three cases, then it’s taken account of. Doubt in the prayer will be one of two kinds:
1. That one of the two matters is more sure in his mind, so he’ll act upon what is more sure to him, then he’ll complete his prayer based upon that, after he should give the salutation, prostrate for forgetfulness and finally give the salutation.
For Example: a person pray Dhuhr and doubts in a rakah — whether its the second or the third rakah. But the weightier case in his mind is that its the third rakah, so he makes it the third. So after he performs one further rakah, he gives the salutation, prostrates for forgetfulness and then he gives the salutation.
2. Neither of the two possibilities are more sure in his mind. So, he should act upon what he is certain of, which will be the lesser of the two, and complete his prayer based upon that, and then prostrate for forgetfulness before giving the salutation, and then give the salutation.
For example: a person is praying ‘Asr doubts in a rakah whether its the second or the third, and he’s not sure of either being more correct in his mind. So he makes it the second, performs the first tashahhud and two rakahs after it, and then prostrates for forgetfulness and gives salutation.

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