Sujud As-Sahw (Prostrations for Forgetfulness)
The two prostrations for forgetfulness are normally offered to make up for the shortcomings that occur due to forgetfulness or error There are three cases where these prostrations are required: addition, deletion and doubt.
If one omits a necessary element because of forgetfulness, validity can be restored by performing the prostrations of forgetfulness (sujud as-sahw), but if the omission is deliberate, the salah will be null and void.
We are forgetful by nature. It is not surprising if we forget something while offering salah. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) used to make the sujud at the end of the salah if he made a mistake while offering it.
There are two main occasions when sujud as-sahw becomes necessary
1. When one adds or omits anything of importance to or from the acts of salah.
Examples of additions: praying five rak’ahs instead of four, performing three prostrations instead of two, or sitting for tashahhud at the end of the first or the third rak’ah.
Examples of omissions: praying three rak’ahs instead of four and performing only one sajdah instead of two.
2. When one forgets the number of rak’ahs. becomes doubtful whether he is in the third or the fourth rak’ah.
Sujud as-sahw can be performed in the following two ways:
- It can be done immediately before tasleem at the end of the prayer, or
- It can be done after the tasleem.
In the first form,after completing the tashahhud, the salaat-ul-Ibraahimiyyah and the du’aa (supplication) before tasleem, we say Allaahu Akbar and then make the first sajdah (prostration), in which we recite the usual tasbeeh – Subhaana rabbiyal a’laa – three times at least. We then say Allaahu Akbar again and return to the posture of jalsah. that is sitting between the two sajdahs. We say our usual du’aa (Rabbighfir-lee) in the jalsah. We then make the second sajdah as we have done in the first, saying Allaahu Akbar. We then finally say Allaahu Akbar and return to the sitting posture and do the tasleem (while turning our head to the right and to the left).
In the second form, sujud as-sahw is done in the following way:
- After completing the prayer with the tasleem. remain seated;
- Prostrate, saying Alaahu Akbar with the intention to amend the prayer;
- Raise your head. saying Allaahu Akbar and sit again as described above;
- Repeat the prostration with the same words and sit again; and
- End the prayer with the tasleem.
However, if someone leaves his place where he prayed before he remembers the omission or lapse, it is too late to amend it. The prayer is considered invalid, and he should repeat it.
It is, however, much disliked for someone to be absentminded and heedless during prayer. So it is essential to try to avoid anything that may cause one’s thoughts to wander during prayer.
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “If a man prays two cycles of prayer without the distraction of any worldly thought. all his previous sins will be forgiven.”
He also said, “A person finishes his salah and only a tenth of it is recorded for him, or a ninth, or an eighth, a seventh, a sixth. a fifth, a fourth, a third or a half.”
Hence, when entering into prayer, you should know that you are in the Presence of Almighty Allah as you will be on the Day of Reckoning. When you have raised your hands and said “Allaahu Akbar” to start the prayer, then let nothing remain in your heart except His Remembrance, and let nothing be in your mind at the time of His Remembrance other than the Glory of Allah Most High.