Pause before next Rakaat in Salaat.


Recently I have observed many brothers who claim to follow the “Salaf” way pausing after every rakaat in Salaah before they get up for the second Rakaat and after the third Rakaat they also pause a little in the Jalsah position before they get up for the fourth Rakaat. They call it the “pause of rest”. Can you explain this to me?


There is a tradition which is recorded by Imam Bukhari which states that Malik bin Huwairith (R.A.) narrates that he saw the Prophet of Allah (S.A.S.) performing Salaat and when he was in an odd number rakaat he would not stand up until he sat. (Bukhari).

As recorded by Imam Bukhari, this tradition shows that the Prophet (S.A.S.) did the ‘pause of rest’ or ‘sitting for rest’ while standing for the 2nd rakaat and the 4th rakaat.

While this has been narrated, there are a number of traditions which explains that the normal practice of the Messenger of Allah would not be to sit for the pause of rest. Instead, he would stand straight-up to the standing posture (Qiyam) without sitting for the pause of rest as mentioned.

In fact while commenting on the above mentioned Hadith of Malik bin Huwairith, Imam Tahawi says that the Hadith of Abu Humaid (R.A.) opposes it and it clearly states that the action of the Prophet (S.A.S.) was that ‘he stood straight up and did not sit’. (This Hadith has been recorded by
Abu Dawood with a Saheeh Sanad. It has also been narrated by Ibn Hibban, Baihaqi and Tahawi). (Umdatul Qaari Vol. 6 Pg. 98).

While commenting on this issue, Hafiz Badrudeen Al Aini, (the famous commentator of Saheeh Al Bukhari) writes, ‘when both these Hadith oppose each other, it can be said that it is possible that the action of sitting which is narrated by Malik bin Huwairith is due to a specific reason which caused the Prophet (S.A.S.) to sit in this manner, not that it is a Sunnah of Salaah. (Umdatul Qaari – Commentary of Saheeh Al Bukhari Vol. 6 Pg. 98).

In this respect, Imam Tirmizi has recorded the tradition of Abu Hurairah which states that ‘The Prophet (S.A.S.) would stand up on the front part of his feet in Salaah’. (It means that he, the Prophet (S.A.S.) will stand straight up on his feet in Salaah and will not sit for a pause or rest when going up for the second or fourth rakaat).

After quoting this hadith Imam Tirmizi says, ‘This is the practice of the people of learning. They prefer that a person should rise straight up on the front part of his feet in Salaah’. (Tirmizi Vol. 1 Pg. 64-65).

In a tradition recorded by Imam Bukhari, it is evident that the Prophet (S.A.S.) taught a person to perform Salaah and did not instruct him to ‘sit for rest’ or pause after completing the first rakaat. The tradition states:

Saeed bin Abi Saeed narrates from Abu Huraira (R.A.) that a man entered the masjid and began to perform Salaah and the Messenger of Allah was in a corner of the masjid. The man then came to the Messenger of Allah and greeted him (with Salaams). The Prophet said to him, ‘Return and perform Salaah for you have not performed Salaah’. The man returned and performed the Salaah. He then came to the Prophet (S.A.S.) and greeted him. The Prophet (S.A.S.) said, ‘and upon you, return and perform Salaah, for you have not performed’. Then the man said on the third occasion, ‘teach me’. The Prophet (S.A.S.) said, ‘when you stand for Salaah complete and make perfect your Wazu, then turn to the Qibla. Then say the Takbeer and read what is easy for you from the Quran, then perform (go to the) ruku (position) until you are calm and motionless in ruku. Then rise (lift your head) until you are standing comfortably. Then perform Sajdah (prostration), then rise until you are sitting at ease, then prostrate (in Sajda) until you are calm in protration (in Sajdah), then rise until you are standing straight. Then do these actions in your entire Salaat. (Recorded by Imam Bukhari Vol. 2 Pg. 986)

It should be noted that in this tradition while teaching the man to perform Salaah, the Messenger of Allah (S.A.S.) did not instruct him to sit after the second prostration (Sajdah). Instead he ordered him to stand up straight for the second rakaat.

Imam Ahmad has recorded the tradition from Shahr bin Hawshab from Abdur Rahman bin Ghanam that Abu Malik Al Ash’ari (R.A.) once gathered his people and said, ‘O people of the Ash’ari (tribe) come together and gather your women and children so that I may teach you the Salaah of the Prophet (S.A.S.) which he performed for us in Madina’. Saying this, the people gathered and he, Abu Malik performed Wazu and showed them how to perform Wazu. When it was time for Salaah, he called the Azaan and then formed the lines of men, women and children and then began the Salaah. The narrator then described his actions in the Salaah, while mentioning the acts of the first rakaat he said, ‘he then said the Takbeer and fell into prostration, he said the takbeer and lifted his head, he then said the takbeer again and went into Sajdah. After this, he said the takbeer and stood upright to the standing position’. (Musnad Ahmad with a Saheeh/ Sound Sanad Hadith #22399 – Vol. 6 Pg. 470)

It is also evident in another tradition that the Sahabi (companion) Abu Humaid (R.A.), while he was in a gathering of other Sahabahs (including Abu Huraira) he said, ‘I have more knowledge of the Salaah of the Prophet (S.A.S.).’ they said, ‘how is that?’ He said, ‘I followed it from the Messenger of Allah’. They said, ‘Then show us’? He (Abu Humaid R.A.) then stood up and began to perform Salaah while they were looking at him. He started from the beginning and then continued until he completed the two Sajdahs of the first rakaat. At this point, the following is narrated, ‘when he raised his head from the second sajda of the first rakaat, he stood straight up and did not sit’. (Tahaawi, Baihaqi, Abu Dawood, Bidayatul Mujtahid- Ibn Rushd Vol. 1 Pg. 140).

It is narrated from Nu’man bin Abi Ayash that he said, ‘I found more than one of the Sahabahs (Companions of the Prophet S.A.S), when they lifted their heads from Sajda in the first and third rakaat, they stood up as they were and did not sit? (Recorded by Abu Bakr bin Abi Shaibah with a good sanad).

It is narrated from Abdur Rahman bin Yazeed that he said, ‘I observed Abdullah bin Masood (R.A.) in Salaah, and saw him rise and not sit’. He (Abdur Rahman) said, ‘he will stand straight up on the front part of his feet in the first and third rakaat’. (Recorded by Tabrani, Haithami has stated that its narrators are sound and authentic. Imam Baihaqi has narrated it in Sunan Al Kubra and has stated that it is Sound).

It is further narrated that this tradition of not sitting for the ‘pause of rest’ has been the action of many of the great and more prominent Sahabahs who were fortunate to have spent more time with the Messenger of Allah (S.A.S.) from among them are:

Abdullah bin Abbass, Ali, Ibn Zubair, Umar R.A. the act of not sitting for the pause of rest is also established as the adopted practice of Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad, Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Abu Yusuf, Imam Awzaa’I, Ishaq ibn Rahway. Imam Ahmad bin Hambal says ‘Most of the Ahadith indicate to this’. (That is, the act of not sitting for the pause of rest).

Imam Tirmizi has himself stated that ‘The people of knowledge have practiced upon this’. (Umdatul Qaari – commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari Vol. 6 Pg. 99).

With respect to the Hadith of Malik bin Huwairith which has been quoted by Imam Bukhari, it is explained that this action of ‘pausing for rest’ refers to the Salaah of the Prophet (S.A.S.) in his old age. This was due to the fact at time his body became heavy and it was easier upon him to sit for a rest and then stand rather than standing up immediately. Hence, the reason for it being called Jalsa Istirahah – a sitting in order to rest. This point has been clearly mentioned by Hafiz Badrudeen Aini in his famous commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari, ‘Umdatul Qaari’. While making this point, he also stated that ‘Sallah has not been ordained for the purpose of rest. If this ‘pause for rest’ was part of Salaah, then it would have been identified in the traditions as a position for Salaah but this has not been the case’.

He then mentions that this ‘reason’ for sitting is further supported (corroborated) by a hadith which is recorded by Imam Abu Dawood on the authority of Muawiyah (R.A.). He said, that the Prophet (S.A.S.) said to the Companions, ‘do not proceed before me in ruku or Sajdah, because no matter how earlier I may bow down before you in ruku, you will cath up with me when rising from it. Indeed I have gained weight. (Musnad Ahmad; Ibn Majah; Abu Dawood with a sound sanad).

This tradition clearly highlights that due to the weight of the Prophet’s body in his old age his movements to different postures in salaah was affected.

Hafiz ibn Qayyim has also written on this issue saying, ‘that all those who have described the salaah of the Prophet (S.A.S.) have not mentioned this sitting. It is only mentioned in the hadith of two companions. If this was his (the Prophets’) permanent practice, it would certainly have been mentioned by those who have described his Salaah. Also, the mere fact that he did it does not indicate that it is a Sunnah of Salaah, unless it becomes known that he did it on the basis that it is a Sunnah in whose practice he should be emulated. If it is assumed, however, that he did it out of need then this does not show that it is a Sunnah of Salaah. (Zaadul Ma’aad).

In a similar manner the great scholar Ibn Qudama (541 – 620 A.H.), has written in his famous work Al – Mughni, ‘it is reported from Imam Ahmad that one should not sit for the pause of rest. This is what is narrated from Umar, Ali, Ibn Masood, Ibn Umar, Ibn Abbas and upon this is the practice of Imam Malik, Sufyaan Thawri, Ishaq, and the scholars of koofa. Imam Ahmad says, ‘Most of the Ahadeeth are upon this’ and Nu’man bin Abi Ayash has said, ‘I met more than one of the companions of the Prophet (S.A.S.) doing this. That is, not sitting for the pause of rest. Imam Tirmizi says, ‘Upon this act is the practice of the people of knowledge’ and Abu Zinad says, ‘This is the Sunnah’. (Al Mughni Vol. 1 Pg. 529).

Having mentioned this, Ibn Qudama further writes, ‘it is stated that if the one performing Salaah is weak then he may sit for the pause of rest since there is a need for sitting. However, if he has strength, he should not sit, since he has no need for it. In this regard, the sitting of the Prophet (S.A.S.) for the pause of rest has been attributed to the ending period of his life, in his old age and weakness. In this way, both conflicting information can be reconciled and the middle course between the two opinions’. (Al Mughni Vol. 1 Pg. 529)

In light of the above, it is clear that the established Sunnah of Salaah is that one should not sit for the pause of rest. It is recorded that most of the Sahabahs did not adopt this practice and in similar manner most of the Tabieen did not do so. It is for this reason most of the Imams of Fiqh and Hadith like Imam Malik, Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad, Sufyan Thawri, Imam Ahmad, Ishaq, Auza’ee, their followers and the majority of the scholars, did adopt it as their opinions.

And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan