Are you making these common prayer mistakes?

To transform our lives, we must perfect our Salah by addressing the common prayer mistakes we often miss.

Have you ever considered the quality of each Salah you perform and whether Allah would accept them or find them incomplete?

“Did I make wudhu’ properly?”

“Did I pray on time?”

“Did I cover my aurah?”

“Did I attain or demonstrate khushu’ to the best of my ability?”

“Did I rightfully follow the Imam during jamaah?”

If we want our lives to change, we should obsess over perfecting our Salah. The purpose of Salah is to be ever conscious of Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of all things. It is one of the most comprehensive forms of Dhikr (Remembrance). Allah states in a hadith Qudsi: 

“Out of all the ways through which My servant gets closer to Me, Salah is the dearest to Me.” [Bukhari]

With a desire to help each other improve our Salah and make the most of (at least) the five Fard prayers to better connect with our Creator in the best way possible, let’s take a closer look at common mistakes during Salah that we often overlook. 

  • Arriving to Salah in Haste

One common mistake Muslims make is arriving to Salah in haste. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) advised against rushing to prayer, emphasising the importance of approaching it with calmness and solemnity. He said:

“If prayer is started, do not approach it running, but approach it walking, with calmness. Whatever you catch up with, pray, and what you miss, complete it” [Al-Bukhari].

Rushing can disturb one’s focus and mental preparation for Salah, detracting from the tranquility and reverence required to fully connect with Allah.

  • Closing Eyes

Another frequent mistake is closing the eyes during Salah without a valid reason. Scholars generally agree that it is makrooh (disliked) to close the eyes during prayer if it is done habitually and without necessity. Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned that if a person can concentrate better with their eyes open, they should do so; otherwise, if closing the eyes helps to avoid distractions and enhances concentration, it is permissible. This practice should be balanced and used only when necessary to maintain focus.

  • Forgetting to Say the Takbeer

Forgetting to say the opening takbeer (takbeeratul-ihram) when entering upon the congregational prayer is a significant mistake. The takbeeratul-ihram is a pillar (rukn) of the prayer and must be done by the one praying while standing for the prayer. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:

“The key to prayer is purification; its opening is takbeer and its closing is tasleem” [Abu Dawood].

This initial takbeer marks the commencement of Salah, and omitting it invalidates the prayer, underscoring its importance.

  • Looking Up

Looking up towards the sky during Salah is another mistake that can distract a person from their prayer. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) expressed his disapproval of this action, saying, “What is wrong with those people who look towards the sky during the prayer? …They should stop (looking towards the sky during the prayer); otherwise their eyesight would be taken away” [Al-Bukhari]. Keeping the gaze fixed on the place of prostration helps maintain focus and humility, essential components of a devout prayer.

  • Too Much Twitching and Moving

Excessive movement during Salah can also disrupt concentration and the flow of the prayer. Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (رحمه الله) explained that the Sunnah is to focus on one’s prayer with proper humility, body, and soul, whether it is an obligatory or naafil prayer. Allah says in the Quran:

“Successful indeed are the believers. Those who humble themselves in their prayers” [Surah Al-Mu’minoon 23:1-2].

Minimising unnecessary movements helps maintain the solemnity and focus required for a meaningful prayer.

  • Not Aligning Shoulder to Shoulder

Not aligning shoulder to shoulder and foot to foot in the row during congregational prayer is a common mistake. Anas ibn Malik (رضي الله عنه) reported that the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: “Straighten your rows, for straightening the rows is part of the perfection of prayer” (Al-Bukhari). Aligning shoulder to shoulder signifies unity and discipline, which are important aspects of communal worship. It ensures that the rows are straight and everyone stands together as one body in prayer.

  • Praying Too Fast

Praying too fast is a mistake that affects the quality of Salah. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) emphasized performing each action of the prayer calmly and with mindfulness. He said, “When you go to pray, say takbeer, then recite whatever you can of the Qur’aan. Then bow until you are at ease in bowing, then rise until you are standing up straight. Then prostrate until you are at ease in prostration, then sit up until you are at ease in sitting. Then do that throughout the entire prayer” [Bukhari]. Rushing through the actions prevents proper reflection and connection with Allah.

  • Not Reciting Al-Fatihah

Neglecting to recite Al-Fatihah in prayer is a critical mistake, as its recitation is a pillar of Salah. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) stated: “Whoever does not recite Al-Fatihah in his prayer, his prayer is invalid” [Bukhari]. This Surah is essential because it encompasses praise, supplication, and the acknowledgment of Allah’s sovereignty. It sets the tone for the prayer, making its recitation indispensable for a valid Salah.

  • Preceding the Imam

Preceding the Imam in the movements of prayer is another common mistake in congregational prayers. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) warned against this, saying:

“Isn’t he who raises his head before the Imam afraid that Allah may transform his head into that of a donkey or his figure (face) into that of a donkey?” [Al-Bukhari].

Following the Imam ensures unity and harmony in the prayer, reflecting the disciplined structure that Islam encourages in communal worship.

By being mindful of these common mistakes and making a conscious effort to correct them, Muslims can enhance the quality of their Salah and strengthen their connection with Allah. These are just a handful of commonly seen mistakes that you and I might be guilty of. What other prayer mistakes have you noticed or perhaps weren’t aware of before? What mistakes have you made in the past and corrected?