Varying the Surah’s and Du’a Recited in Prayer

Varying the surah’s, ayat, adhkar and du’as recited in the prayer makes the worshipper feel that they are encountering new meanings and moving  between different topics mentioned in the ayat and adhkar. That is what a person misses out on  if they only memorise a few surah’s, especially the short ones. Varying what one recites is the Sunnah and is more conducive to khushu.

If we study what the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to recite in his prayer, we will see this variation. For example, with regard to the opening du’a, we find examples such as the following:

‘O Allah, separate me (far) from my sins as You have separated (far) the East from the West. O Allah, cleanse me of my sins as white cloth is cleansed from dirt. O Allah, wash me of my sins with water, snow and ice.” Allaahumma baa’id bayni wa bayna khataayaaya kamaa baa’adta bayn al-mashriqi wa’l-maghrib. Allaahumma naqqani min khataayaaya kamaa yunaqqaa al-thawb al-abyad min al-danas. Allaahumma’ghsilni min khataayaaya bi’l-maa’ wa’l-thalj wa’l-barad

 ‘I have set my face towards the Originator of the heavens and the earth sincerely and I am not among the mushrikeen. Indeed my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds: no partner has He. With this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims (those who submit to Him).’ Wajahtu wajhi li’lladhi fatara al-samawaati wa’l-ard haneefan, wa maa ana min al-mushrikeen. Inna salaati wa nusuki wa mahyaaya wa mamaati Lillaahi Rabb il –‘aalameen, laa shareeka lahu wa bidhaalika umirtu wa ana awwal al-muslimeen.

 ‘Glory and praise be to You, O Allah, blessed be Your name and exalted be Your majesty. There is no god besides You’. Subhaanak Allaahumma wa bi hamdika wa tabaaraka ismuka wa ta’aala jadduka wa laa ilaaha ghayruk.’

And other du’as and adhkar which the worshipper can use at various times.

Among the surah’s which the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah of upon him, used to recite during Salaat al-Fajr we find a great and blessed number:

The longer mufassal surahs (surahs from the last seventh of the Qur’an), such as al-Waaqi’ah, al-Toor and Qaaf , and shorter mufassal surahs such as Idhaa al-shamsu kuwwirat, al-Takweer, al-Zalzalah, and al-Mi’wadhatayn, the last two surahs.

It was reported that he, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, recited al-Rum, Ya-Seen and al-Saffat, and on Fridays he would recite al-Sajah and al-Insaan in Fajr prayer.

It was reported that in Salat al-Dhuhr, he, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, would recite the equivalent of thirty ayat in each of the two rak’ahs, and that he recited al-Tariq, al-Buruj and Surah al-Layl.

In Salat al-‘Asr, he, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, would recite the equivalent of fifteen ayat in each rak’ah, and he would recite the surah’s already mentioned in connection with Salat al-Dhuhr.

In Salat al-Maghrib, he, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, would recite short  surah’s such as Surah al-Teen, and Surat Muhammad, al-Tur, al-Mursalat and others.

In ‘Isha’ he, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, would recite medium-length mufassal surahs, such as al-Shams and al-Inshiqaq. He told Mu’aadh to recite al-A’laa, al-Qalam and al-Layl.

In qiyaam al-layl, he, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to recite the long surahs. It was reported that he,peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to recite 200 or 150 aayaat, and sometimes he used to shorten the recitation.

He, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, also used to vary the adhkar he recited in ruku’. In addition to “Subhana Rabbi al-‘Adheem (Glory be to my Supreme Lord)” and “Subhana Rabbi al-‘Adheem wa bi hamdih (Glory and praise be to my Supreme Lord)”, he would say: “Subbooh, Quddoos, Rabb il-Malaa’ikati wa’l-Rooh (Perfect, Blessed, Lord of the Angels and the Spirit),” or, “Allaahumma laka raka’tu wa bika aamantu wa laka aslamtu wa ‘alayka tawakkaltu anta Rabbi. Khasha’a sam’i wa basari wa dammi wa lahmi wa ‘azmi wa ‘asabi Lillaahi Rabbi’l-‘Alaameen (O Allah, to You have I bowed, to You I have submitted, in You I have believed, to You I have submitted and in You I have put my trust. Humbled are my hearing, my seeing, my blood, my flesh, my bones and my nerves for Allah, Lord of the Worlds).”

When standing upright from ruku’, after saying “Sami’a Allah liman hamidah (Allah listens to the one who praises Him)” he, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, would say, “Rabbanaa wa laka’l-hamd (Our Lord, and to You be all praise),” or sometimes, “Rabbanaa laka’l-hamd (Our Lord, to You be all praise),” or, “Allaahumma Rabbanaa [wa] laka’l-hamd (O Allah our Lord, [and] to You be all praise).” Sometimes he would add the words: “Mil’a al-samawaati wa mil’a al-ard wa mil’a maa shi’ta min shay’in ba’d ([Praise] filling the heavens, filling the earth, and filling whatever else You wish)”, and sometimes he would add, “Ahl al-thanaa’i wa’l-majd, laa maani’a limaa a’tayta wa laa mu’tiya limaa mana’t, wa laa yanfa’u dhaa’l-jaddi minka’l-jadd (Lord of Glory and Majesty! None can withhold what You grant, and none can grant what You withhold; nor can the possessions of an owner benefit him in front of You).”

In sujud, in addition to “Subhaan Rabbi al-A’laa (Glory be to my Lord Most High)” and “Subhaana Rabbi al-A’laa wa bi hamdih (Glory and praise be to my Lord Most High),” he would say “Subbooh, Quddoos, Rabb il-Malaa’ikati wa’l-Rooh (Perfect, Blessed, Lord of the Angels and the Spirit),” or “Subhaanak Allaahumma Rabbanaa wa bi hamdik, Allaahumma’ghfir li (Glory and raise be to you O Allah, our Lord. O Allah forgive me)” or “Allaahumma laka sajadtu wa bika aamantu wa laka aslamtu, sajada wajhi lilladhi khalaqahu wa sawwarahu wa shaqqa sam’ahu wa basarahu, tabaarak Allaahu ahsaan al-khaaliqeen (O Allah, to You I have prostrated, in You I have believed and to You I have submitted. My face has prostrated to the One Who created it and gave it shape, then brought forth its hearing and its vision. Blessed be Allah, the Best to create),” and others.

When sitting between the two prostrations, in addition to “Rabb ighfir li, Rabb ighfir li (Lord, forgive me, Lord, forgive me),” he would say, “Allaahumm aghfir li warhamni wajbarni wa arfa’ni wahdini wa ‘aafini wa arzuqni (O Allah, forgive me, have mercy on me, strengthen me, raise my rank, guide me, pardon me, sustain me).”

A number of versions of the tashahud have been narrated, such as: “Al-tahiyyaatu Lillaahi wa’l-salawaatu wa’l-tayyibaat al-salaamu ‘alayka ayyuha’l-Nabiyyu …etc. (All compliments, prayers and pure words are due to Allah. Peace be upon you, O Prophet…)” and “Al-Tahiyyaat al-mubaarakaat al-salawaat al-tayyibaatu Lillaahi, al-salaamu ‘alayka ayyuha’l-Nabiyyu…etc. (All compliments, blessed words, prayers, pure words are due to Allah. Peace be upon you, O Prophet…)” and “Al-tahiyyaat al-tayyibaat al-salawaatu Lillaahi, al-salaamu ‘alayka ayyuha’l-Nabiyyu… etc. (All compliments, good words and prayers are due to Allah. Peace be upon you, O Prophet …).”

So the worshipper may use one form one time and another at another time, and so on.

There are a number of versions of the prayers sent upon the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), such as:

“Allaahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad wa ‘ala aali Muhammad kamaa salayta ‘ala Ibrahim wa ‘ala aali Ibrahim, innaka Hameedun Majeed. Allaahumma baarik ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala aali Muhammadin kamaa baarakta ‘ala Ibrahim wa ‘ala aali Ibrahim innaka Hameedun Majeed (O Allah, send prayers on Muhammad and on the family of Muhammad, as You sent prayers on Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim, verily You are Worthy of Praise and Full of Glory; O Allah, send blessings on Muhammad and on the family of Muhammad, as You sent blessings on Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim, verily You are Worthy of Praise and Full of Glory).”

“Allaahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad wa ‘ala aali baytihi wa ‘ala azwaajihi wa dhuriyatihi kamaa salayta ‘ala aali Ibrahim, innaka Hameedun Majeed wa baarik ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala aali baytihi wa ‘ala azwaajihi wa dhuriyatihi kamaa baarakta ‘ala aali Ibrahim innaka Hameedun Majeed (O Allah, send prayers on Muhammad and on his family, wives and progeny, as You sent prayers on the family of Ibrahim, verily You are Worthy of Praise and Full of Glory; O Allah, send blessings on Muhammad and on his family, wives and progeny, as You sent blessings on the family of Ibrahim, verily You are Worthy of Praise and Full of Glory).”

“Allaahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad al-Nabiyy al-Ummi wa ‘ala aali Muhammad kamaa salayta ‘ala aali Ibrahim, wa baarik ‘ala Muhammad al-Nabiyy al-Ummi wa ‘ala aali Muhammadin kamaa baarakta ‘ala aali Ibrahim fi’l-‘aalameen, innaka Hameedun Majeed (O Allah, send prayers on Muhammad the Unlettered Prophet and on the family of Muhammad, as You sent prayers on the family of Ibrahim, and send blessings on Muhammad the Unlettered Prophet and on the family of Muhammad, as You sent blessings on the family of Ibrahim among the nations, verily You are Worthy of Praise and Full of Glory).”

Other similar versions have also been narrated, and the Sunnah is to vary among them, as stated above. There is nothing wrong with reciting one version more than others, because it is more strongly proven and better known in the books of saheeh ahaadeeth, or because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught one version rather than others to his Sahaabah when they asked him about it. And Allah Knows Best.

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