#304: Iftitah Supplication in Prayer

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the ruling of reciting the iftitah supplication in sunnah prayer? And I once heard that iftitah supplication comes in various forms and phrases? Can you explain this?

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

Iftitah supplication is recited before the recitation of al-Fatihah. This is based on a hadith narrated by Aisyah RA:


كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ‌إِذَا ‌افْتَتَحَ ‌الصَّلَاةَ قَالَ: سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَبِحَمْدِكَ وَتَبَارَكَ اسْمُكَ وَتَعَالَى جَدُّكَ وَلَا إِلَهَ غَيْرُكَ

“When the Prophet (ﷺ) started to pray he would say: “Glory and praise be to You, O Allah. Blessed be Your name and exalted be Your majesty, there is none worthy of worship except You.” [1]

Reciting iftitah supplication is among the encouraged sunnah to be recited in prayer. Al-Nawawi explained: “(Requisite) the fourth is reciting al-Fatihah and it is sunnah after takbiratul ihram to recite iftitah supplication.” [2]

It is sunnah to be recited at the beginning of the first rakaat, regardless of whether it is in obligatory or sunnah prayers. Imam al-Nawawi said: “This stated matter explains that it is sunnah to recite iftitah supplication for anyone who is performing prayer. This includes sunnah rawatib, mutlak, Eid, eclipse prayers and others at the beginning of the first qiyam (first rakaat). The recitation is exempted in two places (funeral prayer and those who are masbuk).” [3]

Coming back to the above question, there are various forms of iftitah supplication narrated in various hadiths. Among them are:

First recitation


اللَّهُمَّ بَاعِدْ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ خَطَايَايَ، كَمَا بَاعَدْتَ بَيْنَ المَشْرِقِ وَالمَغْرِبِ، اللَّهُمَّ نَقِّنِي مِنَ الخَطَايَا كَمَا يُنَقَّى الثَّوْبُ الأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الدَّنَسِ، اللَّهُمَّ اغْسِلْ خَطَايَايَ بِالْمَاءِ وَالثَّلْجِ وَالبَرَدِ

“O Allah, separate me from my sins as You have separated the East from the West. O Allah, cleanse me of my transgressions as the white garment is cleansed of stains. O Allah, wash away my sins with ice and water and frost.” [4]

Second recitation


وَجَّهْتُ وَجْهِيَ لِلَّذِي فَطَرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ حَنِيفًا، وَمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ، إِنَّ صَلَاتِي، وَنُسُكِي، وَمَحْيَايَ، وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ، لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، وَبِذَلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَا مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ، اللهُمَّ أَنْتَ الْمَلِكُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ أَنْتَ رَبِّي، وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ، ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي، وَاعْتَرَفْتُ بِذَنْبِي، فَاغْفِرْ لِي ذُنُوبِي جَمِيعًا، إِنَّهُ لَا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ، وَاهْدِنِي لِأَحْسَنِ الْأَخْلَاقِ لَا يَهْدِي لِأَحْسَنِهَا إِلَّا أَنْتَ، وَاصْرِفْ عَنِّي سَيِّئَهَا لَا يَصْرِفُ عَنِّي سَيِّئَهَا إِلَّا أَنْتَ، لَبَّيْكَ وَسَعْدَيْكَ وَالْخَيْرُ كُلُّهُ فِي يَدَيْكَ، وَالشَّرُّ لَيْسَ إِلَيْكَ، أَنَا بِكَ وَإِلَيْكَ، تَبَارَكْتَ وَتَعَالَيْتَ، أَسْتَغْفِرُكَ وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْكَ

“I have turned my face as a hanif* towards Him who created the heavens and the earth, and I am not a polytheist. My prayer and my devotion, my life and my death belong to God the Lord of the universe, who has no partner. That is what I have been commanded, and I am a Muslim. O God, Thou art the King. There is no god but Thee. Thou art my Lord and I am Thy servant. I have wronged myself, but I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me all my sins, Thou who alone canst forgive sins; and guide me to the best qualities, Thou who alone canst guide to the best of them; and turn me from evil ones, Thou who alone canst turn from evil qualities. I come to serve and please Thee. All good is in Thy hands and evil does not pertain to Thee. I seek refuge in Thee and turn to Thee, who art blessed and exalted. I ask Thy forgiveness and turn to Thee in repentance.” [5]

Third recitation


اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ وَجَّهْتُ وَجْهِيَ لِلَّذِي فَطَرَ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ حَنِيفًا مُسْلِمًا وَمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ، إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ وَبِذَلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ، اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ الْمَلِكُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ وَبِحَمْدِكَ

“Allah is Most Great. Verily, I have turned my face toward Him who created the Heavens and the Earth hanifa (worhsipping none but Allah Alone), as a Muslim, and I am not of the idolaters. Verily, my Salah, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the all that exists. He has no partner. And of this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims. O Allah, You are the Sovereign and there is none worthy of worship but You, glory and praise be to You.” [6]

Fourth recitation


إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، وَبِذَلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَا مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ. اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِنِي لِأَحْسَنِ الْأَعْمَالِ وَأَحْسَنِ الْأَخْلَاقِ لَا يَهْدِي لِأَحْسَنِهَا إِلَّا أَنْتَ، وَقِنِي سَيِّئَ الْأَعْمَالِ وَسَيِّئَ الْأَخْلَاقِ لَا يَقِي سَيِّئَهَا إِلَّا أَنْتَ

“My prayer and my devotion, my life and my death belong to God, the Lord of the universe, who has no partner. I have been so commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims. O God, guide me to the best deeds and the best qualities, Thou who alone canst guide to the best of them; and guard me from evil deeds and evil qualities, Thou who alone canst guard from their evil ones.” [7]

Fifth recitation

Saidina Umar ibn al-Khattab is narrated to have emphasized the recitation of this supplication in prayer:

سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَبِحَمْدِكَ، تَبَارَكَ اسْمُكَ، وَتَعَالَى جَدُّكَ، وَلَا إِلَهَ غَيْرُكَ

“Glory is to You O Allah, and praise. Blessed is Your Name and Exalted is Your Majesty. There is none worthy of worship but You.” [8]

Sixth recitation


سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَبِحَمْدِكَ وَتَبَارَكَ اسْمُكَ، وَتَعَالَى جَدُّكَ، وَلَا إِلَهَ غَيْرَكَ»، ثُمَّ يَقُولُ: «لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ» ثَلَاثًا، ثُمَّ يَقُولُ: «اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ كَبِيرًا» ثَلَاثًا

“God is most great,” then he would say, “Glory be to Thee, O God, and praise be to Thee; blessed be Thy name; exalted be Thine honour; there is no other god but Thee.” (3X) Then he would say, “God is most exceeding great, (3X)” [9]

Seventh recitation

اللهُ أَكْبَرُ كَبِيرًا، وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ كَثِيرًا، وَسُبْحَانَ اللهِ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا

Praise is to Allah, abundantly. Praise is to Allah, abundantly. Glory is to Allah, at the break of day and at its end.” [10]

Eighth recitation

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ حَمْدًا كَثِيرًا طَيِّبًا مُبَارَكًا فِيهِ

“Our Lord, praise is Yours, abundant, good and blessed praise.” [11]

Ninth recitation


اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ الحَمْدُ أَنْتَ قَيِّمُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَمَنْ فِيهِنَّ، وَلَكَ الحَمْدُ لَكَ مُلْكُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَمَنْ فِيهِنَّ، وَلَكَ الحَمْدُ أَنْتَ نُورُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَمَنْ فِيهِنَّ، وَلَكَ الحَمْدُ أَنْتَ مَلِكُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ، وَلَكَ الحَمْدُ أَنْتَ الحَقُّ وَوَعْدُكَ الحَقُّ، وَلِقَاؤُكَ حَقٌّ، وَقَوْلُكَ حَقٌّ، وَالجَنَّةُ حَقٌّ، وَالنَّارُ حَقٌّ، وَالنَّبِيُّونَ حَقٌّ، وَمُحَمَّدٌ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ حَقٌّ، وَالسَّاعَةُ حَقٌّ، اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ أَسْلَمْتُ، وَبِكَ آمَنْتُ، وَعَلَيْكَ تَوَكَّلْتُ، وَإِلَيْكَ أَنَبْتُ، وَبِكَ خَاصَمْتُ، وَإِلَيْكَ حَاكَمْتُ، فَاغْفِرْ لِي مَا قَدَّمْتُ وَمَا أَخَّرْتُ، وَمَا أَسْرَرْتُ وَمَا أَعْلَنْتُ، أَنْتَ المُقَدِّمُ، وَأَنْتَ المُؤَخِّرُ، لاَ إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ

“O Allah, praise is to You. You are the Light of the heavens and the earth and all that they contain. Praise is to You, You are the Sustainer of the heavens and the earth and all they contain. [Praise is to You, You are the Lord of the heavens and the earth and all they contain.] [Praise is to You, Yours is dominion of the heavens and the earth and all they contain.] [Praise is to You, You are the King of the heavens and the earth.] [And praise is to You.] [You are the Truth, Your Promise is true, Your Word is true, Your audience is true, Paradise is true, Hell is true, the Prophets are true, and Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is true, and the Hour of Judgment is true.] [O Allah, to You I have submitted, and upon You I depend. I have believed in You and to You I turn in repentance. For Your sake I dispute and by Your standard I judge. Forgive me what I have sent before me and what I have left behind me, what I have concealed and what I have declared.] [You are the One Who sends forth and You are the One Who delays, there is none who has the right to be worshipped but You.] [You are my God, there is none who has the right to be worshipped but You].” [12]

Tenth recitation


اللهُمَّ رَبَّ جَبْرَائِيلَ، وَمِيكَائِيلَ، وَإِسْرَافِيلَ، فَاطِرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ، عَالِمَ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ، أَنْتَ تَحْكُمُ بَيْنَ عِبَادِكَ فِيمَا كَانُوا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ، اهْدِنِي لِمَا اخْتُلِفَ فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِكَ، إِنَّكَ تَهْدِي مَنْ تَشَاءُ إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ

“O Allah, Lord of Jibraīl, Mīkaīl and Israfīl (great angels), Creator of the heavens and the Earth, Knower of the seen and the unseen. You are the arbitrator between Your servants in that which they have disputed. Guide me to the truth by Your leave, in that which they have differed, for verily You guide whom You will to a straight path.” [13]

Eleventh recitation

Rabi’ah al-Jurasyi said: “I asked A’isyah: ‘What is recited by the Prophet PBUH if he wakes up during the night? And did he supplicate with iftitah?’ A’isyah answered:


كَانَ يُكَبِّرُ عَشْرًا، وَيُسَبِّحُ عَشْرًا، وَيُهَلِّلُ عَشْرًا، وَيَسْتَغْفِرُ عَشْرًا، وَيَقُولُ: «اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي، وَاهْدِنِي وَارْزُقْنِي» عَشْرًا، وَيَقُولُ: «اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الضِّيقِ يَوْمَ الْحِسَابِ» عَشْرًا

he would recite takbir ten times, tasbih ten times, tahlil ten times, istighfar ten times, then recite the supplication ‘اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَاهْدِنِي وَارْزُقْنِي’ ten times, then recite اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الضِّيقِ يَوْمَ الْحِسَابِ ten times.” [14]

Twelfth recitation

اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ ذُو الْمَلَكُوتِ وَالْجَبَرُوتِ، وَالْكِبْرِيَاءِ وَالْعَظَمَةِ

“Allah is Most Great, the One Who has all sovereignty, power, magnificence, and might.” [15]

The prioritized iftitah recitation according to the Syafi’iyyah scholars is the second recitation. Imam al-Nawawi stated this is followed by the first recitation from the hadith of Abu Hurairah. The combination of both supplications is encouraged if we are alone or when one is an imam and makmum doesn’t have any difficulty with a long recitation. If a person is an imam, the chosen opinion is a simplified recitation (second recitation) until the phrase (وَأَنَا مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ). [16]

While the ruling of iftitah recitation is sunnah in sunnah and obligatory prayers. This is sunnah as stated by Imam al-Nawawi: “Know that all of these supplications (various versions of iftitah recitations in hadiths) are sunnah in obligatory and sunnah prayers.” [17]

Hopefully, this explanation provides an understanding to us in perfecting our worship of prayer. 

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] Narrated by al-Tirmizi (243)

[2] See Minhaj al-Talibin, pg. 26

[3] See al-Majmu’ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 3/319

[4] Narrated by al-Bukhari (744)

[5] Narrated by Muslim (201)

[6] Narrated by al-Nasa’ie (898)

[7] Narrated by al-Nasa’ie (896)

[8] Narrated by Muslim (52)

[9] Narrated by Abu Daud (775)

[10] Narrated by Muslim (150)

[11] Narrated by Muslim (129)

[12] Narrated by al-Bukhari (1120)

[13] Narrated by Muslim (200)

[14] Narrated by Ahmad (24250)

[15] Narrated by Ahmad (23375)

[16] See al-Majmu’, 3/ 321

[17] See al-Azkar, 1/107

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