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Performing Sajda Sahw – Prostration of Forgetfulness

performing Sajda Sahw
This blog provides an introduction to Sajda Sahw, a significant part of Salah for all Muslims. It explains when to perform Sajda Sahw, how to perform it correctly, and instances where it becomes necessary. It also highlights the importance of Sajda Sahw and how it demonstrates Allah’s mercy and understanding towards His worshippers. If you’re looking to learn more about Sajda Sahw, this blog is a great starting point.

Introduction to Sajda Sahw

Sajda Sahw, also known as the Prostration of Forgetfulness, is a significant part of Salah for all Muslims. It helps to rectify any errors made during Prayer and offers a chance to make up for forgetfulness or mistakes that may have occurred. If you forget a crucial element or perform an extra movement during Prayer, performing Sajda Sahw provides the perfect solution. 

The introduction of Sajda Sahw is to show Allah’s (swt) mercy and understanding towards His worshippers. This act of worship is a divine provision that demonstrates Allah’s (swt) mercy and understanding of human nature. It reaffirms Allah’s (swt) forgiving and compassionate nature, giving Muslims a chance to rectify their mistakes and seek forgiveness.

Learn More: Five Daily Prayers in Islam

When to Perform Sajda Sahw

Instances that require Sajda Sahw in daily prayers might occur due to certain conditions. Although the specific cases may vary slightly among Islamic schools of thought, there are common scenarios outlined in Hadith and scholarly consensus. Here are some instances where Sajda Sahw becomes necessary:

Forgetfulness in Prayer (salah)

If a person forgets a pillar (rukn) or an obligatory act (wajib) in their Prayer, they should perform Sajda Sahw after completing the Prayer. 

Narrated Hazrat Abdullah bin Buhaina Al-Asdi (ra):

(the ally of Bani `Abdul Muttalib) Allah’s Messenger (saw) stood up for the Zuhr prayer, and he should have sat (after the second rak’a, but he stood up for the third rak’a without sitting for Tashah-hud). When he finished the Prayer, he performed two prostrations and said Takbir on each prostration while sitting before ending (the Prayer) with Taslim; and the people, too, performed the two prostrations with him instead of the sitting he forgot. 

Sahih al-Bukhari 1230

Addition or Omission of Elements in Prayer

If someone adds or omits an extra movement or action in their Prayer that is not part of the prescribed format, Sajda Sahw becomes necessary.

Narrated Hazrat Abdullah (ra):

Once, Allah’s Messenger (saw) offered five rak’at in the Zuhr prayer, and somebody asked him whether there was some increase in the Prayer. Allah’s Messenger (saw) said, “What is that?” He said, “You have offered five rak’at.” So Allah’s Messenger (saw) performed two prostrations of Sahu after Taslim. 

Sahih al-Bukhari 1226

Doubt in the Number of Rak’ahs

If a person is unsure about the number of units (rak’ahs) they have performed in the Prayer and are in doubt between two possibilities, they should perform Sajda Sahw.

It was narrated by Hazrat Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri (ra):

The Prophet (saw) said: “If one of you does not know whether he prayed three or four (rak’ahs), let him pray a rak’ah then prostrate twice after that when he is sitting. Then if he prayed five (rak’ahs), they (the two prostrations) will make his Prayer even-numbered, and if he had prayed four, they will annoy and humiliate the shaitan.” 

Sunan an-Nasa’i 1239

Interruptions and Distractions:

If a person is distracted during the Prayer due to an external factor or is interrupted in a way that affects the correctness of the Prayer, they may perform Sajda Sahw.

 It’s important to note that Sajda Sahw is not a substitute for correcting major mistakes or missed actions in Prayer. If a fundamental aspect of the Prayer is missed or performed incorrectly, the entire unit of Prayer may need to be repeated. 

It’s advisable to consult with a knowledgeable religious scholar or follow the guidance of the specific school one adheres to, as the details regarding Sajda Sahw may vary among different Islamic schools of thought.

How to Perform Sajda Sahw Correctly

Sajda Sahw involves two prostrations (Sujood), followed by a recitation of tashahhud, durood, and dua. While the method of performing Sajda Sahw may vary depending on the school of Islamic thought, the basic principle remains the same. Below are detailed instructions on how to perform Sajda Sahw correctly according to the Hanafi school:

  1. After completing tashahhud in the final sitting position, turn your face only to the right with a salutation ((saying “Assalamu alaikum” to the right). Then say takbeer (Allahu Akbar). 
  2. Perform two sajdahs, one after the other, peacefully. 
  3. After the second Sajdah, sit again, read tashahhud again, then durood-e-Ibraahim (salutations upon the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)), followed by dua (supplication). 
  4. Complete the Prayer with salutations to both sides as usual.

To learn more about how to pray according to Sunnah, read our Comprehensive Guide to Prayer in Islam

How to Perform Sajda Sahw After Salam:

If you forget to perform Sajda Sahw before the salutations, it’s not too late as long as you haven’t done anything to invalidate the Prayer. If you’ve turned away from the qiblah or spoken, for example, then you would need to repeat the Prayer. This flexibility ensures that your Prayer remains valid even when errors occur.

Shafi’i, Maliki, and Hanbali Schools:

In these schools, the procedure for Sajda Sahw is generally similar to the steps outlined above. However, there may be slight differences in the wording of supplications or specific recommended actions during the prostration.

For instance, the Maliki school considers it a sunnah, performed with one takbir without salam. Similarly, the Hanbali school prescribes it before Tasleem following the final tashahhud. 

It’s important for us to follow the practices of our respective schools, but when in doubt, seeking advice from a knowledgeable imam or scholar can provide clarity. This ensures that you perform Sajda Sahw correctly, honoring the traditions and maintaining the spiritual essence of your Prayer. 

Common Questions and Misconceptions About Sajda Sahw

Can Sajda Sahw be performed at any time during the Prayer?

No, Sajda Sahw should be performed after completing the Prayer, just before saying the Tasleem (salutation). It is performed in the final sitting (Tashahhud) before concluding the Prayer.

What if someone is unsure whether a mistake occurred?

If there is doubt about whether a mistake was made, the principle is to rethink if the doubt is right while continuing the Prayer. If you are successful in removing that doubt from your mind, then there is no need to perform the Sajda Sahw. But, if you are still uncertain about your doubts and the time for Salutations has arrived, then you should perform Sajda Sahw. 

Is Sajda Sahw obligatory in every Prayer?

No, Sajda Sahw is not obligatory in every Prayer. It is only required when a mistake or forgetfulness occurs during the Prayer. If the Prayer is performed correctly without any errors, Sajda Sahw is not needed.

Can Sajda Sahw be performed for multiple mistakes in one Prayer?

Yes, if a person makes multiple mistakes or forgets multiple elements in a single prayer, they can perform a single Sajda Sahw to compensate for all the errors. It is not necessary to perform a separate prostration for each mistake. 


The practice of Sajda Sahw is mercy from Allah, allowing Muslims to correct their prayers and ensuring their acceptability despite human errors. It reflects Islamic teachings’ understanding and compassionate nature, accommodating the inevitability of human forgetfulness and imperfection. One can refer to authoritative Islamic jurisprudence texts or consult knowledgeable scholars in the field for more detailed rulings and explanations.

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