Prayer is a great act of worship wherein a Muslim faces Allah, the Exalted, with his mind and body. It is therefore necessary (for him) to precede it by preparing himself and making his mind and body ready, in order for him to be devoted and to observe the prayer in a perfect manner. For this reason, the following are some etiquettes of prayer prescribed for the observation of prayer:
And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him) and perform as-prayer and give Az-Zakah, and this is the right religion. (Al-Bayyinah 98: 5)
Allah will not accept any deed, except that which is done sincerely for His sake without any showing off, seeking repute or any form of polytheism (associating partners with Allah).
2- Perfecting ablution
This means being careful to perform ablution perfectly. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Should I direct you to that with which Allah cleanses away sins and raises ranks?” They replied: “Yes, Oh Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Wetting perfectly all prescribed parts of the body in ablution during unpleasant conditions [Unpleasant conditions, like cold weather], making several steps (walking) to the mosque, and waiting for another prayer after (observing) one. (Muslim)
3- Going early to perform the prayer
This means going out early in order to attain the virtues of waiting for prayer. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “And each of you is already in prayer, whenever he is waiting for prayer.” (Al-Bukhari)
4- Remembrance of Allah
He (the one who observes prayer) should remember Allah when leaving the house by saying: “In the name of Allah, I put my trust in Allah, there is no power or strength except that of Allah.” “Oh Lord, I seek refuge in you lest I misguide others, or I am misguided by others, lest I cause others to err or I am caused to err, lest I abuse others or be abused, and lest I behave foolishly or meet with the foolishness of others.”
5- Walking calmly and tranquilly to the mosque.
This is due to the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “When you hear the Iqamah (the call to commence the prayer), then walk (to the mosque) to observe the prayer, but (walk) with tranquility (As-sakinah) [As-sakinah: Tranquility while walking] and calmness (Al-waqar) [Al-waqar: Calmness, lowering one’s gaze and not looking left and right] and do not be hasty. Any part (of the prayer being observed) you meet (that others are praying in congregation) you should pray (with them), and (afterwards) complete what you missed. (Agreed upon)
6- While entering and exiting the mosque
While entering the mosque, he says: “Bismillahi, wa As-salatu wa As-slamu ‘ala rasolillah,” “Allahumaftah li abwaba rahmatik.” Meaning: “In the name of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon the Messenger of Allah,” (Abu Dawud) “Oh Allah; open the doors of your mercy for me.” (Muslim)
While leaving the mosque, he says: “Bismillahi, wa As-salatu wa-salamu ‘ala rasolillahi. Allahuma ini ‘Asaluka min fadhlik. Allahuma’asimni min Ash-shaytan Arrajeem,” meaning: “In the name of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon the Messenger of Allah. Oh Allah! I ask for Your Favors. Oh Allah, protect me from Satan, the accursed.” (Ibn Majah)
7- He should not sit down until he observes two rak`ahs (of prayer)
This is due to the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “When one of you enters the mosque, let him pray two rak`ahs before sitting down.” (Agreed upon)
8- Abstinence from interlocking the fingers
This is taken from the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “When any of you performs ablution and performs it perfectly, then leaves to pray, heading to the mosque, he should not interlock his fingers because he is already in a state of prayer.” (Abu Dawud)
9- Being occupied with remembrance of Allah.
One should occupy oneself with the remembrance of Allah, prayer and recitation of the Qur‘an while waiting for prayer, without disturbing other people who have come to pray.
10- Being Humble during Prayer
This is because prayer, without humility and devoutness, is like a dead body without a soul. Ibn Rajab (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The basis of humility includes making one’s heart soft, tranquil, humble, and lowering and demeaning oneself (in front of Allah). So when the heart has humility, the remaining parts of the body follow it, because they are its subjects.” (Al-Khushu` by Ibn Rajab)
11- Adhering to the manners of the Prophet (peace be upon him) throughout the prayer.
Prayer is a form of worship for which upholding the manners of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is compulsory. So what the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not do or say must not be done or said. This is because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Pray as you saw me pray.” (Al-Bukhari)