After the first prostration, the Prophet ﷺ would raise his head, lay his left foot along the ground and sit on it relaxed (Ahmad).
He ﷺ said “When you prostrate, prostrate firmly, then when you rise, sit on your left thigh” (Bukhari)
The Prophet ﷺ would lengthen his sitting until it was about almost as long as his sajdah (Bukhari and Muslim). He would say:
“O my Lord! Forgive me, forgive me.” (Ibn Majah)
When we say the above, most of us know the general meaning of ‘maghfira’ or forgiveness. But since we are learning the intricate meanings of our words and actions during the prayer, we also need to know what the deeper significance of these words is. Ibn Al-Qayyim said that maghfira is erasing the sin, removal of its traces and prevention of its evil. It is taken from the word mighfar, which means the metal helmet that a warrior wears to protect himself. And just as a mighfar protects the one wearing it from the consequences of the attacks, maghfira (forgiveness) protects a person from the consequences of the sin. And just as the mighfar covers the warrior’s head, maghfira veils the person’s faults. Thus when Allah bestows upon you maghfira, He protects you from the consequences of your sin and veils that sin from others. That is what we seek when we say “Rabbi ighfir-ly.”
In each cycle of prayer, we go into rukoo’ (bowing) once, and into sujood (prostration) twice. Have we ever wondered why? Ibn Al-Qayyim has stated that because the sujood is the most important pillar in the prayer, its significance is shown in its repetition. We desire to taste that sweetness of being the closest we can be to Allah, and thus fall into prostration again.
We begin the prayer with reciting, and we end with prostrating, just like the first surah to be revealed to the Prophet ﷺ. It begins with:
“Recite in the name of your Lord who created.” (Qur’an, 96:1)
and ends with:
“No! Do not obey him [the disbeliever]. But prostrate and draw near [to Allah].” (Qur’an, 96:19)
While the most common du`a’ when we are sitting is the one mentioned above, there is another one that we can say which is more comprehensive:
“O my Lord! Forgive me; have mercy on me; strengthen me; raise my rank; guide me; pardon me; sustain me.” (Tirmidhi)
May Allah enable us to taste the significance of every single action of prayer. Ameen.