If we are performing a prayer that has 2 rak’aat (units of prayer), such as fajr (the dawn prayer), then we are approaching the end of the prayer, the end of our brief meeting with Allah. After the second prostration in the second rak’ah, the Prophet ﷺ would sit, place his right palm on his right thigh (in one narration: his knee), and then place his left palm on his left thigh (in one narration: his knee, spreading it upon it). (Muslim).
There is some difference of opinion between scholars as to whether one should move their finger while saying thetashahhud (the kneeling portion of the prayer after prostrations), so I recommend following your madhhab (school of thought) or a trusted scholar.
The Prophet ﷺ would commence by saying:
“All compliments [at-tahiyyaat], prayers [as-salawaat] and good things [at-tayyibaat] are due to Allah…” (Bukhari)
When we say this, we have to apply the secret key that we spoke of before, i.e., that of addressing Allah and talking to Him.
So let’s delve deeper into the meanings of the words we say:
at-tahiyyaat: we assert that all words which imply peace, sovereignty, and eternity are due to Allah. Ibn ‘Uthaymeen has said that this is a term of glorification and respect.
as-salawaat: we assert that all supplications and prayers are due to God.
at-tayyibaat: we assert that all good deeds that any of creation does is for Allah.
A Different Place
After we say the above, our words are transported somewhere else, thousands and thousands of kilometers away depending on where you are. Where is this place? Watch the following video:
It is the place where the most noble of creation lays, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ , in the blessed city of Madinah. The following words, which we say in every prayer, will be delivered to him:
“… Peace be on you, O Prophet, and also the mercy of Allah and His blessings.”
How do we know this? The Prophet ﷺ told us when he said, “No one sends me salam (salutation of peace) except Allah has returned my soul to me so that I can return his salam.” (Abu Dawud)
Now I want you to look at the closest door to you, and imagine. Imagine that the beloved Prophet ﷺ walked through that door at this moment. Imagine him walking in with his `imamah (turban), his long white thoub (ankle-length garment), his bright face and dark beard, and his beautiful smile. You now have the opportunity to say salaam to him; so how would you say it?
Think of the companions radi Allahu `anhum (may Allah be pleased with them), as they waited outside Madinah for the Prophet ﷺ to arrive. They waited for several days, each day faithfully coming to the same place, waiting. When they finally saw him, think about the joy that overtook them, the way they sang the song we still teach our children today (“tala` al-badru `alayna…”), each companion scrambling to say salaam to the Prophet ﷺ. How we wish we could have been there!
What emotions would be running through you? We may not have been there, but at least, here and now, we have been told that our salaams are taken to him and that he responds. Let’s not make light of this opportunity; rather let us say these words with a present heart and overflowing love as we would if he were standing in front of us.
Peace Be Upon Us and The Righteous
We then say:
“Peace be on us, and on the righteous slaves of Allah.”
The Prophet ﷺ said that when one says this, “it includes every righteous slave in the heaven and the earth.” Finally, he would say:
“I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger.”
If he was in the second rak’ah of maghrib (the sunset prayer) or `isha‘ (the evening prayer), he would then stand up.
May Allah enable us to taste the significance of every single action of prayer. Ameen.