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Friday, December 3, 2021

What is ‘Istisqaa Prayer’ and why has the amir called for it?


The prayer is performed to request rainfall from God, in accordance with Islamic traditions that date back to the Prophet Muhammad. 

Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani has called on the community to participate in an Istisqaa prayer across the country on Thursday.

The amir will perform the rain prayer along with worshippers at Al-Wajba prayer ground, authorities confirmed.

The prayer, which calls on God to provide rainfall, was also performed last year after weeks passed with no rain, pushing the community to ask for divine intervention.

So what Is Istisqaa Prayer?

Istisqaa prayer, known as Salatul-Istisqaa in Arabic, is a Sunnah, or tradition of the prophet, that is performed by Muslims in need of rainfall during drought.

The Islamic tradition dates back to Prophet Muhammed‘s time, who himself sought divine intervention during a drought or periods that lacked rain.

According to Islamic text, a man came to Prophet Muhammad while he was delivering the weekly Friday lecture in Medina, asking the messenger to pray for rain after weeks of drought.

Read also: Why did Amir Tamim flip his robe during the Istisqa ‘rain-seeking’ prayer?

In response, the prophet raised his hands to supplicate to God. His prayer was answered with the emergence of rain that lasted for days, providing sustenance to the land and cattle.

Now, in Muslim societies, the imam of the community leads the Istisqaa prayer during such times of calamity.

The importance of such a sacred tradition lies in its blessing. Many farmers and agriculture workers depend heavily on rain for their harvest and livelihood.

Islam places great importance on rainfall which is deemed to be a blessing from God that brings peace, hope, and sustenance.

When and where is it performed?

It is recommended to perform the prayer approximately 20 minutes after sun rise – roughly the same time as Eid prayer.

However, if there are any obstacles, the prayer can also be performed any time during Nawafel (optional prayers).

In accordance with the Prophet’s tradition, the prayer should be observed outdoors and not inside a mosque, except when there is an urgent need to due to exceptional circumstances.

How is it performed?

Salatul-Istisqaa is prayed as two rak’at with no Adhan or Iqamah – only recitation of the Quran in both rak’ats out loud.

After initiating the first takbeer [Allahu Akbar, God is Great] in the first rak’ah, the imam then repeats this seven times. In the second rak’at, the takbeer is repeated five times.

In each takbeer, the imam raises his hands and praises God. He also seeks blessings upon the prophet between each takbeer.

Following the prayer, the imam delivers a sermon in which he asks God for forgiveness and recites verses from the Quran.

To conclude the sermon of the rain prayer ritual, the imam faces the Qiblah (the direction of the Holy Kaaba), turns his cloak inside out, places what is on the right, on the left and vice versa.

During last year’s Istisqaa prayer in Qatar, videos circulated online of the amir taking off his robe before turning it inside out and donning it once more, in accordance to the tradition of the prophet.

According to Islam Web, a Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs division, turning one’s cloak is mentioned in a narration from a companion of the prophet, who confirmed the messenger turned his outer garment inside out when he performed the prayer.

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