Q. If one makes a mistake during salah, does one make the two additional [sajdahs] prostrations before or after the taslim? The current practice among some Muslims is to make a salaam to the right after reciting tashahuud and then make the two additional prostrations. Some Muslims also re-read the tashahuud. I have read that the prostrations should be made before the taslim. Please clarify.

A. The practice you mention seems peculiar to the Caribbean Muslims. The prescribed method from all the hadith books and classical fiqh books is as simple as you have mentioned: one makes two sajdahs and a single tashahuud, since this (i.e. the tashahuud) is called a "rukn" (indispensable element) of the prayer, and a rukn is not repeated qua rukn. As to whether the two sajdahs are made before or after the tashahuud, there are ahadith to show both, but in any case, the tashahuud in not repeated. There is a narration that shows the two rakaats were made after the salutation, as reported in Nasai, Abu Daud, Ahmad and Ibn Khuzaimah. However, the majority of hadith scholars are for the first. This is presumably because the tasleem effectively ends the prayer, and so the sajdah then is not part of the prayer. In some madhaahib, a single tasleem is sufficient to end the prayer, and so the scenario you mentioned, wherein one tasleem is done and then the two sajdahs are made, falls into the category of post-salaat action.

However, since there is a transmission deemed authentic on the tashahuud after the salaams, despite our preference for the pre-tasleem sajdahs, we suggest that if you happen to be in a congregational prayer, and there is reason to do the sajdahs, and the imam opts for the latter method, you should not object but perform it, as the imam may be following the second hadith.

Posted November 14, 1999