In another post, I asked Is it permissible for Sunni Muslims to pray behind Shi'a Muslims?.

What I want to know now are the major differences so that I can understand this issue better.

  • maybe it would be best to combine the two questions like by adding, also please elaborate on the details of shiaa prayer so i may understand the isssue more
    – NesreenA
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 22:48
  • 7
    No they address two pretty distinct issues - let's leave them separate.
    – Ansari
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 22:50

4 Answers 4


Major differences are:

  1. In their adhan and iqaamah, they say "I bear witness that Ali is the wali of Allah"

  2. In their adhan, they add "Come to the best of works" and believe it was removed form Azan by Muaviyeh - whereas according to the Sunni's you only have Come to prayer and Come to success

  3. In their tashahud, they add "And I bear witness that the Amir of the Mu'mineen is Ali, the wali of Allah"

  4. In their Salaam, after the tashahud, they add, "Peace be upon you (referencing Ali R.A)"

What they do after the Salah

  1. They praise Fatima They do Fatima's Tsbihat taught by prophet SAWW (34 Allahu Akbar, 33 Al-Hamdu LeLlah, 33 Subhan Allah). (This is recommended and not obligatory)

  2. They say Allahu Akbar 34 times (according to Sunni's this is done 33 times)

  3. They make a sujood of thankfulness as a highly recommended practice after prayer.

  4. They send curses on the enemies of the "infallibles" as a recommended practice.

  5. They do "Ziyaraat" (a short Salam to soul of Prophet (SAWW) and Imams while standing toward direction of their graves)

My answer comes from authentic Shia sources

  • 3
    which source(s)? please mention it in your answer.
    – Ashu
    Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 5:16
  • I searched for "How to pray like the shia" and found a site that teaches new shia muslims how to pray and goes into detail about the aspects of their salaah.
    – user361
    Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 5:24
  • sunnah use hand in front at pray Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 5:53
  • 3
    azan and After Salaah are not from prayer and so irrelevant to question. but can be useful. also "tashahud" is part of prayer and shia never add "And I bear witness that the Amir of the Mu'mineen is Ali, the wali of Allah" to Tashahhud. this is clearly false about shia prayer. it is added to Azzan and not in prayer. what you said at no.1 after sahaah is duas.org/tasbihzehra.htm mention your source. Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 16:01
  • 2
    Number 3 of the major differences is absolutely false.
    – Zahra E
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 18:52

When we start talking about prayer, we should to be aware of which practices within that prayer are wajib (compulsory) and which are mustahabb (recommended or optional).

Before the actual prayer starts, it is common but optional to read the adhan and iqaamat.

There are differences between the Sunni and Shia adhan as detailed in this wikipedia entry.

Shia add the line "Ash hado anna Aliyan wali-Allah" in their adhan, however they all unanimously agree that this line is not part of the adhan and is optional.

With regards to the actual prayer:

  1. Shia pray with their hands by their sides, whereas Sunnis either pray with their hands folded, or by their sides depending on the madhhab (Maliki's from West Africa pray with their hands by their sides).
  2. After the rukoo, when standing back up again, it is common, but optional for Shia to say "Samey Allahho-layman hamedah" (Allah listens to one who praises him). Sunnis also say this
  3. In between the two prostrations, it is common but optional for Shia to say "Astaghfir-oollaha Rabbee wa atoobo-ilaih".
  4. After the 2nd prostration when standing back up again, after saying Allahu-Akbar, Shia say "Bay hawlillahay wa quoowa-teyhe aqoomo aqood" (Due to the vigor given by Allah and because of the vitality from Him, I rise and stand).
  5. In the second rakat, after the second surah, it is very common, but again optional for Shia to read a dua/qunoot. While Sunnis also believe that qunoot is an optional part of prayer, from what I've seen it is rare.
  6. In a 3 or 4 rakat prayer, after the 2nd prostration of the 2nd rakat, Shias only recite the tashahhud. I believe Sunnis recite both the taslim/salaam as well as the tashahhud.
  7. After the last rakat and final prostration, both Shias and Sunnis recite the tashahhud and taslim/salaam which officially ends the prayer, immediately after which, Shias optionally say Allahu-Akbar 3 times and recite salawat 3 times.
  8. Immediately after reciting tashahhud (in either 2nd or last rakat), it is wajib for Shia to recite a salawat.
  9. I believe there are some differences in the Sunni and Shia taslim.
  10. Shias prostrate on to a small clay or stone block - for why, see this question.

Some notes:

  • The salawat after the tashahhud is the usual salawat to the Prophet (ص) that all Muslims read, i.e.: "Allaahumma salli `alaa Muhammadin wa Aali Muhammad". It is incorrect to say that this is meant just for Imam Ali (ع).
  • Once the taslim has been read the prayer is finished. Anything after the taslim are optional mustahabb pratices.
  • One of these optional practices is to read a tasbeeh, i.e. 100 beads on a string - 34 x Allahu Akbar, 33 x Alhamdo lillah, 33 x Subhan-Allah
  • While a very tiny minority of Shia add the line "And I bear witness that the Amir of the Mu'mineen is Ali, the wali of Allah" to the tashahhud, this is due to ignorance. All Shia scholars and jurists unanimously agree that adding this line is bidah and will make the prayer void.
  • Assalamu alaykum Wa-rahmutAllah Wa-barakatuhu, points two and seven are in error i think. But otherwise a very good answer Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 17:10
  • @Pureferret For point 2, do you mean that Sunnis do say that phrase after rukoo? If so, sorry I was not aware. Also, please clarify why you think point 7 is incorrect.
    – Adnan
    Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 17:19
  • Adnan, yes that's what I mean about point 2, as for point 7, I meant point 6. The tasleem is only ever said at the end of the prayers. Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 17:54
  • 2
    @Pureferret, thanks, answer amended. Plus I've added a point which I had previously forgot to mention.
    – Adnan
    Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 18:18
  • Thanks! Could you check over the other question? Maybe just giving a comment on whether you think it's accurate? Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 18:20

Differences: in Shia Islam:

  1. Method of Wiping feet during ablution (Wudhu)
  2. In Shia Islam, it is permitted (but not recommended to not combine) to combine the Prayers (Zuhr and Asr, Maghrib and Isha)
  3. In Adhan (Call to Prayer); Shia say “Hayya ‘ala Khayril ‘Amal” (Come to the Best of Deeds) (Shia believe this was removed from Azan by Muaviyeh)
  4. Shia Muslims do not cross their right hand over left while Praying and keep them hanged.
  5. Concluding the Prayers with Three Takbirs (Saying: Allahu Akbar!) (Not compulsory)
  6. Prostrating on Earth (or part of earth like Turbah or a stone)
  7. It is recommended to pray on the Soil of Karbala.
  8. Prayers for the Dead (Salat al-Mayyit)
  9. Tarawih Prayers is recommended by performing it in Jamaat is Haram

Reference and detailed answer and reasoning:

Chapter 13 of the book: Inquiries About Shi'a Islam (by Imam Sayed Moustafa al-Qazwini)


This page would definitely meet your need . http://islam.about.com/cs/divisions/f/shia_sunni.htm

  • 1
    if you add relevant part of your source to answer, that would be fit to site rules. If you say whole part is important maybe you should include introduction part or one or two examples.
    – nim
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 13:09

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