It is reported while praying Salah it was the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) to silently recite a supplication in-between the takbeer e-tahrimah (inital allahu akbar to commence salah) and Surah Fatihah.
These duas are known as dua al istiftah or the opening supplication. The first and most common one that is taught is called thana. You may know it already as it’s the dua which begins with subhanakallahumma wabihamdika. Let’s take the time to learn the complete dua.
subhanakallahumma wabihamdika full dua:
سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَبِحَمْدِكَ وَتَبَارَكَ اسْمُكَ وَتَعَالَى جَدُّكَ وَلاَ إِلَهَ غَيْرُكَ
Transliteration: Subhanaka Allahumma wa bihamdika wa tabarakasmuka, wa ta’ala jadduka wa la ilaha ghairuk
Translation: ‘Glorious You are O Allah, and with Your praise, and blessed is Your Name, and exalted is Your majesty, and none has the right to be worshipped but You.
This comes from two sources Jami At-Tirmidhi Hadith 242 and 243 and is classisified as Hasan (Darussalam).
Dua that is said at opening of Salat:
Aishah narrated, When the Prophet opened the Salat he would say:
Subhanakallahumma wa bihamdika wa tabarakasmuka, wa ta’ala jadduka wa la ilaha ghairuk” ‘Glorious You are O Allah, and with Your praise, and blessed is Your Name, and exalted is Your majesty, and none has the right to be worshipped but You.’
Abu Sa’eeed Al Khudri narrated: “When Allah;s Messenger stood for Salat during the night, he would say the Takbir (Allahu Akbar), then say:
Subhanaka Allahumma wa bihamdika wa Tabarakasmuka wa Ta’ala Jadduka wa la ilaha ghairuk. ‘Glorious You are O Allah, and with Your praise, and blesses is Your Name, and exalted is Your majesty, and none has the right to be worshipped but You’ Then he would say: (A’udhu Bilahi As-Sami’il-Alimi min Ash-Shaitanir-Rajimi, min Hamzihi Wa Nafkhihi wa Nafthihi.)” ‘Allah is undoubtedly the greatest.’ (Allahu Akbaru Kabira). Then he would say: ‘I seek refuge in Allah the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing, from the cursed Shaitan, from his madness, his arrogance, and his poetry.’
In Sahih Al Bukhari hadith 744 there’s another opening supplication which the Prophet was reported as saying:
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to keep silent between the Takbir and the recitation of Qur’an and that interval of silence used to be a short one. I said to the Prophet (ﷺ) “May my parents be sacrificed for you! What do you say in the pause between Takbir and recitation?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “I say, ‘Allahumma, baa`id baini wa baina khatayaya kama baa`adta baina l-mashriqi wa l-maghrib. Allahumma, naqqini min khatayaya kama yunaqqa th-thawbu l-abyadu mina d-danas. Allahumma, ighsil khatayaya bi l-maa’i wa th-thalji wa l-barad (O Allah! Set me apart from my sins (faults) as the East and West are set apart from each other and clean me from sins as a white garment is cleaned of dirt (after thorough washing). O Allah! Wash off my sins with water, snow and hail.)”
In Arabic text this dua is:
للَّهُمَّ بَاعِدْ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ خَطَايَاىَ كَمَا بَاعَدْتَ بَيْنَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ، اللَّهُمَّ نَقِّنِي مِنَ الْخَطَايَا كَمَا يُنَقَّى الثَّوْبُ الأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الدَّنَسِ، اللَّهُمَّ اغْسِلْ خَطَايَاىَ بِالْمَاءِ وَالثَّلْجِ وَالْبَرَدِ
Transliteration: Allahumma, baa`id baini wa baina khatayaya kama baa`adta baina l-mashriqi wa l-maghrib. Allahumma, naqqini min khatayaya kama yunaqqa th-thawbu l-abyadu mina d-danas. Allahumma, ighsil khatayaya bi l-maa’i wa th-thalji wa l-barad.
This same dua is also mentioned in Sahih Muslim hadith 598 a-b.
What If I join Prayer Late, Should I say Opening Dua For Salah?
According to majority of scholars, saying the opening dua for salah would be following the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad. It is not an obligatory pillar of Salah and missing it won’t nullify the salah.
If you join the prayer late you should try and catch up with the Imam and say the opening dua. But if you are worried that the Imam will go into ruku soon then you can skip it and start with Surah Fatiha which is obligatory.
Now, if the imam goes into bowing before you finish reading al-fatiha it is excused in this case and you should say takbeer and bow with the congregation.
This is logical, if you can recite the opening dua and fatiha (even in prayers which is read out loud) then you should. If there is not enough time then it is waived.
Allah knows best.
If this article helped, you may also be interested in reading our complete guide to learning all about salah.