The basis for the following article was originally published in 2001 by the Taliyah al-Mahdi. Edits and further additions have been made to the text, in order to reflect the evolving approach of the Inner Circle of the occulted group, and current events.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
There are many similarities between Sunni and Shi`ah methods of Salah. However, despite these similarities there are a few noticable and important differences. The first noticable difference is that the Shi`ah Adhan and iqamah include the phrase, which we consider to be a MANDATORY component of the Adhan: "Haya `ala Khair al-'amal" (Rise Up For The Best of Works). It comes right after the line: "Haya `ala al-Falah" (Rise Up For Salvation).
Another addition which is NOT a mandatory part of the Adhan, is the affirmation: "Ashadu ann `Aliyan Wali Allah" or ("i bear Witness that `Ali is the Vicegerent of Allah" ) twice in the Adhan and once in iqamah (depending on who you ask, some Mujtahidin say that it is twice in both).
The origin of this assertion and addition goes back to the days of the Ummayads and the political environment during those days. The Ummayads attempted wholeheartedly to eliminate the memory of Imam Ali from among his party ("Shi`ah"). This effort reached astronomical proportions, that during and after the days of Mu'awiyah's ruling, it became customary to curse Imam Ali whenever his name was mentioned. As such, the Shi`ah of Imam Ali chose to oppose the corrupt Ummayad government, and assert that Ali was truly the Vicegerent of Allah. That served as both an annoyment to the authorities, and a reminder to the posterity that Imam Ali was indeed the Agent and Vicegerent of Allah.
Also there are a few other differences. Prayer times can be the spread out times more or less the same as non-Shi`ah Muslimin follow. Of course i say non-Shi`ah rather than "Sunni" because ALL Muslimin are "Sunni" or at least strive to be "of the Sunnah" so it is important for non-Shi`ah to be referred to as non-Shi`ah rather than Sunni, as Shi`ah also unanimously claim to be Ahl'us-Sunnah. In Jafari fiqh the time for Fajr prayer is from dawn to time of sunrise. The time for Zhuhr and Asr prayer is from noon to sunset, and the time for Maghrib and Isha prayer is from sunset to midnight.
This means that the Salawat can be spaced out or if necessary the two afternoon and the two even Salawat can be performed sequentially, "back to back." They are still 5 separate Salawat, with a new Iqamah every time. It is only the times that are more flexible in Jafari fiqh, as this was also occasionally the practice of Muhammad to combine Salawat.
"Establish regular prayers at the Sun's decline till the darkness of the night, and the recital of the Quran in the morning prayer; for the recital of the dawn is Witnessed." Al-Qur'an, Surah 17.78
أَقِمِ الصَّلاَةَ لِدُلُوكِ الشَّمْسِ إِلَى غَسَقِ اللَّيْلِ وَقُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ إِنَّ قُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ كَانَ مَشْهُودًا
Clearly there are three times of Salah mentioned in the Qur'an. Five separate prayers, but there are three "openings" of time in which they are performed; literally, "the Sun's Decline, Darkness of the Night, and the Morning Prayer."
Ibn Abbas, one of the most famous narrators, says according to the Musnad of Ibn Hanbal (One of the books of Hadith):
"An-Nabi prayed in Madina, while residing there, NOT TRAVELING, seven and eight (this is an indication to the seven Raka't of Maghrib and Isha combined, and the eight Raka't of Zuhr and `Asr combined)."
Musnad al-Imam Ibn Hanbal, vol. 1, page 221.
Also, in the Muwatta' of Malik (Imam of Maliki fiqh), vol. 1, page 161, Ibn Abbas says:
"An-Nabi prayed Zuhr and `Asr in combination and Maghrib and Isha in combination WITHOUT a reason for fear or travel."
As for Sahih Muslim, see the following under the chapter of "Combination of prayers, when one is resident"
"Ibn Abbas reported: RasulAllah observed the noon and the afternoon prayers together, and the sunset and Isha prayers together without being in a state of fear or in a state of journey"
Sahih Muslim, English version, Chapter CCL, Tradition #1515
"Ibn Abbas reported that Rasul Allah combined the noon prayer with the afternoon prayer and the sunset prayer with the Isha prayer in Madinah without being in a state of danger or rainfall. And in the hadith transmitted by Waki (the words are): "I said to Ibn Abbas: What prompted him to do that? He said: So that his (Prophet's) Ummah should not be put to (unnecessary) hardship."
Sahih Muslim, English version, Chapter CCL, Tradition #1520
"Abdullah b. Shaqiq reported: Ibn Abbas one day addressed us in the afternoon (after the afternoon prayer) till the sun disappeared, and the stars appeared, and the people began to say: Prayer, prayer. A person from Banu Tamim came there. He neither slackened nor turned away, but (continued crying): Prayer, prayer. Ibn Abbas said: May you be deprived of your mother, do you teach me sunnah? And then he said: I saw the Rasul Allah combining the noon and afternoon prayers and the sunset and Isha prayers. Abdullah ibn Shaqiq said: Some doubt was created in my mind about it. So I came to Abu Huraira and asked him (about it) and he testified his assertion."
Sahih Muslim, English version, Chapter CCL, Tradition #1523
"Abdullah b. Shaqiq al-Uqaili reported: A person said to Ibn Abbas (as he delayed the prayer): Prayer. He kept silent. He again said: Prayer. He again kept silent, and he cried: Prayer. He again kept silent and said: May you be deprived of your mother, do you teach us about prayer? We used to combine two prayers during the lifetime of the Rasul Allah."
Sahih Muslim, English version, Chapter CCL, Tradition #1524
"Ibn Abbas reported: Rasul Allah observed the noon and afternoon prayers together in Madinah without being in a state of fear or in a state of journey. Abu Zubair said: I asked Sa'id [one of the narrators] why he did that. He said: I asked Ibn Abbas as you have asked me, and he replied that he [the Prophet] wanted that no one among his Ummah should be put to [unnecessary] hardship."
Sahih Muslim, English version, Chapter CCL, Tradition #1516
"Ibn Abbas reported that the Rasul Allah observed in Madinah seven (Rak`ah) and eight (Rak`ah), i.e., (he combined) the noon and afternoon prayers (eight Rak`at) and the sunset and Isha prayers (seven Rak`ah)."
Sahih Muslim, English version, Chapter CCL, Tradition #152
As well it was also Sunnah to prostrate on earth or non-man-made materials out of reverence to Allah, not to prostrate on the handiwork of man, and also to be aware of our connection to the earth which we were created from and are symbiotically linked with. As well, the man-made materials may contain haraam things that we do not know about, which would be disrespectful and wrong to prostrate to Allah upon. Dies could contain animal products that are haraam, concrete might have haraam materials as well. There are non-Shi`ah Ahadith that speak clearly of Muhammad prostrating with his face in the mud, dirt, etc.
Sahih Muslim, volume 1, p 168, under the chapter of "A Menstruating Woman's Eligibility to Wash Her Husband's Head" narrates that Muhammad had a special rug made of palm tree leaves that he used to pray on.
Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 2, p256, under the chapter of "Retreating to Prayer in the last ten days (of Ramadhan)" narrates at the end of a long tradition that when Muhammad raised his head from prayer, the companions saw the marks of mud and water on his forehead. This indicates that he prayed on the ground.
Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 1, p. 86, under the chapter of "Tayammum" narrates that Muhammad said: "The GROUND has been cleansed and made a Masjid for me."
So we use either a reed mat, or "Turbah" meaning "clay" or earth to place out forehead on. Often times this is clay from Karbalah, as this is not only clay symbolically mixed with the blood of the Amir Al-Shuhadah, Imam Al-Hussayn (as), but according to Sufi teachings it is also the region where `Izra'il the "Malak al-Mawt," or "Angel of Death" gathered a handfull of clay from which Adam was molded.
We also do not cross out hands, we hang them straight to the side. Crossing the hands was invented by some non-Shi`ah's, but Maliki fiqh for instance does not cross them either. It is simply that Muhammad never told anyone to cross their hands so we see no logical reason to do it.
Also, the Shi`ah don't say "Amin" after the recitation of Surat Al-Fatihah is completed. The reason is that there is no proof to support the notion that this kind of behavior was performed by Muhammad . As well, the Sura is NOT being performed as one would perform a du'a. If that were the case then why not say "Amin" at the end of Surat al-Ikhlas following it? This was merely an innovation of custom under the non-Shi`ah leaders. Shi`ah believe only in following what was specifical stated by the Anbiyah - namely Muhammad , the Khatam Al-Anbiyah - and the A'immah. If he didn't say "say Amin after Al-Fatihah in Salah" then we don't do it. If he didn't say "cross your hands" then we don't do it. It's not to create differences, but actually to follow the Sunnah in every possible (and important), detail.
Beyond that there is also Qunut which is the part of Salah where you raise your hands in front of you and ask Allah for what you need. This can be said in any language or it can be a short du`a in `Arabic. That is about it for the differences, but of course there are differences between each of the four non-Shi`ah Madhahib. It is important to realize and for me to point out that all of these Shi`ah differences from the various non-Shi`ah Madhahib are based one what non-Shi`ah Ahadith also claim about how Rasul Allah himself made Salah.