Question: What are the sunnat elements of salat?
They are as follows:
1. (For men) raising the hands up to the ears when saying the opening takbir [women should raise their hands to shoulder level],
2. Turning the palms to qibla direction when saying the opening takbir,
3. Folding the hands after saying the opening takbir,
4. Putting the right hand on the left hand [men put their hands below their navels, and women put their hands on their breasts],
5. Saying the Basmala before Surat al-Fatiha and saying “Amin” quietly upon completing Surat al-Fatiha,
6. Reciting the prayer that begins with “Subhaanakallahumma …” after saying the opening takbir,
7. Saying “A’oodhu …” and the Basmala (the phrase Bismillahirrahmaniraheem) after the above-mentioned prayer,
8. Keeping the feet apart with a distance of four fingers during standing position and keeping them close together during ruku’, qawma (standing upright and motionless after ruku’), and sajda,
9. Saying “Subhaana rabbiyal ‘azeem” three times in ruku’,
10. Saying “Subhaana rabbiyal a’laa” three times in sajda,
11. Saying the prayers that begin with “Allahumma salli …” and “Allahumma baarik …” in the last sitting,
12. Turning the head to the right and then to the left when saying the salam at the end of salat,
13. The imam’s reciting in the first rak’at that which is twice as long as the one he will recite in the second rak’at,
14. Joining the feet in ruku’,
15. Keeping the head and waist level with each other in ruku’,
16. In ruku’, putting the hands on the knees in a way that the fingers stay open by leaving space between them,
17. Saying “Sami’allahu liman hamidah” while rising from ruku’,
18. Saying “Rabbanaa lakal hamd” upon rising from ruku’,
19. (For a man) putting the knees on the ground with his abdomen and arms away from his thighs in sajda position and lifting the elbows from the ground, [A woman sticks her abdomen to her thighs and spreads her arms flat resting the elbows on the ground in sajda.]
20. Keeping the fingers close together in sajda position and bending the toes and turning them to qibla direction,
21. Sitting between two sajdas,
22. Turning the fingers and toes to qibla direction in sajda,
23. Keeping the hands in line with the ears in sajda position,
24. Saying “Allahu akbar” while bowing for ruku’, going down for sajda, and rising from sajda,
25. For a man, keeping the right foot upright and sitting on the left foot,
26. In sitting position, putting the hands on the knees with the tips of the fingers touching the kneecaps and keeping the fingers in natural state,
27. Reciting only Surat al-Fatiha in the last two rak’ats of four-rak’at fard salats,
28. Calling out adhan and iqamat (for men).
Question: When bringing the fingers together in sajda position, does one have to join the thumbs as well?
Yes, one has to join the thumbs, too.
Question: What is the ruling on saying the Basmala before Surat al-Fatiha in salat?
Saying the Basmala (the phrase Bismillaahirrahmaanirraheem) before Surat al-Fatiha in every rak’at is sunnat in the madhhabs of Hanafi and Hanbali. It is makruh in the Maliki Madhhab and fard (obligatory) in the Shafi’i Madhhab. (Al-Fiqh 'ala al-Madhahib al-Arba'ah)
According to the Shafi’i Madhhab, the Basmala is an ayah of Surat al-Fatiha, so it is fard to say it in salat just as it is fard to recite Surat al-Fatiha.
When one follows a second madhhab in an act of worship out of necessity, one should do fard elements that the second madhhab one is to follow has established concerning that act of worship and avoid doing whatsoever the second madhhab has pronounced to be detrimental to that act of worship. As for sunnat and makruh acts, one should follow the rulings that one’s own madhhab has established. Accordingly, if a Hanafi follows also the Maliki Madhhab in salat out of necessity, it will be sunnat for him/her to say the Basmala before Surat al-Fatiha. If a Hanafi follows the Shafi’i Madhhab in salat out of necessity, it will be fard for him/her to say the Basmala before Surat al-Fatiha.
Question: Suppose that a man performed salat bareheaded without wearing a taqiyah and therefore committed a makruh act in salat. Then what is the ruling on his repeating that salat?
It is sunnat for him to repeat that salat.