If, when you are performing pray, a person experiences waswaas (insinuating thoughts) from Shaytaan, which cause him to falter in his recitation of Qur’aan, make him think bad thoughts and make him doubt the number of rak’ahs he has completed, what should he do?
This happened to one of the Sahaabah, namely ‘Uthmaan ibn Abi al-‘Aas (may Allaah be pleased with him). He came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and complained about it: “The Shaytaan comes between me and my salaah, and causes me to falter in my recitation.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “That is a shaytaan (devil) called Khanzab. If you sense his presence, seek refuge with Allaah and spit (dry spitting) to your left three times.” ‘Uthmaan (later) said: “I did that, and Allaah rid me of him.” (Saheeh Muslim, no. 2203).
This hadeeth indicates two ways in which one may ward off the shaytaan who tries to disrupt one’s prayers. The first is to seek refuge with Allaah from the evil of Shaytaan, even by pronouncing these words whilst praying – there is nothing wrong with doing so in this case. The second is to spit (dry spitting) to the left three times. This means blowing air in a manner similar to spitting but ejecting more a very small amount of saliva, so long as this will not affect the person next to you or making the masjid dirty.