How to Pray (Salah)?

Salah is the practice of formal prayer in Islam. Salah is a ritual prayer, having prescribed conditions, a prescribed procedure, and prescribed times. Some salahs are obligatory, with a few dispensations for those for whom it would be difficult. For those whom it is physically difficult they can perform Salah in a way suitable for them. To perform valid Salah, Muslims must be in a state of ritual purity, which is mainly achieved by ritual ablution according to prescribed procedures.

Salah consists of the repetition of a unit called a raka’ah consisting of prescribed actions and words. The number of obligatory (fard) according to the time of day or other circumstances (such as Friday congregational prayers).

Obligatory salah is prescribed at five periods of the day, which are measured according to the movement of the sun. These are: near dawn (fajr), just after noon (dhuhr), in the afternoon (asr), just after sunset (maghrib) and around nightfall (isha’a). Under some circumstances prayers can be shortened or combined (according to prescribed procedures). In case a prayer is skipped, it must be made up later.

In Muslim communities, people are reminded of the daily prayer times through the calling of the adhan. For those in Muslim-minority communities, computerized adhan programs are available.

In ancient times, one merely looked at the sun to determine the various times of day for prayer. In more modern times, daily prayer schedules are often printed which precisely pinpoint the beginning of each prayer time.

The compulsory prayer is obligatory for those who meet these three conditions:
  • are Muslim
  • are of sound mind
  • are 9 for girls and puberty age for boys years of age or older (beginning at age seven is recommended).

There are five elements that make a prayer valid:

  • Confidence of the time of prayer. Being unsure invalidates even if the time turns out correct.
  • Facing the qibla, with the chest facing the direction of the Ka’ba. The ill and the old are allowed leniency with posture.
  • Covering the awrah “ Awrah denotes the intimate parts of the body, for both men and women, which must be covered with clothing. The exact definition of awrah varies between different schools of Islamic thought but In general. For men The `awrah (private parts to be necessarily covered) for men includes what is between the navel and the knees as stated by the Prophet SAWS (peace be upon him), so covering it is obligatory according to Islamic law. For women Awra whilst performing Salat consists of the whole body except the face, hands and feet. Therefore, a woman must cover herself properly when performing Salat. Everything besides the face, hands and feet must be covered. The face must be covered properly so that no hair is exposed. Also, care should be taken that no part from above the wrists and ankles is exposed.”
  • Clean clothes, body, place of prostration.
  • Pure from hadath (wudu, tayammum, ghusl)
  • Praying in front of a sutrah.

The place of prayer should be clean. In a few cases where blood is leaving the body, Salah is forbidden until a later time. Women are not allowed to prayer during their menses.

Iqamah: The word ‘iqamah’ or ‘ikamet’ refers to the second call to Islamic Prayer, given immediately before the prayer begins. Generally speaking, the iqamah is given more quickly and in a more monotone fashion, as compared to the adhan, as it is addressed to those already in the mosque rather than a reminder for those outside it to go to the mosque. It differs from the first call to prayer, theadhan in only one place.

Recital Arabic Transliteration Translation
2x الله اكبر الله اكبر āllahu ākbar, āllahu ākbar Allah is Greatest, Allah is Greatest,
2x اشهد ان لا اله الا الله āsh’hadu ān lā ilaha illā-llah I assert that there is no god but Allah,
2x اشهد ان محمد رسول الله āsh’hadu ānna mūhammadār rasūlu-llah I assert that Muhammad(pbuh) is the Messenger of Allah,
2x حي على الصلاة hayyā `alā-s-salat Come to prayer,
2x حي على الفلاح hayyā `alā-l-falāh Come to worship,
2x قد قامت الصلاة

قد قامت الصلاة

qad qāma tis-salaat

qad qāma tis-salaat

Prayer has begun,

Prayer has begun,

1x الله اكبر الله اكبر āllahu ākbar, āllahu ākbar God is Greatest, God is Greatest,
1x لا اله الا الله lā ilaha illā-llah There is no god but Allah



Cleanliness and dress

Islam advises that the prayers be performed in a ritually clean environment [Quran 5:6]. When praying, the clothes that are worn and the place of prayer must be clean. Both men and women are required to cover their bodies (awrah) in reasonably loose-fitting garments. The well-known adage or hadith by al-Nawawi that “purity is half the faith”[15] illustrates how Islam has incorporated and modified existing rules of purity in its religious system.

Ritual ablution

Main articles: Wudu, Tayammum, and Ghusl

Before conducting prayers, a Muslim has to perform a ritual ablution.

The minor ablution is performed using water (wudhu), or sand (tayammum) when water is unavailable or not advisable to use for reasons such as illness.

Wudhu is performed by Muslims according to the instructions of God given in the Qur’an[Quran 5:6]:

“O you who believe! when you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles; and if you are under an obligation to perform a total ablution, then wash (yourselves) and if you are sick or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy, or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth and wipe your faces and your hands therewith, Allah does not desire to put on you any difficulty, but He wishes to purify you and that He may complete His favor on you, so that you may be grateful.”

More specifically wudhu is performed by Muslims by washing the hands, mouth, nose, arms, face, hair, ears,(often washing the hair is merely drawing the already wet hands from the fringe to the nape of the neck) and feet three times each in that order. (It is not obligatory to wash the hair three times, once is sufficient, and men must also wash their beards and mustaches when washing the face).



The person should be conscious and aware of the particular prayer that is being offered, whether it is obligatory, if it is a missed (qadha) prayer, performed individually or among the congregation, a shortened traveller’s prayer etc. The explicit verbalization of this intention is not required, though it can be helpful. The person should think his prayer to be the Last Prayer so that he may perform the best he can.

How to pray:

Each prayer is made up of a repeating unit or cycle called a raka’ah. The number of raka’ahs for the five daily prayers can be found below. A basic raka’ah is made up of these parts.
A Muslim raises his hands to reciteTakbeeratul-Ihram in prayer
Standing in salah
  • If this is the first raka’ah, the prayer is commenced by the saying of the takbir, which is الله أَكْبَر (transliteration “Allahu-akbar”, meaning God is Greater). The hands are raised level with shoulders or level with top of the ears, with fingers apart and not spaced out or together. This is done before, with or after the takbir.
  • Both arms are placed over the chest, with the right arm over the left.
  • If this is the first raka’ah, a supplication praising God is said such as

Subhaanak-Allaahumma, wa biham-dika, wa tabaarakasmuka, wa ta’aalaa jadduka, wa laa ilaaha ghayruka.

  • Muslims then ask refuge from God from such as A’oodhu billaahi min ash-Shaytaan-ir-Rajeem.
  • The recitation of the Quran begins with Bismillaahir-Rahmaanir-Raheem.
  • Surah Al-Fatiha is recited.
  • If this is the first or second raka’ah, the recitation of Al-Fatiha is followed with a recitation from any other section from the Quran of choice.
  • The takbeer is said again and the hands are raised as previously described and the next position, ruku’, begins.


  • The palms are placed on the knees, with finger spaced out. The back is erected at an angle at which poured water may not fall from it.
  • Some of many types of remembrances of God are recited for this situation such as سبحان ربى العظيم (transliteration “Subhaana Rabbee al-’Azeem”, meaning “Glory to my Lord, the Most Magnificent”) three times or more.

I’tidal and stopping:

  • I’tidal is the standing again after ruku’. The back is straightened and the hands are raised as in takbir as mentioned before but saying سمع الله لمن حمده (transliteration “Sami’ Allaahu liman hamidah”, meaning “Allah listens and responds to the one who praises him”).
  • Some of many praises to God are said for this situation such as ربنا لك الحمد (transliteration “Rabbanaa wa lakal-hamd”, meaning “O our Lord! And all praise is for You”).
  • The takbir is said and the hands are either raised or do not raised as mentioned before as the next position, prostration, begins with hands on the ground before knees.


Muslims in prostration
  • As much of the ground must be felt by the nose as the forehead. The elbows are raised and the palms are on level with either the shoulders or the ears, with fingers together.
  • Some of many types of remembrances of God are recited for this situation such as سبحان ربى الأعلى و بحمده (transliteration “Subhaana Rabbee al-A’ laa” meaning “Glory to my Lord, the Most High Most Praiseworthy”) three times or more.
  • The takbir is said again and the hands are either raiser or not raised as mentioned before while the next position, kneeling, begins.


Sitting in salah
  • While sitting, either the left foot is placed along the ground with the right foot upright or both feet are kept upright.
  • Some of many types of remembrances are recited for this situation such as Rabbi-ghfirlee, Rabbi-ghfirlee (meaning “O my Lord, forgive me! O my Lord, forgive me!”).
  • The takbir is said again and the hands are either raised or not raised as mentioned before as the second prostration begins.

Second prostration

  • Second prostrations are done exactly as the first time.
  • The head is raised and the takbir is said again and the hands either raised or not raised as mentioned before. If this is either the second or last raka’ah, the sitting position begins again. Otherwise, the standing position begins again with the start of a new raka’ah.

Second sitting

  • If this is the second raka’ah, sitting is done as before. If this is not the second raka’ah, the left thigh is placed on the ground and both feet are protruding from the right side with the right foot either upright or along the ground. The left palm leans on the left knee.
  • The index finger is pointed towards the qibla.
  • The tashahhud is recited, which is At-tahiyyatu lillahi was-salawatu wat-tayyibatu was-salamu ‘alayka ayyuha Annabiyyu warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu Assalamu ‘alayna wa ‘ala `abadillahi assaliheena Ash-hadu anna la ilaha illa Allah Wa Ash-hadu anna Mohammmedan ‘abduhu warasuluhu.

Prayer in congregation

Upon entering the mosque, “Tahiyyatul masjid” may be performed; this is to pay respects to the mosque. Every Muslim entering the mosque is encouraged to perform these two rakats.Prayer in congregation (jama’ah) is considered to have more social and spiritual benefit than praying by oneself. When praying in congregation, the people stand in straight parallel rows behind the chosen imam, facing qibla. The imam, who leads the congregation in salat, is usually chosen to be a scholar or the one who has the best knowledge of the Qur’an, preferably someone who has memorised it (a hafiz) . In the first row behind the imam, if available, would be another hafiz to correct the imam in case a mistake is made during the performance of the salat. The prayer is performed as normal, with the congregation following the actions and movements of the imam as he performs the salat.

When the worshippers consist of men and women combined, a man is chosen as the imam. In this situation, women are typically forbidden from performing this role. When the congregation consists entirely of women and pre-pubescent children, one woman is chosen as imam.

When men, women, and children are praying, the children’s rows are usually between the men’s and women’s rows, with the men at the front and women at the back. Another configuration is where the men’s and women’s rows are side by side, separated by a curtain or other barrier, with the primary intention being for there to be no direct line of sight between male and female worshippers, following a Qur’anic injunction toward men and women each lowering their gazes (Qur’an 24:30–31).



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