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How To Perform Daily Prayers in Islam

Prayer, or salat, is the second pillar of Islam, intended to keep life in perspective before God. Muslims pray five times each day: at dawn, at noon, in mid-afternoon, at sunset, and before bed.

Instructions

  • TIP: If you’re praying with other people, you may shake hands with them or embrace them at the conclusion of the prayer.
  • Step 1: At the noon prayer, follow the first two units as at dawn, through the pronouncement of the shahada. Omit the salaams or thrice-repeated “Allahu Akbar.”
  • Step 2: Stand for the third unit, saying “Allahu Akbar.”
  • Step 3: Depending on which sect of Islam you belong to, either look to the right and say “As-salaamu aleikum,” meaning “Peace be with you,” and repeat on the left, or say “Allahu Akbar” three times, raising your hands to your ears each time.
  • Step 4: Most Muslims wish prayers upon the Prophet at this juncture.
  • Step 5: At the dawn prayer, repeat steps 6 through 13 and assume the sitting position.
  • Step 6: Pronounce the first pillar of Islam, or the shahada.
  • Step 7: Perform the third and fourth units as you did the first two, but omit the second Quranic recitation.
  • Step 8: At the end of the fourth, say “Allahu Akbar” and assume the sitting position.
  • Step 9: Say the salaams to your right and left or “Allahu Akbar” three times with your hands to your ears.
  • Step 10: At night, follow the four-unit model as at noon and mid-afternoon.
  • FACT: According to a hadith, or canonical saying of Muhammad, God first told the Prophet that Muslims were to pray 50 times a day, but Moses said the number was too high and urged him to renegotiate.
  • Step 11: After the second prostration of the third unit, assume the sitting position and recite the shahada.
  • Step 12: At the sunset prayer, follow the first two units as at dawn.
  • Step 13: Pronounce the shahada and either say the salaams to your right and left or “Allahu Akbar” three times with your hands to your ears.
  • Step 14: At the mid-afternoon prayer, follow the steps for the noontime one.
  • Step 15: Stand for the second unit, saying “Allahu Akbar.”
  • Step 16: Say “Subhana Rabbi al-Alaa.” This completes one full unit.
  • Step 17: Set aside cares and thoughts in order to concentrate on God. Make your intention, or niyah, to pray.
  • Step 18: To begin, stand upright with hands raised to the ears or shoulders and say “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great.”
  • Step 19: Place your right hand over your left and rest them on your chest or navel. Other Muslims let their arms hang at their sides. Recite the first sura of the Quran in Arabic.
  • TIP: Facing Mecca during salat is a sign of unity among all Muslims.
  • Step 20: Face Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, which is located in present-day Saudi Arabia. Most mosques have a niche indicating the direction. You can also determine the direction using a qibla compass.
  • TIP: Different sects within Islam have different methods of determining the exact timing of the prayer, though the results rarely vary by more than 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Step 21: Before beginning prayers, perform ritual ablutions, or wudu, to cleanse the hands, mouth, face, arms, hair, and feet, and to purify the spirit.
  • Step 22: Recite a second selection from the Quran of your own choosing.
  • Step 23: Bow down so that the upper half of your body is parallel to the floor, with your hands on your knees or sometimes your shins. Say “Subhana Rabbi al-Atheem,” meaning “Glory be to God, the most great,” at least once, though most people recite it three times.
  • Step 24: Say “Subhana Rabbi al-Alaa,” meaning “Glory be to God the most high” at least once, though most recite it three times.
  • Step 25: Say “Allahu Akbar” as you sit up on your knees.
  • Step 26: Move back into the prostrate position, saying “Allahu Akbar” again.
  • TIP: Prostration signifies human insignificance in the face of God.
  • Step 27: Sink to your knees and touch the floor with your forehead. As you move into this position say “Allahu Akbar.”
  • TIP: Different supplications may be said in the various positions, but the ones here are among the most common.
  • Step 28: As you draw yourself upright, say “Sami’ Allahu liman hamidah,” or “God listens to those who praise him.” Then say “Rabbana wa lak al-hamd,” which means, “Our Lord we do praise you.”
  • Step 29: Consult your local mosque for an exact timetable of prayers. You can also type in your ZIP code at Islamicity.com.

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