You are on page 1of 6

The Basics of Prayer

The second Pillar of Islam is prayer. There are two types of prayer that a Muslim may engage in: Du'ah and Salaah
(or Namaz). Du'ah is a form of supplication that can be offered at any time and any place, and Salaah/Namaz has
come to be known as the five daily ritual prayers.

Preparations

Certain requirements must be met before engaging in prayer. These requirements are summarized in the following
list:

• Attire. Worshipers must cover the parts of the body detailed in the Qur’an with clean, opaque garments.
For men, the navels to the knees are to be hidden (although it is recommended that he cover his chest,
shoulders, arms, and legs as well). Women are to cover their entire bodies, save for the hands and the
face.
• Cleanliness. All worshipers must be clean before engaging in prayer. Ablution must be performed before
each salah (or maintained from a previous salaah – see Qur’an 4:43 for what nullifies ablution). Three
types of ablution exist (Qur’an 5:6):
o Wud'u – the washing of the hands, mouth, inside of the nose, face, forearms (up to the elbows),
wipe the head, ears, neck, and wash the feet.
o Ghusl, or Full Ablution – complete bath of the whole body performed after a major impurity
(such as intercourse or menstration).
o Tayammum – dry ablution can be performed using ‘clean’ dirt in place of water – especially if
water is unavailable or scarce.
• Place. Worship must be conducted in a clean and reasonably quite place. There should be nothing of
distraction in front of the worshiper (such as pictures or statues).
• Time. Each of the daily prayers start at specific times. Use one of the many online-prayer time programs
or check with your local Mosque for details. The table below will give you a general idea of when each
prayer starts.
• The Adhan. Just before prayer, the Adhan – the Muslim call to prayer – is recited aloud. After the Adhan,
once all Muslims are standing in attendance, the Iqamah is recited (which is similar to the Adhan). There
is a variation of the Adhan for the Fajr prayer as well.

Five Daily Prayers

The ritual prayer is made up of a series of movements that are grouped together into a rakaah. The plural form,
rakaat denotes the full Fard or Sunnah prayer (Fard refers to what is obligatory and Sunnah refers to what is
optional). Much of what prayer consists of is based on what the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us, rather
than what is directly revealed in the Holy Qur’an. See the chart below which details each prayer, its time of day,
and number of rak’aah.

Fard Sunnah Rakaah


Salaah Time
Rakaah Before After
Fajr or Subh early morning, before sunrise (24:58) 2 2 -
Dhuhr noon – when the sun begins to decline (17:78) 4 4 2
Asr mid-afternoon, before sunset (2:238) 4 4 -
Maghrib sunset (11:114) 3 - 2
Isha evening, after the sun has set (11:114, 24:58) 4 4 2

Tahajjud Late night, between Isha and Witr - 2, 4, 6, or 8 varies


Tarawih During Ramadan, after Isha, before Witr - 20
Witr Late night, after Isha or Tahaijud, before Fajr - 3

Before Prayer

• Face the Qiblah. The Qiblah is the direction of the Kaba in Mecca.
• Niyah. There is no special wording for Niyah, or the ‘intent”, because it derives from the heart of the
believer. It serves as an anchor for the worshiper – preparing his or her heart for the Salaat.
• Takbirat-ul Ihram. Prayer starts by raising the hands to the ears (for men) or the chest (for women) and
saying “Allahu’Akbar”

Rakaah

All prayers follow the same general movements. Differences have been noted where necessary. Keep in mind that
some scholars have interpreted certain aspects of prayer different than others. The way a Muslim sits, holds his or
her hands, or says certain prayers may vary from one school to another. All major movements involving prayer are
mentioned in the Qur’an, but as the finer details of Salaat have been left out of the Qur’an, we must remember the
full spirit of prayer and not dwell on the slight differences here and there. Also, each recitation of the Holy Qur’an
should be done in Arabic, while supplications can be done in Arabic (preferred) or in the native language of the
believer. This is especially true for new Muslims.

• Stand straight. It is permissible to sit or lay on one’s side if unable to stand. (3:39, 39:9)
• Qiyam. Position the hands in the following manner:
o Men: right over left (with the right hand over the left wrist), below the navel. Some schools
position the hands higher.
o Women: right over left, on the chest or slightly above.
o Some Muslims keep their hands by their sides.
• Recite Opening Supplication. The wording of this supplication may differ from school to school. One
version is here.
• Recite Al-Fatiha. Al-Fatiha is the first Surah in the Holy Qur’an. It is to be recited in every Rakaah. During
the first two rakaat of Fajr, Maghrib, and Isha, recite this in a loud voice. Otherwise, it should be recited
silently to oneself.
• Recite another Surah. Another Surah should be recited during the first and second rakaah, but not the
third and fourth, where applicable.
• Ruk'u. Say “Allahu’Akbar” and bow forward with your back straight – parallel to the floor, and place your
hands on your knees. While in Ruk'u, say: “ Subhaana Rabbiy al-‘Azheem” three times (2:43, 3:43, 9:112,
22:26,77).
• Qaumah. Stand and say “ Sami‘a-llaahu liman hamidah” followed by, “ Rabbanaa wa laka-l-hamd”
• Sujud . This is the prostration position. Say “Allahu’Akbar” and place your hands on your knees, lowering
yourself slowly into a kneeling position. Touch your forehead and palms to ground (but not elbows) and
bend your toes so that the tops of the feet face the Qiblah. Seven points of your body should be on the
ground (each hand, foot, and knee and the forehead). Say: “ Subhaana Rabbiy al-A‘laa” three times
(2:43, 3:43, 9:112, 22:26,77).
• Qa'dah. Sit up, so that your heels are under your body and say, “Allahu’Akbar”
• Sujud. Repeat the sujud position once again.

This almost completes one rakaah. Depending on the particular prayer (see the table above), and the number of
rakaah that you are on, you will either sit for additional supplications, or stand to do another full rakaah:

• Always stand after the second sujud in the first rakaah. Say: “Allahu’Akbar”.
• Always sit after the second sujud in the second rakaah. Say: “Allahu’Akbar” and recite the first part of the
Tashahhud. While reciting La-Ilaha, you could make a ring with the thumb and the middle finger of the
right hand, and keeping the other fingers closed, raise the forefinger to point up to the sky, and drop it at
ill-Allah). Stand for a third rakaah (if applicable), and say: “Allahu’Akbar”.
• Always stand after the second sujud in the third rakaah unless you are praying Maghrib Fard or Witr
prayer.
• Always sit after the second sujud in the fourth rakaah. Say: “Allahu’Akbar” and recite the first part of the
Tashahhud. While reciting La-Ilaha, one could make a ring with the thumb and the middle finger of the
right hand, and keeping the other fingers closed, raise the forefinger to point up to the sky, and drop it at
ill-Allah.

On the last rakaah, (two for Fajr, four for Dhuhr, four for Asr, three for Maghrib, and four for Isha) complete the
prayer with:

• While still sitting, recite the second part of the Tashahhud.


• Recite an additional Du’ah.
• Finish the prayer with Tasleem. Turn your head to the right and say: "As salamu alaikum wa rahmat-
ullah" and then to the left, "As salamu alaikum wa rahmat-ullah".

After Prayer

After prayer is complete, that is, all Fard and Sunnah have been prayed for a given time, the worshiper may offer
additional supplications and du’ahs.

Special Prayers

Tahajjud – these are late night prayers, also called Qiyam-ul-Layl, or "the night vigil". Tahajjud literally means “to
struggle to rid oneself of sleep” (Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar, quoting Ibn Amir Haajj’s Halba). They can be prayed
individually or in congregation (as the Prophet (saw) did both). This prayer may be started any time after Isha, but
before the time for Fajr. It is preferable to perform it in the middle third of the night. Qiyam-ul-Layl can contain any
number of rakaat, but the Prophet (saw) was reported to have prayed no less than two and no more than eleven at
any given time (Hadith reported by al-Bukhaari, Muslim and others). (32:16-17, 51:17, 17:78-79, 73:6-7, 3:17,
25:63-64, 39:9).

Tarawih - Tarawih prayers are done during Ramadan. One who observes the Tarawih salaah at night during
Ramadan with complete faith and devotion only for the sake of the recompense of the hearafter, will have all of his
previous sins forgiven by Allah. (Hadith reported by al-Bukhaari and Muslim). Tarawih consists of twenty Rakaah to
be prayed in sets of two or four.

Witr - Witr, meaning "odd number", is a three rakaah prayer offered in the night after Isha but before Fajr. Allah's
Apostle offered Witr prayer at different nights at various hours extending (from the 'Isha' prayer) up to the last hour
of the night. (Hadith reported by al-Bukhaari). During the Witr prayer, the Qunut should be recited in the third
rakaah, after al-Fatiha. Before reciting the Qunut prayer, raise the hands to the ears (for men) or the chest (for
women) and say“Allahu’Akbar”.

Adhan

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar


Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar
Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah
Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah
Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah
Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah
Hayya ‘ala-s-Salah, hayya ‘ala-s-Salah
Hayya ‘ala-l-falah, hayya ‘ala-l-falah
Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar
La ilaha illa-llah

Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest


Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah
I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
Hasten to the Prayer, hasten to the Prayer
Hasten to real success, hasten to real success
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
There is none worthy of worship but Allah
Adhan for Fajr

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar


Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar
Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah
Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah
Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah
Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah
Hayya ‘ala-s-Salah, hayya ‘ala-s-Salah
Hayya ‘ala-l-falah, hayya ‘ala-l-falah
As-Salatu khairun min an-naum, As-Salatu khairun min an-naum
Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar
La ilaha illa-llah

Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest


Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah
I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
Hasten to the Prayer, hasten to the Prayer
Hasten to real success, hasten to real success
Prayer is better than sleep, Prayer is better than sleep
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
There is none worthy of worship but Allah

Iqamah

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar


Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar
Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah
Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah
Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah
Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah
Hayya ‘ala-s-Salah, hayya ‘ala-s-Salah
Hayya ‘ala-l-falah, hayya ‘ala-l-falah
Qad qamati-s-Salah, Qad qamati-s-Salah
Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar
La ilaha illa-llah

Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest


Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah
I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
Hasten to the Prayer, hasten to the Prayer
Hasten to real success, hasten to real success
Prayer is ready, Prayer is ready
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
There is none worthy of worship but Allah

Opening Supplication

Subhaana ala humma wa bihamdika


wa tabaara kasmuka wa ta'aalaa jadduka
wa laa ilaaha ghairuk
Glory to You, O Allah, and Yours is the praise.
And blessed is Your Name, and exalted is Your Majesty.
And there is no deity to be worshipped but You

Tashahhud (Part 1)

Atta-hiyyatu lillahi was-salawatu wat-tayyibatu


As-salamu 'alaika ayyuh-an-Nabiyyu wa rahmat-ullahi wa barakatuhu
As-salamu 'alaina wa 'alaa 'Ibaadillah-is-salihin.
Ash-hadu-al-la-Ilaha illAllahu wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan 'abduhu wa Rasuluh.

All worships - oral, physical and momentary - are for Allah.


Allah's peace be upon you, O Prophet, and His mercy and blessings.
Peace be on us and on all righteous servants of Allah.
I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.

Tashahhud (Part 2, or Salat)

Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammadin wa 'ala aali Muhammadin


kama sallaita 'ala Ibrahima innaka Hamid um Majid.
Allahumma barik 'ala Muhammadin wa 'ala aali Muhammadin
kama barakta 'ala Ibrahima wa 'ala aali Ibrahima innaka Hamidum Majid.

O Allah! Have mercy on Muhammad and those related to Muhammad


just as Thou hadst mercy on Abraham and on those related to Abraham. Surely, Thou art Praise worthy, the Great!
O Allah! Send blessings on Muhammad and on those related to Muhammad,
just as Thou sent blessings on Abraham and on those related to Abraham. Surely, Thou art Praiseworthy, the
Great!

Additional Du’ah

Allahumma inni zalam-tu nafsi zulm-an-kasir-an wa la yaghfir-uz-zunuba illa Anta:


faghfir-li maghfiratam min 'indika war-hamni innaka Antal Ghafur-ur-Rahim.

O Allah! I have been greatly unjust to myself, and there is none beside Thee who can forgive me my sins.
So favour me with forgiveness from Thee, and have mercy upon me. Thou art indeed most Forgiving and most
Merciful.

Qunut Prayer

llahumma inna nasta’inuka wa nastaghfiruka wa nastahdika wa nu’minu bika wa natubu ilayk;


wa natawwakkalu ‘alayka wa nuthni ‘alayka’l-khayra kullahu nashkuruka wa la nakfuruk.
Wa nakhla’u wa natruku man yaf-juruk.
Allahumma iyyaka na‘budu wa laka nusalli wa nasjudu wa ilayka nas’a wa nahfidu;
narju rahmataka wa nakhsa ‘adhabaka inna ‘adhabaka bi’l-kuffari mulhiq

O God! We ask You for help, forgiveness, and guidance.


We believe in You and turn to You in repentance for our sins, and place our trust in You.
We praise You by attributing all good to You, and thank You, and never feel ingratitude to You.
We reject and cut our relations with those who are in constant rebellion against You.
O God, You alone do we worship, and we pray and prostrate for You alone.
We endeavor in Your way to obtain Your good pleasure and approval.
We hope and expect Your Mercy and fear Your chastisement, for Your chastisement is to surround the unbelievers.