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SALAH (PRAYER) for beginners

The purpose of this guide is to walk you through the basic steps of prayer in Islam. Going to the masjid (mosque) to pray with other Muslims is another good way to learn how to pray.
The PILLARS of the prayer (in red) make up the foundation of the prayer; these acts must be performed for your prayer to be valid.
The MANDATORY ACTS (in purple) are crucial aspects of the prayer. Neglecting them will compromise (but not void) your prayer.
The parts in green are recommended. Adding them will improve your prayer.
The Fatihah, the other verses of Quran, and the opening takbeer must be recited in Arabic. You may say all other portions of the prayer in your native language until you learn
them in Arabic.
As a new Muslim, you may start with the pillars and then focus on the mandatory acts, and then the preferable. During the entire prayer, you must have tranquility in standing, bowing,
prostration and sitting positions. You also must perform the pillars in the correct sequence for your prayer to be valid.

Steps in blue indicate the conditions, which are the acts that are not part of the prayer, but must be fulfilled for the validity of the prayer.

Steps in red indicate the pillars of the prayer. These steps must be performed for the validity of the prayer.

Steps in purple indicate the obligatory parts of prayer. These are the mandatory acts according to the hanbali school, and preferable according to the rest. Omitting them does not
invalidate the prayer (according to the majority), even though it would compromise it.

Steps in green indicate the preferable (Sunnah) parts of prayer. Omitting these acts doesn't invalidate the prayer, but we should all aspire to perfect our prayers.

Steps in brown indicate items that can be substituted until one learns Arabic. It is a must to learn as fast as you can how to say the Fatihahh and first Takbeer at least in Arabic. Those who
are capable of saying them in Arabic must do so, otherwise, their salah is invalid.
As a new Muslim, you may start with the pillars and then focus on the mandatory/preferable acts in purple, and then the preferable ones in green.
I. Before starting
1. Ritual purity and purity of body, garment and place.
2. Covering one's nakedness ('awrah).
3. The commencement of the time of the particular prayer.
4. Intention, which is the determination in the heart to perform the particular prayer.
5. Standing for the obligatory prayers for those who are able, facing the qiblah.

II. Takbeer

1. Saying: Allahu Akbar – (Allah is the Most Great), this is called Takbeerat-ul-Ihram (The opening Takbeer). If one can not say it in Arabic, they may say it in their native
language until they learn how to say it in Arabic. That applies to all takbeer, but for the first, it is a must.
2. Raising the two hands parallel to the two shoulders*** while uttering Takbeerat-ul-I hram.

III. First standing

1. Standing with the feet apart.
2. Placing the right hand over the left over the chest or underneath the navel^^^.
3. Looking towards the place of prostration.
4. Saying after the opening takbeer, “Subhaanaka Allaahumma wa bi hamdika, wa tabaaraka ismuka, wa ta’aala jadduka wa laa ilaaha ghayruka” --(Glory and praise be to
You, O Allah; blessed be Your name, exalted be Your Majesty, and there is no god but You). If one can not say it in Arabic, they may say it in their native language
until they learn how to say it in Arabic.
5. Saying „Aodho billahi mina-ash-shaitan nirrajeem‟ – (I Seek refuge in Allah from Satan the cursed).
6. Saying „Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem’ – (In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful). (According to some scholars, it is part of al-Fatihahh, thus
must be said).
7. Reciting Surah Al-Fatihah. If one cannot recite Al-Fatihah, then they can recite other tasbeeh like “SubhanAllah, Alhamdulillah, Allahu Akbar” until they have learnt
Surah Al-Fatihah. (the Quran itself can never be recited in any language other than Arabic).
8. Saying Ameen - (O Allah grant our prayers) after reciting Al-Fatihahh.
9. Reciting another Surah after Al-Fatihah, or any amount of the Quran even one or two verses.

IV. Bowing

1. Raising the two hands like ***.
2. Saying “Allahu Akbar” when moving from the standing position to bowing.
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3. Bowing i.e. bending so that the hands can touch the knees.
4. Holding the knees with fingers spread apart when bowing, holding the back straight and making the head parallel with it.
5. Saying „Subhaana rabbiyal-‘atheem‟ – (Glory is to My Lord, the Magnificent.) at least once while bowing.
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; Saying it three to ten times is preferable.

V. Second standing

1. Rising from the bowing position & Raising the two hands like ***.
2. Standing up straight.
3. Dropping the hands next to the body or placing them like ^^^.
4. Saying „Sami'a Allahu liman Hamidah’ - (Allah hears those who praise Him) while rising from the bowing posture (for the imam and for the one who is praying alone).
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5. Saying, „Rabbana wa lakal Hamd’ while standing – (Our Lord! And yours is the praise).
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6. Saying after the tahmeed (Rabbana wa laka‟l-hamd): “Mil’ al-samawaati wa mil’ al-ard wa mil’ ma shi’ta min shay’in ba’d”- (Filling the heavens, filling the earth, and
filling whatever else You wish).

VI. First Prostration

1. Saying “Allahu Akbar” when moving from the standing position to prostration.
2. Prostration i.e. placing at least a part of the forehead, nose, palms, knees and toes on the ground.
3. Placing the forehead, nose, palms, and toes firmly on the ground.
4. Keeping the elbows away from the sides, and the belly from the thighs, and the thighs from the calves; keeping the knees apart; holding the feet upright; holding the
toes apart and facing the qiblah; placing the hands level with the shoulders with the fingers together but not tightly.
5. Saying „Subhana rabiyyal-a’laa’ – (Glory is to My Lord, the Most High) at least once while prostrating.
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; Saying it three to ten times is preferable.

VII. Sitting between the two prostrations

1. Saying “Allahu Akbar” when moving from the prostration to the sitting position.
2. Rising from the prostration to the sitting position.
3. Sitting between the two prostrations.
4. Sitting on the left foot and holding the right foot upright with the toes pointing towards the qiblah.
5. Placing the hands on the thighs or knees with the fingers together.
6. Saying “Rabb ighfir li – (Lord forgive me) at least once.
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; Saying it three times is preferable.

VIII. Second prostration

1. Saying “Allahu Akbar” when moving from the sitting position to prostration.
2. Follow steps 2-6 from the first prostration (Step VI)

IX. Rising to the next unit (rak'at)
1. Saying “Allahu Akbar” when moving from the sitting position to the standing position.

X. First tashahhud
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1. Sitting for the first tashahhud.
2. Sitting on the left foot and holding the right foot upright with the toes pointing towards the qiblah.


3. Placing the hands on the thighs with the fingers together.
4. Saying the tashahhud: “At-Tahiyyaatu lillahi was-salawaatu wat-tayyibaat. As-Salaamu „alyaka ayyuhan-nabiyu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu. As-Salaamu
„alayna wa „alaa „ibaadillaahis-saaliheen. Ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illallaahu, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan „abduhu wa rasooluh.”
(All reverence, prayers and good are due to Allah. Peace be upon you O Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings. Peace be upon us and the righteous servants of Allah, I testify
that there is non worthy of worship except Allah, alone without partners. And I testify that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger.) If one can not say it in Arabic, they may say it in
other languages until they learn how to say it in Arabic.

XI. Final tashahhud

1. Sitting for the final tashahhud.
2. Sitting with the left upper thigh on the ground and both feet protruding from one (the right) side.
3. Placing the hands on the thighs with the pinkie and ring fingers held in, a circle made with the middle finger and thumb, and one should point with the forefinger when
remembering Allah.
4. Saying the tashahhud (see before).
5. Saying the supplication for the Prophet after the final Tashahhud „Allaahumma salli ‘alaa Muhammadin wa ‘alaa aali Muhammadin, kamaa sallayta ‘alaa Ibraaheema wa
‘alaa aali Ibraheem. Wa baarik ‘alaa Muhammadin wa ‘alaa aali Muhammadin, kamaa baarakta ‘alaa Ibraaheema wa ‘alaa aali Ibraheem, innaka Hameedun Majeed”
(O Allah! Shower Your Mercy on Muhammad and on the kinsfolk of Muhammad; as You showered Your Mercy on Ibrahim and the kinsfolk of Ibrahim. And bless
Muhammad and the kinsfolk of Muhammad, as You blessed Ibrahim and the kinsfolk of Ibrahim. You are the Praiseworthy and the Glorious.)


6. Du'aa (Supplication). The preferred routine supplication is: O Allaah, I seek refuge with You from the torment of Hell and from the torment of the grave and from the
trials of life and death and from the evil of the trial of the Dajjaal).”


7. After this supplication, you may ask Allah, your lord for whatever you desire.
All free (non routine) du'a' made here or during sujoodor elsewhere may be done in one's native language.

XII. Tasleem

1. Saying the salaam i.e. saying “as-salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmat Allaah”-(Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah).
2. Saying the salaam a second time.
3. Turning the head all the way to the right and left when saying the salaam.

XIII. During the entire prayer

1. Tranquility in the standing, bowing, prostration and sitting positions throughout the prayer.
2. Performance of the pillars in the ordained sequence.

This description of Salah (prayer) is mainly according to the hanbali school of Fiqh. There may be minor variances between the fourschools. Whichever school you follow, your salah
would be accepted by consensus.
We must all aspire to following the sunnah of our most beloved, Prophet Muhammad; once it is unambiguously clear to us, we have no excuse to abandon it for any other position.
Prepared by Durre Zafar and Qurrat Zafar.
Reviewed by Dr. Hatem al-Haj, Associate Professor of Fiqh, Sharia Academy of America.