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Pray in Islam – Introduction

The Prophet said “Pray as you have seen me praying”

Salah, also known as namaz, is performed by Muslims facing the direction of Kaaba. These prayers are recommended to be performed regularly throughout the lifetime. It is prescribed with repetitive cycles of bows and prostrations, namely Rakat. To exemplify the dawn prayer, Fajr consist of 2 rakats. The prayer begins in a standing position with the recitation of the first chapter of Qu'ran. Rakats are repeated along with specific body movements. The salah is composed of 5 daily prayers.

Categories of Prayers in Islam

When we talk about how to pray in Islam, we need to know beforehand the types of prayers as well as the timing of the prayers. There are two general categories of prayers in the Islam religion. Compulsory Prayers Voluntary Prayers

Compulsory Prayer

A Muslim must perform five compulsory prayers daily and the names for the prayers are as follows:

  1. Fajr- before the sunrise (dawn prayer)- consist of 2 Rakat salah.
  2. Dhuhr- the early afternoon prayer(midday)- consistof 4 rakat salah
  3. Asr- late part of the afternoon- consist of 4 rakat salah.
  4. Maghrib- just after sunset- consist of 3 rakat salah
  5. Isha’a- between sunset and midnight (night prayer)-consist of 4 rakat salah.

These compulsory prayers also come with a specific number of units or raka’ah that is fixed

Voluntary prayers Prayer

Apart from these, there are other prayers offered on special occasions.
(i) Jummu'ah – Friday, known as the holiest day of the week, is considered a celebration. Salat al Jumu'ah (Friday prayer) is offered in the afternoon before the Zuhr prayer. It is performed in mosques together, followed by the speech of the Imam.
(ii) Salaat-e- Gufaila - This is offered between Maghrib and Isha prayers. It is one among the Mustahab prayers.
(iii) Eid al-Fitr - Offered on the first day of Eid.
(iv) Eid al-Adha- offered on the main day of Hajj pilgrimage season.
(v) Dhikr – Involves various repeated phrases.
(vi) Tarawih – It is a special prayer offered to Allah on the month of Ramadhan. It is performed together after Isha and before Salah.

How to Pray in Islam – The Salah (In the Light of the Prophet’s Tradition)

When we talk about how to pray in Islam, we need to know beforehand the types of prayers as well as the timing of the prayers. There are two general categories of prayers in the Islam religion. Compulsory Prayers Voluntary Prayers

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1.1) “When you stand for prayer, perform ablution perfectly, then stand face the Qiblah and say Takbir.”
Collected by al-Bukhari, Muslim and Siraj

1.2) The Prophet used to pray towards Bayt al-Muqaddas until the following verse was revealed. "We have certainly seen the turning of your face toward the heaven, [O Muhammad], and We will surely turn you towards qiblah, with which you will be pleased. So turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haram. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces toward it [during prayer]. Indeed, those who have been given the Scripture well know that it is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is aware of what they do."

1.3) Al-Quran 2:144 Upon its revelation, the Prophet turned to face the Ka’bah. There are occasions when a Muslim may not face the Ka’bah while praying and the Prophet himself did it, but for simplicity sake and not to confuse readers especially those who are learning the basics, we shall go into that in another article if we have time In’Shaa’Allah.

1.4) The Prophet (PBUH) used to stand in prayer for both obligatory and voluntary prayers. “Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah, devoutly obedient.”

1.5) Al-Quran 2:239: - "A Muslim is allowed to pray while sitting or lying down if they are unable to pray standing."


2.1) As a Muslim face the Ka’bah and stands to begin prayer, he should insert the intention to pray. The intent is in the heart and it suffices to have the intention firmly lodged in the heart on the kind of prayer that you are about to do as you commence Takbir.

2.2) Takbir
The Prophet would commence the prayer by saying: “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the Greatest)

2.3) Raising the hands
He would raise his hands sometimes with the Takbir(Al-Bukhari and al-Nasai), sometimes after the Takbir(Ibid) and sometimes before it.(al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud) He would raise them with fingers apart (not spaced out or together) (Abu Dawud, Ibn Khuzaymah), and he would put them level with his shoulders(Al-Bukhari and al-Nasa’i). Occasionally he raised them until they were level with [the tops of] his ears.(Al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud)

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3.1) He used to place the right arm on the back of his left palm, wrist and forearm(Abu Dawud, al-Nasai and Ibn Khuzaymah), and he commanded his companions to do likewise(Malik, al-Bukhari and Abu Awanah). Sometimes he would grasp his left arm with his right.(Al-Nasa’i and al-Daraqutni) He also used to place them on his chest.(Abu Dawud, Ibn Khuzaymah and Abu Shaykh) He used to forbid putting one’s hand on the waist during prayer (Al- Bukhari and Muslim).

3.2) To look at the place of prostration, and humility, The Prophet (PBUH) used to incline his head during prayer and fix his sight towards the ground (Al-Bayhaqi and al-Hakim). He used to forbid looking up to the sky.(Al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud)


4.1) Next, the Prophet pbuh would seek refuge with Allah the Exalted by saying:
“Auudzubillahi minassyaitannirrajim min hamzihi wanafkhihi wanafthihi” - Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, al-Daraqutni and al-Hakim who with Ibn-Hibban and al-Dhahabi declared it Sahih

4.2) He would then recite Surah al-Fatihah. The recitation of the al-Fatihah is a key component of the Salah.
“That prayer is not complete in which a man does not recite the Opening of the Book.” - Al-Daraqutni and Ibn Hibban

4.3) Recitation after al-fatihah
The prophet would recite another Surah after al-Fatihah making it long sometimes, and on other occasions making it short.

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5.1) The Prophet PBUH would place his palm on his knees (Al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud), and would order them to to do likewise.(Al-Bukhari and Muslim). He would put his hands firmly on his knees [as though he were grasping them](Al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud), and he would space his fingers out(Al-Hakim, Al-Dhahabi, al-Tayalisi), ordering the one who prayed badly likewise, saying:
“When you make ruku’, place your palm on your knees, then space your fingers out, then remain (like that) until every limb takes its (proper) place.”> - Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Hibban Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, al-Daraqutni and al-Hakim who with Ibn-Hibban and al-Dhahabi declared it Sahih

5.2) The Prophet PBUH used to be at ease in Ruku’.
“O assembly of Muslims! Verily, the prayer is not valid of the one who does not settle his spine in Ruku’ and Sujud.” -- Ibn Abi Shaybah(1/89/1), Ibn Majah and Ahmad

5.3) He would say different types of remembrance of Allah and supplications during Ruku’. One of them:
“Subhaana Rabbiyal adziimi wabihamdihi” (3 times) --Abu Dawud, al-Daraqutni, Ahmad, al-Tabarani and al-Bayhaqi


6.1) Next, the Prophet PBUH would say Takbir and go down into Sajdah(Al-Bukhari and Muslim) The Prophet pbuh would support himself on his palms [and spread them](Abu Dawud and al-Hakim), put his fingers together(Ibn Khuzaymah, al-Bayhaqi and al-Hakim), and point them towards the Qiblah(Al-Bayhaqi). He would put his knees and toes down firmly(Al-Bayhaqi), point with the front of the toes towards the Qiblah (Al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud), put his heels together(Al-Tahawi, Ibn Khuzaimah and al-Hakim), keep his feet upright(Al-Bayhaqi), and ordered likewise(Al-Tirmidhi and Al-Siraj).

6.2) He would say one of the many remembrances of Allah and supplications in this posture. One is:
“Subhaana Rabbiyal a’laa wabihamdihi” (3 times) --Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Daraqutni, al-Bayhaqi and al-Tabarani

6.3) Get up from second Sajdah and Stand up back to Qiyaam position. This completes one Rakaah(unit) of prayer. The Second Rakaah is performed in the same way but start from recitating Suarh-e -Fatihah.

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7.1) Upon finishing the second Rak’aah, the Prophet PBUH would sit for Tashahhud. In Second Rakaah after second Sajdah(prostration) remain seated and recite At-Tashahhud and while reciting when the words come "Ash-hadu al-laailaaha" are recited, use the right hand to form a circle with the middle finger and the thumb and raise the index finger high enough for it to face the Qiblah. Drop the finger back down again after reciting "al-laa ilaaha"

7.2) At-Tashahhud
التَّحِيَّاتُ للهِ، وَالصَّلَوَاتُ، وَالطَّيِّبَاتُ، السَّلَامُ عَلَيْكَ أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ، السَّلَامُ عَلَيْنَا وَعَلَى عِبَادِ اللهِ الصَّالِحِينَ. أّشَْدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ

7.3) After reciting Tashahhud prophet used to recite Darood Sharif (Sending prayers on the prophet). He also established it for his Ummah, ordering them to send prayers (salah) on him after sending peace (salam) on him and there are several ways of doing so. One way is the following.
اَللّٰھُمَّ صَلِّ عَلٰی مُحَمَّدٍ وَّعَلٰٓی اٰلِ مُحَمَّدٍ کَمَا صَلَّیْتَ عَلٰٓی اِبْرَاھِیْمَ وَعَلٰٓی اٰلِ اِبْرَاھِیْمَ اِنَّکَ حَمِیْدٌ مَّجِیْدٌ اَللّٰھُمَّ بَارِکْ عَلٰی مُحَمَّدٍ وَّعَلٰٓی اٰلِ مُحَمَّدٍ کَمَا بَارَکْتَ عَلٰٓی اِبْرَاھِیْمَ وَعَلٰٓی اٰلِ اِبْرَاھِیْمَ اِنَّکَ حَمِیْدٌ مَّجِیْدٌ


8.1) Next, the Prophet pbuh would salute to his right:
“Assalamualaikum warahmatullah” [So that the whiteness of his right cheek was visible],
and on his left: “Assalamualaikum warahmatullah” [So that the whiteness of his left cheek was visible]
Abu Dawud, al-Nasa’i and al-Tirmidhi …”it(the prayer) is exited by the Taslim.” Al-Hakim and al-Dhahabi

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