How Do Muslims Pray?

July 9, 2006 § 14 Comments

Let me tell you a little secret… I have been waiting nearly six months to make a post like this. I wanted to wait until readership for Wa Salaam was at a level where it could actually be of benefit. So where do we start?

Well lets start with the basics. In Islam there are 5 fundamental principles that are the foundation of our belief, so much that they are termed “Pillars”. Some of you non-Muslims may have heard of the term “5 Pillars of Islam”, which basically means that the essence of Islam is in the performance and maintenance of these rites.

The second of these 5 Pillars is observing the obligatory prayer or as-Salaah, which there is no English equivalent but for our purposes we will say “Reverence and Worship”. Salaat is different from a prayer or supplication, in Arabic this kind of prayer is called a dua’a. But the Salaat is something very specific, the act of Salaat is obligatory upon every Muslim after puberty and is a means to commune with the Almighty without the dependence of intercessors or lesser gods…

After performing the obligatory ablution the first act of Salaah is the niyyah or the intention, it is something that Muslims take very seriously. The act of taken a brief moment to actually wake-up to the meaningful act which you are about to perform. Usually an affirmation of some sort is said, I think the niyyah can be said in English but typically I use Arabic for every aspect of the Salaah.

Then a succession of 8 postures are performed. These 8 postures make up one complete… raka’a (number or set). Several raka’a (sets) coupled with the recitation of chapters from the Qur’an are performed at 5 different times per day (1-Morning, 2-Noon and 2-Night). One of the most important aspects of the Salaah is the recitation of the first chapter of the Qur’an called “The Opening”. It is said that “The Opening” is the entire Qur’an condensed to one short chapter and it reads:

“In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful. All praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds. The Beneficent, the Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee only do we worship. Thee alone we ask for help. Show us the straight path. The path of those whom You love and favor, not the path of those who have earned Thine anger, nore are leading astray. Be it so.” (Al-Qur’an, the Opening)

A Muslim says this passage a minimum of 17 times per day, everyday unless they miss a Salaah which I hope they make up, inshaallah.

There is one last thing I would like to mention. The postures themselves are unique of any religion in that they reflect convey a meaning of great significance. Out of the 8 postures there are three main movements, in those three movements is a very special meaning. The first of the significant movements is standing straight up which symbolizes the Arabic letter Alif (A). The second of the significant movements symbolizes the Arabic letter dal (D) and the third the Arabic letter mim (M). Forming the root in ADM* or Adam (the first of Mankind).

So in a nutshell our Salaat is a means to which Muslims regularly purify the body and soul of arrogance, hypocrisy and shirk (associating others in worship with God) each day. This is not only done on an individual basis but as a community also. In the Qur’an it says of the Salaat,

“And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night: for those things that are good remove those that are evil: be that the word of remembrance to those who remember (their Lord).” (Al-Qur’an, 3:114)

Click to view tutorial on As-Salaah

* In Arabic grammar most words are formed from a 3 letter root word.


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§ 14 Responses to How Do Muslims Pray?

  • Luqman says:

    Wow. I never knew that about اِ د م.

  • Wa Salaam says:

    The Beauty of Wudu’

    In Islamic life cleanliness and personal hygiene is so important. This is because cleanliness is related to purity and purity is a definition of the highest possible state while in this human life and form. It was said by the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s….

  • Justyna* says:

    Can I pray in English or in Polish language?

  • Saifuddin says:

    Can I pray in English or in Polish language?

    Salaam… that is a great question. The first thing that you should know is the difference between the obligatory prayer (Salah) and the supplication prayer (Dua’a).

    Salah is obligatory in Islam, it is one of the five pillars of faith and must be done exactly as the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) has prescribed. So that means it must be recited in Arabic.

    However, a supplication or Dua’a made thereafter can be in any language you like. There is a great reason for this that is beyond the scope of this reply.

    Howevever, please note that the Salah is not a prayer in the typical sense of the word. Further study of the Qur’an and the Salah will help you to understand this. Here are some links that may help you on your path, inshaAllah (if Allah permits).


  • Emily says:

    I know that women muslim must cover their whole body, but can they wear prufume or make up or do they have to take that off. And do men only have to cover up to their knees?

  • Saifuddin says:

    “instead they should teach the real logic behind Islam and explain and educate people in the correct way to behave.”

    It is impossible to teach what you yourself do not have. What needs to happen is, more Muslims need to be interested in learning of their religion. Everyone can’t be a scholar this is true, however, everyone should have a certain level of knowledge or at least the desire to increase their knowledge of the religion. And without citing overused hadith, I will simply say this we should all want to learn more about our religion, no matter what religion we are.

  • stacy says:

    I mean who do muslims pray to

  • Wellwisher says:


    Muslims pray to the same God that Jesus prayed to: The God Who created the heavens and the earth.

    Arab Christians call God ALLAH and so do Muslims. A similar name for God in Hebrew is ELOH. This name appears in the Bible.

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  • islam4me says:

    Knowledge is the key to move forward on any aspect of your life. I mean unless its knowledge of the wrong kind theres nothing bad that can possibly come of learning new things ecpecialy about things your forefathers practiced (if born in a muslim family). Or experiencing the reasons as to why islam is the fastest growing most outstanding and most talked about religion in the world to day.

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  • RoNaLdO says:

    yes thats how it is but i think that men have to pray different than women! oh yh c’mon

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