Salah -The Prayer -Second Pillar of Islam

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Salah -The Prayer -Second Pillar of Islam

Salah or Namaz is the name for the obligatory (ritual)prayers that are performed five times a day.  As there are no hierarchical authority in Islam and there are no priests, daily salah offer a direct link between the worshiper and Allah.  Prayers are led by a learned person (only when in groups) who knows the Quran and is generally chosen by the congregation.

Although it is preferable to worship together in a mosque, a Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories and universities.  Oftentimes visitors to the Muslim world are struck by the centrality of prayers in daily life.

History of Salat

After the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was commissioned with prophethood in his fortieth year, the first order he was given by Allah was to pray. It is related that the archangel Jibrail came to him, and a spring of water gushed out from the rocks in front of them. Jibrail then showed the Prophet how to perform the ablution that is a prerequisite of the ritual prayer in Islam. Jibrail then showed the Prophet how to offer the ritual prayer to Allah. The Prophet (pbuh) then went home and showed his wife Khadija what the archangel Jibrail had taught him.

After that, the Messenger of Allah began to pray two cycles (rakats) of ritual prayer twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening. From that time forward, the Prophet never went through a day without praying. In the ninth year of the Prophet’s mission, he was taken by the archangel Jibrail on a miraculous journey by night to Jerusalem and, from there, ascended to the heavens and the Divine Presence. During this tremendous journey, Allah commanded the Prophet and his followers to observe the ritual-prayer fifty times a day. Returning from the Divine Presence, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) met the prophet Moses who said, “Seek a reduction for your people can not carry it.” The Prophet did so and it was granted. After many such dialogues the command was reduced to observe five prayers, which would be the equivalent of the original command to observe fifty.[bukhari:8:349]

For this reason, Muslims feel a great debt to the Prophet Moses for this intercession on their behalf.

Daily Prayers – Times and Rituals

Prayers are said at:

  1. Fajr: begins at subh saadiq — true dawn or morning twilight, when the morning light appears across the full width of the sky — and ends at sunrise.
    1. Rakats: 2 sunnat mokadda, 2 fard.
  2. Zuhr: The Zuhr prayer starts after the sun passes its zenith, and lasts almost 20 min (approx) before Asr. It’s better to say the salah in between 2 hours after the Azan has been announced from Mosque.
    1. Rakats: 4 sunnat mokadda, 4 fard, 2 sunnat mokadda, 2 nafal.
  3. Asr: starts when the shadow of an object is the same length as the object itself and lasts till sunset. Asr can be split into two sections; the preferred time is before the sun starts to turn orange, while the time of necessity is from when the sun turns orange until sunset.
    1. Rakats: 4 sunnat ghair mokadda, 4 fard.
  4. Maghrib: The Maghrib prayer begins when the sun sets, and lasts till the red light has left the sky in the west.
    1. Raktas: 3 fard, 2 sunnat mokadda, 2 nafal.
  5. Isha: The Isha’a prayer starts when the red light is gone from the western sky, and lasts until the rise of the “white light” (fajar sadiq) in the east. The preferred time for Isha’a is before midnight, meaning halfway between sunset and sunrise..
    1. Rakats: 4 sunnat ghair mokadda, 4 fard, 2 sunnat mokadda, 2 nafal, 3 rakat wajib, 2 nafal.

Preparation for Salat

Islam advises that salah be performed in a ritually clean environment. When worshipping, the clothes that are worn and the place of prayer must be clean. Both men and women are required to cover their bodies in reasonably loose-fitting garments. The well-known adage or hadith by al-Nawawi that “purity is half the faith” illustrates how Islam has incorporated and modified existing rules of purity in its religious system. [Note: During menstruation women are to refrain from Salat.]

Ablution (wudu) before conducting salah, is a requirement. The minor ablution is performed using water (wudu), or sand (tayammum) when water is unavailable or not advisable to use for reasons such as illness. Ablution is performed by Muslims according to the instructions of Allah given in the Quran:

Surah 5 Ayah 6
O ye who believe! when ye stand up for the prayer wash your faces and your hands unto the elbows, and wipe your heads, and wash your feet unto the ankles. And if ye be polluted, then purify yourselves And if ye be ailing or on a journey or one of you cometh from the privy or ye have touched women, and ye find not water, then betake yourselves to clean earth and wipe your faces and hands therewith. Allah intendeth not to lay upon you a hardship, but intendeth to purify you and to complete His favour upon you, that haply ye may return thanks. يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ ۚ وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُوا ۚ وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ مَرْضَىٰ أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِنْكُمْ مِنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَامَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوا صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًا فَامْسَحُوا بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُمْ مِنْهُ ۚ مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَٰكِنْ يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ


“Adhan” is the Islamic call to prayer, recited by the one known as the muezzin for the five obligatory prayers, traditionally from a tower called a minaret (although Adhan can be called from any place). A second call immediately before praying, known as the Iqama, is for the assembled Muslims in the prayer area to line up for the beginning of the prayers.

Last and the most important is that the person should be conscious and aware of the particular salah that is being offered, whether it is obligatory, if it is a missed (qadha) worship, performed individually or among the congregation, a shortened traveller’s worship etc. The explicit verbalization of this intention is not required. The person should think his worship to be the Last Worship so that he may perform the best he can.

Adhan in Arabic with English Translation

Allah is the Most Great, Allah is the Most Great, Allah is the Most Great, Allah is the Most Great.

اَللهُ أَكْبَرُ، اَللهُ أَكْبَرُ ، اَللهُ أَكْبَرُ ، اَللهُ أَكْبَرُ

“I testify that none has the right to be worshiped except Allah, I testify that none has the right to be worshiped except Allah

أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ،أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ

I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah , I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah

أَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللهِ، أَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَّسُولُ اللهِ

Come to the prayer, come to the prayer

حَيَّ عَلَى الصَّلَاةِ، حَيَّ عَلَى الصَّلَاةِ

Come to the success, come to the success

حَيَّ عَلَى الْفَلَاحِ، حَيَّ عَلَى الْفَلَاحِ

The prayer is better than sleep, the prayer is better than sleep

اَلصَّلَاةُ خَيْرٌ مِنَ النَّوْمِ، اَلصَّلَاةُ خَيْرٌ مِنَ النَّوْمِ

Only recited for Fajr (morning) prayer

Allah is the Most Great, Allah is the Most Great

اَللهُ أَكْبَرُ ، اَللهُ أَكْبَر

None deserves worship except God

لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ


There are multiple hadees which are focused on Salat and Praying.  Book number 8 of Sahih al-Bukhari is completely dedicated to matters realted to Salat and Praying.  Book number 4 of Sahih al-Bukhari is focused on Wudu which is a pre-requirement of Salat.

True prayer is nothing less than Ascension to the Station of true Servanthood, which is the Station of Submission. In that station, Divine Unity becomes manifest, and there, the servant reaches the state where he hears what no ears have heard, sees what no eyes have seen and tastes the reality of Divine Oneness. In this state of witnessing, the servant perceives only the Lord. He sees all existence through His Existence and the realization that all proceeds from the One. That is known as the station of annihilation, in which the servant no longer sees herself or himself, no longer sees anything, but only sees, feels and is immersed in the Presence of the Lord without any partner and with no likeness.