Every Muslim is obliged to perform Salat or the ritual prayer five times a day. These five daily prayers are performed in the same way but differ in the number of their units or Rakaats and the time when they are prayed.
Fajr or dawn prayer has two Rakaat, Zuhr or noon has four, ‘Asr or afternoon also has four, Maghrib or sunset has three, and ‘Isha or evening prayers has four.
Each Rakah consists of one bowing and two prostrations. The prayer starts by saying “Allahu Akbar” and terminates by saying the Salam.
And now, how do we go about performing the prayer?
Let’s use the Maghrib prayer as an example.
Before we start the prayer, it is necessary to observe all the relevant prerequisites. briefly this means having wudhu, wearing Tahir clothes and facing the Qibla.
It’s also highly recommended to recite the Adhan and Iqama, before your prayer but it’s not an obligation.
- OK, now you stand straight and make your intention in your heart to seek proximity to Allah by this act of worship.
- Then say الله أكبر “Allahu Akbar” in Arabic. This is called ‘Takbiratul Ihram’ and, under normal circumstances, it is necessary to be standing while you are saying it. With this, you begin the prayer and your prayer will become void if you do anything other than the acts of prayer.
- Next, recite Surah al-Fatihah, from its Bismillah to the end, then recite any complete Surah of the Holy Quran. Your body should remain still during the recitation, and you have to recite accurately in the Arabic language.
It is necessary that you pronounce the words of the surahs clearly and it is not sufficient to just imagine the words in your mind.
If you are male, you should recite the Surahs aloud.
- Next is the Ruku or bowing. After reciting both Surahs, and after a silent and mandatory pause, you bow down, while keeping your legs straight, to the extent that your palms reach your knees. Whilst in Ruku it is necessary to recite a Zikr and it is enough to say: سبحان ربي الأعلى وبحمده ‘Subhana Rabbi al-‘Adhimi wa bihamdeh” once. (Free from all imperfections is my Exalted Lord, And I praise Him)
- After performing the Ruku, you must stand up straight.
- After being stable, you then go down for prostration or sajdah. In prostration, you place your forehead on the earth or on anything else on which prostration is allowed. Simultaneously, the palms of both your hands, the knees and the tips of your toes should touch the ground. And it’s enough to say, سبحان ربي العظيم وبحمده “Subhana rabbi al-A`ala wa bi hamdeh” once. (Free from defects is my Lord, the Most High, And I praise Him)
Then you raise to a sitting position and remain still.
Then you do another prostration just as the previous one. Know that in each Rakah you have to perform sajdah twice.
Question, can I put my forehead on anything while prostrating?
No, not on anything; it should be on things from the earth or, on the plants that grow on earth; which are not edible or used to make clothing. So, you can prostrate on soil, sand, stones, rocks, wood, inedible tree leaves and even on plain writing paper if it is purely made from wood.
Of these, the best to use is soil, while the most recommended soil is the Husaini Turbah which is from the shrine of Imam Husayn, peace be upon him.
Again remember, only on the earth or on plants which are not edible or used in making clothing.
- Now, back to the prayer, after the two prostrations, you sit for a moment, then you stand up to perform the second Rakah exactly as the first one.
- After reciting Fatihah and the surah, before going into Ruku it is recommended to perform Qunut, by raising your hands and reciting any dua that you wish.
- After the Qunut, perform the bowing and prostration as seen before.
- After the second prostration, you then must sit for Tashahud, which is mandatory at the end of the second Rakah.
What should I say in Tashahud?
Say: أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله. اللهم صل على محمد وآل محمد. “Ash hadu an la ilaha illal lahu wahdahu la sharika lah, Wa Ashhadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa Rasuluh. Allahuma salli `ala Muhammadin wa alle Muhammad”
(All praise is for Allah, and I testify that there is none worth worshipping except the Almighty Allah, Who is One and has no partner. And I testify that Muhammad is His servant and messenger. O Allah! Send Your blessings on Muhammad and his progeny.)
Say this while you are sitting and stable.
- Then stand for the third and last Rakah of the Maghrib prayer. Now you are free to either recite Surah al-Fatihah or to say three times in a low voice the Tasbihat: سبحان الله والحمد لله ولا إله إلا الله والله أكبر “subhanallah, wa alhamdulilah, wa la illaha illa Allah, wa Allahu Akbar”. (Glory be to Allah, and all praise is for Him and there is no one worth worshipping other than Allah, and He is Greater than any description.)
- Then perform the bowing and the two prostrations as was mentioned earlier. Then sit and say the Tashahud once again, and then complete your prayer by saying the Salam.
Say: السلام عليك أيها النبي ورحمة الله وبركاته. السلام علينا وعلى عباد الله الصالحين. السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته. “Assalamu ‘alayka Ayyuhan Nabiyyu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. Assalamu ‘alayna wa ‘ala ‘ibadil lahis salihin. Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.” (O Prophet! Allah’s peace, blessings and grace be upon you! Allah’s peace be on us, those offering prayers – and upon all pious servants of Allah. Allah’s peace, blessings and grace be on you believers. )
By this, you have finished your Maghrib prayer.
The other daily prayers are very similar to this one and the main difference is in the number of Units or Rakaat.
Know, that both men and women should recite the Zuhr and Asr prayers in a low voice. And only men, should recite the Fajr and the first two Rakaa of Maghrib and Isha prayers in aloud.
and now, what invalidates your prayer?
- Everything that invalidates your Wudhu will invalidate your prayer. Such as passing wind, urinating or sleeping, etc.
- Adding or missing one of the mandatory parts intentionally or unintentionally. The mandatory parts of your prayer are: the intention, Takbiratul Ehram and the standing for it, the pause before bowing down for Ruku, the Ruku or bowing itself and the two prostrations.
- Deliberate deviation from the Qibla will break and nullify your prayer.
- Also if you fold your arms intentionally while you’re praying.
- Deliberate speaking.
- To deliberately say Amen after reciting Surah al-Fatihah.
- To laugh audibly, but just smiling does not nullify the prayer.
- To cry for a materialistic and worldly issue.
- To eat or drink during the prayer
Taqaballah! your prayers are complete. And don’t miss the high rewards of the Tasbih of Lady Fatima, peace be upon her, after your prayer. This is done by you saying الله اكبر Allahu Akbar 34 times, الحمد لله Alhamdulillah 33 times, and سبحان الله Subhan-Allah 33 times.