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Muslim Prayer

December 1, 2014

You have probably seen Muslims pray one way or the other: on TV, in a mosque, newspapers, etc. With some basic reading about Muslims, you probably know that we pray 5 times a day. But what is Muslim prayer really? Do Muslims just go through physical motions, reciting verses they have no clue what they mean? Or, do they ask God for things in their prayer? Is there any spiritual meaning in Muslim prayer? I am not an imam, just an ordinary Muslim woman, but will try to answer some of those tough questions ūüôā

What is Muslim Prayer About?

The sole purpose of God’s creation of mankind, according to Islam, is to serve Him. The service includes doing good on Earth, but also establishment of regular prayer. The purpose of regular prayer is not to continually ask a favor from God, but rather to glorify Him. We find in the Holy Bible and Noble Qur’an references to angels in Heaven continually praising Lord and giving Him thanks. To emulate those beings of light, Muslims must remember and glorify God at least 5 times a day. I say at least 5 times a day because in addition to the absolute-must five prayers, Muslims offer many voluntary prayers (called nafil in Arabic). Why? Angels do it, messenger¬†Muhammad pbuh did it and encouraged it, and hence millions of Muslims follow the example.

Why the Different Motions in Prayer?

In the Noble Qur’an there is commandment to remember and be grateful to Allah (God) SWT at all times, even when sitting, standing, lying down, bowing (Qur’an chapter 4, verse 103). So, the Muslim prayer¬†incorporates all motions mentioned.

Some people believe the major physical positions of Muslim prayer spell out the letters for Arabic word: “Adam”, symbolic for first human created, messenger Adam pbuh:


The Actual Prayer Glorification of Allah (God) SWT

Each prayer consists certain number of¬†cycles called rekats. Each rekat requires¬†standing, bowing, prostration and sitting. Specific supplications¬†are recited through each of these positions. Some supplications¬†are constant and are repeated in each prayer. Others are individually chosen. Before each prayer a Muslim, both male and female, must be clean. The area where prayer is conducted must be clean, the clothes person wears must be clean and the physical body must be clean (no urine, no feces, must take a full bath after sex or sexual arousal, etc). In addition to these, one must have a clear intent to praise God and to establish contact with him–therefore, the mind must be clean too. When in prayer, the person must not pay attention to any distractions (e.g. someone calling their name, phone ringing, music, intrusive thoughts, fidgeting, looking around). One must look down and be humble.

Here is an example of a 2-rekat prayer (Fajr/morning prayer):

1. Ensure your body is clean and wear clean clothes.

2. Perform ablution/ritual cleansing.

3. Stand in the direction facing House of God, Ka’ba (Mecca, Saudi Arabia), proclaim verbally with full intent that you intend to pray to God Almighty. Raising your hands state: “Allahu Akbar! (God is Most Great!) and fold your hands over your chest (women) or navel (men). In this position recite: Subhannaka… suplication, 1st chapter of Qur’an, Al-Fatiha, Bismillah and any verse/chapter from Qur’an. This is the translation of these:

Glorified are You, Allah! All thanks to You! Glorified is Thy Name, unattainable is Your Might. Besides You there is no other god.

I seek refugee in Allah from accursed satan. In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Gracious.

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds, the Universal Benefactor, the Merciful, Master of the Day of Judgment. Only You we worship/adore and only from You we ask for help! Guide us on the right path, the path of those whom You granted Your Grace and not on the path of those on whom is Thy wrath, and who go astray. (Amen!)

+ any other chapter/verse from the Qur’an.

4. With “Allahu Akbar! go to bow down to God and recite 3 times:¬†“Subhana rabbiyal adheem” (Glory be to my Lord Almighty).

5. With “Allahu Akbar!” stand up with your arms by your side and recite:¬†“Sam’i Allahu liman hamidah, Rabbana wa lakal hamd” (God hears those who call upon Him; Our Lord, praise be to You).

6. Raise hands and say: “Allahu Akbar!” and go down to prostration and while face down recite 3 times:¬†“Subhana Rabbiyal A’ala” (Glory be to my Lord, the Most High).

7. While sitting up say: “Allahu Akbar!” then immediately go back to prostration and recite everything from step #6 again three times. Sit up shortly and recite: “Allah Akbar!” then go up to standing position with hands folded again. You have finished one rekat.

8. Now, repeat all motions from step 3-8 and once you do second prostration in the second rekat, you continue sitting and recite the following:

In the Name of God Most Merciful, Most Gracious.

The most beautiful greetings to¬†Allah, blessings and good; greetings to you, Prophet, and Allah’s mercy and His grace be upon¬†you; peace and good¬†to¬†us and all servants of God. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and witness that Muhammad is His servant¬†and His Messenger.

My Allah, have mercy on Muhammad and his posterity as you have mercy on Abraham and on his seed. Verily Thou art the Praised One, the Eternal. My Allah, bless Muhammad and his progeny, as you blessed of Abraham and his descendants. Indeed Thou are Praised, the Eternal.

Allah, I seek Your protection of me from the punishment of the grave and from the trials of the Antichrist, and from the trials of this and next world. Allah, I seek refuge in You from sin and evil (calamities).

9. Turn head to the right and say: “May the peace and mercy of God be upon you” then turn head to the left and recite the same. Raise your hands and recite the following:

3 times: I seek forgiveness from Allah!

Allah, You are Peace and You give it, rewards are with You, the Possessor of Greatness and Nobility.

10. Take tasbih (Muslim rosary) and recite 33 times: Glory to God!

Recite 33 times: Thank you God!

Recite 33 times: God is the Greatest!

Finish with hands up reciting additional supplications of your choice and first chapter of the Qur’an, Al-Fatiha.

Voila, you are done! ūüôā

The Prayers & Obligatory Rekats:

Fajr (morning): 2 rekats

Duhr (noon): 4 rekats

Asr (afternoon): 4 rekats

Maghrib (evening): 3 rekats

Ishaa (night): 4 rekats

In addition to obligatory (fard) rekats for each prayer, Muslims pray the additional rekats that Messenger Muhammad pbuh prayed:

Fajr: additonal 2 rekats

Duhr: additional 6 rekats

Asr: additional 4 or 6 rekats

Maghrib: additional 2 rekats

Ishaa: additional 6 rekats plus additional prayer called witr that has minimum 3 rekats.

One Comment leave one →
  1. dreamadventurer permalink*
    December 1, 2014 8:48 pm

    All prayers and supplications are recited in the Arabic language because: a) it unifies all Muslims, b) Qur’an was revealed in the Arabic language hence all prayer is in Arabic as well, c) to avoid misinterpretations of the Arabic verses.
    All Muslims are responsible to understand what they are reciting. In many Muslim countries the children are taught in schools the religious duties. In non-Muslim nations Muslim children attend weekend religious classes to learn about how to pray, read and write Arabic language, etc.

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