What is Salah?
Salah is the name for the obligatory prayers which are
performed five times a day, and are a direct link between
the worshipper and God with no earthly intermediaries.
A prayer takes a few minutes to perform.
What no Priests?
There is no hierarchical authority in Islam, and no
priests, so the prayers are led by a learned person
(Imam) who knows the Qur'an, chosen by the congregation.
These five prayers contain verses from the Qur'an, and
are said in Arabic, the language of the Revelation,
but personal supplication can be offered in one's own
An Audience with God
Each prayer is practically an audience with God. Facing
in the direction of the Kaaba (the first mosque ever,
built by patriarch Abraham and his son Ismail for the
worship of the One God, at the site which long later
became the city of Makkah in Arabia), the prayer is
opened by saying "Allah Akbar", ie. God is
Greater (than all else), and practically you are turning
your back to all the universe and are addressing God.
One of the constant readings during prayer is the Opening
Chapter of the Quran that reads "Praise be to Allah,
Lord of the worlds. The Compassionate, the Merciful,
Master of the Day of Judgment. You only do we worship
and to You only we cry for help. Guide us to the straight
path. The path of those on whom You have bestowed Your
grace, those whose lot is not wrath, and who go not
astray." (1:1-7) Bowing down and prostrating oneself
(to God) interjecting "Glory to my Lord the Great",
"Glory to my Lord the Highest", "Allah
listens to those who thank Him" and what fills
one's heart by way of supplication, the prayer is concluded
in the sitting position by reiterating the affirmation
of the faith, the Shahada, and seeking God's peace and
blessings on Mohammad and Abraham and their people and
When and where
Prayers are said at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset
and nightfall, and thus determine the rhythm of the
entire day. Although it is preferable to worship together
in a mosque, a Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such
as in fields, offices, factories and universities. Visitors
to the Muslim world are struck by the centrality of
prayers in daily life. Performing daily prayers is an
act of communication between humans and God. The prayers
are considered a duty for all Muslims,and on these occasions
preparations in ritual purity are required.
Ritual prayer and worship
Ritual prayer (Salah) is a distinct entity from worship
in its wider sense, that is communicating your feelings
to God at any time in any place and asking for His guidance,
help and forgiveness, an ingredient of life which is
highly commendable whether in Islam or other religions.
Salah takes a special form and content, where both body
and soul are harmoniously involved.
In prayer, every muscle of the body joins the soul and
the mind in the worship and glory of Allah. Prayer is
an act of worship. It is a matchless and unprecedented
formula of intellectual meditation and spiritual devotion,
of moral elevation and physical exercise, all combined.
Congregational prayer and Mosques
Although salah can be performed alone, it is meritorious
to perform it with another or with a group. The word
mosque comes from the Arabic masjid, meaning "place
of prostration." Although it is permissible to
pray at home, at work, or even outdoors, it is recommended
that Muslims perform salah in a mosque.
Who is it applicable to?
Offering of prayers is obligatory upon every Muslim
male and female who is sane, mature and in the case
of women free from menstruation and confinement due
to child birth.
How is it performed?
Requirements of prayer: performing of ablution (Wudu),
purity of the whole body, clothes and ground used for
prayer, dressing properly and having the intention and
facing the Qiblah (the direction of the Ka'bah at Mecca).
Only around the Kaaba mosque in Makkah do Muslims stand
in circles for their prayers (quite an impressive scene).
All the world over they are in straight lines, leaving
no gaps, and facing Makkah.
Remebering the Creator
Praying to the Creator on a daily basis is the best
way to cultivate in a man a sound personality and to
actualize his aspiration. Allah does not need man's
prayer because He is free of all needs. Prayer is for
our immeasurable benefit, and the blessings are beyond
In addition to the prescribed prayer, a Muslim expresses
gratitude to God and appreciation of His favours and
asks for His mercy all the time. Especially at times
of, for example, childbirth, marriage, going to or rising
from bed, leaving and returning to his home, starting
a journey or entering a city, riding or driving, before
or after eating or drinking, harvesting, visiting graveyards
and at time of distress and sickness.
The noon congregational prayer of Friday afternoon is
mandated to be a collective and must be said in a Mosque,
and is preceded by a sermon (Khutba). The Imam (prayer
leader) is not a priest nor need be the same person
every time, but considerations of scholarship and knowledge
of the Quran and the religion are exercised in choosing
him (doctors, teachers, business people and others as
well as religion scholars are commonly featured in bearing
Prayer, obligatory and spontaneous, is an immense spiritual
treasure to be tapped. It inspires peace, purity and
tranquility and instills companionship with God. It
amazingly reduces the hustle and bustle of life to tame
proportions. By their spacing to five times a day, including
its beginning, prayers tend to maintain a therapeutic
level and practically leave no room for mischievous
thought or deed.