Prayer for Beginners: Before you Pray

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(part 1 of 2) Description:  A two-part lesson that gives an overview of Prayer ( Salah ), which is the most important form of worship for a ...

(part 1 of 2)

Description: A two-part lesson that gives an overview of Prayer (Salah), which is the most important form of worship for a Muslim. Part 1: Preparation for prayers along with learning their names, specific timings and the direction of prayer.
Prerequisites
·        How to Pray for a Recent Convert (Part 1 & 2)
Objectives
·        ability to figure out prayer times
·        ability to figure out the direction to pray (Qibla)
·        identify five prayers by name, their timings, and number of units (rak’ah) in each prayer
·        how to get ready for prayer (salah)
New Terms
·        Adhan, Qibla, Ka’bah, fardFajr, Dhuhr, ‘Asr, Maghrib, ‘Isha,

Prayer Times

Prayer times change considerably between winter and summer. You have four options:
(a)   Ask a devout Muslim when are the prayer times and note them.  They will change little over the next few days.
(b)  Get them online from here:
http://www.islamicfinder.org/
You can find the prayer (salah) timings anywhere in the world.  This site will also list the mosques nearest to you.
(c)   Download the Prayer Times Program from here:
http://www.muhaddith.org/prayer_times.html
It will give you the prayer times for any location in the world and play the call to prayer (called Adhan in Arabic) on your PC to remind you it’s time to pray.
(d)  Your local mosque or Islamic center most likely prints a prayer schedule that will also list the timings for the congregational prayers held in the mosque.  Please contact them to obtain a copy.  In the mosque a new Muslim will find much needed support as well.

Prayer Name

in Arabic

Prayer Name

in English

Number of Units (Rak’ah)

Timings

Fajr
Dawn Prayer
2
From the time of Fajr (dawn) till sunrise

Dhuhr

Mid-day Prayer

4
From the time of Dhuhr till the time Asrbegins

Asr

Afternoon Prayer

4
From the time of Asr till the time Magribbegins

Maghrib

Sunset Prayer

3
From the time of Magrib till the time Ishabegins
‘Isha
Night Prayer
4
From the time of Isha till the middle of the night. Due to necessity, can be extended up to the time of Fajr (dawn)

Table 1 lists the five daily prayers and the number of units (rak’at) for each obligatory (fard) prayer.

Which Direction Do I pray in?

A Muslim is required to face the direction of the Ka’bah (the Sacred House of Allah in Mecca) for each prayer (salah).  The Ka’bah is the first house built to worship humanity’s One, True Lord.  All Muslims throughout the world face it when they pray, leaving the world behind them whilst submitting themselves to their Sustainer.  This direction is called theQibla and it is fairly easy to figure it out.
Again, you have several options to figure out the direction of prayer (Qibla).
(1)  Ask a fellow Muslim which in which direction you need to pray.
(2)  http://www.islamicfinder.org/ will tell you where the Ka’bah is located from where you are.  Note the bearing and use a compass to figure out which way you should face when you pray.
(3)  Some wrist watches are available in the market that make finding the direction of prayer quite easy, especially when one is in an unfamiliar place or traveling.  They can be ordered online[1].

Getting Ready for Prayer (Salah)

1.    The prayer is obligatory on every adult, sane Muslim once the time for a certain prayer has started.
2.    Minimum clothing requirements must be met by both men and women for prayer.
A Muslim man must wear clothing that at least covers him from navel to knee, and make sure that his shoulders are covered.
A Muslim woman must wear loose clothing that covers her whole body, including her head (and ears) and feet. She need not cover her hands and face.
3.    A Muslim must be in the state of purity, meaning the person:
·        should perform ablution (wudoo’) if he has passed wind, urinated, defecated or woke up from sleep since the last time he performed wudoo’.
·        should perform the ritual bath (ghusl) if he woke up from a wet-dream, ejaculated semen, had intercourse and additionally, in case of a woman, she ended her monthly cycle or her post-childbirth bleeding.
4.    He must make sure there is no impurity on his clothes, body, or the spot he will pray.
5.    He should face the direction of prayer (Qibla).
6.    Make intention to perform the prayers in the heart.
7.    The formal prayer (salah) must be offered in Arabic, so please read the transliteration of the Arabic text provided at the end of ‘Prayer for Beginners (part 2 of 2)’. The translation is given just to help know what you are saying.
(Disclaimer: All links are provided for educational purposes only.  JamaMasjid.org is not responsible for the content of external websites.)



Footnotes:
[1] See: www.alasr.com, www.alfajr.com/default_en.asp

Prayer for Beginners (part 2 of 2): A Description of the Prayer

Description: Islamic jurisprudence with regards to prayer which must be met in order for the prayer to be valid or beautified.
Prerequisites
·       Ablution (Wudoo’)
·       Etiquette of the Ritual Bath (Ghusl) (part 1 of 2)
·       Prayer for Beginners (part 1 of 2): Before you Pray
Lesson Goals
·       description of  2, 3 and 4 units (rak’ah) of prayer (salah)
·       memorize most important words of  prayer (salah)
·       be able to pray the five compulsory prayers
New Terms
·       rak’ah, Takbir, Tashahud

The Prayer

The Prophet has commanded us:
“Pray as you have seen me praying.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
The following is a simple procedure for performing the formal prayer for beginners. You will learn more, later.
Also, you may find Muslims praying slightly differently. There is no reason to worry. Do not focus on little details at this moment. Learn the basics first as presented over here.

Description of a 2 unit prayer (like the Fajr prayer)

1.   Standing straight

·       Stand straight facing the direction of prayer (Qibla).

2.   The Opening Takbir (pronouncing of Allahu Akbar)

·       Raise both hands up to the earlobes or shoulders and say:
Allahu akbar‘Allah is the Greatest.’

Figure 1
·     Place your right hand and arm on top of your left and place them both on your chest.
·     Do not look around. Keep your eyes focused on the spot where you will prostrate.

Figure 2

3.   Seeking refuge with Allah from Satan

·       Say:
A'udhu billahi minash-shaytaanir-rajeem
‘I seek refuge with Allah from the Evil One.’

4.  Reciting Surah al-Fatiha,

 Begin with saying:
Bisimlla-hir-rahma-nir-raheem
‘I begin with the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy.’
·       Then recite Surah al-Fatiha.
Alhamdu lil-lahi rab-bil 'alameen
‘Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.
Ar-rahma-nir-raheem
The Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy.
Maliki yawmid-deenMaster of the Day of Judgment.
Iyyaka na'budu wa iyyaka nasta'eenYou alone we worship; You alone we ask for help.
Ihdinas-siratal mostaqeemShow us the straight path.
Siratal-lazeena an'amta 'alayhimThe path of those whom You have favored;
ghayril maghdubi 'alayhim
Not the (path) of those who earn Your anger
wa-lad-daa-leennor of those who go astray.’
·       Finally, say:
AameenO Allah, please accept.

5.   Bowing

·       Raise your hands up to the earlobes or shoulders (as you did in 2. The OpeningTakbeer) and say:
Allahu akbar‘Allah is the Greatest.’
·       With your back straight, bend in the bowing posture as shown in the picture, and repeat in a low voice three times:
Subhana rabbi-yal-'azeem‘How Perfect is my Lord, the Supreme!’

Figure 3

6.   Standing up from the bowing posture

·       As in the picture, stand up straight from the bowing posture till your back comes to its normal upright position.
·       While rising up from the bowing posture, raise your hands up to the earlobes or shoulders again and say:
Sami' allahu liman hamidah‘Allah listens to the one who praises Him.’
·       Then, say:
Rab-bana wa lakal hamdOur Lord, and to You be all Praise.’

Figure 4

7.   First prostration

·       Then go down on the ground to prostrate. While going down, say:
Allahu akbar‘Allah is the Greatest.’
·       Your forehead, nose, both hands, knees, and feet should be touching the ground while in prostration. If doing it for the first time, it may be slightly uncomfortable, depending on how flexible your body is!  You will get used to it pretty soon. Remember the person is closest to Allah in prostration.
·       Repeat in a low voice three times:
Subhana rabbi-yal-a'laa‘How Perfect is my Lord, the Most   High.’

Figure 5

8.   Sitting between the prostrations

·       Now you will sit up from the first prostration. Sit all the way back till you sit in a comfortable position. While rising up to sit, say:
Allahu akbar‘Allah is the Greatest.’
·       Repeat, while sitting between the two prostrations:
Rab-bigh-fir lee‘O my Lord!  Forgive me.’

Figure 6

9.   Second prostration

·       Then go again to the position of prostration. While going down to prostrate, say:
Allahu akbar
‘Allah is the Greatest.’
·       Perform this prostration like the first.  Repeat in a low voice three times:
Subhana rabbi-yal-a'laa
‘How Perfect is my Lord, the Most High.’
·       Steps 4-9 are called one unit or rak’ah in Arabic.

10.  Next unit of prayer (rak’ah)

·       Stand up straight again for the next unit of prayer. While standing up say:
Allahu akbar‘Allah is the Greatest.’
·       Repeat steps 4 to 9 again.

11.  Recitation in the sitting position (Tashahud)

·       Then come to the sitting position. While sitting up say:
Allahu akbar‘Allah is the Greatest.’
·       When sitting, say At-tahiy-yat…:
At-tahiy-yatu lil-lahi was-salawatu wat-tayibatu
All compliments, prayers and good words are due to Allah
As-salamu 'alika ay-yuhan-nabiy-yu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
O Prophet, and also the mercy of Allah and His blessings.
As-salamu 'alayna wa 'ala 'ibadil-la-his-saliheen
Peace be on us and on the righteous slaves of Allah
Ash-hadu  al-la ilaha il-lal-laah
I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah
wa ash-hadu an-na Muhammadan 'abduhu wa rasuluhand I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger

12. Recitation in the sitting position (in the final sitting)

·       While sitting, continue to recite Allah humma sal-li 'ala Muhammad:
Allah humma sal-li 'ala Muhammad
‘O Allah!  send prayers on Muhammad
wa 'ala aali Muhammad
and on the family of Muhammad
Kama sal-layta 'ala Ibraheem
as you sent prayers on Abraham
wa 'ala aali Ibraheem
and on the family of Abraham
innaka hameedum-majeed
You are indeed Worthy of Praise, Full of Glory
Allah humma barik 'ala Muhammad
O Allah!  send blessings on Muhammad
wa 'ala aali Muhammad
and on the family of Muhammad
Kama barakta 'ala Ibraheem
as you sent blessings on Abraham
wa 'ala aali Ibraheem
and on the family of Abraham;
innaka hameedum-majeedYou are indeed Worthy of Praise, Full of Glory.’

13. Conclusion of prayer (salah)

·       Then conclude the prayer by turning your head to the right then left, each time saying,

As-salamu 'alikum wa rahmatullah
‘Peace and Allah's Mercy be on you.’

Description of a 3 unit prayer (Magrib prayer)

In a 3 unit prayer, do steps 1 to 11, and then stand up again while saying Allahu akbar and repeat Steps 4 to 9 and then steps 11 to 13.

Description of a 4 unit prayer (like the Dhuhr, Asr and Isha prayer)

In a 4 unit prayer, do steps 1 to 11, and then stand up again while saying Allahu akbar and repeat Steps 4 to 13.

Words to Memorize

All the words you need to memorize for the prayers have been collected here for your ease. Please take some time out and memorize them. You can also make flash cards and use them to help you say the right words while praying.

(1)      Every time you change posture in prayer:

Allahu akbar (except when getting up from bowing)
‘Allah is the Greatest.’

(2)      Seeking Refuge from Satan:

A'udhu billahi minash-shaytaanir-rajeemI seek refuge with Allah from the Evil One.’

(3)      Surah al-Fatiha:

Begin with:
Bisimlla-hir-rahma-nir-raheem
‘In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy.’
And then recite the Surah al-Fatiha:
Alhamdu lil-lahi rab-bil 'alameen
‘Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.
Ar-rahma-nir-raheem
The Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy.
Maliki yawmid-deen
Master of the Day of Judgment.
Iyyaka na'budu wa iyyaka nasta'een
You alone we worship; You alone we ask for help.
Ihdinas-siratal mostaqeem
Show us the straight path.
Siratal-lazeena an'amta 'alayhim
The path of those whom You have favored;
ghayril maghdubi 'alayhim
Not the (path) of those who earn Your anger
wa-lad-daa-leen
nor of those who go astray…’
After reciting the Surah say:
Aameen
O Allah, please accept.

(4)      In the bowing position:

Subhana rabbi-yal-'azeem
‘How Perfect is my Lord, the Supreme!’

(5)      While you are standing up from the bowing posture:

Sami' Allahu liman hamidah
‘Allah listens to the one who praises Him.’

(6)      After you have stood up:

Rab-bana wa lakal hamd
‘Our Lord, and to You be all Praise.’

(7)      In the prostrations:

Subhana rabbi-yal-a'laa
‘How Perfect is my Lord, the Most High.’

(8)      In between the prostrations:

Rab-bigh-fir lee
‘O my Lord! Forgive me’

(9)      When you are sitting in the second, third and forth units (rak’ah), say At-tahiy-yat…:

At-tahiy-yatu lil-lahi was-salawatu wat-tayibatu
All compliments, prayers and good words are due to Allah
As-Salamu 'alika ay-yuhan-nabiy-yu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
O Prophet, and also the mercy of Allah and His blessings.
As salamu 'alayna wa 'ala 'ibadil-la-his-saliheen
Peace be on us and on the righteous slaves of Allah
Ash-hadu  al-la ilaha il-lal-laah
I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah
wa ash-hadu an-na Muhammadan 'abduhu wa rasuluh
and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger

(10)  Additional words said in the last unit (rak’ah) of prayer, Allah humma sal-li 'ala Muhammad:

Allah humma sal-li 'ala Muhammad
‘O Allah! send prayers on Muhammad
wa 'ala aali Muhammad
and on the family of Muhammad
Kama sal-layta 'ala Ibraheem
as you sent prayers on Abraham
wa 'ala aali Ibraheem
and on the family of Abraham
innaka hameedum-majeed
You are indeed Worthy of Praise, Full of Glory
Allah humma barik 'ala Muhammad
O Allah! send blessings on Muhammad
wa 'ala aali Muhammad
and on the family of Muhammad
Kama barakta 'ala Ibraheem
as you sent blessings on Abraham
wa 'ala aali Ibraheem
and on the family of Abraham;
innaka hameedum-majeed
You are indeed Worthy of Praise, Full of Glory.’
(11)    To conclude salah:
As-salamu 'alikum wa rahmatullah
‘Peace and Allah's Mercy be on you.’

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Jama Masjid: Prayer for Beginners: Before you Pray
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