The Details of the Question
I was given a quoran and began reading it--I have trouble understanding some things. I understand that we should pray five times daily but what are the prescribed prayers--where am I to find them? I wish to pray the same as all muslims do..
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Detailed explanation is given below. If you have any other questions you can ask us, we will try to answer your questions.

TAHARA (Cleanliness or Purification)

   1. The Purity of Water
   2. Types of Impurities
   3. The Ways of Purification
   4. Useful Points
   5. Acts That Correspond to Human Nature
   6. Menstruation and Post-childbirth Bleeding
   7. Istihadha (Non-menstrual Vaginal Bleeding)
   8. Ghusl (Major Ablution)
   9. Tayammum (Ablution with Clean Soil)
  10. Wudu' (Ablution)
Islam is based on five pillars: Bearing witness to God's Existence and Oneness and the Messengership of Muhammad, praying five times a day, fasting during the month of Ramadan, paying zakat (the prescribed purifying alms), and hajj or pilgrimage. The first pillar includes all essentials of belief, which were discussed in other parts of the site.
Tahara (Cleanliness or Purification)
Islam requires physical and spiritual cleanliness. On the physical side, Islam requires Muslims to clean their bodies, clothes, houses, and community, and they are rewarded by God for doing so. While people generally consider cleanliness desirable, Islam insists upon it and makes it an indispensable fundamental of religious life. In fact, books on Islamic jurisprudence often contain a whole chapter on this very requirement.
Prophet Muhammad, upon him be God’s blessings and peace, advised Muslims to appear neat and tidy in private and in public. Once when returning home from battle he advised his army: “Soon you will meet your brothers, so tidy your saddles and clothes” (Abu Dawud, “Libas,” 25). On another occasion he said: “If I had not been afraid of overburdening my community, I would have ordered them to use a miswaq (to brush and clean their teeth) for every prayer” (Bukhari, “Iman,” 26).
Moral hygiene also was emphasized, for the Prophet, upon him be God’s blessings and peace, encouraged Muslims to make a special prayer upon seeing themselves in the mirror: “God, You have endowed me with a good form; like-wise bless me with an immaculate character ” (Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 1:34, 6:155). He advised modest clothing, for men as well as for women, on the grounds that it helps one maintain purity of thought.
Being charitable is a way of purifying one’s wealth. A Muslim who does not give charity (sadaqa) and pay the required annual zakat (the prescribed purifying alms), contaminates his or her wealth by hoarding that which rightfully belongs to others: Of their wealth take alms so that you may purify them (9:103).
All the laws and injunctions given by God and His Prophet, upon him be God’s blessings and peace, are pure. Any law established by Divine guidance is just and pure.
The Purity of Water
Pure water is used essentially in matters of purification or wudu’ (minor ablution) and ghusl (major ablution). Hence the necessity to investigate water’s purity. Water has four essential attributes: smell, color, taste, and fluidity. Any pure and purifying water is judged according to whether it retains these attributes or not. As a result, water is classified into two categories: mutlaq and muqayyad water.
Mutlaq water is “natural” water, such as that which comes from rain water, snow, hail, sea water, and water from the Zamzam well.
It is subdivided as follows:
    * Water that is both pure and purifying (e.g., rain water, snow, hail, sea water, and water from the Zamzam well).
    * Water that drips from a person after he or she has performed the minor or major ablution, and therefore is considered “used.” It is considered pure, but cannot be used for another minor and major ablution.
    * Water that is both pure and purifying, but whose usage is disliked (makruh) (e.g., water left in a container after a cat, bird, or another “allowed” animal has drunk from it).
    * Water mixed with impure elements. Water whose taste, color, or smell has been altered by an impure substance cannot be used for purification. However, if the liquid is still considered water, meaning that the impure substance has not altered its taste, color, or smell, it can be used for purification.
    * Water that is pure but may or may not be purifying. One example of this type of water is the water that remains in a pot after a donkey or a mule has drunk from it.
Muqayyad water includes naturally muqayyad water, such as fruit juices and water that has been mixed with various substances (e.g., soap, saffron, flowers) or objects that the Shari‘a considers pure. Such water is considered pure until, due to being mixed with other substances, one can no longer call it water. In this case, the water is still considered pure, but it cannot be used for purification (minor and major ablution).
Types of Impurities
Najasa refers to impure substances that Muslims must avoid and wash off after coming into contact with them. God says: Purify your raiment (74:4) and: God loves those who repent and who purify themselves (2:222).
    * Animals that died naturally (e.g., not killed in the Islamic manner) are impure, as is anything cut off a live animal. However, dead sea animals and those that have no flowing blood (e.g., bees and ants) are not impure. The bones, horns, claws, fur, feathers, and skin of dead animals, except for pigs, are pure.
    * Any blood that flows from a person’s or an animal’s body (e.g., blood from a killed animal or menstrual blood) is impure. However, blood that remains in the veins is permissible. Also, any blood that remains in edible meat, livers, hearts, and spleens is not impure, provided that the animal was sacrificed in the Islamic way.
    * A person’s vomit, urine, excrement, wadi (a thick white secretion discharged after urination), mazi (a white sticky fluid that flows from the sexual organs when thinking about sexual intercourse, foreplay, and so on), prostatic fluid, and sperm is impure. However, according to some, sperm is not impure but should be washed off if it is still wet, and scratched off if it is dry. Any part of human flesh is impure.
    * The urine, saliva, and blood of all animals whose meat is prohibited, and the excrement of all animals except birds whose meat is allowable, are impure.
    * The excrement of poultry (i.e., geese, hens, ducks) is impure.
    * Pig and alcohol are impure.
    * Dogs are considered impure. Any container that a dog has licked must be completely washed and sterilized. If a dog licks a pot that has dry food in it, what it touched and what surrounds it must be thrown away. The remainder may be kept, as it is still pure. A dog’s hair is considered pure.
    * The impurities mentioned are considered “gross impurity” (najasat al-ghaliza). Any amount of them contaminates whatever it touches. However, if it is on person’s body or clothes when he or she is praying, or on the ground or mat where he or she is praying, its amount is taken into consideration. Any solid filth weighing more than 3 grams, and any liquid more than the amount that spreads over a person’s palm, invalidates the prayer.
    * The urine of horses and domestic or wild animals whose meat is allowed to eat is weak impurity (najasat al-khafifa). When more than one-fourth of a limb or one-fourth of one’s clothes are smeared with it, the prayer is in-validated.
The Ways of Purification
Purifying the body and clothes. If these are contaminated, they must be washed with water until no impurity remains. This is especially so if the impurity is visible, such as blood. If some stains remain after washing, such as those that would be extremely difficult to remove, they can be overlooked. If the impurity is not visible, such as urine, wash and wring whatever it has contaminated three times.
Purifying the ground. Purify the ground by pouring water over it. If the impurity is solid, the ground will become pure only by its removal or decay.
Purifying contaminated butter and similar substances. If a dead animal has fallen into a solid matter but has not swollen or disintegrated, whatever the corpse touches and what is around it must be thrown away, provided that one can make sure that it did not touch the rest of the matter. If it fell into a liquid substance, the majority say that the entire liquid becomes impure.
Purifying a dead animal’s skin. Tanning purifies a dead animal’s skin and fur. The Prophet said: “If the animal’s skin is tanned, it is purified” (Muslim, “Hayz,” 105).
Purifying mirrors and similar objects. Mirrors, knives, swords, nails, bones, glass, painted pots, and other smooth surfaces that have no pores are purified by removing the impurity.
Useful Points
    * If an unknown liquid falls on a person, there is no need to ask about it or to wash one’s clothes.
    * If a person finds something moist on his or her body or clothes at night and does not know what it is, he or she does not need to smell it in order to identify it.
    * Clothes that have street mud on them do not have to be washed.
    * If a person finishes praying and sees some previously unseen impurity on his or her clothes or body, or was aware of but forgot about them, his or her prayer does not have to be repeated.
    * If a person cannot determine what part of his or her clothes contains the impurity, the whole garment should be washed, for “if an obligation can be fulfilled only by performing another related act, that act also becomes obligatory.”
    * If a person mixes pure clothes with impure clothes (and cannot tell them apart), he or she should investigate the matter and pray once in one of the clothes.
    * It is not proper to carry something that has God’s Name upon it while going to the bathroom, unless he or she is afraid of losing it or having it stolen.
    * One should not talk in the bathroom, respond to a greeting, or repeat what the muezzin is saying. One may speak if there is some necessity. In the event of sneezing, one should praise God silently by moving his or her lips.
    * One should neither face nor turn his or her back on the qibla while answering a call of nature, especially if in an open area.
    * One should seek a soft and low piece of ground to protect against any impurity. The Prophet said: “When one of you urinates, he should choose the proper place to do so.”
    * One should avoid shaded places and places where people walk and gather.
    * One should not answer a call of nature in bathing places or in still or running water.
    * One should not urinate while standing, though some allow it.
    * One must remove any impurities from one’s clothes and body after relieving oneself.
    * One should not clean himself or herself with the right hand.
    * One should remove any bad smell from one’s hands after answering a call of nature.
    * One should enter the bathroom with the left foot, saying: “I seek refuge in God from noxious male and female beings (devils),” and exit with one’s right foot, saying: “O God, I seek your forgiveness.”
    * After a man has relieved himself, he should wait until the urine stops completely and make sure that none of it has fallen onto his clothes. This is called istibra (seeking full purification). Ibn ‘Abbas related that the Messenger of God, upon him be God’s blessings and peace, passed by two graves and said: “They are being punished, but not for a great matter (on their part). One of them did not clean himself from urine, and the other used to spread slander.” (Tirmidhi, “Tahara,” 53) To erase all doubt, the person should sprinkle his penis and underwear with water.
Acts That Correspond to Human Nature
God has chosen certain acts for all of His Prophets and their followers to perform. These acts, are known as sunan al-fitra (acts required by human nature), are as follows:
Circumcision. This prevents dirt from getting on one’s penis and also makes it easy to keep clean. The Shafi‘i scholars maintain that it should be done on the seventh day, although it is permissible to do it later.
Shaving pubic hairs and pulling out underarm hairs. Doing so is sunna. However, it is enough to trim or pull it out.
Clipping fingernails, trimming and shaving the moustache, and keeping the beard tidy.Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of God, upon whom be God’s blessings and peace, said, “Five things are part of one’s fitra: Shaving the pubic hair, circumcision, trimming the moustache, removing any underarm hair, and trimming the nails.” (Muslim, “Tahara,” 49) A moustache should not be so long that food particles, drink, and dirt accumulate in it. If one grows a beard, it should not be untidy.
Honoring and combing one’s hair.Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: “Whoever has hair should honor it” (Abu Dawud, “Tarajjul,” 3:4163). Cutting one’s hair off is permissible, and so is letting it grow if one honors it.
Leaving gray hairs in place.This applies to both men and women. ‘Amr ibn Shu‘ayb related, on the authority of his father from his grandfather, that the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, said: “Do not pluck the gray hairs, as they are a Muslim’s light. A Muslim never grows gray in Islam except that God writes for him, due to that, a good deed, raises him a degree, and erases for him, due to that, one of his sins” (Ibn Hanbal, 2:179; Tirmidhi, “Adab,” 56).
Dyeing one’s gray hair.According to the accepted opinion, dyeing one’s gray hair by using henna, red dye, yellow dye, and so on is permissible, provided that the dyes are religiously allowable.
Using perfume. Using musk and other perfumes that are free of alcohol and similar forbidden things is highly advisable, for they are pleasing to the soul and beautify the atmosphere.
Menstruation and Post-childbirth Bleeding
Menstruation is a natural type of blood that flows at regular intervals from a woman’s uterus after puberty. God has laid down certain rules in connection with this, as a concession to the woman, in consideration of her condition.
Menstruation usually lasts 3 to 10 days and nights, varying from woman to woman. Most women have a regular number of days for their monthly menstrual period. The number of days may fluctuate and the period might come a little early or a little late. So when a woman sees menstrual blood, she should consider herself to be menstruating. When it stops, she should consider herself clean. If more blood appears after her menstrual period has ended, but does not have the same color as menstrual blood, it should not be considered as menstruation
Post-childbirth bleeding is the blood that comes during and after childbirth. It may begin to come 2 or 3 days before delivery and be accompanied by labor pains. There is no minimum limit as to how long a woman will bleed, but generally the upper limit is within 40 days.
Women are prohibited from performing certain acts while they are in this condition, such as follows:
    * She cannot pray (salat) after she begins to bleed and does not have to make up any missed prayers.
    * She cannot observe any obligatory (Ramadan) or supererogatory fasts. She must make up the obligatory fasting days after regaining her ritual cleanliness. If bleeding begins during a supererogatory fasting day upon which she had intended to fast, she must make it up.
    * She can do all pilgrimage rites except circumambulating the Ka‘ba (tawaf).
    * She should avoid mosques or places of worship, and cannot touch the Qur’an, whether the original or in translation. She cannot recite it from memory, but can read the verses of prayer and supplication with the intention of praying. (She cannot perform salat but can supplicate and recite the prayers mentioned in the Qur’an with the intention of saying prayers or making supplications.)
    * A man cannot have sexual intercourse with his wife while she has post-childbirth bleeding, for she is not allowed to make herself available to him. However, he can kiss, hug, or touch her anywhere besides the pubic region. It is better and highly advisable to avoid the area between the navel and the knees.
      When a menstruating woman stops bleeding, she must perform a complete ghusl (major ablution). After this, she must resume praying and fasting, can enter the mosque, make tawaf, recite the Qur’an, and engage in allowable sexual intercourse. She must make up the fasting days that she missed during Ramadan, but not the prayers. The same rules apply to women in post-childbirth bleeding.
Istihadha (Non-menstrual Vaginal Bleeding)
In some women, bleeding never stops; in others, it continues for longer than normal. This blood is called istihadha. Likewise, any blood coming before puberty and after menopause is also considered istihadha.
A woman with this condition should calculate when her period would normally end, and then stop praying during the days of her calculated period and follow all of the other menstruation-related rules. For the rest of the days, her bleeding should be treated as istihadha. If she does not have a regular period or does not remember when it used to occur, but can distinguish between the two kinds of blood based on color, thickness, and smell (i.e., menstrual blood is dark, thick, and has a strong odor, while istihadha is bright red, thin, and less disagreeable in smell), she must act accordingly. If she does not have a regular period and cannot distinguish between the two types of blood, she must consider the blood coming for 3 to 10 days every month as menstruation and calculate it from the time she first noticed her vaginal bleeding.
There is no difference between a woman beset by istihadha and one who has a complete cessation of menstrual flow, except as follows:
    * If the first woman wants to perform wudu’ (ritual ablution), she should wash the blood from her vaginal area and then apply a menstrual pad or wrap the area with a clean rag on top of a wad of cotton to catch the blood. Any blood coming out after that is of no account.
    * She must perform wudu’ for every obligatory prayer.
Ghusl (Major Ablution)
Ghusl means major canonical ablution or a complete washing of the body. It becomes obligatory after sexual intercourse, even if only the head of the penis disappears into the vagina. Any discharge of semen, and the completion of menses and post-childbirth bleeding.
Taking ghusl every Friday before the congregational prayer is highly advisable, for the Prophet always did so. Before beginning ghusl, one should make the intention to perform it and, if one will pray after performing it, also the prayer.
Things Forbidden to a Ritually Impure Person
People who are in this state cannot pray, circumambulate the Ka'ba (tawaf), enter a mosque or place of worship unless necessary, or touch the Qur'an or any of its verses except with a clean cloth or something similar.
What Makes One's Ghusl Valid?
    * Rinsing the mouth thoroughly so that all of its parts are cleaned properly.
    * Rinsing the nose right up to the nasal bone.
    * Washing all bodily parts thoroughly, including the hair.
The best way to perform ghusl is as follows:
    * Having the intention (niyyat) to cleanse the body from (ritual) impurity while washing oneself.
    * Washing the hands up to the wrists three times.
    * Washing the private parts thoroughly.
    * Removing all filth from all bodily parts.
    * Performing ablution.
    * Washing all bodily parts three times, including the hair thoroughly. No part, even the size of a pinpoint, is allowed to remain dry. Rubbing and pressing the body is not obligatory.
Tayammum (Ablution with Clean Soil)
When a person is too sick to use water or none is around when it is time to pray, he or she can perform tayammum in place of wudu’ and ghusl. The requirements are as follows:
    * Intending to perform tayammum to remove any impurity.
    * Striking the pure soil lightly with the palms of both hands and passing the palms over the face one time.
    * Striking the pure soil again with one’s palms and rubbing the right and left arms alternately from the fingertips to the elbows.
Tayammum is nullified as soon as the cause for performing it is removed (i.e., the sick person recovers or pure water is found). If a person performs tayammum and then prays, he or she does not have to repeat the prayer if the conditions for it are removed before the time for that particular prayer ends.
Wudu’ (Ablution)
Wudu’ involves washing with water at least once the usually exposed bodily parts, namely, the face, hands and arms up to (and including) the elbows, and feet, and wiping one-quarter of the head. It is obligatory for any obligatory or supererogatory prayer, circumambulating the Ka‘ba, and touching the Qur’an with bare hands.
Wudu’ is performed in the following manner:
    * Ensure that the water to be used is pure.
    * Intend to perform wudu’ to offer prayer, if you plan to pray after taking it.
    * Recite: “Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim” (i.e., in the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate).
    * Wash the hands up to the wrists three times, and do not miss the parts between the fingers.
    * Clean your mouth with a brush or a finger, and gargle with water three times.
    * Rinse the nostrils with water three times.
    * Wash the face from the forehead to the chin and from ear to ear three times.
    * Wash the right arm followed by the left up to the elbows three times.
    * Wipe at least a quarter of the head with wet hands, pass the wet tips of the little fingers inside and the wet tips of the thumbs outside the ears, and pass the palms over the nape and sides of the neck.
    * Finally, wash the feet up to (and including) the ankles, the right foot first and then the left, taking care to wash in between the toes, each three times. The obligatory acts are as follows:
    * Washing the face.
    * Washing both arms up to and including the elbows.
    * Wiping a quarter of the head with wet hands.
    * Washing both feet up to and including the ankles. The following acts nullify wudu’:
    * Whatever comes out from the two private parts (front and back): waste matter, urine, wind, wadi (a thick white secretion discharged after urination), mazi (a white sticky fluid that flows from the sexual organs when thinking about sexual intercourse or foreplay, and so on), and prostatic fluid. Semen, menstrual blood, and post-childbirth blood require ghusl.
    * Emission of blood, pus, or yellow matter from a wound, boil, pimple, or something similar to such an extent that it flows beyond the wound’s mouth.
    * Vomiting a mouthful of matter.
    * Physical contact for pleasure between men and women without any obstacle (e.g., clothes). If the head of one’s penis disappears into a woman’s vagina, ghusl is required.
    * Loss of consciousness through sleep, drowsiness, and so on.
    * Temporary insanity, fainting, hysteria, or intoxication.
    * Audible laughter during prayer.
Wiping over Clean, Indoor Boots (Khuffayn)
While performing wudu’, one can wipe over (the top of) their clean, indoor boots once with wet hands instead of washing the feet.
    * Boots should be waterproof and cover the whole foot up to (and including) the ankles. They must have no holes wider than three fingers in width. It does not matter if their mouths are so wide that the feet can be seen when looking down at them.
    * They must be fit, strong, and tough enough so that the feet would not come out of them, and they should not fall down when walked in for 3 miles.
    * They cannot be made out of wood, glass, or metal.
    * One must put on the boots after washing one’s feet while performing ablution. One can wear it for a whole day if one is resident. If traveling, one can wear it for 3 consecutive days.
   1. The Prayer’s Meaning and Importance
   2. Who Must Pray?
   3. The Times of the Five Daily Prescribed Prayers
   4. The Times When Prayers Cannot Be Performed
   5. Adhan (Call to prayer)
   6. The Obligatory Acts before the Prayer
   7. The Obligatory Acts during the Prayer
   8. Necessary (But Not Obligatory) Things To Complete the Prayer
   9. Sunna Acts
  10. Disliked and Discouraged Things

  11. Things That Invalidate the Prayer
Prayer is the most important type of worship, for it displays a person's sincerity and loyalty to God. In the words of God's Messenger, it is the pillar or main support of religious life (Daylami, al-Firdaws, 2:404).
There are several kinds of prayers, as follows:
    * Obligatory. The five daily prescribed prayers and the Jumu'a (Friday) prayer. The latter is not obligatory for women, but they can pray it if they wish. The funeral prayer is obligatory, but not upon every individual. If some people perform it, others do not have to.
    * Necessary (wajib). The 'Iyd (religious festive days) prayers and the witr prayer (performed after the late evening or night prayer until dawn).
    * Sunna (those performed or advised by the Prophet). Those performed before or after the daily prescribed prayers, tahajjud (performed after the late evening prayer and before the witr prayer), tarawih (performed after the late evening prayer during Ramadan), khusuf and kusuf (performed during solar and lunar eclipses), and the prayer for rain (salat al-istisqa).
    * Supererogatory and rewarded. Salat al-ishraq (performed some three quarters after sunrise), salat al-duha (forenoon or broad daylight prayer, performed until some three quarters before the noon prayer), and salat al-awwabin (performed between the evening and late evening prayers). There are some other supererogatory prayers, such as salat al-tawba (performed before asking God to forgive us), salat al-istikhara (performed to ask God to make something good for us), salat al-tasbih (the prayer of glorifying God), the prayer performed when leaving on a journey, and the prayer per-formed when returning from a journey.
The Prayer’s Meaning and Importance
The prescribed prayers (salat) are Islam’s pillars. To fully understand their importance, consider this parable: A ruler gives each of his two servants 24 gold coins and sends them to a beautiful farm that is 2 months’ travel away. He tells them: “Use this money to buy your ticket, your supplies, and what you will need after you arrive. After traveling for a day, you will reach a transit station. Choose a method of transportation that you can afford.”
The servants leave. One spends only a little money before reaching the station. He uses his money so wisely that his master increases it a thousandfold. The other servant gambles away 23 of the 24 coins before reaching the station. The first servant advises the second one: “Use this coin to buy your ticket, or else you’ll have to walk and suffer hunger. Our master is generous. Maybe he’ll forgive you. Maybe you can take a plane, so we can reach the farm in a day. If not, you’ll have to go on foot and endure 2 months of hunger while crossing the desert.” If he ignores his friend’s advice, anyone can see what will happen.
Now listen to the explanation, those of you who do not pray, as well as you, my soul that is not inclined toward prayer. The ruler is our Creator. One servant represents religious people who pray with fervor; the other represents people who do not like to pray. The 24 coins are the 24 hours of a day. The farm is heaven, the transit station is the grave, and the journey is from the grave to eternal life. People cover that journey at different times according to their deeds and conduct. Some of the truly devout pass in a day 1,000 years like lightning, while others pass 50,000 years with the speed of imagination. The Qur’an alludes to this truth in 22:47 and 70:4.
The ticket is the prescribed prayers, all of which can be prayed in an hour. If you spend 23 hours a day in worldly affairs and do not reserve the remaining hour for the prescribed prayers, you are a foolish loser. You may be tempted to use half of your money for a lottery being played by 1,000 people. Your possibility of winning is 1:1,000, while those who pray have a 99 percent chance of winning. If you do not use at least one coin to gain an inexhaustible treasure, something is obviously wrong with you.
Prayer comforts the soul and the mind and is easy for the body. Furthermore, correct intention transforms our deeds and conduct into worship. Thus our short lifetime is spent for the sake of eternal life in the other world, and our transient life gains a kind of permanence.
The prescribed prayer is the pillar of religion and the best of good deeds. One who does not perform it cannot construct the building of religion on the foundation of faith. Any foundation on which a building was not built is liable to removal. The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, taught that it is like a river running by one’s house. One who bathes in it five times a day is cleaned of all dirt (which may have smeared him or her during the periods between them). He also taught that the prescribed prayers can serve as an atonement for the minor sins committed between them (Muslim, “Tahara,” 16).
The Qur’an declares that the prescribed prayer prevents one from committing indecencies and other kinds of evil deeds (29:45). Also, it serves as repentance and asking God for forgiveness. Similarly, any good deed done just after an evil one may cause it to be forgiven. So it is highly advisable that one should do good immediately after doing an evil deed. Like the prescribed prayer, this manner of action may also restrain one from doing further evil.
Prayer seems to be a strenuous demand, but in reality gives indescribable peace and comfort. Those who pray recite ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah (I bear witness that there is no deity but God). Only He can give harm and benefit. He is the All-Wise, Who does nothing useless; the All-Compassionate, Whose mercy and bounty are abundant. Having faith, believers see in every event a door to the wealth of God’s Mercy, and knock on it via supplication. Realizing that their Lord and Sustainer controls everything, they take refuge in Him. Putting their trust in and fully submitting to God, they resist evil. Their faith gives them complete confidence.
As with every good action, courage arises from faith in and loyal devotion to God. As with every bad action, cowardice arises from misguidance. If Earth were to explode, those servants of God with truly illuminated hearts would not be frightened – they might even consider it a marvel of the Eternally-Besought’s Power. A rationalist but nonbelieving philosopher might tremble at the sight of a comet, lest it should strike Earth.
Our ability to meet our endless demands is negligible. We are threatened with afflictions that our own strength cannot withstand. Our strength is limited to what we can reach, yet our wishes and demands, suffering and sorrow, are as wide as our imagination.
Anyone not wholly blind to the truth understands that our best option is to submit to God, to worship, believe, and have confidence in Him. A safe road is preferable to a dangerous one, even one with a very low probability of safe passage. The way of belief leads one safely to endless bliss with near certainty; the way of unbelief and transgression, meanwhile, is not profitable and has a near certainty of endless loss. Even its travelers agree on this truth, as do countless experts and people of insight and observation.
In conclusion, just like the other world’s bliss, happiness in this world depends upon submitting to God and being His devoted servant. So always praise Him, saying: “Praise be to God for obedience and success in His way,” and thank Him that we are His believing and worshipping servants.
Who Must Pray?
Prayer is obligatory upon every sane Muslim who has reached the age of puberty. Only women having their menstrual period or post-childbirth bleeding do not perform it. Prepubescent children do not have to pray, but God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, advises us to tell them to pray when they reach the age of 7 in order to prepare their hearts for it.
The Times of the Five Daily Prescribed Prayers
Every sane, adult Muslim must perform the five daily prescribed prayers each within its own time. The Qur’an mentions these times. For example:
    Establish the prayer at the beginning and the end of the day, and in the watches of night near to the day. Assuredly, good deeds wipe out evil deeds. This is advice and a reminder for the mindful who take heed. (11:114)
    Establish the prayer from the declining of the sun to the darkness of the night, and (be ever mindful of) the Qur’an’s recitation at dawn. Assuredly, the Qur’an’s recitation at dawn is witnessed (by angels and the whole creation awakening to a new day). (17:78)
    Bear patiently what they say, and glorify your Lord with His praise before the rising of the sun, and before its setting, and during some of the hours of the night glorify Him, and at the sides of the day, that you may become pleased with the reward which God shall give you. (20:114)
    Glory be to God whenever you reach evening and whenever you rise in the morning. All praise is for Him in the heavens and on Earth, in the late afternoon, and whenever you reach the noon. (30:17-18)
These verses circumscribe the five prescribed prayers. The prayers to be established at the sides of the day, at its beginning and end from the declining of the sun to the darkness of night, are the noon and afternoon prayers. The original word for “watches of night near to the day” is zulef, which is plural. In Arabic, plural includes at least three things, so it can be concluded that it refers to the three prayers to be established during night (e.g., the evening, late evening, and dawn [early morning] prayers). These five prayers were prescribed for the Muslims during the Messenger’s Ascension in the ninth year of his Messengership, 4 years before the Hijra.
Verse 17:78 also alludes to the daily five prescribed prayers and each one’s time. Declining of the sun means the sun’s passing its zenith, and therefore hints at the noon prayer. After the noon prayer comes the afternoon prayer. Immediately after sunset and after night has fallen, the evening and late evening prayers are performed, respectively. The verse specifically mentions the dawn prayer because of its importance, and draws attention to reciting the Qur’an during it, for the Messenger, under Divine Revelation, used to lengthen his recitation during that prayer.
Some of the hadiths (i.e., Tirmidhi, “Salat,” 1) narrate the Messenger’s statements about


the exact time of each prayer. According to these hadiths, as well as the practice of the Prophet and his Companions, the time of each prayer is as follows:
    * The fajr (dawn or early morning) prayer is performed from the break of dawn until sunrise.
    * The zuhr (noon) prayer is performed when the sun passes its zenith until a person’s shadow is the same length as his or her height.
    * The ‘asr (afternoon) prayer is performed when a person’s shadow is the same length as his or her height and continues until the yellowing of the sun.
    * The maghrib (evening) prayer is performed as long as twilight lasts until the sun’s complete disappearance.
    * The ‘isha’ (night) prayer begins with the end of twilight and continues until a short while before the break of dawn.
    * The Jumu‘a prayer is performed during the time of the noon prayer on Friday. The time of the ‘Iyd (religious festive days) prayers is some three quarters after sunrise on ‘Iyd days. Their time continues until the sun reaches its zenith.
The Times When Prayers Cannot Be Performed
    * During sunrise and sunset.
    * From sunrise until the sun has completely risen to the length of a spear above the horizon (approximately three quarters after sunrise).
    * When the sun is at its zenith until it moves slightly to the west.
    * After the afternoon prayer till the sun sets.
Prayers must not be offered during the approximately three quarters in the last three times in which praying is forbidden. However, if one has not been able to perform the afternoon prayer during its time, one can perform it until the sun begins to disappear in the west.
Adhan (Call to prayer)
The adhan calls Muslims to prayer. Although it consists of few words, it covers the essentials of faith, expresses Islamic practices, is a form of worship, and one of Islam’s collective symbols that shows that the place in which it is made is a Muslim land. It is made at the beginning of each prescribed prayer’s time, and should be made by the man who can perform it in the best way possible. Even if one is performing the prayer alone, he or she is strongly advised to make it before beginning to pray.
    The words of adhan are as follows:
    Allahu akbar (God is the Greatest): 4 times.
    Ashhadu an la ilaha illa’llah (I bear witness that there is no deity but God): twice.
    Ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasululu’llah (I bear witness that Muhammad is God’s Messenger); twice.
    Hayya ‘ala’s-salah (Come on, to prayer): twice.
    Hayya ‘ala’l-falah (Come on, to salvation): twice.
    Allahu akbar (God is the Greatest): twice.
    La ilaha illa’llah (I bear witness that there is no deity but God): once.
The adhan for the dawn (early morning) prayer includes as-salatu khayrun mina’n-nawm (Prayer is better than sleep [twice]) after hayya ‘ala’l-falah (Come on, to salvation). God’s Messenger highly recommends that we pray after making the adhan.
The Obligatory Acts before the Prayer
For the prayer to be complete and acceptable by God, one must perform the following acts:
    * Purify oneself from all major and minor impurity by performing ghusl (the major ablution) and wudu’ (the minor ablution), respectively. If one has not broken wudu’ between two prayer times, it does not need to be renewed before the next prayer. The Prophet strongly recommended that one should clean his or her teeth with a miswak, or at least something clean, while making wudu’.
    * Remove any impurity from one’s clothes, body, and place of prayer. The impurities that invalidate prayer were mentioned in the section on tahara. They are divided into two categories: gross impurity (najasat al-ghaliza) or weak impurity (najasat al-khafifa). Vomit, urine, excrement, wadi (a thick white secretion discharged after urination), mazi (a white sticky fluid that flows from the sexual organs when thinking about sexual intercourse or foreplay, and so on), prostatic fluid, are included in gross impurity. Also included in this category are the urine, saliva, and blood of all animals whose meat is forbidden, the excrement of all animals (except birds) whose meat is allowable, the excrement of poultry (geese, hens, and ducks), any part of pigs, and alcohol. Any such solid filth that weighs more than 3 grams, and any liquid more than the amount that spreads over one’s palm, invalidates the prayer.
    * The urine of horses and domestic or wild animals whose meat is allowed is weak impurity (najasat al-khafifa). If such impurity is more than one-fourth of a limb or smears more than one-fourth of one’s clothes, the prayer is invalidated.
    * Covering the area of the body that cannot be shown in public. For the men, this is from the knee to the navel; for women, the whole body except the face, hands, and feet.
    * Facing the qibla (the direction of the Sacred Mosque in Makka) during the prayer. If one does not know its location, one must search for it. If one prays in another direction after searching, the prayer is valid. If the chest is turned from the qibla during prayer, the prayer is invalid. If the head is turned even for a moment, the person must immediately turn it back toward the qibla.
    * Performing the prayer in its time.
The Obligatory Acts during the Prayer
    * Make the intention to perform a specific prayer. Bukhari, Muslim, and Abu Dawud relate from ‘Umar that God’s Messenger said: “Actions are judged according to intentions. One is rewarded for whatever one intends to do. Whoever emigrates for God and His Messenger has emigrated for God and His Messenger; whoever emigrates to acquire something worldly or to marry has emigrated for what is intended.” (Bukhari, “Bed’ul-Wahy,” 1; Muslim, “Iman,” 155.) Thus the intention is the aim and purpose of something. It is a condition of the heart and does not have to be spoken out loud. This is why the Prophet and his Companions never spoke their intentions.
    * Say the opening takbir and begin the prayer. When God’s Messenger stood for prayer, he would stand straight, raise his hands as high as his ears, and, with his palms facing the qibla, say: “Allahu akbar.”
    * Stand while reciting Surat al-Fatiha (the Opening Chapter of the Qur’an) and a selection of verses. One must stand during the obligatory prayers, if at all possible. But if this is not possible, the prayer can be performed while sitting or, if even that is not possible, while lying on one’s right side. The feet should be kept about a span or a little more apart while standing in prayer. The voluntary (supererogatory) prayers can be offered while sitting, although standing will bring a greater reward.
    * Recite Surat al-Fatiha and another portion from the Qur’an. This is obligatory in the first two rak‘ats (cycles) of the obligatory prayers and in every rak‘at of necessary (wajib), recommended (sunna), and supererogatory (nafila) prayers. In the last cycle (i.e., the third rak‘at of the evening prayer and the last two rak‘ats of the obligatory noon, afternoon, and late evening prayers), reciting al-Fatiha is preferable, but one can glorify (Subhana’llah), praise (al-hamdu li’llah), exalt (Allahu akbar) God, and declare His Unity (La ilaha illa’llah). The portion to be recited after Surat al-Fatiha should be as long as the shortest sura (Surat al-Kawthar).
      No translation of the Qur’an can be recited during the prayer, for the Qur’an is composed of both its meaning and wording and is from God with both its meaning and wording.
    * Bow down and remain in that position (ruku‘) for some time (long enough to say “Subhana’llah” three times). The position of ruku‘ consists of bending down and grasping the knees with the palms, and leaving the fingers partly spread apart. This position is maintained until one attains “calmness.” The back must be kept straight while bowing.
    * Prostrate (sujud). God’s Messenger explains: “Prostrate until you are calm in your prostration, then rise (and sit) until you are calm in your sitting, and then prostrate until you are calm in your prostration.” The first prostration, sitting afterwards, the second prostration, and calmness during all of these acts are obligatory in every rak‘at of every type of prayer offered.
      Bukhari relates (“Ezan,” 133, 134, 137) from God’s Messenger, concerning the parts of the body that must touch the ground during prostration, that he said: “I have been ordered to prostrate on seven bodily parts: the forehead (and he also pointed to his nose), the hands, the knees and the ends of the feet.”
    * The final sitting and recital of the tashahhud. In the prayer’s last rak‘at, one must sit long enough to recite the tashahhud before ending the prayer with giving greetings by turning one’s head to the right and then to the left and saying: “As-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatu’llah” (Upon you be peace and God’s mercy). During this sitting, one says the tashahhud or tahiyyat. Reciting words of salat wa salam (God’s peace and blessings) on Muhammad and his Family is necessary.
Necessary (But Not Obligatory) Things To Complete the Prayer
    * To complete the prayer, one must recite correctly, understandably, and distinctly; carry out all of the obligatory acts correctly and in the proper order; attain calmness; straighten the body while standing, bowing down, and prostrating; bow, prostrate, and stand after bowing and before prostrating and sit between prostrations as long as it takes to say Subhana’llah at least.
    * Unless there is an acceptable impediment, prayers should be performed in congregation.
    * One who prays alone should recite al-Fatiha and a portion from the Qur’an inaudibly in both the prescribed or supererogatory prayers performed during the day. One can recite loudly or inaudibly during the night prayers. In congregation, the imam (the one leading the prayer) should recite audibly in all rak‘ats of the morning, jumu‘a, tarawih, and witr prayers, and the first two rak‘ats of the evening and late evening prayers. He should recite inaudibly in all rak‘ats of the noon and afternoon prayers, the last one rak‘at of the evening prayer, and the last two rak‘ats of the late evening prayer.
    * Sitting between the second and third rak‘ats of those prayers having three or four rak‘ats.
    * The obligatory acts during prayers should be done one after the other, without doing anything extra between them.
    * Ending the prayer by giving greetings on both sides and saying as-salamu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatu’llah.
    * Having sincerity, humility, and concentration. Prayer is the most important kind of worship, so it must be performed in the best way possible. In addition to fulfilling its obligatory and necessary acts, praying in humility, with utmost sincerity and self-concentration on God are essential.
Sunna Acts
Each prayer contains certain acts that are sunna, meaning that the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, performed them and advised Muslims to do likewise. They are highly important for completing the prayer and receiving a greater reward.
    * While beginning the prayer and saying the opening takbir, one should raise one’s hands (according to the Hanafis) as high as the ears and the thumbs touch the earlobes.
    * According to the Hanafis, the hands should be placed below the navel, (the Shafi‘is say below the chest), and the right hand should grasp the wrist of the left arm.
    * The prayer should begin with a supplication used by the Prophet, upon whom be peace, to begin his prayers. This is said after the opening takbir and before reciting al-Fatiha. The Hanafis prefer: Subhanaka’llahumma wa bi-hamdik. Wa tebaraka’smuk. Wa ta‘ala jadduk. Wa la ilaha ghayruk. (Glory be to You, O God, and to You is the praise. Blessed is Your Name and most high is Your honor. There is no deity besides You). The Shafi‘is prefer: Inni wajjahtu wajhiya li’llezi fatara’s-samawati wa’l-ardi hanifan wa ma ana mine’l-mushrikin. Inna salati wa nusuki wa mahyaya wa mamati li’llahi Rabbi’l-alamin, la sharika lah; wa bi-dhalike umirtu; wa ana mina’l-muslimin (I have turned my face to the One Who has originated the heavens and Earth as a sincere submissive one, and I am not one of the polytheists. My prayers, my sacrifice, my life and my death are all for God, the Lord of the Worlds. He has no partner. That is what I have been ordered and I am of those who submit.). Other supplications related from the Messenger also can be recited before al-Fatiha.
    * Saying Amin after reciting al-Fatiha.
    * Reciting considerably long passages from the Qur’an after al-Fatiha in the morning (about one page or more in each rak‘at, being longer in the first one), noon, and afternoon prayers (about one page), either a somewhat long or shorter passages in the evening prayers, and short passages in the late evening prayer.
    * Saying the takbir upon every bowing down, sitting down, moving to and rising from prostration, and standing up after sitting. Upon rising from the bowing, all Muslims should say: “Sami’a’llahu li-man hamidah” (God hears him who praises Him), and after it, “Rabbana wa-laka’l-hamd” (Our Lord, and to You is all praise).
    * Saying “Subhana Rabiyya’l-‘Azim” (Glory be to my Lord, the Mighty) three times while bowing, and “Subhana Rabbiya’l-A‘la” (Glory be to my Lord, the Most High) while prostrating.
    * Supplicating after the final tashahhud and before giving the final salutations (that end the prayer). These may consist of any supplication mentioned in the Qur’an or reported from the Messenger.
    * Saying words of remembrance, asking forgiveness, and supplicating after the prayer. The most famous and widespread one reported from the Messenger is: Astaghfiru’llaha’l-‘Azim (I ask God the Mighty for forgiveness: three times), and Allahumma anta’s-Salamu wa minka’s-salam. Tabarakta ya Dha’l-Jalali wa’l-Ikram (O God, You are the Peace, and from You is peace. All blessed and One bestowing blessings You are, O One of Majesty and Munificence). Afterwards, reciting Ayat al-Kursiy (2:255) and saying words of glorification (Subhana’llah), praise (al-hamdu li’llah), and exaltation (Allahu akbar) each 33 times.
Disliked and Discouraged Things
    * Beginning the prayer while feeling the need to answer a call of nature.
    * Omitting any sunna act.
    * Thinking about worldly affairs while praying.
    * Doing things that cannot be reconciled with being in God’s presence (e.g., cracking one’s knuckles, playing with any part of the body or clothes, smoothing the stones on the ground, putting the hands on the hips while bending down or standing up, yawning, blowing something, coughing, or cleaning the throat without a valid excuse).
    * Leaning on a post, a wall, or something similar without a valid excuse.
    * Praying while having something to eat or chew in the mouth, regardless of its size.
    * Praying while angry or hungry, when food has been placed nearby, or wearing something that may distract one’s attention.
    * Praying in the path of people who are passing in front of one.
Things That Invalidate the Prayer
Omitting any of the prayer’s obligatory acts, regardless if doing so is intentional or out of ignorance or forgetfulness.
    * Uttering a word, even if only 2 letters long, that is not included in the recitations of the prayer.
    * Weeping, sighing and complaining about worldly things, and making any noise (except clearing the throat, coughing, or yawning) or speaking. Only weeping unintentionally out of fear or love of God and similar things does not invalidate the prayer.
    * Talking and answering any call or salutation.
    * Reciting the Qur’an or supplications so incorrectly that it cannot be found in the Qur’an or among the reports from the Messenger and transforms the meaning so that it violates Islamic truths and principles.
    * Saying prayers that are not found in the Qur’an or reported from the Messenger, and concerning worldly things, such as, “O Lord, enable me to pay my debts,” or “Lord, let me marry such-and-such a woman (or man).”
    * Moving aside or changing places when asked or ordered to do so by one who is not praying.
    * Doing something that makes someone else think that one is not praying.
    * Doing something that invalidates ritual purity.
    * Turning one’s chest from the qibla.
    * Eating or swallowing anything bigger than a chickpea grain that has remained between the teeth.
   1. How to pray
          * The dawn (early morning [fajr]) prayer
          * The noon, afternoon, and night (zuhr, ‘asr, and ‘isha’) prayers
          * The evening (maghrib) prayer
   2. Prostrations of Forgetfulness
   3. Prostrating while Reciting
   4. The Sunna Prayers
   5. The Prayer of the Sick (Salat al-Marid)
   6. The Prayer during Times of Fear or Danger (Salat al-Khawf)
   7. The Prayer of a Traveler (Salat al-Musafir)
   8. Specific Sunna Prayers

          * Asking for What Is Good (Salat al-Istikhara)
          * The Prayer of Glorification (Salat al-Tasbih)
          * The Prayer for Need (Salat al-Haja)
          * The Prayer of Repentance (Salat al-Tawba)
          * The Prayer during a Solar or Lunar Eclipse (Salat al-Kusuf and al-Khusuf)
          * The Prayer for Rain (Salat al-Istisqa’)
   9. Supererogatory Prayers
          * Offering Supererogatory Prayers at Home
          * Reciting Long Passages
  10. The Friday Congregational Prayer
          * When and Who

          * Preparations
          * Conditions for Its Validity
          * The Adhan
          * The Sermon
          * Prayers before and after the Friday Prayer
  11. ‘Iyd (Religious Festive Days) Prayers (Salat al-‘Iydayn)
          * The Religious Festive Days
          * The Prayer
          * Offering the ‘Iyd Prayer
          * Sermon
  12. The Funeral Prayer

          * The Rights of a Dead Muslim upon Living Muslims
          * Visiting a Sick Person
          * Washing the Corpse
          * Offering the Funeral Prayer
          * Burying the Deceased
  13. Congregational Prayer
          * Women
          * Conditions To Be Met by the Muezzin (the Caller to Prayer)

          * Whoever Makes the Adhan Makes the Iqama
          * The Adhan and Iqama for Women
          * The Imam
          * Where the Imam and the Congregation Stand
          * Correcting the Imam’s Mistake
          * Straightening the Rows and Filling the Gaps
          * The Imam’s and Congregation’s Recitation

          * Following the Imam
          * Putting a Partition in front of Oneself While Praying
          * Joining the Congregation
          * Earth as a Mosque
  14. Making Up Missed Prayers

How To Pray
The dawn (early morning [fajr]) prayer. Having done what is necessary to have the prayer accepted, one recites the iqama even if praying alone. Women are not required to recite the iqama. The iqama is as follows:
    Allahu akbar (God is the Greatest): 4 times.
    Ashhadu an la ilaha illa’llah (I bear witness that there is no deity but God): twice.
    Ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasululu’llah (I bear witness that Muhammad is God’s Messenger); twice.
    Hayya ‘ala’s-salah (Come on, to prayer): twice.
    Hayya ‘ala’l-falah (Come on, to salvation): twice.
    Qad qamatu’s-salah (Now the prayer is about to be performed): twice.
    Allahu akbar (God is the Greatest): twice.
    La ilaha illa’llah (I bear witness that there is no deity but God): once.
One should pause between each phrase of the adhan, but be quick when reciting the iqama.
After the iqama, one intends to perform the dawn (fajr) prayer, and, while reciting the opening takbir (Allahu akbar), raises the hands with the palms facing the qibla to one’s ears, with the thumbs touching the earlobes, and then puts them (according to the Hanafis) under the navel with the right hand grasping the left one at the wrist. Then, recite a supplication with which the Messenger, upon him be God’s peace and blessings, used to begin his prayers. The Hanafis prefer: Subhanaka’llahumma wa bi-hamdik. Wa tabaraka’smuk. Wa ta‘ala jadduk. Wa la ilaha ghayruk (Glory be to You, O God, and to You is the praise. Blessed is Your Name and most high is Your honor. There is no deity besides You.).
Then recite Surat al-Fatiha, say Amin at its end, and recite a portion from the Qur’an. Then bow down and say: Allahu akbar and, attaining calmness with one’s back straightened, say three times: Subhana Rabiyya’l-‘Azim (Glory be to my Lord, the Mighty). Afterwards, rise up and say: Sami‘a’llahu li-man hami-dah (God hears him who praises Him), and then: Rabbana wa-laka’l-hamd (Our Lord, and to You is all praise). After a short pause, prostrate and say: Allahu akbar with one’s palms, knees, toes, forehead, and nose touching the ground. While prostrating, recite three times: Subhana Rabbiya’l-A‘la (Glory be to my Lord, the Most High). Then, sit up and say: Allahu akbar, and, after a short pause while sitting, prostrate again and say: Allahu akbar. Recite the same things that were recited during the first prostration. This is the first rak‘at in all prayers except the ‘Iyd (religious festive day) prayers and salat al-tasbih (prayer of glorification), which will be described below.
Rise from prostration saying: Allahu akbar, and then perform the second rak‘at just as the first one was performed. After the second prostration, sit up and recite the tashahhud or tahiyyat, which is as follows: At-tahiyyatu li’llahi wa’s-salawatu wa’t-tayyibatu as-salamu ‘alayka ayyuha’n-nabiyyu wa-rahmatu’llahi wa-barakatuh. As-salamu ‘alayna wa ‘ala ‘ibadi’llahi’s-salihin. Ashhadu an la ilaha illa’llah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa-rasuluh (Eternity and all dominion is God’s, and from Him are all blessings and benedictions. Peace be upon you O the [greatest] Prophet, and God’s mercy and gifts. Peace be also upon us and God’s righteous servants. I bear witness that there is no deity but God, and I also bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.).
Afterwards, one calls God’s blessings and peace upon His Messenger: Al-lahumma salli ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala Al-i Muhammad, kama sallayta ‘ala Ibrahima wa ‘ala Al-i Ibrahim. Innaka Hamidun Majid. Allahumma barik ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala Al-i Muhammad, kama barakta ‘ala Ibrahima wa ‘ala Al-i Ibrahim. Innaka Hamidun Majid (O God, bestow Your blessings upon our master Muhammad and the Family of Muhammad, as You bestowed Your blessings upon Abraham and the Family of Abraham. Assuredly, You are All-Praised, All-Illustrious. O God, send Your abundant gifts and favors unto our master Muhammad and the Family of Muhammad, as You sent them unto Abraham and the Family of Abraham. Assuredly, You are All-Praised, All-Illustrious.).
Then, pray to God. Choose prayers from the Qur’an and the prayers of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. Then, give greetings, turning your head to your right and left, saying: As-salamu ‘alaykum wa rah-matu’llah (Peace be upon you, and God’s Mercy.). While giving greetings on your right, direct them to those sitting on the right (if praying in congregation) and the noble angel who records our good deeds, and while giving greetings on your left, direct them to those sitting on the left (if praying in congregation) and the noble angel who records our evil deeds. However, according to Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, one may also intend, while giving greetings on the right, God’s Messenger, other Messengers, the believing members of their families, Companions, and all other saintly, pure, and scholarly people who have emigrated to the other world and, while giving greetings on the left, all believers to come until the Last Day.
The noon, afternoon, and night (zuhr, ‘asr, and ‘isha’) prayers. Having done what is necessary to have the prayer accepted, recite iqama even if praying alone. Women are not required to recite iqama.
Then, perform the first two rak‘ats just as in the dawn prayer, except that when sitting in the second rak‘at, recite the tashahhud, stand up, and say: Allahu akbar (God is the Greatest). Perform another two rak‘ats without reciting the opening takbir, and, while standing, recite only al-Fatiha preferably; although you can recite, instead of al-Fatiha, words of glorification (Sub-hana’llah), praise (al-hamdu li’llah), and exaltation (Allahu akbar); and declare God’s Oneness (La ilaha illa’llah). While sitting in the last (fourth) rak‘at, recite that which was recited in the dawn and all other prayers. End the prayer by giving salutations to the right and left.
The evening (maghrib) prayer. One begins the prayer and prays the first two rak‘ats as outlined above. After reciting the tashahhud while sitting in the second rak‘at, perform the third rak‘at in the same way as the third rak‘at of the noon, afternoon, and late evening prayers. (Recite only al-Fatiha without any portion from the Qur’an.) However, after the second prostration, sit again, as in the second (or last sitting) of the other prayers or in the second rak‘at of the dawn prayer. Do what is done in them.
Prostrations of Forgetfulness
If any of the necessary acts are omitted or delayed for some time due to forgetfulness (e.g., sitting between the second and third rak‘ats of those prayers having three or four rak‘ats, stopping between the obligatory acts more than a few seconds, or omitting the qunut in the witr prayer) after giving the first salutation to the right, make two prostrations just like the other prostrations and recite the tashahhud (tahiyyat) and calling of God’s peace and blessings on God’s Messenger. Then, give salutations and finish the prayer.
In the congregational prayer, the imam recites only the tahiyyat and the initial part of calling God’s blessings and peace upon the Messenger and his Family (i.e., Allahumma salli ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala Al-i Muhammad) before making the prostrations of forgetfulness.
Prostrating while Reciting
Whoever recites a verse of prostration or hears it, whether during a prayer or outside it, should pronounce the takbir, prostrate, recite Subhana Rabbiya’l-A‘la three times, and rise from the prostration. There are 15 such verses in the Qur’an. If one of them is recited during a prayer, prostrate without interrupting the prayer and then continue it.
The Sunna Prayers
    * Praying two rak‘ats before the dawn prayer was highly recommended and stressed by God’s Messenger. They are performed just as in the dawn prayer, except that one recites shorter Qur’anic passages after al-Fatiha.
    * Praying four rak‘ats before the zuhr (noon) prayer was highly advised and stressed by God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. They are performed just as in the noon prayer, except that one recites Qur’anic passages after al-Fatiha in all rak‘ats. He also prayed another two or four rak‘ats after the prescribed prayer, and Muslims are urged to follow his example.
    * Praying four rak‘ats before the afternoon prayer is also recommended. They are performed just as in the noon prayer, except that one recites the calls of God’s blessings, peace, and gifts upon our master Muhammad and his Family after the tashahhud during the first sitting, and the supplication before al-Fatiha in the third rak‘at, which one recites while beginning the prayer after the opening takbir.
    * Praying two rak‘ats after the evening and late evening prayer is highly recommended, while praying four rak‘ats before the late evening prayer, just as in the afternoon prayer, is an unstressed sunna prayer.
Tahajjud and Witr
The tahajjud prayer has an extremely important place among the highly advisable, stressed sunna prayers. It was obligatory for the Messenger from the very beginning of his mission. Interrupting sleep for God’s sake and turning to Him with devotion and pure feelings during the night is a great support and source of feeding for human spirit. While ordering the Messenger to pray it, the Almighty declared:
    O you, folded in garments! Rise to pray by night, but not all night – half of it, or a little less, or a little more, and recite the Qur’an in measured rhythmic tones and with great care and attention. We are about to cast upon you a weighty Word. Indeed, rising by night is most potent and good for governing the soul, and most suitable for reciting and understanding the Word. There is for you by day prolonged occupation with ordinary duties. So, keep in remembrance of God’s Name and mention It, dedicating yourself devoutly to Him. He is the Lord of the east and the west. There is no deity save Him. Take Him for your Guardian and Disposer of Affairs (73:1-9).
Since every Muslim is a devoted servant of God and dedicated to His cause, the tahajjud prayer’s importance is clear. According to most acceptable reports from the Messenger, together with the Witr prayer, it consists of eleven rak‘ats and is performed in cycles of two, just like the morning prayer (Bukhari, “Tahajjud,” 10). Although the witr prayer can be performed after the late evening prayer before going to bed, so that one will not miss it because of sleep, its preferable time is after tahajjud. It consists of three rak‘ats and is performed like the evening prayer, but with the following exceptions:
In the third rak‘at, a Qur’anic passage and the qunut prayers are recited after al-Fatiha. Before praying qunut, say takbir (Allahu akbar) by raising the hands as is done when beginning the prayer. The Messenger’s reported qunut prayers are: Allahumma inna nasta’inuka wa nastaghfiruka wa nastahdika wa nu’minu bika wa natubu ilayk; wa natawwakkalu ‘alayka wa nuthni ‘alayka’l-khayra kullahu nashkuruka wa la nakfuruk. Wa nakhla’u wa natruku man yaf-juruk. Allahumma iyyaka na‘budu wa laka nusalli wa nasjudu wa ilayka nas’a wa nahfidu; narju rahmataka wa nakhsa ‘adhabaka inna ‘adhabaka bi’l-kuffari mulhiq (O God! We ask You for help, forgiveness, and guidance. We believe in You and turn to You in repentance for our sins, and place our trust in You. We praise You by attributing all good to You, and thank You, and never feel ingratitude to You. We reject and cut our relations with those who are in constant rebellion against You. O God, You alone do we worship, and we pray and prostrate for You alone. We endeavor in Your way to obtain Your good pleasure and approval. We hope and expect Your Mercy and fear Your chastisement, for Your chastisement is to surround the unbelievers.).
The specific prayers during Ramadan, which are known as tarawih, are sunna for both men and women and are to be performed after the prescribed late evening prayer and before witr. As generally accepted, it consists of 20 rak‘ats and is performed preferably in cycles of two rak‘ats.
Tarawih prayers can be performed in congregation or alone. The majority of scholars, however, prefer to pray them in congregation. The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, prayed it in congregation but then stopped doing so, fearing that it would be made obligatory. ‘Umar established the practice of praying tarawih behind one imam.
The Prayer of the Sick (Salat al-Marid)
Whoever cannot stand due to illness or another valid reason can pray sitting. If this is not possible, one can pray while lying on one’s right side by making gestures. In such a case, the gestures for sajda should be lower than those for ruku‘.
The Prayer during Times of Fear or Danger (Salat al-Khawf)
All scholars agree about the legality of such prayers:
    (O Messenger!) When you are among the believers (who are on an expedition and fear that the unbelievers might harm them) and rise to lead the prayer for them, let a party of them stand in prayer with you and retain their arms (while letting the other party take their positions against the enemy). When the first party has prostrated (and finished the rak‘at), let them go behind you (to take their positions against the enemy), and let the other party, which has not prayed, come forward and pray with you, being fully prepared against danger and retaining their arms. Those who disbelieve wish that you should be heedless of your weapons and your equipment, so that they might swoop upon you in a surprise attack. But there shall be no blame on you if you lay aside your arms (during prayer) if you are troubled by rain (and the ground impedes your movement), or if you are ill. However, (always) be fully prepared against danger. Surely God has prepared for the unbelievers a shameful, humiliating chastisement. (4:102)
The Prayer of a Traveler (Salat al-Musafir)
If one begins a journey of at least 3 days, one shortens the prescribed prayers of four rak‘ats (the noon, afternoon, and night prayers) and offers them as two rak‘ats, just like the dawn prayer. Since at that time travel was generally by foot and a day’s travel was counted as 6 hours, the distance of 3 days on foot was regarded as 90 kilometers (54 miles). However, many contemporary scholars maintain that since many people now travel by bus or train, the above-mentioned prayers can be shortened only if the distance is around 1,200 kilometers (720 miles).
Travelers are defined as people who have left their home and their town. So long as they are traveling, the above-mentioned prayers can be shortened. If they reach a place and intend to stay there for less than 15 days, they are considered as travelers and are therefore allowed to shorten their prayers as outlined above. If they are still there on the fifteenth day for reasons beyond their control, although they originally intended to stay for less than 15 days, they are still considered travelers and can shorten the appropriate prayers. Most scholars opine that travelers may offer the sunna and supererogatory prayers without shortening them.
The main reason for shortening the above-mentioned prayers is traveling, not the hardships of travel. Thus, these prayers are shortened even if no difficulty is encountered while traveling. The cause for establishing a rule differs from its expected wisdom and benefit. Wisdom or benefit is the reason for its preference, while the cause requires its existence. So, traveling Muslims shorten their prayers. The cause for this Divine dispensation is traveling, and the underlying wisdom is the hardship of traveling. Thus prayers are shortened even if no hardship is encountered, for the cause exists. Muslims who encounter hardships while at home cannot shorten their prayers, for the wisdom or benefit cannot be the cause for this dispensation.
Those who are traveling must pray whether they are on a ship or a train or a plane, if the prayer will be missed before reaching a place where one can offer it.
Specific Sunna Prayers
Asking for What Is Good (Salat al-Istikhara). The Messenger advised all Muslims to follow his practice when confronted with having to make a choice between permissible alternatives: pray two non-obligatory rak‘ats and then ask God to enable one to choose what is good or better.
The Prayer of Glorification (Salat al-Tasbih). Ibn ‘Abbas reports that God’s Messenger said to ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib:
    O ‘Abbas, O Uncle, shall I not give you, present to you, donate to you, tell you of ten things which, if you do them, God will forgive your first and last sins, past and present sins, intentional and unintentional sins, private and public sins? The ten actions are: pray four rak‘ats, reciting in every rak‘at al-Fatiha and a sura. When you finish the Qur’anic recitation of the first rak‘at, say, while standing: Subhana’llah, al-hamdu li’llah, wa la ilaha illa’llahu wa’llahu akbar (Glory be to God, all praise be to God, there is no deity save God, and God is the greatest) 15 times. Then make ruku‘, and while in ruku‘, say the same phrases 10 times. Then stand and say the same 10 times. Then go down and make sajda, and while you are in sajda, say the same phrases 10 times. Then sit after sajda and say the same phrases 10 times. Then make sajda and say the same phrases 10 times. Then sit after the second sajda, and say the same phrases another 10 times. That is 75 (repetitions of the phrases) in each rak‘at. Do that in each of the four rak‘ats. If you can pray it once a day, do so. If you cannot, then once every Friday. If you cannot do that, then once a year. And if you cannot do that, then once during your life. (Abu Dawud, “Salat,” 303; Tirmidhi, “Salat,” 350.)
After saying the phrases 10 times following the second sajda in the second rak‘at, recite the tashahhud and calls of God’s blessings and peace upon the Messenger and his Family, and then end the first two rak‘ats by giving salutation. Pray the second two rak‘ats in the same way.
The Prayer for Need (Salat al-Haja). Make the proper ablution, pray two rak‘ats, and say the prayer reported from the Messenger concerning it (Tirmidhi, “Witr,” 345). If God’s overall Wisdom requires it to be met, God will grant whatever is asked, either sooner or later.
The Prayer of Repentance (Salat al-Tawba). Make the appropriate minor or major ablution, offer a prayer of two rak‘ats, and ask for His forgiveness. Hopefully, God will grant it.
The Prayer during a Solar or Lunar Eclipse (Salat al-Kusuf and al-Khusuf). Scholars agree that this is a sunna mu’akkada, a stressed or confirmed one, which is to be performed by both men and women. It is best, but not absolutely necessary, to pray it in congregation. Its time is from the eclipse’s beginning until its end. It is preferred to say takbir, supplicate, give charity, and ask God for forgiveness during the eclipse. It should be noted that this has nothing to do with asking for the eclipse to end, for its beginning and end are clear. An eclipse is only an occasion for such a prayer.
The Prayer for Rain (Salat al-Istisqa’). This prayer is performed to entreat to God for rain during a drought.
Supererogatory Prayers
Supererogatory prayers are important in that they make up for any deficiencies in performing the prescribed prayers and to bring us closer to God, Who declares:
    My servant cannot get near to Me through anything else more lovable to Me than doing the obligatory religious duties. However, by doing supererogatory duties he gets nearer to Me, and when he becomes near to Me, I shall be his eyes to see with, his ears to hear with, his hands to grasp with, and his legs to walk on. (Bukhari, “Riqaq,” 38)
Supererogatory prayers are offered in cycles of two rak‘ats. Praying two rak‘ats when around three quarters have passed after sunrise (ishraq), two to eight rak‘ats in broad daylight until the sun reaches its zenith (duha), and four rak‘ats between the evening and late evening prayers (awwabin).
Such supererogatory prayers are important, for as recorded by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Muslim, and Abu Dawud, the Messenger said the following about the duha (broad daylight) prayer:
    Charity is required from every part of your body daily. Every saying of “Glory be to God” is charity. Every saying of “All praise be to God” is charity. Every saying of “There is no deity but God” is charity. Every saying of “God is the Greatest” is charity. Ordering good is charity. Eradicating evil is charity. And what suffices for that (as a charity) are the two rak‘ats of the duha (broad daylight prayer). (Muslim, “Musafirun,” 84)
Offering Supererogatory Prayers at Home. Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Muslim relate from Jabir that the Messenger of God said: “If one of you offers his prayers in the mosque, then he should offer a portion of his prayers at home, as God has made saying prayers in one’s home a means of betterment (for him).” Ahmad records from ‘Umar that the Messenger of God said: “The supererogatory prayers prayed by a person at home are a light. Whoever wishes should light up his house.”
Reciting Long Passages. It is preferred to prolong one’s recitation during supererogatory prayers. God’s Messenger would stand and pray until his feet or shanks swelled. When he was asked about it, he said: “Should I not be a thankful servant?” (Bukhari, “Tahajjud,” 16)
The Friday Congregational Prayer
The Friday congregational prayer is obligatory and a significant Islamic symbol. God’s Messenger declared that God seals the heart of one who misses it three consecutive times without a valid excuse (Abu Dawud, “Salat,” 215; Tirmidhi, “Salat,” 359). It also has aspects concerning the Muslim community’s political freedom and condition, and cannot be offered alone.
When and Who. It is offered during the noon prayer’s time, for the latter prayer is not performed on Friday. Every free, adult, sane, and resident Muslim who can attend must attend, unless he has a valid reason not to do so. It is not obligatory upon women, children, those with valid excuses (e.g., illness, lack of security, extreme cold), and travelers.
Preparations. Increase prayers, supplications, and calling God’s blessings and peace upon the Messenger and his Family on Friday, especially before the Friday prayer. Perform the major ablution (ghusl) and wear the best clothes and the best allowable perfume. It is recommended to follow the Messenger’s example of reciting 10 verses from the beginning and end of Surat al-Kahf. Also, go to the mosque early.
Conditions for Its Validity. The Friday congregational prayer has aspects.
    * It is offered in a city (misr) that contains a government or a village having 30, 40, or more houses – which looks like a city in its outward form.
    * It is preferably offered in a central, large mosque and led by the district or city governor or imam (prayer leader) who is able to lead it and has been appointed by the governor to do so. In the capital city, it is preferably offered by the president or a capable imam appointed by him.
    * There must be at least three people to form a congregation after the imam.
The Adhan. The call to prayer (adhan) is made before the Friday sermon.
The Sermon. A sermon must be made before the Friday prayer. The imam gives it on a pulpit while standing. He begins it by praising God and calling God’s blessings and peace upon His Messenger and his Family. Next, he gives a sermon in which he exhorts Muslims to good deeds, discourages them from evil, advises them, and seeks to enlighten them mentally and spiritually and to guide them. He should not lengthen the sermon. After this part of the sermon, he sits for a short while and then, standing up, praises God, calls God’s blessings and peace upon God’s Messenger and his Family, and prays for all Muslims. The congregation must listen carefully and silently.
Prayers before and after the Friday Prayer. The Friday prayer consists of two rak‘ats. It is sunna to offer four rak‘ats before it, just like the four rak‘ats offered before the noon prayer. After the prayer, another supererogatory prayer of four rak‘ats is recommended.
Scholars have had some doubts about the Friday prayer’s validity for many centuries, due the Muslim community’s condition. Therefore, to be sure about performance of the prescribed noon prayer, they have ruled that another prayer of four rak‘ats, just like the noon prescribed prayer and with the intention of offering a later noon prayer, should be offered after the four-rak‘at supererogatory prayer. They also advise to follow this with another supererogatory prayer of two rak‘ats with the intention of offering the sunna prayer for that time.
‘Iyd (Religious Festive Days) Prayers (Salat al-‘Iydayn)
The two ‘Iyd prayers are considered necessary (wajib) and are to be offered on the two annual religious festive days: ‘Iyd al-Fitr (marking the end of Ramadan) and ‘Iyd al-Adha (on Dhu al-Hijja 10, the Day of Sacrifice). The former continues for 3 days, and the latter for 4 days.
The Religious Festive Days. On these days, Muslims visit, congratulate and offer gifts to one another, and display greater generosity by honoring the elders and pleasing the needy and children especially. They amuse themselves within religious and moral bounds, occupy themselves with reciting the Qur’an, mentioning God’s Names, and supplicating. It is advisable to perform ghusl (major ablution) and wear the best clothes and religiously allowed perfume. On the Day of Sacrifice, they offer cattle or sheep or goats to God as a sacrifice, as will be explained below.
The Prayer. The ‘Iyd prayers can be offered from when the sun is three spears above the horizon (approximately three quarters after sunrise) until it reaches its zenith. All men, women (regardless of marital status, age, or if they are menstruating), and children go to the place of prayer. Menstruating women do not attend the prayer. There is no adhan or iqama, unlike the Friday prayer.
Offering the ‘Iyd Prayer. The ‘Iyd prayer consists of two rak‘ats and is offered like the Friday prayer, except for extra takbirs (Allahu akbar [God is the Greatest]). Like other prayers, the imam and the congregation make the intention and the opening takbir, and then recite the supplication silently. After the supplication and before reciting al-Fatiha, the imam leads the congregation in three extra takbirs by raising his hands while saying the opening takbir. After the first two takbirs, they leave their arms down, and after the third, they hold their hands under the navel and begin to recite al-Fatiha. After completing the first rak‘at and reciting al-Fatiha and another Qur’anic passage in the second rak‘at, the imam leads the congregation in extra takbirs again. This time they say four takbirs and, leaving the arms down after the first three, bow after the fourth one. Then they complete the prayer.
Sermon. After the prayer, the imam gives a sermon just as he does during the Friday congregational prayer.
Takbirs during the ‘Iyds. Muslims must exalt God on the Festive Days of Sacrifice by pronouncing: Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar; la ilaha illa’llahu wa’llahu akbar; Allahu akbar wa li’llahi’l-hamd (God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest. There is no deity but God, and God is the Greatest. God is the Greatest and for His is all praise.). It is pronounced after every prescribed prayer after the dawn prayer on the day before the Festive Day, and ends after the afternoon prayer on the fourth day of ‘Iyd.
Almost every nation has religious festivals to commemorate important events in its history or to celebrate special occasions. There are two religious festivals in Islam: ‘Iyd al-Fitr (marking the end of Ramadan’s month-long dawn-to-sunset fast) and ‘Iyd al-Adha (the festival of sacrifice), which falls on Dhu’l-Hijja 10, the last month of the Islamic year in which the pilgrimage is performed. Both festivals enjoy a special place in the life of Muslims, and leave indelible impressions upon their cultures.
Religious festivals are times of deepened Islamic thoughts and occasions of paradoxical feelings – pangs of separation and hopes of reunion, regrets and expectations, and joys and sorrows.
Muslims enjoy the pleasure of reunion and universal brotherhood and sisterhood on festive days. They smile at each other lovingly, greet each other respectfully, and visit each other. Members of families divided by modern, industrialized life and forced to live in different towns come together and enjoy the delight of eating and living together once again, if only for a few days.
Religious festivals are occasions for spiritual revival through seeking God’s forgiveness and through praising and glorifying Him. Muslims are enraptured by special supplications, odes, and eulogies for the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings. Especially in traditional circles where traces of the past are still alive, people experience the festival’s meaning in a more vivid, colorful fashion, on cushions or sofas, or around furnaces in their humble houses, or under the trees among their garden’s flowers, or in the spacious halls of their homes. They feel its meaning in each morsel they eat, in each sip they drink, and in each word they speak about their traditional and religious values.
Religious festivals have a much greater significance for children. They feel a different joy and pleasure in the warm, embracing climate of the festivals, which they have been preparing to welcome a few days before. Like nightingales singing on branches of trees, they cause us to experience the festivals more deeply through their play, songs, smiles, and cheerfulness.
Religious festivals provide the most practical means for improving human relationships. People experience a deep inward pleasure, and meet and exchange good wishes in a blessed atmosphere of spiritual harmony. When the festival permeates hearts with prayer and supplications performed consciously, souls are elevated to the realm of eternity. They then feel the urge to abandon the clutches of worldly attachments and live in the depths of their spiritual being. In the atmosphere overflowing with love and mercy, a new hope is injected with life.
Believing souls welcome the religious festivals with wonder and expectations of otherworldly pleasures. Indeed, it is difficult to understand fully what believing souls feel in their hearts during these religious festivals. To perceive the feelings thus aroused in pure souls who lead their life in ecstasies of other-worldly pleasures, we must experience such pleasures to the same degree. Having reached the day of the festival after fulfilling their prescribed duty of praying and responsibility, these souls display such a dignity and serenity, and such a grace and spiritual perfection, that those who see them think that they have all received a perfect religious and spiritual education. Some of them are so sincere and devoted to God that each seems to be the embodiment of centuries-old universal values. One may experience through their conduct and manners that taste of the fruits of Paradise, the peaceful atmosphere on its slopes, and the delight of being near to God.

The Funeral Prayer
The Rights of a Dead Muslim upon Living Muslims. A dead Muslim has four rights over living Muslims: The right to be washed, shrouded, prayed over, and buried. However, Muslims are not obliged to do so for those who die as apostates or while fighting against them.
Visiting a Sick Person. It is a highly recommended and meritorious act to visit a sick person. Muslims suggest to the dying that they should declare God’s Oneness: La ilaha illa’llah, Muhammadun Rasulu’llah (There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is His Messenger) or the profession of faith: Ashhadu an la ilaha illa’llah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasuluh (I bear witness that there is no deity but God, and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.).
Washing the Corpse. When a Muslim dies, the corpse should be washed by a knowledgeable Muslim three times. Before washing, he or she is given minor ablution. Women wash dead women, and men wash dead men. However, a woman can wash her dead husband. The deceased’s relatives and others should not see the corpse being washed, and the corpse should be scented with camphor, musk, and similar scents.
Offering the Funeral Prayer. After washing, a dead Muslim is wrapped in a shroud and put in a coffin. This holds true for everyone except martyrs, who are buried in the clothes in which they were martyred. The corpse is placed upon a raised platform or a smooth stone so that its right side faces the qibla. The congregation then stands to pray before corpse. While this prayer is obligatory upon all Muslims and must be prayed in congregation, when only some of them offer it, the others do not have to. Women also can attend.
The imam makes the intention to pray for the deceased (the deceased’s gender should be specified) for God’s sake and good pleasure. The congregation makes the same intention and then adds the intention to pray behind the imam. Then, following the imam, they begin the prayer with the opening takbir (as in all other prayers), supplicate, say takbir while keeping the hands under the navel, call God’s blessings and peace upon His Messenger and his Family (as in the final sittings of other prayers), repeat takbir while keeping the hands under the navel, pray for the deceased and all other Muslims (both alive or dead), say takbir for the third time, and give salutations to the right and left.
Burying the Deceased. Muslims place the deceased in the grave while saying: “Bi’smi’llahi ala millet-i Rasuli’llah” (In God’s Name and according to the religion and way of God’s Messenger.). The deceased is laid on the right side facing the qibla, and the shroud is then untied. A stone or something similar is placed in the grave diagonally and in a slanting position so that the corpse should not be covered with soil. Soil is placed on the stone and then is used to cover the grave. After reciting some Qur’anic passages and praying to God for the deceased one, the people leave.
Congregational Prayer
Performing the prayers in congregation is a sunna mu’akkada (a sunna emphasized by the Messenger). Many scholars consider it necessary (wajib).
Women. It is better for women to pray in their houses than to attend congregational prayers. However, they may go to the mosque and attend the congregational prayer if they do not wear any attractive clothing or use any tempting perfume.
Conditions To Be Met by the Muezzin (the Caller to Prayer). The Messenger praised muezzin and gave them good tidings of great reward (Bukhari, “Ezan,” 5). However, in order to deserve this praise and reward, they have to meet certain conditions, as follows:
    * Make the call to prayer for God’s sake, not for wages.
    * Be clean from major or minor impurities.
    * Stand and face the qibla.
    * Turn his head, neck, and chest to the right upon saying: “Hayya ‘ala’s-salah” and to the left upon saying: “Hayya ‘ala’l-falah.”
    * Insert his index fingers into his ears so that his voice may be higher.
    * Raise his voice for the call, even if he is alone in the desert.
    * Pause between each phrase of the adhan.
    * Adorn the adhan with his beautiful voice and tune.
The adhan is one of the important, collective symbols of Islam, for it shows that the place in which it is called is a Muslim land. In addition, it is a declaration of Islam’s basic principles.
Whoever Makes the Adhan Makes the Iqama. It is highly recommended and preferable that whoever makes the adhan makes the iqama. A man who prays alone is encouraged to make the adhan, if he did not listen to its public recitation, and should make the iqama.
The Adhan and Iqama for Women. Although some scholars state that there is no adhan or iqama for women, some maintain that women can form a congregation and pray, and that one of them can serve as the imam. However, she must stand in the middle of the first row.
The Imam. The imam must meet several conditions, as follows:
    * If the congregation includes men and women, the imam must be a man.
    * He must be well-versed in Qur’anic recitation and knowledgeable of the prayer’s obligatory, necessary, and sunna acts.
    * He should be of good character and reputation.
    * He should be the most knowledgeable (of those present) of Islamic jurisprudence and Qur’anic recitation, have excellent qualities and character, a good voice, and a sound body.
    * He should not have a health problem that causes him to continually lose his ablution, unless all others in the congregation have the same or a similar problem.
    * According to scholars, anyone whose prayer is valid for himself is valid for others if he serves as the imam. However, Muslims do not like to pray behind an evildoer or an innovator.
Where the Imam and the Congregation Stand. The imam stands before the congregation. Preferably, one person stands to the imam’s right. If there are two or more people, they stand behind the imam. The Messenger placed the men in front of the young boys and the women behind the young boys.
Correcting the Imam’s Mistake. If the imam forgets a verse, recites incorrectly, or makes a mistake in praying, someone in the congregation should correct him, and anyone who is known to be able to correct him is preferred to stand just after the imam.
Straightening the Rows and Filling the Gaps. The imam should tell the members of the congregation, or the congregation should do so even if the imam does so, to straighten the rows and fill in any gaps before starting the prayer.
The Imam’s and Congregation’s Recitation. It is enough for the imam to recite al-Fatiha and another Qur’anic passage, and for the congregation to keep silent. The congregation makes all other recitations, including takbirs, the supplication before al-Fatiha, the words of glorification in ruku‘ and sujud, and tashahhud and calls of God’s blessings and peace upon God’s Messenger and his Family.
Following the Imam. Every member of the congregation must follow the imam without delay, and must not to precede him in any action during the prayer.
Putting a Partition in front of Oneself While Praying. Anything that one sets in front of himself or herself while praying qualifies as a partition, even if it is only the bed’s end. The Messenger said: “When one of you prays, he should make a partition for his prayer, even if it is an arrow.” (Ibrahim Canan, Hadis Ansiklopedisi [An Encyclopedia of Hadiths], Ist., 8:179) This is done so that others cannot pass in front of one who is praying. It is forbidden to pass in front of one who is praying (i.e., between the person and his or her partition). If there is no such probability, making a partition is not necessary. The partition should be close enough that there is only room enough to prostrate.
One can make a gesture to stop someone from passing in front of him or her; however, this must not of the kind that will invalidate one’s prayer, like speaking. The prayer is not invalidated if a person or an animal passes in front of the one who is praying.
Joining the Congregation. Whoever joins a congregation must say the opening takbir while standing and then move directly to the act that the congregation is performing. For instance, if the congregation is prostrating one should perform the opening takbir and then prostrate. If one joins the congregation during the ruku‘ following any standing position (qiyam), one is considered to have performed that rak‘at. If it belongs to the first rak‘at, one who joins the congregation during it and completes the prayer after the imam is considered to have performed the whole prayer.
If one joins after the ruku‘, one is considered to have missed the rak‘at or rak‘ats preceding it. If one joins during the second rak‘at, no matter in which prayer it occurs, after the imam gives the first salutation (to his right), one stands up and performs the first missed rak‘at, reciting al-Fatiha and a Qur’anic passage, performs the ruku‘, sujud, and the final sitting, and ends the prayer with salutations.
If one joins after the ruku‘ of the second rak‘at in the dawn prayer, one stands up after the imam gives the first salutation and performs the prayer completely, without, however, saying the opening takbir. If one joins the evening prayer, one follows the imam until he gives the first salutation, and then stands up, recites al-Fatiha and a Qur’anic passage, performs the ruku‘ and sujud, and sits. This is one’s second rak‘at. After reciting the tashahhud, one stands up and recites al-Fatiha and a Qur’anic passage, does the ruku‘ and sujud, performs the final sitting, and ends the prayer with salutations. If one joins the noon, afternoon, or late evening prayers, one follows the imam until he gives the first salutation and then stands up. One completes the prayer by performing the two first rak‘ats missed as if performing a prayer of two rak‘ats.
If one joins the congregation in the fourth rak‘at or after the ruku‘ following the third rak‘at, one follows the imam until he gives the first salutation and then stands up. One performs the first rak‘at missed by reciting al-Fatiha and a Qur’anic passage, doing the ruku‘ and sujud and sits. After reciting the tashahhud, one stands up, recites al-Fatiha and a Qur’anic passage, does the ruku‘ and sujud, and stands up. Then one recites only al-Fatiha, does the ruku‘ and sujud, and sits to recite tashahhud, calls of God’s blessings and peace upon the Messenger and his Family, and end the prayer by giving salutations.
If one joins the congregation after the ruku‘ of the last rak‘at of any prayer, one has missed that prayer and, standing when the imam gives the salutation to the right, offers the prayer completely without, however, saying the opening takbir.
If one is offering the dawn (fajr) or evening (maghrib) prayer alone and people form a congregation behind an imam in the place where one is praying, and if one has not yet prostrated after the second rak‘at, one must join the congregation.
If one is offering a prayer of 4 rak‘ats and is offering the first rak‘at, one also joins the congregation. If one is offering the second rak‘at, one completes the first two rak‘ats, as if performing a prayer of 2 rak‘ats, and joins the congregation. If one is offering the third rak‘at, one joins the congregation. If one is offering the fourth rak‘at, one completes the prayer without joining the congregation.
Earth as a Mosque. A Muslim can pray anywhere, provided that the place does not have enough dirt to invalidate the prayer, has not been usurped, or belongs to one who will not allow prayer therein. This is a special blessing of God Almighty for the Muslim community. Given this, the whole Earth can serve as a mosque.
Three Most Excellent Mosques. One can pray in any mosque. However, three mosques have a particular sacredness and provide those praying within far more merit than praying in others. In order of merit and sacredness, they are the Sacred Mosque (al-Masjid al-Haram) in Makka, the Prophet’s Mosque (al-Mascid al-Nabawi) in Madina, and the Masjid al-Aqsa in Quds (Jerusalem).
Making Up Missed Prayers
Prayer is the most important kind of worship. It is the support of religion, and therefore can never be omitted. However, scholars agree that any prescribed prayer that has been missed for whatever reason (e.g., forgetfulness, sleep, having an operation or a serious illness) must be made up. One can perform the missed prescribed prayer at any time, except when praying is prohibited. Missed prayer must be made up without delay.
Missed prayers should be performed in the proper order. For example, if one has missed less than six prayers, he or she should first perform that missed prayer before performing a new prayer whose time it is in. Doing so shows that one is a person of order, and making up missed prayers reinforces this. However, if one has missed more than six prayers, one can make up them in all times when praying is permissible.
One who missed a prayer during journeying, he/she makes it up as 2 rak‘ats except the evening prayer, no matter where he/she prays it.

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