How to Pray in Islam (Perform Salah)? A Step-by-Step Guide

What Is Salah (Prayer) In Islam

Check out through this blog the meaning of Salah in Islam and why it is important for Muslims.

What Does Salah Mean?

In Islam, salah goes beyond ritual; it’s a deep spiritual bond between believers and Allah. Through spoken affirmations like Takbir and Tasbih and physical gestures of standing, bowing, and prostration, salah fosters a meaningful connection with the Divine.

As the second of the Five Pillars of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) emphasized Salah’s pivotal role. Salah isn’t just a recommended act; it’s a daily obligation, a direct link with Allah.

Rooted in history, salah became obligatory after the miraculous Isra’ and Mi’raj journey. Beyond routine, it offers protection from the grave’s torment and fortifies faith in the hearts of Muslims.

In essence, salah is more than a practice; it’s a sacred commitment that merges spiritual devotion, physical surrender, and unyielding faith—a cornerstone of a Muslim’s life, providing solace, guidance, and a steadfast anchor in Islam.

Sayings in salah are certain statements such as Takbir and Tasbih. Actions in Salah like standing, bowing, and prostration.

Salah or prayer is the main worship that Muslims perform every day. In Islam, it’s the second of the 5 pillar of Islam as the prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said:

Islam has been built upon five things – on testifying that there is no god save Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger; on performing salah; on giving the zakah; on Hajj to the House; and on fasting during Ramadhan.”

Salah is an obligatory worship in Islam that Muslims perform every day. It contains sayings and actions that represent a connection between the believer and Allah. 

Salah became a compulsory deed after the Isra’ and Mi’raj journey. In Islam, it has great virtues for Muslims like protecting from the torment of the grave and strengthening the faith.

How to Pray in Islam?

Prayer, or Salah, is a fundamental pillar of Islam, serving as a direct means of communication between the worshipper and Allah. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) provided a comprehensive guide on how to perform Salah, incorporating physical and spiritual aspects. In this step-by-step guide, we will outline the key elements of Islamic prayer.

1. Preparation Step:

You first need to have some combined elements of physical purification, modesty, directional alignment, and internal reflection to create a holistic preparation for Salah, emphasizing the importance of approaching prayer with a cleansed body, focused mind, and sincere heart.

Purify Yourself through Ablution (Wudu):

Wudu is a ritual purification process that involves washing specific parts of the body before performing Salah. This sacred act symbolizes physical and spiritual cleanliness. Muslims begin by washing their hands, mouth, nose, face, arms, head, and feet, following the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Wudu signifies the readiness to stand before Allah in prayer with a pure heart and body.

Cover Your Private Parts:

Modesty and decency are integral aspects of Islamic teachings. Before engaging in prayer, it is essential to cover one’s private parts with suitable clothing. This act not only adheres to the principles of modesty but also reflects the humility and respect with which a believer approaches the divine connection through Salah.

Face the Qiblah:

The Qiblah is the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, towards which Muslims turn during their prayers. This unified direction serves as a symbol of the global unity of the Muslim Ummah (community) and signifies submission to the One God. Facing the Qiblah is a physical manifestation of the oneness of the Muslim community and their devotion to Allah.

Invoke Reverence for God in Your Heart through Obedience and Worship:

As part of the mental preparation for prayer, it is crucial to cultivate a sense of reverence and humility in the heart. This involves acknowledging the greatness of Allah, His mercy, and the privilege of standing before Him in prayer. Reflecting on one’s obedience to God’s commandments and engaging in acts of worship throughout daily life fosters a state of mindfulness and spiritual connection.

2. Opening Takbir (Allahu Akbar):

Raise Your Hands Parallel to Your Shoulders, Saying “Allahu Akbar”:

The opening Takbir, “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the Greatest), marks the commencement of the prayer and symbolizes the transition from the ordinary to the sacred. This physical act involves raising both hands parallel to the shoulders, signifying the believer’s readiness to enter into a profound state of connection with Allah. It is a declaration of surrender and acknowledgment of the greatness of the Creator.

Place the Palm of Your Right Hand on the Back of Your Left Hand Above Your Chest:

Following the Takbir, the worshipper adopts a specific hand position. The right hand is placed on the back of the left hand, and both are positioned above the chest. This symbolic gesture is a manifestation of submission, humility, and orderliness in prayer. The placement of hands serves as a reminder of the devotee’s commitment to follow the prescribed method of prayer as taught by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

3. Opening Supplication:

Choose from Supplications Asking for Forgiveness or Praising Allah:

Before initiating the recitation of the Quranic verses, the worshipper has the option to recite various supplications. These can include expressions seeking forgiveness, blessings, or general praise for Allah. This moment allows for personal connection and intention-setting before engaging in the formal recitation of the Quran during the prayer. It reflects the individual’s acknowledgment of dependence on Allah and the desire for His mercy and guidance.

4. Recitation:

Recite Al-Fatihah and Additional Verses from the Quran in Each of the first two Rak’ahs:

The recitation phase involves the recital of Surah Al-Fatihah, the opening chapter of the Quran, in every rak’ah. This is followed by the recitation of additional verses or chapters (Surahs) from the Quran in each of the first two takats.

The recitation is performed with a deliberate and measured pace, allowing the worshipper to reflect on the meaning of the verses and immerse themselves in the divine words. The Quranic recitation is a central element of Salah, emphasizing the importance of scripture in the life of a Muslim.

5. Bowing (Ruku) and Prostration (Sujood):

Bow Down and Prostrate, Praising God During Each Movement:

After the recitation phase, the worshipper transitions into the physical acts of bowing (Ruku) and prostration (Sujood). In Ruku, the individual bows down with hands on knees, demonstrating humility and submission. This position signifies acknowledging the greatness of Allah. During Sujood, the worshipper prostrates, touching the ground with the forehead, nose, palms, knees, and toes. These actions symbolize the ultimate submission and humility before the Creator.

Say “Subhana Rabbiyal A’la” Three Times in Prostration:

While in Sujood, the worshipper utters the phrase “Subhana Rabbiyal A’la” (Glory is to my Lord, the Most High) three times. This expression emphasizes the worshipper’s recognition of the elevated and transcendent nature of Allah. It serves as a moment of intense connection, where the believer praises the greatness of God in the lowest physical position, illustrating complete submission.

6. Tashahhud and Salutation:

Sit and Recite the Tashahhud, Bearing Witness to Allah and the Prophet:

Following the prostration, the worshipper sits and recites the Tashahhud—a declaration of faith and bearing witness to the oneness of Allah and the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him). This testimony is a fundamental aspect of Islamic belief and is recited in a composed manner, expressing the believer’s commitment to monotheism.

Conclude with the Salutation, Saying “As-salamu alaykum”:

The prayer concludes with the recitation of the final salutation, where the worshipper turns the head to the right and says, “As-salamu alaykum” (Peace be upon you). This act symbolizes bidding peace and blessings upon the angels on the right and left sides. The salutation also represents the completion of the prayer and the return to the ordinary state.

7. Additional Acts After Prayer:

Seek Forgiveness (Istighfar), Read Specific Supplications, and Recite the Shahada:

After completing the formal prayer, engaging in additional acts is encouraged. This includes seeking forgiveness through Istighfar, expressing remorse for shortcomings and seeking Allah’s mercy. Reading specific supplications for protection, guidance, and blessings is also customary. Reciting the Shahada, the declaration of faith, reinforces the fundamental tenet of Islam and serves as a continual affirmation of monotheism.

Engage in Post-Prayer Acts of Remembrance and Supplication:

Devotees are encouraged to engage in acts of remembrance (Dhikr) and supplication (Dua) following the prayer. This can involve the repetition of phrases glorifying Allah, expressing gratitude, and seeking His favor. These moments of reflection and connection contribute to the spiritual upliftment of the individual and reinforce the continuous remembrance of Allah throughout daily life.

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8. Final Sitting and Tashahhud:

In the Final Sitting, Recite the Complete Tashahhud:

In the last sitting position, the worshipper recites the complete Tashahhud, which includes bearing witness to the oneness of Allah and acknowledging the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him). This comprehensive declaration encapsulates the core beliefs of Islam and is recited with a composed and focused demeanor.

Conclude the Prayer with the Final Salutations to the Right and Left:

The prayer concludes with the recitation of the final salutations, where the worshipper turns the head to the right and says, “As-salamu alaykum” (Peace be upon you). This signifies the end of the prayer and the return to the normal state. The salutation is directed towards the angels on the right and left, symbolizing the transition from the sacred act of worship to the daily affairs of life.

Incorporating these additional acts and concluding elements after the formal prayer enhances the spiritual experience, allowing the worshipper to continue their connection with Allah through acts of repentance, supplication, and remembrance. The post-prayer moments provide an opportunity for ongoing spiritual growth and reflection in the journey of faith.

After the Prayer:

Seek Forgiveness Three Times, Saying, “O God, You are Peace and from You is Peace”:

Immediately after the formal prayer concludes, it is recommended to seek forgiveness from Allah. The worshipper can do this by sincerely repenting for any shortcomings, mistakes, or sins committed. Uttering phrases like “Astaghfirullah” (I seek forgiveness from Allah) and specifically saying, “O God, You are peace, and from You is peace,” emphasizes the act of seeking divine pardon and mercy.

Engage in Additional Praises and Remembrances, Such as Reciting Ayat al-Kursi:

Following forgiveness, devotees are encouraged to engage in additional acts of remembrance and praise. Reciting Ayat al-Kursi, a verse from the Quran (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:255) that emphasizes the greatness and sovereignty of Allah, is particularly recommended. This verse is a powerful reminder of God’s attributes and serves as a means of seeking His protection and blessings.

These post-prayer moments provide an opportunity for the worshipper to further connect with Allah, seeking His forgiveness, and expressing gratitude through additional acts of remembrance. The inclusion of specific supplications and the recitation of revered verses like Ayat al-Kursi contribute to a continued state of spiritual mindfulness beyond the formal prayer.

History of Salah in Islam

The history of salah comes back to the time of the miraculous night journey “Isra’ and Mi’raj” before immigration to Mekka in the second year of prophethood when Allah made praying obligatory in Islam.

In the beginning, the compulsory praying consisted of 50 prayers a day, then Allah reduced them to only five prayers to facilitate for Muslims.

Anas ibn Maalik (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that prophet Muhammed (SAW) said: 

Then Allah revealed what He revealed to me, and enjoined fifty prayers on me every day and night.
I came back down to Moosa (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and he said: What did your Lord enjoin upon your ummah? I said: Fifty prayers. He said: Go back to your Lord and ask Him to reduce it
I kept going back and forth between my Lord, may He be blessed and exalted, and Moosa (peace be upon him) until He said: ‘O Muhammad, they are five prayers each day and night, for every prayer there will be a tenfold (reward), and that is fifty prayers.”

(Bukhari and Muslim).

Is Salah Compulsory in Islam?

In Islam, salah is an obligatory act that Muslims do, whether they are men or women, they should perform daily.

Allah (SWT) indicated that praying is compulsory in Islam through this verse {Indeed, performing prayers is a duty on the believers at the appointed times} (An-Nisa 4:103).

However, not all types of salah are obligatory in Islam, there is a non-obligatory or voluntary salah (nafl) like qiyam el layl.

Read: How to Pray Salah For Females?

What are the conditions of the validity of Salah?

The believer who is obligated to perform salah should be:

  • Muslim not a disbeliever.
  • Sane not insane.
  • Adult not child.
  • In the state of purity.
  • Have the niyyah or intention of praying.
  • Covered his or her awrah.
  • Faced the direction of qibla.

Why Is Salah Important in Islam?

Here are many reasons tells you why is praying is important in Islam:

  • Protects the prayer from the torment of the grave as it one of the virtuous deeds.
  • Builds a strong connection between the believer and Allah, making them pray in reverence.
  • Salah is the basis of virtuous deeds. Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said about salah:” If it is found to be perfect, he will be safe and successful”.
  • Prayer is the first deed that Allah counts on the judgement “The first of man’s deeds for which he will be called to account on the Day of Resurrection will be Salat”.
  • Helps the believers to deal with the hardships times {O believers! Seek comfort in patience and prayer.} (Al Baqarah 2:153)
  • Salah is the best virtuous deed after the profession of faith (shahada).
  • Gives the believers the feeling of tranquillity and reassurance as they are closer to Allah while praying.
  • Praying is a reason for expiating and forgiving sins.
  • Pefroming Salah every day strengthens the faith.

Read this article: How to Pray Salah In Islam?

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