How to Perform Salaat (Part 1)


Salat (literally means “supplication”) is the second pillar of Islam. As a pillar it refers to the five compulsory daily prayers. However, there are also optional prayers at specified occasions.

Hadiths says that the first thing that one will be questioned about on the Day of Judgment is about the prayers, and that one will be successful in the hereafter if he passes this test satisfactorily.

The significance of prayer can be gauged from the fact that one is not relieved from this duty even if one is sick, travelling or even at one’s death bed. A prominent view, even though not unanimous, held by scholars is that abandoning the daily prayers would render one a Kafir (disbeliever).

The Quran exhorts: “Establish Salat to remember me (Allah)” (20:14)


Salat at fixed times has been enjoined on the believers (4:103)

Prophet Muhammad said:

“Order you children to pray at the age of seven, and beat them to do so at the age of ten” (Ahmed)

Also he said,

“Between a man and polytheism (al-shirk) and disbelief (al-kufr) is the abandoning of the prayer” (Muslim)

Salat Overview

Basically the ceremonial prayers are of two types – obligatory and voluntary. The obligatory itself is of two types – with obligation for the individual, and those for the collective society.

Individual obligation refers to obligation for every adult, sane, Muslim men and women. Social obligation implies that some or any of a society should perform them on their behalf, which will suffice for the whole community. Voluntary implies there is no blame even if one doesn’t perform these prayers. However, there are Hadeeths suggesting that voluntary prayers will be taken into account on the Day of Judgment to make up for lapses in performing the obligatory prayers.

Note that the list of voluntary prayers in the table below may not be exhaustive

Obligatory Voluntary
Individual obligation Social obligation  
Five daily prayers    
Fajr Funeral prayer Regular daily sunnah prayers
Dhuhr/Friday Eid prayer Prayer for greeting the mosque
Asr Eclipse prayer Taraweeh
Maghrib Prayer for rain Witr
Isha Late night prayers


1) Typically, a prayer takes 10-15 minutes when done in congregation.

2) The prayer is to be done only under a state of “Wudhu

3) A prayer should be done only within its specified time period, and it is preferable not to delay a salah too much after its time starts.

4) “Azan” is given from the mosques to mark the start of the time for a prayer.

5) One should face the Qiblah (direction of the Masjid Haram at Mecca) during the prayer if it is possible to ascertain the direction. This requirement is waived if one is not able to ascertain directions at a place, or if one is in a ship, train etc which constantly changes direction.

6) Place for PrayerReports Abu Huraira, Prophet Muhammad said: “All the earth has been rendered for the Muslims as a masjid (place for prayer) ” [Muslim]

This means a Muslim can offer his prayer wherever he is, even though it is highly preferable and immensely more rewarding to do it in congregation at mosques. The place selected should be clean and pure, free from distraction, should not hinder movement of others as in busy pavements and public roads or should not face towards a grave.

7) In congregational prayers (normally conducted 5-10 minutes after Azan for maghrib and 20-25 minutes for other prayers) “Iqamat” is given by one person just before the start of the prayer.

8) In congregational prayer, (at least two people – can include woman) an Imam (leader) leads the prayer, who stands in front. The followers line up behind him, leaving just enough space for prostration between lines. They should stay close to each other not leaving space between their feet, and should stand such that their heels fall in straight lines.

9) Normally all recitations are done quietly by the worshippers individually. For exceptions see the page postscript.

9) One should be covering the private parts and be free of any physical impurities in one’s clothing, body or place of prayer. The shoulders of man should not be left uncovered. Women should cover all her body from head to foot excepting the face and the hands. Her clothes should not be transparent or tight fitting either.

10) If one is handicapped or too sick to perform prayer normally, one can do it either sitting in a chair or lying on the bed, or if one is in death bed, simply by moving one’s eyes. Also if one is in commutation, or is driving, or similarly too engaged to find separate time and place for prayer, one can perform it in whatever position one is in. The bottom line is not to miss it the obligatory prayers at any case.

11) There is provision to combine and shorten the day prayers (Dhuhr and Asr) for the travellers.


The timings of the obligatory prayers

Prayer name Start time End time
Fajr Dawn Sunrise
Dhuhr Sun passes the zenith when the shadow of a body is equal in length to it
Asr when the shadow of a body is equal in length to it sun set
Maghrib sun set twilight disappears
(preferable to do earlier)
Isha Twilight disappears end of the first half of the night (but can be offered upto the break of dawn)

Note: These timings are normally available in calendars. But one should account for the regional variations as calendars are based on standard times. Always listen for Azan from local mosques, if possible.


Timings for prayers at polar latitudes

In polar latitudes (45 degrees to poles), where the duration and signs of day and night are anomalous the following guides can be used. (check with the local mosque)

Latitude range Feature Timings
45-48 the signs of the day and night are very apparent (of short or long durations) same as for equatorial regions
48-66 Signs of the day and night are not very apparent during portion of the year Timing for Maghrib and Fajr should be approximated with the nearest or any temperate zone
66 – poles daily signs of night and day are not visible for long periods of year All timings should be approximated with the nearest or any temperate zone



Azan is the call for the prayer to mark the beginning of the time for each five obligatory prayers. This call is made from mosques five times a day. The person who makes this call is called Muazzin.

The rotation of the earth heralding the time of prayer from one place to another in a continuous manner makes sure that there is not even a moment where this glorification of the Lord is not heard at one place or other in the world. Azan thus serves to universalize the phenomenon of Islam and fulfills God’s commitment to invite all people to His path.

How to call Azan

The Muazzin stands facing the Qiblah (direction of Kaaba at Mecca), raises his hands to his ears inserting his forefingers into his ears and deliver the Azan in a loud voice, normally in a melodically manner.

The Text of the Azan

ALLahu akbar, ALLahu akbar Allah is Great, Allah is Great  
ALLahu akbar, ALLahu akbar
ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illaLLa I bear testimony that there are no gods but The God
ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illaLLa
ash-hadu anna muHammadan rasuuluLLa I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah
ash-hadu anna muHammadan rasuuluLLa
Hayya xala-SSalaa Come to prayer
Hayya xala-SSalaa
Hayya xalal falah Come to victory
Hayya xalal falah
ALLahu akbar, ALLahu akbar Allah is Great, Allah is Great
laa ilaaha illaLLa There are no gods but The God


Note: 1) When saying Hayya xala-SSalaa the Muazzin turns his face to the right and when saying Hayya xalal falah he turns his face to the left.

2) For the Fajr (dawn) prayer alone, after the second Hayya xalal falah one should recite

aSSalaatu khairun minannaum Prayer is better than sleep  
aSSalaatu khairun minannaum

3) The believers should listen to the Azan in silence and repeat each verse in silence after the Muazzin completes it, except the verses Hayya xala-SSalaa and Hayya xalal falah. For these verses alone one should reply:

laa Hawla walaa Quwwatha illaa bi-llah
There is no movement nor power except by Allah’s will

4) If one enters the mosque while Azan is being delivered, especially for Friday congregation, and wishes to pray the prayer greeting the mosque, he should first wait for Azan to complete standing up, before praying.

Supplication after Azan

After Azan is finished one should recite the Dua, with his hands cupped:


“O Allah, the Lord of this complete prayer of ours. By the blessing of it, give Muhammad his eternal rights of intercession, distinction and highest class (in paradise). And raise him to his promised rank”

Jabir reports: Prophet Muhammad has said that “any one who hears the Azan and makes the above supplication, he will be assured of my intercession”. (Bukhari)


Iqamat is the second call to prayer given immediately before the prayer after the devotees line up, and is given in a quick and normal recitation by any one in the first row immediately behind the Imam.

ALLahu akbar, ALLahu akbar Allah is Great  
ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illaLLa I bear testimony that there is no god but The God
ash-hadu anna muHammadan rasuuluLLa I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah
Hayya xala-SSalaa Come to prayer
Hayya xalal falah Come to victory
qad-qamati SSalah, qad-qamati SSalah Congregation is ready
ALLahu akbar, ALLahu akbar Allah is Great
laa ilaaha illaLLa There is no god but The God


Next part, How to Perform Salaah

Republished with the kind permission from The Muslim Giving



  1. This is very important topic,we need more of these because a lot of Pple doesn't know how to perform Salat even making Udhu itself.Pliz keep it up INSHAALLAh

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