Prayer (Salah)

Although Muslims can pray to God anytime and anywhere, there are ritual prayers in Islam known as the ‘salat’. Muslim adults are required to pray the ‘salat’ five times a day.

The individual names of the five ritual prayers are:

Fajr – just before sunrise
Dhuhr – around noon (lunch time)
Asr – afternoon
Maghrib – evening
Isha – night

The Arabic names of these daily ritual prayers are essentially taken from the time they are performed (for example ‘Fajr’ means: dawn, and ‘Maghrib’ means: evening).

There is also a special Friday prayer, known as the ‘Jumah’ prayer (‘Jumah’ means: gathering). This is prayer made in congregation. Muslims are encouraged to stop other things they are doing and come and pray together. It takes place at the time of what would normally be the ‘Dhuhr’ prayer, around noon.

Before Muslims pray they have to make sure that they are nice and clean. So they wash themselves in a special process known as wudu in Arabic, this is translated as ‘ablution’ in English.

Before the prayer someone will do the adhan, the call to prayer, which is a way of letting people know the prayer is about to start.

When a Muslim prays they face the Kabah in Makkah. The Kabah looks like a very large black cube and is known as the ‘House of God’. That does not mean that God lives in this box, it is actually empty inside, but it provides a billion Muslims around the world a common point of focus for God when they pray. The direction of the Kabah (known as the qiblah ) is South East of the UK and can be worked out using a compass.

Muslims do not always pray in a mosque . They can pray anywhere as long as the place is clean, as the prayer involves bowing down so the head touches the floor. For this reason Muslims will often pray on a prayer mat, (although this is not essential). These come in all colours and sizes.