Islamic concepts

Ṣalāh — ritual prayer, ritual worship, connection ritual

صَلَاة سَلَوَات
noun singular plural
romanization ṣalāh ṣalawāt
pronunciation ˈsˤɑlææh ˈˤsɑlæwææt

What is Ṣalāh?

Ṣalāh is the second pillar of Islām. This unique ritual is different from Duʿāʾ (personal prayer) or Tasbīh (mantric prayer).

Ṣalāh Maktūbah صلاة مكتوبة‏ — prescribed prayer

Five prayers are mandatory every day:

prayerwindow periodmandatory
Ṣalāt al-Fajr
صلاة الفجر
dawn prayer
during dawn before sunrise2 aloud2 before11:114, 24:58
Ṣalāt al-Ẓuhr
صلاة الظهر
between solar noon and mid-afternoon4 silent4 before, 2 after17:78, 30:18
Ṣalāt al-ʿAṣr
صلاة العصر
late afternoon prayer
between mid-afternoon and before sunset4 silent 2:238
Ṣalāt al-Maghrib
صلاة المغرب
sunset prayer
during twilight after sunset2 aloud, 1 silent2 after11:114
Ṣalāt al-ʿIshāʾ
صلاة العشاء
late evening prayer
after red twilight disappears and before sunrise2 aloud, 2 silent2 after24:58

Daily practice

Daily practice is what defines a Muslim. If you abandon Ṣalāh, you’re technically not a Muslim anymore.

Ritual prayer is the first order of business Allāh will check on us.

Allāh’s Messenger ﷺ explained, ‘The first action a worshipper will be held accountable for on the Day of Rising is their Ṣalāh. If their prayer is in order, they will have success and win through. If it’s not in order, they will be disappointed and lose out. If any of their mandatory prayers are lacking, the Master — the Mighty and Exalted — will say, “See if My worshipper has any voluntary] actions [prayers], and use them to complete his mandatory prayer.” Then the rest of their actions will be assessed in the same way.” ([[hadith|reported by Abū Hurayrah in al-Tirmidhi)

Benefits of Ṣalāh

  • What do you think would happen if there was a river by someone's door in which he washed five times every day? Do you think that any dirt would remain on him?' They said, 'Not a scrap of dirt would remain on him. That is a metaphor of the five prayers by which Allah wipes out wrong actions. (reported by Abū Hurayrah)

Voluntary prayer

  • Ṣalāt al-Witr
    صلاة الوتر
    odd-numbered prayer || after Ṣalāt al-ʿIshāʾ || 3 || ||
  • Be ever mindful of prayers, especially the middle prayer; and stand up before God in submissive devotion. (2:238)

Ṣalāh literally means contact or connection. It’s literally how we keep in touch with the Divine. As a spiritual lifeline to maintain, Ṣalāh is mandatory.

Ṣalāh is the grounding ritual. The Muslim is never disconnected from the lifeline.

Ṣalāh is the activity that maintains your direct lifeline to the Divine (swt), who is closer to you than even your jugular vein (Qurʾān 50:16)! Ṣalāh is a spiritual reality check where you humbly reconnect and ground yourself to the Higher Power. It serves as a reminder to never fall off course.

Scheduling special time for ritual prayer lets a Muslim get away from the hustle and bustle of worldly life and recharge their spiritual battery, connect with the Divine.

Ritual worship is mandatory for Muslims. Islām is not a concept in your head. It’s a living commitment and practice. The daily discipline to groom yourself and humbly present yourself for inspection before Allāh (swt).

Five prayers are mandatory every day.

Muslims pray five times a day, regulating their biological clock to observable astronomical events. Qurʾān 4:103.

This daily drill ensures a Muslim is always one step ahead of their day. Staying on top of things means you always stay clear of falling off course.

According to the Ḥanafī school of thought, Ṣalāt al-Witr is required:

Ṣalāt al-Sunnah — optional, bonus prayer

  • Ṣalāt al-Tahajjud صلاة التهج — night prayer (17:79)
  • Ṣalāt al-Istikhārah — prayer of seeking good
  • Ṣalāt al-Janāzah — funeral prayer
  • Ṣalāt al-Istisqāʾ — prayer of seeking rain
  • Ṣalāt al-Khusūf Kusūf — eclipse prayer
  • Ṣalāt al-Tarāwīh تراويح‎
  • Ṣalāt al-ʿĪd — feast prayer

صلاة السنة‎)

  • Combining prayers when travelling or during rain


(need to clean up this section)

  • 2:238 al-Ṣalāt al-Wutá ‘the middle prayer’ is most often interpreted as ʿAṣr. Since Ṣalāt al-ʿAṣr is never explicitly mentioned in the Qurʾān, could it actually refer to Ẓuhr (midday)?
  • 24:58 al-Ṣalāt al-ʿIshāʾ is often translated as nightfall, i.e. dusk. Might this be the same as the ‘end of day’ prayer mentioned in 11:114
  • 11:114 some say that end of day = maghrib. others say end of day is 'asr, making 'prayers during parts of the night' are the dusk and night prayers (the 2 evening prayers). maghrib would make sense since it's the equivalent to fajr for 'both ends of the day'. 'first part of the night' would then be Isha

The window period allows some flexibility and planning. Although there is no harm in waiting until the last minute to pray, Muslims are rewarded if they avoid procrastinating prayer without a valid reason.

Each prayer session consists of a number of units, each of which is called Rakaʿāh (plural Rakaʿāt). With only two units, the early morning prayer is clearly the easiest one to do. :)

Late prayer is worth 17%

The Prophet was asked the meaning of verse 107:5, and he said it was about those who perform their prayers past their due times. (Ibn Kathīr) The Prophet also said, “Even though a person may perform the entire prayer, they may be credited with no more than 1/6 or 1/10 of it. A person only gets credit for that part of the prayer in which he was conscious (of what he was doing).” (Ihya Uloom ad-Din) Even more gravely, he said, “The one who performs his prayer perfectly in public, while doing it carelessly and recklessly when alone, such a person is being disrespectful to his Lord and is mocking Him.” (At-Targheeb wa at-Tarheeb)

Hygiene check

Muslims must be in a state of ritual purity before they are ready to pray Ṣalāh. This is accomplished by performing a water meditation known as Wuḍūʾ.

Dress code

You must present yourself before the Divine (swt) in a humble and modest way. The clothing that covers your body is called Ḥijāb. The body area a worshipper covers is called the ʿAwrah.


Find a clean spot to pray, preferably with no distractions. Many people like to use a prayer mat.

Face the direction of the Kaʿbah shrine in Makkah (in what is now Saudi Arabia). This direction is called Qiblah.

Step-by-step overview

  1. Be fully mindful of the prayer you intend to form without uttering it.
  2. Stand facing the Qiblah, feet shoulder width apart.
  3. Raise your hands to the sides of your head, palms facing forward, and say ‘Allāhu akbar’. This means ‘Allāh is the greatest’.
  4. Say ‘Aʿūdhu billāhi min al-shayṭān al-rajīm’ (“I seek protection in Allāh from the accursed Shayṭān.” )
  5. Perform between 2 and 4 units of prayer (depending on which prayer you’re doing).
  6. Tashahhud
  7. turn both sides

Special circumstances

illness, travelling, war

Prayer clock browser extensions


External links