Praying as a Muslim

Once you have taken your Shahadah, you are now a Muslim and you should now begin to learn how to pray as a Muslim.

Throughout the Qur’an, Allah subhanu wa ta’ala tells us to “establish” prayer in our lives.

 “And establish the Prayer at the two ends of the day and in the first hours of the night”     Surah Hud 11 114.

“Establish Prayer from the declining of the sun to the darkness of the night;”             Surah Bani Isra’il 17 78.

Establish means to start from the beginning and to slowly build up – and this means that it can take some time before you get to the place where you are performing your prayers fully.

Prayers in Islam are referred to as salat or salah.

Muslims are required to offer five prayers to Allah   each day. These prayers are obligatory and their performance is described as being one of the “pillars” of Islam – one of the acts that defines a believer as a Muslim.

As a new Muslim, it will take you some time to learn how to pray and to establish these prayers in your daily life. This is allowed – you are not expected to be able to perform everything perfectly and completely from day one. But you must work towards putting these prayers into practice as soon as you can.

So begin praying to Allah in your own language but gradually start learning the Arabic phrases used in Salah and start learning some of the smaller Surahs (chapters) in Arabic so that you can begin to incorporate them in to your Salah.

The five prayers are performed during specified periods of the day.

The Five Daily Prayers

These are the five prayers each day which are obligatory for every Muslim to perform.

Where possible, you should pray the five obligatory prayers as part of a group of worshipers – either at a mosque, at home, your workplace etc.

If it is not possible to pray these obligatory prayers as part of a group, then you may pray them as an individual.

Salat as-Suhb (Fajr)

Salat as-Subh (or Fajr), the Dawn Prayer, is performed between dawn until shortly before sunrise.

It is made up of two rak’ats of prayer.

A rak’at is one cycle, or recitation of prayer. This will be described more fully on the page “How to Pray”.

Salat adh-Dhuhr

Salat adh-Dhuhr is the Midday Prayer. It’s time of prayer is from just after the sun reaches it’s zenith at midday, until midway through the afternoon.

It is made up of four rak’ats of prayer.

Salat al-‘Asr

Salat al-‘Asr is the Afternoon Prayer. It’s time of prayer starts midway through the afternoon until an hour or so before sunset.

It is made up of four rak’ats of prayer.

Salat al-Maghrib

Salat al-Maghrib is the Sunset Prayer. It’s time of prayer is immediately after sunset.

It is comprised of three rak’ats of prayer.

Salat al-‘Isha

Salat al-‘Isha is the Night Prayer. It’s time of prayer is from when all the redness of the sunset has disappeared from the sky, until a third of the night has passed.

It is made up of four rak’ats of prayer.

Where possible, you should pray the five obligatory prayers as part of a group of worshipers – either at a mosque, at home, your workplace etc.

If it is not possible to pray these obligatory prayers as part of a group, then you may pray them as an individual.

Friday Prayers

On a Friday, Salat adh-Dhuhr is replaced by Salat al-Jumu’a, the Prayer of Gathering. This is where the Muslim community gathers in the mosque for a weekly communal prayer.

It is looked upon as compulsory for men to attend the Jumu’a salat. It should only be missed for good reason.

It is not compulsory for women to attend Jumu’a salat, it is optional.

Where it is not possible to attend a communal Jumu’a slat, then Salat adh-Dhuhr must be prayed in it’s place.

Salat al-Jumu’a consists of a khutbah (a short sermon by the imam), some dua’s (supplications), and two congregational rak’ats of salat.

Times of Salah

The times of all these prayers can usually be found on the website for your local mosque.

Timetables will show you when the time for performing each salah begins and ends when the time of the congregational prayer for each salah will take place at the mosque

You can also find out the local times of prayer by carrying out an internet search for something like “salah times placename” or “prayer times placename“.

If you have a mobile phone/cell phone, you can also install an app on your phone which will inform you of the salah times for the geographical locale you are in. Many such free salah apps are available to download.

Voluntary Prayers

It is desirable to pray additional voluntary prayers at each of the five obligatory salah.

These additional prayers are performed as individuals and not as part of a congregational group.

You may hear these additional prayers being described as supererogatory prayers or sunna prayers.

Sunna means that an act was established as a good habit, or action, by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  in his practice of Islam.

  • At the Dawn Prayer, you may pray two rak’ats of sunna prayer before you pray Salat as-Suhb.
  • At the Midday Prayer, you may pray two rak’ats before Salat adh-Dhuhr and two rak’ats after. You may also choose to pray four rak’ats before and four rak’ats after the main salah.
  • At the Midafternoon Prayer, you may pray four sunna rak’ats before the main prayer. It is not permitted to pray additional rak’ats after Salat al-‘Asr.
  • At the Sunset Prayer, you may pray two rak’ats of sunna salah after Salat al-Maghrib.
  • At the Night Prayer, you may pray two rak’ats after Salat al-‘Isha. You may then also pray witr salah.
    • Witr salah is intended to be the last prayer of the day. It is a voluntary prayer but is looked on as almost compulsory to perform it.
    • Witr salah is at least one rak’at of prayer, but usually people will perform three rak’ats or more (always an odd number).


It is a good idea to perhaps establish the compulsory salah in your prayer routine and then build on the additional voluntary prayers once you have the five main, obligatory salah established in your routine.

Additional Sunna Prayers

Some other additional sunna prayers that can be performed are :-

  • Salat al-Duha. A midmorning prayer consisting of a minimum of two rak’at and a maximum of twelve rak’at.
  • Tahajjud salat. The night vigil prayer, performed during the night and before dawn next day.
  • Tarawih salat. Twenty rak’ats of group prayer each night of Ramadan. A successive thirtieth section of the Qur’an will be recited each night (usually by the imam or nominated Qur’an reciters)so that the entire Qur’an is recited over the thirty nights of Ramadan.
  • Tahiyyat al-Masjid. A two rak’at prayer performed when you enter the mosque and before you sit down. This is termed as “Greeting the Mosque”.

Eid Prayers

Special prayers are also held in the early morning of the two great feast days of Islam.

These are :-

  • Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan
  • Eid al-Adha, which takes place during the time of hajj

These are prayers where everyonein the local area attend and they may be held outdoors in order to accommodate everyone in the community.

The Funeral Prayer

Funeral Prayer – Salat al-Janazah is performed when someone has passed away and is being buried.



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