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Islamic Prayers
by Sommer Valles
    The religion of Islam was first founded c. 570-632 with the life of Muhammad.  Islam is a monotheistic religion that focuses on the use of the Quran as its documented teachings of God.  Islam believes in “Allah” and considers Muhammad to be the last prophet of God.  Believers must commit to the Five Pillars of Islam in order to be considered faithful.  If a believer does not, he is considered a sinner.

Important Terms

To  help better understand the practices of Islam, it is important to know the meaning of certain principles.  The following are

Allah:  The Islamic version of God.

Five Pillars of Islam:  Believers of Islam live their live around the Five Pillars of Islam.  The first part being: Shahadatayn, meaning “two testimonies.”  A believer must testify that Allah is the only deity worthy of worship and testify that Muhammad is a prophet sent by God as His messenger with the Quran.  The second pillar is Salah, or prayer.  These are formal prayers said five
times a day at specific hours.  The third pillar is Zakah, or charity.  Once yearly, Muslims pay a 2% tax on their leftover wealth. 
The money goes to help others in need and prevents selfishness.  The fourth pillar is Sawn, or fasting.  During the month of
Ramadan, a Muslim must not eat, drink, or have sexual intercourse from sunrise to sunset.
Dua:   An informal prayer in which believers request of Allah needs such as
wealth, health, etc.

 Salah:  “Direct communication between man and God (Ibrahim).”  It is a formal prayer which is repeated at five specific times throughout the day (see Five Daily Prayers).

 Wudu:  Also known as Ablution.  It is the washing of the body before prayer.

 Subhah: Muslim prayer beads.


    The practices of Islam are very specific. First of all, there are two differences in prayers. One is when you are traveling and the other is the typical daily prayers (the Qasr and Salah are explained further on).  

     When preparing for the prayers, a follower must go through the steps of ablution (wudu).  Muslims are required to wash their
hands, face, arms and feet with water.  If there is no water available, one may use sand as a substitute.  Because of this process five times a day, Muslims have good hygiene.

    Next, a Muslim has a prayer mat, a sajjada, in which they start by standing and eventually end up kneeling on as they say their prayers in the direction of Mecca.  Located in Mecca is their shrine and the center of their religion.  The prayers may be said alone; however, it is more sacred if it is done with others.

    Finally, a Muslim is, “Required to be in a state of calmness, serenity, and humbleness while performing their prayers (What
Are the Main Practices and Rituals of Islam?).”  This clears a Muslim’s mind so they can whole-heartedly perform their prayers and connect to Allah.

    Some Muslims carry around prayer beads.  The 99 beads are counting beads in which Muslims recite the names of God. 
The final bead, the largest and elongated one, is used to recite Allah’s name.  A believer may use them after reciting the five daily prayers or even throughout daily conversations.  However some people shun the use of them as they believe it is not the way Muhammad used them.  They are commonly used as worry beads nowadays.


    When traveling, Muslims follow a different set of principles to ease the burden.  To be considered a traveler, one must be staying in one place for less than ten days. A traveler has a different set of prayers and is not required to fast during Ramadan.

    First of all, the Salah, or five daily prayers are all but eliminated.  Instead, it is acceptable of a traveler to recite the Qasr, or a
shortened version of the prayers.  Also, it is only required twice a day instead of five.  A traveler may use sand instead of water to perform the ablution.  The prayers are very time consuming and can drastically slow down a traveler.

    During Ramadan, a  Muslim is required to fast.  It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. A Muslim may not eat, drink, or have sexual intercourse from sunrise to sunset.  The purpose of this fast is to teach believers to control their desires.  “Performing
this pillar establishes patience and humility within the believer (Ibrahim, The Five Pillars of Islam).”  The month of Ramadan holds great meaning to Muslims as it is the month in which the Quran was revealed to Muhammad.  When a Muslim is traveling, he is not required to participate.  He needs all his energy for the journey.

Five Daily Prayers

    On a daily basis, believers of Islam must recite five prayers at assigned times of the day.  Some people consider this a burden; however, believers feel it is worth it. The five daily prayers are the Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, and Isha’a.  

     The table below displays the time of day each must be recited. If a believer fails to recite a prayer, he is considered a sinner, and in some cases a non-believer.

Name of Prayer

Time of Day Recited
After noon until mid afternoon
Mid-afternoon until sunset
After sunset until dusk
Dusk until midnight


Ibrahim, Abu. Islamic Learning Materials: Islamic Prayers. 6 December 2009. 4 October 2011

 The Five Pillars of  Islam. 20 December 2009. 4 October 2011

 Keleman, Rabbi Lawrence. The Start Origin of Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. 4 October 2011

 Museum of Anthropology. 3 January 2011. 4  October 2011

 Salat: Ritual Prayer. 8 February 2007. 4 October 2011

 Travel Fiqh. 2007. 4 October 2011

 What Are the Main Practices and Rituals of Islam? 2007. 4 October 2011 <>.

Islam Beliefs. 23 August 2008. 4 October 2011<>.