Salah - The Muslim Prayer

  Wudu Azan Salah Various Prayers




The word 'Ibádah comes from the Arabic '''Abd''', which means slave or servant. Man is a born subject and servant of Alláh. When he turns to Alláh with humility and devotion, he performs an act of 'Ibádah. 'Ibádah is a means for purifying man's physical and spiritual life. In Islám, every good deed performed to seek the pleasure of Alláh is an act of worship.

The obligatory rituals of 'Ibádah are prayers (Saláh), fasting (Saum), Zakáh, pilgrimage (Hajj), and struggling in the ways of Alláh (Jehad). These along with Imán are often called the pillars of Islám. Islám is an integral whole. It covers all aspects of man's life. The pillars unite all human activities, spiritual and material, individual and collective.

The obligatory rituals of 'Ibádah make "faith" (Ímán) to play a practical and effective role in the human life. 'Ibádah is therefore something positive. It is the means by which the faithfuls can serve Alláh as well as their fellow men.

The Saláh, which is the subject of this booklet, is an essential part of 'Ibádah'. The Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said: "Saláh is the pillar of Islám and whosoever abandons it, demolishes the very pillar of religion".


Before a person can say his prayer, he must be clean and pure. The Qur'án says: "Truly Alláh loves those who turn to Him and those who care for cleanliness". Cleanliness of mind, of body, and of clothes is called Tahárah or purification. It is only in such a condition of purification that a Muslim may perform the Saláh.

Purification of the body is attained by partial or total washing with clean water. The partial wash is known as Al-Wudú or the ablution, and the total wash is called Al-Ghusl or the washing (bath) of the whole body.


The process of performing Wudú is as follows:Mention the name of Alláh by saying "Bismillá-Hir-Rahmá-Nir-Rahím" (in the name of Alláh, the Beneficent, the Merciful)

Wash both hands up to the wrists together three times, ensuring that every part including between the fingers is wetted by water as shown in figures 1, (a) and (b).

Above: Figure 1 (a) Figure 1 (b)

Taking a handful of water into the mouth, rinse the mouth three times

Snuff water contained in the right palm into the nose and eject the water with the left hand (thrice)

Wash the face, ear to ear, forehead to chin, three times

Wash the right arm thoroughly from the wrist to the elbow three times. Repeat the same with the left hand: also as shown below.

Run moistened hands over the head from forehead to the back and back to forehead (once)

Run moistened fingers through the ears, the first finger of each hand going across the inside of the corresponding ear, while the thumb runs across the outside (once)

Wash both feet up to the ankles starting from the right and ensuring that all parts particularly between the toes are wetted. If you had performed complete "Wudú" before putting on your socks or stockings, it is not necessary to remove them when you want to repeat the performance of "Wudú". It is enough to wipe over the stockinged feet with wet hands. This may be done for a period of one day, (and three days on journey) on the condition that the socks or stockings are never removed.

If they are removed, it is necessary to re-wash the feet for Wudú. The process ends with the recitation of the Kalimatus-Shahadah.



A fresh performance of Wudú is necessary if one breaks wind, touches genitals, or becomes sexually excited, or pays a visit to the lavatory, or falls into sleep lying down, or vomits violently, or incurs a flow of blood from an injury, or a flow of impure fluid.


The greater purification, Ghusl, is obligatory when one is defiled as a result of nocturnal emission (or a wet dream), marital intercourse, child birth, or when entering into the fold of Islam.

The procedure is as follows:
Begin with the name of Alláh as for Wudú. Wash the hands and the affected parts of the body with water to remove any impurity. Perform Wudú as above. Then wash the whole body three times, using clean water for each wash.


On certain occasions, it may become either impossible (eg. when water cannot be found or just enough for drinking is available), or it is dangerous, because of illness, to use water for Wudú or Ghusl. In such situations, Tayammum (dry ablution) is performed. The procedure:

Begin in with the name of Alláh. Strike both palms on sand, or anything containing sand or dust, like a wall or a stone etc. Pass the palms of the hands over the face once. Strike the sand etc., again with the palms. Rub the right hand with the left palm from the wrist to the elbow and similarly for the left hand with the right palm. Finish with the Kalimatus-Shahadah as for Wudú.

Diagrams showing Timings of Daily Prayers