How to Perform the Five Obligatory Prayers

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيم

Praise be to God the Creator of the world, the One Who exists without beginning, without end, without location, without a “how” and Who does not depend on time. Nothing resembles Him in anyway and He hears and sees everything without organs. Whatever you imagine, God is different from that. May the elevation in degree and preservation of his community of what he fears for it, be granted to our master Muhammad Al-‘Amin, the Honest One, who called for following Islam, the religion of truth, the religion of all the Prophets: of the First, Adam, to the last Muhammad.

There are five prayers which must be performed by the Muslims and are called obligatory prayers. They are Dhuhr (Noon) prayer, `Asr (afternoon) prayer, Maghrib (sunset) prayer, `Ishaa’ (Nightfall) prayer and Fajr (Dawn) prayer. It is a great sin to neglect performing any of these obligatory prayers. Among the merits of performing the obligatory prayers is that one’s small sins, which may be committed between prayers, are forgiven. The Prophet, may Allâh raise his rank, said what means:

« من توضأ فأحسن وضوءه خرجت منه خطاياه حتى تخرج من تحت أضافره »

which means: « Whoever makes a complete wudu’, his sins will depart his body, until they leave from under his nails. » [Muslim]

How to Perform the Dhuhr (Noon) Prayer

The Dhuhr Prayer is four rak`ahs

1. Facing the Qiblah: It is obligatory to stand directing your chest to the honorable Qiblah. The Qiblah is the Ka`bah in Makkah.

2. Intention: It is obligatory to intend in your heart performing the obligatory Dhuhr prayer. Do that while saying Allâhu akbar (God is great).
An example is to say in your heart « I intend to pray the obligatory Dhuhr prayer. »

3. The Opening Takbir: It is obligatory to say Allâhu akbar at least as loud as you can hear yourself, while raising your hands next to your ears. Raising your hands is a recommended part.

4. Standing: It is obligatory to stand in the obligatory prayer when able. It is recommended to hold the wrist of the left hand with the right hand, placing both above the navel.

5. Reciting the FâtiHah: It is obligatory to recite the FâtiHah (the first chapter of the Qur’ân) at least as loud as you can hear yourself. It is an obligation to recite the FâtiHah properly, that is, to pronounce all the letters correctly. Learn the recitation of the FâtiHah from a qualified teacher.

Whoever cannot recite the FâtiHah correctly must recite other parts of the Qur’ân, the number of letters of which should be at least equal to that of the FâtiHah (156 letters). If one knows one or more ayahs of the FâtiHah, one may repeat them as many times as would render minimally the same number of letters in the FâtiHah. If one cannot recite any ayah of the FâtiHah, one recites other ayahs of the Qur’ân the letters of which add up to at least the same number of letters of the FâtiHah. If one cannot recite any part of the Qur’ân, one must recite certain words of dhikr, such as subHânallâh, al-Hamdulillâh, lâ ilâha illallâh, and Allâhu akbar (I declare that Allâh is clear of all imperfections, praise and thanks to Allâh, no one is God but Allâh, and Allâh is the Greatest) as many times as would render minimally the same number of letters in the FâtiHah (Ibn Hibban an-Nawawiyy):

For example, reciting Allâhu akbar twenty times is sufficient. In the unusual case of someone being unable to recite the FâtiHah, other parts of the Qur’ân, or dhikr statements one stands as long as reciting the FâtiHah with moderate speed takes.

It is recommended to say ءامين Amin (0 Allâh, fulfill my request) after finishing the FâtiHah, and to recite at least one verse from another chapter of the Qur’ân in the first and second rak`ah.

It is also recommended before reciting the FâtiHah in the first cycle to say the Tawajjuh supplication and then the isti adhah (asking for Allâh’s protection from the cursed devil).

6. The Bowing (Ruku`): It is obligatory to bend at the waist until your palms can reach your knees and stay still in this position for at least the time it takes to say
سبحان الله subHânallâh.

It is recommended upon bending to raise your hands next to your ears and say Allâhu akbar. Also it is recommended while in ruku`, to say three times: سُبحانَ رَبِّيَ العظيم subHâna Rabbiya l- `Adhim (Praise be to my Great Lord).

7. The Straightening up (I`tidal): It is obligatory to straighten your back and stay still in this position for at least the time it takes to say subHânallâh. It is recommended while raising your trunk to raise your hands next to your ears and to say:

سَمعَ اللهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَهُ

(sami` allâhu liman Hamidah)

which means: « Allâh hears who praises Him. » While your back is straight up it is recommended to say:

رَبّنَا لَكَ الحَمدُ

(Rabbanâ laka l-Hamd)

which means: « 0 our Lord, to You the praise is due. »

8. The Prostration (Sujiud): It is obligatory to go down to the floor and prostrate by pressing your bare forehead, and putting your palms, knees, and pads of the toes on the floor. Both feet are kept vertical with the heels up and the toepads down touching the floor. Stay still in this position for at least the time it takes to say subHânallâh.

It is recommended upon going down to the floor to raise your hands next to your ears and to say Allâhu akbar.

Also it is recommended while in sujud to say three times subHâna Rabbiya l-'a`la (Praise be to my Supreme Lord).

It is also recommended while in sujud to place your hands next to your shoulders, having your fingers together directed towards the Qiblah.

It is recommended for the male to keep his elbows away from his sides in his sujud and in his ruku`, and to keep his abdomen lifted away from his thighs in his sujud. However, the female keeps her elbows pulled in to her sides in her sujud and ruku` and keeps her trunk close to her thighs in her sujud.

9. The Sitting between the two Sujuds: It is obligatory to raise your trunk from prostration and sit, staying still in this position for at least the time it takes to say subHânallâh.

It is recommended to say Allâhu akbar while coming to sitting. Also, it is recommended while sitting to say:

اللهمَّ اغفِرلي وارحمني واهْدِني وعَافِني وارْزُقْني

(Allâhumma ghfir lâ wa rHamnî wa hdinî wa `âfinî wa rzuqnî)

This means: « 0 my Lord, forgive me, have mercy on me, guide me, protect me from sickness and provide for me. »

It is also recommended to do the sitting with the left foot tucked under the buttocks while the right foot is kept vertical as in sujud.

An alternate recommended way of sitting is to rest the buttocks on the heels of both feet which are kept as in sujud.

It is recommended that the hands be placed on the thighs at the knees with the fingers extended and spread slightly towards the Qiblah.

10. It is obligatory to perform a second sujud from your sitting position. This sujud is similar to the first sujud.

After the second sujud is fulfilled you have completed the first rak`ah (cycle) of the prayer.

11. It is obligatory to stand up for the second rak`ah. It is recommended while doing so to say Allâhu akbar. Repeat steps 5 to 10. This ends your second rak`ah.

12. It is recommended at this time to sit up from sujud, recite the Tashahhud, and say Allâhumma Salli `alâ MuHammad at least as loud as you can hear yourself.

It is recommended to sit with the feet as in step 9. An alternate way of sitting is to rest the buttocks on both crossed feet. It is also recommended to keep both hands on your thighs. The fingertips of your left hand should be spread towards your knee. In this sitting, the fingers of the right hand are lightly fisted except for the index finger which is extended slightly down. The index finger is lifted slightly at saying إلاّ الله illallâh (in the Tashahhud) and is kept as such until the end of this sitting.

13. It is obligatory to stand up and do two more rak`ahs in the same way that you did from steps 5 to 11. It is recommended while rising for the third rak`ah to raise your hands next to your ears and say Allâhu akbar. However, raising the hands is not recommended while rising for the fourth rak`ah .

14. Upon completion of the second sujud of the last rak`ah, it is obligatory to sit up, recite the Tashahhud, and say Allâhumma Salli `alâ MuHammad.

It is recommended to keep the hands as in step 12. However, after the index finger is lifted slightly at saying illallâh it is kept as such until the end of the prayer.

For this sitting it is also recommended to pass the left foot past the right leg and place the buttocks on the floor, keeping the right foot as in sujud.

Afterwards, it is recommended to say the Ibrâhîmiyyah. Then it is recommended to say a supplication such as:

رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً ، وَ فِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً ، وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ . رَبَّنَا لا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِن لَدُنكَ رَحْمَةً ، إِنّكَ أَنتَ الوَهَّابُ.

(Rabbanâ ‘Atinâ fî d-dunyâ Haçanah, wa fi l-‘âkhirati Haçanah, wa qinâ `adhâba n-nâr)

which means: « 0 our Lord, grant us in this life and in the Hereafter good things, and protect us from the torture of the Hellfire. »

15. The Ending Salam: It is obligatory to say السلامُ عليكُم as-salamu `alaykum at least as loud as you can hear yourself. It is recommended to say

السلامُ عليكُم ورحْمَةُ اللهِ وبركَاتُهُ

as-salamu `alaykum wa RaHmatullâh first to one’s right and then to one’s left.

By saying this your Dhuhr prayer is ended.

How to Perform the `Asr (Mid-afternoon) and `Isha’ (Nightfall) Prayers

The `Asr and `Isha’ prayers are performed exactly as the Dhuhr prayer. However, in step 2 you intend the obligatory `Asr prayer for the `Asr prayer and the obligatory `Isha’ prayer for the `Isha’ prayer.

Moreover, it is recommended to recite the Qur’ân in a louder manner in the first two rak`ahs of the `Isha’ prayer.

How to Perform the Maghrib (Sunset) Prayer

The three rak`ahs of the Maghrib prayer are performed exactly as the first three rak`ahs of `Isha’. After the second sujud of the third rak`ah it is obligatory to sit up and do steps 14 and 15.

How to Perform the Subh or Fajr (Dawn) Prayer

The two rak`ahs of the Fajr (or Subh) prayer are performed exactly like the first two rak`ahs of the `Isha’ prayer, but with the intention of performing the obligatory Fajr (or Subh) prayer.

After the second sujud of the second rak`a, do steps 14 and 15. Also after saying Rabbana laka l-Hamd in the I`tidal (step 7) of the second rak`ah`, it is recommended to say the Qunut supplication at least as loud as you can hear yourself.

Du`a qunut

«اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِنِي فِيمَنْ هَدَيْتَ، وَعَافِنِي فِيمَنْ عَافَيْتَ، وَتَوَلَّنِي فِيمَنْ تَوَلَّيْتَ، وَبَارِكْ لِي فِيمَا أَعْطَيْتَ، وَقِنِي شَرَّ مَا قَضَيْتَ، فَإِنَّكَ تَقْضِي وَلا يُقْضَى عَلَيْكَ، وَإِنَّهُ لا يَذِلُّ مَنْ وَالَيْتَ، وَلا يَعِزُّ مَنْ عَادَيْتَ، تَبَارَكْتَ رَبَّنَا وَتَعَالَيْتَ ، فَلَكَ الحَمْدُ عَلَى مَا قَضَيْتَ ، أسْتَغِرُكَ اللهُمَّ وَأتُوبُ إلَيْكَ، وَصَلَّى اللَّهُ علَى مُحَمَّدٍ وعلَى ءالهِ وصَحْبِه وَسَلَّمَ»

(Allâhummahdinî fiman hadayt, wa `âfinî fîman `âfayt, wa tawallanî fiman tawallayt, wa bârik lî fîmâ a`Tayt. Wa qinî sharra mâ qaDayt, fa 'innaka taqDî wa lâ yuqDâ `alayk. Wa 'innahu lâ yadhillu maw wâlayt, wa lâ ya`izzu man `adayt. Tabârakta Rabbanâ wa ta`alayt . Fa laka l-Hamdu `alâ mâ qaDayt. Astagfiruka wa atûbu ilayk. Wa Sallallâhu `alâ MuHammad wa `alâ âlihi wa SaHbihi wa sallam)

The Meaning of the Qunut Supplication

O Allâh, guide me among those whom You guided, relieve me from sickness among those whom You relieved, support me among those whom You supported, bless for me what You gave me. Protect me against the evil of what You created, for You are the One Who orders (ordains) and not the One Who is ordered (ordained for). Whomever You support is not weakened and ignored, and whomever You oppose is not dignified. O our Lord, may Your givings increase. You are the Supreme One Whose status is high and great and You are clear of any imperfection. Praise is due for what You ordained. I ask You for forgiveness and I repent to You. May Allâh raise the rank of MuHammad, and his Al and Companions. May Allâh protect the Prophet’s Nation from what he feared for it.

See: The Pillars of Prayer and its Conditions of Validity

الحمد لله رب العالمين

Picture of Positions of Prayer

Picture Positions of Prayer

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