Salah: The Meaning of the Muslim Prayer


Ever seen a Muslim at prayer? Ever wondered what are they really doing? Are they saying some meaningless chants, mantra's, or maybe just complaining to God about something? Well, now is an opportunity for you know!

When the time for prayer arrives, we perform udhu (ablution) to clean ourselves before standing in prayer before God. We face toward the Kaaba (The House of Allah in Mecca, Saudi Arabia) as a symbol of obedience and discipline. Then we make intention for the particular prayer offering, and say the followings quietly (not to disturb others)

Allah is the Greatest.

All Glory be to Thee, O Allah! And Praise be to Thee; blessed is Thy Name and Exalted Thy Majesty; and there is none worthy of worship besides Thee.

I seek protection from the deception of Satan, and I begin in the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

Then we recite the first sura (chapter) of the Qur'an, called Fatiha, meaning the Opening:

All Praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful, Master of the Day of Judgement. Thee alone we worship and Thee alone we ask for help. Show us the straight path, the path to those whom Thou hast favored, not (the path of) those who earn Thine anger nor (of) those who go astray. Amen.

After this we recite another sura (chapter) from the Qur'an of our choice (but keeping the order in mind). Then we go to ruku (bending), and we say (usually three times),

How Glorious is my Lord, the Great!

And then we stand up straight, and say,

Allah has listened to him who has praised him.

Then we go for sejda (bowing), placing our forehead on the ground, and say three times,

All Glory be to my Lord, the Most High.

Then we come to the sitting position to go back to bowing again. In between we say,

O Allah! Forgive me and have mercy upon me.

After the second bowing we go back to our standing position depending on how many rakah (phases or rounds) of prayer it is. And repeat the process. And at the end, we remain at the sitting position and say the followings,

All reverence, all worship, all sanctity are due to Allah. Peace be on you O Prophet! And the Mercy of Allah and His Blessings. Peace be on us and all the righteous servants of Allah. I bear witness to the fact that none is deserving of worship except Allah and I bear witness to the fact that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.

O Allah! Shower Thy Blessings on Muhammad and his descendants as Thou did shower Thy Blessings on Abraham and his descendants; verily, Thou are the Praise worthy, the Glorious.

O Allah! Bless Muhammad and his descendants as Thou did bless Abraham and his descendants; verily, thou art the Praise worthy, the Glorious.

O Allah! I have been extremely unjust to myself and none grants forgiveness against sins but Thou; therefore forgive me Thou with the forgiveness that comes from Thee and have mercy upon me. Verily, Thou art the Forgiver, the Merciful.

At the end of the prayer we give salutation to the Angels on the right and the left shoulder who are constantly recording all our actions and activities, by saying,

Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah.

And thus the prayer formally ends.

Now you know the detail of our prayer. Therefore, if you ever happen to employ a Muslim in your business or organization who requests you give him or her some consideration or break during prayers, please be considerate and approve it. By doing so, you would not only make God happy, but also the Muslim happy. Who in turn would be thankful and considerate to your needs and demands.

Although unfortunate, but true, majority of the Muslims around the world do not understand Arabic. And we recite all of the above in Arabic. Which most Muslims memorize without understanding. Therefore, many Muslim would not know the meanings presented above, unless he or she is Arabic speaking.


Courtesy: The B.C. Muslim Association, Vancouver, BC, Canada.