Salah or salat (Arabic: a?-?al?h, Arabic: a?-?alaw?t, meaning "prayer", "supplication", "blessing" and "commendation"; also known as nam?z (from Persian: ?)) is the second of the five pillars in the Islamic faith as daily obligatory standardized prayers. It is a physical, mental, and spiritual act of worship that is observed five times every day at prescribed times. While facing towards the Kaaba in Mecca, Muslims pray first standing and later kneeling or sitting on the ground, reciting from the Qur'an and glorifying and praising Allah as they bow and prostrate themselves in between. Ritual purity is a precondition.
Salah is composed of repetitive cycles of bows and prostrations, divided into prescribed units called a rak?ah. The number of raka?ahs varies according to the time of day.
The word sal?h is used by English-speakers only to refer to the formal obligatory prayers of Islam. The word "prayer" may also be used to translate different elements of Muslim worship, such as du ( "invocation, appeal, supplication") and dhikr ( "remembrance, mention, litany").
In non-Arab Muslim countries the most widespread term is the Persian word nam?z (?). It is used by speakers of the Indo-Iranian languages (e.g., Persian, Kurdish, Bengali, Urdu, Balochi, Hindi), as well as by speakers of Turkish, Azerbaijani, Russian, Chinese, Bosnian and Albanian. In the North Caucasus, the term is lamaz () in Chechen, chak () in Lak and kak in Avar (). In Malaysia and Indonesia, the term solat is used, as well as a local term sembahyang (meaning "communication", from the words sembah - worship, and hyang - god or deity).
The noun ?al?h (?) is used 82 times in the Qur'an, with about 15 other derivatives of its triliteral root ?-l. Words connected to salah (such as mosque, wudu, dhikr, etc.) are used in approximately one-sixth of Qur'anic verses. "Surely my prayer, and my sacrifice and my life and my death are (all) for God",[a] and "I am Allah, there is no god but I, therefore serve Me and keep up prayer for My remembrance"[b] are both examples of this.
Tafsir of the Qur'an can give four dimensions of salah. First, in order to commend God's servants, God, together with the angels, do salah ("blessing, salutations")[c] Second, salah is done involuntarily by all beings in Creation, in the sense that they are always in contact with God by virtue of Him creating and sustaining them.[d] Third, Muslims voluntarily offer salah to reveal that it is the particular form of worship that belongs to the prophets.[e] Fourth, salah is described as the second pillar of Islam.
The primary purpose of Salah is to act as a person's communication with Allah. Purification of the heart is the ultimate religious objective of Salah. Via namaz, a believer can grow closer to Allah (swt) and in turn strengthen their faith. Just as a humans physically require food and supplement to stay healthy and alive, the soul requires prayer and closeness to God to stay sustained and healthy. In short, it spiritually sustains the human soul. 
There are some conditions that make salah invalid, and some that make salah correct.
According to one view among many, if one ignores the following conditions, their salah is invalid:
Other conditions for salah include:
Most mistakes in Salah can be compensated for by prostrating twice at the end of the prayer.
Each Salah is made up of repeating units or cycles called rakats (singular rakah). There may be two to four units.
Each unit consists of specific movements and recitations. On the major elements there is consensus, but on minor details there may be different views. Between each position there is a very slight pause.
Salah is begun in a standing position (although people who find it physically difficult can offer salah in a way suitable for them).
Intention is a prerequisite for salah, and what distinguishes real worship from 'going through the motions'. Some authorities hold that intention suffices in the heart, and some require that it be spoken, usually under the breath. But there is no evidence that the Islamic prophet Muhammad or any of his companions ever uttered a niyyah aloud before prayer.
One says All?hu akbar ( , "God is greater/greatest"), a formula known as takb?r (literally "magnification [of God]"). This opening takb?r is known as takb?rat al-i?r?m or takb?rat at-ta?r?mah. From this point forward one praying may not converse, eat, or do other worldly things: the aim is to be alone with God. For many Muslims, the consecration is said with the hands raised and thumbs placed behind the earlobes, as shown. One then lowers one's hands. Some Muslims afterwards add a supplication praising Allah, such as:
Still standing, the next principal act is to recite the first chapter of the Qur'an, the Fatiha. This chapter takes the form of a supplication, at the heart of which is a plea for guidance "to the straight path". Many Muslims precede the Fatiha, as with any recitation from the Qur'an, by asking for refuge with God from "the accursed devil":
Next is bowing from the waist, with palms placed on the knees (according to most schools, women should not bow so low). While bowing, the one praying generally utters formulas of praise under the breath, such as (subna rabb?ya l-?am "Glory be to my Lord, the Most Magnificent"), thrice or more in odd number of times.
As the worshipper straightens their back they say ? ? (sami?a-ll?hu li-man ?amidah, "God hears the one who praises him.") An additional formula of praise is usually uttered under the breath, such as ? (rabban? laka l-?amd, "Our Lord, all praise be to you.") After a moment of standing, the worshipper moves to the prostration - again saying Allahu akbar.
Then the worshipper kneels and bows low to the ground or prostrates with the forehead, nose, knees, palms and toes touching the floor. The worshipper utters (subna rabbiya l-'a?l? "Glory be to my Lord, the Most High"). After a short while in prostration the worshipper very briefly rises to a kneeling position, then returns to the ground a second time. As they rise from the second prostration, they say All?hu akbar as before. Lifting the head from the second prostration completes the unit.
The worshipper kneels or sits on the ground with legs folded under the body (the precise posture differs between schools), and recites a prayer called the tashahhud.
The tashahhud consists of the testimony of faith (the shahadah) and invoking peace and blessings on Muhammad (salawat). Many schools hold that the right index finger is raised for these prayers. After the tashahhud prayer,
The worshipper ends the prayer (and exits their state of consecration) by saying ? (as-sal?mu ?alaykum wa ra?matu ll?h, "Peace and God's mercy be upon you", the tasl?m). This is said twice, first to the right and then to the left.
Muslims believe that Muhammad practiced, taught, and disseminated the worship ritual in the whole community of Muslims and made it part of their life. The practice has, therefore, been concurrently and perpetually practiced by the community in each of the generations. The authority for the basic forms of the salah is neither the hadiths nor the Qur'an, but rather the consensus of Muslims.
This is not inconsistent with another fact that Muslims have shown diversity in their practice since the earliest days of practice, so the salah practiced by one Muslim may differ from another's in minor details. In some cases the Hadith suggest some of this diversity of practice was known of and approved by the Prophet himself.
Most differences arise because of different interpretations of the Islamic legal sources by the different schools of law (madhhabs) in Sunni Islam, and by different legal traditions within Shia Islam. In the case of ritual worship these differences are generally minor, and should rarely cause dispute.
Shia Muslims, after the end of the prayer, raise their hands three times, reciting Allahu akbar whereas Sunnis look at the right and then left shoulder saying taslim. Also, Shias often read "Qunoot" in the second Rakat, while Sunnis usually do this after salah.
Prayers in Islam are classified into categories based on degrees of obligation. One common classification is fard ("obligatory") & wajib ("compulsory"), and sunnah ("tradition") & nafl ("voluntary").
The five daily prayers are obligatory on every Muslim who has reached the age of puberty, with the exception being those who are mentally ill, too physically ill for it to be possible, menstruating, or experiencing postnatal bleeding. Those who are sick or otherwise physically unable to offer their prayers in the traditional form are permitted to offer their prayers while sitting or lying, as they are able.
Each of the five prayers has a prescribed time measured by the movement of the sun. They are: between dawn and sunrise (fajr), after the sun has passed its zenith (zuhr), when afternoon shadows lengthen (asr), just after sunset (maghrib) and around nightfall (isha).
Salah must be prayed in its time unless there is a compelling reason preventing this.
Of the fard category are the five daily prayers, as well as the Friday prayer (Salat al-Jumu'ah), while the Eid prayers and Witr are of the wajib category. Negligence of any of the obligatory prayers renders one a non-Muslim according to the stricter Hanbali madhhab of Sunni Islam, while the other Sunni madhhabs consider doing so a major sin. However, all four madhhabs agree that denial of the mandatory status of these prayers invalidates the faith of those who do so, rendering them non-Muslim. Fard prayers (as with all fard actions) are further classed as either fard al-ayn (obligation of the self) and fard al-kifayah (obligation of sufficiency). Fard al-Ayn are actions considered obligatory on individuals, for which the individual will be held to account if the actions are neglected. Fard al-Kifayah are actions considered obligatory on the Muslim community at large, so that if some people within the community carry it out no Muslim is considered blameworthy, but if no one carries it out, all incur a collective punishment.
Men are required to offer the mandatory salat in congregation (jama'ah), behind an imam when they are able. According to most Islamic scholars, prayer in congregation is mustahabb (recommended) for men, when they are able.
When travelling over long distances, one may shorten some prayers, a practice known as Qasr. Furthermore, several prayer times may be joined, which is referred to as Jam' bayn as-Salaatayn. Qasr involves shortening the obligatory components of the Zuhr, Asr, and Isha prayers to two rakats.Jam' bayn as-Salaatayn combines the Zuhr and Asr prayers into one prayer offered between noon and sunset, and the Maghrib and Isha prayers into one between sunset and Fajr. Neither Qasr nor Jam' bayn as-Salaatayn can be applied to the Fajr prayer.
In certain circumstances, one may be unable to offer one's prayer within the prescribed time period (waqt). In this case, the prayer must be offered as soon as one can do so. Several Ahadith narrates that Muhammad stated that permissible reasons to pray Qada Salah are forgetfulness and accidentally sleeping through the prescribed time. However, knowingly sleeping through the prescribed time for Salah is deemed impermissible.
Muslims who reject the Hadith and Quranists, some pray five times and some thrice a day. Quranists in Algeria for example "pray with unlike their usual postures, and do not bow, but believe that prostration is the next posture on completion of recitation (of the Quran)."
Nafl salah (supererogatory prayers) are voluntary, and one may offer as many as he or she likes almost any time. There are many specific conditions or situations when one may wish to offer nafl prayers. They cannot be offered at sunrise, true noon, or sunset. The prohibition against salah at these times is to prevent the practice of sun worship. Some Muslims offer voluntary prayers immediately before and after the five prescribed prayers. Sunni Muslims classify these prayers as sunnah, while Shi'ah considers them nafil. One schema of the number of rakats for each of the five obligatory prayers as well as the voluntary prayers (before and after) are listed below - once again there are minor differences between schools.
|Name||Prescribed time period (waqt)||Voluntary before fard[t 1]||Obligatory||Voluntary after fard[t 1]|
|Dawn to sunrise, should be read at least 10-15 minutes before sunrise||2 Rakats Sunnat-Mu'akkadah[t 1]||2 Rakats[t 1]||2 Rakats[t 1]||--||2 Rakats[t 1]|
|After true noon until Asr||4 Rakats Sunnat-Mu'akkadah[t 2]||4 Rakats||4 Rakats[t 3]||2 Rakats Sunnat-Mu'akkadah[t 2]||8 Rakats[t 1][t 4][t 5]|
|Afternoon[t 6][t 7]||4 Rakats Sunnat-Ghair-Mu'akkdah||4 Rakats||4 Rakats||-||8 Rakats[t 1][t 4][t 5]|
|After sunset until dusk||2 Rakats Nafil||3 Rakats||3 Rakats||2 Rakats Sunnat-Mu'akkadah[t 2]||2 Rakats[t 1][t 4][t 5]|
|Isha (?)[t 8]||Dusk until dawn[t 7]||4 Rakats Sunnat-Ghair-Mu'akkadah||4 Rakats||4 Rakats||2 Rakats Sunnat-Mu'akkadah,[t 2]
3 Rakats Witr
|2 Rakats[t 1][t 4][t 5]|
Many Sunni Muslims also offer two rakats of nafl salah (supererogatory prayer) after the Zuhr and Maghrib prayers. During the 'Isha prayer, they pray the two rakats of nafl after the two Sunnat-Mu'aqqadah and after the Witr.
Sun'nah salah are optional and were additional voluntary prayers said by Muhammad. They are of two types (optional or supererogatory), the sunnat mu'aqqaddah (""), practiced on a regular basis, which if abandoned causes the abandoner to be regarded as sinful by the Hanafi School; and the sunnat ghayr mu'aqqaddah (""), practiced on a semi-regular practice by Muhammad, of which abandonment is not considered to be sinful. Certain sunnah prayers have prescribed waqts associated with them. Those ordained for before each of the fard prayers must be said between the first call to prayer (adhan) and the second call (iqama), which signifies the start of the fard prayer. Those sunnah ordained for after the fard prayers can be said any time between the end of the fard prayers and the end of the current prayer's waqt. Any amount of extra rakats may be offered, but most madha'ib prescribe a certain number of rakats for each sunnah salah.
Salat al-Jumu'ah is a congregational prayer on Friday, which replaces the Zuhr prayer. It is compulsory upon men to pray this in congregation, while women may pray it so or offer Zuhr salat instead. Salat al-Jumu'ah consists of a sermon (khutba) given by the sermoner (khatib), after which two rakats are prayed. There is no Salat al-Jumu'ah without a khutba. Khutba is supposed to be carefully listened to as it replaces Sawaab of two Rakats.
|Name||Prescribed time period (waqt)||Voluntary before fard||Obligatory||Voluntary after fard|
|After true noon until Asr||4 Rakats Sunnat-e-Mu'akkadah||2 Rakats Sunnat/ Mustahab||2 Rakats Furz||4 Rakats Sunnat Mu'akkadah
2 Rakats Sunnat Mu'akkadah 2 Rakats Nafil
|2 Rakats Sunnat Mu'akkadah|
The time for nightly prayers (Salat al-Layl) starts after midnight until the time for Fajr prayer. It is considered highly meritorious by all Shia Muslims, and is said to bring numerous benefits to the believer, mainly gaining proximity to Allah. Layl prayer includes eleven Rakat:
The word tahajjud is derived from the root H-J-D () meaning "spending the night awake or asleep". This prayer is not obligatory. The time for tahajjud (nightly prayers) is started from the late hours of the night and is finished when the time for Fajr prayer entered. The prayer includes eight rakat, followed by three rakat of Witr prayer.
The word witr () means "odd number" as an adjective and "string" or "chord" as a noun. Witr is offered after the salah of 'Isha. Some Muslims consider witr compulsory while others consider it supererogatory. It may contain an odd number of rakats from one to five according to the different schools of jurisprudence. Witr is most commonly offered in three rakats, actually one raka'ah added to two rakat of Tahajjud or Tarawih prayer at the end. The prayer usually includes the qunut.
The salah of the 'Idayn is said on the mornings of 'Id al-Fitr and 'Id an-Nahr. The Eid prayer is classified by some as fard, likely an individual obligation (fard al-ayn) though some Islamic scholars argue it is only a collective obligation (fard al-kifayah). It consists of two rakats, with seven (or three for the followers Imam Hanafi) takbirs offered before the start of the first rakat and five (or three for the followers of Imam Hanafi) before the second. After the salah is completed, a sermon (khutbah) is offered. However, the khutbah is not an integral part of the Eid salah. The Eid salah must be offered between sunrise and true noon i.e. between the time periods for Fajr and Zuhr.
The word istikharah is derived from the root ?-y-r () "well-being, goodness, choice, selection". Salat al-Istikhaarah is a prayer offered when a Muslim needs guidance on a particular matter. To say this salah one should pray two rakats of non-obligatory salah to completion. After completion one should request God that which on is better. The intention for the salah should be in one's heart to pray two rakats of salah followed by Istikhaarah. The salah can be offered at any of the times where salah is not forbidden.
Upon entering the mosque, Tahiyyat al-Masjid ("mosque greeting" prayer) may be offered; this is to pay respects to the mosque. Every Muslim entering the mosque is encouraged to offer these two rakats.
Prayer in the congregation (jama'ah) is considered to have more social and spiritual benefits than praying by oneself. When praying in congregation, the people stand in straight parallel rows behind one person who conducts the prayer, called imam, also called the 'leader'. The imam must be above the rest in knowledge, action, piety, and justness and possess faith and commitment the people trust, Balanced Perception of Religion and the best knowledge of the Qur'an. The prayer is offered as normal, with the congregation following the imam in order as he/she offers the salah.
When the Worshippers consist of men and women combined, a man is chosen as the imam. In this situation, women are typically forbidden from assuming this role. This point, though unanimously agreed on by the major schools of Islam, is disputed by some groups, based partly on a hadith whose interpretation is controversial. When the congregation consists entirely of women and pre-pubescent children, one woman is chosen as imam. When men, women, and children are praying, the children's rows are usually between the men's and women's rows, with the men at the front and women at the back. Another configuration is where the men's and women's rows are side by side, separated by a curtain or other barrier, with the primary intention being for there to be no direct line of sight between male and female Worshippers, following a Qur'anic injunction toward men and women each lowering their gazes (Qur'an 24:30-31).