salah (prayer)

The ritual prayer that Muslims are enjoined to perform five times a day (at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and evening).  The adhan (call to prayer) marks the times of prayer.  Before praying a Muslim must ensure that he or she is in a state of ritual purity, which may require performing wudu' (ablutions) or even taking a bath.  When two or more people pray together, one serves as imam (prayer leader), while the others follow the imam's lead.  On Friday a special prayer, salat al-jum`a, is performed in congregation at the masjid (mosque).

Each prayer consists of a prescribed number of rak`as (prayer cycles, literally bowings).  The basic movements included in each rak`a are:

Raising the hands to proclaim "Allahu akbar:"


Standing to recite:


The ruku` (bowing):


The sujud (prostration) (twice):


The sitting (between prostrations):

Illustrations from Cyril Glasse, The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, (HarperSanFrancisco, 1991) p. 392.

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