A Simple Description Of The Prophet’s Prayer For Beginners With Illustrations

You can also download this description of the Prophet’s Prayer as a booklet for your mobile device, as a PDF here. (Latest filename ends in PDF7)

The Prayer (or Salāh) is an act of submission and obedience before Allāh. The words of the Prayer are all recited in Arabic. The Muslims are expected to pray just as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) prayed, and in doing so they follow the example of the last Prophet. Each of the Five Daily prayers comprises a fixed number of Rak’ahs (or units) that consist of a sequence of movements and sayings. So the dawn prayer (Fajr) has two Rak’ahs, the early afternoon prayer (Dhuhr) has four Rak’ahs, the mid-afternoon prayer (‘Asr) has four Rak’ahs, the after sunset prayer (Maghrib) has three Rak’ahs and the late evening prayer (‘Ishā) has four Rak’ahs. Every Muslim is obligated to know when to pray and how to perform the Prayer. This article aims to explain in simple terms how the Prophet prayed, step-by-step.

Facing the Qiblah (Makkah):

1. The praying person must face the Qiblah (the direction of the Ka’bah in Makkah). As for the one who is unable to face the Qiblah due to illness, or one who is on a ship, in a car, on an aeroplane, and he fears the time for Prayer will expire — then he prays as he is, in any direction.

2. If a person is praying the optional (Nafl) Prayer and he is seated on a means of transport, it is recommended for him, if able, to direct the means of transport towards the Qiblah with the opening Takbeer (اللَّهُ‭ ‬أَكْبَر “Allāhu akbar”) and then proceed on his transport as he was.

3. If a person prayed towards other than the Ka’bah mistakenly after striving to determine its location, his Prayer is correct and he is not to repeat it.

4. Standing for the Prayer is a pillar and leaving it invalidates the Prayer except for the one who is sick and unable to stand. Such a person prays seated, and if that is not possible, then he prays lying on his side.

5. It is permitted for the one praying the optional (Nafl) Prayers to do so while seated or standing as he wishes.

6. For the one who cannot prostrate (Sajdah) to the ground due to inability or sickness, then he bows (Rukoo’) and prostrates with motions of the head, making the motion of the head in Sajdah lower than the Rukoo’.

7. It is allowed to pray the obligatory Prayers on an aeroplane or ship, and that is a must if he fears the time of Prayer will expire — it is allowed for him to pray seated if he is likely to fall over.

8. It is permitted for a Muslim to pray barefoot just as it allowed for him to prayer in shoes or sandals. Both are from the Sunnah and it is not correct to forbid a Muslim from praying in his shoes or sandals, so long as there is no impure substance on them. The soil of the earth is not impure — indeed it is pure.

Prayer with a Sutrah (a Raised Object) in Front of You and Praying Close to it:

9. It obligatory that one prays towards a raised object (Sutrah) which is two handspans or taller, such as a wall, a chair, a staff embedded in the soil or a pillar. The Sutrah is always slightly beyond the place of prostration.

It is Forbidden to Pray Towards a Grave:

10. It is not allowed to pray towards graves in any situation, whether it be the graves of Prophets or other than them.

It is not Allowed to Pass Between a Praying Person and his Place of Sutrah:

11. It is not allowed to pass in front of a person and the place of his Sutrah (which is normally placed slightly beyond his place of prostration). A person may pass beyond the place of the worshipper’s Sutrah, and there is no problem.

12. It is allowed for a praying person to take a step or two forwards to prevent a child or an animal (who have no concept of the rules of Sutrah) passing in front of him so that he allows them to pass behind him.

The Pray is Invalidated if the Following Pass in Front:

13. The prayer of a person is not invalidated if someone passes between him and the place of his Sutrah unless it is an adult woman, or a donkey or a black dog. However, it is permitted to pray with one’s wife, daughter, etc seated in front of him, or if she is lying down such that he takes her as a Sutrah.

The Intention:

14. It is a must that one has an intention in his heart before he begins the prayer, such that he is aware of the Prayer he is about to pray, i.e. is it Dhuhr Prayer? ‘Asr Prayer? MaghribPrayer? etc. Also that he intends to make the Prayer sincerely for Allah, and not to show-off in front of those watching him.

15. Furthermore, the intention for the prayer must not be uttered upon the tongue because the Prophet (ﷺ) and his Companions never did that. It is a latter-day innovation.

The Takbeer (“Allāhu Akbar”) Which Signifies the Beginning of the Prayer:

16. He begins the prayer by saying

اللَّهُ‭ ‬أَكْبَر

“Allāhu Akbar” (the Takbeer) in a whisper and not loud, unless he is the Imām who leads others in Prayer.

17. The person who is following the Imām in prayer should say the Takbeer quietly in a whisper immediately after the Imām has finished saying it.

Raising the Hands and how it is to be Done. 

18. He should raise his hands whilst saying this opening Takbeer, or just before it or just after it.

19. He should spread out his fingers slightly and raise his palms to the level of his shoulders or to the level of his earlobes but without touching the ears as there is no proof for that.

Placing the Hands on the Chest and Where a Person Should Look:

Both of these methods of placing the hands on the chest are correct. It is the same for women as it is for men.

20. Then he should place the right hand over the left hand, wrist and forearm upon the chest (for both men and women).

21. Whilst standing he should look at the place where he will prostrate his forehead. He should not look around, nor look to the sky.

The Recitation:

22. Then he should begin by reciting one of the opening supplications of the prayer. One of the more well-known ones is:

سُبْحَانَكَ اللّهُمَّ وَبِحَمْدِكَ، وَتَبَارَكَ اسْمُكَ، وَتَعَالَى جَدُّكَ، وَلاَ إلَهَ غَيْرُكَ

“Subhānak allāhumma wa bihamdika wa tabārakasmuka wa ta’ālā jadduka wa lā ilāha ghayruka.” (I declare You free from all imperfections O Allah, and all praise is for You. Blessed is Your Name, great and exalted is Your kingdom. And there is none worthy of worship besides You.)

23. He should then say silently in all prayers:

أَعَوْذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيْمِ

“A’oodhu billāhi min ash-shaytān ir-rajeem.” (I seek refuge with Allah from Shaytān, the rejected outcast.)

24. Then he is to recite silently in all prayers:

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيْم

“Bismillāh ir-Rahmān ir-Raheem.” (In the Name of Allah, the Possessor of vast mercy, the One who bestows mercy upon whomever He wills.)

25. He must now recite the Opening Chapter of the Qur’ān, Soorah Al-Fātihah.

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ • الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ • مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ • إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ • اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ • صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ

“Al-hamdulillāhi Rabbil-‘ālameen. Ar-Rahmān ir-Raheem. Māliki yawm id-deen. Iyyāka na’budu wa iyyāka nasta’een. Ihdinas-sirāt al-mustaqeem. Sirāt alladheena an’amta ‘alayhim, ghayr il-maghdoobi ‘alayhim, walad-dāleen.” (All praise is due to Allāh, the Lord of all existence. The Possessor of vast mercy, the One who bestows mercy upon whomever He wills. The Sole Owner of the Day of Recompense. You alone we worship and it is You alone we call upon for aid. Guide us to the Straight Path. The Path of those on whom you have bestowed Your bounty, not the path of those who earned Your anger nor those who went astray)

26. For the one who cannot recite the Opening Chapter of the Qur’an (because they are new to Islam or have not yet memorised it), then he should recite:

سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ، وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ، وَلاَ إلَهَ إلاَّ اللَّهُ، وَ اَللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ وَلاَ حَوْلَ وَلاَ قُوَّةَ إلاَّ بِاللَّهِ

“Subhānallāh, wal-hamdulillāh, wa lā ilāha illallāh, wallāhu akbar, wa lā hawla wala quwwata illa billāh.” (Glorified is Allah, free and far-removed from all imperfections. All praise is for Allah. And none has the right to be worshipped except for Allah. And Allah is greater [than all else besides Him]. And there is no movement nor power except by the Will of Allah)

27. If a person has not memorised this also, he can repeat “Subhānallāh” and  “Alhamdulillāh” throughout the whole prayer.

28. After the Opening Chapter (Soorah Al-Fātihah), one should recite whatever he knows of another Soorah. This standing is referred to as a Rak’ah.

29. When praying behind an Imām and the Imām does not recite aloud, then the follower must recite the Soorah Al-Fātihah and any other part of the Qur’ān quietly to himself. This is for the Dhuhr (early afternoon) and ‘Asr (mid-afternoon) prayers. However, when the Imām recites aloud Soorah Al-Fātihah and other portions of the Qur’ān, the follower merely listens and does not recite – this is in the first two Rak’ahs of Maghrib (after sunset), the first two of ‘Ishā (night-time) and the two of Fajr (after dawn). Read the related article on reciting behind the Imām.

30. In the third and fourth Rak’ahs of the prayer, he should just recite Soorah Al-Fātihah beginning with, Bismillāh ir-Rahmān ir-Raheem.”

31. It is a must that Soorah Al-Fātihah is recited in every Rak’ah of every Prayer.

32. Once he has finished reciting, he remains silent for a moment, then he raises his hands as he did when he began the prayer and he utters the Takbeer by saying: اللَّهُ‭ ‬أَكْبَر – “Allāhu Akbar”.

Bowing (Rukoo’) and Prostration (Sujood):

33. Then he performs the Rukoo’ (bowing) by placing the palms of his hands on his knees, spreading his fingers as if holding them firmly. He must stretch out his back keeping it straight and level such that if some water was poured onto it, it would settle there. The head should not be dipped, nor raised high but instead, level with the back. He should keep his elbows from touching his sides.

34. He recites in the rukoo’ the following:

سُبْحَانَ رَبِّيَ الْعَظِيْمِ

“Subhāna Rabbiyal-‘adheem.” (Glorified is my Lord, free and far-removed from all imperfections, the Supreme). He should say this three times or more.

45. It is not permitted to recite the Qur’ān in Rukoo’ (bowing) and Sujood (prostration).

46. Then he raises up from Rukoo’ and straightens his back making himself upright, and as he comes up from the Rukoo’ he recites:

سَمِعَ اللَّهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَهُ

“Sami’ Allāhu liman hamidah.” (Allah listens and responds to the who praises Him). Once he becomes upright he raises his hands as he did when he first entered the prayer to the level of his shoulders.

47. He stands until all his bones return to their place (and puts his hands by his sides) and then he recites the following:

رَبَّنَا وَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ

“Rabbanā wa lakal-hamd.” (Our Lord! And all praise is for You.)

48. Then he says:

اللَّهُ أَكْبَر

“Allāhu Akbar.” (Allah is greater).

49. He then prostrates on the floor (sujood) with his hands being placed on the floor before his knees. He brings his fingers together on the floor, he rests upon his hands and puts them forward, pointing his fingers towards the Qiblah.

50. He keeps his elbows and forearms lifted above the ground, and not spread out on the ground in the manner of a dog.

51. In Sajdah (prostration), he firmly places his forehead, nose, knees and toes on the ground.

52. He keeps his feet upright with the toes of the pointing towards the Qiblah and his heels joined together.

53. He must be settled in his Sajdah and be still in that state with his forehead, nose, palms of the hands, both knees and the toes of both feet in contact with the ground.

54. He then recites in the state of Sajdah (prostration):

سُبْحَانَ رَبِّيَ الأَعْلَى

“Subhāna Rabbiyal-A’lā.” (Glorified is my Lord, free and far-removed from all imperfections, the Most High). He should say this three times or more. It is recommended to be plentiful in supplicating to Allah while in Sajdah because it is a moment most suited for supplications to be answered. One should not recite the Qur’an in Sajdah unless it is a supplication from it.

55. The Rukoo’ (bowing) and Sujood (prostration) should be similar in length.

56. It is allowed to prostrate on the earth or upon something that covers it such as a cloth, a rug or a mat.

57. Then he raises his head whilst saying:

اللَّهُ أَكْبَر

“Allāhu akbar”, and sits allowing every bone to settle. His sitting is such that he lays his left foot flat underneath him and sits on it, and he keeps his right foot upright with his toes pointing in the Qiblah direction.

58. Whilst sitting he recites:

 اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي، وَارْحَمْنِي، وَاجْبُرْنِي، وَارْفَعْنِي، وَعَافِنِي، وَارْزُقْنِي

“Allāhummagh-firlee, war-hamnee, waj-burnee, war-fa’nee, wa ‘āfinee, war-zuqnee.” (O Allah, forgive me, have mercy on me, suffice me, raise me in rank, grant me safety and wellbeing, and provide for me). Or he can simply recite:

رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي، رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي

“Rabbigh-firlee, Rabbigh-firlee.” (O Lord forgive me, O Lord forgive me.)

59. Then he says “Allāhu akbar”, and returns to make the second Sajdah (prostration) just as he made the first Sajdah, repeating the same words.

60. Then he raises his head and sits as he sat before until his bones rest in place and he remains stationary for a moment before standing for the second Rak’ah.

The Second Rak’ah:

61. To stand for the second Rak’ah he supports himself on his two fists clenched as if he in kneading some dough for bread, and he returns to the standing position as he was in the first Rak’ah.

62. In the second Rak’ah he recites what he recited in the first Rak’ah but without the opening supplication. So he begins with, “Bismillāh ir-Rahmān ir-Raheem” followed by the Soorah Al-Fātihah, and then whatever is easy for him from the Qur’ān. The second Rak’ah should be made shorter than the first.

63. After this Rak’ah, he makes Rukoo’ (bowing), returns back to standing upright, and then makes the two Sajdahs (prostrations) as he did previously.

The First Sitting and Tashahhud (Reciting the Testification and Supplication):

64. After the second Sajdah, he sits and clenches his right fist, resting it on his right thigh and knee, his thumb over the middle finger, his index finger raised, pointed to the Qiblah and moving it up and down whilst keeping his vision fixed on it throughout the whole of this sitting. One may also make a circle with his middle finger and thumb (sometimes). He does not clench his left hand or raise its finger.

The palm of his left hand, with fingers spread out, should rest on his left thigh and knee.

65. The words recited for the Tashahhud in this seated position are:

اَلتَّحِيَّاتُ لِلَّهِ، وَالصَّلَوَاتُ، وَالطَّيِّبَاتُ، اَلسَّلاَمُ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ وَرَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ، اَلسَّلاَمُ عَلَيْنَا وَعَلَى عِبَادِ اللَّه ِالصَّالِحِيْنَ، أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لاَّ إلَهَ إلاَّ اللَّهُ، وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ

“At-taheeyyātu lillāhi was-salawātu, wat-tayyibātu, as-salāmu ‘alān-nabee, wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuhu. As-salāmu ‘alaynā wa ‘alā ‘ibādillāhis-sāliheen. Ash-hadu an lā ilāha illallāh, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluh.” (Words of praise, exaltation and glorification are for Allah alone, and prayers, worship and pure words and attributes also. May Allah send peace and security upon the Prophet, and His Mercy and Blessings. May Allah send peace and security upon us and upon His righteous servants. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.)

66. After that, he should supplicate with the following words:

اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ، وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ، كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَلَى إبْرَاهِيْمَ وَعَلَى آلِ إبْرَاهِيْمَ، إنَّكَ حَمِيْدٌ مَجِيْدٌ، اَللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ، وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ، كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَلَى إبْرَاهِيْمَ وَعَلَى آلِ إبْرَاهِيْمَ، إنَّكَ حَمِيْدٌ مَجِيْدٌ

“Allāhumma salli ‘alā Muhammad wa ‘alā āli Muhammad, kama salayta ‘alā Ibrāheem wa ‘alā āli Ibrāheem, innaka Hameedun Majeed. Allāhumma bārik ‘alā Muhammad wa ‘alā āli Muhammad, kama barakta ‘alā Ibrāheem, wa ‘alā āli Ibrāheem, innaka Hameedun Majeed.” (O Allah, extol and honour Muhammad and the true followers of Muhammad, just as you extolled and honoured Ibrāheem and the pious offspring of Ibrāheem. Indeed you are due all praise, perfect in glory and magnificence. O Allah, send you blessings on Muhammad and on the true followers of Muhammad, just as you sent blessings on Ibrāheem and on the pious offspring of Ibrāheem. Indeed you are deserving of all praise, perfect in glory and magnificence.)

All four of these methods of sitting are incorrect and oppose the Sunnah, so avoid them.

The Third and Fourth Rak’ahs:

67. Then he says: اللَّهُ أَكْبَر – “Allāhu akbar”, he should raise his hands (to shoulder height) as he did when beginning the prayer and then stand for the third Rak’ah. He can also delay the raising of the hands until he is standing.

68. To stand for the third Rak’ah, he supports himself on his two fists clenched as if he is kneading dough for bread. He returns to the standing position as he was in the first Ra’kah.

69. In the third and fourth rak’ahs he recites Soorah Al-Fātihah just as he did in the first two Rak’ahs.

The Final Tashahhud and Sitting (Tawarruk):

70. After finishing the final Rak’ah he performs the Rukoo’, then stands, then prostrates twice (Sujood) and sits to recite the Tashahhud as he did after praying two Rak’ahs.

71. If this is the sitting after the third Rak’ah (as in Maghrib Prayer) or after the fourth Rak’ah, then he should sit (if he able without harming or restricting those next to him) as follows: He sits with the left hip/buttock on the ground, his left foot settles under his right shin, and his right foot is upright next to his right hip, and his toes are directed to the Qiblah. This is called Tawarruk.

72. He may also sit as he sat in the first Tashahhud if he chooses or sees that it may cause the person next to him discomfort.

73. He places his left hand on his left knee and is he is supported by that knee. He clenches his right hand into a fist as he did in the first Tashahhud, places it on his right thigh and knee and points his index finger, and looks to it. The palm of the left hand is merely placed on the left thigh and knee and the index finger is not raised.

74. Once he has settled in this position, he recites what he recited in the first Tashahhud exactly.

اَلتَّحِيَّاتُ لِلَّهِ، وَالصَّلَوَاتُ، وَالطَّيِّبَاتُ، اَلسَّلاَمُ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ وَرَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ، اَلسَّلاَمُ عَلَيْنَا وَعَلَى عِبَادِ اللَّه ِالصَّالِحِيْنَ، أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لاَّ إلَهَ إلاَّ اللَّهُ، وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ

“At-taheeyyātu lillāhi was-salawātu, wat-tayyibātu, as-salāmu ‘alan-Nabee, wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuhu. As-salāmu ‘alaynā wa ‘alā ‘ibādillāhis-sāliheen. Ash-hadu an lā ilāha illallāh, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluh.”

اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ، وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ، كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَلَى إبْرَاهِيْمَ وَعَلَى آلِ إبْرَاهِيْمَ، إنَّكَ حَمِيْدٌ مَجِيْدٌ، اَللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ، وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ، كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَلَى إبْرَاهِيْمَ وَعَلَى آلِ إبْرَاهِيْمَ، إنَّكَ حَمِيْدٌ مَجِيْدٌ

“Allāhumma salli ‘alā Muhammad wa ‘alā āli Muhammad, kama salayta ‘alā Ibrāheem wa ‘alā āli Ibrāheem, innaka Hameedun Majeed. Allāhumma bārik ‘alā Muhammad wa ‘alā āli Muhammad, kama barakta ‘alā Ibrāheem, wa ‘alā āli Ibrāheem, innaka Hameedun Majeed.” 

Then he adds at the end of that the following supplication seeking refuge with Allah from four matters:

اللَّهُمَّ إنِّي أَعُوْذُ بِكَ مِنْ عَذَابِ جَهَنَّمَ، وَمِنْ عَذَابِ الْقَبْرِ، وَمِنْ فِتْنَةِ الْمَحْيَا وَالْمَمَاتِ، وَمِنْ شَرِّ فِتْنَةِ الْمَسِيْحِ الدَّجَّالِ

“Allāhumma innee a’oodhubika min ‘adhābi jahannam, wa min ‘adhābil-qabr, wa min fitnatil-mahyā wal-mamāt, wa min sharri fitnatil-Maseeh id-Dajjāl.” (O Allah, I seek refuge with you from the punishment of Hellfire, and from the punishment of the Grave, from the trials of life and death, and from the tribulation of the False Messiah.)

75. Then he may supplicate to Allah for whatever he pleases from the authentic supplications of the Book and the Sunnah, and these are plentiful. However, if he does not know them or has not memorised them, he may still ask from Allah with any supplication that is easy for him; seeking from Allah benefit for himself in his religious and worldly affairs.

Salutations at End the Prayer (Tasleem):

76. Then he turns his head to the right side and says:

اَلسَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللَّه

“As-salāmu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullāh.” (May Allah’s peace and security be upon you, and His Mercy)

178. Then he turns his head to the left side and says:

اَلسَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللَّه

“As-salāmu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullāh.” (May Allah’s peace and security be upon you, and His Mercy)

With that, he completes his prayer just as Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessing be upon) taught his followers.

And all praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation.

____

Endnote:

Reference: The above is a summary of the book, “Talkhees Sifat As-Salāh An-Nabiyy (salallāhu ‘alaihi wassallam) by the Imām and Muhaddith, Muhammad Nāsir Ad-Deen Al-Albāni (may Allah have mercy upon him).  I (Abu Khadeejah) have added additional points for clarity and left out others to keep the description as simple as possible. Wherever I found myself searching for a more appropriate term in translation, I referred to an earlier translation of this work by my elder brother, Shaikh Abu Talhah Dawood Burbank (rahimahullāh).

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2 Comments

  1. Please note that the mobile device friendly pdf file has been updated to “Prayer-for-beginners-booklet-PDF6”

    So please check to see you have the latest version as previous versions had typos and other errors. So look at the filename and make sure it ends in PDF6. And issues, or you discover typos, please post m a reply here. Bārakallāhu feekum.

  2. Please note that the mobile device friendly pdf file has been updated to “Prayer-for-beginners-booklet-PDF7”. So please check to see you have the latest version.

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