Salah or Salat is the practice of formal prayer in Islam. Its supreme importance for Muslims is indicated by its status as one of the Five Pillars of Sunni Islam and of the Ten Practices of the Religion of Shi'a Islam. Salah is a ritual prayer, having prescribed conditions, a prescribed procedure, and prescribed times.
The chief purpose of prayer in Islam is to act as a person's communication with God. By reciting "The Opening", the first chapter of the Qur'an, as required in all prayer, the worshipper can stand before God, thank and praise Him, and to ask for guidance along the Straight Path.
The compulsory prayer is obligatory for those who meet these three conditions:
- are Muslim
- are of sound mind
- are ten years of age or older
There are five elements that make a prayer valid:
- Confidence of the time of prayer. Being unsure invalidates even if the time turns out correct.
- Facing the qibla, with the chest facing the direction of the Ka'ba. The ill and the old are allowed leniency with posture.
- Covering the awrah
- Clean clothes, body, place of prostration.
- Pure from hadath (wudu, tayammum, ghusl)
- Praying in front of a sutrah.
Before conducting prayers, a Muslim has to perform a ritual ablution. The minor ablution is performed using water (wudhu), or sand (tayammum) when water is unavailable or not advisable to use for reasons such as illness. When praying, the clothes that are worn and the place of prayer must be clean. Both men and women are required to cover their bodies (awrah) in reasonably loose-fitting garments.
Five daily prayersEdit
Muslims are commanded to perform prayers five times a day. These prayers are obligatory on every Muslim who have 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 post-partum bleeding. Those who are ill 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. The five prayers are each assigned to certain prescribed times (al waqt) at which they must be performed, unless there is a compelling reason for not being able to perform them on time.
Some Muslims offer voluntary prayers (sunna rawatib) immediately before and after the prescribed fard prayers. Sunni Muslims classify these prayers as sunnah, while Shi'ah consider them nafil.