The following about on how to perform the five daily prayers (Sunni) is largely from the The Beginner’s Guide to Learning How to Pray available as a free PDF and as web pages on the website of Ottawa's Masjid ar-Rahmah mosque: It is a well-written guide that explains everything you need to know about prayer in Islam and includes many illustrations and references to scriptures which are not included here.

Also, the guide provides the Arabic version of the verses of the Koran to be read and of the Duas (supplications) as they all must be said in Arabic. I only give you the English translations. The following is both an abbreviation and adaptation that is not meant to replace what is posted on the website. My comments or additions are contained within “***”.

How to Pray Salah, Step by Step

The salah is a special form of worship that is the second most important pillar of Islam after the shahada (testimony of faith). It is an obligatory form of prayer performed five times a day that was revealed in the Holy Qur’an and taught to us by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).


When praying, not to do exactly as Muhammad demonstrated is not recommended, even if today the punishment is not as severe in most jurisdictions.

Narrated Abdullah bin Masud:

The Prophet recited Suratan-Najm (103) at Mecca and prostrated while reciting it and those who were with him did the same except an old man who took a handful of small stones or earth and lifted it to his forehead and said, "This is sufficient for me."

Later on, I saw him killed as a non-believer.

Bukhari 19.173

Not attending is also serious business

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said, "No doubt, I intended to order somebody to pronounce the Iqama of the (compulsory congregational) prayer and then I would go to the houses of those who do not attend the prayer and burn their houses over them."

Bukhari 41.602

"In the northern Syrian city of Jarablus, parents are forced to watch ISIS executioner behead their 14-year-old son after he missed Friday prayers." Daily Mail February 4, 2016


Checklist for Getting Ready to Pray

1 – Made wudu

2 – Check to see if the time of prayer has arrived

Each of the five daily prayers has its own specified time in which it must be performed.

Fajr – before dawn

Dhur (or Zuhr) – at noon

Asr – in the afternoon

Maghrib – sunset

Isha – nightfall


Narrated Ibn Umar:

Allah's Apostle said, "When the (upper) edge of the sun appears (in the morning), don't perform a prayer till the sun appears in full, and when the lower edge of the sun sets, don't perform a prayer till it sets completely. And you should not seek to pray at sunrise or sunset for the sun rises between two sides of the head of the devil (or Satan)."

Bukhari 54.494

What are Muslims who live in the Arctic and near-Arctic to do during the period in the summer when the sun does not set, or only partially; or in the winter when it does not rise at all, or not completely?

This is an issue which has been discussed in detail by many classical and contemporary jurists. One possible solution that has been suggested is for one to pray according to maghirb, isha and fajr times in the nearest city in which these three prayer times can be seen to enter and exit. This means finding a city which lies on the latitude of 48 and using it’s sunset, isha and dawn times.(Fath al-Mulhim).

This is one possible method. It is also better to see what the Muslim community at large in the particular area is doing, and act accordingly.

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat (

You can delay the Zuhr prayer if Hell is in the process of exhaling.

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said, "In very hot weather delay the Zuhr prayer till it becomes (a bit) cooler because the severity of heat is from the raging of Hell-fire. The Hell-fire of Hell complained to its Lord saying: O Lord! My parts are eating (destroying) one another. So Allah allowed it to take two breaths, one in the winter and the other in the summer. The breath in the summer is at the time when you feel the severest heat and the breath in the winter is at the time when you feel the severest cold."

 Bukhari 10.512


3 – Dress appropriately

Make sure to wear clothing that covers the necessary parts of your body. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) instructed the men to cover from the naval to the knee. As for the women, he instructed them to cover their body except for her face and hands. This is known as the “awrah.”

 4 – Find a place to pray that is clean

It is very important to pray in a place that is generally clean. If it isn’t clean, you can use a carpet to cover the area you will be praying.

5 – Face the Qibla

The Qibla is the direction the Kaaba is from your current location. Allah commanded us to face the Holy Kaaba in Makkah whenever we perform our prayers. Once you have completed this checklist you are ready to start praying.

Learning How to Pray: One Rakah at a Time

The salah involves a number of physical movements – standing, bowing, prostrating, and sitting. It also involves the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran in Arabic along with a number of dua (supplications). The Muslim will face the direction of the Kaba, the Sacred House of Allah in Makkah, whenever they perform their prayer. One of the biggest differences between a Muslim and a non-Muslim is the salah.

The steps of the salah:



Fatihah – Recitation

Ruku – Bowing

Sujud – Prostration

Tashahud – Sitting

To understand the steps of the salah it is important to understand that the prayer is made up of rakah, or units of prayer. Every rakah has the same basic steps within it.

There will be a part when you are standing.

A part when you recite from the Quran.

A part when you bow down.

A part where you prostrate (make sujud).

Depending on which prayer you are performing there will be slight differences in how these rakah are performed. Here is a summary of how each of the five daily prayers differs from one another:

Fajr – has two rakah, or two units

Dhur – has four rakah

Asr – has four rakah

Maghrib – has three rakah

Isha – has four rakah

1 – Make your intention to pray

We first began the prayer by making an intention from the heart to pray to Allah. As soon as you begin, your entire focus should be on the prayer itself and nothing else.

 2 – Raise your hands to your ears and say ‘Allahu Akbar”

The moment you say “Allahu Akbar” the prayer will officially begin.

3 – Lower your hands and place them over your naval.

Your right hand should be placed over your left hand

4 – Keep your eyes focused on the ground in front of you [to where you will prostrate]

Although it is not obligatory, it is also highly recommended to read the following dua after saying Allahu Akbar (the dua in the Guide has no ending punctuation):

How perfect you are, O Allah. I praise you

How blessed is Your name

How lofty is Your position

And none has the right to be worshipped but You

5 – Recite the opening chapter of the Qur’an

The first chapter of the Qur’an is called Surah Fatihah. You will begin by saying the following:

‘I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Shaytan (devil).’

And then begin to recite the chapter verse by verse:

In the name of God, the infinitely Compassionate and Merciful.

Praise be to Allah, Lord of all the worlds.

The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Master on the Day of Recompense (Judgement Day).

You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help.

Guide us on the straight path,

The path of those who You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.

After reciting Surah Fatihah, you can recite another chapter from the Qur’an. However, at a minimum you must recite Surah Fatihah in every raka’at of prayer.


Not reciting the seven verses that make up the first chapter of the Koran as part of the prayer ritual renders a prayer meaningless.

Narrated Ubada bin As-Samit:

Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever does not recite Al-Fatiha in his prayer, his prayer is invalid."

Bukhari 12.723


6 – Bow down.

This is known as the ‘ruku’ As you are bowing down say ‘Allahu Akbar’. Make sure to keep your back straight, your hands on your knees, and your eyes focused on the ground where you will be prostrating. When you are in this position you will say this sentence three times:

‘How perfect is my Lord, the Magnificent’

7 – Return to standing up again

As you are rising up from the ruku position to a standing position you will bring your hands to your ears and will say:

‘Allah hears those who praise him’

And when you are standing upright then lower your hands to your waist and say:

‘Our Lord, to You is all praise’

8 – Go down to perform prostration.

This is known as ‘sujud’ As you are moving into this position say Allahu Akbar. And also make sure your forehead, nose, palms of both hands, knees, and both toes are touching the ground.

9 – Say this phrase while in sujud (prostration)

Say this sentence three times:

How perfect is my Lord, the Most High

10 – Rise up from sujud and sit for a moment

Say Allahu akbar as you rise from sujud and then sit on your left leg. Your left foot will rest on the floor while your right foot is upright. Place your hands on your knees. When you are in this position it is recommended to ask Allah for forgiveness. A simple and easy dua you can say is:

O my Lord, forgive me.

11 – Return to the position of sujud

You will repeat step 9 again and perform a second sujud and say subhanna rabbeeyal ‘alaa (“How perfect is my Lord, the Most High”) three times again.

Step 12 – Arise from the sujud to return to the standing position and say Allahu Akbar

The first rakah of every prayer is performed with these twelve steps. When you reach the end of the second rakah you will perform the tashahud, or a step 13.

13 – Perform the tashahud at the end of every two rakah

Instead of standing up after the two sujud, this time around you will sit on your legs and knees again. You will raise your right index finger and say:

All compliments, prayers and pure words are due to Allah.

Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings.

Peace be upon us, and on the righteous slaves of Allah.

I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger

If this is the final rakah in the prayer then you will add this part to the tashahud:

O Allah, send prayers upon Muhammad and upon the family (or followers) of Muhammad, Just as You sent prayers upon Ibrahim and the family (or followers) of Ibrahim,

Verily, you are full of Praise and Majesty.

O Allah, bless Muhammad and the family (or followers) of Muhammad as You blessed Ibrahim and the family (or followers) of Ibraaheem,

Verily, you are full of Praise and Majesty.

After reciting the second part of the tashahud, you will say the “tasleem.” The tasleem is to look to your right and say: Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatu Allah

No translation was provided. The following is from a Google search: "May you be safe from evil, and Mercy of Allah be upon you. "

And then to look to the left and say it again.

 Upon saying the tasleem the prayer will have come to an end.