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Salat  (or Salah) (Arabic صلاة,) are the five daily prayers of  Islam, and the noon prayer of Friday, which replaces the daily noon prayer. These prayers are part of the five pillars of Islam in Sunni belief, and part of the tem practices of the Shia. The five prayers are  Fajr (Dawn) Dhuhr (Noon) Asr, Maghrib (Evening) and Isha'a(any time after dusk and before dawn).   Fajr, Dhuhr and Maghrib  may have been derived from the three corresponding prayers of the Jews, Sha'harit (Dawn), Min'hah (noontime) and Ma'ariv (evening). The prayers are fard (compulsory).

Salat in the Qur'an

Some Muslims insist that all five prayers are mentioned in the Quran, while others consider that only two or three are mentioned explicitly.

Fajr and Isha'a are mentioned in the Quran Sura (Chapter 24, Aya (verse) 58:

O believers! Let your servants and those children who have not yet attained puberty ask your permission before coming in to see you on three occasions: before Fajr Salah (dawn prayer), at noon when you put off your clothes, and after the Isha Salah (night prayer).

Sura 11:114 states:

Establish Salah ( prayers) at the two ends of the day and in the early part of the night. Indeed virtues remove evils. This is a reminder for the mindful.[114]

Apparently, it is a reference to Fajr, Maghrib and Isha'a, but does not give their names.

17:78-79 states:

78: Establish Salah from the decline of the sun till the darkness of the night (perhaps - Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha) and read at Fajr (dawn); for the reading at Fajr is witnessed.

79:  During a part of the night, pray Tahajjud, an additional prayer for you, very soon your Lord may exalt you to ‘Maqam-e-Mahmood’.

30:17-18 state:

17: Therefore, glorify Allah in the evening and in the morning

18 - all praise is due to Him in the heavens and the earth - in the late afternoon and when the day begins to decline.

2:238 states:

Guard your Salah (obligatory regular prayers) especially the middle Salah and stand up with true devotion to Allah.

The Salat Prayer Ritual

The prayers are complex rituals which include bowing and other body movements. Before each prayer one must wash hands and feet.

Key parts of each prayer are the same, and they must be said in Arabic.

(In the name of GOD, Most Gracious, Most Merciful)
(Praise be to GOD, Lord of the universe)
(Most Gracious, Most Merciful)
(King of the Day of Judgment)
(You alone we worship; You alone we ask for help)
(Guide us in the correctt path)

    (the path of those whom You blessed; not of those worthy of wrath, or of the strayers)

After reciting the above while standing, the Muslim bows down from the waist, keep the knees straight, hands on knees, and in so doing says Allahu Akbar (God is great). 

And then, when bowing, one says, Subhaana Rabbi al Azeem, "Praise to  the Lord, the Great"

When returning to standing position one says, "Sami Allahu Liman," Allah hears those who praise him. Then when falls prostrate and says "Allahu Akbar."  Stand Up:  

One then bows in the Sujoud positions, forehead to the flood and says "Subhaana Rabbiyal A`laa," "Praised be the Lord on High." The suppliant than rises to sitting position, crouching on knees and says, "Allah hu Akbar"  (God be Great) in doing so, and then prostrates themselves again and says "Allah hu Akbar" again and "Subhaana Rabbiyal A`laa," That completes one Rakah (unit of prayer.

Each daily prayer is made up of different numbers of such units.


Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information:

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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Salat, Salah