Preliminaries of Salat

Prior to the accomplishment of prayer certain actions which depict the inner aspects of contemplation in accordance with the tradition of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) must be performed. These are called the preliminaries of prayer.

Seyyed Mohammad Noorbakhsh has said: “Cleanse four things by four things: your face with the tears of your eyes, your tongue with Zikr of your creator, your heart with humility to your protector, and your body by return to your Lord.”

Among the preliminaries of prayer are cleansing all impurities, covering the body, recognizing the qiblah (point towards which prayer is directed), not being a trespasser at the site of prayer, and knowing the time of prayer. 1

Purification

The outward meaning of the purification in prayer is the cleansing of the body and clothing from contamination; its inner reality is the purification of the self from misdeeds, sins and fault of character, and the purification of the heart from the love of the world and all other than God. Much as outward cleanliness has been emphasized, inner purification is achieved through repentance and regret of whatever is not pleasing to God.

Among the elements of purification is respect for the rights of all people in all matters.
Shaykh Shibli has said: “Whenever you are at peace with yourself you have paid your dues, and whenever mankind is safe from you, you have paid what is their right.”
Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) has said: “the pure believer in his devotion to God is like clear, pure water, as when it falls from sky.” 2

Veiling the Body

“Ye children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness is the best; such are among the signs of God, so that they may receive admonition” (Holy Qur’an, 7:26)

Covering of the private parts from others and from one’s self is absolutely necessary at times of prayer. Outwardly, it means covering the private parts, but in reality is wearing the garment of piety, truth, repentance, and sincerity against the desires of the self, since what God’s eye falls upon must be free from impurity and misdeeds. 3

Place of Prayer and its Sacredness

One of the other preliminaries of prayer is observance of the sacredness of the place where prayer is performed. The inner meaning of this refers to the heart of the person who prays, which must be free of all other than God.

The heart of the believer must be attentive to the rites of religion and to virtuous human qualities. The heart is the empyrean and mosque of God and it must not be usurped or impure, for both of these invalidate prayer and prevent the acceptance of the grace of God. 4

Time of Prayer

Molana Hazrat Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha Stated: “In reality, time signifies the moments when the believer is entirely in remembrance of his Exalted Lord God.” 5

Time is one if the preliminaries of prayers and, according to the rites of religion, refers to the designated times of prayer.

The five daily prayers according the shari’at of Hazrat Mohammad (peace upon him) consists of 17 Rak’at (parts of the prayer as divided by the number of times the worshiper bows in reverence). 6

Each prayer is to be performed in the time span indicated:

Dawn prayer (Sobh):

2 Rak’at

During the twilight of dawn.

 

Noon prayer (Zoh’r):

4 Rak’at

From noon until the performance of the afternoon prayer.

 

Afternoon prayer (Asr)

4 Rak’at

After the performance of the noon prayer and before sunset

 

Sunset prayer (Maghreb):

3 Rak’at

From sunset until the performance of the night prayer.

 

Night prayer (Asha):

4 Rak’at

After the performance of the sunset prayer and before midnight.

 

Hazrat Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha, has said:

The sunset prayer is the sowing of a seed;
The night prayer is the growing of its roots, in darkness and concealment;
The morning prayer is the emergence of the first bud from the ground;
The noon prayer is the growth of its branches and leaves;
The afternoon prayer yields the fruit of the tree of devotion;
And it is said that whoever neglects his afternoon prayer, has brought injustice upon himself and his kin. 7

Ablution (Vozou)

Ablution, washing before prayer, is one of the preliminaries of prayer, and its observance is necessary. The intent of the ablution is to be purified completely from all wrongs. This means washing the hands of all that is prohibited; and absolute awareness with all your being to God; and renunciation of worldly attachments and desires of the self; and turning to God in sincerity.

By corollary, renunciation of the mind means washing away all thoughts of wrongs, of doubts, and of idols. The washing of the head signifies the steadfastness of all mental faculties in the union with God. The washing of feet signifies purification from past wrongs and firmness of step on the journey to God. 8

Performance of Ablution: 9

  • Intention
Concentrates and intend to perform ablution for the sake of separating from the earthly attachments.
  • Face
Fill the palm of your right hand with water and wash the face from the top of the forehead to the bottom of the chin. Do this three times.
  • Arms
Fill the left palm of your hand with water. Pour the water from the right elbow down to the tip of the fingers, covering the front and back of the arm. Fill the right palm of your hand with water. Pour the water from the left elbow down to the tip of the fingers, covering the front and back of the arm.
  • Head
Without wetting your hand again, moisten the crown of your head to the forehead with the fingers of the right hand.
  • Feet
Without wetting your hand again, moisten the top of the right foot from the toes to the ankle, with right hand. Without wetting your hand again, moisten the top of the left foot from the toes to the ankle with the left hand.

Qiblah (Point towards which prayer is directed)

God almighty has said: “For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to God” (Holy Qur’an, 6:79)

One of the necessary and indispensable conditions for prayer and for the person who prays is to face physically toward the qiblah of the heart, which is the house of God and the heart of the believer. Therefore, all those who pray all over the world will of necessity form a complete circle around the magnetic and spiritual centrality of the ka’bah. 10

The Summon or Azan

Stand facing Mecca (Qiblah).

Repeat the following: 11

Allaho Akbar 4 times
Ash’hado an la-elaha-ellallah 2 times
Ash’hado an’na Mohmmadan rassoolollah 2 times
Ash’hado anna Ali’yan valee’yollah 2 times
Hayya alas-salat 2 times
Hayya alal-falah 2 times
Hayya ala khayr-el-amal 2 times
Allaho Akbar 2 times
La-elaha-ellallah 2 times

“God is the Greatest.
I bear witness that there is no God but Allah.
I bear witness that Mohammad is the messenger of God.
I bear witness that Ali is the appointed guide by God.
Gain eternal life by performance of salat.
Gain eternal life by salvation.
Gain eternal life by the performance of the best deed.
God is the Greatest.
There is no God but Allah.”

The Rising or Eghame

In the standing position repeat the following: 12

Allaho Akbar 2 times
Ash’hado an la-elaha-ellallah 2 times
Ash’hado an’na Mohmmadan rassoolollah 2 times
Ash’hado anna Ali’yan valee’yollah 2 times
Hayya alas-salat 2 times
Hayya alal-falah 2 times
Hayya ala khayr-el-amal 2 times
Ghad ghamate-salat 2 times
Allaho Akbar 2 times
La-elaha-ellallah 1 time

“God is the Greatest.
I bear witness that there is no God but Allah.
I bear witness that Mohammad is the messenger of God.
I bear witness that Ali is the appointed guide by God.
Gain eternal life by performance of salat.
Gain eternal life by salvation.
Gain eternal life by the performance of the best deed.
The prayer is performed
God is the Greatest.
There is no God but Allah.”


References:

  1. Molana Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha, Al-Salat, The Reality of Prayer in Islam , Washington D.C: M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi Publications®, 1998, pp. 13-14.
  2. Ibid. pp. 24-25
  3. Ibid. p. 26
  4. Ibid. pp. 26-27
  5. Ibid. p. 32
  6. Islamic Daily Prayer Manual , Riverside, CA: M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi Publications®, 1994, p. 3)
  7. Molana Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha, Al-Salat , p. 20
  8. Ibid. pp. 30-31
  9. Islamic Daily Prayer Manual, p. 4
  10. Molana Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha, Al-Salat, pp. 48-49
  11. Islamic Daily Prayer Manual, p. 5
  12. Ibid. p. 6