Sunday, July 11, 2004

Minimum Prayer-knowledge for absolute beginners

This is a bare minimum for foreigners new to Islam. There are more details that are a duty to learn as soon as possible, such as the Fatihah, and the tashahhud. The first sitting has been left out at this stage, on the basis of Imam Malik's saying that it is a sunnah, to avoid overloading the novice. However, it can be taught by this rule: "every time you have completed 2 subsets, and still have 1 or 2 left to do, you should sit for 30 seconds - unless you are praying behind someone that did not sit at that point." Novices should be encouraged to attend group prayer, since the imam's recital will cancel their need to recite.

Before Prayer make sure that:

  1. Ritual impurity (hadath) has been removed by ablution or a complete body wash (see below.)
  2. Urine, vomit, blood and pus has been removed from the body, clothes and place of prayer. It is removed by flowing water.
  3. The woman covers all the body except the face and hands; the man everything between the navel to below the knee. These bodyparts must always be covered in public; not only in prayer.
  4. The prescribed prayer time has entered.

Ablution to remove minor ritual impurity has 4 obligations:

  1. Washing (make the water flow on) the face (from the hairline to the chin and from ear to ear), except inside the eyes or the skin under a thick beard that isn't seen at normal conversation length.
  2. Washing (make the water flow on) the hands and lower arms to above the elbow
  3. Wiping (make water touch) 1/4 of the head.
  4. Washing (make the water flow on) the feet to above the ankles.
NB! One must remove all obstacles for the water to reach (e.g. tight rings/ mucus/ make-up.)

These break one’s ablution so that it must be repeated before praying again:

  1. EVERYTHING excreted from the front and rear organs, even air or a worm.
  2. Vomiting the amount of a mouthful unless it is phlegm.
  3. Blood or pus flowing out of a wound to reach the skin, hair, mouth, inside the soft part of the nose, but not inside the eyes.
  4. Sleeping, unless one is sitting firmly on one's seat, thus preventing the exit of air.
  5. Fainting, going crazy, or having an epileptic fit (without exceptions.)
  6. Intense sexual contact; a man and woman physically rub their private parts on each other.
  7. Laughter loud enough for others to hear it during a prayer that has bowing and prostration.

The obligatory Complete Body Wash to remove greater ritual impurity:

Wash all the body including inside the mouth and the soft part of the nose, not inside the eyes.

These break one’s Complete Body Wash so that it must be repeated before praying again:

  1. Ejaculation of semen for the man or woman due to desire
  2. Intercourse (The prophet defined it as the head of the man’s part disappearing) or sodomy
  3. Menstruation or postpartum bleeding

Description of Prayer:

  1. Stand facing the direction of the prayer (south-west in Kuwait)
  2. Pronounce “Alllaaahu akbar” with the intention of praying the prayer you want
  3. Recite al-FaatiHah correctly. If unable, say “malikinnnaaas ilaaahinnnaaas” 11 times.
  4. Bow to touch you knees and remain still for a moment
  5. Stand up straight
  6. Prostrate by putting your forehead and nose on the ground, supported by your hands, knees and underside of your toes. Remain still for a moment.
  7. Sit up
  8. Repeat prostration as in point number 6 above. Now you have completed one subset (rak3ah).
  9. Stand up and repeat steps 3 to 8 for your next subset.
  10. After completing the number of subsets prescribed, sit for 30+ seconds after the last prostration.
  11. Say “Asssalaaam” to end your prayer.
  12. If you are following someone and missed some subsets, you must complete the number required after he ends his prayer (you do not say "assalaam" with him).
The number of subsets in the 5 obligatory prayers are (in brackets in red): Morning Fajr (2), Early Afternoon Thuhr (4), Late Afternoon Asr (4), Sunset Maghrib (3), Night Esha (4). The prayer times are listed in the newspaper, but add a few minutes to ensure that the time has entered when you want to pray.