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How to perform Salah according to the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)

Allah Has made Prayer (Salah), which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, compulsory on his slaves and ordered them to establish it and perform it well. The Prayer (Salah) is one of the most important things which our Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) had explained to the people, verbally and practically. He (S.A.W.) obligated us to copy him in his prayer, saying: 

” Pray as you have seen me praying” (Sahih Bukhari: 631)


Prerequisites (Shurut) of Prayer (Salah):

Prerequisite means a condition that is required in order for something else to happen and if it is missing, the thing is invalid and unfulfilled e-g Ablution (Wuḍhu) is a prerequisite for Salah.

It is obligatory for a person who wishes to perform Prayer (Salah) to make sure that he or she satisfies the following Prerequisites before entering the Prayer (Salah):


1. Intention: (an-Niyyah) for Prayer: The person who is going to pray must have in his heart the intention to pray that particular Prayer. Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) used to say:

All actions are by intention, and every man shall have what he intended.” (Sahih Bukhari: 54)

The Prophet (S.A.W.) never instructed us to audibly or inaudibly state intentions for any act of worship, and the Companions (R.A.) did not do this either.


2. Purification (Taharah): One must make sure that the person’s Body, his/her Clothes and Place (ground on which offering Prayer) are clear from all kinds of impurity before he/she starts the Prayer.


3. Ablution (Wudu): Ablution is part of purification. Ablution (Wuḍu) is a one of the most important prerequisite for Salah (Click here to know about Prophet’s Sunnahs of Performing Wudu/Ablution).

 Our Prophet (S.A.W.) said:

"Allah does not accept the prayer of any of you when you are defiled until you performed ablution.” (Abu Dawud: 60)


4. Covering the Private Parts: Before starting prayer, man must cover his entire body and private parts including his shoulders. The same is evident from following Aya of Quran:

“O children of Adam, take your adornment [by wearing proper clothing and concealing the private parts (awrat)] for every masjid (for prayer)” (Surah Al-Araaf 7:31)

Most scholars agree on one point that during Prayer, it is highly recommended for a man to have his head covered during prayer.

However, it is mandatory for a woman to entire body except her face and hands.


5. Facing the Kabah / Qibla: Facing towards Qiblah (Kabah) is a very important condition of performing Prayer. Wherever a person is going to pray, he should face towards the Kabah. As Allah Says in Quran:

“…. So turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haram. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces toward it [in prayer] ….” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:144)


It is obligatory upon everyone who can actually see the Kabah / Qibla to face it directly. As for those who cannot actually see it then they should face its direction.

However, if the person is in a place such as a desert, jungle, unknown strange city or a place where he does not know the direction of the Qibla, he should try his best to find out the direction of Qibla from others and if it is not possible then he should use his judgment and face in a direction which he thinks is that of Qibla and Allah will accept his Prayer.

It is important to start the Salat facing the direction of Qibla and it does not matter if his direction changes while he is praying e.g. in a ship, a train or an airplane, etc.


Note: Nowadays, a compass is available which gives the direction of Qiblah. In strange places and airplanes it is a useful instrument to possess.



The Essentials (Arkaan) of Prayer (Salah):

Essential is the property or characteristic of something that makes it what it is and if it is missing the thing is null and void. For instance, recitation of Surah Al-Fatḥiaḥ in each and every ‘Rakaat’ is an essential for Prayer.


 1. Standing (Qiyaam): It is obligatory that the person prays standing. As Allah Says in Quran:

“Be guardians of your prayers, and of the midmost prayer, and stand up with devotion to Allah.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:238)


Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) said:

“ ……. then face the Qibla and say Takbir (Allahu Akbar), and then recite of what you know of the Quran, and then bow, and remain in this state till you feel at rest in bowing, and then raise your head and stand straight …. “ (Sahih Bukhari: 6667)


This is a pillar (rukn) for the one who is able to stand. If one cannot stand then he or she may offer Prayer sitting, lying on one’s side or whatever position he is capable of taking. The Prophet (S.A.W.) said:


"Pray standing. If you are not able to stand, then pray sitting. If you are not able to pray sitting, then pray (while lying) on your side." (Sahih Bukhari: 1117)
 2. Takbeer-e-Tehrimah (opening Takbeer for entering Prayer): It is done when one commences with Salah by saying ‘Allah-u-Akbar’ (Allah is the Greatest) while raising the hands to shoulder level with the palms facing forward. Abu Humaid As-Saidi (R.A.) said:


" I am one among you who is more informed of the way the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) prayed. ... When the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) stood up to pray, he raised his hands so as to bring them opposite his shoulders, and uttered the takbir (Allah is the greatest) …. " (Abu Dawud: 730)


According to the above-mentioned Hadith, the person should start his Prayer saying ''Allah-u-Akbar'' (Allah is the greatest), raising both of his hands to the level of his shoulders or ears then he should fold his hands over his chest right hand over the left hand. This applies equally to men and women.


As narrated by Tawus:


“The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) used to place his right hand on his left hand, then he folded them strictly on his chest in prayer.” (Abu Dawud: 759)



3. Looking at the Place of Prostration:

A person who is offering Prayer must have humility and attentiveness in his Prayer and should avoid everything that may divert his attention. Whilst standing, he or she should look towards the place of his prostration. He or she should not turn to the right or the left. It is also not allowed for the person offering prayer to raise his sight to the sky.


4. Opening Supplication: After Takbeer-e-Tehrima, person should begin by reciting one of the supplications established from the Prophet (S.A.W.) during first Rakaat/Rakat only. Following is one of many such supplications.

It was narrated that Abu Saeed (R.A.) said:

"When the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) started to pray, he would say:


سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَبِحَمْدِكَ، وَتَبَارَكَاسْمُكَ، وَتَعَالَى جَدُّكَ، وَلَا إِلَهَ غَيْرُكَ

 (Subhanakallahumma, wa bihamdika tabarakasmuka wa ta'ala jadduka wa la ilaha ghairuk)

Translation: Glory is to You O Allah, and praise. Blessed is Your Name and Exalted is Your Majesty. There is none worthy of worship except You.

(An-Nasai: 900 & Abu Dawud: 775)


5. Reciting Surah Al-Fatiḥah: After starting with supplication, person should recite ‘Taawudh’

أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطانِ الرَّجِيْمِ

(Audhu billahi mina shaitaan nir rajeem)

Translation: I seek refuge in Allah from the rejected Satan.

(Surah Al-Nahl 16:98)


After ‘Taawudh’, recite ‘Tasmiyah’

بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

(Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim)

Translation: In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, and the Most Merciful.

[Sahih Muslim: 399 (a)]


It is noted that this (Taawudh ad Tasmiyah) should only be said silently during the first Rakat (opening unit of Prayer).


After Taawudh and Tasmiyah, a person has to recite the whole of Surah Al-Fatihah. This is a pillar (rukn) and the Prayer will not be correct without it. So it is obligatory upon even those who do not know Arabic that they memorize it.

The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) said:

“Every prayer in which the Ummul-Kitab (the Mother of the Book i-e Surah Al-Fatihah) is not recited is deficient.” (Sunan Ibn Majah: 889)


"Whoever does not recite Al-Fatiha in his prayer, his prayer is invalid." (Sahih Bukhari: 756)

 (Click here for know about the importance of Surah Al-Fatihah)


It is obligatory for every person to recite Surah Al-Fatihah in every Rakaat (all units of Prayers whether obligatory prayers for Sunnah or Nafil Prayers).



6. Recitation after Surah Al-Fatihah: It is proven from the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) that after reciting Surah Al-Fatihah, one should recite another Surah from Quran or recite some Aayahs of Quran in the first two Rakaat of Fardh Salah (initial first two units of the obligatory prayers).


Abu Qatadah (R.A.) reported that:

The Prophet (S.A.W.) would recite Al-Fatihah and some surah in the first two Rakaat of the noon prayer, and only Al-Fatihah in the last two Rakaat. Sometimes he would recite some verses. The first Rakaat's recital would be longer than the second. That was how it was done in the afternoon and morning prayers. (Abu Dawud: 78)


The Sunnah is also to make the recitation in the first Rakaat longer than the recitation in the second Rakaat.

The length of recitation will vary according to the different Prayers. So generally, the recitation in the Dawn (Fajr) Prayer is longer than the recitation in any of the other Prayers. Next comes the Zuhr, then the Asr and the Maghrib, then the Isha.



7. The Bowing (Rukoo): After finishing the above steps, a person offering prayer should raise his hands, in the manner described previously with regard to the initial Takbeer (Takbeer-e-Tehrima) and also say the Takbeer (i.e., Allaahu Akbar), and this is obligatory.

Then a person will perform the Rukoo (bowing) in such a manner that all his joints are settled, and each part of the body is at rest. This is a pillar (rukn). (This is proven Sunnah from Hadith in Sahih Bukhari: 739)  


It was narrated that Abu Masud (R.A.) said that the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) said:


“The prayer is not valid if a man does not bring his backbone to rest while bowing and prostrating." (An-Nasai: 1027)


The Sunnah way of performing Rukoo (bowing), the person should place his hands firmly upon his knees, spread his fingers, as if he were grasping his knees, stretch out one’s back and make it level and then it would settle upon it. Person should neither cause his head to droop lower than his back, nor should he raise it above it. Rather he should make it level with his back. Person should also keep his elbows (straight and) apart from his sides. After that, person should say, three times, or more, in the Rukoo:


سُبْحَانَ رَبِّيَ الْعَظِيمِ

(Subhaana Rabbee al-Adheem)

Translation: Glory to my Lord the Exalted.

(An-Nasai: 1046)


 8. Straightening Up from the Rukoo (Qawmah):  After above step, the person must raise up and straighten his back from the Rukoo (the standing after Rukoo is Called Qawmah in Arabic). He should say, while raising his back,


سَمِعَ اللَّهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَهُ

(Sami' Allaahu liman hamidah)

Translation: Allah heard those who sent praises to Him.

(Sahih Bukhari: 795)


Person should raise his hands when he rises up, in the manner that has preceded (Takbeer-e-Tehrima). Then the person should stand straight up and remain still, such that every bone returns to its place and say while standing:


رَبَّنَا وَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ

(Rabbanaa wa lakal-hamd)

Translation: O our Lord! And all praise is for You.

(Sahih Bukhari: 795)



This is obligatory upon everyone praying, even if a person praying behind Imaam.


9. First Prostration (Sajda): After the perfect ‘Qawmah’ the person praying should move to perform Sajdah (prostration). During prostration, the forehead and the nose - together, the two palms, the two knees and the toes of each foot should touch the ground. All the body parts should be in the direction of Qibla i-e hands, feet etc.

Person should say: "Allah-u-Akbar" while going for the prostration. In the prostration position, person should say (at-least three times):


سُبْحَانَ رَبِّيَ الأَعْلَى

(Subhaana Rabbiyal-Alaa)

Translation: Glory is to my Lord, the Most High.

(Abu Dawud: 857)


10. Being Settled in the Prostration (Jalsah):

After performing one/first Prostration perfectly and calmly, the person praying should raise his head form Prostration saying "Allah-u-Akbar" bending the left foot and sitting on it while keeping the right foot propped up with its toes pointing towards the Qibla, the palms of his hands should rest on his thighs and knees, the back should be straight so that the joints go back in place. 


The Prophet (PBUH) used to say:

“The prayer is not valid if a man does not bring his backbone to rest while bowing and prostrating." (An-Nasai: 1027)


So, it is important to sit as straight as possible during two prostrations (Jalsah).  


11. Second Prostration (Sajda): Then the person should perform the second Sajdah saying "Allah-u-Akbar" and repeat what he did in the first Sajdah.


12. Sitting for Rest (Jalsah-e-Istarahat): After performing both prostration, person should raise his head up saying "Allah-u-Akbar" and sit for a short while as he did in ‘Jalsah’ (stay between prostrations). Person should do this before standing up for the second Rakaat (second unit of Prayer).

Narrated Malik bin Huwairith Al-Laithi (R.A.) said:


“I saw the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) praying and in the odd Rakaat, he (S.A.W.) used to sit for a moment before getting up.” (Sahih Bukhari: 823)


13. Second Rakaat (2nd Unit of Prayer): After standing up for the second Rakaat, person should fold his hands over his chest as he did in the first Rakaat and start recitation by recitingBismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim” and Surah Al-Fatihah followed by any passage or a chapter of the Holy Quran." Then he should complete his second Rakaat in the manner of the first one. 


14. Tashahud (sitting for the declaration of Faith): When a person offers two, three or four Rakaat Prayer, he/she should sit after two Rakaats for Tashahud. If he/she offering two Rakaat Prayer than this will be his/her first and last Tashahud but if he/she performing three or four Rakaat Prayer, then this will be his/her first Tashahud and he/she will stand after two Rakaats to complete third (for three Rakaat Prayer) and fourth Rakaat (for four Rakaat Prayer).

So when a person finishes the second Rakaat, he/she sits to perform the Tashahhud. He/she sits upon the left foot laid flat, as preceded with regard to the sitting between the two prostrations. However, it is not allowed to sit upon the two heels for this sitting and also not allowed for him/her to sit whilst resting upon his hand, especially the left hand.


Abu Humaid As-Saidi (R.A.) said:

"I remember the prayer of Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) better than any one of you. …... On sitting in the second Rakaat, he (S.A.W.) sat on his left foot and propped up the right one; and in the last Rakaat, he pushed his left foot forward and kept the other foot propped up and sat over the buttocks." (Sahih Bukhari: 828)


Person should clench all the fingers of his/her right hand, placing his/her thumb onto his/her middle finger sometimes, he/she may make a circle with his/her thumb and middle finger together. He/She should point his/her forefinger towards the Qibla (Direction of Prayer) and fix his/her gaze upon his/her forefinger (it is Sunnah act to see forefinger while moving or pointing the forefinger in Tashahud). He/She should agitate (up and down) it, making supplication with it, from the start to the end of the Tashahhud.

[Sahih Muslim: 580 (b), An-Nasai: , 1160 & 1268 ]



So after completing two Rakaats, person offering prayer should sit in a position mentioned in the above Hadith and then recite the following:


التَّحِيَّاتُ للهِ، وَالصَّلَوَاتُ، وَالطَّيِّبَاتُ،السَّلَامُ عَلَيْكَ أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ، السَّلَامُعَلَيْنَا وَعَلَى عِبَادِ اللهِ الصَّالِحِينَ. أّشَْدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُوَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ


(Attahiyyaatu lillaahi wassalawaatu , wattayyibaatu , assalaamu 'alayka 'ayyuhan-Nabiyyu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu, assalaamu 'alaynaa wa 'alaa 'ibaadillaahis-saaliheen. 'Ash-hadu 'an laa 'ilaaha 'illallaahu wa 'ash-hadu 'anna Muhammadan 'abduhu wa Rasooluhu)


Translation: All greetings of humility are for Allah, and all prayers and goodness. Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings. Peace be upon us and upon the righteous slaves of Allah. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger.

(Sahih Bukhari: 7381)


If a person offering two Rakaat Prayer, then after reciting above, he/she should supplicate for blessing upon the Prophet (S.A.W.) by saying:


اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍكَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَعَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ، إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ،اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكَ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَوَعَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ، إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ


(Allaahumma salli 'alaa Muhammadin wa 'alaa 'aali Muhammadin, kamaa sallayta 'alaa 'Ibraaheema wa 'alaa 'aali 'Ibraaheema, 'innaka Hameedun Majeed. Allaahumma baarik 'alaa Muhammadin wa 'alaa 'aali Muhammadin, kamaa baarakta 'alaa 'Ibraaheema wa 'alaa 'aali 'Ibraaheema, 'innaka Hameedun Majeed)


Translation: O Allah, bestow Your favor on Muhammad and on the family of Muhammad as You have bestowed Your favor on Ibrahim and on the family of Ibrahim, You are Praiseworthy, Most Glorious. O Allah, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad as You have blessed Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim, You are Praiseworthy, Most Glorious.

(Sahih Bukhari: 3370)

Then he may choose, in this Tashahud, any of the reported supplications that please him, and supplicate to Allaah with that. (Click here for Duas/Supplications after Tashahud)

15. The Third and Fourth Rakaats:

 If a person is offering three or four Rakaat Payer, then he/she will stand-up after first Tashahud (after reciting ‘Attahiyyaat’ only, without supplicate for blessing upon the Prophet (S.A.W.) and supplication after Tashahud). The person will Say “Allah-u-Akbar” while standing for the third Rakaat. Then he/she should complete his third and fourth Rakaat in the manner of the first and second one.

16. The Final Tashahud:  After completing the third and fourth Rakaats, person should sit for the final Tashahud, and both Tashahud are obligatory. Person should do in it what he/she did in the first Tashahud (with Attahiyyaat’ and supplicate for blessing upon the Prophet (S.A.W.) and supplication after Tashahud).


17. The Salutation (Tasleem) (Ending The Prayer): After completing the ‘Tashahud’, person should give salutations to his right side, turning his face such that the whiteness of his right cheek can be seen, by saying:

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله

(Assalam-u-alaykum wa raḥmatulllah)

Translation: Peace and blessings of Allah be unto you.


Then he/she will give salutations to his left side, turning his face such that the whiteness of his left cheek can be seen, by saying:

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله

(Assalam-u-alaykum wa raḥmatulllah)

Translation: Peace and blessings of Allah be unto you.

 It was narrated from Abdullah (R.A.) that:

“The Prophet (S.A.W.) used to say salam (Taslim) to his right and to his left: As-salamu 'alaykum wa rahmatullah, as-salamu alaykum wa rahmatullah (peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah, peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah) until the whiteness of his cheek could be seen from here, and the whiteness of his cheek from here. (An-Nasai: 1324)

 Undoubtedly, the fulfillment of all the necessary conditions for the Prayer enhances its chances of receiving the best recognition and full reward of Allah.


May Allah accept Prayer, Supplications and all other good deeds of all our Muslim brothers and sisters all over the world.

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