Asalam Alykum (Peace be unto you)

Welcome to Islam, You may have discovered Islam on your own or you may have been introduced to Islam by a Muslim spouse, coworker, friend, neighbour, or colleague. We congratulate you on your commitment and remind you of the following quotation from the Quran:

“There is no compulsion in religion. The right way now stands clearly distinguished from the wrong.” (2:256)

Embracing Islam is a decision you must make freely, for you alone will be ultimately accountable on the Day of Judgement for your intentions and actions.

This is a basic guide that has been compiled to share the basics of the prayer and a few other things to consider for converts just starting out on their Journey.

The Basics:

The Five Pillars of Islam are the basic five Primary obligations that Muslims must fulfil in their lifetime. The Pillars provide the structure of Muslim life, putting faith into action and practice. They are: Shahadah (Declaration of faith), Salat (Prayer), Zakat (Charity), Saum (Fasting) and Hajj (Pilgrimage). Although daunting at first, over time they can become part of daily life.

1.Shahadah the first pillar of faith, is the most basic requirement. To become a Muslim you only have to sincerely believe in and say the following phrase:

“Ash hadu an la ilaha ill Allah wa ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasul Allah.”

“I declare there is no god but Allah and I declare that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

With Saying the statement of Faith you have entered into Islam and proclaim the beliefs of Islam, which Include:

  • Belief in One God
  • Belief in the Prophets
  • Belief in the Holy Books (Torah, Scrolls of Abraham, Gospel of Jesus, Psalms of David, The Quran – However it’s believed that the Quran is the only one that exists in its original form.)
  • Belief in Angels
  • Belief in the Day of Judgement
  • Belief in Divine Destiny (Qadhaa’ and Qadr)

2. Salah, Prayer, is the second pillar, which is performed five times each day by Muslims. The Islamic faith is based on the fact that individuals have a direct relationship with Allah (See later).

3. Zakat, charity, is the third pillar. This is the social responsibilities required of Muslims are required to do as it is considered part of one’s service to God. To fulfil Zakat’s duty, ones required to give 2.5% of their wealth for the benefit of the poor or needy. Muslims may also donate more, this is an act of Sadaqah , voluntary charity.

4. Sawm, Fasting is the 4th pillar, this is the fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Muslims abstain from food and drink as well as sexual intercourse from sunrise to sunset. Fasting is necessary for all Muslims that have reached puberty.

5. Hajj. Pilgrimage. A once in a life-time trip to Mecca to purify your soul and reconnect with our ultimate purpose in life. The month of Hajj is when millions of Muslims all over the world arrive to serve Allah wearing only simple, white clothes and no status or titles.

Eid (Holidays).

There are two official holidays in Islam. One comes at the end of Ramadan and is called the ‘Eid ul Fitr. (Festival of the Fast Breaking). The other comes at the end of the Hajj and is called the ‘Eid ul Adha. (Festival of the Sacrifice.)

Islamic Names.

Islam does not require a person to change his or her name. The only case where it is expected is if the meaning of the name is offensive. Many Muslims like to take on Islamic or Arabic-style names as an expression of their affiliation, but this is not required.

Women and Marriage in Islam:

Once you become Muslim you may find people pushing you to marry. Marriage is important in Islam but it is important not to be rushed or pushed into anything. Find your feet and your faith first.
Men and women do have different roles in Islam, but both are equal. Religion should never be misused to control or manipulate in relationships and Islam does not tolerate abuse. Sadly we see examples of this from time to time but this is not acceptable in Islam.

The Quran

The Quran is recited in it’s original Arabic but there are a number of English translations for understanding, some are better than others (and beware a few have a greater degree interpretation added). Various translations can be found here along with audio: https://quran.com/1

The Basics of Prayer

Salah (also referred to as Salat or Namaz) is the ritual prayer a physical, mental, and spiritual act of worship that is observed five times every day at prescribed times. In this ritual, the worshiper starts standing, bows, prostrates, and concludes while sitting on the ground. During each posture, the worshiper recites or reads certain verses, phrases and prayers.

Salah is preceded by ritual ablution called Wudu. Salat consists of the repetition of a unit called a rakʿah (pl. rakaʿāt) consisting of prescribed actions and words. The number of obligatory (fard) rakaʿāt varies from two to four. Prayer is obligatory for all Muslims except those who are prepubescent, are menstruating, or are experiencing bleeding in the 40 days after childbirth. It is performed facing Mecca. The direction is known as the Quiblah.

The word salah is commonly translated to prayer but this definition might be confusing. Muslims use the words “Dua” or “Supplication” when referring to the common definition of ‘prayer’ from the Christian tradition. It is calling out to God; it is a conversation with God, our Creator, Dua can take the form of recommended dua for particular purposes (These can be found in a book called ‘Fortress of A Muslim’ which can be found here: http://www.islamawareness.net/Dua/Fortress/ ) or prayers from the heart. Dua can be made anywhere at any time.

Wudu

Prayer must be made in a state of ritual purity. After sexual intercourse, menstruation or ejaculation a full body wash called Ghusl is required. But Wudu is usually all that is required on a day to day basis before prayer. Wudu must be renewed before prayer after going to the toilet, breaking wind or sleeping.

Say Bismillah (which means In the name of Allah) . Wash the right hand up to the wrist (and between the fingers) three times, then the left, Rinse the mouth and spit out the water three times, Then the nose (three times), the face (from the hairline on the forehead to where facial hair begins and ear to ear) three times.

Wash the entire right arm, including the hand, up to and including the elbow three times; then the left arm three times. Pass fingers of one hand between the fingers of the other hand. (If wearing a ring it should be moved freely to allow water to pass under it).

Then wet hands should be passed all over the head; then the first finger of the right and left hand should be moved in the right and left ears respectively and in the same operation thumbs should be passed around the ears; then pass the backs of the hands over the hind part of the neck only. This is only done once.

Starting with the right foot, wash both feet from the toes up to and including the ankles thrice. The little finger of the left hand should be passed between the toes of both the feet beginning from the little toe of the right foot and ending with the little toe of the left foot.

Finally recite the shahadah.

Wudu

Salah

The prayers can be frustrating and confusing to start with as the number of units (rakah) vary from depending on the prayer and special occasions (Communal Friday Prayer or Jummah has 2 Rakah for example and there are special Eid and Funeral prayers). The best thing to do is familiarise yourself with the basic Rakah and work from there, and try not lose sight of the purpose (connecting with Allah) in the process! Some converts start praying in English, others with transliterations of the Arabic until they familiarize themselves with it. There is something very powerful in praying in a united act of communal worship.

The five obligatory Prayers are;
1. Salat al- fajr: – Before Sunrise (2 Rakah)
2. Salat al –zuhr/Duhr: Midday (4 Rakah)
3. Salat al – ‘asr – Late afternoon (4 Rakah)
4. Salat al –Maghrib -Just after sunset (3 Rakah)
5. Salat al – ‘isha: Between sunset and midnight (4 rakah)

There are also recommended extra rakah (Sunnah) but start with the basics. The times of the prayers vary depending on the time of the year and location. You can find the prayer timetable in the entrance of the mosque, on the BIC website or online here:

http://www.salahtimes.com/uk/northern-ireland

There are also phone Apps available on Android and Apple platforms.

The Quiblah (direction of prayer) is South East from Northern Ireland (if travelling the direction can be found here: http://www.qiblaway.com/qibla-direction-belfast-united-kingdom/)

Clothes for prayer should be clean and modest for both genders, in addition women cover their heads.

Praying with others will help you learn, but parts of the prayer are not spoken out loud and are usually the slowest parts to learn. A clear summary of the prayers can be found here (the videos are for kids but equally apply to adults!):

2 Rakat (e.g Fajr and Friday Prayer): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HitdQ4YBJg
3 Rakat (e.g Magrib): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPDCDT9OLfY
4 Rakat (eg Dhur, Asr, Isha): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAGR7eZXjmk

The structure of the prayer

If you are in the mosque you will hear the call to prayer
(You can hear some examples here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nz1LyY38I4, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csuFHMvvbsA)

Adhan (First calling for group prayer in a mosque):
Allahu akbar (God is Great): 4 times.
Ash hadu alla ilaha illa Allah (I bear witness that there is no other god but Allah): Twice
Ash hadu anna Muhammedan rasoul ullah (I bear witness that Muhammed is the Messenger of God): Twice
Hayie ‘alas salah (Come to prayer): Twice
Hayie ‘alal fala’h (Come to prosperity): Twice
Allahu akbar (God is Greater): Twice.
La ilaha illa Allah (There is no god but Allah): Once

Iqama (Calling for the immediate start of prayer)

Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar (God is Great): Twice.
Ash hadu alla ilaha illa Allah (I bear witness that there is no other god but Allah): Once.
Ash hadu anna Muhammedan rasoul ullah (I bear witness that Muhammed is the Messenger of God): Once
Hayie ‘alas salah (Come to prayer): once
Hayie ‘alal fala’h (Come to prosperity): Once
Qad Qamates salah, qad qamates salah (The prayer has been stood for): Twice
Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar (God is Greater): Twice
La ilaha illa Allah (There is no god but Allah): Once

salah
Performing prayer

1.Takbeer:

Lift the hands to the levels of ears making the Takbeer, which is the start of prayers. The Takbeer is saying “Allahu Akbar,” meaning “God is greater” (than anybody and anything).

With the right hand over the left hand, above the belly button, by recite Al-Fati’ha (The Opening), the first Sura (Chapter) of the Holy Quran, as follows:

2. Al-Fati’ha

1. 1. In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Most Merciful
Bissmilah irra’hman irra’heem
1. 2. Praise be to Allah , Lord of the Worlds
Al’hamdu lilahi rabbil ‘alameen
1. 3. The Beneficent, the Merciful
Arra’hman arra’heem
1.4. Owner of the Day of Judgment
Maliki yawm iddeen
1. 5. You ( alone ) we worship, You (alone) we ask for help
Iyaka na’abudu wa iyaka nassta’een
1. 6. Guide us (to) the straight path
Ihdinas siratal musstaqeem
1. 7. The path of those whom You have blessed, not (the path of) those who earned Your anger, nor of those who went astray
Siratala dheena ana’amta ‘alayhim
Gharil maghdhoobi ‘alayhim
Waladh dhaleen
Ameen.

3. Next a few verses or a short Sura (chapter) from the last (30th) Part of the Holy Qur’an are recited (see some examples below).

Some small Surahs (or Surat) that can be recited during prayer include: Surat An-Nas (114), Surat Al-Falaq (113), Surat Al Kawthar (108) and Surat Al-Ikhlas (112) (Surat Al-Ikhlas below)

Bismila hir ra’hma nir ra’heem (In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful)
1. Qul hu allahu a’had (Say He is Allah, the one)
2. Allahus Samad (Allah, the Eternal)
3. Lam yalid wa lam youlad (He did not give birth nor was He born)
4. Wa lam yakun lahu kufwan a’had (And there has never been anyone equal to Him

4. Rukou’a (Bowing down)

A Muslim makes Rukou’a, making Takbeer first (saying Allahu Akbar), then bowing down with hands over the knees and the back is parallel to the floor. Then, he/she makes Tasbee’h, saying:

Sub’hana rabiyal adheem (Praise to my Lord, the Great): 3 times in Rukou’ – bowing

5. Standing for ‘Hamd (Praising Allah)

After Rukou’, a Muslim stands upright saying:

Sami’a Allahu liman ‘hamidah (Allah listens to whoever praises Him): Once

6. Sujoud (Prostration)

A Muslim makes sujoud, by making Takbeer first (saying Allahu Akbar, then going all the way down to the floor, prostrating himself/herself.

Eight body areas have to touch the floor in Sujoud (prostration). These are the forehead, nose, hand palms, the two knees, and the tiptoes of the two feet.

Once the soujoud is made, a Muslim makes the Sujoud Tasbeeh, saying:

Sub’hana rabiyal ‘ala (Praise to my Lord, the Highest): 3 times in Sujoud (in prostration)
Then, the worshipper lifts his/her head while sitting on the floor, then goes down to perform another Sujoud.

By performing the above ten steps, a Muslim completes one Raka’a, or a prayer unit.

Then, he/she stands up to perform the second Raka’a, repeating the above ten steps.

7. Al-Tashahud

After performing the Sujoud (prostration) of the second Raka’a (prayer unit), he/she sits down on the floor reciting Al-Tashahud (The Proclamation and Bear Witnessing), at the end of which he/she makes greetings to both directions, starting with the right, then the left

Al-Tashahud (pronounced At Tashahud) is recited fully when a worshipper is praying two Raka’as only, such as in the case of Al-Fajr (Dawn) prayer. However, in the rest of the required prayers, which include more than two Raka’as, Al-Tashahud is recited in two ways. After the first two Raka’a, the worshipper recites only the first part of Al-Tashahud but he/she recites it fully at the end of the last Raka’a (last prayer unit).

Transliteration of Al-Tashahud:
Part I:

At ta’hiyatu, al mubarakatu, wassala watu at tayibatu, lilah
Assalamu ‘alayka ayuha anabiyu wa ra’hmatul lahi wa barakatuh
Assalamu ‘alayna wa ‘ala ‘ibadil lahis sali’heen
Ash hadu alla ilaha illal lah
Wa ash hadu anna muhammadan rassoulul lah
***

Part II:

Allahumma salli ‘ala muhammadin, wa ‘ala aali muhammad
Kama salayta ‘ala ibrahima, wa ‘ala aali ibrahim
Wa barik ‘ala muhammadin, wa ‘ala aali muhammad
Kama barakta ‘ala ibrahima, wa ‘ala aali ibrahim
Fil ‘aalamina
Innaka ‘hameedun majeed
***

Ending prayer with greetings to the right, then to the left saying:

Assalamu ‘alaykum wa ra’hmatul lahi wabarakatuh

English translation:

Part 1

All reverence, all worship, all sanctity are due to God.
Peace be upon you, O prophet and the mercy of God and His blessings.
Peace be upon us all and on the righteous servants of God.
I bear witness that there is no god but God alone,
And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger.

Part 2

O God! Exalt Muhammad and the people of Muhammad,
As You did exalt Abraham and the people of Abraham.
And bless Muhammad and the people of Muhammad
As You did bless Abraham and the people of Abraham
Indeed You are praiseworthy, and glorious.

(Then, the prayer is completed by saying the greetings to those on the right and to those on the left):

Peace of Allah be upon you, His mercy, and His blessings (to the right side)

Peace of Allah be upon you, His mercy, and His blessings (to the the left side)

End of Prayer.
After Prayer, Tasbeeh is recommended, but not required:

Tasbee’h (words of praise to God said after prayer)
Sub’hana Allah (Praise to Allah): 33 times *
Al’hamdu lilah (Thanks to Allah): 33 times
Allahu akbar (Allah is Greater): 33 times
The number of times each Tasbee’h can be said is dependent on a person’s time and circumstances, it can be more or less than the recommended number of 33 mentioned above.

Links/Resources:

Belfast Islamic Centre Website: http://belfastislamiccentre.org.uk/
Belfast Islamic Centre Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Belfast-Islamic-Centre-163003537095773/?fref=ts

Quran Recitations:
http://quranicaudio.com/
http://thequranreciters.com/home
http://www.recitequran.com/

Dear Muslim Convert: A series of videos on issues effecting converts: http://imamsonline.com/blog/category/dear-muslim-convert/

Solace (For Revert [convert] sisters in difficulty): http://www.solaceuk.org/

Virtual Mosque: http://www.virtualmosque.com/

Convert stories: http://www.muslimconverts.com/

Other links:
http://www.dar-alifta.org/Foreign/default.aspx
http://www.themodernreligion.com/index1.html
http://seekershub.org/home/