Basics and Prayer Guide

Assalamu Alaikum (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 obligatory 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:

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: ) or prayers from the heart. Dua can be made anywhere at any time.


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.


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