Prayer (salat; plural salawat) is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is incumbent upon all mature Muslims, and highly recommended for children aged ten and over, to complete their five daily prayers according to the way the Prophet PBUH performed it in order for them to be valid. It is believed that communication with Allah will bring life to the prayerful and bring them courage. Muslims believe that Allah speaks to us through the Qur'an, and prayer is our means of connecting to Allah. Whether you're just curious as to how Muslims pray or if you're looking to learn for yourself, it's never too early to start.
Part 1 of 2:
Preparing for Prayer
1Ensure the area is clean and free of impurities. This includes your body, your clothes, and the place of prayer itself.
- Perform wudu. You must be ritually pure before you go start praying. If you're not, it's required to perform Wudu "ablution" before you do. If since your last prayer, you have urinated, defecated, passed gas, bled excessively, or fallen asleep deeply, you need to perform wudu
- If you are praying in a masjid (mosque), which is highly encouraged for men, enter quietly—other Muslims might still be praying and you don't want to disturb them.
- If you are unsure of the cleanliness of your area, spread a mat or cloth on the floor for good measure. This mat (or prayer rug) is very important to Islamic culture.
2Perform ghusl (full shower) if needed. Certain circumstances will require that you perform ghusl instead of wudu to be cleansed after removing najas (impurities) and before praying. If you wish to pray after having sexual intercourse, ending your menstruation period or postpartum bleeding, giving birth, having a wet dream or throwing of sperm, you need to perform ghusl. 
- To perform ghusl, you must wash your entire body and hair with water. It is recommended that you wash 3 times.
- Note that when you perform either wudu or ghusl, anything that prevents water from touching the obligatory areas of the body must be removed, including things such as nail polish, accessories, and waterproof mascara.
3Perform tayammum (dry purification) if needed. If a Muslim is unable to use water, he or she may choose to perform tayammum instead of wudu or ghusl. This rite involves using clean soil or dirt or a natural rock that has not been used before to perform tayammum.
4Face the Qibla. This is the direction all Muslims face to turn in prayer towards the Holy Ka'bah. The Holy Mosque in Mecca is the most revered place of worship for Muslims around the entire world. All Muslims are required to face the Ka'bah five times every day when offering their prayers.
5Pray at the proper time. The five prayers of each day take place at very specific times. For each one, there is a brief period of time it can be performed, determined by the rising and falling of the sun. Each prayer takes about 5 to 10 minutes from start to finish, but should never be hurried.
- The five prayers are Fajr, Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib, and Isha. They are at dawn, afternoon, in the mid-afternoon, at sunset, and at night, respectively. They are not at the same time each day, as they are timed by the sun, which changes path throughout the seasons.
- These are the amount of rak'ah (units) for each of the 5 prayers: Obligatory prayers:
- Fajr prayer (2 units (Rak'ah));
- Duhr prayer (4 units (Rak'ah));
- Asr prayer (4 units (Rak'ah));
- Maghrib prayer (3 units (Rak'ah));
- Isha prayer (4 units (Rak'ah)).
6Learn to say prayers in Arabic. Prayer must be performed in the Arabic language because this is the language that the Qur’an was revealed in. Use a Quran phone app to help you start your prayer to help you memorise obligatory and optional Surah's (chapters) that are required to complete your prayers.
7Cover yourself. Men and women must both cover themselves with material that covers the skin throughout the prayer. While women must cover everything but their faces and hands, men must keep the area between their navel and knees covered.
- The material must cover the body during prayer movements. So if, for example, bending causes a piece of material to slip and expose skin on a woman’s neck, she would need to ensure that her clothing is tucked in properly or put more clothing on before she can start her prayer.
Part 2 of 2:
Performing the Muslim Prayers
1Make your intention known in your heart, before beginning the prayer. Intention (niyyah) is an Islamic concept that precedes the performance of an act that God has commanded us (for example, intending to pray Fajr prayer).
- Intention doesn't just include words spoken out loud, you have to focus on your intention and it has to come from within. If you are going to pray Asr you must intend to pray Asr not Dhuhr for example, otherwise the prayer is not accepted by God.
2Raise your hands up next to your ears and shoulders, then say Allāhu akbar (الله أَكْبَر). This translates to "Allah is the greatest." Do this while standing (or sitting if you can't stand).
3Place your right hand over your left hand. Place your hands either above or under your navel. Keep your eyes focused on the ground. It helps to keep your sight fixed on where your head will rest when prostrating later. Do not let your eyes wander.
- Start with Isti'aada (seeking refuge with Allah from Satan):
A’auodu billaahi minash-shaytaanir rajeem
- Follow it with Surah (chapter) Al-Fatiha (this Surah is recited in each unit (Rak'ah)):
Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Alhamdu lillaahi Rabbil 'aalameen
Iyyaaka na'budu wa lyyaaka nasta'een
Siraatal-ladheena an'amta 'alaihim
Ghayril-maghdoobi 'alaihim wa lad-daaalleen
- Recite any other surah or any part of the Qu'ran, such as Surah Ikhlas:
Qul huwal laahu ahad
Lam yalid wa lam yoolad
Wa lam yakul-lahu kufuwan ahad
- Reciting a surah after Al-Fatiha is only done in the first 2 units (Rakaa's).
- Start with Isti'aada (seeking refuge with Allah from Satan):
4Say "Allahu Akbar" and bend down. Bend your body so that your back and neck are as straight as possible and level with the ground, keeping your eyes focused on the ground. Your back and head should be in a 90° angle with your legs. You don't need to make a perfect angle; your body should be relaxed. This position is called ruku.
- While bowing, say, Subhanna Rabbiyal Adheem three times. This translates to, "Glorious is my Lord the most great."
5Stand back up (raise from ruku). While rising up recite Samiallah Huliman Hamidah with your arms beside you. This means "Allah hears those who praise Him".
- While standing up, recite Rabana Walakal Hamd (Our Lord, all praise is for you) once. You can also add Hamdan Katheeran Tayyiban Mubaarakan Feeh" (praise which is abundant, excellent and blessed) after.
6Say Allahu Akbar and prostrate. Place your head, knees and hands on the floor. While "sujood" (prostration) make sure that your forehead and nose touch the ground. This is the position called "sajdah."
- When you are positioned fully, say Subhanna Rabbiyal A'laa (Glorious is my Lord, the most High) three times.
- Your forearms should not be on the floor.
Rise from prostration and sit on your knees. Place your left foot from ball to heel on the floor. Your right foot should be toes on the floor only. Place your hands flat on your knees. You can recite Rabbi-ghfir lee warhamnee, Wajburnee, Wahdinee, war'zuqnee. (O Lord, forgive me, have mercy on me, heal me, guide me and grant me provision).
- There are other du'as that you can recite in this position, such as Allahuma-ghfirlee twice (O Allah, forgive me).
- Return to prostration and say Subhanna Rabbiyal a'laa three times.
8Say Allahu akbar and stand up. You have completed one rak'ah. Depending on the prayer, you may need to complete up to three more.
- In every second rak'ah, after the second prostration, sit on your knee again. Recite:
- Tashahhud: At-tahiyyaatu Lillaahi was-salaawaatu wat-tayyibaat. As-salaamu ‘alayka ayyuhan-Nabiyyu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu. As-salaamu ‘alayna wa ‘ala ‘ibaad-illaah-his-saaliheen. Ash-hadu al-aa ilaaha ill-Allaah wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhu
- "All compliments, prayers and pure words are due to Allaah. Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allaah and His blessings. Peace be upon us and upon the righteous slaves of Allaah. I bear witness that there is no god except Allaah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger".
- Durood: Allaahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad, wa ‘ala aali Muhammad, kama sallayta ‘ala Ibraaheem, wa ‘ala aali Ibraaheem, fil aalameen innaka hameedun majeed, wa baarik ‘ala Muhammad, wa ‘ala aali Muhammad, kama baarakta ‘ala Ibraaheem, wa ‘ala aali Ibraaheem, fil aalameen innaka hameedun majeed
- "O Allaah, send prayers upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad, as You sent prayers upon Ibraaheem and the family of Ibraaheem, You are indeed Worthy of Praise, Full of Glory. O Allaah, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad as You blessed Ibraaheem and the family of Ibraaheem, You are indeed Worthy of Praise, Full of Glory".
9Finish the prayer with tasleem. After the tashahhud, durood, and any du'a you wish to recite, end the prayer by:
- Turning your head to the right and saying, As-salamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakaatuhu. The angel who records your good deeds is to this side.
- Turning your head to the left and saying, As-salamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakaatuhu. The angel who records your wrongful deeds is to this side. The prayers have ended!
- Another variation of the tasleem is by saying As-salamu alaykum wa Rahmatullah.
- Consider using a smartphone or computer app to prevent missing prayers.
- Try your best to pray all your prayers every day, especially if you're mature - you are accountable for your deeds. If you're at school or work, and there are no provisions for you to pray there, you can catch up the prayer when you return home.
- There are different terms to describe rak'ahs. A fardh rak'ah refers to one that is compulsory; a sunnah rak'ah is one that was done by the Prophet and is highly recommended; a nafl rak'ah is one that is rewardable but not obligatory; and witr refers to the highly recommended prayer performed after Isha.
- Always try to use your time in the mosque efficiently. Don't use it as a place of social gathering.
- If in doubt of prayer time, use the position of the sun and the current time as a guide. If the sun is towards the east below the horizon, then it is likely Fajr. If the sun is directly above, then it is likely Dhuhr. If the sun is above the western horizon, then it is likely 'Asr. If the sun is towards the west below the horizon, then it is likely Maghrib. And if it is completely dark, then it is likely 'Isha.
- Plan your daily life around the five salaah, not the other way round.
- Don't talk during your prayer and always maintain focus.
- Don't disturb others if they are praying or stand/walk in front of someone who is praying. The Prophet forbade that.
- Never talk loudly in a mosque; this might disturb others in prayer. In fact, it is disliked to speak about worldly matters because that defeats the purpose of the mosque, which is for worship, obedience and seeking knowledge.
- Make sure your body and cloth are clean and smells good before going to mosque or practicing prayer. It is disliked to have an unpleasant smell while praying and if this smell is so bad to the extent that it annoys other worshippers, this is forbidden. In particular, garlic is disliked.