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Prayer is central to Islam, but as a newbie, I find myself in the situation where I've never actually prayed in my life (ever) and now I'm trying to figure out how to pray. So I YouTubed how to pray, and it's quite intricate and specific, having to dress a certain way, act a certain way, and cite Quran versus. As such, it's going to take me some time before I get the hang of it.

While I should be patient, it's upsetting not having the ability to communicate with God, and I feel especially left out when my friends go to pray.

So, I'm asking for a kind of "roadmap": how do I pray, given that I've never prayed before? How do I begin?


What I (think I) know and what I've seen:

  • Generally women pray at home (or, wherever you happen to be), although when praying at a mosque, women pray separately from men. I'm expected to pray 5 times a day, around certain times.
  • There's usually a mat to pray on, but I think this is more about hygiene and not strictly necessary (I'm not sure).
  • I should cover all but my face, hands, and feet. I'm not really sure why (after all, God is aware of what I look like uncovered), but I'm planning on just going with this and I'll figure out why as time goes on.
  • This is where I get a bit blurry. I'm meant to stand in a specific pose, and declare that I'm about to pray, reciting a Quran verse (or maybe two?). I'm unclear about this. My friend said it's okay for me to recite these verses in English (instead of Arabic), though.
  • I then prostrate with my hands and head touching the ground. And I do this, and the previous step twice.

So, as you can see, I have a vague idea of what to do, but I'm concerned I might do it incorrectly. Although, perhaps it's better to pray incorrectly than not pray at all.

It's very different to Christian prayer. It also seems to serve a different purpose to Christian prayer, in that it's more about expressing devotion to God, and less about making requests.

Again, I'm a newbie, so this might all be embarrassingly way off.

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    It would be helpful if you either let us know what do you know about the prayer so far and/or what are your exact or expected problems in that? – Sassir Jun 10 '16 at 5:31
  • I feel especially left out when my friends go to pray --- I'd suggest to just join your friends, follow what they are doing. It's OK to make mistakes. It's OK not to perform the prayer perfectly. That's how everyone else learns new things. – ozbek Jun 10 '16 at 7:19
  • A Muslim woman should be covered not only in salat. And having the feet uncovered is AFAIK only the view of hanafi school, so generally you should consider wearing socks, while praying. A mat isn't necessary as one could pray anywhere. And in a mosque women should pray in the last raws or at least if there's a separation at this place. Note that dua' is more like a Christian prayer. – Sassir Jun 10 '16 at 7:30
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    A Muslim woman should be covered not only in salat. This is a "one step at a time" thing for me. Also, many Muslim women here (Istanbul) and elsewhere go around uncovered, including my friends. I feel it would be arrogant of me to act like I know better. – Rebecca J. Stones Jun 10 '16 at 7:53
  • I just wanted to point at this. Of course covered could have many interpretation like the difference in wearing a robe which doesn't show that much skin instead of a robe with a plunging neckline... – Sassir Jun 10 '16 at 7:58
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It's a great grace that you started praying, and trust me you will learn in very short time.

Before explaining the prayer I want to mention that prayer is the act when you can speak to Allah, Allah knows your language, so talk to him in Sojood this is the closest you are to him, no limits, only say (Subhan Rabeya Al Aala - 3times) then speak to Allah about what ever you want and feel, and trust he is listening.

Prayer as everything else has basics and extra details that will make it perfect, the perfect prayer is how Mohammad (peace and prayers of Allah be upon him) has prayed, and that is how you should be praying after a while, most videos and websites will give you all the details, so you feel it is hard, but actually you do not need all these details in the beginning, start with the basics (which are the mandatory acts) and after you are comfortable start learn extra details.

I will explain the basics:

When to pray

Before the prayer

  • Condition: not during period
  • Make Wudo'o (if you are not sure how, let me know)
  • Cover all your body except for hands and face they are optional

Prayer Pillars (salat is not correct if one is missing)

  1. Standing during prayers if you are (physically) able to do so
  2. The opening takbeer (saying “Allaahu akbar”)
  3. Reciting al-Faatihah (can you? let me know if you can not)
  4. Rukoo’ (bowing), by bending so that the hands can touch the knees, with the back and the head at parallel level.
  5. Rising from bowing and standing up straight
  6. Sujood (prostration), by placing the forehead, nose, palms, knees and toes on the ground.
  7. Rising from prostration
  8. Sitting between the two prostrations.
  9. The final tashahhud
  10. Sitting to recite the final tashahhud and the two salaams. The two salaams means saying twice, “al-salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmat-Allaah (Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allaah).

  11. Doing the pillars in the order mentioned here.

Notice: #2, 10 and 11 are once every prayer, the rest are repeated in each Rakaa.

If you notice at this stage you need to memorise two things, Surat Al-Fatiha, and tashahhud there are things to be said in each position you will learn them as you progress , but the above are the basics that you can start with.

Now let us see one example, the first and the shortest prayer, Fajr prayer, I selected one easy to follow video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9SuQFa6OKM

One Advise: great opportunity to learn Salat if you can go to pray in Masjed, following the Imam you will learn quickly, now is Ramadan and there is Tarawih prayer every night too.

  • Well, I tried (in private). Perhaps I'll keep my blooper reel between God and myself. Thank you for your help. (I guess I'm a bit shy about turning up to Masjed uninvited. I would prefer to wait until my friend is available to help me.) – Rebecca J. Stones Jun 10 '16 at 9:29
  • Shy is not bad,I respect how you feel but you are already invited, your place is waiting for you there, try to go sometime, sit and just watch :) – M.M Jun 10 '16 at 14:27
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    I'm sure you're right, and I probably should while I'm in Istanbul and a mosque is a moment's walk away (I return to China in less than a week, where it'll be less convenient). I worry about not speaking Turkish; I worry I haven't "done my homework"; and I grew up in Australia, where Islam is mistrusted (which, I'm ashamed to admit, I bought into). I'm also nervous about going out wearing a headscarf in public [it's a new thing for me]. I'd feel so much more relaxed with someone I know helping me. – Rebecca J. Stones Jun 11 '16 at 19:10
  • In life you will face many situations even harder, the solution to all of them is to know Ahllah is watching, he is your company as long as you do what you do for him, do not think you are a lone. – M.M Jun 12 '16 at 5:29

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