Shadhiliyya Sufi Communities
Prayer Times Print E-mail

Prayer Times (Salah al-Fard)

We make salah in repetitions or cycles called rak‘ah. The repetition of the salah each and every day is an ongoing polishing of the heart. The salah has five occasions every day and each occasion of prayer has a new quality for the heart. The form of the salah is a divine gift to the Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his people. We look to the Prophet’s example (his sunnah) for when and how to pray, in every inner and outer meaning.

Keep your eyes open during the prayer at all times. Stay in your body. Rest your eyes on the place you will prostrate. It is disrespectful to walk in front of, address or touch someone who is praying.

Remove your shoes for the prayer unless this is a hardship. 

Women should cover their forms, head and hair for the prayer. Covering body and head is also the custom for men.

If standing, bowing and prostrating pose a hardship, you can perform the prayer while sitting or lying down. Incline your head or chest in place of the bow, and farther forward in place of the prostration.

The Fajr or Subh prayer is made in the dawn before sunrise. Perform two quick rak‘ah as described in Performing as-Salat, reciting silently and closing with salams to your right and left. This is called a sunnah prayer, voluntary worship added by the Prophet to the minimum of the five daily prayers. Sit in remembrance and contemplation for at least a few moments after the sunnah. Then perform two more rak‘ah reciting the Fatihah out loud: this is the Fajr prayer itself. Add other verses of Qur’an after the Fatihah once you learn them. Draw the prayer out; extend your recitation, bowing and prostration. Close with salams and sit in rememberance. It is good to recite portions of Qur'an or the Wazifa and to perform al-Wird after the Fajr prayer.

Dhuhr comes in the early afternoon. First make a sunnah prayer, and then another if you desire. Stand for Dhuhr and recite silently. After two rak‘ah, don’t close with salams but stand for two more rak‘ah. After your second sitting, close with salams. Sit a moment in remembrance, then rise for another sunnah prayer, or two if you wish.

‘Asr comes in the mid-afternoon. It is like Dhuhr but the sunnah prayers beforehand are optional and there are no sunnah prayers afterwards.

Maghrib is made right after sunset. There are no sunnahs beforehand. Start it like Fajr, reciting the Fatihah aloud. After the first sitting, stand for a third,silent rak‘ah, then sit again and close with salams. Make a sunnah prayer afterward. It is good to do al-Wird after Maghrib.

‘Isha’ is the salah of the night and is made after the red of sunset has left the sky. Sunnah prayers before ‘Isha’ are optional. Recite the Fatihah aloud in the first two rak‘ah; rise for two more silent rak‘ah, and close with salams. Make at least one sunnah prayer afterward, then stand for a single rak‘ah called Witr to close the prayers of the day.

The beloved Prophet taught that salah in a group has twenty-seven degrees of excellence over solitary prayer. People praying together for the five prayers (sunnah prayers are always made individually) stand as close as possible, shoulders, arms or hips touching. Straighten the lines by lining up your heels. One person who best knows the prayer serves as the Imam, leading other people in the actions of the prayer. Talk to a teacher to learn how this is done.

Personal supplication –prayers for love, mercy, forgiveness, if something is needed, something for others– may be made while bowing, while prostrating, and in the kneeling before giving salams to the right and to the left. The Prophet, upon him be peace, said “Supplication is the marrow of worship.”

When traveling, worshippers may shorten prayers of 4 rak‘ah (the noon, afternoon and night prayers) to two rak‘ah, that is, ending with Salams after two rak`ah. Fajr and Maghrib prayers may not be shortened. Travelers may also combine Dhuhr and ‘Asr; and Maghrib and ‘Isha: for example, making Dhuhr prayer, ending with Salams, then ‘Asr prayer the same way, with an Iqamah for each prayer. These combinations may be prayed any time during the period of either salah If you have commited to keeping the prayer daily, and are still new to it, you may consider yourself a traveler, shortening and combining prayers as you travel into observance of the salah.



Books by Sidi Muhammad al-Jamal

Sufi GiftsMusic of the Soul
Path to Allah
How the Arrival is Realized

He Who Knows Himself, Knows His Lord
Realities of the Imagination
The Reality of Gnosis, The Family of the Prophet
The Migration of the Truthful Traveler , Secrets of the Heart and more

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