The Daily Life of a Muslim by Dr. M. Hamidullah

The Daily Life of a Muslim
by Dr. M. Hamidullah

What follows is a slightly edited excerpt from Ch. 15 of “Introduction to Islam” by Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah
Early Life
General Habits
Food and Drink
Dress and Coiffure
Service of Worship and Ablutions
Direction of the Qiblah (Map)
Some Particularities
Difference of Schools
Service of Istikharah (Prayer for asking for guidance)
Disturbance in the Service
Funeral Service
Sickness and Travelling
Hours of Services (What are the prayer times?)
Why is the Service in Arabic?
Why a Purely Lunar Calendar?
Photos illustrating poses for the service of worship
Appendices (Arabic Script)
Appendices (Translation of Arabic Script)
Appendices (Transliteration of Arabic Script)
Time-table for Prayers in Abnormal Zones

More chapters on this web site from Introduction to Islam by Dr. M. Hamidullah


516. If a religion is not reserved for any particular race or confined to any country, but intended for all humanity, then there are two kinds of births: voluntary and involuntary.

517. There is first the voluntary birth, or conversion of an adult in full consciousness of his act and out of his free choice, relating to what the Prophet Muhammad said: “declaration by tongue and affirmation by heart.” One takes first a bath, a shower bath preferably, in order to purify the body symbolically of the dirt of ignorance and disbelief; then one declares, usually in the presence of two witnesses, the following formula: “I attest that there is no God if not God Himself, and I attest that Muhammad is the Messenger of God” (ash-hadu al-la ilaha il-lal-lah wa ash-hadu anna muham-madarrasul-ul-lah).

518. The Prophet used to ask a new convert what his name was, and if this had any un-Islamic trait, he changed it and gave the person concerned a new and more convenient name. Thus if a man was named “Worshipper of the Ka’bah,” or “Worshipper of the sun,” or “the dissipated one,” or “one in error,” etc., the Prophet would not tolerate such appellations. Nowadays the converts usually take a new forename in Arabic, the mother-tongue of the Prophet and the tongue of the wives of the Prophet, who are the Mothers of the faithful and therefore the mother-tongue of every Muslim.

519. Arabic being the spiritual mother-tongue of every Muslim, it is his social duty to learn it, at least its alphabet, so that he should be able to read the Qur’an in the original. Since all time, converts have attached such great importance to it, that they have even adopted the Arabic script in their local languages. Such is the case with Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Malay, Pashto, Kurdish, Spanish Lithuanian, Afrikaans, etc. It is strongly recommended as a social duty that new entrants to Islam should master the Arabic script and employ it – at least in their inter-Muslim correspondence – when writing in their local languages. In fact, when the Arabic script is written with all its signs of vocalization, it is incomparably superior to any and every script in the world from the point of view of precision and absence of ambiguity, not to speak of its great aesthetic and economic values (it being a kind of shorthand writing).

519/a. When the non-Arab Muslims adopted the Arabic script to their tongues, they required some additions both in letters of the alphabet and in vowel signs. These additions differ according to countries and epochs, since there was no central academic authority in the Muslim world to evolve and impose uniform reforms. In fact there is a pressing need to hold a world congress of Muslim countries and such non-Muslim countries that use the Arabic script, in order to develop a uniform system of Arabic writing for transliterating non-Arabic languages or proper names, so that different languages should not employ different figures for representing the same non-Arabic sound, as is unfortunately the case at present. The oldest additions to the Arabic letters of the alphabet were made probably by Persians and Turks, and the oldest additional signs of vocalisation by the Spaniards for the Aljamiado (a corruption of al-a’iamiyatu, i.e. the non-Arabic, namely the language of the Iberian Peninsula; and hundreds of MSS are still extant in it, (including translations of the Qur’an). The Arabs have also felt the need of such additions, in modern times, in order to reproduce correctly the pronunciation of foreign proper names, and to a lesser degree their dialectal peculiarities. The best and most precise of such systems proposed was, to our knowledge, the one adopted by the Osmania University of Hyderabad-Deccan and employed in some of its voluminous publications, such as the Urdu translation of the Origines du droit des gens by Ernest Nys. It transliterated almost twelve old or new European languages. The details of this system of transliteration into Arabic alphabet could be found in the Islamic Culture, Hyderabad, 1940. We shall give below, as illustration, a short passage in three principal European languages, transliterated into Arabic script:

520. The ordinary Arabic alphabet consists of the following 28 letters – like the number of the mansions of the moon, and admirably suited to be employed as numerals up to one thousand – which write from right to left (with semetic sequence):

520/a. The sequence of the letters has now been changed for educational purposes and the letters are arranged in dictionaries according to the similarity of their shape, and these have two forms, full and partial: partial for the normal writing, and the full at the end of every word in order to distinguish it from the following word. In this lexicographical sequence, both forms are given:

As will be seen, some of the letters have no difference in the two forms, and three letters have two forms according to whether it is in the beginning or in the middle of the word.

520/b. These 28 letters, from the right to the left, represent approximately the following sounds:

1. neutral sound: a,i,u, or aa according to the vocalisation and place.
2. B
3. T
4. Th (as in English with)
5. J
6. guttural H
7. guttural Kh
8. D
9. Dh (very near to dz).
10. R
11. Z
12. S
13. Sh
14. Sw
15. Dw
16. Tw
 l7. Zw
18. neutral guttural a, i, or according to vocalisation
19. Gh (guttural g)
20. F
21. Q (guttural k).
22. K
23. L
24. M
25. N
26. W or oo, according to place
27. H
28. Y or ee, according to place.

520/c. And the ordinary signs of vocalisation in the Arabic script are:

These signs represent, from right to left, a, i, u, aa, pause, doubling. the same consonant, an, in, un. They are however used only when one desires to avoid possible ambiguity on the part of the reader: they are employed ordinarily neither in handwriting nor in printing, since the reader of his mother tongue does not require their help. The above mentioned system of letters and signs suffices for the basic Arabic language, even if it is not so for dialects and vulgar pronunciation of the Arabic. Of course it is not sufficient for non-Arabic languages in certain cases.

520/d. The following additions are used by and suffice for most of the non-Arabic languages, in the East, such as Persian, Kurdish, Pashto, Urdu, etc., and also in the West. Of these additions, the letters are:

The additional signs of vocalisation are:

and stand, from right to left, for a in English at,e in English let, short o like e in French de, and the last as the long a in English and or Allen.

520/e. As an example the following English, French, and German passages are given in both the Latin and Arabic scripts, (to note that final consonants in French words which are not pronounced except when in liaison are underlined):

(i) English: Islam is the religion of the future. It is a pleasure to see English-speaking Muslims adopting the Arabic script to their language, which brings them nearer to the Qur’an and to their beloved Prophet Muhammad, sal-lalla-hu ‘alihi wa sal-lam.

(ii) French: L’lslam est la religion de l’avenir. C’est un plaisir de voir les Musulmans fancophones adoptant l’ecriture arabe pour leur langue, çe qui les rapproached de Coran et de leur bien-aimé Prophete Muhammad sal-lallahu ‘alaihi wa sal-lam.

(iii) German: Der Islam ist die religion der Zukunft. Es ist erfreulich zu sehen, wie die Deutsch-sprechenden Muslime die arabische Scrift fuer ihre Sprached anwenden, denn dies bringt sie dem Koran und Muhammad, ihrem vielgelibten Prophet, sal-lal-lahu ‘alaihi wa sal-lam naeher.

521. Next comes the involuntary birth, when a child is born in a Muslim family. Immediately after the midwife has completed her task, one pronounces the adhan in the right ear of the child, and the iqamah in the left one, so that the first thing the child hears is the attestation of the faith and the call to worship of his/her Creator and for his/her own well-being. The adhan(1) or the Call to the Prayer is as follows (for Arabic text and transliteration see Appendix A):

God is Great. (repeated four times)
I attest that there is no God if not God Himself. (twice)
I attest that Muhammad is the Messenger of God. (twice)
Rise up to Worship (twice),
Rise up to Well-being (twice),
God is Great (twice),
There is no God if not God Himself (once).

The iqamah or the establishment of the service of worship is formulated in the following terms (for text and transliteration  see Appendix B).

God is Great, God is Great,
I attest that there is no God if not God Himself,
I attest that Muhammad is the Messenger of God,
Rise up to Worship,
Rise up to Well-being,
Lo, the service of worship is ready. Lo, the service of worship is ready,
God is Great, God is Great.
There is no God if not God Himself.

Early Life

522. When the hair of a child is cut for the first time, its weight in silver or the equivalent in current money is distributed amongst tne poor. If one has the means, agoat or a sheep is also slaughtered to entertain the poor and friends. This is called ‘aqiqa.

523. No age limit is fixed, yet circumcision is practised on male children at an early age. This is not obligatory for adult converts.

524. When a child arrives at the age to commence his studies, some time after the fourth year, a family feast is organized, when the child takes his first lesson. As a good omen, one recites before the child the first five verses of Chapter 96 of the Qur’an consisting of the very first revelation that had come to the unlettered Prophet of Islam relating to reading and writing. The child is made to repeat them word for word. Here is the translation (for Arabic text and transliteration see Appendix C):

With the name of God, the Most Merciful, the All-Merciful! Read with the name of thy Lord Who createth, Createth man from a clot. Read: And thy Lord is the Most Bounteous. Who teacheth (man) by the pen. Teacheth man that which he knew not.

525. When the child is capable of so doing, he is taught how to pray, learning gradually by heart the relevant texts, of which we shall speak later in detail. From his or her seventh year, parents must apply sanctions so that the child becomes accustomed to prayer.

526. To fast is obligatory, as is prayer, when a child reaches puberty. In Muslim families, however, the child often gets accustomed to it earlier. In fact it is an occasion of great rejoicing and festivity, when the child observes the first fast in the month of Ramadan. Generally at the age of twelve the child begins to fast for only one day in the first instance, increasing the number gradually in the years to come, so that the child gets accustomed to bear the strain of the fast for an entire month. This happens when he or she becomes a major.

527. The Hajj is obligatory only once in a lifetime, provided one has the means. It is performed in the second week of the 12th lunar month Dhul-Hijjah when people gather in Mecca, pass about a week in different places in the outskirts of the city, at ‘Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina. Official guides instruct every individual pilgrim in the performance of the different rites. Visiting the Ka bah at any other time of the year is called ‘umrah. Details are as under:

527/a. For the hajj men must give up their usual dress, and put on the ritual uniform, ihram, consisting of an unsewn loin cloth and another sheet of cloth to cover the shoulders, the head remaining naked. (Women wear their usual dress, which must be decent: cover their arms and legs down to the ankles). Foreigners must put on ihram outside the haram or city-limits of Mecca, before entering the city, but the Meccans must do that in the city itself. One goes then to ‘Arafat, where the whole day of the 9th of Dhu’l-Hijjah is passed in prayers and meditation, the night is passed at Muzdalifah, the 10th, 11th and 12th of the month are passed at Mina, during which time Satan is lapidated symbolically every day, and also makes a short visit to Mecca in order to perform the circumambulation of the Ka’bah and the Sa ‘i or traversing seven times the distance between Safa and Marwah rocks, close to the Ka’bah. For the formulas of prayers during the circumambulation (called tawaf) see Appendix W, X.; and for that of Sa’i cf Appendix Y, which prayer is repeated both when going from Safa to Marwah and when returning from Marwah to Safa. From the time of putting on the ihram, till its putting off, one must constantly respond to God’s call, by reciting the formula of the talbiyah, particularly after every service of prayer. (see Appendix Z).

527/b. In the ‘Umrah, one does not pass the time in ‘Arafat. Muzdalifah and Mina, but makes only the tawaf and sa’i. For this ritual, when putting on the ihram, even the residents of Mecca must go outside the city, and perform tawaf and. sa’i after which a shaving of the head brings one back to normal life.

528. The zakat is a tax on different kinds of savings and hoardings and also growing properties, such as agriculture, commerce, mineral exploitation, herds of sheep, goats, cows and camels pasturing in public meadows, and savings of money. It is the last item which is left nowadays not only in non-Muslim countries but even in Muslim countries for individual Muslims to pay as a private charity, the rest being imposed by local governments. Thus, if a person has saved a certain amount (200 dirhams or silver coins or 20 dinars or gold coins of the time of the Prophet, their equivalent being about five pounds or 14 dollars ),(2) and a whole year passes over it, he has to pay 2½ per cent as tax. If he is indebted, the amount of the debt is deducted from the savings for purposes of calculating the taxable amount. The distribution of zakat is made directly, or through institutions if such should exist locally. According to the Qur’an, this tax is intended for the benefit “of the needy, of the poor, of those who work for this tax: collecting and disbursing of it; people whose hearts are to be won for Islam, for freeing the necks (of slaves, etc.) the heavily indebted, for a cause in the path of God, and hospitality to wayfarers and strangers” (cf. supra 351-9: Qur’an 9:60). One may apply the whole of one’s annual zakat to a single item or to several of them.

529. Another tax is payable on the occasion of the two annual festivals. At the end of the month of fasting, an amount sufficient for the food of an adult for the whole day is given to some poor person. The second festival takes place at the time when the Hajj is being celebrated at Mecca. On this occasion, well-to-do people sacrifice a goat or a sheep, which is partly distributed among the poor, and partly consumed in the family.

530. In connection with monetary matters, it may be borne in mind that a Muslim is not authorized to participate in transactions based on interest on loans or in games of chance, lotteries and similar speculative things. No-one pays interest voluntarily. Demanding interest on loans advanced to private individuals should be avoided. The question of bank interest on savings is complicated, and depends on the mechanism of the administration of each bank. If the bank is usurious, profits accruing from its gains are also illicit, yet in certain countries it so happens that there are no other banks, and if one refuses to take the interest, the bank remits such unclaimed amounts to institutions which are sometimes injurious to Islam, such as missionaries who seek the apostasy of Muslims. Therefore, one should recover the interest on one’s deposits from the bank, but instead of spending it on one’s own person or family, utilize it for charitable purposes. The great jurist Sarakhsi says: “gains accruing from illicit means must be got rid of by giving them away in charity.”

531. Insurance with government agencies and with mutualistic societies is lawful, with capitalistic companies this is not so.


532. A Muslim male may marry not only a Muslim woman but also a woman of Jewish or Christian faith (Qur’an 5:5); but not an Idolatress, polytheist or atheist. A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry (or even remain in marriage to) a non-Muslim, of no matter which category, (Qur’an 2:221, and particularly 60:10) .

533. In the case of the conversion of a married man to Islam if his wife is Jew or Christian and does not want to be converted with her husband, the marriage continues undisturbed. If the wife is of the prohibited categories, and persists in her irreligion, conjugal life must cease immediately; she should be given a reasonable time to think over, and in the final resort divorce will have to take place.

534. In the case of a married woman embracing Islam, when the husband is not Muslim, conjugal life ceases immediately, and after a reasonable delay given to the husband, the wife should demand judicial separation.


535. A Muslim on his deathbed tries to pronounce the formula of the faith: “There is no God if not God Himself, Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” People around the patient also help by repeating it to the person in his death pangs. It is called talqin. Before the body gets stiff one places the hands as if in the service of worship, either crossed on the chest, or letting stretch on the sides.

536. The body of the dead person is washed and cleansed, when possible, before burial. It is shrouded in three simple sheets of cloth, after the usual dress is taken off. When bathing, water is poured for the first time mixed with soap or similar material; for the second time the traces of such material are washed off; and the third time water mixed with a certain quantity of camphor, is poured on the whole body. When bathing is not practicable, then tayammum suffices (see ablution 552). After enshrouding the dead body, a funeral service is celebrated (for method see 569). This service can be performed in the absence of the body, which might have received burial elsewhere in the world. The grave is dug parallel to Mecca, in so far as this is practicable and the head of the dead is turned slightly to the right side, so that it faces the Ka’bah. While placing the dead body in the grave, one pronounces the formula: With the name of God and on the religion of the Messenger of God” (for Arabic text and transliteration, see Appendix D). Muslims believe that the dead person is visited in the grave by two angels, who put to him certain questions as to his beliefs. Hence after the burial, one pronounces on the grave a text, as if influencing the dead how to reply, the translation (Arabic text and transliteration, Appendix E) is given below: “O male (or female) servant of God, remember the covenant made while leaving the world, that is, the attestation that there is no God if not God Himself, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God, and the belief that Paradise is a certainty, that hell is a verity, ‘that the questioning in the grave is a certainty, that the Doomsday shall come, there being no doubt about it; that God will resuscitate those who are in graves, that thou hast accepted God as thy lord, Islam as thy religion, Muhammad as thy prophet, the Qur’an as thy guide, the Ka’bah as thy direction to turn to for the service of worship and that all the believers are thy brethren. May God keep thee firm in this trial.” For the Qur’an, 14:27, says: “God confirmeth those who believe by a firm saying in the life of this world and in the Hereafter, and God sendeth wrong-doers astray, and God doeth what He will.” And again (cf. 89:27-30): “O thou soul at peace, return unto thy Lord, content in His good pleasure! Enter thou among My bondmen! Enter thou My paradise!”

537. It is forbidden to spend lavishly on graves, which should be as simple as possible; one should rather spend the amount on the poor and the deserving, and pray God that the recompense of this charity may go to the deceased person.

General Habits

538. Apart from the daily services of worship [ prayer/salaat ] and the annual fasting, certain practices are recommended to Muslims. The most important is the continual perusal of the text and the commentary or translation of the Qur’an, meditating over its contents, in order to assimilate them in one’s life. What can be more blissful than to invoke the Word of God!

539. One should say Bismil-lah (i.e., with the name of God) when commencing any and every action, and alhamdu lil-lah (i.e., thank God) after terminating it. When something is intended or promised for the future, say immediately insha-Allah (if God be willing).

540. When two Muslims meet, they greet by saying Salam ‘alaik (or as-salam ‘alaik). One can reply likewise, or say Wa ‘alaikamus-salam. These are more comprehensive than the formulas good morning, good evening, etc., which are the remnants of the days of ignorance.

541. One should develop the habit of glorifying God when going to sleep and when rising up (sub ha-nal-lah is the simplest formula), and also invoking the mercy of God on the Prophet, for instance in the following formula: Al-la-humma sal-li ‘ala Muhammad wa barik wa sal-lim (i.e., O God, incline to Muhammad, bless him and take him in Thy safeguard).

542. The Prophet preferred the right side: When putting on the sandals, the right foot first, the left one afterwards, and just the contrary when putting them off; when putting on a shirt, the right arm first, the left one later; when combing, the right half of the head first, the left one later; when entering a house or a mosque, the right foot first, the left one later, but when entering the bathroom or the water closet, the left foot first, and while coming out of it, the right foot first. When putting off a dress, foot-wear, etc., the left arm or the left foot first. When distributing something, he began with those who were on his right hand, ending with those on the left.

542/a. Prayers to God are to be constant, for each and every act of our life, be that for natural needs or deliberate acts, even as the most solemn of them, viz. the preparation for the service of worship. Formulas of prayer, used by the Holy Prophet for some such occasions have been referred to above (see 166/b). Others could be found in detailed and more voluminous works.

Food and Drink

543. The most important points in this respect are the following:

544. Pork, (flesh and fat) is forbidden in all its forms, in the same way as alcoholic drinks. A misunderstanding requires to be dissipated: The word khamr, used by the Qu’ran, although it meant originally the wine made of grape juice, yet already in the time of the Prophet the term signified any alcoholic drink irrespective of the material. So when the verse of khamr was revealed, Muslims of Madinah spilt their stocks of all kinds of alcoholic drinks, and not merely those of wine. It should be noted that in Madinah it was from date fruits that fermented drinks were manufactured. As to meat, a Muslim cannot consume animals or birds not ritually slaughtered. The Qur’an (5:3) says:

“Forbidden unto you (for food) are carrion, and blood, and swine-flesh, and that which hath been dedicated unto any other than God, and the strangled, and the dead through beating, and the dead through falling from a height, and that which hath been killed by the goring of horns, and the devoured of the wild beasts, saving that which ye make lawful by the death-stroke of slaughtering, and that which hath been immolated unto idols . . . but whosoever is forced by hunger, not by will to sin, for him lo! God is Forgiving, Merciful.”

Even lawful animals and birds, if slaughtered by non-Muslims, remain unlawful to consume except when slaughtered by members of those communities who possess a divinely revealed Book (Christian and Jews for instance), provided they observe rules of their religion in the matter of ritual slaughtering. A chicken strangled by a Christian does not become lawful any more than the one strangled by a Muslim himself.

545. The ritual of slaughtering is performed by pronouncing the formula Bismillah (with the name of God), and cutting the throat, i.e., the tube of respiration, the tube of food and drink, and the two jugular veins; not touching the spinal column, much less severing the head or skinning the animal before it is completely dead.

546. The use of gold and silver plates or utensils for food is also forbidden to Muslims. The Prophet has said: “The use of gold and pure silk is forbidden for men, allowed for womenfolk.” There are some exceptions so, the use of silk as military dress is permitted. The use of gold is allowed for dental surgery. The caliph ‘Uthman had his teeth covered with gold; and a certain ‘Arfajah ibn As’ad reports that the Prophet himself had allowed him to have a nose made of gold to replace the one he had lost in war, the artificial nose made of silver having rotted.

Dress and Coiffure

547. The use of cloth made entirely of natural silk is forbidden to Muslim men and also garments of a red colour. The Prophet grew a beard, and recommended the Muslims to do likewise.

548. Muslim women should wear a dress which covers their body in a proper manner, avoiding high jumpers, decollete and transparent materials which show parts of their body. They should not try to resemble men in dress and coiffure and avoid all that is characteristic of glamour girls. Further, when they celebrate the service of worship, they should cover their head. The Prophet recommended that women wear pantaloons. Their gowns should never be higher than the middle of the tibia, preferably down to the ankles (as we read in a Hadith reported by Abu Da’wud, Tirmidhi, lbn Hanbal, and many others).

Service of Worship and Ablutions

549. “Cleanliness is half of the faith,” says the Prophet. So, when intending to celebrate the service of worship, one has first to be clean in body. Ordinarily there are simple ablutions for the daily services. A bath, preferably a shower bath, is prescribed for other occasions (in the case of both men and women after the intercourse of husband and wife; for men after a wet dream; for women, after the menses and after recovering from the flow resulting from childbirth). For the weekly Friday service, it is strongly recommended to take a bath.

550. The method of bath is that one should make ablutions, and then pour water over the entire body, from head to foot, at least three times. If one takes a bath in a tub, one may pour clean water, after emptying the tub, over the head and shoulders, by a jug, for instance, if there is no shower apparatus.

551. Ablutions are made in the following manner: The first step is to formulate the intention of purification, saying bismillah (with the name of God), wash the hands up to the wrists, rinse the mouth with water, clean the nostrils with water, wash the face from the forehead to chin and from ear to ear, wash the right arm and then the left one upto the elbows (inclusive), pass the wet fingers on the head and in the ear holes (and according to some schools also the neck), then wash first the right foot and then the left one up to the ankle – doing each act thrice (unless water is lacking, in which case once is sufficient).

552. If there is absolutely no water to be found, it is permitted to do the tayammumm dust ablution. This is also permitted to the sick, who are not to touch water on medical grounds. In this case, we have to formulate the intention of purification, pronounce the name of God (Bismillah), place the hands on clean dust (even on a wall in the house) and pass the palms on the face, place the hands again on the dust and pass the left palm on the right forearm, then the right palm on the left forearm. It is symbolic of man’s humility before God Almighty.

553. The ablutions are not to be renewed for every service of prayer, but only when the previous ones have become invalidated through sleep, natural emission of gas, urination or the flow of any substance from the private parts, or vomiting. It ought to be noted that one should ordinarily use water in the water closet – mere paper is not sufficient. The tayammum is to be renewed for every service.

554. For the prayer services, one should also have a clean dress, a clean place, and know the direction of the Qiblah (Ka’bah in Mecca). With the help of an ordinary world-map

– it would be easy to find out the direction of Mecca (in Arabia, towards the middle of its Western coast); then a compass will indicate the exact position to be taken up. People in England, for instance, will turn to the South-East, those in the U.S.A. to East-South-East. It might be noted however that the world is spherical and in view of this, the shortest distance between a place and the Ka’bah is to be sought. For those in New York, it would be nearer to turn E.S.E., but for those in Alaska, North, (consult a globe). The antipode of the Ka’bah is somewhere near Sandwich or Samoa islands, and when passing this spot, on a boat for instance, all the four directions would be equidistant and the direction would therefore be left to the choice of the person leading the service, even as inside the Ka’bah. [For why the direction for North 
America is E.S.E. and not N.E., please see   Footnote A]

555. There are five daily services of worship, of which the second one is replaced every Friday by a solemn congregational service. There are two annual services, in addition, for celebrating the feast at the end of the month of fasts, and feast of sacrifices coinciding with the pilgrimage at Mecca. All services resemble one another in form, but not in length, with the exception of the funeral service, of which we shall speak later in paragraph 569. Thus, the first daily prayer at dawn has only two rak’ats (the term is explained below); the second and third (early and later afternoon services) have four each, the fourth (early evening) has three, and the fifth (late evening) has four. The Friday and the festival services have only two rak’ats each. The Prophet has strongly recommended the addition, after the fifth daily service, of another service, called witr consisting of three rak’ats.

555/a.. Only five services of worship are obligatory daily, but the Prophet had the habit of adding at the time of each service some additional services which constitute highly recommended acts. So a service of two rak’ats before the morning prayer; for the midday prayer, a service of four rak’ats (or two services of two rak’ats each) before the obligatory service, and another one of two rak’ats after the same; a service of two rak’ats after the evening service; and a service of three rak’ats according to the Hanafite school, but according to others first a service of two rak’ats and then another of a single rak’at – after the night prayer is highly recommended. This last is called witr. Apart from these, one may celebrate as many services as one likes as nafal (supererogatory) acts of devotion. The more the service the more the merit. Further, when one enters the mosque, it is recommended to celebrate a service of two rak’ats as tahiyatul-masjid (as an offering to the house of God).

556. The method of celebrating the service is that a person makes the necessary ablutions, selects a proper place, turns in the direction of the Ka’bah, raises the hands up to one’s ears and formulates precisely the intention:

“I intend to celebrate such and such service of worship to God, with its so many rak’ats, turning towards the Ka’bah, individually/collectively as the Imarn, collectively as the follower of the Imam” (3) (see also fig. 1.)

After this he pronounces the formula “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great), and lowers the hands. According to Malikite and Shi’ite schools, the hands should hang loose on both sides touching the thighs, (fig. 2a). But according to all the other schools, hands should be crossed on the chest, the left hand touching the body and the right one placed over it. (fig. 2b). Now the service begins, and he should neither talk to others, nor look anywhere except the point where he is going to place his forehead in prostration. At every movement, (bending, prostrating, sitting, etc.), he pronounces “Allahu Akbar. “

557. The service commences with a hymn (Appendix F), followed by the first chapter of the Qur’an (Appendix G), then some other chapter or verses of the Qur’an any of those contained in Appendix CHI,J,K, for instance. With the exception of the parts of the Qur’an, all the texts are recited silently; even those parts of the Qur’an said aloud are only during the first, fourth and fifth services, and for Friday and Festival services, and these by the imam alone.

558. After having completed the recitation of the Qur’an, mentioned above, the person bows down, places the hands on knees without bending them, in which position he pronounces thrice “Glory to God, the Most Grand” (Appendix L), (fig. 3). Then he rises up and says: “Our Lord, praise be to Thee” (Appendix M), without folding the hands, but letting them hang loose by the sides. Afterwards he prostrates placing the forehead, nose and palms on the ground, (fig. 4a), with knees bent, (fig. 4b), and pronounces, in this position, thrice “Glory to my Lord, the Most High” (Appendix N): he then seats himself (fig. 5a) on the left foot keeping the right foot erect, heel pointing skywards and the toes bent outwards, (fig. 5b), and beseeches the pardon of God (Appendix O); then he makes a second prostration and repeats the glory of God thrice as in the first prostration. Thereafter he rises up. All these, movements of standing, bowing, and prostrating twice constitute collectively one rak’at.

559. The second rak’at begins with the recitation of the first chapter of the Qur’an (Appendix G) followed by some other part of it (any text contained in Appendix H   I  J   K for instance) yet without the hymn. Thereafter he bows low and glorifies God thrice as before, rises up and thanks God, and then prostrates twice reciting the same texts as before. At this stage he does not rise up, but remains seated on the left foot and invokes the presence of God and attests to the faith (Appendix P).

560. As the first (dawn) service (and also the Friday and Festival service) consists of only two rak’ats, after this invocation of the presence of God, one adds a supplication (Appendix Q), whereafter to terminate the service turns the face first to the right, saying “as-Salamu ‘alaikum wa rahmat-ull-lah ” (peace with you and the mercy of God) (fig. 6a), then to the left, (fig. 6b), when according to most schools one should recite the same formula, and the service is completed. If the service has more than two rak’ats, after the invocation of the presence of God (Appendix P) he rises up again, recites the first chapter of the Qur’an (Appendix G) without adding any other part, bows low, rises up and makes two prostrations with their accompanying formulae. If the service has three rak’ats as in the early evening service, he remains sitting, recites the invocation of Divine presence and the supplication, and closes with the salutation. If the service has four rak’ats, as in the two afternoon services, and in the night service, he rises up immediately after the two prostrations of the third rak’at, recites again the first chapter of the Qur’an (Appendix G), bows low, rises up, makes the two prostrations and then remains sitting to invoke the Divine presence, the supplication, and then ends with the salutation, as mentioned in the beginning of this paragraph.

Some Particularities

561. The Shafi’i and Hanbali schools add a prayer of invocation called qunut in the Dawn service. So when a person rises up after bowing low in the second rak ‘at, one recites this prayer (Appendix U) before prostration. The other schools do not observe it, contending that this practice of the Prophet was only temporary.

562. The Hanafi school has also a qunut, (Appendix V) but in the third rak’at of the witr service, which is celebrated after the late evening service. So, after ending the recitation of the Qur’an in the third rak’at and before bowing low, they pronounce this prayer, and then they bow and complete the service in the normal way. In the case of congregational service, however, one should follow the imam, whatever may be his school.

563. Again at the end of the second rak’at when the person sits for the first time to invoke the presence of God, some schools ask also blessing for the Prophet, others do that in the final second sitting only, in the supplication (Appendix Q).

Difference of Schools

563/a. (i) There are three main groups among Muslims: Sunnis, Shi’as and Abadites (nicknamed Kharijites), with several subdivisions. They have a few differences in matters of both dogma and cult. This elementary manual is not the proper place to trace the history and details of these differences. However in a cosmopolitan town, when one sees Muslims of different schools practising the same act differently, one asks wherefrom this divergence? Leaving aside the differences in dogma, which come from the deduction of the leading theologians for each school, in the matter of cult let us know from the outset that nothing has been invented by anybody, but all comes from the Prophet himself or is deduced from the report of his saying or doing.

(ii) It is the Prophet himself who has sometimes changed his practice in certain acts or formulae to recite, sometimes he express ly mentioned that his former practice is to be abandoned (for instance, in ruku’ the Prophet originally let his arms hang loose, yet later he put his hands on his knees and forbade the former practice). At others, he did not say anything when he changed his practice. In a few cases the discussion arose several generations after the Prophet, and the savants diverged as to the meaning to give to a report on the practice of the Prophet.

(iii) It is evident therefore that practically all the differences emanate from the divergent practices of the Prophet himself, and nobody has the right to despise anyone of them. Often there are no data to determine the chronology of the diverging ways of performing the same act, in order to presume that the latter in time must abrogate the former one. If a Shafi’ite, for instance, refuses to celebrate the service under a Hanafite imam, that means that this Shafi’ite refuses to follow the Prophet himself when this latter practised in a manner not known in the Shafi’ite school. What an enormity!

(iv) In the Islamic literature, one of the titles of the Prophet Muhammad is the “beloved of God” (Habib-Allah), and the Holy Qur’an (33:21) expressly says that in Muhammad there is the best model for Muslims to follow. It is touching to note, that in His love, God has willed that any and every unabrogated act of the Prophet should be followed by Muslims. In case of the divergent ways of performing the same act, there was no other possibility except that some do in one way and others in another. So God seems to have willed to perpetuate all the acts of His beloved Prophet by means of the different schools. Let there be mutual respect and tolerance.

Service of Istikharah (Prayer for Asking Guidance)

563/b. When one is in perplexity, the Prophet has recommended to pray to God for guidance, and not resort to games of chance or other superstitious methods. For this purpose, one has to celebrate a service of two rak’ats as supererogation (nafilah). After the obligatory service of Isha (5th service of the day) and witr that follows it, when one is ready to go to bed, one should celebrate the service of istikharah in the following manner: in the first rak’at one should recite, after the Fatihah (Appendix G), Surah 109 (Appendix Z/i), and in the second rak’at after the Fatihah (Appendix G), one should recite Surah 112 (Appendix J), all the rest of this service is like any other normal service. After the final salutation, one should turn to God with humility and devotion and pronounce the prayer taught by the Prophet (Appendix Z/ii) from memory if one can, by reading, preferably in Arabic (although a translation would also do for those who cannot read Arabic) if necessary. Thereafter one would go to bed always remembering God in his thoughts. Next day when he rises, the first idea that comes to his mind will be of divine inspiration. If no idea occurs to the mind the first day, let one repeat the same service a second and third night, and so on, until there is an inspiration, while getting up in the morning, for resolving the problem which has agitated.

Disturbance in the Service

564. If a person should speak to anybody during the service, let out wind, laugh aloud, or eat or drink anything, this will annuls the service. It should be recommenced, with fresh ablution in the second eventuality. However, if one forgets some act during the service, which he remembers at a later stage, one need not recommence the service, but continue it to the end, and prostrate twice after the Invocation and Supplication (Appendix P, Q) and then pronounce the salutation. During these prostrations of Forgetfulness, one may recite the same glorification of God as usual (Appendix N) or use another, which is more appropriate (Appendix R), namely “Glory to the One Who alone does neither sleep nor forget.”

565. If a person should arrive somewhat late to join the congregational service, he need not bother about the portion already accomplished, but follow the imam. In case a whole rak’at or more has been missed, then one should rise up when the imam offers salutation, and complete by himself the rak’at or rak’ats which he has missed, recite the Invocation, etc., and salutation to terminate the service. As an example, suppose he joins the congregation during the prostration of the second rak ‘at of the early evening service, he will perform in the company of the imam only one rak’at. So one should rise up, perform a rak’at and then sit down for Invocation – then perform another rak’at with invocation and supplication, then offer the salutation to terminate. If one joins the imam in ruku (inclining) position, one has got the whole rak ‘at, and needs not bother about the lost portion, such as the recitation of the Qur’an. But if one joins the imam after the ruku’, standing or prostrating or else then the whole rak ‘at is lost and should be made up at the end when the imam has offered salutation.


566. If the right direction of the Ka’bah is not known, one should guess it, and that suffices, God being present everywhere. During the service of worship, one must behave with dignity and concentration: one must look at the spot where one is going to place one’s forehead, (during the ruku on one’s toes, and during the sajdah the eyes open), and one should never look towards the sky, much less to right and left. Similarly one must remain firm, and it is a very bad habit to advance or retreat during the several acts of prostrating and returning to the standing position. The large toe serves as a pivot.

567. After the service, one may pray to God for whatever one desires, the best prayers are those which have been taught by the Qur’an itself.

568. As the texts in the service ought to be recited in Arabic, one should learn them by heart, commencing with the Fatihah (first chapter of the Qur’an, Appendix G), which is considered the most essential part and the sine qua non of the service of worship.

Funeral Service

569. The funeral service differs from other services of worship in form. One makes ablutions, turns to the Ka’bah, raises the hands up to the ears, formulates the intention, after the usual Allahu Akbar, the Fatihah and some other part of the Qur’an (as in all the services) yet one does neither bow nor prostrate. In fact, after the recitation of the Qur’an, one pronounces again Allahu Akbar, remains standing up, and recites a prayer to God to pardon all Muslims, dead or alive, preceded by the invocation of mercy to the Prophet (Appendix S). Then says Allahu Akbar for the third time and prays particularly for the deceased present (Appendix T); then says Allahu Akbar for the fourth time and salutes at the end.

Sickness and Travelling

570. If one is sick and confined to bed, one can pray as best one can, sitting or even lying. In the case of a sitting position, the act of bowing is performed in a way that the head does not touch the ground. In the case of celebrating the prayer while lying, one only thinks in one’s mind of the postures of standing, bowing, prostrating, etc., and recites at each stage the appropriate text.

571. Persons in travel have been permitted by the Prophet to shorten their services of four rak’ats celebrating only two rak’ats;. Others who are pressed for time, have the permission of the Prophet to combine the services. For instance, the second and third, between midday and sunset, at any moment, and the fourth and the fifth any time during the night.

Hours of Services

572. Usually the first service (Fajr) must be celebrated when one first rises, i.e., between dawn and sunrise. The second (Zuhr), after the sun passes the meridian at midday; the time for this service continues for two to three hours. The third (‘Asr), late in the afternoon [just before the sun begins to decline], before the sunset. The fourth (Maghrib) immediately after sunset – the time continues, for about an hour and a half. The fifth and last (Isha), when the twilight disappears, any time during the night before dawn breaks, preferably before midnight.

573. It will be noticed that these timings are practicable and without inconvenience only in equatorial and tropical countries. As one mounts towards the poles, the difference between the length of the day and the night becomes so great in the summer and winter, that the movements of the sun are of little help. At the two parallels 90º N. and 90º S, that is at the poles, the sun does not set for six months continuously, with the exception of the one day of the first equinox, and then remains risen above the horizon for the other six months continuously, with the exception of one day of the second equinox. Even much below:

at 72º North from May 9 to August 4
at 70º North from May 17 to July 27
at 68º North from May 27 to July 17
at 66º North from June 13 to June 29

the sun remains continuously above the horizon and sets neither during the “day”, nor during the “night”. In the corresponding period of winter, the sun remains below the horizon and never rises at all throughout the 24 hour day. At 66º N., on June 30, the sun rises at 0.3 o’clock and sets at 23.46 o’clock. Yet on July 2, it rises at 0.3 o’clock and sets at 23.32 o’clock, and so on; that is to say, in the remaining few minutes when the sun remains set, all the three nightly services of maghrib, ‘isha and fajr are to be celebrated. Men have been crossing these regions for a long time, and they are much more frequented now; they are even being settled. It is known that the Soviet camps contain many Muslim labourers. It goes without saying, that in these abnormal climates one can depend on the movements of the sun neither for services of worship nor for yearly fasting. Even Friday gets complicated if it is to recur on every seventh setting of the sun. The jurists have therefore recommended that one should follow in those places the movements of the clock, and not those of the sun. But the question arises where to fix the line separating the normal zone of countries from the abnormal one, where one enjoys these concessions? Similarly it becomes necessary to find out exactly the hours to be observed in the abnormal zone. The rational solution, which has now been approved by the assemblies of the ‘ulama of different Muslim countries is the following:

573/a. The Qur’an (2:286) has laid down that “God tasketh not a person if not according to its capacity.” And again (94:5-6) “Because with the difficulty there is a facilityVerily with difficulty there is a facility.” And the Prophet has not only confirmed it by demanding his subordinates and delegates, “Facilitate and do not cause difficulties and do not cause people to detest (the Islamic law), but treat people like brothers.” Apart from these general directions, the Prophet has even replied to the question of abnormally long days in an apocalypitc Hadith, reported by Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, lbn Majah and others,

When the Dajjal (literally the great deceiver) comes to mislead people, he will remain on the earth for forty days, the first of which as long as a year, the second as long as a month, the third as long as a week, and the remaining days as your normal days. One of the Companions rose to demand, “On the day which will be as long as a year, would it suffice to celebrate only five services of worship of the day?” The Prophet replied, “No, but calculate.”

The first day described here resembles the conditions obtained at the 90º latitude (North or South), i.e., on both poles. The second day for those a little south of 68º of the North latitude, and the third those a little south of 66º latitude. Basing themselves upon this direction of the Prophet, the assemblies of Muslim ‘ulama have commanded to follow in such condition the movement of the clock and not of the sun, and to facilitate that task, they command to follow the times calculated for 45º (North or South) for countries lying between those points and the pole.

574. The hours of sunrise and sunset remain practically the same during all the seasons on the equator; the greatest instability, or rather the greatest and most unbearable rigour is found at the poles. Geographers have divided the distance between the equator and the poles into 90 degrees. Therefore the line of division has to to be fixed at 45º North and 45º South. Those people who live in the equatorial and tropical countries, i.e., between the two latitudes of 45º on both sides of the equator, must follow the movements of the sun with their variations during the different seasons. And those who live beyond this belt, must follow the hours obtaining at 45º latitude, without regard to their local times of sunrise and sunset. It will happen that in these abnormal regions one will break the fast when the sun will still be shining, in certain seasons, and in certain others will continue to abstain from eating and drinking when the sun should have set long ago. For the timing on 45º, see below (paragraph 583).

575. This division at the two latitudes of 45º N. and 45º S. divides the earth theoretically in two equal parts, but as a matter of fact more than three-quarters of the habitable world is included in the middle zone. An overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of the globe live in the middle zone, which includes all of Africa, India and Oceania, practically all of China and the Americas (with the exception of Canada and the extremities of Argentina and Chile). It may be brought pointedly into relief that this division leaves untouched the millenary habitudes of the Muslims: the countries Islamized in the time of the Prophet and his companions – such as Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Spain, Italy, Southern France, Iran, Turkistan, India and Pakistan, even as far as the populous Malaysia and Indonesia – these will continue to practise that to which they have been for centuries accustomed. In Europe, concessions affect the regions above Bordeaux – Bucharest – Sevastopol; in North America those above Halifax – Portland; and in the southern Hemisphere only some small parts of the South of Argentina and Chile and a few islands south of New Zealand. The Muslim communities of England, France, Germany, Holland, Scandinavia, Finland, Kazan, Canada, etc., will profit by this precision of the Muslim law, which is deduced from the directions given by the holy Prophet himself, explained in the preceding paragraph. By consulting a map of the world, like the one included herewith, one can easily find out whether one lives inside or outside the middle zone, beyond 45º latitude.

The Service of Worship: Why in Arabic Alone?

Paragraph 575/a. (i.) It is well known that during their service of worship [prayer, in Arabic – Salaat], Muslims employ only the Arabic language: They recite certain passages of the Qur’an and pronounce certain formulae to attest to the sublimity of God and humility of man. This is done both by the Arabs and the non-Arabs, even by those who do not know a word of Arabic. Such was the case in time of the Prophet Muhammad and such has been the case (since to this day, whatever the country and the tongue of Muslims.

(ii) At first sight it may seem normal and even desirable that the faithful should address his prayer to the Lord in a way that he is fully conscious of what he says. Of course, the mother-tongue, the medium best suited for the purpose, the worship being performed in as many languages as are spoken by the Muslim community. But a little deeper consideration shows that there are reasons that militate strongly against such a solution.

(iii) First of all, a metaphysical or psychological point. According to the Holy Qur’an (33:6), the wives of the Prophet are mothers of the Muslims. We know that all of these revered ladies spoke Arabic. Therefore Arabic is the mother-tongue of all the Muslims. Who can object to praying in one’s mother-tongue!

(iv) Perhaps this argument does not suffice to convince everybody. Pushing further, it is noteworthy that according to the Islamic belief the Qur’an is the Word of God, the recitation of which is considered by the Qur’an as something meritorious. This is evident from the spiritual point of view. The faithful journey’s unto the Lord through the sacred word of the Lord Himself. His Word is the path towards Him, something like a wire to conduct the electrical current that illuminates a lightbulb. The journey unto the Lord is of course the ultimate goal that every soul aspires to reach. The original Word has been revealed in Arabic: any translation would be a human work and human word, and this can scarcely serve the purpose of this mystical journey.

(v) For those who would seek more mundane reasons, let us recall first that a clear distinction is to be made between prayer, in the sense of supplication (du’a), and the prayer in the sense of the service of worship to God (salaat), in so far as du’a is concerned – i.e., the prayer in general and outside the formal way of worshiping God, the tête-à-tête with the Lord (munajaat)- nobody has ever raised the slightest objection to the liberty of the individual to address one’s need, one’s petitions to the Lord in any language and in any physical posture one prefers. It is purely personal and private affair and concerns the relations of the individual creature directly with the Creator. The salaat [prayer], on the contrary, is a collective and public affair, where the needs and requirements of other companions of the congregation are evidently to be taken into consideration. It is pointedly to bring into relief that the salaat is in principle and preferably to be performed in common along with others (jama’at): the salaat individually and in isolation is only tolerated and never recommended, the preference going to the congregational service. Let us see now more closely the diverse aspects of this collective and public act which is performed in the company of others.

(vi) Had Islam been a regional, racial or national religion, one would certainly have employed the current language of the region, of the race, of the nation. But quite different are the requirements of a universal religion, whose members speak hundreds of regional languages – of which each is incomprehensible to all the rest of the human groups – belonging to all the races and inhabitants of all the regions of the earth. Our life today is getting more and more cosmopolitan, and practically every town has Muslims belonging to several linguistic groups, both from among the permanent residents and the travellers in transit, and has to take into consideration the aspect of courtesy and hospitality to strangers. Supposing an Englishman goes to China and knows not a word of its language, and supposing he hears in the street something like “chen chu chih shan“, evidently he would not understand what is intended thereby; and if it is the regional translation of the well-known call to prayer, the Allahu Akbar, he would fail to perceive it and would miss the weekly prayer on Friday, or the congregational prayer of the moment. (Incidentally, the mosques in China do not ordinarily resemble those in England, France or elsewhere in the Orient, and ordinarily have no minarets either). Similarly a Chinese Muslim, travelling through other countries, would find nothing in common with his co-religionists if these others said their collective worship in their local tongues. So a universal religion requires certain basic things to be common to all the faithful. The call to prayer and the formulae to be recited in the act of worship evidently constitute part of such fundamental and basic elements of the practice of the cult. A passing remark may be made about the fact that sometimes words of two different languages sound alike but have different signification’s, at times the harmless word of one signifying something ridiculous or obscene in another. Such a risk is greater in languages with which one is utterly unfamiliar, and hears them only during a journey for example. This would be contrary to the dignity of the service of worship to God. Things familiar from childhood avoid such complications, even if the individual is a non-Arab and recites in Arabic the required formulae.

(vii) One cannot neglect the psychological aspect of human beings who have at times petty prejudices of xenophobia. Occasions would arise daily when political (national) or even personal and individual frictions would induce, for instance, an Englishman not to participate in the salaat led in French or Russian or some other language. Arabic, as the language of the Qur’an and the Hadith, has a respect and a halo in the minds of every Muslim, and one employs it not as the language of the Arabs but as the language of the Prophet Muhammad, the language of the mothers-of-the-faithful, the language God Himself has chosen for revealing His latest Word for us.

(viii) The needs of unity among the co-religionists can never be too much stressed upon. One should create new links to strengthen their ties of fraternity, rather than destroy those that already exist.

(ix) One may also cite the example of international congresses and meetings. When, for instance, one attends the United Organization session, one cannot select the medium of expression according to one’s whims and fancies, which would be contrary to the object of the meeting, and one would fail to reach others attending the session; one is obliged to employ himself or get his speech translated into the officially recognized languages, which are for all practical purposes either English or French, and nobody objects to this state of affairs. In the general interest, one has to sacrifice the particular interest, on pain of losing in the long run, even the particular interest.

(x) There is another aspect of the question which is no less important. In fact no translation ever replaces the original. There are for instance, nowadays numerous translations of the Holy Qur’an in English (as also in practically every language of the world), yet every now and then there are new and unceasing attempts to produce another translation, thinking that the older ones are partly defective. This is true not only of English but of every language of the world, and true also of the translation of any and every work. Should one utilize a defective thing or the perfect one, the translation or the original?

(xi) Let us recall in this connection that practically no religion, excepting Islam, possesses today integrally the original of the Revelation on which it is based, the original teaching of its founder: It is the translation, or at best fragments, of which dispose the Christian, Jewish, Parsi and other communities. How fortunate the Muslims are that they form an exception, and possess integrally the original text of the Revelation, the Holy Qur’an!

(xii) What is more, the Qur’an, although in prose, possesses all the qualities and charms of poetry, such as rhythm, resonance, grandeur of style, etc., so much so that the omission or addition of even a single letter in the text disturbs it as much as it would disturb the hemistitch of a verse. Some time ago, it happened to the present writer that a Muslim French convert, who is a musician by profession, one day assured me that in chapter 110 of the Qur’an some passage seemed to have been lost, for it reads ‘fi dinillahi afwaja. Fasabbih . . . ‘ , which is musically impossible. My scant knowledge of the art of reciting the Qur’an came to my aid and I replied: “No, the correct reading of the passage is: ‘fi dinil-lahi afwjan-v-fasabbih . . .’ (the n and f getting assimilated, so after n, there is a slight v, before pronouncing f of fasabbih.” Thereupon the musician and well-meaning brother exclaimed at once: “I renew my faith; with your explanation there remains nothing objectionable from the musical point of view, and no passage seems to be lacking.” The prose of the Qur’an is as much measured as the lines of a poem. And if this is so, who would desire to replace something perfect and splendid by something comparatively mediocre!

(xiii) One should not lose sight of the fact that in the entire salaat there are very few passages to recite. There is first the adhan and iqamah (call to prayer). Then inside the service of worship there is the formulae Allahu-Akbarsubhana rabbiyal-‘azim, subhana rabby-ala, the short chapter al-Fatiha, two other short chapters, and the prayer of tashahhud, and that is all. The totality does not exceed a page of small size, and most of the words of these texts are commonly understood by the Muslim masses and have penetrated into all the languages of the Muslim countries, so much so that even a child or a beginner learns their meaning without pain and without strain. And once the significance of these formulae is learnt, the salaat of a Muslim remains no more a mechanical recitation without understanding.

(xiv) Personally, this writer thinks that no Muslim would ever bestow the same respect on a translation of the Qur’an as he does on the original revealed by God to His messenger. For the translation would be done by an ordinary human being and not by an infallible person who should be protected by God against error, as is the case of a Prophet.

(xv) There is an aspect of Arabic language which merits to be brought into relief here. Apart from its incomparable musical qualities, recognized on all hands, the Arabic language itself, in its literary form, has changed since at least 1500 years neither in grammar, nor vocabulary, nor spelling, nor even pronunciation. Those who understand the language of Arabic newspapers and radio broadcasts today understand as perfectly the language of the Holy Qur’an. For a religion brought by the last of the Messengers of God and the Seal of the prophets, and also destined for all times till the end of the world, is it not providential that the language selected for this Message should also be otherwise stable and unchanging? Otherwise God in His unlimited mercy would uselessly be obliged to repeat the same Message to a new prophet in a new book comprehensible to the living men.

(xvi) One day a young student kept insisting on the importance of understanding what one says (or prays). When all other argument seemed to fail to convince him, the author ironically said: “If you promise me that you will perform regularly the five daily services in your mother-tongue, I authorize you to do so.” Forthwith he interrupted the discussion, and never came again to speak of it. In other words, those who insist on regionalizing the faith and cult are those who do not practise it themselves: at least, such is the case with the immense majority of them. A believer has no need to take counsel with those who do not believe in or do not practise Islam.

(xvii) To end, there are writers who say that they have the backing of such authorities as the Imam Abu Hanifah (d. 767 C.E.) to say that the recitation of the translation of the Qur’an in the service of worship is permitted. But this is only a half-truth. These writers omit to mention that the Imam Abu Hanifah, although he had this opinion in the beginning changed it later on (as we find express precision of it in the authoritative manuals of law such as the Hidayah of al-Marghinani, the ad-Durr al-Mukhtar of al-Haskafi, etc.), and that he rallied to the general opinion that in normal cases only the Arabic text is to be employed in the services of worship. Of course, there are provisions for exceptional cases, such as the needs of a new convert: immediately on his embracing Islam, he has to commence to perform the five daily services in which it is necessary to recite by heart the prescribed formulae. Until such time as he learns these formulae by heart, he may use their sense in any other language he can. For this we have the very high precedent of Salman al-Farisi, who sent the translation of al-Fatiha to some Persian converts, with the authorization of the Prophet Muhammad himself and they used it until their tongue got familiarized with the Arabic text. So, for some hours or some days, the new converts may use validly the translation.

(xviii) One will see that there are advantages and disadvantages, both in the use of a foreign language in one’s service of worship. This is also the case with regard to the use of a regional language (viz. mother-tongue) for this purpose by members of a universal religion. In such cases one makes one’s choice by weighing the advantages against the disadvantages, and one sees where lies the lesser of the two evils.

Why a Purely Lunar Calendar?

576. As it is well-known, Islam follows for liturgical or religious purposes, a purely lunar calendar in which, for instance, the month of Ramadan with its fasts, and of Dhul-Hijjah with its pilgrimage rotate from season to season. In pre-lslamic Arabia intercalation was known and it was the Holy Prophet who abolished it after long and mature thinking, let us say during his last pilgrimage, just three months before his death, when he received a revelation (Qur’an 9:37) condemning intercalation.(4) This intrigues the uninitiated, and shocks those who suffer from an inferiority complex and want always to imitate others blindly. Of the many utilities of this Islamic reform, there may be brought into relief:

(a) As far as the fast is concerned, it is very useful, since it provides one with the possibility of getting accustomed to food and drink privations in all seasons neither always hardship, nor is it always easy-going.

(b) Islam being destined for the whole world, the difference between the different climates had also to be taken into consideration. Had fasting been prescribed in a given month of the solar calendar, that is to say in a certain definite season, the purpose would be vitiated by nature – and physically it would be impossible. In fact the summer of the Northern Hemisphere, of the countries situated North of the equator coincides with the winter in the Southern hemisphere, in countries South of the equator. It may also be that the winter is considered as a pleasant time in equatorial regions, and a horror in the sub-polar ones. This discrimination among the Faithful of the different countries is easily avoided when the lunar calendar is followed. All will have all seasons turn by turn.

(c) The paying of the zakat on savings, commerce etc. – excluding agricultural products – is increased umperceptably in a way that in every 33 solar years there will be 34 lunar years, and will pay in 3 3 solar years 34 annual taxes. Even after payment of salaries according to the lunar calender, the savings of the government will be considerable, and will be available for its nation-building activities, for the benefit of the poorer classes in particular.


576/a. We pray to God that this humble effort should serve its purpose of enlightening those who want to know the elements of Islam. For greater detail, there are exhaustive and specialized books, learned persons, and institutions such as al-Azhar in Egypt, Zaitunah in Tunis, Qarawiyeen in Fez (Morocco), and others in India, Pakistan, Indonesia, etc.

Fig 1 to 6b

Translation of the Appendices

578. (A, BCD, Etranslations have already been given in the chapter (“Daily Life”).

(F): (i) According to the Hanafite rite: O God, with Thy glorification and Thy praise; blessed is Thy name, and there is no God except Thee.

(ii) According to the Shafi’ite rite: I have turned my face to the One God Who has created the heavens and the earth, I being sincere and submissive while I am not one of those who give associates (to God). Verily my service of worship, my cult, in fact my life and my death belong to God, Lord of the worlds, to Whom none to associate. Unto this have I been commanded (to believe), and I am the first to submit.

(G): With the name of God, the Most Merciful, the All-Merciful. Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds, the Most Merciful, the All-Merciful, Owner of the Day of Judgement. Thee alone we worship, and Thee alone we ask for help. Show us the straight path: the path of those whom Thou hast favoured; not (the path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray. Amen!

(H): With the name of God, the Most Merciful, the All-Merciful. By the Time! Lo, man is in a state of loss, save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to right, and exhort one another to endurance.

(I): With the name of God, the Most Merciful, the All-Merciful. Lo, We have given thee Abundance. So pray unto thy Lord, and sacrifice. Lo, it is thy insulter (and not thou) who is without posterity.

(J): With the name of God, the Most Merciful, the All-Merciful. Say: It is God, the Unique! God the eternally Besought of all! He begetteth not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him.

(K): God! There is no God save Him, the Alive, the Eternal and Sustainer of all. Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him. Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? He knoweth that which is in front of them, and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of his knowledge save what He will. The footrest of His throne includeth the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous.

(L): Glory be to my Lord, the Great.

(M): God has heard the one who has praised Him: Our Lord! Praise be to Thee.

(N): Glory be to my Lord, the Most High.

(O): O my Lord, pardon me and have pity on me.

(P):The most blessed greetings, the purest and most sincere inclinations unto God. Peace be with thee O Prophet as well as the Mercy of God and His blessings. Peace be with us as well as with the pious slave-servants of God. I attest that there is no God if not God Himself, and I attest that Muhammad is His slave and messenger.

(Q): O God, incline to Muhammad and to those who adhere to him even as Thou hast inclined to Abraham and to those who adhered to him. Verily Thou art the Praised One, the Glorious One. And bless Muhammad and those who adhere to him, even as Thou hast blessed Abraham and those who adhered to him, verily Thou art the Praised One and the Glorious One. O God, I take refuge with Thee against sin and debt. O God, I have committed to my soul a great wrong, and no one can pardon the sins, if not Thee; so pardon me and have pity on me; lo, Thou art the Most forgiving, Most Merciful.

(R): Glory be unto One who neither sleeps nor forgets.

(S): O God, be inclined to Muhammad, and bless (him) and protect (him). O God, pardon those who are alive among us as well as the dead, those who are present as well as those who are absent, and this by Thy great mercy.

(T): O God, pardon this dead. Lo Thou art the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.

(U): O God, guide us to the right path from among those whom Thou hast guided and accord us security from among those Thou hast accorded security, and be our Patron from among those whom Thou hast been Patron, and give us plenitude in what Thou hast accorded us of the good, and protect us from the evil which Thou hast decreed, since it is Thou Who decidest and nothing could be decided against Thee; and verily no disgrace betaketh him whom Thou patronizest, and no honour can he have to whom Thou art enemy; Blessed and Exalted art Thou, O our Lord, praise be to what Thou hast decreed, we ask pardon of Thee and repent before Thee; may God incline to our chief Muhammad!

(V): O God, we ask Thee for help, and ask Thee for pardon, and believe in Thee, and have confidence in Thee. O God, Thee alone we worship, for Thee alone do we celebrate the service of worship and prostration. Towards Thee alone do we hasten and hurry. We hope for Thy mercy, and fear Thy punishment, for Thy punishment will cause (us) to join the unbelievers.

(W): Formula of the intention, pronounced in front of the Black Stone: I intend to circumambulate. With the name of God, and God is great. O God, I do this believing in Thee, attesting to the truthfulness of Thy Book, observing the contract made with Thee, and following the practice of Thy Prophet, our master Muhammad. May God incline to him and take him into His safeguard.

(X): Prayers during the circumambulation:

(i) When in front of the door of the Ka ‘bah: O God, this house is Thy house, this sacred territory is Thy sacred territory, this security is Thy security, and this is the place for one who seeks protection with Thee against the hell fire.

(ii) During the rest of the first wall: O God I ask Thy protection against doubt, polytheism, schism, hypocrisy, bad morality, and ill-return in the family, property and children.

(iii) When crossing the second wall, which contains the mizab (spout): O God, put me under Thy shadow on the day when there will be no shadow if not the shadow of Thy throne and give me to drink from the cup of our master Muhammad – may God incline to him and take him into His safeguard – a delicious and sating drink after which I shall never get thirsty, O Thou full of Majesty and Bounty.

(iv) When crossing the third wall according to whether it is during the hajj or the ‘umrah: O God, make that this be a hajj/’urnrah which is accepted, with (my) sin which is pardoned, with (my) effort which is recognized, a commerce which is not lost, O Thou the Powerful, the Forgiving.

(v) When crossing the fourth wall: O our Lord, give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and protect us from the punishment of the hell fire.

(Y)Prayer while frequenting between Safa and Marwah rocks, according to whether it is for the hajjor for the ‘umrah: O Lord, pardon, and be merciful, and forgive us all that Thou knowest; verily Thou art the Most Powerful, the Most Bounteous, O God, make that this be a hajj/’umrah which is accepted, with a sin which is pardoned, with an effort which is recognized, a commerce which is not lost, O Thou the Powerful, the Forgiving. God is great. God is Great. Praise be unto God. God is great for having shown us the right path. Praise be unto God for what He has bestowed on us. There is no God if not God alone, there is no Associate with Him, to Him alone belongs the kingdom to Him alone belongs praise, and He is Able to do all things. There is no God if not God alone. He has made true His promise, aided His slave (Muhammad) and fortified his army, and defeated Himself alone the coalesced enemies. There is no God if not God Himself, and we worship none if not Him, making (religion) pure for Him, however much the Disbelievers be averse.

(Z):Talbiyah: Here am I, here am I, to Thy call O God, here am I, here am I. None to be associate with Thee, here am I, here am I to Thy call. Verily the praise and grace are due to Thee as well as sovereignty, none being to be associate with Thee.

(Z/i) With the Name of God the Most Merciful, the All-Merciful. Say: O Disbelievers, I worship not that which ye worship, nor ye worship that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye have been wont to worship, nor will ye worship that which I worship. To you your religion, and to me my religion.

(Z/ii) Lord! I ask Thee for good guidance by means of thy science, and seek power by means of Thy power, and I beseech Thee through Thy enormous grace. For Thou hast the power, not I; Thou knowest, not I, and Thou art the knower of all the invisible things. Lord! In Thy knowledge if this matter is good for me, for my religion, for my wordly life, for my livelihood and for the consequences of my affairs, be they immediate or delayed, then determine it for me and facilitate it to me and give me therein the plenitude, O Generous. But if in Thy knowledge this matter is evil for me, for my religion, for my worldly life, for my livelihood and for the consequences of my affairs, be they immediate or delayed, then put it away from me and me from it, and determine the good for me wheresoever it may lie, and then agree to it on my part, O Generous. Lord! The knowledge of the invisible things is with Thee alone, it remaining concealed for me, and I do not know what to
select for me, so it will be Thee, who wouldst select for me, for I hand over to Thee the keys of my matter, and Thou art the hope in my poverty and need. So guide me to that which is most agreeable to Thee, with which one has greatest hope with Thee and which may be most praised by Thee. For Thou dost what Thou likest, and commandest what Thou wilst.

Transliteration of the Appendices

579.    Vowel sounds:

as u in  cut
da  as in father
 i  as  i  in it
ee  as ee  in feel
as u in put
oo  as oo  in cool

(A): Al-laahu akbar, al-laahu akbar, al-laahu akbar, al-laahu akbar, ash-hadu al-laa-ilaaha il-lal-laah, ash-hadu al-laa-ilaaha il-lal-laah, ash-hadu an-na Muham-madar-rasool ul-laah, ash-hadu-an-na Muham-madar-rasool ul-laah, hayya ‘alas-salaah, hayya ‘alas-salaah, hayya ‘alal-falaah, hayya ‘alal-falaah, al-laahu akbar, al-laahu akbar, laa-ilaaha il-lal-lah. EnglishArabic 

(B): Al-laahu akbar, al-laahu akbar. Ash-hadu al-laa-ilaaha-il-lal-laah, ash-hadu an-na Muham-mad ar rasoo lul-laah. Hayya ‘alas-salaah, hayya ‘alal-falaah. Qad qaamatis-salaah. Qad qaamatis-salaah. Al-laahu akbar, al-laahu akbar. La-ilaaha il-lal-laah.EnglishArabic

(C): Bismil-laabir-rahmaa-nir-raheem. Iqra’ bismi rab-bik al-ladhee khalaq, khalaqal insaana min ‘alaq, iqra’ wa rabbukal akramul ladhi ‘al-lama bil qalam, ‘al-lamal insaana maa lam ya’lam. EnglishArabic

(D): Bismil-laah wa ‘alamil-lati rasoo lil-laah. EnglishArabic

(E): Yaa ‘abdal-laahidhkur/amatal-laahidhkuri al-‘ahdal ladhee kharajta/kharajiti ‘alaihi minad dunyaa shahaadata al-laa-ilaaha il-lal-laah wa an-na Muham-madar rasoo lul-laah, wa an-nal jan-nata haqq, wa an-nan naara haqq, wa an-nal qabra haqq, wa an-nas saa’ata aatiyatui laa raiaba feeha, wa an-nal-laaha yab’athu man fil quboor, an-aaka radeeta/an-naki radeeti bil-laahi rab-ban, wa bil islaami deenan, wa bimuham-madir rasoolan wa bil qurtaani immaaman, wa bil ka’bati qiblatan, wa bil mu’mineena ikhwaanaa, al-laahu yuthab bituka/yuthab bituki Yuthab-bitui laahul ladheena aama-nu bilqau-lith thaabiti fil hayaatid dunya wa fil aakhira, wa yudillul-laahuz zaalimeena wa yafa lul-laahu maa yashaa, yaa ayya-tuhan nafsul mutma-in-natur ji’ee ilaa rab-biki raadi yatam mardeeyah, fad khulee fee ‘ibaadee, wad khulee jan-natee. EnglishArabic

(F):(i) According to Hanafis: Sub haana kal-laahum-ma wa bihamdika wa tabaara kasmu-ka wa laa ilaaha ghairuka.

(ii) According to Shafi’is: Waj-jah-tu waj-hiyalil-ladhee fa-taras-sa-maa-waati wal-arda ha-naa-fam mus-li-man wa maa ana mi-nal-mush-ri-keen. In-na sa-laa-tee wa nu-su-ki wa mah-yaa-ya wa ma-maa-tee lil-laa-hi rab-bil-aa-la-meen laa sha-ree-ka lahu wa bi-dhaa-lika umir-tu wa ana au-walul mus-li-meen.


(G): Bismil laahir rahmaa nir raheem, alhamdu lil-lahi rab-bil ‘aalameen, ar-rahmaa nir raheem, maaliki yaumid deen, iyyaaka na’budu wa iyyaaka nasta’een, ihdmas siraatal musta-qeem, siraatal ladheena an’amta ‘alaihim, ghairil maghdoobi ‘alai-him, wa lad daal leen. Aameen. EnglishArabic

(H): Bismil laahir rahmaa nir raheem, wal’asr, in-nal insaana lafee khusr, il-lal ladheena aamanu wa ‘amilus saalihaati wa tawaasau bil haq-qi wa tawaasau bis sabr. English Arabic

(I): Bismil laahir rahmma nir raheem, in-naa a’tainaa kal-kauthar, fasal-li lirab bika wan har, in-na shaani aka huwal ab-tar. EnglishArabic

(J): Bismil laahir rahmaa nir raheem, qul huwal laahu ahad, al-laahus samad, lam yalid, wa lam yoolad, wa lam ya kullahoo kufuwan ahad. English Arabic

(K): Al-laahu laa-ilaaha il-laahoo al-hayyul qayyoom, laa ta khudhuhu sinatun walaa naum, lahoo maafis samaawaati wa maa fil ard, man dhal ladhee yashfa’u ‘indahoo il-laa bi idh-nihi, ya’lamu maa baina aideehim warnaa khalfahum, walaa yuheetoona bishai-im min ‘ilmihee il-laa bimaa shaa, wasi’a kursiyu hus samaawaati wal arda walaa ya’ooduhu hifzu hurnaa wa huwal ‘aliyyul ‘azeem. EnglishArabic

(L): Subhaana rab-biyal ‘azeem. EnglishArabic

(M): Sami’al laahu liman hamidah, rab-banaa lakal hamd.  EnglishArabic

(N): Subhaana rab-biyal a’laa. EnglishArabic

(O): Rab bighfir lee warhamnee.  EnglishArabic

(P): At-tahiyaatul mubaara kaatus sala waatut tayyi baatu lil laah, as-salaamu ‘alaika ayyuhan nabeeyu wa rahmatui laahi wa bara kaatuh, as-salaamu ‘alainaa wa ‘alaa ibaadil laahis saali-heen, ash-hadu al-laa ilaaha, il-lal-laah, wa ash-hadu an-na Muham-madan ‘abduhu wa rasooluh.  EnglishArabic

(Q): Al-laa-hum-ma sal-li alaa Muhama-din wa ‘alaa aali Muham-madin ka-maa sal-lai-ta ‘alaa Ib-raa-heema wa ‘alaa aali Ib-raa-heema in-naka ha-mee-dum ma-jeed. Wa baa-rik ‘alaa-Mu-ham-madin wa ‘alaa aali Mu-ham-madin ka-maa baa-rak-ta ‘alaa Ib-raa-hee-ma wa ‘alaa aali Ib-raa-hee-ma in-naka ha-mee-dum ma-jeed. EnglishArabic

Al-laa hum ma in-nee a’oodhu bika minal ma’thami wal magh-ram, al-laahum-ma in-nee zaiamtu nafsee zulman katheeran, wa laa yaghfirudh dhunooba il-laa anta, faghfir lee warhamnee in-naka antal ghafoorur raheem.

(R): Subhaana mal laa yanaamu wa-laa yashoo. EnglishArabic

(S): Al laahum-ma sal-li ‘alaa Muham-madin wa baarik wa sal-lim, al-laahum-maghfir lihayyinaa wa mayyitinaa wa shaa hidinaa wa ghaa’ibinaa birahma tikal waasi’ah. EnglishArabic

(T): Al-laahum-maghfir lihaa-dhal mayyit in-naka antal ghafoo-rur raheem. EnglishArabic

(U): Al-laa-hum-mahdinaa feeman hadait, wa ‘aafinaa feeman ‘aafair, wa tawal-lanaa feeman tawal-lait, wa baarik lanaa minal khairi feema a’tait, wa qinaa shar-ra ma qadait, fa-in-naka taqdee walaa yuqdaa ‘alaik, wa-in-nahoo laa yadhil-lu man waalait, walaa ya’izzu man ‘aadait, tabaarakta rabbanaa wa ta’aalait, lakal hamdu ‘alaa maa qadait, nastaghfiruka wa natoobu ilaik, wa sal-lal-laahu ‘alaa sayyidina Muh-am-mad. EnglishArabic

(V): Al-laa-hum-ma in-naa nas-ta-‘ee-nuka wa nas-tagh-firu-ka wa nu’mi-nu bika wa na-ta-wa-kalu ‘alaik. Al-laa-humma iya-ka na’-bu-du-wa laka nu-sal-li wa nas-judu, wa llaika nas-‘aawanahfidu. Nar-joo rah-ma-ta-ka wa nakh-shaa ‘adhaa-baka, in-na ‘adhaa-ba-ka bil-kuf-faa-ri mul-hiq. EnglishArabic

(W):Formula of intention to be pronounced in front of the Black Stone: Na-wai-tut ta-waaf. Bis-mil-laahi wal-laa-hu ak-bar. Al-laa-hum-ma eernaa-nam bika wa tas-dee-qam bi-ki-taa-bika wa wa-faa-am bi-‘ah-dika wat-ti-baa-‘al li-sun-na-ti na-bee-yi-ka sai-yidi-na Mu-ham-ma-din sal-lal-laa-hu ‘ali-hi wa-sal-lam. English Arabic

(X):Prayers of the circumambulationEnglishArabic
(i) While in front of the door of the Ka’bah: Al-laa-hum-ma in-nal bai-ta bai-tuk, wal-ha-famu ha-ra-muk, wal-am-nu am-nuk wa haa-dhaa ma-qaa-mul ‘aa-idhi bi-ka mi-nan-naar.

(ii) During the rest of the first wall: Al-laa-hum-ma in-nee ‘a-oodhu bi-ka mi-nash-shak-ki wash-shir-ki wash-shi-qaa-qi wan-ni-faa-qi wa soo-il akh-laa-qi wasoo-il-rnun-qa-labi fil ahli wal-maa-li wal-wa-lad.

(iii) While crossing the second wall: Al-laa-hum-ma azil-li-nee fee zil-lika yau-ma laa zil-la il-laa zil-lu ‘ar-shik. Was-qi-nee bi-ka’si sai-yi-di-naa Muham-madin sal-lal-laahu ‘ali-hi wa sal-lam, shar-batan hanee-atam ma-ree-atal laa azma’u ba’-da-haa aba-dan yaa dhal ja-laa-li wal-ik-raam.

(iv) While crossing the third wall, according to whether it is for the hajj or ‘umrah: Al-laa-hum maj-‘al-hu haj-jam mab-roo-raamaj-‘alhaa umratam-mab-roo-rah wa dhan-bam magh-foo-raa wa sa’yam mash-koo-raa wa ti-jaa-ratal lan taboora yaa ‘azee-zu yaa gha-foor.

(v) While crossing the fourth wall: Rab-ba-naa aati-naa fid-dun-yaa hasa-na-tan wa fil-aakhi-ra-ti hasa-na-tan wa qi-naa ‘adhaa-ban-naar.

(Y):Prayer while frequenting between the Safaa and Marwah rocks, according to whether it is for the hajj or ‘umrahRab-bigh-fir war-ham wa tajaa-waz ‘ammaa ta’lam in-naka antal a’az-zul akram. Al-laa-hum maj-‘al-hu haj-jam mab-roo-raa/maj-‘alhaa ‘umratam-mab-roo-rah wa bam magh-foo-raa wa sa’-yam mash-koo-raa wa ti-jaa-ratal lan ta-boora yaa ‘azee-zu yaa gha-foor. Al-laa-hu ak-bar Al-laa-hu ak-bar wa-lil-laa-hil hamd. Al-laa-hu ak-bar ‘alaa maa ha-daa-naa wal-ham-du lil-laa-hi ‘alaarnaa au-laa-naa. Laa-ilaa-ha il-lal-laa hu wah-dahli laa-sha-ree-ka lahu la-hul-mulku wa lahu harndu wahuwa ‘alaakul-li shai-in qa-deer. Laa-ilaa-ha il-lal-laa-hu wah-dah sa-daqa a’-dah walla-sara ‘ab-dah wa a’az-za jun-dah wa ha-za-mal ah-zaa-ba wah-dah. Laa Ilaa-ha il-lal-laahu wa laa na’-budu il-laaiyaa-humukh-li-seenala-hud-deen wa lau ka-ri-hal kaa-fi-roon. EnglishArabic

Talbiyah: Lab-baik, Al-laa-hum-ma lab-baik, lab-baik laa sha-ree-ka laka, lab-baik. In-nal-ham-da wan-ni’ma-talakawal-mulk, laa sha-ree-ka lak. EnglishArabic

(Z/i) Bis mil laa hir rah maa nir raheem. Qul yaa aiyu hal kaafiroon laa a’budu maa ta’bu-doon wa laa antum ‘aabi doona maa a’bud wa laa ana ‘aa bidum maa ‘abadtun wa laa antum ‘aabi doona maa a’bud lakum dee nukum wa liya deen. EnglishArabic

(Z/ii) Al laa hum ma in nee as takh yiru ka bi ‘ilmik wa astaq diru ka bi qud ra tik waas’a luka min fad likal ‘azeem, fa innaka taq dir wa laa aqdir wa t’alam wa laa a’lam wa anta ‘al laamulghu yoob. Al laa hum ma in kunta-ta’lamu an na haa dhal amra khari nil lee fee dee nee wa dunyaaya wa ma’aa shee wa ‘aaqi bati arnree ‘aaji lihi wa aaji lihifaq dir hu lee wa yas sir lee thum ma baarik lee feehi yaa kareem! wa in kun ta ta’lamu an nahaa dhal amra shar rul lee fee deenee wadun yaaya wa ma ‘aashe wa ‘aaqi bati arnreel ‘aajilihi wa aajilihi fasrif hu ‘an nee was rif nee ‘anhu yaa kareem! Al laa hum ma in na ‘ilmal ghaibi ‘in dakawa hu wa mah joobun ‘an nee wa laa a’lamu maa akh taaru hu li naf see laa kin antal mukh taaru lee fa in nee fau wad tu ilai ka maqaa leeda amree wa ra jau tu ka li faq ree wa faa qatee fa arshidnee ilaa uhab bil umoori ilaika wa arjaa haa ‘indaka wa ahma dahaa ‘in daka fa in naka tafalu maa tashaa’u wa tab kumu maa tu reed.

Time Table for Daily Prayers in Abnormal Zones

581. As has been explained in the chapter “Daily Life”, normally a Muslim has to celebrate five services of worship of God every day:

1. Dawn service, any time between the appearance of the true dawn, about 1½ hours before sunrise, and the sunrise.

2. Midday service (zuhr) from noon to late afternoon (‘asr). Noon means half the time between sunrise and sunset. For instance, if the sun rises on 22nd December at 7.36, and sets at 16.22 the day is of 8 hours and 46 minutes. Half of this is 4.23. Add this to the time of sunrise (7.36 + 4.23 = 11.59). After the precautionary quarter of an hour, one may pray for midday service at 12 hours 14 minutes, till the time of ‘asr prayer.

3. For late-afternoon service (‘asr), the time begins at half of the time of afternoon, i.e., from noon till sunset. So if the noon is at 11.59, and sunset at 16.22, the afternoon has 4 hours 23 minutes. Add half of it, 2.12, to the time of noon (11.59 + 2.12= 14.11). After the precautionary quarter hour, one may pray ‘asr on that day at 14.26. Of course in summer the time will be much later.

4. Evening service, from sunset till the disappearance of the twilight, about 1½ hours afterwards.

5. Night service, from the disappearance of the twilight till the appearance of the dawn, i.e., the time of the first service. Yet in regions far away from the equator, these times are too inconvenient to be practical. So instead of the movements of the sun, one calculates and follows the movements of the clock: and, as has been explained, the times obtained at the 45º North or South Latitude are valid in all the regions between 45º N or S and the pole. So, Bordeaux-Bucharest in Europe, Portland-Halifax in North America constitute the limit of the normal zone; all countries North of these places have to follow the time table of these places. Mutatis mutandis the same applies to countries in the extreme south of Argentina and Chile in South America.

582. Below are given the hours for both 45º North Latitude and 45º South Latitude, in local time. A few words of explanation will be useful:

(a) We have given only the times of sunrise and sunset. Hours of services could be calculated according to the formula given above.

(b) There is a vast difference between the local time and civil time, and in fact on the equator every 15 miles or so produce the difference of a minute; the nearer we are to the pole the shorter is the distance for the same quantity of the difference of time. In large countries like the USA, Canada or Russia, the sunrise on their eastern frontier is 5 to 10 hours earlier than on the western frontier. Our timetable is based on the local time, and necessary adjustments with the “civil time” in use in a country may not be difficult for the intelligent inquirer. For instance, clocks in France are in advance of an hour over the real local time in winter, and of two hours in summer: When the clock strikes 12, it is really 11 o’clock in the local time in winter, and 10 o’clock in summer. One has to take into consideration this fact for the daily services of worship as well as for the beginning and breaking of the fast.

(c) On account of the sphericity of the earth, an arbitrary line had to be drawn where the day should begin. The date line now in use passes between Asia and America – and political considerations have deviated it at different points. It has its importance for Muslim passengers proceeding, say, from Japan and Australia-Indonesia to America and vice versa, by ship or by plane. When travelling to America, as soon as they cross this imaginary line, there is a difference produced of 24 hours: Saturday becomes Friday, and another Saturday comes in due course. And when arriving from America to Asia, a whole day has to be added at the same point and a Friday becomes instantaneously a Saturday. If one lands before noon, Friday service has to be observed according to the day of the destination and not the day of the country which the traveller had left.

(d) The faster air travel becomes, there will be newer problems to be decided. It is now possible to start, say, soon after sunrise and after some time, in a westerly direction, arrive in a country where the sun has not yet risen, observing en route the setting of the sun in the east; or when the departure takes place after sunset, the rising of the sun from the west! (who knows if that is not the sense of the prediction of the Holy Prophet of such a phenomenon as a sign of the end of the “old” world?) Inversely a country may be left at six o’clock, and after three hours only the local time would be 12 o’clock instead of 9.

(e) Among many problems that arise by rapid air travel, is the question of the time of breaking the fast. If someone has taken his sahur (meal prior to fasting) at 4 A.M. in the springtime and starts, say, at sunrise (6 A.M.) from Tokyo to Tunis, via Tashkent. After 8 hours’ flight at 900 km an hour when the plane lands, the local time will not be 2 P.M. but still 6 A.M. in the morning, and the sun will have just risen! This is so because there is a difference of some 8 hours in the times of the sunrise in both these places, and the plane has flown westwards in the direction of the “march of the sun” with the same speed as the sun itself. Now, if the passenger waits till 6 P.M., i.e., sunset in Tunis, he will have to fast not for 14 hours, but 22 hours. Similarly if he travels from Tunis to Tokyo, the time will run twice as fast as the normal time, and after 6 hours’ flight when his wristwatch would show 12 o’clock midday, the sun will be setting somewhere east of Tashkent and after two more hours when he lands in Tokyo at 2 P.M. of Tunis time, it will be 10 o’clock in the night in Japan. Similar phenomena are encountered if one flies from the North to the South or vice versa, when apart from the time difference, there is even a change of season. December is the time for winter in Norway and Canada, while it is summer at the same time in Chile and Cape Town. Common sense demands that on the day of such travel by air, one should abide by the time of the starting place and not by the ever-changing local time of the countries traversed, and this is for the fast as well as for service of worship.

(f) If and when a Muslim lands on the moon, it will obviously not be possible to face the earthly Ka’bah in the service of prayer; nor to follow the sun’s rising, passing the meridian and setting on Earth. What I humbly submit to the Muslim jurists is to construct a Ka’bah on the moon, at the point which would be face to face with the earthly Ka’bah, during equinox time, during a full moon night when our satellite is just above Mecca. That is, a bit North of the centre of the face of the moon that we see. I think that would lie in the region named “Ocean of Tranquillity”. I am personally so much the more convinced of this solution, since the Ka’bah is not confined to the building of the ten odd yards high, but also what is above in the atmosphere up to the heaven. In a Hadith of al-Bukhari, the Holy Prophet is reported to have said that the Earthly Ka’bah is the antipode of the mosque of the angels underneath the Throne of God, (and so exactly so that if one were to throw a stone from there, it would fall on the top of the Ka’bah on earth). The great savant Ibn Kathir (Bidayah, 1, 163) reports that there is a particular Ka’bah on each of the seven heavens, each for the use of the inhabitants of that heaven. He adds (Tafsir, on surah 52, verse 4) the name of the Ka’bah on the seventh heaven is al-Bait al-Ma’mur, and that the earthly Ka’bah is at exactly the antipode of this heavenly Ka’bah. Our Ka’bah symbolizes as a window opening on the Divine Throne. If that is so, the permanent residents of the moon may even go there for pilgimage, since coming to earth for that purpose would be too much for them. This solution may help later to determine the point of the Qiblah on other stars and planets also, if man alights and settles there. It may by the way be pointed out that the days and nights on the moon are not of about 12 hours each, but of 14 days each. The timing differs on different celestial bodies.

(g) Again, if one were to travel in a space shuttle around the earth, normally it takes about 90 minutes to complete the flight around. The visibility of the sun will vary according to the flight from North to South or from South to North, and also from East to West or from West to East, and also the Latitude of the earth around which the space shuttle gravitates; and time of sunrise and sunset will not be once every 24 hours, but at the most once every one and a half hour, often in a shorter time still. For us, earthly passengers, earthly hours of sun’s rising and setting must apply, and not those of the artifical satellites, for prayer and fasting.


  1. Theadhanis usually pronounced loudly from a minaret. In the morning service, after the formula “rise up to well-being”, one adds twice the phrase: “The service of worship is better than sleeping (as-Salaatu Khairum min-an-naum). The Shi’ite school replaces it by the formula “rise up to good deeds” (haiya ‘ala Khari ‘amal).
  2. In our age of constant inflation and devaluation, the equivalents must also change as often: (The proportion of 1:10 between gold and silver is also upset now). For the taxable minimum, let the believer refer to local jurisconsults whenever necessary.
  3. If there are only two persons, one should lead asimamand the other follow him, standing on the right hand of the imam a few inches behind him; if there are three or more, the followers should form one or more ranks behind the imam. The followers should recite nothing loudly, but inaudibly; and follow the imam in the movements.
  4. Postponement (of a sacred month) is only an excess of disbelief whereby those who disbelieve are misled; they allow it one year and forbid it (another) year, that they may make up the number of the months which Allah hath hallowed, so that they allow that which Allah hath forbidden. The evil of their deeds is made fairseeming unto them. Allah guideth not the disbelieving folk.[Qur’an 9:37]

Footnote A :  The N.E. direction that is currently popular in North America as a Qibla direction has been calculated using spherical trigonometry. The shortest course between two points on the surface of a sphere is called a “Great Circle Route” and it is the shortest distance if one were to travel on the surface of the earth. With this method, if you were to travel on this curved line, you would continually have to readjust your direction as you traverse the curvature of the earth.  This direction has been calculated for North America to be N.E.

Similarly a Rhumb Line is calculated as the curve cutting the meridians of a sphere at a constant angle. Rhumb Lines and Great Circle Routes are the same for distances over 2,000 km. So the N.E. direction that has been calculated for North America is for both the Rhumb Line and the Great Circle Route. The N.E. direction would be correct for North America if one were to assume that the direction one faces must be calculated according to surface routes only — i.e. that the direction one faces must be calculated on the surface of a sphere. However, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. So if you were to draw a straight line from any city in North America to the Ka’bah, you would necessarily have to cut through the earth (because the earth is curved). The E.S.E. direction would be this type of line. If you took the Latitude and Longitude of your city and plotted it on a chart along with the Latitude and Longitude of Mecca, and then drew a straight line between those two points, then in North America, the angle would be E.S.E. Furthermore, if you calculated the distance between a Rhumb Line or a Great Circle Route and the straight line, you will see that the straight line is in fact the shortest distance. It goes without saying that if a person travelled in an E.S.E. direction over the surface of the earth, the distance would be much greater than either a Rhumb Line or the Great Circle Route or the Straight Line which cuts through the earth. 

For this reason, it seems obvious to us that Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah’s chart above does in fact represent a more accurate method for arriving at the direction of the Qibla — Editor (Syed Mumtaz Ali)


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