In Islam, the highest form of worship is prayer. It demonstrates your love and belief in Allah. There are different forms of prayers, each of which has a specific set of rules and regulations, timing, frequency, and direction. These prayers are not signs of subjugation to the supreme deity but a way of expressing love, respect, and gratitude towards Allah. This article will discuss different types of prayers in Islam and their importance in a person's life.

Types of Prayers and Their Significance 

There are not one but four types of prayers in Islam that a person can perform. They are Fard (obligatory prayers), Wajib (required prayers), Sunnat, and Nafl (voluntary prayers). 

Let us delve a little more into how a Muslim performs these prayers:

  1. Farz Prayer in Islam

The Sunni School states that this prayer is compulsory for every Muslim. Every follower of Islam is obliged to perform five obligatory prayers each day. The five prayers are:

  • Salat al-Fajr: This morning prayer consists of four rakahs, including two obligatory rakahs and two Sunnah rakahs. During the prayer, obligatory prayers are performed after Sunnah rakahs.
  • Salat al-Zuhr: This afternoon prayer consists of 10 rakahs, including four obligatory rakahs and six sunnah rakahs. During afternoon prayer, four Sunnah rakahs are performed first, followed by four obligatory rakahs, eventually finishing with two Sunnah rakahs.
  • Salat al-Asr: This is a late afternoon prayer that consists of 8 rakahs. the four sunnah rakahs are performed first followed by four obligatory rakahs.
  • Salah al-Magrib: This is a sunset prayer that consists of five rakahs. This prayer is observed by performing three obligatory rakahs first, followed by two sunnah rakahs.
  • Salat al-Isha: this is a night prayer composed of 10 rakahs. It's observed by performing four sunnah rakahs first, then four obligatory rakahs, followed by two sunnah rakahs.

Islam considers it sinful to miss out on obligatory prayers intentionally. However, if an obligatory prayer like a Farz prayer in Islam is missed because of forgetfulness or other unavoidable circumstances, it can be offered as soon as possible.

  1. Wajib or Required Prayers in Islam

Wajib prayers are also obligatory, and like Fard prayers, it's also considered sinful to miss them. Missing wajib prayer doesn't have to be offered as Qada (offering missed prayer). These are the following wajib prayers:

Salat al-Witr: This prayer consists of six rakahs performed every day after night prayer.

Salat al-Eidain, or the festival prayers: this prayer includes two rakahs of Id-ul Adha and two rakahs of Id ul-Fitr. While walking around the holy Kaaba for pilgrimage during tawaf, two rakahs are observed.

  1. Sunnah prayer in Islam

Sunnah is the third type of prayer among the four types of prayers. The Prophet Muhammad offers this type of prayer and is performed compulsorily along with obligatory prayers. Since it's mandatory, missing out on this prayer would be condemned. The following are regarded as sunnah prayers:

  • two rakahs before salat al- fajr
  • four rakahs before salat al-zuhr and two rakahs after slat al-zuhr
  • Four rakahs before salat al- Magrib
  • Two rakahs after salat al-isha

There are two types of Sunnah prayers- one is performed before/after obligatory prayers, and the other is performed independently. In the first category of Sunnah prayers - there are daily ritual prayers and the special Friday prayers. In the second category, there lies the independent prayers: Tarawih-performed between Nisha and Witr during Ramadan; Tahajjud-these is performed between Isha and Fajr prayers; Duha: performed an hour after/before sunrise/highest point of the sun; Awwabin-performed between Maghrib and Isha; and Wudu- performed after ablution.

  1. Nafl or Voluntary prayers in Islam

These types of prayers are performed for different virtue. They are done as per one's wishes; skipping on them is not considered sinful. But the more a person performs Nafl's prayers, the more he has the chance of getting rewarded. There is a wide range of Nafl prayers:

Non-obligatory Prayers in Islam

  • Salat at-Tahajjud: this is the most rewarding of all Nafl prayers. Salat at-Tahajjud is performed in the middle of the night and involves performing an even number of rakahs after Salat al-Isha. 
  • Salat al-Ishraq- this Nafl prayer is performed about 20-45 minutes after sunrise.
  • Salat ad-Duha- this prayer is performed after one-third of the day has passed.
  • Salat al-Awwabin: Nafl prayer is performed in two sets of units after performing the Sunnah and Fard of Maghrib. This prayer includes 6 to 20 rakahs.

However, Nafl should not be performed when it's forbidden to pray. They should not be performed between Salat al-Asr and Salat al-Maghrib. These prayers are designed to be performed at home instead of in a mosque. Other types of Nafl prayers include Salat al-Tasbih, Salat as-Safar, Salat al-Istikhara, Salat al-Hajat, and Salat at-Tauba.

Other Types of Prayers in Islam 

Prayers like Salah or Namaz are also important in Islam. Salah is a set of prayers that Muslims perform five times a day. It involves a set method of praying that Allah revealed to his last Prophet. Dua is another concept that includes asking something from the almighty. According to Islam, Prophet Muhammad used to say those specific Duas whose meaning is all-encompassing. According to Quran, following the words and actions of the Prophet means obedience to Allah.

In Quran, Allah states," establish Salat at two ends of the day (Fajr and Maghrib) and the appearance of the night. (Isha).

"Establish Salat at the going down of the sun."

"Guard strictly your Salat, especially the middle Salat (Asr)".

The Concept of Adhan

Muslims are free to perform prayers at their convenience. However, Prophet Muhammad introduced a concept: Adhan, or a call to prayer. At this call, Muslims can go to the mosque and pray together. This type of prayer is called Tahiyyat al-Masjid, composed of two rakahs.

Prayers have certain benefits as per Islam. They are performed not solely as a sign of devotion to Allah but to bring peace and calmness to one’s mind. Only by performing them consistently can one reach that desired state of bliss.

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