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The Five Daily Prayers (Part 1)

It is fard for every Muslim who is sane and has reached the age of puberty to perform the five daily prayers. When a prayer time comes, it becomes fard for him/her the moment he/she begins performing the prayer. If he/she has not performed it and if there is time left enough to make an ablution and begin the namâz before the prayer time is over, it becomes fard for him/her to perform it. If the prayer time is over before he/she has performed it without a good excuse not to do so, he/she will have committed a grave sin. Whether he/she has had a good excuse or not, qadâ will be necessary. The same applies to situations such as when a child reaches puberty, when a disbeliever or a renegade becomes a Muslim, when a woman becomes canonically clean, when an insane or unconscious person recovers, and when a sleeping person wakes up.

It is fard for a new Muslim to learn the principles of namâz first. After learning them, it becomes fard to perform namâz. Sleep is not a good excuse if it begins after the prayer time has begun. If a person does so, it is fard for him to make sure that he will wake up before the prayer time is over, while it would be mustahab for him to make sure to wake up before the end of the prayer time if he were to go to sleep before the beginning of the prayer time. These five daily prayers add up to forty rak'ats (units), out of which seventeen are fard, three are wâjib (essential, almost obligatory), and twenty are sunnat, as follows:

1- Morning prayer [Salât-ul-fajr] consists of four rak'ats. First, two rak'ats of the sunnat prayer are performed. Then two rakats of the fard prayer are performed. The sunnat (the first two rak'ats) is very important. Some scholars classify it as wâjib.

2- Early afternoon prayer [Salât-uz-zuhr] consists of ten rak'ats, the initial sunnat consisting of four rak'ats, the fard consisting of four rak'ats, and the final sunnat consisting of two rak'ats. The early afternoon prayer is performed in this order.

3- Late afternoon prayer [Salât-ul-'asr] consists of eight rak'ats. First the sunnat, which consists of four rak'ats, and then the fard, which consists of four rak'ats, are performed.