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Prayers were instituted when the Prophet (Allah's Prayers and Peace be upon him) ascended to Heaven after the night journey from the Meccan Mosque to the Mosque in Jerusalem, as has been described in the Qur'an.

" Glorified be Re who carried His servant by night from the Inviolable Mosque to the Far Mosque, the neighborhood whereof we have blessed, that we might show him Our signs! Lo! He, only He, is the Hearer, the one who sees "

This was one year before the Hijra from Mecca to Madina. Divine injunctions for prayers have been made to the believers through the Prophet:

" Tell my servants who believe to establish prayers. And enjoin prayers upon thy people, and be constant therein ".

The Prophet has also strongly recommended the regular performance of prayers. Many of the traditions specifically deal with this, and the final words he uttered during his last hours on this earth were,

" Keep prayers! Keep prayers! You will ever keep your solidarity so long as you all pray! keep prayers! Keep prayers!"

It is also stated in another tradition that whosoever deliberately omits his prayers became he does not recognize them as a legal duty is to be regarded as an unbeliever. Deliberate omission of prayers constitute the difference between belief and unbelief. A boy or a girl is asked to pray at the age of seven, and is punished for not performing prayers at ten:

" Tell your children to pray when they are seven and punish them for omission (of prayers) at ten".

The conditions for valid prayers are

1) Purity of body, garments, and place.

2) Covering the private parts.

3) Facing the qibla (direction of prayers).

4) Intention.

5) Correct order of the ceremonies.

6) Humility.

The set times for prayers are at dawn, noon, the afternoon, after sunset, and in the early part of the night.

a) Dawn Prayers (FAJR):

These are two rak'as and the time for performing them is from de until sunrise. Recitations from the Quran are recited in both bowings. The second raka'a includes the standing Prayer"(Qunut) before bowing or before the first prostration "sujud". One final sitting ends these prayers.

b) Noon Prayer (Zuhr):

These consist of four rak'as to be performed any time after mid-day up to mid-afternoon. Recitations from the Quran are in a low voice. The prayers here include two sittings.

c) Afternoon Prayers (Asr ):

These four rake have to be performed between mid-afternoon and sunset. Recitations from the Quran are in a low voice; and the number of sittings is two.

d) Sunset Prayers (Maghrib):

"Sunset" prayers are three rak'as to he performed just after sunset until twilight. Recitations from Te Quran are aloud in the first two rakas ending with the first sitting, but the recitations are in low voice in the third rak'a ending with a second sitting.

e) Night Prayers (Isha):

These are four rak'as, to be performed from twilight until before dawn. Recitations here, as in the Sunset Prayers, are aloud in the first two rak'as (which end with the first sitting), and in a low choice in the remaining two rak'as (which end with the second sitting). In this, as well as in the preceding three prayers, the third and the fourth rajas have the Fatiha(the Opening Chapter of the Quran) as the only passage recited.

The five prayers have to be performed at the set times by the believer wherever be may be; but by preference they should be performed in a congregation. The prayers need not beheld in a mosque, but may be celebrated in a dwelling-house or any other place, so long as it is clean. Congregational prayers are valid if the congregation is at least two, one of them being the imam (leader) and the other standing slightly behind him to the right.

Omitted prayers have to be made up, so long as the cause is either forgetfulness or sleep .

Additional prayers are frequently recommended, especially during the night.

The distribution of the Rakas over the five prayers throughout the day is given in the following table :

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