One of the five pillars of Islam, Namaz is the Persian term for prayer, which is Salat in Arabic. It is performed five times a day: at dawn, midday, afternoon, evening and night. Azan (call to prayer) given in the mosques indicates the time for performing Namaz.

Namaz can be done individually or in a jamat (group). Wudu is to be performed before Namaz. The prayer rug or mat in which Namaz is performed is called Jainamaz. Standing is a must in Namaz, but those who are sick and old can perform it sitting or lying down. Usually men perform namaz in the mosques and women at home.

A number of actions should be carried out before Namaz, and the most important of these is cleaning the body, wearing clean clothes, covering the body and facing qiblah, the direction of Ka'aba in Mecca. Women have to cover the whole body except the face, lower part of the hands and feet.

Usually two to four rakas are included in the regular namaz. Firstly, recite the first chapter and any other verses of Quran by standing with hands folded over the chest. Then raise hands up and bow reciting Subhana rabbiyal adheem three times. Again rise to standing position while reciting Sam'i Allahu liman hamidah and Rabbana wa lakal hamd. Then prostrate on the ground and rise to a sitting position. Again prostrate in the same manner. These actions complete a raka.

Jumah namaz (Friday prayer), Janaza namaz (funeral prayer) and Tarawiah namaz during the month of Ramzan are the principal namazes other than the regular one. Though there are some variations in namaz according to madhabs, the main features of it remain the same.

Namaz is an integral part of Muslim worship in all mosques in India, of which Jama Masjid at Shahjahanabad in Old Delhi and Haji Ali mosque in Mumbai are perhaps the most famous.

Updated on 7th June, 2005

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