Prayer consists of the recital of a certain prescribed and invariable formula at five stated times of the day, namely: 1. Between dawn and sunrise. 2. After the sun has begun to decline. 3. Midway between this. 4. Which is said shortly after sunset. 5. At nightfall. These are farẓ or ‘incumbent;’ all others are nafl, ‘supererogatory,’ or sunnah, ‘in accordance with the practices of the prophet.’ The prayers are preceded by wuẓû′h, ‘ablution;’ they are commenced in a standing position, qiyâm, the hands being so held that the thumbs touch the lobes of the ears, and the face being turned towards the qiblah, that is, in the direction of Mecca. During the prayers inclinations of the body, rukû′h are made, of which a certain number only are incumbent.
The time for prayer is called from the minarets of the mosques by Mu′edhdhins or ‘criers,’ in the following words:
‘God is great!’ (four times). ‘I bear witness that there is no god but God’ (twice). ‘I bear witness that Mohammed is the Apostle of God’ (twice). ‘Come hither to prayers!’ (twice). ‘Come hither to salvation!’ (twice). ‘God is great! There is no other god but God!’ and in the early morning the crier adds, ‘Prayer is better than sleep!’
This formula appears to have been used by Bilâl, Mohammed′s own crier, on the establishment of the first mosque in Medînah. It is called the adhân or ‘call.’
The word ‘mosque’ is a corruption of masgid, ‘a place of adoration’ (sigdah), and is applied to the whole precincts of a Muslim place of worship. Another name is gâmi′h, ‘the assembling,’ especially applied to a cathedral mosque.
The mosques are always open for public prayers, but on Fridays a special service is held, followed by a 'Hutbah or ‘homily.’
Another of the duties incumbent on every believer
- ‘The lowering of the head, by a person praying [or in prayer], after the act of standing, in which the recitation [of portions of the Ķur-án] is performed, so that the palms of the hand reach the knees, or so that the back becomes depressed,’ Lane′s Arabic-English lexicon.