Well as everyone knows I’m Muslim. A lot of people have questions about how/when/where I pray. This is a quick explanation.
First of all, I always pray 5 times a day. Every Muslim is required to pray 5 times each day at very exact specified times. The times are based on the rotation of the earth and the sunrise/sunset times so every few days the time changes by a minute or so. Luckily for me, I live in a Muslim country where the call to prayer is heard no matter where you are. There are many, many mosques here (never more than a 5 minute walk from wherever you are) so the prayer is heard almost everywhere—unless you’re at the beach, in the mountains, etc. In Agadir, there are more than 60 mosques! So anyway, I hear the call blasting from a loudspeaker (sometimes more than one if there are multiple mosques within earshot) at the specified times. When I’m home, I hear the call from 3 different mosques and one is literally yards from my house. The purpose of the call is to remind you that it will be time to pray in about 10-15 minutes so you can wrap up whatever you’re doing and prepare for the prayer.
Each prayer has its own name, for example:
FAJR – The dawn prayer
DHUHR – Early afternoon
ASR -- Late afternoon
MAGHREB – Sunset prayer
Here’s an example of the prayer times for today:
FAJR – 5:26 am
DHUHR – 1:45 pm
ASR -- 5:27 pm
MAGHREB – 8:35 pm
ISHA-- 10:00 pm
So every day, no matter what I’m doing or where I’m at, I drop everything to pray. At home when I’m sleeping, I wake up. If I’m working, I take my rug and pray then go back to work, if I’m at a friend’s house we pray together, and sometimes I’m inside the mosque. You will find men in public praying everywhere. Taxi drivers will stop the car and pray on a mat next to it, shop owners will close down while they go to the mosque, restaurants have prayer rooms, and everyone stops to pray whenever it's time. It's beautiful to see this every day.
Each prayer has its own number of what we call “Rakaats.” A Rakaat is kind of like a “cycle” of the prayer that you do. It’s like the number of times you: start from standing, then bend over, then put your head on the ground, then sit, then put your head on the ground, then return back to standing. That whole process would be considered one rakaat. The rakaat schedule for each prayer is like this:
FAJR 2 Rakaats (the shortest because it’s so early in the morning)
DHUHR 4 Rakaats
ASR 4 Rakaats
MAGHREB 3 Rakaats
ISHA 4 Rakaats
But before we do anything, we have to wash ourselves before the prayer. There is a certain way we have to do it and every single Muslim does this the exact same way every day in every country. It’s been this way for over 1,400 years. It’s called “ablution” in English or “wudu” in Arabic.
We start by saying our intentions before cleaning ourselves and then begin with the right hand. We wash the right hand 3x, then the left hand 3x. Then we swish water around in the mouth and spit it out 3x. After, we put water up our nose and spray it out 3x. Then wash the face 3x. Then we wash the right hand and up to the right elbow 3x. The same on the left arm 3x. Then we take water and put it on our head, running our fingers through our hair down to the neck and then back up. After that, water inside the ears and up around the back of the ears. Last, we wash the feet. Beginning with the right, we wash between the toes from right to left and wash the foot up to the ankle. We do it 3x on the right and 3x on the left. Then we are ready to begin the prayer. Here is what it looks like to do the wudu:
Below is a video of the FAJR prayer (2 Rakaats) . Also, "salat" in Arabic means "prayer" in English. This is what I do every day, and yes I say everything in Arabic exactly like the video.
I hope this gives you a better understanding of what it's like to pray for Muslims. It's the best feeling ever and there's scientific proof of the benefits of prostration.
It definitely clears your head and de-stresses you. Especially if you're really annoyed or frustrated with something, being able to stop for 5-10 minutes and just be in complete "peace-mode" really helps. It's calming. Everything about it makes me feel good.