Coming to the topic of Muslim prayer, an Orthodox person enters an area, many components of which will lead him into serious bewilderment. Despite the common name of this aspect of religious prescriptions, the Orthodox prayer has almost nothing in common with the Muslim prayer, except perhaps the common terminology (God, repentance, meekness, humility, etc.), as well as the fact that, like the Orthodox, Muslims consider its fulfillment necessary and classify it as obligatory (fard) deeds.
Prayer (salat) in Islam is one of the five most important duties for Muslims. The Qur’an even calls it “the basis of Islamic rites” (K.2:153). Moreover, according to the Qur’an, the cleansing of a person’s heart depends on the correct performance of the external side of the prayer: “Worship your Lord with certain actions and rituals. And you will have pure hearts full of reverence” (K. 2:21). Sharia zealously monitors the exact performance of the prayer ritual by believers. (From the following it will become clear that it is not even zealous according to reason). No obstacles: natural-climatic, family, industrial – can distract the “orthodox” from the fulfillment of this great duty. It is interesting to note right away that Muslims perceive a prayer obligation precisely as a duty, as an order from above, which is not subject to appeal. As it will be seen now, a Muslim during prayer thinks about something completely different – how not to doubt, or not to violate any of the actions and positions of the body, as a result of which his prayer will be considered invalid, and his duty unfulfilled.
As mentioned above, only after a properly performed ablution can a person begin to pray, otherwise his prayer will be annulled. “It is narrated from the words of Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah said: “Prayer from the defiled will not be accepted until he performs ablution” (Al Bukhari)” . When starting to pray, a Muslim must refrain from forbidden food and drink, sinful deeds, must be aware of himself standing before God and feel himself a humble and humble slave before Him. It is necessary to completely disconnect from everything that can distract a person from prayer and make it invalid. Tradition tells how one day, while Muhammad was praying, a splinter was pulled out of his leg, to which he did not pay any attention and continued to pray.
In Islam, there are six types of obligatory prayers, as well as additional or optional ones. The obligatory ones include: daily five-fold prayer (morning, noon, afternoon, evening, afternoon or night (K.17:78); prayer over the deceased; prayer when going around (tavvafa) around the kaaba during the great and small hajj; prayer ayat; prayer which the eldest son must perform for his parents; prayer for hire, oath and vow. Recommended (sunnah) or desirable prayers include additional ones: holiday, funeral, prayers for natural disasters, prayers for sending down rain.
Islamic scholars have different opinions regarding the fivefold prayer. Some of them suggest that at first the prayer was three times. However, Muslims consider this statement unfounded and recognize as a mandatory daily prayer only five times. There is a hadith about the so-called night ascension (miraj) of Muhammad to heaven. That night, Muhammad, on a certain demonic creature (burak), was, as it seemed to him, ascended to the highest heaven (eighth), where even Jabriel could not enter, and was honored with a conversation with Allah. During this conversation, he received a command from Allah to pray 50 times a day. However, on the advice of Moses, Muhammad for some time bargained with Allah to reduce the number of prayers. In the end, the bargaining settled on five times a prayer, but with the condition that each of them was worth ten, after which Muhammad no longer dared to ask for a greater reduction. In memory of this event, the 17th sura received the name – “al-isra” – “night transfer”. There is another hadith that offers a different version of the origin of the fivefold prayer. According to it, the angel Jabriel (Gabriel) descended to earth five times in one day and performed Muslim prayer in the presence of Muhammad, who, having adopted this practice, taught it to his adherents.
The Qur’an says: “Indeed, prayer for the believers is a commandment at a certain time” (K.–4:103). Each of the five obligatory daily prayers is read strictly at a certain time of the day and consists of a certain number of rak’ahs (rak’ah is one complete prayer cycle that includes bows, glorifying phrases addressed to Allah and reading the suras of the Koran). “Perform the rite of prayer from the moment when the sun begins to decline from the middle of the sky towards the west, and continue until dark. These are prayers: az – Zuhr (Midday prayer), al – Asr (Afternoon prayer), al – Maghrib (Prayer at sunset) and al – Ishaa (Evening prayer). Pray al-Fajr (Prayer at dawn). For the angels are the witnesses of this prayer” (K. 17:78). The Muslim daily prayer rule includes:
Morning prayer (salat as – subh), which includes two rak’ahs.
Midday prayer (salat az – zuhr) – four rak’ahs.
Afternoon prayer (salat al-asr) – four rak’ahs.
Evening prayer (salat al – maghrib) – three rak’ahs.
After-evening prayer (salat al-isha) – four rak’ahs.
1) Prayer times
The morning prayer time begins with the call to prayer (azan) and ends with sunrise. During this time period, it is necessary to perform salat as – subh. It is better to do this immediately after the adhan or as close to it as possible. There are such words in the Qur’an: “… until the white thread begins to differ from the black one in front of you at dawn” (K.2:187). Muslims refer to these words as the morning sunrise. After the so-called “false dawn” – a vertical strip of light, which with its narrow end rests on the horizon, a completely distinguishable horizontal strip of light appears in the sky, similar to a light thread bordering on a dark strip of night. After it, gradually expanding, floods the sky with light, it is believed that the “true dawn” has come and you can perform morning prayer.
The time for midday and afternoon prayers begins at noon and ends at sunset. For civilized Muslims, the definition of half a day is not difficult, but for those who are currently deprived of the benefits of civilization, Sharia has developed a method for determining half a day. “According to Sharia, noon can be determined if a stick or the like is stuck vertically in a flat place, then at sunrise its shadow will fall in the direction of sunset. As the sun rises, its shadow decreases. After noon, the shadow of the stick moves towards the sunrise. As the sun approaches sunset (in the direction of its sunrise), the shadow of the stick increases. Therefore, it becomes clear that the time when the shadow of the stick, decreasing, reaches its minimum point and begins to increase, is noon according to Sharia.
The midday prayer, which is also called the “middle prayer” (salat al-wusta), stands out from other daily prayers and is considered a priority: “Be attentive to prayers and especially to the middle prayer” (K.2:238).
Immediately after noon, the length of time for which four rak’ahs can be performed (for example, 30 minutes in the afternoon) applies only to the midday prayer. This means that in this period of time it is impossible to fit both the noon and post-noon prayers, but one noon. And that time before sunset, which is enough to perform a four-raked prayer, refers only to the afternoon.
The time for evening and afternoon prayers begins immediately after sunset (as soon as the redness in the sky disappears) and ends at midnight. For those who do not have access to civilized methods of determining midnight, Sharia suggests dividing the time between sunset (evening azan) and dawn (morning azan) in half. The middle of this period of time is considered midnight. In the same way as with midday prayers, the time after sunset, which is enough for the performance of three rak’ahs (for example, 20 – 25 minutes), refers only to the evening prayer, and the time before midnight, necessary for the performance of four rak’ahs, is considered exclusively during the afternoon prayer.
Source: Chapter 8. Rites in Islam – Unexpected Sharia [Text] / Mikhail Rozhdestvensky. – [Moscow: b. i.], 2011. – 494,  p.
1. Partial ablution (wudu). https://www.islamnn.ru/