Prayer is one of the five pillars of Islam and a duty upon every practicing Muslim. Muslim prayers occur at least five times a day, correspond with the position of the sun, and are performed with set positions. It is considered a sin to neglect prayer and many Muslim families encourage their children to start praying regularly at age 7. Before prayer, Muslims purify themselves with ritualistic ablutions. The ground where the prayer is performed must be clean of impurities so many people use a prayer rug to kneel on.
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Muslims begin prayer by raising their hands to their ears, saying "Allahu akbar" (God is great), and then folding their hands over their chests, with the right hand over the left. However, some schools of Islamic thought do not require the hands to be clasped. This act is followed by the recitation of the opening chapter of the Koran, Al-Fatiah (The Opening), which is eight lines long. The prayer then calls for the person to recite any verses or chapters of the Koran that he wants to for as long he wants to.
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The next position in prayer is "rakou" or bowing. After reciting verses or chapters from the Koran in the first position, the hands should be raised to the ears as the person says, "Allahu akbar" (God is great). The person then bows, placing her hands on her knees. The bow should last as long as it takes to say "Subhana Rabbiyal- Adhim" (Praise be to my great Lord) three times. She repeats the phrase "Allahu akbar" (God is geat) and rises again.
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The third position is when Muslims believe they are closest to God during prayer and use the time to make additional supplications to the required recitations. After the person rises from the "Rakou" (bowing), he repeats "Allahu akbar" (God is great) and falls down into a prostrating position. When in the prostrating position, "Sajood," he recites the supplication "Subhana Rabbiyal-'à la (Praise be to my Supreme Lord) three times. He uses the remaining time to make personal supplications in the language of his choice. When done with personal supplications, he repeats "Allahu akbar" (God is great) and sits up. He repeats "Allahu akbar" (God is great) and performs the prostrating position again.
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The first three positions are repeated a set number of times depending on which prayer the person is performing. They are known together as a "Raka" set. The morning prayer requires two Raka, the noon, afternoon and night prayers all require four Raka and the sunset prayer requires three. When the required number of Raka are completed, the person moves into the final position, which is sitting on her knees, reciting a supplication known as the "Taheyat." Then, the person turns her head to the right and says "Assalamu Alaykum" (Peace be upon you) and turns to left and repeats the phrase.