How to Pray on a Muslim Mat

Praying five times daily on a prayer mat is one of the most important customs in Islam.
... Hemera Technologies/ Images

In Islam, Muslims perform the Salah, or formal prayer, on a prayer mat. Muslims are required to wash before praying, pray in the direction of Mecca, and pray five times a day every day. Prayer is a time for Muslims to focus on their relationship with Allah, or God, remembering that everything happens and exists because of Allah's will and for Allah's reasons. It is also important for a Muslim to focus on following Allah's way for him or her during prayer time. Often, Muslims recite verses or chapters from the Quran during prayer. Basic prayer on a mat involves bowing and reciting "Allahu Akbar."

1 Preparation

2 Wash before praying

Wash before praying, which is a purification process called "wudu" in Arabic. If your body is dirty, such as from hard labor, you should take a bath or shower. Otherwise, wash your face, your hands and forearms, as well as your feet. Wash in sets of three; you must wash your face three times, your arms three times and feet three times. When washing your face, wash your mouth, nose, cheeks and ears one at a time in that order, three times each.

3 If you are a woman or girl

If you are a woman or girl, cover your head with a scarf called a "hijab" in Arabic.

4 Place your rug

Place your rug on a clean area of floor, free from visible dirt or dust.

5 Position your rug

Position your rug so that you will face Mecca. In the United States, Mecca is in the northeast direction. Use a compass to help you. Mecca is where the prophet Mohammed was born.

6 Praying

7 Kneel on your rug

Kneel on your rug, sitting on your heels, with your knees on the floor. Double-check your compass to ensure that you're facing Mecca.

8 Raise your hands

Raise your hands so that they're on either side of your head. Say “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is Great” in Arabic. This position takes you away from the outside world and helps you to submit to Allah. All your focus should be on yourself and Allah from this point on. Talking, laughing or any other interruption is unacceptable. If your prayer must be interrupted, start from the beginning when you continue again.

9 Bow

Bow forward to lower your head to the rug. Place your hands on either side of your head on your rug.

10 Carry out any recitations

Carry out any recitations of the Quran or any other prayers you would like to do, then carefully roll up your mat when you are finished.

Lindsay Haskell enjoys writing about fitness, health, culture and fashion. She is a contributor for "Let's Talk Magazine" and "The Wellesley News." Haskell is completing her B.A. in philosophy at Wellesley College. She's also a fiction writer whose work can be read online.