Muslims worship in a building called a mosque. An alternative word for mosque, from the same root, is masjid.
Outside every mosque, or just inside the entrance, is a place where worshippers can remove and leave their shoes. There is also a place where they can carry out the ritual washing required before prayer.
Before Praying Muslims go through a routine washing ritual, cleansing themselves in preparation for prayer. The ritual washing, called Wudu, can be done in any clean place where there is water. There are special rules to allow for situations when water is not available (e.g. in a desert). Before starting Wudu you "make your intention".
-- On entering a mosque Muslims remove their shoes.
-- Before Wudu you make your intention. Then start with washing the hands as far as the wrists. You perform this 3 times.
-- Rinse out the mouth with water using the right hand. You perform this 3 times.
-- Wash the nostrils by sniffing up water and blowing it out. You perform this 3 times.
-- Wash the face 3 times .
-- Wash each arm up to the elbow. You perform this 3 times.
-- Wipe or rub the head with the inside of the fingers. You perform this once.
-- Clean the inside of the ears with the index fingers and the back of the ears with the thumbs. You perform this once.
-- Wipe the back of the neck. You perform this once.
-- Wash the feet up to the ankles. You perform this 3 times.
The main hall of a mosque is a bare room largely devoid of furniture. There are no pictures or statues. Muslims believe these are blasphemous, since there can be no image of Allah, who is wholly spirit.
Everyone sits on the floor and everywhere in the mosque is equal in status.
A niche in one of the walls, called a mihrab, shows the direction that the worshippers should face in order to face Mecca.
Many mosques have a minaret which is a tall thin tower. A muezzin stands at the top of the tower and calls Muslims to prayer at the five ritual times of the day. Not all mosques in the UK have a minaret.
Women can attend the mosque and when they do they sit separately from the men. This is out of modesty and to prevent any distraction. It is more usual for women to pray at home.
Ritual prayer, five times a day, is the essence of Muslim worship, whether done in the mosque or anywhere else. Before praying Muslims must follow a routine of prayer preparation . During worship there is a set of movements that are performed with the five daily prayers.
Before the midday prayers on Fridays the mosque's imam will give a talk on a relevant subject, based on a Qur'anic text or a story about the Prophet (pbuh). An imam is not a priest, but a learned and pious Muslim who is held in high respect by his community.
* The Five Set Prayers
There are set movements that go with the five daily prayers. Each set of movements is called a rak'ah, and there is a set number of rak'ahs for each time of prayer.
--Face Mecca and begin by making a clear intention to pray for God as he has commanded. A Takbir is when the Muslim shuts out this world to concentrate on God.
-- Stand straight up with your hands by your ears and say
" Allahu Akbar "
(God is Supreme)
-- Put your left hand on your chest and your right hand over it and say quietly
"Glory and praise to you, O God; blessed is your name and exalted is your majesty. There is no God other than you. I come seeking shelter from Satan, the condemned one."
Now recite the opening chapter of the Qur'an. After this you may recite any other passage from the Qur'an.
Now bow - this is done by bending forwards with your hands on your knees, but keeping the back straight.
Say " Glory be to God the great, and praise to him. " Repeat this 3 times.
Stand up with your hands by your sides and say
" God hears those who praise him. Oh God, all praise be to you, O God greater than everything else. "
Prostrate yourself by kneeling, with your forehead, nose, hands, knees, and toes all on the ground. Say
" Glory be to my Lord, the Most High. God is greater than everything else. "
Repeat this 3 times
Rise to a kneeling position with your hands on your knees.
After a pause repeat the SUJUD
Then stand up saying " God is the Greatest. "
That is one Rak'ah, or unit of prayer.