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Technology-rich, standards-based lessons for upper elementary and middle school
Salat: Prayer in Muslim Life


Procedures for Teachers

Introductory Activity:

Write the word prayer on the chalkboard or chart paper and ask students what they think the word means and what they associate with prayer. Chart and discuss their ideas. Then introduce and show the video.

Learning Activity 1: Video on Muslims and Prayer

  1. Tell the class you'd like them to think about a definition for the word "prayer." Distribute Student Organizer 1: Prayer: What Is It? and ask students to write their answers to the first question (How would you define the word prayer?), working individually. Allow about five minutes. Then ask students to join with partners to discuss their answers.

    After the discussion, pairs can work together to answer Question 2, which instructs students to look up a definition of prayer that they like. Finally, pairs can share their definitions for a whole-class discussion.

    Note: You may want to bring out in the discussion that many religions have set prayers which are written in books of worship and spoken as a form of religious observance. Most religions also use personal prayers, in which the supplicant prays as a way of expressing personal thanks, wishes and concerns.

    Muslim Prayer
  2. Tell students that they are going to watch a short video about one man's daily prayer practice. As they watch, ask them to pay close attention to the role of prayer in his life. Play the video "Muslim Prayer." Ask students to take a few minutes to free-write their thoughts and reactions. Then discuss the video with the class. Possible questions for discussion are:

    • How many times is Mr. el-Saed required to pray, by Muslim tradition? At what times?

    • What does Mr. el-Saed do in order to prepare to pray?

    • What do you see and hear when Muslims pray? How do the words sound? What are the postures and movements like?

    • What is the significance of the direction in which Muslims face when they pray?

    • What are some of the things that Mr. el-Saed said about prayer?

    • What did he mean when he said you are "handcuffed"?

    • How does he seem to feel about his daily prayers?

Learning Activity 2: Salat

  1. Distribute Salat Fact Sheet. Read the first page, on salat, with the class. How do these facts connect to the video?

    After going over the sheet, have students break into groups of two or three and discuss the following points:

    • How does the Muslim pillar of prayer make Muslims feel like part of a community?

    • Do you see any similarities or differences between salat and the prayer activities of other religions? Explain.

    • How can a person manage to fit five worship sessions into a day? What is the purpose of praying five times a day?

  2. Ask that each student find at least one new fact about salat and Muslim prayer. Listed below are several Web-based resources:

  3. Explain to the class that there is another form of prayer in Islam known as du'a. Du'a means "calling" in Arabic. Du'as are personal prayers to God and are different from salat. Salat is a prewritten, sequenced activity recited in Arabic, while du'a is an individualized exchange between a person and God made in any language, anytime during the day. There are du'as, or blessings, for specific occasions such as before and after eating, when getting married, before going to sleep, when a child is born and when a person is ill. Du'as are commonly offered after salat when a person is reflective and contemplative.

Culminating Activity: Building a Community Through Shared Routine

  1. Tell students they are going to watch a video about how two young American Muslims observe Ramadan, the month-long time of fasting and prayer from sunrise to sunset. As they watch the video, ask students to pay special attention to how the Muslim experience of prayer differs during Ramadan. Ask them to take a few minutes to free-write their thoughts and reactions. Then discuss the video with the class. Possible questions for discussion are:

    • How does Zuleqa and Khizer Husain's daily routine change during Ramadan?

    • How is praying during Ramadan different than during the rest of the year?

    • What are some of the things the Husains say about prayer?

    • What do you think Khizer Husain means when he says "Fasting, for me, is a constant prayer that you're engaged in throughout the day?"

    • In what ways do you think observing Ramadan helps Muslims feel like part of a community?

  2. Distribute Student Organizer 3: Rituals and Traditions in My Life and ask students to reflect on routine activities in their lives that involve other people. Ask them to think about: Why are these traditions a part of your life? How do they make you feel? What purposes do they serve?

    Students may present their work in small groups or to the whole class. Compare some of the students' traditions and customs to salat.

    How or why does praying in groups help to build community?

    When you do an activity with a group of people, how do you feel?

    While Muslims pray at the same time daily, they recite the same words and perform the same movements. How do you think it feels to know that millions of other people are praying with you, just like you, everyday?

    Encourage students to make connections between their own traditions and salat especially in regard to community building and shared traditions.


Students can watch a RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY segment on how a woman who is not a Muslim incorporates daily prayer at fixed hours into her life. They can compare her practice with that of observant Muslims.