Quickstart Day 2
Welcome to your second day as a Muslim. Now that you know the basic beliefs in Islam, it’s time to move on to learning more about the Islamic lifestyle.
Changing Your Name
Perhaps you have thought of changing your name, now that you are a Muslim. Or maybe someone else recommended you to do so. Islamically speaking, as long as your name has a good meaning, there is no need to change it.
However, if you are named after an idol or your name means something bad, then you must change your name.
Some new Muslims prefer to change their name to an Arabic name to signify that they are a new person. However, others prefer to keep their original name, because they are more comfortable with it. It really depends on you: if you feel that your Muslim identity will be strengthened by changing your name, go ahead.
You can find a list of names at www.names4muslims.com . Make sure to consult a Muslim scholar before finalizing your decision so you can learn how to correctly pronounce the name.
Islam is a complete way of life. It is much more than just a belief system. Beliefs without action don’t have much meaning. We learned about the importance of revelation, that Allah didn’t leave us in the dark to figure things out on our own. Could you imagine flying a plane without being taught or having an instruction manual? A human is much more complex than any technological device. So, for a Muslim, the more guidance we get from our Creator, the better off we are. Islam is not a very strict religion, but it does have rules, and these rules are for our own good.
The first requirement on every Muslim, after accepting Islam, is to pray five times a day. There is a certain way to pray and there are specific times. It takes a while to learn this, so just take it slow and steady. Here is what you should learn for today:
Before praying, you must wash certain parts of your body so you are in a state of purity before you stand in front of Allah. This is called wudū’, or ablution. This is how it’s done:
Hands: Go to a sink, turn on the water, and wash both of your hands up to your wrists.
Mouth: Then, cup your right hand and fill it with water. Take that water into your mouth, swirl it around, and then spit it out. Do this three times.
Nose: Then, cup your right hand again, fill it with water, and sniff it into your nose. Be careful not to hurt yourself by sniffing too quickly. Clean the inside of your nose and blow the water out. Do this three times.
Face: Now cup both of your hands and fill them with water. Close your eyes, bring the water to your face, and wash your entire face. Do this three times.
Arms: Now wash your right arm from your fingertips all the way up to the elbow. Do this three times. Now do the same for your left arm three times.
Head: Now, wet both your hands and wipe over your head. Ears With the water left on your hands, insert your index fingers into your ears and clean the inside with the index fingers and the back of your ears with the thumbs.
Feet: Lastly, remove your shoes and socks, and put your foot in the sink. Wash your right foot up to the ankle three times. Then wash your left foot three times. You have now completed your wudū’ and are ready to pray. Seek a knowledgeable Muslim to help teach you in person.
It is not necessary to perform wudū’ for every prayer. If anything comes out of your private parts [like urine, excrement, or gas] or if you go to sleep, you must renew your wuḍū’ again.
If you have intercourse, or even a wet dream, you must shower and wash your entire body in order to get into a state of purity for prayer.
Menstruating women should not perform the five daily prayers during their period. The same applies to women during their post-natal bleeding period after giving birth. This is a mercy from God because of their condition and they don’t even need to make up the prayers later. However, they should remember God in their heart throughout the day and continue to learn more about Islam.
The five prayers are spread throughout the day, so you are always remembering Allah. To make life easy for us, Allah has given a span of time in which we can offer our prayers conveniently. Each prayer takes about 5-10 minutes and each span of time is usually an hour or more. Prayer timings depend on the position of the sun, so they change every day and vary from place to place. To find out the prayer times in your area, go to www.islamicfinder.com.
Today’s Prayer Time: Day Thursday
- Fajr 5:21
- Sunrise 6:29
- Dhuhr 12:07
- Asr 3:19
- Maghrib 5:45
- Isha 6:54
Let’s go over this table as an example.
- The first prayer of the day is called Fajr and begins at 5:21AM. This prayer ends at sunrise which is at 6:29AM. This means you can pray the Fajr prayer anytime between these two times.
- The second prayer of the day is Dhuhr, and begins at 12:07PM. This prayer ends before the next one starts at 3:19PM. So you can pray the Dhuhr prayer anytime between 12:07PM and 3:19PM.
- The third prayer of the day is Asr, which is between 3:19PM and 5:45PM.
- The fourth prayer, Maghrib, begins at sunset, which is at 5:45PM and lasts until 6:54PM.
- The final prayer is Isha and begins at 6:54PM and lasts until 5:21AM of the next day, just before Fajr.
Try to memorize the names of these prayers if you can because they are used by all Muslims. It is strongly recommended that you pray each prayer as early as possible and not delay unnecessarily. Being lazy in observing prayer on time reflects your attitude towards God. Try to never miss a single prayer. In case you do, make it up, with a feeling of regret, as soon as you are able to do so, even if the time has passed.
Direction of Prayer
Prayer can be performed anywhere: in a park, a shopping center, a parking lot, etc. When praying, all Muslims in the world face toward the direction of the city of Makkah in Arabia. This unites all Muslims around the world. To find out the direction, go to www.qiblalocator.com and type in your zip code. A red line will show you which direction you should face. Either figure out the direction through the map or use a compass to determine the location. This will be the direction you always face, so you only need to check once for each location. This direction is called the ‘qiblah’ in Arabic and you should calculate it for your home, school, or work.
Five Times a Day
As mentioned before, prayer takes some time to learn, so take it slow and steady. After you have made wudū’ and determined the direction of prayer, sit down for a few minutes during one of the prayer times and just thank Allah for guiding you to Islam. Until you learn more, this will be your prayer. Do it five times a day to get used to the prayer timings and used to performing wudū’.
Remember, take things slow and steady. You will eventually get used to the prayer and it will get easier to wake up early if you sleep a little earlier. Don’t overburden yourself, but don’t be lazy either. Keep a balance. May Allah guide you.