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        Salat: Prayer in Muslim Life - Lesson Plan | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

        Muslims pray at five specific times each day in a practice known as salat. In this lesson, students examine the role of prayer, which is a central feature of every religion, in the lives of Muslims.

        Lesson Summary


        Prayer is a central feature of every religion, and even non-religious people may pray as a spiritual practice or a form of meditation. In this lesson, students examine the role of prayer in the lives of Muslims, who pray at five specific times each day in a practice known as salat (alternate spelling: salah), one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

        A Religion & Ethics Newsweekly video presents an interview with a Muslim who talks about the centrality of prayer in his life. Students learn about Muslim prayer practices and write about and reflect on the role of tradition in their own lives.


        • Recognize the centrality of salat, or worship conducted five times daily, in the Islamic faith;
        • Understand that salat incorporates special formalized movements and postures as well as formal prayers from the Qur'an chanted in prescribed ways;
        • Differentiate between formal and personal Muslim prayer practices;
        • Understand the importance of the Qur'an in daily worship;
        • Reflect on the importance of ritual and tradition in their own lives.

        Grade Level:


        Suggested Time

        Two to three 45-minute class periods, with additional time for discussion and culminating activities as needed

        Media Resources

        Muslim Prayer QuickTime Video
        Ramadan QuickTime Video


        For teachers:

        • Board and/or chart paper
        • Ideally, a screen on which to project the video
        • Handouts of Web resources if computers are not available in the classroom

        For students:

        Web Sites

        Before The Lesson

        Prior to teaching the lesson, review all of the Web sites and video segments used in the lesson to make certain that they are appropriate for your students. Bookmark the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom, or upload them to an online bookmarking utility such as

        Download, print, and copy all of the student organizers listed above for each student in your classroom.

        Prerequisite: Before beginning this lesson, be sure to do the Introductory Activity from the lesson plan Religion and the First Amendment with your class.

        The Lesson

        Part I: 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.

        Part II: Learning Activity #1: Video and Muslims and Prayer

        1. Tell the class you'd like them to think about a definition for the word "prayer." Distribute the Student Organizer 1: Prayer: What is It? handout 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.

        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 Muslim Prayer QuickTime Video. 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?

        Part III: Learning Activity #2: Salat

        1. Distribute the Student Organizer 2: Salat Fact Sheet handout. 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.

        Part IV: 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 the Student Organizer 3: Rituals and Traditions in My Life handout 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.

        Religion & Ethics Newsweekly: "Belief & Practice: Fixed-Hour Prayer,"

          March 31, 2000.


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