The meaning and purpose of public worship

Public worship takes place in the mosque. The muezzin (mu'adhdhin) calls the people to prayer, sometimes from a minaret.

Salah is led by the imam, a man chosen for his knowledge of the Qur’an.

The imam leads the people in the rak'ahs.

At Friday prayers, also called Jumu'ah, the imam preaches a sermon using words from the Qur'an. The Friday prayers are obligatory for men.

Before worship, Muslims must perform a ritual washing (wudu) to prepare for prayer:

  • Sunni Muslims wash their hands, mouth, nose, face, arms, forehead and hair, ears and feet three times - in that order.
  • Shi’ah Muslims wash their face first, then arms and use the moisture to wipe their head and feet.

If no water is available, clean sand may be used.

Upon entering the mosque, Muslims remove their shoes and sit on the floor facing the qiblah (prayer wall) which allows them to face Mecca during worship.

Muslim men at prayer

Women may attend the mosque, but they must sit separately from men.