The term ‘imam’ means ‘in the front’ and this person simply leads the prayers – they are no better than anyone else as everyone is equal in the eyes of Allah. Often, an imam will teach Arabic and they act as the khatib – the person to preach the Friday sermon.
The meaning and purpose of personal worship
Muslims must pray five times a day – this is known as Salah and is one of the Five Pillars. They must complete a ritual washing before prayer and Salah consists of set words which they know from memory.
During private worship, Muslims may use some artefacts to aid their prayer including:
Beads - these are useful for keeping count when reciting the 99 beautiful names of Allah.
Clocks and compasses - Salah is often done at home. A clock is used to allow Muslims to know it is time for prayer, and a compass is used to see the direction of Makkah (Mecca).
Prayer mats - These are normally decorated with geometric prints. All prayer mats will contain a representation of the mihrab.
Salah is formal prayer said in Arabic and following a set structure. Du’a is personal prayer which may be used anytime and is from the heart.