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Muslim Prayer Room

Campus Ministry and the University of Portland respect and seek to nurture the faith development of all who seek God with a sincere heart. Since the 1990s the University has provided a Muslim Prayer Room in the lower level of Christie Hall. The room was designed and laid out in consultation with Dr. Khalid Khan of the School of Engineering and includes facilities for ritual ablution. 

The room may be accessed through the International Student Services Office from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and is open to all members of the University community. For students, staff, or faculty who would like to use the room outside of these times, please go to the International Student Services Office and ask for after-hours access. ID cards can then be set up to allow access to the office and prayer room after 4:30 until 11:00 p.m.

Prayer in Islam
Salāh or Salāt is the practice of formal prayer in Islam. Its supreme importance for Muslims is indicated by its status as one of the Five Pillars of Sunni Islam and of the Ten Practices of the Religion of Shi'a Islam. Salah is a ritual prayer, having prescribed conditions, a prescribed procedure, and prescribed times.

Performing salah is obligatory for all adult Muslims, with a few dispensations for those for whom it would be difficult. To perform valid salah, Muslims must be in a state of ritual purity, which is mainly achieved by ritual ablution according to prescribed procedures. The place of prayer should be clean. In a few cases where blood is leaving the body, salah is forbidden until a later time.

Salah consists of the repetition of two or more units of a prescribed sequence of actions and words. One complete sequence is known as a rak'ah. The number of obligatory (fard) rak'at varies according to the time of day or other circumstances (such as Friday congregational prayers). Additions to the fard rak'at can be made, again in different multiples according to the circumstances. These are not required but are considered meritorious. There are also dispensations from some or all of the prescribed actions for those who are physically unable to complete them. The prescribed words of the prayer remain obligatory.

Salah is prescribed at five periods of the day as part of tradition, which are measured according to the movement of the sun. These are: near dawn, just after the sun's noon, in the afternoon, just after sunset and around nightfall. Under some circumstances prayers can be shortened or combined (according to prescribed procedures). Prayers can be missed in serious cases, but they should be made up later.

Purpose and importance
The chief purpose of prayer in Islam is to act as a person's communication with God. By reciting "The Opening", the first chapter of the Qur'an, as required in all prayer, the worshipper can stand before God, thank and praise Him, and ask for guidance along the Straight Path.

In addition, the daily prayers remind Muslims to give thanks for Allah's blessings and that Islam takes precedence over all other concerns, thereby revolving their life around Allah and submitting to His will. Prayer also serves as a formal method of remembering Allah.

Preparation
Cleanliness and dress
Islam advises that the salat be performed in a ritually clean environment [Qur'an 5:6]. When praying, the clothes that are worn and the place of prayer must be clean. Both men and women are required to cover their bodies (awrah) in reasonably loose-fitting garments. The well-known saying or hadith of the prophet Muhammed (PBUH) that "purity is half the faith" illustrates how Islam has incorporated and modified existing rules of purity in its religious system. When men and women are praying together in public, the genders are usually separated. If a mosque has multiple rooms or floors, the women will pray either in another room or on a balcony. If separate areas are not possible, men and women are divided by rows. This is thought to prevent distraction during prayer.

Ritual ablution
Before conducting prayers, a Muslim has to perform a ritual ablution.

The minor ablution is performed using water (wudu) or sand (tayammum) when water is unavailable or not advisable to use for reasons such as illness.

Wudhu is performed by Shi'a and Sunni Muslims according to the instructions of Allah given in the Qur'an [Qur'an 5:6]:

"O you who believe! when you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles; and if you are under an obligation to perform a total ablution, then wash (yourselves) and if you are sick or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy, or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth and wipe your faces and your hands therewith, Allah does not desire to put on you any difficulty, but He wishes to purify you and that He may complete His favor on you, so that you may be grateful."

More specifically wudhu is performed by Sunni Muslims by washing the hands, mouth, nose, arms, face, hair, ears, (often washing the hair is merely drawing the already wet hands from the fringe to the nape of the neck) and feet three times each, in that order (It is not obligatory to wash the hair three times, once is sufficient, and men must also wash their beards and mustaches when washing the face) though there are several differences in the way wudhu is performed between the four accepted Sunni madhabs (interpretations of the religious texts).