Prayer in Islam, is worship of Allah the Almighty, Praising and Thanking Him, acknowledging His Sovereignty and committing oneself to obey and remember Him at all times. It is the central part of a way of life, which is based on submission to the Creator of us all.
The five prayers are among the best acts of worship that the Muslim performs. Performing them is the best deed after having the correct belief in God and His Messenger. Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), was asked what the best deed was and he said it was performing the obligatory prayers at the beginning of their times.
When we say "prayers" we are referring to an act of worshipping God which has a specific format as God revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). The prophets, from Prophet Adam to Prophet Muhammad (Pbut), ordered their followers to pray as per God's orders.
Since the prayer is the most important matter of Islam after having the correct belief in God and His Messenger, one must plan his life around the prayer. It would be a great sin to neglect praying when at work if a prayer was required at that time. If a believer is shopping at the mall or waiting at the airport and there is no way to get home or to a mosque, he is still obligated to perform the prayer within its due time instead of purposely leaving out or delaying the prayer. This indicates the importance of the obligatory prayer. Performing the obligatory prayer on time takes priority over other non-obligatory matters.
Each of the 5 prayers have different number of units (Raka'at) for each.
Fajr (Dawn Prayer) is 2 units (Raka'at)
Dhor (Noon prayer) is 4 units (Raka'at)
Asr (Afternoon prayer) is 4 units (Raka'at)
Maghrib (Sunset prayer) is 3 units (Raka'at)
Isha (Night prayer) is 4 units (Raka'at)
A unit (Raka'a) of prayer is from step 2 to step 8 of the above tutorial.
Step 1 is performed once at the beginning of each of the 5 daily prayers
Step 2 to step 8 is repeated for each unit (Raka'a) of prayer.
Step 9 to step 14 is a repeat of steps 2 to step 8 and is the completion of the first 2 units (Raka'at) of prayer.
The first 2 units (Raka'at) of prayer consist of 2 chapters from the Qur'an and the 3rd and forth unit is only 1 chapter. The first chapter that is recited is chapter 1 of the Qur'an 'Al Fatiha' (The Opening).
Al fatiha (The opening) is recited for each and every unit of prayer. When praying the first 2 units, recite Al Fatiha (The opening) and also one of the short chapters of the Qur'an such as chapters 112-114. You are free to recite any of the chapters of the Qur'an after Al Fatiha even the lengthy ones but I recommend that you start with the short ones as they will be easier to memorize.
Eg. 1st unit (Raka'a) of prayer = Chapter 1 plus Chapter 112
2nd unit (Raka'a) of prayer = Chapter 1 plus Chapter 113
3rd unit (Raka'a) of prayer = Chapter 1 only
4th unit (Raka'a)of prayer = Chapter 1 only
After you have completed 2 units (Raka'at) of prayer, you move onto step 15 unless you are performing the Fajr prayer which is only 2 units (Raka'at) so instead of moving onto step 15, you move onto step 28.
After you have completed step 28 move onto step 29 and 30. Your 2 units (Raka'at) of prayer are now complete.
If you are performing the Maghrib (sunset) prayer which is 3 units (Raka'at), complete steps 2 to 21 then move onto steps 28, 29 & 30 to complete your prayer.
If you are performing any of the prayers which contain 4 units (Raka'at) of prayer ie Dhor (Noon prayer), Asr (Afternoon prayer) & Isha (Night prayer) you will need to complete all of the steps ie 1-30.
"When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them); I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me; let them also with a will listen to My call and believe in Me; that they may walk in the right way."