Every Muslim from the time he or she attains puberty must perform five daily prayers (salāt). To be able to begin the prayer one must first perform the ritual ablution (wuḍū) in the prescribed form. Then, one stands facing Mecca and makes an intention to perform the specific prayer of the time in order to attain proximity to God. This intention must be kept at all times during the prayer. If someone forgets what he is doing, or prays in order to show off, or for any other selfish motive, his prayer becomes void. The actual prayer starts when the person utters: Allāh-u Akbar (God is the Greatest). With this he enters the formal state of prayer in which he remains until the completion of his prayers.
Each prayer consists of two to four units (rak‘ah). Each unit consists of:
i. reciting the opening chapter of the Qur’an and another chapter such as Tawhīd or Qadr;1
ii. bowing down (rukū‘) and praising and glorifying God in that position;
iii. performing two prostrations (sajdah) and then praising and glorifying God.2
The prayers are ended by bearing witness that God is One and has no partners and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger with salutations upon him and his household (tashahhud) and offering peace to the Prophet, all the righteous people, and all who are engaged in prayers (taslim).
The daily prayer is the most important form of worship and remembrance of the Lord. The Qur’an says:
Surely prayer keeps (one) away from indecency and evil, and certainly the remembrance of God is greater, and God knows what you do. (29:45)
1 In three unit and four unit prayers the third and fourth units consist first of recitation of the opening chapter of the Qur’an, or alternatively, recitation of a specific remembrance (dhikr) called, “al-tasbīhāt al-arbi‘ah” (Four Glorifications) and then bowing down and prostrations. In these prayers the affirmation of the oneness of God and the prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad and salutations upon him and his household are performed in both the second unit and the last unit after prostrations.
2 The morning prayer (fajr) which is performed between dawn and sunrise consists of two units, the noon (zuhr) and afternoon prayers (‘asr) each consist of four units, the sunset prayer (maghrib) consists of three units and the evening (‘ishā’) consists of four units.
Discovering Shi’i Islam Mohammad Ali Shomali 9th Edition