For a new convert to Islam, praying in Arabic may seem a bit complicated at first.
Praying is a meeting between you and God, and if you were a Christian or a Jew before, you certainly got used to performing it in your own language.
God knows all what is in everyone’s heart. He recognizes every prayer and supplication; yet, as the Quran was revealed in Arabic, we should respect it as it is.
As a new Muslim now, the first thing might come to your mind is how to communicate with God in a language you don’t speak, right?
How to have devotion (khushu’) during prayer and have a complete attention to God while reciting in a language unknown to you?
Well, in Islam the fact that all Muslims pray in the same way saying the same words gives its real beauty; the unity of Islam. Have you seen millions of pilgrims praying at the ka’bah?
No matter where they come from or what language they speak in their everyday life, when they gather together to worship God, they all say “Allahu Akbar” and recite the same words of the Quran, and they all bow and prostrate together. Isn’t this spirit of unity wonderful?
So due to this fact, it is obligatory upon each and every Muslim to perform their prayer in Arabic with the words and moves God taught Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be perfect in the Arabic language in order to perform your prayer and have devotion in it. Being a convert Muslim myself, I would like to give you some useful tips based on my experience on how to get used to praying in Arabic and enjoying it.
When I got interested in Islam and later became a Muslim, I already had some basic knowledge of Arabic as I used to take some courses at a language center. It’s actually not as hard as it seems; it takes some days to learn the alphabet and the pronunciation, and some more weeks to get familiar with it. As with every language, one needs to keep practicing a little bit every day.
Tips to Consider When Praying
Regarding prayer, I actually learned how to perform it from YouTube videos; I watched many times the moves of prayer of a little Muslim figure and wrote down on a piece of paper to memorize what he was saying. Then, after watching and reading it like hundreds of times, I tried to pray on my own while imagining what the little figure did.
If I made a mistake, I kept on praying and after finishing it I checked what I said incorrectly. But if you’re not familiar with Arabic at all, this is what you can do:
1. Listen to the Quran many times on a daily basis, or to some YouTube videos in Arabic; even though you don’t understand the recitation, at least you will become more familiar with the sound of the Arabic language.
2. Ask one of your Arab Muslim friends or anyone who has correct Arabic pronunciation to clarify for you the words you say in your prayer, paying special attention to the letters and sounds that don’t exist in English.
3. Before you stand up to pray, get a big piece of paper and write down phonetically in English what to say at certain parts of the prayer in big letters which you can read while in a standing position. Place it in front of you while you’re praying and simply read it out. Do that five times daily for a few days and you will memorize them very easily with minimum effort.
4. Pray with someone else! If it is possible, try to pray with another Muslim – or even better in a group – who already pray without difficulties. This way you will enjoy the group spirit of Islam, you will get more reward for the congregational prayer and at the same time gradually memorize what they’re saying.
5. If you can’t pray with someone, play any video or program teaching you how to perform prayer and follow it! Make sure before you chose either this way or to pray with someone that you already read a few times what to say exactly at each part during the prayer because, as with songs you used to listen to, sometimes you may think the singer said a certain word, but after checking the lyrics you realize that they sang actually something completely different. So be sure you don’t end up memorizing your prayer wrongly.
I hope this will help you a bit get closer to Allah.
Try also to keep the company of pious Muslims, and attend with them congregational prayers on Friday and any other day during the week as much as you can to feel this amazing unity of Islam, and to continuously strengthen your faith. While you’re praying, or actually doing anything, remember that God is always watching you.
You can hide yourself from people but never from God. By this way of thinking, you won’t waste your good deeds; your prayer and every action you do become for the sake of Allah and, insha’ Allah, you will be rewarded for them as He has promised in the Quran.