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Salah Transliteration: Arabic to English

written by Ahmed
Salah Arabic to English Transliteration

Salah, or Salat, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and holds immense significance in a Muslim’s spiritual life. An obligatory act of worship performed five times a day, Salah is a manifestation of a Muslim’s subservience to Allah and a constant reminder of the faith’s teachings and values.

Nonetheless, understanding and performing Salah can pose a challenge, especially for new Muslims or those who do not speak Arabic, the sacred language of Islam. The Quran was revealed in Arabic, and hence, Salah must be performed in the same language to maintain the purity and universality of the message. This linguistic barrier, however, should not deter non-Arabic speaking Muslims from embracing and fulfilling this important pillar of Islam.

Transliteration serves as an effective tool to help bridge this gap. By representing Arabic phonetics in the English script, transliteration allows non-Arabic speakers to pronounce Salah accurately. It’s important to note, though, that transliteration is a temporary aid on the path towards understanding the Arabic language and its divine intricacies.

In this article, we will shed light on the importance of Salah in Islam, explain the concept of transliteration, provide a comprehensive Salat transliteration guide, and discuss common mistakes to avoid when relying on transliteration. Our hope is that this guide will serve as a helpful stepping stone for those beginning their journey into the beautiful world of Islam.

The Importance of Salat

The importance of Salat in the life of a Muslim cannot be overstated. As one of the Five Pillars of Islam, Salat is central to a Muslim’s faith and daily life. Its significance lies not only in the frequency of its observance, being performed five times a day, but also in its profound symbolism and spiritual benefits.

Salat is an act of submission to Allah’s will, a constant reminder of His presence, and a reaffirmation of one’s faith. It creates a direct, personal connection between the worshiper and Allah, allowing for reflection, supplication, and spiritual growth. Every posture in Salat, from standing to prostration, signifies different aspects of a believer’s relationship with Allah: reverence, submission, humility, and gratitude.

Moreover, the rewards attached to Salat are abundant. As stated in a Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), “The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad.” This illustrates the immense weight placed on Salat and its significance in the context of a Muslim’s spiritual journey.

Finally, Salat also serves as a unifying force, bringing Muslims from around the world together. Regardless of their language, culture, or nationality, all Muslims face the Kaaba in Makkah during Salat, and recite the same Arabic phrases, affirming the unity and equality of all believers. In this sense, Salat is not just an individual act of worship, but also a shared spiritual experience that reinforces the sense of community among Muslims worldwide.

Understanding Transliteration

Transliteration is a significant linguistic tool that aids in the process of understanding and pronouncing foreign language phrases. In essence, it involves converting the text or script of one language into another by employing the closest phonetic equivalents. It’s not to be confused with translation, which focuses on conveying the meaning of words or phrases between languages.

Transliteration is especially valuable in the context of languages that utilize different scripts or alphabets. For instance, the Arabic language, used in Islamic practices such as Salat, employs an entirely different script from Latin-based languages like English. This difference can pose a substantial challenge for non-Arabic speakers in accurately pronouncing Arabic phrases, such as those in Salat.

This is where transliteration proves its utility. It provides non-Arabic speakers with a phonetic rendition of Arabic phrases using the Latin alphabet. Transliteration, in this sense, acts as a bridge enabling non-Arabic speakers to engage with the language in a manner that is familiar to them. For example, the Arabic phrase “سُبْحَانَ رَبِّيَ الْعَظِيمِ”, recited during the Ruku’ (bowing) in Salat, can be transliterated into English as “Subhana Rabbiya al Atheem”. This transliteration aids in pronouncing the Arabic phrase by breaking it down into familiar sounds for English speakers.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that while transliteration helps in pronunciation, it does not convey the meaning of the words or phrases. This is where translation comes into play. Furthermore, as helpful as transliteration may be, there is no substitute for learning the Arabic language, especially for key Islamic practices such as Salat. It allows one to understand not just the phonetic sounds but the profound meanings and nuances of the prayers being recited.

Transliteration, therefore, serves as an invaluable aid for those beginning their journey into understanding and performing Salat. It provides a stepping stone from which non-Arabic speakers can gradually move towards fluency in the language and deeper comprehension of their prayers.

Salat Transliteration

As we delve into the realm of Salat transliteration, it’s crucial to remember that the intent of this guide is to aid non-Arabic speakers in correctly pronouncing the words of Salat. It’s not a translation of the Arabic text. Now, let’s move onto the transliteration of each part of the Salah.

  1. Intention (Niyyah): The intention isn’t spoken out loud but formed in the heart. An example of the Niyyah in English might be, “I intend to perform the Fajr prayer.”
  2. Standing (Qiyam): After the intention, the prayer begins with the Takbeer, where one raises their hands and says, “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest).
  3. Opening Supplication (Thanaa’): “Subhanaka Allahumma wa bihamdika, wa tabarak asmuka, wa ta’ala jadduka, wa laa ilaaha ghairuk.” (Glory be to You, O Allah, and all praises are due unto You, and blessed is Your name and high is Your majesty and none is worthy of worship but You.)
  4. Before beginning your prayer say: “Audhu billahi min alshaitan alrajeem,” (I seek Refuge with Allah from Satan, the accursed.)
  5. Recitation of Surah Al-Fatiha: “Bismillah ir-rahman ir-raheem. Alhamdulillahi rabbil ‘alameen. Ar-Rahman ir-Rahim. Maliki yawmi-d-Deen. Iyyaaka na’abudu wa iyyaaka nasta’een. Ihdina-siratal mustaqeem. Siratal-latheena an’amta ‘alaihim, Ghairil maghdubi ‘alaihim wa lad-dhaalleen.”
  6. Bowing (Ruku): “Subhana Rabbiyal Adheem.” (Glory to my Lord the Exalted.)
  7. Standing from Bowing (Qiyam): “Sami’ Allahu liman hamidah, Rabbana lakal hamd.” (Allah hears the one who praises Him. Our Lord, praise be to You.)
  8. Prostration (Sujood): “Subhana Rabbiy al A’laa.” (Glory to my Lord the Most High.)
  9. Sitting between two Prostrations (Jalsa): “Rabbighfir li, warhamni, wajburni, warfa’ni.” (My Lord, forgive me, have mercy on me, strengthen me, raise me in status.)
  10. Final Sitting (Tashahhud): “At-tahiyyatu lillahi was-salawatu wat-tayyibatu. As-salamu ‘alayka ayyuhan-nabiyyu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. As-salamu ‘alayna wa ‘ala ‘ibadillahis-salihin. Ash-hadu an la ilaha illallah wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasuluhu.”
  11. Salam (Ending the Salat): “As-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah.” (Peace and mercy of Allah be upon you.)

As this guide indicates, each phrase of the Salat has been phonetically broken down to help non-Arabic speakers articulate the words correctly. However, it’s essential to understand the profound meanings behind these phrases to fully appreciate the Salat’s essence. This transliteration guide aims to serve as a starting point for your journey in grasping the linguistic nuances of these sacred Islamic prayers.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Reliance on transliteration alone can, at times, lead to common errors that could alter the meaning of the words being pronounced. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Incorrect Pronunciation: Arabic is a phonetically rich language. Some Arabic sounds do not have an equivalent in English or other languages, so pronouncing them correctly can be challenging. For example, the Arabic letters “خ” (Kh) and “ح” (Ha) are often mispronounced by non-Arabic speakers.
  2. Ignoring the Tashkeel: Arabic words often have ‘tashkeel’ or diacritical marks, which guide the pronunciation of the word. Ignoring these can significantly alter the meaning of a word. In the transliteration, these are often represented by apostrophes, dashes, or other symbols.
  3. Over-reliance on Transliteration: While transliteration can be an excellent tool for beginners, over-reliance on it can slow the process of truly understanding and connecting with the prayers in their original Arabic form. It’s crucial to use transliteration as a stepping stone to learning Arabic.
  4. Missing the Spiritual Essence: The physical act of prayer (Salat) is not just about the correct pronunciation of words. It is also about understanding their meaning and contemplating their spiritual significance. Ignoring this aspect could lead to a ritualistic, rather than a spiritual, practice of Salat.

Remember, while it’s important to strive for correctness in pronunciation, it’s equally important to keep in mind that Allah understands your intent and effort. Even if you make mistakes initially, your sincere attempts to learn and grow are what truly matters.

Salat Learning Books

The realm of Islamic literature is replete with well-crafted, insightful books focusing on Salah. They provide nuanced guidance, incorporating translation to simplify the learning process and help non-Arabic speakers grasp the practice’s depth.

  1. Salat Guide made simple: This book, written in clear, simple language, is an excellent resource for those beginning their journey. It provides a step-by-step guide to the Salah, complete with transliterations, English translations, and practical illustrations.
  2. Salah (The Muslim Prayer): A comprehensive resource, this book delves into the intricacies of Salat, discussing its significance, timings, the prerequisites, and the detailed method of performing it. It is a beneficial companion for those seeking to deepen their understanding and practice of Salat.

Qur’an with Translation

The Qur’an, being the divine source from which the words of Salah originate, is undeniably the best resource to aid your understanding and performance of Salah. Here are some versions with translation that can significantly enhance your Qur’anic comprehension.

  1. Quran – English Translation – English translation of the Quran Kareem by Abdullah Yusuf Ali.  This is an English translation only and does not show the Quran in Arabic.   Paperback Edition.  Printed in India.
  2. The Holy Qur’an – English Translation with Original Arabic Text  – For English Speakers.  English translation of the Quran Kareem, side by side with original Arabic text.  Each page includes shows the English translation, as well as, the corresponding page of Arabic Quran to the right of English Text. 

It’s important to remember that while these resources can significantly assist your journey, they are tools meant to facilitate your understanding and practice of Salah. The ultimate goal should always be to appreciate the profound spiritual connection that Salah facilitates between the worshiper and Allah.

Conclusion

Salah is a spiritual journey that connects a Muslim with Allah, fostering a profound sense of peace, humility, and gratitude. Although it is traditionally performed in Arabic, non-Arabic speakers can initially rely on transliterations to navigate this divine practice.

Transliteration serves as a bridge, assisting non-Arabic speakers in performing Salah. It provides a phonetic interpretation of the Arabic text, aiding in the correct pronunciation of the divine verses and supplications. However, it is paramount to remember that transliteration is a tool and not the final goal.

The ultimate aim should always be to learn Arabic to understand and appreciate the true essence of the Qur’an and Salat. Over-reliance on transliteration can sometimes lead to common mistakes, such as incorrect pronunciation or ignoring the spiritual essence of the prayers. It’s always important to combine the physical recitation with a deep understanding of the words’ meanings.

As you embark on this sacred journey of learning and spiritual growth, remember that the effort and sincerity you put into understanding and perfecting your Salat are what truly count. Even if mistakes occur, remember that Allah appreciates the sincere effort of His servants. The journey may be challenging, but the rewards, both spiritual and otherwise, are immensely fulfilling.

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