Salah – Prayer in Islam
‘Salah is a prescribed duty that has to be performed at the given time by the Qur’an’ (Qur’an 4)
‘The place of prayer in religion is like the place of the head in the body’ (Muhammad – Hadith)
‘Between faith and unbelief is abandoning the prayer’ (Muhammad – Hadith)
- Muslims are called to prayer over a loudspeaker so they do not miss it. This call to prayer is called the Adhan. The Shahadah makes up the first part of this. You might have heard this if on holiday in a Muslim country such as Turkey or Egypt.
- Once these words are heard men will make their way to mosque if possible or pray in any clean, quiet space. Women may go to mosque but many choose to pray at home.
- When arriving a the mosque shoes will be removed to ensure that the House of Allah is kept clean and pure.
- Wudu (sometimes spelt Wuzu) is the washing process designed to purify the mind and body. The hands, ears, mouth, head and feet are washed. This ritual is designed to focus the individual on prayer.
- The body must be covered and Muslims will enter the prayer hall and face the city of Mecca.
During – All Muslims pray five times a day. Each time of prayer involves a set sequence of movements and words known as rak’ah. Each sequence has key actions that must be performed.
- Takbir – Muslims raise their hands to their ears and say: ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is supreme)
- Qiyam – Standing, Muslims recite Surah Al-Fatiha (the first Surah) ‘In the name of Allah, the compassionate’ (Qur’an 1)
- After repeating Allahu Akbar again, Muslims bow to the waist saying: ‘Glory be to my Great Lord and praise be to Him’
- After declaring Allahu Akbar again, Muslims sink to their knees (sujud) saying: ‘Glory be to my Lord, the Most Supreme. Allah is greater than all else’. They kneel again and then the sujud is repeated saying: ‘All praise to my Lord the Most High’
- Finally, Allahu Akbar is said and Muslims then stand. The next rak’ah begins. Further prayers will be said and Muslims will again kneel (sujud). At the end of the prayers Muslims will turn their heads to each side to acknowledge other worshippers and the two guardian angels who are recording their actions
Differences between Sunni & Shia during Salah
- Shia Muslims do not cross their hand when standing at the beginning of the prayer
- They touch their head to a wooden block or clay tablet when kneeling down and position their feet slightly differently
- Shia Muslims view the Wudu ritual not just as preparation for prayer but part of the prayer itself
- Shia Muslims emphasise that the purpose of prayer is to cancel out sins and reinforce the sense of insignificance of human beings in relation to Allah.
The Friday Prayer – Jumu’ah
‘On every Friday the angels take their stand at the gate of every mosque to write down the names of the people and when the Imam sits they fold up their scrolls and get ready to listen to the sermon’ (Hadith – Muhammad)
For Muslim men this prayer is the most important prayer of the week. Men are expected to gather at mosque just after noon each Friday. It is said that to miss four Fridays is to make a person an unbeliever. A sermon (teaching) will be delivered usually in two parts. Firstly about local or international issues such as the plight of refugees and secondly a set speech given in Arabic. Further prayers then take place.
Why is it important for a Muslim to pray? How does prayer influence the life of a Muslim?
- Allah, in the Qur’an instructed five prayers per day. It is therefore viewed as a compulsory act of faith. Prayer opens up a person’s heart and mind to Allah and if done correctly will contribute to a place in paradise and a favorable outcome on Judgment Day
Why pray so often?
- Prayer is spread throughout the day so that Allah is the focus of a Muslim’s mind at all times.
- This life is viewed as a test so prayer is designed to support a Muslim throughout life.
- Prayer helps a Muslim avoid temptation.
- The rewards for praying in a group for example on a Friday are 27 times greater than from praying alone so they will try to attend mosque as often as possible.
What benefits do Muslims get from prayer?
- Prayer can bring people together with a sole focus on Allah. It also reminds Muslims that they must work together.
- It reminds humans of the greatness of Allah. He is creator, sustainer (keeps them safe) and will ultimately be their judge.
- Regular prayer can help secure a place in paradise and means Muslims regularly ask for forgiveness.
- Helps a Muslim feel close to Allah and learn about their faith