Salah The Muslim Prayer is the second of the five Pillars of Islam.
Aim of the Muslim Prayer:
Why do Muslims pray? And why do they pray five times a day?
Muslims perform prayers regularly to remember God and to thank Him for all His blessings and giving. This repeated reminder, five times a day, is to bring them closer to God and to have a good relationship with Him. No matter how faithful and religious conscious Muslims are, this repeated reminder is still essential.
Salah maintains the body’s flexibility, removes the fatigue caused by daily activities and regains the natural posture of the body. It is a fact that we need food, four or five times a day, as physical nourishment for our bodies, so it should be understandable that we need the Salah, five times a day, as spiritual nourishment for our souls.
Salah is the spiritual nourishment for our soul, as food is the physical nourishment for our body.
Salah encourages punctuality, self-discipline, self-control and cleanliness. It helps Muslims to build good characters and develop qualities of patience and honesty. It also teaches Muslims tolerance, unity, equality and co-operation.
Punctuality is needed to perform the five times daily prayers at the appointed times. This is at dawn before the sunrise, at noon, mid afternoon, evening at sunset and at nightfall. The Qur’an states:
“Establish regular prayer; for the prayer is enjoined on believers at stated times.” (4: 103)
The importance of the punctuality in Salah is appreciated when individuals realize its effect on their daily life, hence Salah teaches Muslims to be regular to do things at proper times and within appropriate times. This is one of the aspects of building a good character.
The Qur’an refers to this by saying:
“Establish regular prayer, for it restrains from shameful and unjust deeds.”(29:45)
Self-discipline can be learnt from the regularity of performing prayers at the proper times as well as the ablution, which precedes the prayer. Getting up in the early morning to perform dawn prayer when one is still drowsy and during the day when one is busy with work and at night when one is preoccupied with family and other activities is a good example of self-discipline.
Muslims are obliged to offer their prayer under all circumstances. It is a religious duty that Salah can be performed even if one is ill or on a journey. Simply, the Salah can be performed in a sitting position if one cannot get up or in a lying position if one cannot sit or even by signs if one cannot move hands or other parts of the body. In all cases, Muslims have to fulfill their obligation of Salah because God made it easy for everyone as the Qur’an says:
“…God intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties.” (2: 185)
The ablution, which precedes the Salah, is a good habit to keep the body clean, for there can be no Salah without ablution. The Qur’an made it clear when saying:
“O You who believe, when you rise up for your prayer, wash your faces, and your hands up to your elbows, and rub your heads and wipe your feet up to the ankles. And if you are polluted, then wash yourselves… God does not wish to place you in a difficulty, but He wishes to purify you.” (5: 7)
“…And God loves those who purify themselves.” (2: 222)
Prophet Muhammad said: “Allah does not accept prayer without purification.”
Salah develops in Muslims another quality of good character. This is patience, which is the source of strength needed to face the hardships of life. The Qur’an repeatedly encourages Muslims to get help and strength from regularly praying in any kind of stress or trouble.
“…Seek God’s help through patience and prayer.” (2: 45)
“O you who believe. Seek help with patience, perseverance and prayer; for God is with those who patiently persevere.” (2: 153)
Muslims are provided with many opportunities for gathering in various occasions. The mosque is open for individuals to pray voluntary the daily prayers and obligatory for Friday prayer and annual prayers at the two Feasts. Muslims assemble in the mosque and meet each other in these occasions with the feeling of unity and brotherhood regardless of their social or economic status. It is an opportunity to know each other and to share their opinion and to co-operate to solve their problems. They can help one another by supporting whoever is in need and give generously out of their wealth to the less fortunate people in their community. This is to develop in them a sense of co-operation and a habit of doing things together. The Qur’an recommends:
“…Who believe in the unseen, are steadfast in prayer and spend out of what We have provided for them,” (2: 3)
The congregational prayer on Friday and the two Feasts is a sign of brotherhood and equality, where Muslims stand before God as equal. They all stand together in straight rows shoulder to shoulder to offer their prayer to God. The first row is not reserved for anyone but for the one who comes first. The worshippers who come later occupy the following rows.