The Prophet’s Prayer (1)

The Prophet’s Prayer (1)

Payer is the most important act of worship in the believer’s life since it was the only act of worship that was ordained directly by Almighty Allah to His Prophet (peace be upon him) during the journey of Al-Mi`raj – when the Prophet ascended to heaven without any intermediary – unlike any other act of worship because of its significance. This series comes in response to massive requests to produce a program that explains exactly the importance of the Prayer and how the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to pray and how one can gain khushu` in his Prayer.

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The Prophet’s Prayer (2)

The Prophet’s Prayer (2)

Prayer is the first pillar of Islam that the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned after saying the Shahadah (the testimony of faith), by which one embraces Islam. In this Episode, Dr. Muhammad Salah explains in some detail the importance of the Prayer in Islam.

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Prayers: A Special Connection with God

Prayers: A Special Connection with God

Prayers: A Special Connection with God

The important aspect of a believer’s faith is his or her relationship with God.

 

Islam signifies the subjection of all activities in all walks of life to the Law of God Almighty, and leaving nothing to the whims and fancies of anyone else. God has commanded the believers to declare:

Truly, my prayer, my service of sacrifice, my life, and my death, are (all) for Allah (God), the Cherisher of the Worlds (Al-An`am 6:162)

This means that a Muslim is a person who has submitted his or her whole self and whole life to God, so that the first duty of a Muslim is to lead a life of obedience to God alone.

And the above quoted commandment also implies that it is wrong to consider our lives to consist of water-tight compartments, saying that “this is the part of my life within the bounds of religion where I am bound to obey God, and these are the secular areas of life where God’s laws are irrelevant.”

The twin sources of Islam — the Qur’an and the Sunnah — teach  that when God Almighty is accepted as the Creator, Sustainer, and Lawgiver, we cannot go after “other gods”.

Islam is a complete way of life that asks its followers to mold their entire lives in accordance with its principles laid down in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. This in fact is not an unrealistic idea; it only means a change of perspective or approach.

Of course, such a change is bound to have its impact on our life, both internal and external; but for those who wish to lead a good life here, Islam is the way.

The important point to note here is that Islam does not impose on its adherents rituals for the sake of rituals, as they are likely to be performed mechanically without understanding their meaning in life.

God says in the Qur’an, which Muslims believe is His word, what means:

It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and give zakah (regular charity); to fulfill the contracts which you have made; and to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing. (Al-Baqarah 2:177)

That is to say, if our rituals do not have any impact on our day-to-day life, they are of little value. Similarly, if we do our daily duties that are considered to be outside the generally recognized borders of religious ritual with sincerity and faith expecting reward from God, they too become acts of worship.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) once told his Companions that they will be rewarded even for having sexual intercourse with their wives. The Companions were astonished. They asked: “How are we going to be rewarded for doing something we enjoy very much?”

The Prophet asked them: “Suppose you satisfy your desires illegally, don’t you think that you will be punished for that?”

They replied, “Yes”. “So” he said, “by satisfying it legally with your wives, you are rewarded for it.” (Muslim)

This all-inclusive approach to worship encourages people to purify and spiritualize their whole lives. But this is not to disparage ritualistic worship. In fact, rituals, if performed with a full understanding of their inner significance, equip the worshippers with a moral and spiritual power that help them to carry out their daily activities in the various spheres of life informed by the guidance of God.
Thus in Islam, the term “worship” (in Arabic, `ibadah) does not signify merely the “pillars of Islam” such as Prayer, fasting, charity or pilgrimage. It includes all the activities of a believer; in fact, it stands for everything a Muslim believes, says, or does. When believers perform all the activities of their lives seeking the pleasure of God, then all their deeds become worship. Naturally, this also includes the rituals they perform, such as prayer.

We can see that the worship of God as visualized in Islam — whether it is ritual or non-ritual — prevents evil thoughts and actions, thereby purifying life. Indeed, sincere Islamic worship trains the individual to lead a life of complete obedience and submission to God.

Prayers

Of all the forms of ritual worship in Islam, Prayer (in Arabic, salah) is unique. It is typical of Islam and is entirely different from the usual kind of Prayer familiar in other religions.
The prostration in Prayer symbolizes the worshipper’s total and unconditional submission to God Almighty. Of course, certain supplications are recited in Prayer, following the Prophetic teaching.
But the objective of Prayer is not this-worldly. Muslims can pray to God for the solution of the immediate problems they confront any time, in any language. But they are not authorized to change the language of the utterances in Prayer, nor can they change its form or content. Muslims have to strictly adhere to its form as taught to by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Muslims believe that God has made Prayer compulsory for all His prophets as well as their followers, as it is evident from the Qur’an. To Moses, God said what means,

Verily I am Allah: There is no god but Me: so worship Me only and establish regular prayer for My remembrance( Ta-Ha 20:14)

The important aspect of a believer’s faith is his or her relationship with God; and nowhere is this relationship exemplified as in Prayer. Prayer lifts a person spiritually towards his or her Creator and if it is done with devotion and sincerity, his or her heart will be filled with the love of God and the hope of Paradise.
Praying five times a day helps Muslims to constantly remember God and seek His forgiveness and pleasure. Besides, it offers an occasion for repentance, so that they earnestly ask Allah for forgiveness of the sins they committed. Prophet Muhammad said: “Imagine a stream outside a person’s door and imagine that he bathes in it five times a day; do you think he would have any dirt on him?” The people said, “Not at all.” The Prophet then said, “The five daily prayers are like that: Allah wipes away the sins by them.” (Al-Bukhari)
The most important aspect of a person’s relationship with God, is his or her strong faith and sincerity. This relationship with God is clearly borne out and strengthened by Prayer. If the Prayer is performed with true devotion to God and with a sincere heart, it will have a lasting effect on the person.
God says in the Qur’an what means:

Establish regular prayer: for prayer restrains from shameful and evil deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that you dd. (Al-`Ankabut 29:45)

Certainly a person’s God-consciousness awakened by Prayer strengthens him or her against temptations arising from the weakness of the flesh.
Again God says in the Qur’an what means:

Truly man was created very impatient; fretful, when evil touches him; and niggardly, when good reaches him; not so those devoted to Prayer and those who remain steadfast to their prayer(Al-Ma`arij 70:19-23)

Thus, it is the Prayer that enables believers to keep in constant touch with their Creator and to keep steady in the face of the temptations and the pressures life.

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Taken with slight modifications from Onislam.net.

 

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What is a Mosque?

What is a Mosque?

Muslims in the past and even today have made use of local artisans and architects to create beautiful, magnificent mosques.

Muslims in the past and even today have made use of local artisans and architects to create beautiful, magnificent mosques.

A mosque is the building in which Muslims worship God. Throughout Islamic history, the mosque was the centre of the community and towns formed around this pivotal building. Nowadays, especially in Muslim countries, mosques are found on nearly every street corner, making it a simple matter for Muslims to attend the five daily prayers. In the West mosques are integral parts of Islamic centers that also contain teaching and community facilities.

Mosques come in all shapes and sizes; they differ from region to region based on the density of the Muslim population in a certain area. Muslims in the past and even today have made use of local artisans and architects to create beautiful, magnificent mosques.

There are however, certain features that are common to all mosques. Every mosque has a mihrab, a niche in the wall that indicates the direction of Makkah; the direction towards which Muslims pray. Most mosques have a minbar (pulpit) from which an Islamic scholar is able to deliver a sermon or speech.

Other common features include, minarets, tall towers used to call the congregation to prayer. Minarets are highly visible and are closely identified with mosques.  Normally there is a large rectangular or square prayer area. It often takes the form of a flat roof supported by columns or a system of horizontal beams supported by architraves. In other common mosque designs, the roof consists of a single large dome on pendentives (an Islamic contribution to architecture that allows the placing of a circular dome over a square room or an elliptical dome over a rectangular room). There are usually separate prayer areas, with separate entrances for both men and women.

Mosques have developed significantly over the past 1400 years. Many have courtyards containing decorative pools and fountains, which originally supplied water for ablution before prayer. Nowadays however, more private bathroom and toilet facilities are provided.

Originally simple structures with earthen floors, now, mosque floors are usually covered with plush carpet.  They are more often than not decorated with straight lines of geometric designs that ensure Muslims stand in straight rows to perform their five daily prayers.

There are never any images of life or statues in mosques, for in Islam it is forbidden that such things are kept or displayed. At times, the interior walls of the mosque are decorated with verses from the Qur’an in Arabic calligraphy, or with intricate geometric designs. The patterns are made from a variety of materials including mosaics, stucco, stone, ceramics, and wood. The more classical designs are referred to as arabesque, and they take the form of a radial grid in which circle and star shapes are prominent. Designs can be both two, and three-dimensional.

More often than not, even in arid desert countries mosques are cool, serene havens.  When a person enters a mosque he or she would have left the hustle and bustle of the material world and retreated into a calm shelter or sanctuary.

Mosques are houses of worship. Men are expected to pray all five daily obligatory prayers in a mosque, in congregation. Although women are welcome to pray in the mosque it is more praiseworthy for them to pray in their homes. Nonetheless, Muslims are permitted to pray anywhere, excluding filthy or impure places such as toilets or in graveyards. Prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him) said: “The entire earth was made a masjid for me”.  (Al-Bukhari)

Masjid is the Arabic word for mosque. However, while the term mosque has come to mean a building specifically for prayer the word masjid has retained several layers of meaning.

In the very literal sense, masjid means place of prostration. The Arabic word comes from the root ‘sa-ja-da’ meaning to prostrate. When a Muslim’s forehead touches the ground, he or she is close to God. Prayer establishes the connection between the believer and his Lord and prostration symbolizes complete submission.

Many people have incorrectly stated that the word mosque is not a translation of the word masjid. They claim that the word mosque comes from the word mosquito and attribute it to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of 15th century Spain. However, the words mosque and mosquito are totally unrelated.

The word ‘mosque’ was introduced into the English language in the late 14th or early 15th century from the French.  It comes from the French word mosquée from the old French word mousquaie. The French, in turn, derived the word from the Italian word moschea from moscheta. The Italians got it either directly from the Arabic word masjid or from the old Spanish mesquite, according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.

Thus we can see that the translation of the Arabic word Masjid, into English becomes mosque. A mosque is a house of prayer, and a place of prostration. It is a building designed and built specifically for the worship of Allah. It is where Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder, united in their love for God and their desire to please Him.

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Source: islamreligion.com

 

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Prayer: Forms and Purpose

Prayer: Forms and Purpose

Are there types of prayer in Islam? If so, could one be replaced with another? Is prayer the same as salah? Could we pray in any language?

Is communicating with God restricted to the five-time daily prayer? What is the meaning of dhikr (supplication) and what is the significance of it?

In Islam there’s no intermediate between one and his Creator. You can reach God and communicate with Him whenever and however you want. It’s the inner and unique link between one’s heart and His Lord. No one ever has the right to take this right from you or take your place in that relationship. It’s one’s own cycle that no one could interfere with.

On the other hand, salah is the Muslim’s five-time daily communication with God; it is obligatory prayer on every Muslim, being the Second Pillar of Islam.

Also, there are some forms of du`aa’ and dhikr taught by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that a Muslim can use in their prayer and supplication to God.

Learn about all this in the video below:

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How to Keep Your Eye in Prayer

How to Keep Your Eye in Prayer

If approached with sincerity and patience, the Prayer can become the greatest pleasure of our daily life.

If approached with sincerity and patience, the Prayer can become the greatest pleasure of our daily life.

Allah Almighty says:

And the Prayer is a difficult matter except upon those who fear Allah; who are certain that they will meet their Lord, and that they will return to Him. (Al-Baqarah 2:45-46)

The uniqueness of the Prayer lies in the fact that it is repeated not once a year or a month nor a day, but indeed five times a day. It is the most remarkable distinction of a believer’s life. However, because of this continuous and demanding nature of the Prayer, it may be a cause of difficultly for some who lack its understanding and piety, or those who are new to it.

If approached with sincerity and patience, the Prayer can become the greatest pleasure of our daily life: “the coolness of eyes,” as a hadith puts it. Here are some tips that can make the Prayer easy and pleasurable.

Know its Worth

If one does not know the merits and necessity of the Prayer, the immense bounties that come with it, and the unspeakable spiritual pleasure and bliss of the company of Allah Almighty that is the reward of an attentive Prayer, one is likely to be tired of it.

The Prayer separates the believer from the disbeliever. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in an authentic hadith: “So whoever has left it the salah (Prayer) then he has committed an act of disbelief.” (An-Nasa’i)

On that terrifying Day of Reckoning, the first thing a servant will be asked about is the Prayer: if s/he is successful in it, the rest is easy: If not, the rest is ruined as well.

Delaying the Pleasure is the Way to Success

Any worth-mentioning achievement in this world, whether it is excellence at work or at school, all-nighters in colleges or some other task, all require a degree of self-control and curbing of immediate desires. In fact, experts discover that, in general, the wisest of people even in worldly transaction is one who can curb his desires and delay the pleasure. Such a person is a successful businessman, a productive scientist and an outstanding student.

What, then, about the real test of this life, the reward for which is nothing less than the Paradise of your Lord?

The Prayer requires this attitude of patience, curbing of desires and delaying of pleasures. However, as one does it regularly, it also trains the worshipper to curb desires and delay the pleasure in all other aspects of life, thus making him or her a successful person in all aspects of life, worldly or religious.

Fight Laziness and Procrastination

Performing the Prayer in time is a trial. Indeed, the Hellfire is surrounded by whims and desires, whereas Paradise is surrounded by adversity. Everyone faces this difficulty proportional to the level of his or her faith. The fact is that: the weaker the faith, the higher the difficulty. Accordingly, the Prayer is hardest on the hypocrites.

Be determined to fight the laziness. As you win these fights, your faith increases and performing the Prayer becomes easier. Allah Almighty says in a hadith qudsi (Divine Hadith): “Whoever comes to me the distance of a hand span, I come closer to him arms length…” until He Almighty said: “If he comes to me walking, I come to him with a quick pace (in a manner befitting His Majesty).”

Do not Wait for the Last Minute

Rather, hasten to Prayer in the first hour, and it will become easier on you. The Prophet warned against delaying the Prayer and indicated that this is the sign of a hypocrite. Gradually, it becomes a habit to perform the Prayer well and it hurts to not do it right.

Remember…Worship is Nourishment for the Soul

Ibn Al-Qayyim mentioned that Ibn Taymiyah used to wait after the Fajr Prayer (Dawn) Prayer remembering Allah until the sun had risen. He used to say: ‘This is my nourishment’, meaning the means of his sustenance. ‘Should I not consume it, then I would not have the strength to last through the day’.

Similarly, it has been reported from a number of righteous Salaf (predecessors; early Muslims) that they did not use to regret missing anything from the matters of this life, like they would in missing such acts of worship.

Therefore, if you were to wonder how you could reach that same level of righteousness, your answer is: by faith and actions. Just wishing by itself is not enough and just because one is able to reach the lower level of worship does not necessitate that one will automatically be able to reach the more advanced level. Indeed, all of this is dependent on patience and hard work. Allah says:

And thus did we make them imams (leaders) guiding with our permission when they had had patience and had certain faith in our signs. (As-Sajdah 32:24)

Train Yourself to Be Enthusiastic about the Prayer

Rest assured that your enthusiasm to every matter is based upon your quickness or slowness in performing it. Thus, if you were to come to it early and quickly, you would find yourself forthcoming and spirited in performing it.

However, were you to come to it lethargically, you would find it burdensome and hope that you could be free from it. If you want a suitable example, then look at the one who comes to the Prayer early. You will find him the last to leave and the opposite goes for the one who comes in late. Similarly, in yourself you will also find the same.

In the Prayer that you came early to, look at the manner in which you offered it and your disposition after it and the manner in which you made your supplications after it.

On the other hand, in the Prayer that you came late to, remember how you hurried up the Prayer and hardly did that which comes later on from supplications or supererogatory prayer. This matter is not just limited to the Prayer only; rather it is for all matters and examples.

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Source: islamweb.net

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