Do all Muslims Represent Islam? (Part 2 / 2)

Do all Muslims Represent Islam? (Part 2 / 2)

By Aisha Stacey

The origin of the blue beads is difficult to trace however, it is common in all countries around the Mediterranean Sea including Greece, Cyprus and Egypt.

The origin of the blue beads is difficult to trace however, it is common in all countries around the Mediterranean Sea including Greece, Cyprus and Egypt.

                                        Part 1

In the previous article, we discussed the fact that not all Muslims represent the religion of Islam. Our focus was Islam’s attitude towards war, violence and terrorism. We established that Islam is a religion of peace, and that unjustifiable killing or violence is absolutely forbidden. Sadly, many Muslims around the world have sullied the name of Islam by committing acts and atrocities that have no place in a religion based on the concepts of justice and mercy. However, this is not the only way that Muslims themselves misrepresent Islam.

From the outset, it is important to understand the foundation of Islam – God is One. He has no partners, no sons, daughters or helpers. He alone created, and sustains the universe. Nothing happens without His permission.

“He is Allah, (the) One. Allah-us-Samad (The Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, He neither eats nor drinks). He begets not, nor was He begotten; And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him.” (Al-Ikhlas 112)

“Is there any god with Allah? High Exalted be God above all that they associate as partners (to Him)!” (An-Naml 27:63)

Muslims believe this with certainty, there is no god but Allah, and they believe that the prophets and messengers were sent by God to guide humankind to the truth that God is One. Therefore, in Islam there is no room for intercession of any kind. It is God Alone that Muslims worship and God Alone that they ask for help, in all endeavors. This concept is known as tawheed and it forms the basis of the religion of Islam.

Sadly, however, when we look at the behavior of some Muslims we find practices and superstitions that are actually forbidden in Islam. Sincere worship for God Alone has become adulterated by the local customs and traditions, yet many Muslims are unwilling to admit that such corruption exists. The fact is not all Muslims worship in the correct way and not all Muslims are representative of Islam.

One of the gravest sins is calling on somebody or something other than God. This is forbidden in Islam, yet around the world, these deeply entrenched cultural practices remain. Muslims who call on the dead to intercede for them do not represent the religion of Islam. Muslims, who believe that righteous people are able to intercede between ordinary people and God, do not represent the religion of Islam. Muslims who wear good luck charms and amulets in the belief that they can somehow ward off evil or bring good, do not represent the religion of Islam. These are direct contradictions to the Oneness of God.

Corruption of worship is evident in the many myths and traditions that surround pregnancy and childbirth. Many traditions involve the use of charms spells and amulets. A Muslim however, knows that everything is from God, and that there is no luck or randomness involved. Strange superstitions can bring neither harm nor good. Islam teaches that there is no power or strength except with God, it dispels these myths and superstitions thereby freeing humankind from this type of bondage.

Bearing this in mind let us examine the cultural practices surrounding two fictional women. The women in these anecdotes are fictional but the practices are real and form just a small part of hundreds of traditions and practices used throughout the Muslim world to ward off evil or obtain good.

In a small village outside Mogadishu in Somalia, 18-year-old Nura has just given birth to her first child. A beautiful healthy boy. Nura and her family believe that the bracelet he wears made from string and herbs will protect him from the evil eye. Most Somali people link their identity with Islam however, a large number of pre Islamic practices have survived. There is a strong belief in jinn (devil) possession and zar (a cult in which women are willingly possessed) and most Bedouin Somalis routinely wear protective amulets. Prior to Islam the belief system in Somalia was largely animist, it dates back to the Paleolithic age in which every object, be it animate or inanimate had a soul.

These traditions and practices usually evolve around major life experiences such as birth and death and often involve the use of plants and herbs both for their medicinal properties and the belief that such plants and herbs offer protection from malevolent spirits. Thus, a newborn baby would be given an amulet to safeguard him from harm. This practice clearly denies the Oneness of God. These are traditions that do not make sense when the true nature of God is revealed through Quran and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.

Far away in Turkey in the thriving metropolis of Istanbul Ceylan’s mother and aunts are adorning the wall of the room in which she will give birth with strings of onion, garlic and blue beads. They believe that this will protect Ceylan and the newborn baby from the evil eye and evil jinn known in Turkey as the “baby snatcher”. Amongst the strings of herbs, being hung in the birthing room in Turkey you may also find blue beads. These are prevalent in many Muslim communities. People wear amulets, keep them on hand to give to guests, hang them near the doors of their homes or in their cars. The beads are usually made of glass in order to reflect any bad luck or evil and the belief is that like a mirror it draws positive energy away and reflects the bad intentions back. According to this false belief, if the evil is too strong for the blue eye to push away, it breaks and sacrifices itself.

The origin of the blue beads is difficult to trace however, it is common in all countries around the Mediterranean Sea including Greece, Cyprus and Egypt. It may even date back as far as the ancient Egyptians. The eye of Horus (ancient Egyptian symbol of protection and power) may be the origin of this widespread belief, and the color blue has been used since antiquity to denote healing and protection. Islam is clear, healing and protection is from God Alone.

Corrupted worship and superstitious practices are prevalent in Muslim communities throughout the world. You may have noticed some in your own community; however, they are not representative of Islam. Islam is the religion of informed knowledge, not blind belief and strange superstitions. The power of God is Omnipotent. When Muslims behave in a manner that seems to encourage superstitions and strange behavior, they do not represent Islam. The message of Islam is clear. There is no power or strength except with God, and Prophet Muhammad is His final Messenger.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from www.IslamReligion.com.

Aisha Stacey is an Australian revert to Islam. She currently spends her time between Australia and Qatar. Aisha works as a writer at the Fanar Cultural Islamic Centre in Doha, Qatar while studying for an Arts/Psychology degree.

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Atheist vs. Muslim (Plain as Day)

Atheist vs. Muslim (Plain as Day)

By Truth Seeker Staff

The belief in God is “plain as day”: easy to comprehend or understand.

“And when waves come over them like canopies, they supplicate Allah , sincere to Him in religion. But when He delivers them to the land, there are [some] of them who are moderate [in faith]. And none rejects Our signs except everyone treacherous and ungrateful.” (Luqman 31:32)

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Ruku`: Internal Actions

Ruku`

We stand between fear and hope, but the overwhelming emotion is love.

Preparing ourselves for the Prayer means realizing whom we are meeting with—Allah (exalted is He), our Lord, the Most Merciful of those who show mercy. We beautify ourselves externally because we are meeting with Allah, and we humble ourselves internally as we stand before the Most High. We stand between fear and hope, but the overwhelming emotion is love.

When we recite Surat al-Fatihah (the Opener), we pause after every verse to reflect on it, knowing that Allah responds. When we recite a short Surah (chapter) afterward, we recognize that these words are a message to us.

The External Acts of Ruku`

When finish reciting the short Surah after al-Fatihah, we should implement a very short pause just as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did (as related by Abu Dawud), and then raise our hands to say, “Allahu Akbar (God is Greater).”

Remember that between almost every change of position we say, “Allahu Akbar.” This is to remind ourselves and to alert us that Allah is greater than anything—whatever our mind is distracted with and whatever worries plague us. And then we bow down in ruku`. When we bow down, we should emulate the actions of the Prophet who said:

“When you make ruku`, place your palms on your knees, then space your fingers out, then remain (like that) until every limb takes its (proper) place.” (Ibn Khuzaymah) In another narration, he added that we should straighten our backs. (Abu Dawud)

Many of us rush our ruku` and sujud (prostration), but it is very important to give each action its due measure. The Prophet once saw a man not completing the ruku` properly, and rushing his sujud such that he looked like he was pecking, and he said:

“Were this man to die in this state, he would die on a faith other than that of Muhammad—the likeness of one who does not make ruku` completely and pecks in his sujud is like the hungry person who eats one or two dates, which are of no use to him at all.” (At-Tabarani)

Why did the Prophet (peace be upon him) use such an example? Because we come to our Prayer as people who are spiritually hungry and thirsty, looking for a refuge from the worries of the world. It does not make sense for a starving person to eat one or two dates if he has access to more; neither does it make sense for us to rush our ruku` and sujud.

 Du`a’ (Supplications) of Ruku`

 Just as we discussed previously that there are different opening du`a’s, there are also a variety of du`a’s of ruku`. We should try to memorize them and vary what we say so that we are conscious of them and so they do not become words we simply repeat.

1- We should say three times:

Subhana Rabbiya al-‘Azheem “How Perfect is my Lord, the Supreme.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud) When we say “Subhan Allah” or “Subhana Rabbiy,” we are disassociating Allah from any imperfection or impurity or from anything derogatory. And we say “Rabbiy” meaning “my Lord” in order to feel closeness to Him and love Him.

2- We can also say:

Subbuhun Quddusun, Rabbu al-Mala’ikati wa al-Ruh, “Exalted, Pure, Lord of the Angels and the Spirit.” (Muslim)

Subbuh comes from the same root word of subhan, which is Sa-Ba-Ha, and is an aggrandizement of subhan, meaning the Exalted One who is praised and glorified extensively. It has been debated by scholars as to what the ‘Spirit’ refers; most have said that it refers to Jibreel (peace be upon him), others have said it is another great Angel, and others have said that it is a formidable being that not even the Angels can see. Allah knows best.

3- We can also say:

Subhanak Allahuma wa bihamdik, Allahuma ighfirli, “How Perfect You are, O Allah. Praises are for You. O Allah, forgive me.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim)

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 Source: Suhaibwebb.com.

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Ruku`: The Internal Component

Ruku`

True worship comes through humility of the soul.

When we recite the Qur’an, we know we should have khushu` (devotion) because we are reciting the words of Allah. When we go into sujud (prostration), we know that God answers our du`a’ (supplication), so we try hard to concentrate. Yet what do we feel when we go into ruku` (bowing)?

Fulfilling the Needs of the Soul

We all have certain daily needs. A parent cannot wait to get home from work to embrace their children, and even if the children are asleep, the parent will give them a kiss just to fill that space. When we feel hunger, we sometimes become tired and cranky until we eat.

Just like we have emotional and physical needs, we also have spiritual needs. The soul thirsts for the worship of God. Many people feel an emptiness, and try to fill it with other things. But just like a hungry person cannot satisfy his hunger by running—we would find that absurd—this spiritual thirst cannot be fulfilled except through the true worship of God.

Humility through Ruku`

True worship comes through humility of the soul, and ruku` represents a part of that. One of the Arabs, Hakim bin Hizam, when accepting Islam, told the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that he would fulfill all of the commandments except ruku` during Prayer because of the humility it involved.

Thus when we go into ruku`, we should make a conscious effort to make the straightening of our backs, the lowering of our heads, and the uttering of “subhan rabbiya al-`azheem” (Perfect is my Lord, the Supreme) a reflection of our internal state.

When we say “subhaan rabbiya al-`azheem,” we are disassociating Almighty Allah from anything. “Rabb,” as with many other words, does not just have one meaning—rabb means the Lord, the Sustainer, and the Cherisher. When we think of what we have—the clothes we wear, our wealth, our health, our loved ones—who has provided them? So, how can we not humble ourselves to our Lord? And how can we not feel a special closeness to Him—that He is my Lord?

Glorifying Allah, the Supreme

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:  “In the ruku`, therefore, glorify the Supremity of the Lord, Mighty and Sublime.” (Muslim)

When you recognize the supremity of Almighty Allah, and the words are reflected in your heart, you should then have reverence for everything associated with Him. Almighty Allah has said in the Qur’an:

And whoever honors the symbols of Allah—indeed, it is from the piety of hearts. (Al-Hajj 22:32)

Thus, reverence during ruku` is from piety of the heart and we should all strive to perfect it. Ibn Al-Qayyim, a medieval Muslim scholar, stated that the ruku` is almost an introduction to sujud, when we take one form of humility before Almighty Allah to a deeper level. This effort that goes into feeling humility in ruku` can only increase our love for Him, and is one way of manifesting the meanings in the famous hadith qudsi:

“If my servant comes closer to Me a hand span, I come closer to him or her an arms-length; and if he or she comes to Me walking, I come to him or her at speed.” (Muslim)

As we increase in good deeds to grow closer to Almighty Allah, He loves us, and what more could we want than Allah’s love? This is why the Prophet would lengthen his ruku`, such that his ruku`, his standing after ruku`, his sujud, and his sitting in between the two prostrations, were nearly equal in length (Al-Bukhari & Muslim).

Bear in mind that his ruku` was also almost as long as his standing before ruku`, where he would sometimes recite five sections (ajza’). (Muslim)

Muslim bin Makki once described `Abdullah bin Al-Zubair  (may Allah be pleased with him) as he was praying. He said that he saw him go into ruku`, and in that time, Muslim read chapters Al-Baqarah, Aal `Imran, An-Nisaa’ and Al-Ma’idah, and `Abdullah bin Al-Zubair was still in ruku`.

Some of us may be inspired by this, but others of us may think, “I can never reach this level,” and not even try. However, let us remember the hadith above about servants who try to move closer to Almighty Allah by as little as a hand span—as long as we are trying to change the state of our Prayers, we have fulfilled this part of the hadith.

May Allah allow us to taste the sweetness of ruku`.

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This article first appeared at suhaibwebb.com. It is republished with slight editorial modifications.

 

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Prayer: The Key to Good Life

By Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiq

The benefits of prayer are numerous, both in this world and the Hereafter.

Performing the prayer is a command of Allah. It is the most important pillar of Islam. It distinguishes between the believers and non-believers. Prayer is not an option; it is obligatory. It is not once or few times a week. But, it must be performed five times a day. All the Prophets of Almighty Allah merely told their people to pray; Islam, however, made it a very essential part of religion.

Attend constantly to prayers and to the middle prayer, and stand up truly obedient to Allah. (Al-Baqarah 2:238)

Keep up prayer from the declining of the sun till the darkness of the night and the morning recitation; surely, the morning recitation is witnessed. And during a part of the night, pray Tahajjud beyond what is incumbent on you; maybe your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory. (Al-Israa’ 17:78-80)

Perform the regular prayer at both ends of the day, and during parts of the night, for good things drive bad away; this is a reminder for those who are aware. (Hud 11:114)

The sincere and devoted prayer helps a person to enter the Paradise, and it is the key to everything good. In fact, the benefits of prayer are numerous, both in this world and the Hereafter; its benefits are spiritual, moral, physical, individual, and social. Prayer is our link, our bond, and our communication with Allah. If you love Allah and want Him to love you, know that the prayer is the means to that. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The source of my delight is the prayer” (authenticated by Al-Albani). He used to ask Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) to give the Adhan for the prayer thus: “Give us comfort by it, O Bilal.” He used to spend a long time in his nightly prayers. Sometimes, he used to offer prayer for one-third of the night and sometimes for half of the night, or even more than that. He used to find great comfort and joy in this heart-refining act of worship. Performing prayer is rewarded both in this world and beyond.

The whole structure of prayer is so beautiful and so remarkable that there is nothing comparable to it in any religion. Prayer is not just recitation or physical movements. Yet, mind, soul and body, all three are involved together in a most harmonious way during this obligatory act of worship.

Prayer is done both individually and collectively; it is done both in public and in privacy. If we observe our prayer as it should be observed, everything in our lives will change for the better. Our relationship with Allah will be good because we shall be living fully conscious of Him all the time. Our relations with our families, our co-workers, our neighbors, and everyone and everything will be very good. By means of prayer along with the ablution, we shall be clean from sins as much as a person who takes a bath five times a day will be clean from every kind of dirt. Almighty Allah tells us in the Qur’an that the prayer precludes all kinds of evils, vulgarities, and indecencies,

Recite that which has been revealed to you of the Book and keep up prayer; surely prayer keeps (one) away from indecency and evil, and certainly the remembrance of Allah is the greatest, and Allah knows what you do. . (Al-`Ankabut 29:45)

Moreover, we are told in the Qur’an that those who establish prayer regularly do not experience fears or anxieties when afflicted with hardships. Allah, the Most-High, says:

Surely man is created of a hasty temperament, being greatly grieved when evil afflicts him, And niggardly when good befalls him, except those who pray,those who are constant at their prayer. (Al-Ma`arij 70:19-23)

More importantly, prayer brings about the true success in this life and in the life to come, as Almighty Allah tells us in the Qur’an,

Successful indeed are the believers. Those who pray humbly … and who keep up their prayers, they shall be the heirs who shall inherit the Paradise and they shall be there forever. (Al-Mu’minun 23:1-11)

Everyday Benefits

Prayer requires taharah (Arabic for: cleanliness of one’s body and clothes, and of the place of prayer). So, those who perform the prayer enjoy clean bodies, clean clothes, and a clean environment. In addition, prayer is to be performed on appointed times. Consequently, the regular performers of prayer learn punctuality in all their affairs and get a sense of how valuable time is.

In prayer, Muslims stand together without any distinction of race, color, financial status, or political position. Those who perform prayer in congregation regularly do learn the concepts of equality, solidarity, and brotherhood. Prayer in congregation is performed behind an imam whom everyone has to follow. This teaches them discipline, order, and organization. Moreover, if the imam makes any mistake, any person can correct him. Indeed, this is a clear sign of democracy. Let us pray regularly and pray in the best way, so that the benefits and beauty of prayer may reflect in our lives. Mu`adh ibn Jabal, one of the Prophet’s Companions, reported,

“One day the Prophet took my hand and said, ‘By Allah, I love you.’ And said, ‘I advise you, O Mu`adh, not to fail to say after every prayer the following: O Allah, help me to remember You, to thank You, and to worship You in the best way’.”(An-Nawawi)

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This article first appeared on Pakistanlink.com. Here taken from Onislam.net.

Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiq is Islamic scholar of North America; Director, Orange County Islamic Center, California.

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Prayer in the Qur’anic Sense

Do you recall when was the last time you prayed?… Readers’ answers may vary, but what is common to all is that most people pray, at one time or another. Indeed, people can pray to Allah, our Lord, at any time and in any place they like, for anything they wish. Allah calls attention to the fact that people can pray and remember Him anywhere they wish:

Those who remember Allah, standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying]: “Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire. Our Lord, those You cast into the Fire, You have indeed disgraced. The wrongdoers will have no helpers. Our Lord, we heard a caller calling us to faith: “Have faith in your Lord!’ and we had faith. Our Lord, forgive us our wrong actions, erase our bad actions from us and take us back to You with those who are truly good. Our Lord, give us what You promised us through Your Messengers, and do not disgrace us on the Day of Rising. You do not break Your promise.” Their Lord responds to them: “I will not let the deeds of any doer among you go to waste, male or female…” (Aal `Imran 3:191-195)

In the Qur’an, Allah describes the kind of prayer He most likes, which we will explain in this series of articles.

1- Praying Humbly, Without Loudness of Voice

When you are in distress or feel desperate and thus feel the need to pray to Allah, where would you like to pray? Surely, the solitude of one’s own room at night or a very tranquil place that will give you the sense of Allah’s nearness would be the place you are looking for.

While worshipping, spiritual integrity can best be attained in a time and place that offers secure undivided attention. A person who feels the need to pray to Allah for the correction of his or her mistakes prefers to be alone and pray in secret. The Prophet Zakariyya’s prayers, through which he asked for a descendant, is an example of secret prayer:

When he called on his Lord in secret and said, “My Lord, my bones have lost their strength and my head is crowned with white, but in calling on You, My Lord, I have never been disappointed.” (Maryam 19:3-4)

As stated above, prayer is “accepting one’s weaknesses and limited power before Allah’s infinite might and asking for help from Him.” For this reason, prayer demands absolute consciousness and acceptance of one’s weaknesses and destitution before Allah. In this sense, there is no doubt that one will fail to attain such consciousness if one is insincere. In the Qur’an, Allah recommends believers to pray humbly and secretly:

Call on your Lord humbly and secretly. He does not love those who overstep the limits. (Al- A`raf 7:55)

Remember your Lord in yourself humbly and with awe, without loudness of voice, morning and evening. Do not be one of the unaware. Those who are in the presence of your Lord do not consider themselves too great to worship Him. They glorify His praise and they prostrate to Him… (Al-A`raf 7:205-206)

In the Qur’an, Allah calls our attention to solitary prayer that is performed with a deep feeling of dire need. In this sense, the place, the sophistication of the outward performance, the number of participants, or the supplicants’ loud voice can by no means be the criteria for a successful prayer.

One must be aware that a loud voice in prayer is not an element that makes it heard by Allah. As already mentioned, Allah, the All-Knowing, knows even our inner thoughts and He is closer to us than our jugular vein. In this sense, it is needless to raise our voice so as to be heard by our Lord Who is close to us. One can either pray secretly or in a tone of voice audible only to oneself.

From the verses below we understand that both while praying or going about our daily business, a person needs to use his or her voice at a moderate level:

Be moderate in your tread and lower your voice. The most hateful of voices is the donkey’s bray. (Luqman 31:19)

Say: “Call on Allah or call on the All-Merciful, whichever you call upon, the Most Beautiful Names are His.” Do not be too loud in your prayer or too quiet in it, but try to find a way between the two. (Al-Israa’ 17:110)

As the verses reveal, the form of worship described in the Qur’an is far from ostentation. It is not performed to impress people: the sole purpose is the due fulfillment of one’s duty towards the Creator. The Qur’an emphasizes this point strongly. In verses related to prayer, there are strong references to “calling on Allah, making one’s religion sincerely His,” which means, performing one’s prayer to earn Allah’s good pleasure alone and not seeking any other purpose. We can see this from verses such as the following:

He is the Living—there is no god but Him—so call on Him, making your religion sincerely His. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. (Ghafir 40:65)

So call upon Allah, making your religion sincerely His, even though the disbelievers detest it. (Ghafir 40:14)

Say: “My Lord has commanded justice. Stand and face Him in every mosque and call on Him, making your religion sincerely His. As He originated you, so you will return.” (Al-A`raf: 29)

The religion belongs to Allah alone. All forms of worship are performed to earn Allah’s good pleasure. The only way to attain this goal is to perform our worship in the form Allah describes.

Those who do not make their prayers or any other form of worship sincerely Allah’s, that is, those who seek “ostentation,” are in great delusion. As Allah says:

So woe to the praying ones, Who are unmindful of their prayers, Who do [good] to be seen. (Al-Ma`un 107:4-6)

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The article was first published in Harun Yahya’s book: Prayer in the Qur’an. Here taken with kind permission from www.harunyahya.com

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Prayer in Islam

brunei-ramadan-mosque-water-reflection

God is accessible at anytime and in any place.

Nowadays the media reports a lot on the religion of Islam and the Muslims; but the majority of this ‘primetime’ is used to mar the image of Islam. Muslims are often depicted as being fanatical or extreme for simply following the basic tenants of Islam.

The media goes a step further in marring the image of Islam by confusing cultures with what Islam really is. Basic practices and pillars of Islam begin to take on strange connotations when the reality is they are acts of worship that denote piety and God consciousness.

Muslims testify with certainty that there is none worthy of worship except God alone. They believe that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is His messenger. They fast, they give in charity, and they try to go to Mecca for pilgrimage. Muslims also pray five times per day.

Five times! When some hear this, they throw their hands up in shock and wonder just how much time this must take and how it can be slotted into a 24 hour period.

Others, who are used to communicating with God in their own form of prayer will often question the rules and regulations that are attached to Prayer in Islam. God, they say, is accessible at any time.

According to the Muslim belief, God is accessible at anytime and in any place. Muslims call on God frequently throughout the day and night. They raise their hands in supplication and ask for His help, mercy, and forgiveness.

This, however, is not the act that Muslims refer to as Prayer. This is called making du`a’ (supplications) wherein one calls unto God asking Him for His help. For Muslims Prayer is a set of ritual movements and words performed at fixed times, five times per day.

God says in Qur’an, “Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specific times.” (An-Nisa’ 4:103) Muslims pray in the early morning before sunrise, in the middle of the day, in the afternoon, at sunset and at night. Muslims pray in obedience to God because they believe God created humankind for no other purpose except to worship Him. We read in the Qur’an: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

Consequently, for a believer, worship is a way of life. Prayer at fixed times serves as a reminder of why we are here and helps to direct a person’s thoughts and actions away from sin and onto remembrance of God.

Prophet Muhammad emphasized the importance of Prayer when he explained its ability to remove sin. He said, “What would you think if there was a river by the door of any one of you and he bathed in it five times a day, would there be any trace of dirt left on him?” They said, “No trace of dirt would be left on him.” He said, “That is like the five daily prayers, with it God erases sin.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Prayer is just one act amongst many acts of worship; it holds a very special place in Islam because of the way it was enjoined. It was not brought down to earth by an Angel rather it was bestowed upon Prophet Muhammad during his unique ascension into the Heavens.

Fifty prayers were first enjoined upon the believers but this was reduced to five, while the reward for Prayer remains as if it were still fifty. This reduction shows just how great God’s love for humanity is, a few minutes throughout the day are rewarded as if they were continuous worship.

Muslims pray five times per day. If possible men should pray in a mosque or in a congregation of men. Women have the option of praying at home. The believers stand alone, or surrounded by others, they stand in their homes and workplaces, the parks and the mosques. They stand, bow, prostrate, and sit. Their voices are sometimes raised and sometimes silent, but the words remain the same.

When a Muslim prays he or she addresses God in the Arabic language and uses the same words and movements as every other Muslim across the globe. Muslims unite in the ritual and language of Prayer.

For Prayer, Muslims stand facing the direction of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, where the House of God, known as the Ka`bah is situated. If a person is ill or injured it is possible to pray sitting, or even lying down. The leader of the Prayer known as the imam, is not an intermediary between the people and God; rather, he is usually the person able to recite the most Qur’an. Women may also pray with a congregation of women. When Muslims pray together they stand shoulder to shoulder. Their proximity to each other demonstrates unity. No one person is better than another except by his or her piety.

Kings stand next to the poor, the white stand next to the black, Arabs stand beside Europeans. The believers then raise their hands to ear level and proclaim that God is the greatest. This indicates that the Prayer has begun and that all matters related to this world are left far behind. The connection is made and in the few minutes, it takes to pray each person stands before God in full submission. Interestingly the Arabic word for Prayer is Salah and it is derived from a root word that means to connect. Muslims then recite the opening chapter of the Qur’an, al-Fatihah, and sometimes another chapter from Quran. They then go through a set of ritual movements bowing and then prostrating, all the while proclaiming God’s greatness, glory and majesty.

In prostration, when the forehead touches the ground, the believer is closer to God than at any other time. There is now an opportunity to make supplication, asking God for help, mercy or forgiveness (this can be in any language).

Towards the end of the Prayer, Muslims sit to praise and ask God to bless Prophets Muhammad and Abraham (peace and blessings be upon them). The Prayer concludes with the words As-salamu `alaykum wa Rahmatullah (may God’s peace and blessings be upon you) spoken while turning the head towards the right and then the words are repeated while turning towards the left.

The Prayer has now ended and the world comes rushing back. However, for those few minutes the believer was alone with God. Whether he or she was praying alone or within a congregation, the connection was between God and the individual. It was a moment of bliss, peace, and tranquility. Prayer is a reminder and a comfort. Every hour of every day somewhere in the world, a Muslim is praying. The believer is seeking the comfort that comes from feeling close to God and the peace that comes from feeling God’s love and mercy.

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Taken with modification from: islamreligion.com.

 

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Introduction to Prayer

It was here in Makkah where our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was visited by the Archangel Gabriel. Muhammad was flown from his house in Makkah to Jerusalem mounted on Al-Buraq, which travelled at the speed of light.

When he arrived in Jerusalem Prophet Muhammad led the previous Prophets in prayer at AL-Masjid Al-Aqsa.  After he was descending to the heavens it was there that the prayer was established and made compulsory.

It’s till today that the nation of Muhammad (peace be upon him) answer the call to prayer in order to thank, praise and remember Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (Exalted is He).

As the sound of the Adhan (call to Prayer) is heard throughout the world, Muslims stop and turn to the Lord, thanking Him, remembering Him, bowing down to him in prayer.

Salah is the most important Pillar of Islam after the two Shahadah (testimony of faith): ‘Ash hadu an la ilaha illa Allah, wa ash hadu anna Mohammadan rasoolu Allah’ (I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His Messenger).

The aim of the project is to introduce salah to those who don’t know how to pray at all, for beginners or for those who have some idea or for those who want to perfect their prayer.

 

 

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