Five Pillars of Islam: Prayer

Salah is the name for the obligatory prayers which are performed five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshipper and God. Prayers are led by a learned person who knows some Qur’an and how to pray. These five prayers contain verses from the Qur’an, and are said in Arabic, the language of the Revelation, but personal supplication (dua) can be offered in one’s own language.

Prayers are said at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nightfall, and thus determine the rhythm of the entire day. Although it is preferable to worship together in a mosque, a Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories and universities. Visitors to the Muslim world are struck by the centrality of prayers in daily life.

A translation of the Call to Prayer (Adhan) is:

God is most great. God is most great.
God is most great. God is most great.
I testify that there Is no god except God.
I testify that there is no god except God.
I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God.
I testify that Muhammad Is the messenger of God.
Come to prayer! Come to prayer!
Come to success (In this life and the Hereafter)! Come to success!
Come to the best of deeds! Come to the best of deeds!
God is most great. God is most great.
There is no god except God.

As-Salah, or prayer is the second pillar of Islam. It begins with the purification of the body and ends with the purification of the soul. It is performed five times a day. Prayer is obligatory and must be performed five times a day. These five limes are dawn (Fajr), immediately after noon (Dhuhr), mid-afternoon (`Asr), sunset (Maghrib), and early night (Isha’). Ritual cleanliness and ablution are required before prayer, as are ritually clean clothes and location, and the removal of shoes. One may pray individually or communally, at home, outside, in virtually any clean place, as well as in a mosque though the latter is preferred.

The significance of prayer lies in one’s maintaining a continuous link to God five times a day, which helps the worshipper avoid misdeeds if he/she performs the prayers sincerely. In addition it promotes discipline, God-consciousness and placing one’s trust in Allah alone and the importance of striving for the Hereafter. Thus, man moves from one prayer to another until he meets with his God. The Messenger, peace be upon him, said:

“Consider a river running by your door in which you wash
yourself five times a day. Would that spare any soiled spot on
your body? (His listeners) said: “Certainly not” He said: So do the
five daily prayers with which Allah effaces the sins.”
(Authenticated by: Ibn Majab)

A person who leads the prayer is called the imam. There is also no minimum number of congregants required to hold communal prayers. Prayer consists of verses from the Qur’an and words, accompanied by various bodily postures – standing (qiyam), bowing (rukuu), prostrating (sujud) and sitting (qu`oud). They are said in Arabic, the language of the revelation, though personal supplications (Duah) can be offered in one’s own language. Worshippers face the Qiblah, the direction of the Ka’bah in the city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia.

The main postures of the prayer; standing, bowing, prostrating and sitting, are an expression of humility, submission and adoration to God and should be performed with full concentration. The time spent performing the prayer is a time to forget all worldly things, all problems, worries or stress and focus entirely on God. The prayer is a chance for a person to communicate with their Greater directly, without intercessor or middleman.

Quranic verses regarding Prayer: Allah says:

Those who believe and do deeds of righteousness and establish
regular prayers and regular charity will have their reward with
their Lord; on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve. (2:277)

When ye pass (congregational) prayers celebrate Allah’s
praises standing sitting down or lying dawn on your sides; but
when ye are free from danger set up regular prayers: for such
prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times. (4:103)

And for this their prayer hath Allah rewarded them with
gardens with rivers flowing underneath their eternal home.
Such is the recompense of those who do good. (5:85)