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1) Prayers are a form of worship, the expression both of praise and of supplication. Those who hymn the praise of the Giver and Sustainer of life in prayers realize that it was not mere coincidence that prayers were established when Muhammad was nearest to Allah. The tradition of the ascension reports that during that night five prayers were enjoined and that these five prayers equaled fifty in worth and reward. For the believer, prayers provide the opportunity for the glorification of the Giver of all good and of all Mercy of His grace and His bounty. Convinced of the wonderful glories of the Creator, the human being yearns for more of His mercy. Most of all he requests guidance to the straight path. For this his only means is obedience, it is not blind obedience, but obedience why vision that transcends the physical limitations of human nature .

2) With praise and supplication the believer achieves a deep sense of satisfaction, derived from the fact that the Bestower of Life and Death is so near that he can be in His presence any time of day or night. In this prayers are a normal vital act by which the little island of our personality suddenly discovers its situation in a larger whole of life. This may explain the Prophetic address to Bilal, when the Prophet directed him to call for prayers at a time of distress,

" Let us now have comfort in prayers "

It was also this deep sense of belief that made the Prophet at times stay so long in one bowing or a single prostration that some of his followers suspected that the Prophet might have forgotten that he was praying. It was also this realization of one's nearness to Allah through prayers that minor discomforts in prayers were actually a source of pleasure. Authentic traditions report that the Prophet used to pray so often on winter nights that his feet became swollen. Asked why he exerted himself so tirelessly in prayers? He answered:

" Am I not a thankful servant ? "

Again, this pleasure derived from prayers and the easy access to His Presence illustrate a unique characteristic of Muslim worship. It is the fact that " each human being is his own priest ". The only time taken to prepare oneself for this spiritual journey is usually the time for the performance of ablution.

3) The heart of prayers is humility. The Qur'an says:

" Successful indeed are the believers who are humble in their prayers ."

Like every devotional act, prayers have their ceremonies starting with ablution; but these ceremonies do not form the basic experience in praying. What really amounts is the devotional state of the worshipper.

" Their flesh and their blood reach not Allah, but the devotion from you reached Him ".

On the authority of Muaz lbn Jabel, it is reported that the Prophet said:

" It is not one sixth nor one tenth of a man's devotion which is acceptable to Allah, but only such portion thereof as he offers with understanding and true devotional spirit "

Praise and supplication can only properly be offered to the Creator with a deep sense of humility. It is humility that is engendered by the insistence of Islam on the clear line of demarcation between what is human and what is Divine . One of the practices of the early Muslims to achieve this was to concentrate fully on recitations from the Qur'an in prayers. That may be one of the reasons why they recited so much of the Qur'an while praying. Some of them did actually recite hundreds of verses in one rak'a.

4) However paradoxical it might appear , from this sense of humility is derived a feeling of human dignity, dignity in seeing through forms and creatures the visible Hand of Allah. This seems to be a common feature in all religions, and it appears to be the only significant explanation of the spirit of martyrdom in the history of religions. At a time when life and death are equated, it is easy to choose life in death. With humility there is a real sense of freedom from fear of anything and everything save Allah's anger and it is this from fear that is basic to any real sense of human dignity.

5) The physical movements in prays are also important. With the sense of humility implied by making some of the noblest parts of human body touch the ground, these movements are also directed to a single spot, which is central to Muslim worship as a whole. All worshipper face the " Qibla " of prayer in Mecca and this by itself, is a unifying factor in a religion whose two basic pil1ars are Oneness and unity:

" Oneness of Allah, and the unity of both Prophethood and of the human race as a whole . "

6) There is perhaps nothing more indicative of the sense of equality that Islam insists on than the sight of a Muslim congregation at prayers. Discrimination, racial and social, does not exist. and no agency has done this more effectively than the mosque. Distinctions of race and nationality exist in Islam only for purposes of identification, but they do not lead to discrimination. The institution of prayers had been from its very beginning

one of the means of welding all the different tribal and. social sections of the Madinese community together. The Muazin was "Bilal", the Abyssinian. This sense of equality in the face of Allah is the proper mechanism for engendering a social consciousness that takes its strength from human brotherhood, and brotherhood leads to the way for real love.

7) From " the Fatiha " which is to be recited in every rak'a of prayers the following concepts are wealthy of note: 1) The universe is of a complex system. 2) Man is not the center of the universe. 3) This life is one stage in man's journey to eternity. 4) Nobody and nothing beside Allah is worthy of worship. 5) Nobody and nothing beside Allah can give us real help. 6) There is only one straight path, that of the believers, all other paths lead nowhere.. 7) The straight path is that of a long line of Prophets and messengers. 8) Knowledge and disobedience do not lead to the straight path. 9) Mythology cannot be a substitute. for true religion.


The bearing witness or "Tashahhud" also contains certain affirmations: 1) Allah is the source of good, and everything good goes to Him. 2)Peace falls upon real belief . 3) The unity of believers. 4) The unity of Prophethood from Ibrahim to Muhammad. 5) The Oneness of Allah, Muhammad being His messenger and servant.

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