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General Issues Pertaining to the Prayer
  The Second Pillar of Islaam: The Five Daily Prayers
Author: Abu Iyaad as-Salafi
Article ID : IBD050008  [16432]  
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The Muslim's prayers are one of the many types of worship in Islaam. They are an outward expression of a Muslim's belief in Allaah. The prayer is also a practical sign of obedience to the command of Allaah. As such it is something that is performed on a daily basis[1] so that a Muslim is never unmindful of the One who created him and provided for him with all that he can see and observe on this earth - all of which has been subjected to him, for his use and benefit. Allaah said:

And He has subjected to you [for your use and benefit] all that is in the Heavens and the Earth. It is all as a favour and kindness from Him. Verily in this are signs for a people who think deeply. [Jaathiyah 45:13]

Since human-kind have been created to fulfil a purpose - which is to worship Allaah - there must be a way to express this worship - otherwise it would be meaningless - and this is why the Muslim's prayer consists of physical actions: a number of different postures. So a Muslim stands, bows and prostrates. And this is a sign of humility, gratefulness and obedience.

When a Muslim faces the qiblah (the direction of prayer) he also knows that he must turn his heart away from all other things to Allaah, the One True God. When a Muslim stands in front of Allaah, having folded his hands and arms, it is a sign of humility and defeat in front of Allaah, the One True God. In this posture a Muslim also brings to mind the Day of Judgement where he will have to stand and account for his deeds. When a Muslim bends his back and bows to Allaah, it is a sign of lowering oneself in obedience to Allaah. It is a sign of acknowledging one's own shortcomings and weaknesses in front of the all-Powerful God who is Most-Perfect. While in this position a Muslim says: "How perfect is my Lord, the Most Great". Then when a Muslim prostrates, placing his or her noble limbs upon the earth, it is an extreme sign and the end result of humility. Whilst in this position a Muslim says: "How perfect is my Lord, the Most High". In this posture a Muslim returns his limbs to their place of origin: the dust from which they were created.

The prayer is a constant reminder therefore, for all of humanity - for the black or the white, for the rich or the poor, for the powerful or the powerless, for the employer or the employee - of Allaah, the One True God, that He is their Creator and Lord, that they have no privilege or benefit - whether it be on account of wealth, power or status - except that it has come from Allaah and so they have no reason to become proud or arrogant over one another. Also, that they recognise their great dependence upon Him for all their needs.

The five daily prayers have enormous benefits, both for the individual and also for the society at large. Since a Muslim has to perform ablution[2] for the prayers it ensures physical cleanliness for the duration of the whole day. In Islaam great importance is given to cleanliness. The Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: "Cleanliness is one-half of faith".

Then by the performance of prayer, at stated times and in congregation (praying collectively in the mosque, where all the Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet in straight rows) a Muslim learns to be punctual, to develop and have a sense of duty, to have self-discipline, self-control, patience, efficiency, and to build his character. It might seem that repeating something five times a day is a bit repetitive and can get quite tiresome. But this is far from the truth. This is because the prayer does not consist of mere actions. Rather a Muslim is actually speaking to Allaah throughout the whole prayer, while he is standing, bowing or prostrating: speaking to the One who created him and fashioned him from a mere sperm drop to a fully grown human being who possesses sight, hearing and understanding.

Say: He is the One who initiated the process of your creation and then gave you the faculties of hearing, seeing and understanding. Little thanks is it that you give [Mulk 67:23]

So this reminds him of his lowly origins. At the same time, while standing in front of his Lord, a Muslim feels the emotions of love, hope and fear. And every time a Muslim performs the prayer his faith and belief in the One True God is increased and strengthened due to these feelings, which are a result of the words and actions of the prayer.

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