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The practice and significance of salah Salah – The five compulsory daily prayers Wudu – The washing ritual that must take place before salah In Islam there are five compulsory daily prayers. This is called salah and is the second pillar of Islam. Muslims offer salah because: It is commanded in the Qur’an: ‘Establish They must remember Allah throughout the day and be aware of is constant presence (taqwa) and prayer helps them to do this. It makes them feel spiritually closer to Allah. It unites them with other members of the ummah – the worldwide family of Islam. It reconfirms their faith. regular prayers – at the sun’s decline till the darkness of the night, and the recital of the Qur’an for the recital of the Qur’an at dawn is witnessed.’ (Surah 17:78) The practice of salah Salah is very sacred (holy) as it is when a Muslim seeks to come into direct contact with Allah. Therefore, before prayers, Muslims must wash themselves by performing wudu (ritual washing). There are a number of rules for salah: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Perform wudu. Prayers must be said with the correct intention (niyyah) and performed in a clean environment. Muslims must remove their shoes before they pray. Pray five times a day at the set times. Face towards Makkah and perform the correct number of rakahs (prayer cycles). Rakahs involve Muslims performing certain actions which include: standing; bowing; prostrating and sitting. These must be repeated in a certain order and a certain number of times. Recite in Arabic During salah Muslims praise Allah and recite verses from the Qur’an. They do not ask Allah for things during salah. Muslims must pray at the set times wherever they may be, whether in a mosque, at home, at work or at school. The place of prayer is not important, but it must be clean. Many Muslims will carry a prayer mat with them so that they can be sure the place they are using is clean. Also, many Muslims will use a compass to locate the direction of the Ka’bah in Makkah (qiblah). Whenever possible it is better to pray with other Muslims and be united in the worship of Allah. On Friday midday, as far as possible, all adult males must take part in the Jum’ah prayers at the mosque. This means that a Muslim must keep very strict discipline in their life if they are to follow the rules exactly, but keeping these rules helps them to remember Allah at all times of the day and focus their life on Him. The significance of salah to a Muslim Salah is considered by many Muslims to be the most important of the practical pillars (salah, zakah, sawm and hajj). It is a way of showing total submission to Allah, seeking His forgiveness, but is also a way of identifying with the worldwide community of Islam (ummah). We all forget to do things, for instance perhaps we forget a person’s birthday. It is useful to have something to remind us of things. Muslims believe that because salah constantly punctuates their day it helps them to remember Allah. Therefore, not only does it remind them of Allah’s greatness, but also it improves their behaviour, which will bring rewards. Allah says in the QUr’an, ‘Then do you remember Me; I will remember you…’ (Surah 2:152) For a Muslim to gain the most benefit from salah, the intention – niyyah – must be right. Just saying words without meaning is meaningless. The heart must be involved in the actions. In addition to the set prayers, Muslims also perform du’a – the prayer of the heart. These private prayers can be said at any time and are often said after completing salah. Summary: Salah is the second pillar of Islam. It is the five daily prayers that Muslims must perform. It is seen as very significant because it helps Muslims to focus on Allah and brings them spiritually closer to Allah. Exam Questions (a) What is wudu? (2) *(c) Explain why prayer (salah) is important for Muslims. (8) (a) What is wudu? (2) The washing ritual which must take place before salah *(c) Explain why prayer (salah) is important for Muslims. (8) Salah is the second pillar of Islam and is prescribed by Allah. Muslims are commanded in the Qur’an to prostrate themselves before God five times a day in the direction of the Kab’ah, ‘Establish regular prayers…’ (Surah 17) Prayers must be said with the correct intention (niyyah) and Muslims must remember Allah throughout the day and be aware of is constant presence (taqwa) and prayer helps them to do this. Salah is considered by many Muslims to be the most important of the practical pillars for it is a way of showing total submission to Allah, seeking His forgiveness, but is also a way of identifying with the worldwide community of Islam (ummah). Prayer gives Muslims the opportunity to establish and build relationships with Allah and makes them feel spiritually closer to Him. Regular prayer reconfirms a Muslim’s faith throughout the day and allows them the opportunity to focus their life on him.