Posted on 06/29/2012 by __socrates

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PRAYER. Arabic salat صااة
pl. salawat. Persian namaz نماز. pl. namazha.
Prayer is the second of the five foundations, or pillars, of practical religion in Islam, and is a devotional exercise which every Muslim is required to render to God at least five times a day, namely, at the early morning, midday, afternoon, evening, and night.
See Suratu ‘r-Rum (xxx.), 17; “Glorify God when it is evening (masa’) and at morning (subh), -and to Him be praise in the heavens and the earth,—and at afternoon (‘ashi), and at noon-tide (zuhr).” (But all commentators are agreed that masa’ includes both sunset and after sunset; and, therefore, both the Maghrib and ‘Ashiyah prayers.)
Surah xi. 116: “Observe prayer at early morning, at the close of the day, and at the approach of night; for the good deeds drive away the evil deeds.”
Surah xx. 130: “Put up then with what they say; and celebrate the praise of thy Loud before the sunrise, and before its setting: and some time in the night do thou praise Him, and in the extremes of the day, that thou haply mayest please Him.”
Surah xvii. 80: “Observe prayer at sunset, till the first darkening of the night, and the daybreak reading-for the daybreak reading hath its witnesses’, and watch unto it in the night: this shall he an excess in service.”
Surah ii. 42 : “Seek aid with patience and prayer.”
Surah iv. 1-4 : “When ye have fulfilled your prayer, remember God standing and sitting, and lying on your sides; and when ye are in safety, then be steadfast in prayer-. Verily prayer is for the believers prescribed and timed.”
This Salat, or liturgical service, has thus become one of the most prominent features of the Muslim religion, and very numerous are the injunctions regarding it which have been handed down in the traditions. There are various minor differences amongst the numerous sects of Islam regarding the formula, but its main features are alike in all countries.
We shall describe prayer according to the Hanafi sect of Sunni Muslims.
It is absolutely necessary that the service should be performed in Arabic; and that clothes and body of the worshipper should be clean, and that the praying-place should be free from all impurity. It may be said either privately, or in company, or in a mosque — although services in a mosque are more meritorious than those elsewhere.
The stated prayers are always preceded by the ablution of the face, hands, and feet. [ABLUTION.]
At the time of public prayer, the mu’azzin, or “crier,” ascends the minaret, or stands at the side of the mosque nearest the public thoroughfare, and gives the azan, or “call to prayer,” as follows: –
God is great! God is great! God is great! God is great!
I bear witness that there is no god but God!
I bear witness that there is no god but God!
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Apostle of God!
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Apostle of God:
Come to prayers! Come to prayers!
Come to salvation! Come to salvation!
(The Shi’ahs add ” Come to good works! “)
There is no other god but God ! ”
(The Shi’ahs recite the last sentence twice.)
In the early morning the following sentence is added: “Prayers are better sleep!”


When the prayers are said in a congregation or in the mosque, they begin with the Iaqmah, which is a recitation of the same words as the azan, with the addition of the sentence, “Prayers are now ready!” The


regular form of prayer then begins with the Niyah, which is said standing, with the hands on either side: –
“I have purposed to offer up to God only with a sincere heart this morning (or, as the case may be), with my face Qiblah-wards two (or, as the cases may be) rak’ah prayers Farz (Sunnah or Nafi).”


Then follows the Takbir-i-Tairrimah, said with the thumbs touching the lobules of ears and the open hands on each side of the face:-
“God is great !”


The Qiyam, or standing position. The right hand placed upon the left, below the navel (the Shaf’is, and the two other orthodox sects, place their hands on their breasts, as also the Wahhabis; the Shiahs keep their hands on either side. In all sects the women perform the Qiyam with their hands on their breasts), and the eyes looking to the ground in self-abasement. During which is said the Subhan (the Shi’ahs omit the Subhan):-
“Holiness to Thee, O God!
And praise be to Thee!
Great is Thy name!
Great is Thy greatness!
There is no deity but Thee!”
The Ta’awwuz, or A’uzubillah, is then said as follows:-
“I seek refuge from God from cursed Satan.”
After which the Tasmiyah is repeated:-
“In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful.”
Then follows the Fatihah, viz. the first chapter of the Qur’an:-
“Praise to be God, Lord of all the worlds!
The compassionate, the merciful!
King of the day of reckoning
Thee only do we worship, and to Thee only do we cry for help.
Guide Thou us in the straight path,
The path of those to whom Thou hast been gracious;
With whom Thou art no angry,
And who go not astray, – Amen.”
After this the worshiper can repeat as many chapters of the Qur’an as he may wish, he should, at least, recite one long or two short verses. The following chapter is usually recited, namely, the Suratu ‘l-Ikhlas, or the 122th chapter:
“Say: He is God alone:
God the Eternal!
He begetteth not,
And is not begotten,
And there is none like unto Him.”

The Takbir-i-Ruku’, said whilst making an inclination of the head and body and placing the hands upon the knees, separating the fingers a little.
“God is great!”
The Tasbih-i-Ruku’ said in the same posture.
“I extol the holiness of my Lord, the Great!”
The Shi’ahs here add “and with His praise.” This is also added by the Shi’ahs to the Tasbih-i-Sijdah.)
“I extol the holiness of my Lord, the Great!”
“I extol the holiness of my Lord, the Great!”
The Qiyam-i-Sami’ Ullah or Tasmi’, said with the body erect, but, unlike the former Qiyam, the hands being placed on either side.


The Imam says aloud (when the prayers are said by a person alone, he recites both sentences):-
“God hears him who praises Him.”
The people then respond in a low voice-
“O Lord, Thou are praised.”

Takbir-i-Sijdah, said as the worshiper drops on his knees.
“God is great!”
The Tasbih-s-Sijdah, recited as the worshiper puts first his nose and then his forehead to the ground.


“I extol the holiness of my Lord the most High!”
“I extol the holiness of my Lord, the most High!”
“I extol the holiness of my Lord, the most High!”
Then raising his head and body and sinking backward upon his heels, and placing his hands upon his thighs, he says the Takbir-i-Jalsah (the Shi’ahs here omit the Takbir, and say instead, “I rise and sit by the power of God!”
“God is great!”

Then whilst prostrating as before, he says the Takbir-i-Sijdah.

“God is great!”

“I extol the holiness of my Lord the most High!”
“I extol the holiness of my Lord, the most High!”
“I extol the holiness of my Lord, the most High!”

The, if at the close of one rak’ah, he repeats the Takbir standing, when it is called Takbir-i-Qiyam; but at the end of two rak’ahs, and at the close of prayer, he repeats it sitting, when it is called Takbir-Qu’ud. (The Shi’ahs here recite the Takbir: — “God it great ” with the thumbs touching the lobules of the ear, and add, “I seek forgiveness from God, my Lord, and I repent before Him!”

“God is great!”

Here ends one rak’ah or form of prayer. The next rak’ah begins with the Ratihah, or 1st chapter of the Tur’an. At the close of every two rak’ahs he recites the Tahiyah


which is said whilst kneeling upon the ground. His left foot bent under him he sits upon it, and place’s his hands upon his knees and says (the Shi’ahs omit the Tahiyah):—

The adorations of the tongue are for God, and also the adorations of the body, and alms-giving!”

“Peace be on thee, O Prophet, with the mercy of God and His blessing!”

“Peace be upon us and upon us and upon God’s righteous servants!”


Then raising the first finger of the right hand, he recites the Tashahhud:—

“I testify that there is no deity but God (the Shi’ahs add, “who has no partner”); and I testify that Muhammad is the servant of God, and the messenger of God!

(Every two rak’ahs close with the Tashahhud. The Darud is said whilst in the same posture.)

“O God, have mercy on Muhammad and on his descendants (the Shi’ahs merely recite:”God have mercy on Muhammad and his descendents”: and omit the rest), as Thou didst have mercy on Abraham and on his descendants. Thou art to be praised, and Thou art great O God, bless Muhammad and his descendants, as Thou didst bless Abraham and his descendants!”

“Thou art to be praised., and Thou art great!”

Then the Du’a:-

“O God our Lord, give us the blessings of this life, and also the blessings of life everlasting. Save us from the torments of fire.”

(The Du’a is omitted by the Shi’ahs, who recite the following instead; “Peace be on thee, O Prophet, with the mercy of God and his blessing!, Peace be upon us, and upon God’s righteous servants!”

He then closes with the Salam.

Turning the head round to the left; he says:-

“The peace you and mercy of God be with you”.
At the close of the whole set of prayers, that is of Farz, Sunnah, Nafl, or Witr, the worshiper raises his hands and offers up a Munajat, or “supplication”. This usually


consists of prayers selected from the Qur’an or Hadis. They ought to be said in Arabic, although they are frequently offered up in the vernacular.

Such supplications were highly commended by Muhammad, who is related to have said:-

“Supplication is the marrow of worship.”

“There is nothing better before God than supplication.”

“Supplicate God when ye are certain of its approval, and know that God accepts not the supplication of a negligent heart.”

“Verily your Lord is ashamed of his servants when they raise up their hands to Him in supplication and return empty.”

These daily prayers are either Farz, Sunnah, Nafl, or Witr. Farz, are those rak’ahs (or forms of prayer), said to be enjoined by God. Sunnah, those founded on the practice of Muhammad. Nafl, the voluntary performance of two rak’ahs or more, which may be omitted without sin. Witr, an off number of rak’ahs, either one, three, five, or seven, said after the night prayer. These divisions of prayer are entirely distinct from each other. They each begin afresh with the Niyah, and worshipers may rest for awhile between them, but not converse on worldly subjects. The Wahhabis think it correct to say the Sunnah prayers in their houses and only the Farz prayers in the mosque.

The five times of prayer are known as Zuhr, ‘Asr, Maghrib, Isha’, and Fajq. There are also three voluntary periods called Ishraq, Zuha, and Tahajjud.

Abdu ‘llah ibn ‘Umar relates that the Prophet said, “The time for Zuhr prayers begins from the inclination of the sun towards the west and closes at the time when the shadow of a person shall be the length of his own stature, which time marks the beginning of the ‘Asr prayers, and, the time of the ‘Asr prayers is from that time till the sun assumes a yellow appearance. The time of Maghrib prayers is from sunset as long as the red appearance in the horizon remains. The time of ‘Isha prayers is from that time till midnight. And the time of the Fajr prayers is from the break of day till the sun rises. Therefore, when the sun has risen you must not recite the morning prayer for the sun rises between the horns of the devil.’ (Mishkat book iv. ch ii.)
It is the ordinary custom of Muslims to say their prayers with their feet uncovered, out strictly according to the Traditions it is lawful to cover the feet with boots or shoes during prayer, provided they are free from impurity.
Abu Sa’id al-Khudri relates that “the Prophet said prayers with his companions, and all on a sudden took off his shoes, and put them down on his left side, and when the people observed it, they took off theirs also; and when the Prophet had finished the prayers, he said, ‘What caused you to take off your shoes? They replied, We did so in order to follow your example. And the Prophet said, ‘Verily Gabriel came to me and told me there was a little filth upon my shoes; therefore, when any one of you goes into a Masjid, look well at your shoes first; and if you perceive any dirt, wipe it off, and then say your prayers in them.’ (Mishkat, book iv ch. ix. p. 2.)
Any wandering of the eyes, or of the mind, a coughing or the like, answering a question, or any action not prescribed to be performed, must be strictly avoided (unless it is between the Sunnah prayers and the fars, or be difficult to avoid for it is held allowable to make three alight irregular motions, or deviations from correct deportment); otherwise, the worshipper must begin again and recite his prayers with due reverence.
If a person arrive late, he merely recites the Niyah and Takbir, and then joins the congregation in that part of the service in which they are engaged.
The Muslim may say his five daily prayers in his home, or shop, or in the street or road, but there are said to be special blessings attending prayer recited in a congregation.
In addition to the daily prayers, the following are special services for special occasions:-
Salatu ‘l-Jum’ah—” The Friday Prayer.” It consists of two rak’ahs after the daily meridian prayer.
Salatu ‘l-Musa fir – “Prayers for a traveller.” Two rak’ahs instead of the usual number at the meridian, afternoon, and night prayers.
Salatu ‘l-Khauf.”The prayers of fear” Said in time of war. They are two rak’ahs recited first by one regiment or company and then by the other.
Salatu ‘1-Tariwih. — Twenty rak’ahs recited every evening during the Ramazan, immediately after the fifth daily prayer.
Salatu ‘1-Istikharah. – Prayers for success or guidance. The person who, is about to undertake any special business performs two rak’ah prayers and then goes to sleep. During his slumbers he may expect to have “ilham,” or inspiration, as to the undertaking for which he seeks guidance!
Salatu ‘1-Khusuf. — Two rak’ahs said at the time of an eclipse of the moon.
Salatu ‘l-Kusuf. —Two rak’ahs said at the time of an eclipse of the sun.
Salatu ‘1-Istisqa. — Prayer in time of drought, consisting of two rak’ahs.
Salatu ‘l-Janazah. — Prayers at a funeral. [JANAZAH.]
‘The liturgical Service of the Muslim is not given in the Qur’an, but is founded upon very minute instructions given by the Prophet, and which are recorded in the Traditions, and for which the Arabic scholar can refer to Sahihu ‘l-Bukari, vol. i. p. 50; Sahihu Muslim, vol. i. p. 164 ; Sunanu ‘t-Tirmizi, p.: 22; Sunanu Abu Da’ud, p. 56: Sunanu Muwatta’, p. 50; and the English reader to Matthew’s Mishkat, book iv.
The following are selections from the sayings of Muhammad with reference to the Liturgical prayers (vide Mishkat, book iv.):—
“That which leads a creature into infidelity is neglect of prayers.”
“Not one of you must say your prayers in a garment without covering your whole body.”
“God accepts not the prayers of a woman arrived at puberty unless she covers her head.”
“People must not lift up their eyes whilst saving their prayers, or they will become blind.”
“The prayers which are said in congregation increase the rewards of those said alone by twenty seven degrees.” [MOSQUE.]
“The five stated prayers erase, the sins which have been committed during the intervals between them, if they have not been mortal sins.”
“That prayer preparatory to which the teeth shall have been cleaned with the Miswak is more excellent than the prayer without Miswak by seventy.” [MISWAK.]
“The prayers of a person will not be accepted who has broken his ablution until he completes another ablution.”
“That person who leaves even one hair without washing after uncleanness, will be punished in hell accordingly.”
When any one of you stands up for prayer, he must not smooth the ground by wiping away pebbles, because the compassion of God descends upon him at that time.”
“Order your children to say the stated prayers when they are seven years of age, and beat them if they do not do so when they are ten years old; and when they reach ten years, divide their beds.”
“When you stand up to prayer, spit not in front, because you are then in God’s presence; neither spit on your right side, because an angel is there. Spit, therefore either on your left side or under your feet, and then throw earth over it.”
“Whoever says twelve rak’ahs of Sunnah prayers in the day and night will have a house built for him in Paradise: four rak’ahs before the noon-day prayer and two rak’ahs after it, and two after sunset prayer, and two rak’ahs after evening prayer, and two before morning prayer.”
“‘ Tell me if any one of you had a rivulet before his door and bathed five times a day in it, whether any dirt would remain. upon his body.’ The Companions said, Nothing would remain. The Prophet said, In this manner will the five daily prayers as ordered by God erase all little sins.'”
“When any one of you says his prayers, he must have something in front of him, but if he cannot find anything for that purpose, he must put his walking-stick into the ground; but if the ground be hard, then let him place it lengthways in front of him; but if he has no staff, he must draw a line on the ground, after which there will be no detriment in the prayers from anyone passing in front of it.” [SUTRAH.]
“The best prayers for God were those of David the prophet, and the best fast are his also. David used to sleep half the night and would be woke, and in prayer a third part of the night and would fast one day and eat another.”
The form of prayer, or rak’ahs,. Are given above, admit of no variations whether they, are used in private or public, and consequently, notwithstanding the beauty of its devotional language, it is simply a superstitions act, having very little in common with the Christian idea of prayer.
We translate the Arabic Salat, and the Persian Namaz by the English word prayer, although this “second foundation” of the religion of Muhammad is something quite distinct from that prayer which the Christian poet so well describes as the “soul’s sincere desire uttered or unexpressed.” It would be correct to speak of the Muslim Salat as a service: a “prayer” being more correctly rendered by the Arabic du’a’. In Islam, prayer is reduced to a mechanical act, as distinct from a mental act; and in judging of the spiritual character of Islam, we must take into careful consideration the precise character of that devotional service which every Muslim is required to render to God at least five times a day, and which undoubtedly, exercises so great an influence. upon the character of the followers of Muhammad.

Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam

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