Salah, the Muslim process of formal prayer, is a time-honed practice that is meant to interweave Islamic religious belief within the very fabric of the practioner’s life. Five times a day the prayer is performed in a specific way and is always done while facing the Kaaba of Mecca. Salah is one of the five pillars of the Muslim faith and “. . . is considered the most important act of worship in Islam and its importance is such that under very few circumstances can it be omitted” (Wikipedia).
“Salah is the name for the obligatory prayers which are performed five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshiper and God with no earthly intermediaries. A prayer takes a few minutes to perform.” (Islam Awareness.net)
Video of salah is below:
The prayer consists of four raka’ahs, or parts. Each raka’ah consists of alternating body positions: standing, bowing, sitting, and prostrating. This is all performed while chanting specific incantations from the Qur’an. The number of raka’ahs that are performed during a salah, or prayer session, depends on what type of prayer the practitioner is engaging (Wikipedia).
The order of the raka’ah positions in one salah are as follows:
Rakat 1: Stand – Bow – Stand. Prostrate – Sit – Prostrate – Sit.
Rakat 2: Stand – Bow – Stand Prostrate – Sit- Prostrate – Sit. Tashahud.
Rakat 3 and 4: Perform 3 the same as 1. Perform 4 the same as 2 (Muttaqun OnLine).
After this is completed the worshiper Salaams out- issues greetings to the angles of both shoulders which record the person’s good and bad deeds respectively- and the formal prayer session is completed. At this time, one is free to offer individualized prayers, called du’a, which “essentially gives Muslims an opportunity to ask God for forgiveness and blessings, can be offered in any language” (Wikipedia). This part of the prayer ritual is not obligatory, but most Muslims tend to practice it to some degree. This practice is akin to the Christian way of informal communion immediately after reciting a formal prayer.
The significance of salah is to solidify a Muslim’s ties with their faith. “The purpose of salah is primarily to act as an individual’s communion with Allah. . . In addition, the daily ritual prayers serve as a constant reminder to Muslims that they should be grateful for God’s blessings. It ensures that every Muslim prioritises Islam over all other concerns. . .” (Wikipedia). Salah offers a formal way for Muslims to be able to actively engage their faith throughout the day and put their spiritual practice ahead of worldly duties.
The intensity of Muslim religious practice has always fascinated me. The shear devotion shown by any person wrapped in the thorough of spiritual splendor has often resounded in me a jolt of admiration. To contemplate the lilies and how they grow is possibly the worthiest pursuit that I can think of.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
Albion, NY, USA
January 11, 2008