Islamic Prayer



Islamic Prayer

Candace Barron, Emily Carrillo, Megan Sand, Sarah Manierski

University of Detroit Mercy


Islam has many aspects that make it both a very interesting and complex religion. Many people from different parts of the globe practice Islam. From the United States to England, the number of people that practice Islam as a religion is on the rise. Islam has many parts, which include the prayers, what the prayers mean, the 5 Pillars of Islam, how people pray in mosques, how Muslim people prepare themselves before prayer, and information about the religion, all of which, are explained in this paper.

Islam has numerous prayers and each prayer has its own meaning and reasoning behind it. It is important for Muslims to know why each prayer is done and how to perform them. The daily prayer, or salat, is the prayer Muslims are encouraged to perform five times each day. Other prayers include prayers of affirmation, prayers of submission, and prayers of petition (Elias, 2010).

            Salat is a ritualistic prayer and it means “connection” (Kabbani, n.d.), which is important because it is meant to connect the individual to God. Salat includes mandatory prayers as well as certain voluntary prayers. Muhammad discusses salat in over 700 verses throughout the Quran. In one verse, he says,

Worship at fixed hours hath been enjoined on the believers… Be guardians of your prayers, and of the midmost prayer…Enjoin prayer on thy people, and be constant therein. We ask thee not to provide sustenance: We provide it for thee. But the (fruit of) the Hereafter is for righteousness...Recite that which has been revealed to thee of the Book, and observe Prayer. Surely, Prayer restrains one from indecency and manifest evil, and remembrance of Allah indeed is the greatest virtue. And Allah knows what you do…. (Kabbani, n.d.).

This shows just a few of Muhammad’s instructions on salat and his discussions on its importance to Islam.

There are also prerequisites necessary to perform salat, according to Shariah. These necessary requirements include purification, time, direction, covering, and fundaments of prayer. Purification, or Taharah, means the individual must be, “ritually pure state and perform his or her prayer in a ritually pure location,” (Kabbani, n.d.). Timing is key to a daily prayer as well. The mandatory times to pray are: dawn to sunrise (fajr), noon to mid-afternoon (dhuhr), mid-afternoon to sunset (‘asr), from sunset to early evening (maghrib), and from early evening to middle of the night (‘isha). The individual must face the Kaaba, in Mecca, as another requirement. The Kaaba is considered to be one of the most sacred pieces of Islamic history, making it mandatory to face for each prayer. Covering is another essential part of prayer. This means that each individual praying must keep each part of their body covered they normally would in front of a stranger (Kabbini, n.d.). For men, they must keep from their umbilicus to their knees covered, while the only thing a woman may show are her hands and face.Salat must be performed in a clean environment and the individuals praying must be wearing clean clothes as wellIntent is another important essential to ritualistic prayer. The intention must be for God and God only.

The way a person performing salat positions their body is extremely important. In the first rakat, begins by placing their hands open by their ears. This initiates takbir; some may wish to hold their hands up for another few seconds to prolong takbir. Both hands are then placed over the individual’s chest, right over left. The individual then asks for refuge from Allah followed by recitation of the Quran. Surah Al-Fatiha is then recited as well. Surah Al-Fatiha is followed by another recitation from the Quran. Takbir begins once again, meaning all individuals praying raise their hands back to their ears. Once this is done, rukoo’ begins.

When bowing, the individual places the palm of their hands on their knees, head in line with back, looking downward towards the floor. This is called Sujood (How to Perform Salah, n.d.). The individual then stands, reciting a verse, and continues to kneel towards the floor. The individual’s nose, palms, knees, head, and all toes must be touching the floor. This is followed by sitting back up, on the knees, with hands resting on them palms downward. This concludes the first raka (How to Perform Salah, n.d.).

The second raka is quite similar, except different verses are stated and there are a few postural changes. Once the second Sujood is over, the individual will kneel on their left leg and keep their right foot up, resting their right hand on the right leg in a fist except for the index finger (How to Perform Salah, n.d.). The left hand is rested on the individual’s left leg as well. In the third and fourth rakas, the individual may stand, but in a two rakasalah the individual remains sitting down. Once the required verses are said, the individual turns their head right and says, “…peace and the mercy of Allahbe on you,” (How to Perform Salah, n.d.). They then turn their head to the left and repeat the phrase. The third and fourth rakaeverything recited and all actions are repeated with a few exceptions (How to Perform Salah, n.d.).

Individuals may pray anywhere they please whether it be in a mosque, in the privacy of their own home, or outside. They also have the choice to pray independently or with a group. Although they are able to pray on their own, it is urged to take part in prayers with the congregation during sermons as well as individually (Kabbani, n.d.).

It is easy to see that salat is not the quickest or simple task to complete. There is a great amount of memorization involved when performing the five mandatory daily prayers. It is extremely important to make sure you take the correct steps and the right time in each prayer. One must always remember to face the Kaaba and most importantly, pray only for God.

There are numerous prayers a Muslim may perform. Some of these include prayers of affirmation, prayers of submission, and prayers of petition. They each have their own meaning and are all important in their own way.

Prayers of affirmation include testimony of faith, recitation of Quran, adoration of God, glorification of god, call to prayer, and praise of the Prophet Muhammad. Testimony of faith, or Shahada, meaning testimony, is when one recites, “I bear witness that there is no deity other than God and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger,” (Elias, 2010, p. 265). This must be recited at least once during ritual prayer. Many decide to repeat it many times. There are other times this prayer is recited: it is whispered to newborns, recited by Islam converts, and by those on their death beds (Elias, 2010). The purpose of this prayer is to affirm, hence prayer of affirmation, the God is the one and only God, and that Muhammad is second after God.

A recitation of the Quran, Elias says,

One may not ritually or liturgically recite the Quran without being in a state of ritual purity (with certain specific exceptions), I am inclined to regard qira’a as a prayer of affirmation. What is more, most prayers (and much of the ritual prayer) are textually Quranic in substance, (Elias, 2010, p. 265).

So much of the Quran is made up of prayers and recitations that reciting the Quran is almost unavoidable. It is also extremely important to recite it in Arabic. Muslims are in fact obligated to recite the Quran in Arabic unless they are performing a prayer for personal petition. It is also stressed that Muslims should memorize the entire Quran. The opening of the Quran is an important verse; it is recited in every rak’a and at different rituals including at the grave.

            In the Name of God, Ever Compassionate, Full of Compassion, Praise to the Lord of all Creation, ever Compassionate, Full of Compassion, Sovereign of The Day of Determination: You alone do we worship, and from You alone do we seek alleviation. Guide us on the path of True Direction. The path of those you favor, not of those who earn Your wrath, nor those in deviation, (Elias, 2010, p. 266).

            Dhikr, or reminder, is used “to describe the repetition of set phrases praising God,” (Elias, 2010, p. 266). This is used for a prayer to show adoration of God. It is usually repeated after a ritual prayer. Its purpose is to show commemoration of God. A rosary is sometimes used which is called a tasbih. Names are often repeated to be spiritually inspiring.

            Glorification of God, or takbir is when the phrase, “God is the most great,” is recited. It is recited on the eve of Islam’s high holidays, at times of victory, and is the start of ritual prayer. The call to prayer is broadcast over media to announce when it is time for daily prayer.

            Prayers of submission include prostration and ritual prayer. Prostration is done on three events: “in repeating sets of two during every unit of ritual prayer; at fourteen designated points in the Quran when one is reciting the text ritually; and voluntarily during sincere supplication,” (Elias, 2010, p. 269). It is, however, forbidden when the sun hits the horizon at sunrise and sunset.

            Obligatory prayers are required by all Muslims. These prayers are called Fard. There are also nonobligatory prayers that may be recited. These include prescribed, exemplary, and voluntary prayers. Wajib are prayers that are prescribed, meaning they are imitating Muhammad regular practices. Sunna is the other name for an exemplary prayer. Sunna prayers imitate Muhammad’s intermittent practices. Voluntary prayers, or Nafl, are optional and are done by personal choice (Elias, 2010).

            Prayers of supplication are divided into seven categories: forgiveness and mercy, blessing and favor, worldly success, intercession, and protection. Forgiveness and mercy is used to ask God for compassion and to forgive them of their sins. Muhammad said that no matter how many sins one may commit and no matter how severe they are, God will always forgive them is they ask for it. Blessing and favor is recited to request dedications and favors. For example, one says, “May God bless you” when someone sneezes. In response, many Muslims say, “May God reward you,” (Elias, 2010). Worldly success is said to be achievable in this world and afterwards. The following must be recited: “Our Lord, give us good in this World, and good in the Afterlife, and protect us from the torment of the Fire,” (Elias, 2010). Elias says that asking for “worldly things is acceptable”, (2010). Intercession is recited for supplication Muhammad from God and to Muhammad himself and saints. Elias (2010) says, “Grace and station are acquired though God’s love of esteemed religious figures, which is why these figures are referred to as ‘friends of God’”. Protection is performed to simply ask for protection.

            Ṣalāt al-Janāzah, also known as the funeral prayer, is performed to ask for forgiveness for the deceased. It is said that if Muslims are aware of a death but do not perform the funeral prayer, they are sinners. Salatul-Isstikhara is a prayer asking for guidance in decision making. It is extremely important, even Muhammad talked about it to his followers with the same way he did teaching them about the Quran.Tarawih is a prayer that Sunni Muslims perform at night during Ramadan. It is said that Muhammad once spoke of Tarawih as a prayer for forgiveness. Muhammad also practiced the Witr prayer. This can be done anytime between Isha and Fajr and is considered a fard.

            There are many types of prayers that Muslims perform, whether they are on a daily basis or on special occasions like funerals or births. Each prayer has its own meaning and it is important to perform it correctly. Obligatory and non-obligatory prayers alike, if they are not performed properly they must be restarted and repeated. Prayers are a huge part of the Islam religion and should not be taken lightly.

The five pillars of Islam are duties that every Muslims has to abide by. The five pillars are mentioned in the Qur’an and the pillars have also been mentioned by Muhammad himself when he listed the five of them together. Many years after Muhammad died, the five pillars become more of a practice that brought the Muslim people together. Those who abide by the five pillars are said to receive rewards both in this life and in the afterlife (The Five Pillars of Islam). The first pillar is the testimony of faith, the second one is the ritual prayer, the third is paying the alms tax, the fourth one is fasting during the month of Ramadan, and the fifth pillar is the pilgrimage to Mecca.

The five pillars are acknowledged by all the sects of Muslims. This includes the Shi’ites and the Shia. What is different about the Shi’ite sect that is that have more obligations. Some of the obligations are to pay the imam’s tax, encourage those to do good deeds to benefit the world, and to prevent evil (What Are the Five Pillars of Islam?).

The Testimony of Faith:

The first of the five pillars is the shahada, or the Muslim profession of faith. You say with conviction “La ilahailla Allah, Muammadurrasoolu Allah.” What this means is that “There is no true god (deity), but God (Allah), and Muhammad is the Messenger (Prophet) of God.” The first part of the testimony means that a person should only worship God and that there is only one true God (What Are the Five Pillars of Islam?). The testimony of faith is called Shahada. This should be said with conviction in order to convert to Islam. Saying the prayer with conviction not only represents acceptance of Allah and his prophet Muhammad, but also the religion of Islam itself (The Five Pillars of Islam). The testimony of faith is considered the most important pillar out of the five pillars.


The second pillar is salat, or the ritual prayer. Those who are Muslim perform five prayers a day, although the prayers do not take more than a few minutes to do. Muslims believe that prayer in Islam is considered a direct link between the person that is worshipping and God. The prayers are performed at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night (What Are the Five Pillars of Islam?). The place or area that a Muslim decides to pray in does not matter. They can pray in their homes, offices, in a university, anywhere.

When a Muslim person prays, they pray towards the direction of the Kabba shrine that is located in Mecca. Many Muslims use a prayer mat, also known as a sajjada, while they pray. People are able to pray on their own or they can pray with other Muslims (What Are the Five Pillars of Islam?). The main prayer day of the week is Friday where the midday prayer is held at the mosque. During a prayer, the person should feel various emotions and feelings, such as inner happiness, peace, and comfort. These are all positive and good feelings that bring a person closer to God (The Five Pillars of Islam).

Before a person prays, they must do the ritual washing of the face, hands, and feet. If there is no water available in the vicinity, Muslims are also about to use sand. The washing of the body is a cleanse ritual that the person must be clean before praying.

Giving Zakat:

The third pillar is giving zakat, or alms. This means that all Muslims should support the needy. They believe that all things belong to God and that wealth is held by human beings in trust. The original meaning of zakat is ‘purification’ and ‘growth.’ When a person gives zakat, it means that they are giving a certain percentage to the needy and poor people (What Are the Five Pillars of Islam?). They believe that our possessions will become purified when we set aside a small portion of our wealth to the poor. A person can also give as much or donate as much as the person wants to for voluntary alms or charity. Giving back to the poor is very important in the Muslim religion.

For those Muslims who are greedy and do not give their money to the poor and needy, it is said in the Qur’an that “the fires of hell will heat up the coins and the greedy will be branded with it (9:34-35).” (The Five Pillars of Islam). The Qur’an emphasizes the importance of helping those that are less fortunate and that giving some of your money to help those in need is good. The rate of the zakat is 2.5 percent of the value of one’s possessions. Along with the zakat, it is also important to give some money away to those that are in need.

Fasting the Month of Ramadan:

Ramadan happens every year and is when all Muslims fast from dawn until sundown. Fasting means that they abstain from food, drink, and sexual relations. The main point to fasting is that it is a form of self-purification, although it is also beneficial to health. There are some Muslims that believe that by cutting themselves from worldly comforts, such as food and drink, they are able to gain true sympathy and empathy for those who go hungry and through fasting they are able to grow in their spiritual life and become closer to God, or Allah (What Are the Five Pillars of Islam?).

The Pilgrimage to Mecca:

The pilgrimage is considered an obligation and that a person must go at least once in their life time. If the person is physically unable to go or has financial problems and cannot afford the trip, then there is no obligation. It has been estimated that about two million people travel to Mekka each year from all over the world (What Are the Five Pillars of Islam?). There are some that come from different parts of Asia, Europe, and America, as well as other countries and continents. The annual Hajj, or pilgrimage, is performed on the twelfth month on the Islamic calendar. The dress code for males is that they should wear simple clothes that do not show a person’s class or culture. It is important that all people stand and look equal before God (What Are the Five Pillars of Islam?).

The Kabba, which a black building in the center of the space, is very important and that Muslims turn towards the Kabba when praying. The Kabba is the place of worship which God commanded Abraham and his son, Ishmael, to build (What Are the Five Pillars of Islam?).

There a few steps that the people have to do. This includes circling the Kabba seven times, then the people stand together in Arafa and they ask God for what they wish for and they also ask for God’s forgiveness. At the end of the day, there is a festival called Eid Al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers. There is also another feast-day called Eid al-Fitr, which commemorates the end of Ramadan. Both of these festivals are in the Muslim calendar (What Are the Five Pillars of Islam?).

The place of worship for Muslims is called a mosque. Another word for mosque in Arabic is masjid, which means place of prostration (Mosque, 2009). All mosques look different from the outside. Some are plain and have minimal decoration and there are some that have more elaborate decorations. One aspect that all mosques share is that there is an area that would be located close to the entrance of the mosque where people can remove their shoes. This is either in the lobby of the mosque or it is located right outside the room where people pray. There is usually also a space where people can store their shoes. Before entering the room where people pray, there is also an area where people can do the ritual washing that is required of Muslims before prayer (Mosque, 2009). The last time I visited a mosque I removed my shoes before entering the room as a sign of respect. The mosque had a shelf where I was able to place my shoes.

            What I noticed about the mosque that I visited was that the lobby of it seemed very plain. The colors of the wall were very plain, like a beige color. There was also not many decorations in the inside of the mosque. Unlike a Catholic church with its many statues and pictures of religious people that decorate the inside of the church, I did not see any religious people or sculptures in the mosque. While doing research about mosques, I learned that Muslims believe that pictures or statues of Allah are blasphemous since Allah is regarded as a wholly spirit (Mosque, 2009). No one knows what Allah looks like so he cannot be depicted in pictures or statues.

            After the people have removed their shoes, everyone sits on the floor. Everyone is equal in the eyes of Allah, no matter what social class you are a part of or what your occupation is. Everyone sits on the floor (Mosque, 2009). On one of the walls should be a mihrab, which directs where the Muslim people should face when they pray because it is important to face Mecca (Mosque, 2009). When I visited a mosque I did notice that all the people were facing the same direction and that even the rug was placed at an angle so that people would know which way to face when they prayed.

            The way people sit when praying is also different than other religions. First, the people are sitting on the floor with their shoes removed. Second, they sit in parallel rows (Mosques and congrational prayer, 2011). All people are sitting facing Mecca, which is very important because that is where the Kabba is located.

            Unlike Catholic churches or other religions where females and males can sit together in prayer, it is different for Muslim people when they pray. Women are allowed to attend the mosque, but they usually sit in another area away from the men (Mosque, 2009). I thought that this aspect of the religion was strange. I am Catholic and when I go to mass, I am used to seeing both genders sitting together. In the mosque I visited, the men sat towards the front and the women sat in the back. There was a small barrier that divided the two genders. The reason why the women are supposed to sit in another area from the men is to prevent any types of distractions. The people praying have to be focused. Also, it is also considered modest for the women to sit separately from the men (Mosque, 2009). Same with Muslim women, the focus of coming to the mosque should be to focus on prayer, not on the other people that are praying in the room. For some Muslim families, the women usually pray at home instead of coming to the mosque with their male family members. Muslims try to pray in the mosques whenever they can because the reward for praying in the mosque is much greater than praying by oneself or praying alone at home (Mosques and congrational prayer, 2011). Praying in the mosques is highly recommended.

            In another source that I found regarding how Muslims pray in mosques, I learned that when a group of people pray together, the people are getting more of a spiritual and a social benefit than praying alone, which is why praying in the mosque is highly recommended and encouraged (Mosques and congrational prayer, 2011). That makes sense since when a group of people pray together, they may have more of a spiritual impact. The prayer is lead by an imam, who is a person that is chosen by the people that has the most information about the Qur’an and has memorized it (Mosques and congrational prayer, 2011). In some mosques, there is a hafiz, which is a person who corrects the imam if there is a mistake that was made during prayer. This person also sits parallel to everyone else and also faces towards Mecca when praying (Mosques and congrational prayer, 2011).

The act of preparation for prayer is just as important as the prayer itself. The religion of Islam has a process known as ablution, which simply means to purify the body before prayer (Wudu, n.d.). Ablution is required for both men and women before prayer (Wudu, n.d.).There are two types of preparation to purify the body before prayer and they are wudu and ghusl. Wudu is the minor, or partial, purification process, and ghusl is the major, or complete, purification process.

Wudu is still a purification process, but does not involve as in depth of a process as ghusl does. The act of preparation for prayer includes the washing of the hands, mouth, face, lower arms, and feet; typically water is poured over the head as well (Wudu, n.d.).This is done to wash away the body’s exposure to dirt and smog (Ablution, n.d.). The water that is used must be clean and odorless, otherwise it cannot be used (Ablution, n.d.). The water also cannot have been used prior to wudu (Ablution, n.d.). If water is not available or viable for use in wudu, clay or sand may be used (Wudu, n.d.). The clay and sand are rubbed between one’s hands and then passed over the face and arms (Wudu, n.d.). The use of clay or sand when water is present is known as tayammum, or dry ablution (Ablution, n.d.).

Ghusl is total body purification rather than just the parts of the body that are exposed to the elements. Ghusl is also known as a ritual bath (Ablution, n.d.). The purification consists of washing hands, arms, feet, face, sexual organs, and hair (Ghusl, n.d.). Ghusl, like wudu, pours water over the head, but also one pours water over their entire body (Ghusl, n.d.). One must use clean, colorless, and odorless water, just like for wudu (Ghusl, n.d.). One must also start with the right side of the body when performing ghusl (Ghusl, n.d.). Ghusl is performed for purification of the body for many reasons. It is necessary to purify the body from sexual relations, ejaculation, menstruation, and bleeding from childbirth (Ablution, n.d.). It is also performed before entering a mosque, all forms of worship, and conversion to Islam (Ghusl, n.d.). Shii Muslims also require one to perform ghusl after the washing of a corpse (Ghusl, n.d.). Both Shii Muslims and Sunni Muslims recommend a complete ablution prior to special religious days (Fridays), days of festivals, pilgrimages, and entering the holy city of Mecca (Ablution, n.d.). Those that have never performed ghusl are not allowed to enter a mosque (Ablution, n.d.). This is because Muslims believe that one must maintain the highest level of purity, that being ghusl, in order to encounter God (Ablution, n.d.).

Muslims perform ablution for a couple of reasons. The main reason is for the purpose of purity and worship. Muslims believe that people are naturally pure until something or an impurity disturbs the state of being naturally pure (Ablution, n.d.). The impurities include blood, urine, feces, semen, and alcohol and are believed to defile a person or object (Ablution, n.d.). Thus, in order to rid the body of these impurities, one must perform ablution, complete or partial, to purify the body. This is why the washing, scrubbing, and drying of wudu and ghusl are performed to cleanse the body from the impurities (Ablution, n.d.).

The importance of ablution has been believed since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Ablution, n.d.). Muhammad had said that “purity is half of the faith” (Ablution, n.d.). Because Muhammad and Muslims believe that half of Islam is purity, these purifying rituals are performed. Muslims also perform wudu and ghusl to show respect towards God. Muslims believe that by performing ablution they are preparing themselves to be present to Allah (Ablution, n.d.). The purification process is a prerequisite for addressing God in prayer; it is also a part of worship and a way for one to receive forgiveness for the sins they have committed (Ablution, n.d.).

The process of ablution first begins by one declaring the ritual is intended for the purpose of worship and purity (Ablution, n.d.). One begins ablution by saying “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. I am proposing to perform ablution so that God may be pleased with me” (Salat, n.d.). Ablution is both a spiritual and physical process. Thus by stating “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. I am proposing to perform ablution so that God may be pleased with me,” at the beginning of ablution, one is cleansing one’s heart and mind, and is focusing solely on God and His blessings he has bestowed upon one (Ablution, n.d.).

Once one is spiritually cleansed, next the physical cleansing begins. One starts by cleansing the hands and then rinses the mouth and brushes their teeth (Ablution, n.d.). One does not need to cleanse the mouth when one is fasting (Salat, n.d.). The nostrils are cleared and the rest of the face is cleansed (Ablution, n.d.). The next step is to cleanse the arms (Ablution, n.d.). Then one washes their head, ears and neck; then the fingers and in between each finger is cleaned (Ablution, n.d.). The last part of the physical purification process is the feet. One must start with the right foot and once the right foot is cleansed, they may move onto the left foot (Ablution, n.d.) Once one is finished cleaning their feet, one has completed both the physical and spiritual processes of ablution. The final step in ablution is to say “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah; He has no partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger” (Salat, n.d.).

Prayers may now begin that ablution is complete. A single ablution will remain for as many prayers as one wishes to pray (Ablution, n.d.). Ablution will remain until it is broken. Bodily discharge, falling asleep, and/or drug or alcohol intoxication will break and invalidate the ablution (Ablution, n.d.). Ablution purifies the body for prayer and the presenting of one’s self to God. Once this is broken ablution must be performed again in order to be pure and allow for worship.

The preparation of the body is just as important as the place where worship will take place. Many Muslims pray in mosques, but they also pray in prayer rooms as well. These rooms are set up so Muslims can pray and worship Allah. Prayers rooms are typically set up in more public locations, where mosques are not available, college campuses are a great example.

There are a few steps that need to be in place to make sure that the prayer room, where worship and prayer will take place, is suitable for prayer. One of the most important components about the prayer room is that it is large enough. This is very important because there needs to be enough space for many people to bow, stand, sit, and kneel and face the direction of Mecca (What does a prayer room need, n.d.).It also needs the indication of the qibla, the direction of Mecca (What does a prayer room need, n.d.).The prayer room also needs to be void of any statues, pictures, or representation of the living (What does a prayer room need, n.d.).

The room must be void of Najasahor impurities (What does a prayer room need, n.d.).Najasah means a thing that it is unclean itself, thus it will make other things unclean when it comes in direct contact with them. There are ten different impure things that must be absent from the prayer room. This is one of the reasons why ablution is performed. These ten najis include: urine, feces, blood, semen, a dead body with blood, dog, pig, kafir (disbelievers), liquor, and fuqqa (mild beer) (Lesson 19: Najasah, n.d.). Mutahhirat are things to make najis pure and clean again. The first seven include: water, earth, sun, istihala (change of properties), inqilab (change in shape and form), intiqal (change of place), and Islam (Lesson 20: Mutahhirat (I), n.d.). The last five include: taba’iyat (follow), zawalnajis al-‘ayn (removal of the original impurity), istibra (guarding animals from impuresubstances), ghaybat al-Muslim (cleaning clothes), and flowing of blood (from an animal) (Lesson 21: Mutahhirat (II), n.d.).

The prayer room must also be open at prayer times (What does a prayer room need, n.d.).These times include: pre-dawn (fajr), post-zenith (zuhr), mid-to-late afternoon (‘asr), post-sunset (maghrib), and night-time (‘isha) (Elias, 2010). There also must be areas nearby the prayer room. These areas include a place to wash for ablution before prayer and an area to place one’s shoes so not to bring impurities into the prayer room (What does a prayer room need, n.d.).Sufficient space for both men and women to pray is required as well. Men and women usually pray separately to prevent embarrassment and distraction and to preserve modesty (What does a prayer room need, n.d.). Typically a curtain will separate the room for men and women (What does a prayer room need, n.d.).The last requirement for the prayer room is that is must be quiet enough for concentration (What does a prayer room need, n.d.).

The state of one’s mind and body is also just as important in preparation for prayer. One’s body must be pure. Certain parts of the body must also be covered up. Islamic law requires that certain body parts are covered up and not exposed to preserve modesty and to emulate Muhammad’s practice (Elias, 2010). Men must cover majority of their lower body, from their naval to their knees; this is the minimal requirement (Elias, 2010). Ideally, they would also cover their head and torso (Elias, 2010). Women must cover majority of their body, including their hair (Elias, 2010).

The state of one’s mind for prayer is highly important. One must be intent, sincere, and devout (Elias, 2010). This is why a prayer room must be quiet enough for concentration. It is quite easy to become distracted, but this not acceptable for ritual prayer. One’s prayer must be preceded by niyya, an articulated statement of intention (Elias, 2010).Niyya is very critical and crucial for prayer. One must also have the proper attitude towards Allah and humility in the divine presence of Allah(Elias, 2010). If any of these are incorrectly performed, they can be remedied, but one’s intentions cannot,thus, the importance for one’s intent and one’s state of mind (Elias, 2010).

Ways to prepare the body have already been discussed, but to help and prepare the mind for prayer has not been discussed yet. There are many ways to prepare the mind for prayer. One must first understand and appreciate Allah’s presence (Strategies for Concentrating In Prayer, n.d.). One must also be relaxed and alert and aware of Allah (Strategies for Concentrating In Prayer, n.d.). One must also understand exactly what they are praying (Strategies for Concentrating In Prayer, n.d.). To fully understand what one is praying about is very important to keep the mind focused. To understand also includes properly pronouncing words and prayers.

One needs to be confident and trusting, and always seek forgiveness and accepting (Strategies for Concentrating In Prayer, n.d.). It is also highly important for one to control their stress (Strategies for Concentrating In Prayer, n.d.). Stress affects many and can plague their mind. This can cause distractions and mistakes during prayer. It is also important to clear one’s mind of internal chatter, or conversations with one’s self (Strategies for Concentrating In Prayer, n.d.). These internal conversations can distract one from focusing and from proper prayer, thus they may make mistakes and their intent may not be as proper as it should be. Strong emotions can also be distracting. And finally one must be patient and open to Allah (Strategies for Concentrating In Prayer, n.d.). After one has prepped their mind and body, they are ready for prayer.

When a Muslim reaches the end stages of their life, they have certain rituals and prayer that are performed before, during, and after death. Death is referred to as “the certainty” in the Quran(Death and Funerals, 2014). Death is considered to be the most critical stage in the soul’s process throughout their lifetime so this is why they have certain ways for things to be carried out. They try to prepare themselves spiritually for the process of death. Muslims believe that physical death is not the end of existence and this is why you need to perform rituals in order to fulfill the life of the individual(Hussain, 2014).

When a Muslim is near death, they are supposed to repent their sins and perform ritual ablutions and purifications. They would perform these in the exact ways that they would if they were in the act of prayer on a regular basis. They are suppose to have their loved ones and family members close and also praying in order to offer the individual on their death bed the support. The individual before death should also make a will distributing up to one-third of his or her property. Fiqh is the ritual law that is done when a person is nearing death. The individual should be turned toward Mecca if possible. When the person is on their death bed, they should recite the shahadah or the expression of faith. What is recited is “I bear witness that there is no god but God, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God,”(Hussain, 2014).A loved one can recite this if the individual cannot speak on their death bed, but the purpose is for the individual to do it on their own so that he or she will remember it when they are questioned by the angels. They should be doing this proudly if they are able to speak without the encouragement of others. When the individual is near death, the family or loved ones should recite surah 36 from the Quran(Death and Funerals, 2014). This verse describes God’s resuscitation of the dead on Judgement Day and encourages mindfulness of the Islamic faith(Death and Funerals, 2014).

Once the individual has passed, the body is to be neither embalmed nor cremated. The body should also be buried without delay and as soon as possible before nightfall on the day of death if possible(Powers, 2014). Once the body has cooled, then a professional washer can cleanse the body in a ritually regulated way. A loved one of the same sex would wash the body in ritual ablution with specific prayer to be said while washing the body. A wife can wash the husband, but the reverse is best to be avoided(Powers, 2014).If the individual dies as a martyr, childbirth, or the result of an accident then they are considered pure and the body is not washed. If the person dies in a hospital, the washing can occur by a professional at the funeral home(Hussain, 2014). During the washing, verses of the Quran are recited(Hussain, 2014).The body is then wrapped in a seamless white cloth in three layered pieces for men and five layered pieces for woman.

Salat al-janazah is the funeral prayer that can take place in a home or mosque(Powers, 2014). This can also occur on the gravesite depending on the preference of the individual. Outside of the United States and in other countries it not does occur in a mosque.This form is similar to the daily prayers, but has minor modifications for the individual who has passed. If needed, after the prayer, the body is carried to the gravesite. Participation in these rites is communal obligation(Powers, 2014). The body must be placed on its right side with the face pointed towards Mecca while their cheek resting on a stone block. The individual who places the body it its final position recites the shahadah again in their ear. Jurists call for decrying as rending one’s garments to not appear to challenge God’s sovereign will. After the grave is closed, a member gives a blessing with a summary of the key beliefs of Islam. If you are Shii Muslim, then you recite the names of the 12 holy inams. Visitation of graves by men is recommended, but not by women because it can involve the recitation of the Quran and call for God to forgive the sins of the deceased.

If you are a traditional Muslim, you believe that after death angels visit you and that is why you need to recite the shahadah before death. The angel Izail is the angel of death who takes the soul of the deceased to God(Hussain, 2014). The other two angels areMunkar and Nikir that visit the deceased in the grave and question them about the shahadah and other tenets of Islam(Death and Funerals, 2014).If the answers are satisfactory, then they wait in comfort until the Day of Judgement. If the answers are wrong, they experience various torments and the deceased will remain in the barzakh state until resurrection. This is when all the dead rise and rejoin their soul for God’s judgment on the Last Day.

All over the world Muslims practice their ritual of death and prayer in different ways. Most Muslims include feasts with prayer in their rituals. They eat different things like in southern Philippines they sacrifice crows for the dead. In Java, they place food offerings uder the dead of the deceased during the first 40 days of death. In Iran, the loved ones may wrap the body in inscribed quotations from the Quran(Death and Funerals, 2014). In the United States, they adopted the traditional viewing of the body with an open casket before the funeral. Depending on the Islamic faith you believe in, will depend on how you carry out the funerals with prayer and ritual.

Over 1.6 billion individuals practice the Muslim belief in Allah and the Prophet Muhammad around the nation(Research, 2012).Each country and region has different views about their faith and how they continue to pursue their beliefs. They differ their beliefs on how important Muslim is to them as an individual and what practices they believe should happen in Islam. Over 38,000 face to face interviews were conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life in 80 different languages to get the opinions of how Muslim is different all over the nation(Research, 2012). Talking about the similarities and differences of how Muslims practice around the nation is something that we need to take into consideration when learning about their faith. There were 39 countries and territories that were conducted in the study to gain a broader aspect on how the world is viewing the Muslim faith.

            One of the main similarities that they found while conducting these interviews was that all the regions had a very high percentage in agreence to belief that there is only one God and Muhammad is His Prophet. The lowest region to believe that this was not true among the Muslim faith was Southern-Eastern Europe and they had 85 percent of their region believe in different aspects(Research, 2012).The other five regions had above 95 percent of the individuals saying that they believe in this part of the Muslim faith(Research, 2012).It is almost universal to say that there is belief in one God and the Prophet Muhammad. The question followed shortly after this was how they viewed the Qur’an to be the word of God. Every country besides two, Guinea Bissau and the Democratic Republic, believe the Qur’an is read to literal terms and believed in on a word to word basis(Research, 2012).This was the main similarity taken from the survey that could be concluded of a nationwide consensus.

            The differences among the Muslim faith in different regions and countries of the nation varied among commitment and interpretations of faith. The differences among how much religion matters vary in the different regions of the nation and how they view their own religion. The regions of sub-Saharan African, Southest Asia and South Asia, which include countries such as Senegal, Thailand, and Pakistan, viewed religion vary highly in eight out of ten of the individuals(Research, 2012). The United States was the next region that viewed their religion highly by seven out of ten of the individuals to believe it is important to them(Research, 2012). The region with the lowest belief in their Muslim faith was Southern-Eastern Europe to include the countries of Russia and Albania. Many of these countries in this region practice communism in their nation that can possibly be the deciding factor on why they do not view their religion as important. All though this may not be the reason for why different countries view their religion highly, but it was all found that it varied among how many individuals strongly believe and practice the culture in their nation. In most of these 39 countries, men were more likely to attend a mosque and in Central Asia and South Asia, women have never attended a mosque(Research, 2012). An interesting finding among the study was there was no culture difference of men and women in the prayer and rituals such as fasting.

            The difference that did occur among the prayers and rituals were in the Five Pillars of Islam and how they stand out to these countries. Of the Five Pillars of faith as discussed in the portion above of profession of faith, daily prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and pilgrimage to Mecca, only two of these were widespread across the nation. The two that were among Muslims were fasting and almsgiving. Fasting is perceived by the Islamic tradition to stay healthy and is required. The only region that did not fast during Ramadan as often was Central Asia at only half of the region participating in this ritual(Research, 2012). This region was also among the second lowest to give alms yearly and perform the zakat. Almsgiving is when you give a percentage of your wealth to the faith and this occurs during the months of Ramadan. The region that was the lowest was Southern-Eastern Europe and this was also the region to not consider their faith to be an importance to them. There is a correlation to how they view their faith to what they practice during prayer and ritual.

            Across all of the topics focused on in the interviews, culture has been a major contributing factor to how they view their Muslim faith. Cultures around the nation practice Muslim differently because of how they were raised from the beginning. Central and South Asia were the regions among the similarities and differences talked about that had decrease of their strength of their faith(Research, 2012).  It is important that we are aware of how nations practice their faith of Muslim to understand there are these barriers that occur. Every religion has their varying differences and as long as we are aware of them, we can provide a better understanding of our nation as a whole.

            From ritual prayers performed daily like salat and obligatory prayers to voluntary prayers, there are many ways for a Muslim to show their loyalty to Allah. Prayers are an essential part of the Islam religion, with intricate details included when performing them. Although there are many views on Islam across the world, all Muslims tend to agree on the importance of prayer in their practice of the religion. 



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