What is Salah and Why do Muslims Pray?

 Prayer: Part 1

What is Salah and Why do Muslims Pray?

What comes to mind when one thinks of prayer? In this secular world, oftentimes prayer is simply seen as a quick plea to a God that one does not wholly believe in; perhaps this prayer is made in a moment of desperation, as a last resort in a time of utter hopelessness and despair. Or perhaps prayer may be constant and sincere, with one’s heart full of the belief that God will hear. That He will therefore answer. In Islam, salāh (prayer) has been mandated, and is hence a defining act of worship for the Muslim ummah (community of believers). As Muslims, we pray five times each day: once before sunrise, twice during the day time, once at sunset, and once more at night. Although varying in length, each prayer follows the same structure, which has been revealed by God and modeled by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Salah consists of the recitation of the Quran, as well as other forms of supplication. It is the single most important act of worship for believers, as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) narrated:

The first action for which a servant of Allah will be held accountable on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayers. If they are in order, he will have prospered and succeeded. If they are lacking, he will have failed and lost.”

As such, salāh determines the course of a believer’s afterlife, or akhira. Therefore, it is necessary for a Muslim to remain steadfast upon his or her prayer, and ensure that he or she is in the constant remembrance of God. Salāh is one of the five pillars of Islam; as Muslims, our faith is built around these five principal acts of worship, and prayer is mentioned second, right after the declaration of faith. This alone determines the significance of salāh in a believer’s life. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) narrated:

“Islam has been built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, performing the prayers, paying the Zakah, making the pilgrimage to the House, and fasting in Ramadan.”

In the Holy Quran, Allah says:

“Oh you who believe, seek help through patience and prayer; Indeed, Allah is with the patient” 2:153

This verse beautifully highlights the fact that prayer is not solely a means by which one thanks God for the countless blessings that He has provided for his creation; salāh is also a manner by which Muslims seek help from Allah (God) in their various life endeavors. We pray to remind ourselves, five times every day, who we belong to. Who we will undoubtedly return to. Salāh grounds the believer, and allows one to spend time, every few hours, with the Creator. Expressing their gratitude to Him, showing their dedication to His faith, and asking for His forgiveness for the countless mistakes they inherently make.

We seek Allah’s help through our prayer, and we ask Him for his aid—to provide us with patience, to allow us to become better believers, to help us get back to our ultimate home (Paradise), and to grant us success in this life and the next.

                                                                       Work Cited 





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