People often ask me why Muslims have to pray so many times during the day. The answer is simple: salah, or prayer, is the second most important of all five acts of worship Muslims participate in to strengthen their faith and obedience.
In total, Muslims break for prayer five times a day (Fajr, before sunrise, Dhuhr, mid-morning, Asr, just after noon, Maghrib, mid-afternoon, and Isha, right after sunset. During Ramadan (the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, special because it was during this month that the Quran was revealed to mankind by Allah), there is an additional sixth prayer time, called Taraweeh, performed late at night, after the Isha prayer.
A prayer is more than just a spiritual act, during which Muslims have to repeat a series of supplications and recitations. It is also a physical function which involves various movements, all according to the Quran, Islam’s holy book. There is a precise order for each word and motion.
Now, in order to pray, a Muslim can’t simply step into a Mosque or lay his prayer rug somewhere and start praying. They need to perform the Wudu (see image below from Gulf News), an ablution ritual that helps them cleanse their bodies and also eliminate distracting thoughts on their minds.
To Muslims, salah means that no matter how busy you are, you stop whatever it is that you are doing and remember God. You will also take the time to think whether or not your daily actions are in accordance to God’s teachings.
So, if you ever go out at prayer time (as I often forget and do) and find the following sign on the door of a store, office or business, just be patient. Prayer usually does not take long and soon enough someone will be there to help you.
The Five Pillars of Islam:
Shahada (testimony of faith)
A profession of faith, it is the proclamation that there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is the messenger of Allah.
All Muslims should pray five times a day.
Each able Muslim is required to give a percentage of their annual income, either in money or in kind, to the poor and needy.
During Ramadan, A Muslim will not eat or drink from dawn until dusk.
All able Muslims must leave all luxury behind and go to Makkah on pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.