Namaz - The Second Pillar of Islam
Salah, the second pillar of Islam, is the most beloved form of worship in the eyes of Allah (SWT). Salah is offered five times a day, every day. It is obligatory on all Muslims – men and women alike.
Salah, in essence, is a direct representation of a Muslim’s dedication and submission to Allah (SWT) and His Will. These five daily prayers are spread out throughout the day in order to create ease for the believer in offering Salah amidst the daily chaos of the world. A Muslim is required to offer the following prayers in the following order:
Salah is more than just an outward symbolization of worship – it is the establishment of a direct link between the believer and His Lord. IFt is the closest form of interaction with Allah (SWT) where the believer stands before him, in utter humility and modesty, and creates a direct bond with Him – there are no barriers in between. Once this bond is formed, the believer is unconsciously protected from falling in sin because Salah essentially increases the sense of God consciousness in the believer, whereby he/she is always aware of the All-Seeing Creator.
Salah is offered whilst facing the House of Allah (SWT), the Holy Ka’bah, in Makkah and it requires the individual to be in a state of physical and spiritual purity (wudu), which is achieved through washing veracious parts of the body such as the mouth, nose, face, ears, hands, arms, feet and the neck. There is a set order of movements that are carried out whilst reciting verses from the Holy Quran, which symbolize worship in front of a Great Ruler, for example, the raising of hands to the ears and proclaiming the endless Majesty of Allah (SWT) and the bowing of the head in ‘Sujud’ in utter humility and surrender, amongst other actions.
These prayers serve as a reminder to remember Allah (SWT) throughout the day amidst the busy schedules of an individual’s worldly life – it teaches the believer to be more mindful of Allah (SWT) and to remember the real purpose of this world and the Hereafter. The daily prayers strengthen faith and incite the endless blessings of Allah (SWT).
Salah is a uniform ritual practiced by Muslims across the globe in the same manner, which creates a certain sense of unity and brotherhood – this uniformity in prayer stands as a symbol for the Islamic faith in the wider world. Muslims are encouraged to offer prayers in congregation where every individual stands shoulder to shoulder as equals – there are no class distinctions or cultural barriers in the eyes of Allah (SWT). This consequently creates a sense of community and brotherhood in the hearts of the believers.
The importance and significance of Salah is highlighted in the Quran in various places:
“Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to thee, and establish Regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest without the doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that ye do.” (Surah Ankabut: 45)
“And establish prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow (in worship and obedience)” (Surah Baqarah:43)
“Guard strictly (five obligatory) As‑Salawaat (the prayers) especially the middle Salah. And stand before Allah with obedience [and do not speak to others during the Salah”(Surah Baqarah:238)
“Your ally is none but Allah and [therefore] His Messenger and those who have believed - those who establish prayer and give zakah, and they bow [in worship]” (Surah Maidah:55)
Salah aims to bring the slave and his Lord together in a beautiful union – which is why the Holy Prophet (PBUH) found great delight in offering Salah. He used to turn to Allah (SWT) in prayer whenever he needed any form of guidance or comfort. He used Salah as a means to converse with Allah (SWT) and continuously asked for His forgiveness and blessings.
Salah should be a focal point for all believers and an integral part of our daily lives. Allah (SWT) loves those who turn to Him and bow down in prostration and humility. In short, Allah (SWT) does not need our prayers, but in turn, it is us who need Allah (SWT), His Mercy and His blessings in our life.