We now take the practical side of the faith of Islam. As already said, sayings and actions in Islam are an essentially component part of the religion as belief. In this respect, Islam occupies a middle position between religions which have ignored the practical side altogether and those which bind their followers to a very minute ritual. Islam sees the necessity of developing the faculties of man by giving general directions, and then leaves sufficient scope for the individual to exercise influence on the individual practical life.
The precepts of Islam which inculcate duties towards God and duties towards man are based on that deep knowledge of the human nature, which cannot be possessed but by the Creator of that nature. They cover the whole range of the different grades of the development of man and are thus wonderfully adapted to the requirements of different peoples. In the Qu’ran– are found guiding rules for the ordinary man of the world as well as the scholar, and for communities in the lowest grade of civilization as well as the highly civilized nations of the world. Practicality is the keynote of its precepts, and thus the same universality which marks its principles of faith is met within its practical ordinances, suiting as they do the requirements of all ages and nations.
Prayer is the second of the five fundamental principles or pillars of practical devotion in Islam. It is a devotional exercise which every Muslim is required to render to God five times a day, namely in the early morning before sunrise, at midday, in the afternoon, in the evening after sunset, and fifthly at night.
The general duty is frequently enjoined in the Qu’ran, while the appointed times as well as the mode of rendering prayers were prescribed distinctly by the Prophet both by his personal practice and by his teaching.
The hints and orders met within the Qu’ran as regards the enjoinment of Salât are rendered as follows: “And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the Day and at the approaches of the night: for those things, that are good remove those that are Evil: be that the word of remembrance to those who remember [their Lord]” [11:114].
“Glorify God [by rendering prayers to Him] when it is evening and in the morning – praise be to Him in the heavens and the earth – and in the afternoon and at noontide” [30:17, 18].
“Put up then with what they say; and celebrate the praise of your Lord before sunrise, and before sun setting, and during the night do you praise Him, and in the extreme of the day, so that you may be well-pleased” [20:130].
“Observe prayers at sunset until the first darkening of the night and observe reading [the Qu’ran] at daybreak. Lo! The recital of the Qu’ran [that is rendering prayers] is ever witnessed. And some part of the night awake for it, a largess for you. It may be that your Lord will raise you to a praised state” [17:78-79]. “Take aid by observing patience and prayers” [2:45].
“When you have fulfilled your prayer, remember God, standing and sitting and lying on your sides. And when you are in safety then be steadfast in prayer. Verily prayer is a timed ordinance on the believers” [4:103].
It is absolutely necessary that the Salât should be performed in Arabic, the clothes and body of the worshipper must be clean, and the praying-place be free from all impurity. It may be said either privately or in company, or in a mosque—although prayers in a mosque are more meritorious.
The stated prayers are always preceded by the ablution of the face, head, hands and feet, as will be fully described later. The Salât, is thus one of the most prominent features of the religion of Islam, and very numerous are the injunctions regarding it, which have been handed down in the traditions of the Prophet. The following are a few quotations: “Between a man and shirk and kufr there stands his neglect of the prayer.” [Muslim - Kitaab al-Eemaan -Imam Ahmad (Al-Sharh al-Mumti’ ‘ala Zaad al-Mustanqi’, 2/26]
“God accepts not the prayers of a woman arrived at puberty unless she covers her head as well as the whole body, excepting her hands and feet. [Al-Bukhari – At Trimidhi – Hasan], “The five stated prayers erase the sins which have been committed during the intervals between them, if they have not been major sins”. [Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibn Maajah and al-Tirmidhi]
“The prayers of a person will not be accepted who has broken his ablution until he completes another ablution”. [Al-Bukhari -Volume 1, Book 4, Number 137], “Tell me if any one of you had a rivulet before his door and bathed five times a day therein whether any dirt would remain on his body? The companions said. ‘Nothing would remain’. The Prophet said, ‘In this manner will the five daily prayers as ordered by God erase sins.” [Sahih Muslim 668]
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