The relationship between faith and rituals is a paradox. To the outsider, ritual is the most obvious sign of the character of a religion and the identity of its believers. Yet ritual can never capture faith, for faith transcends form and imagery. In Islam the most central ritual is Namaz, observed in the five times daily Namaz called salat. Many might say that, in turning to god is any kind of prayer, human being experience a little taste of eternity.
In Islam, the word that comes closest to any sense of ritual is Ibada which actually mean “worship”. However, Ibada can refer to a wide range of act for conforming life to Allah’s will.
Along Namaz the witness to faith, almsgiving (Zakat) pilgrimage, and fasting during Ramadan are generally understood to constitute to five pillars of Islam. Anyone who embarks on an introductory course on Islam in a western university will be taught that these pillars are the central feature of Muslim life and piety.
The Quran doesn’t refer to any sense of foundation pillars. Through it does repeatedly refer to the importance of observing Namaz and almsgiving as righteous activities. Instead the idea of Islam being founded on five pillars rests on a saying of the Prophet;
Islam has being built on five [pillars] testifying that there is no God but Allah and the Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, performing the Namaz, paying the alms (Zakat), making the pilgrimage (Hajj) to the house and fasting in Ramadan.
The Call to Namaz
The Quran exhorts Muslims to pray, ‘be steadfast in prayer’ anyone who has visited a Muslim country will be aware of the five time call to prayer-the adhan. The muezzin calls the faithful to prayer because this formal prayer is a constant reminder to the believer to make time and space for remembering God. The message in this call is that God is great and that prayer is a route to individual’s prosperity and salvation.
Namaz is also used by some Muslims as an indication of individual’s devotions, in particular, the observance of early morning or daybreak prayer known as Fajr.
The basic unit of salat consists of a cycle called rak’a and each salat has a special number of cycles. The other times for salat are noon (zuhr), mid-afternoon (asr), sunset (maghrib) and evening (isha). While the Quran speaks of Namaz several times, it doesn’t explicitly formulate formal five time prayers. According to Muslim tradition, the number five became fixed following instructions given to Muhammad (S.A.W) during his heavenly journey.
The Quran does however refer to several rituals associated with Namaz performing ablutions before prayer (wudu), bowing, prostrating and facing in a set direction called the Qibla.
Ritual purity is a requirement to formal prayer and for this reason; women do not observe salat during menstruation or during the post-partum bleeding. The Quran singles out Friday Namaz, in which the Implication is that believers should congregate in prayer:
O you who have believed, when (the adhan) is called for the Namaz on the day of Jumm’ah (Friday), then proceed to the remembrance of Allah and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew.
Friday Namaz are accompanied by a sermon called a khutbah. Muslims can pray in a congregation in a mosque, at home on their own or with their family. In a congregation, people stand behind an Imam, who is not a priest but simply someone entrusted to lead the prayer. Sections of the Quran are often recited as part of prayers.
We offer online Quran classes for people of all ages. We also help you to memorize some Surah’s of Quran. At online Quran Learnings, one of our course on Islamic supplications and Namaz preperation. Any one can enroll itself in this course by just filling the registration form. There is no registration fee is required for registration. Three days free trial classes are offered for new comers.
A portable prayers rug is used as all the times, especially if clean space is unavailable. Imams are traditionally men, the understanding being that a women can only lead an all-female congregation.
Namaz is mentioned in the Quran as one of the most righteous activities. And is often paired with almsgiving (Zakat) as intrinsic to a righteous life:
The believing men and believing women are helpers of one another.They enjoin what is right and forbid what is a wrong and established prayer and give zakat and obey Allah and his Messenger. Those-God will have mercy upon them.
During the two Eid celebrations, Muslims attend the mosque to perform prayers that are recommended, but not obligatory. There are also many non-compulsory Namza’s, including as a nighttime prayer called witr.
Praying during the night requires extra discipline and there are many traditions stating that true piety is reflected in such prayers. The most common of all non-ritualized prayers is the du’a , an individual’s personal prayer to God. These can be said at anytime and anywhere.
There are personal supplications, reminding the believer that the transcendent and the paradisal are never far away. The most common phrases of Namaz are ‘God is great’ or ‘Glory is to God’. These are also used by Muslim in conversation. Namaz provides daily structure, rhythmic form all remembrance of God. Above all it provides a way of directly communicating with Allah in fear, in gratitude and in hope.
The lives of Saints
While hagiographical literature may be given to pious exaggeration, it does reveal a particular aspect on intense spirituality. Prayer was the ultimate refuge, and for women Sufis, the worship of God could not be compromised with domestic duties.
For example, Rabi’a bint Isma’il could not love her husband with martial love and told him that she prayed constantly because she could not hear the call to Namaz without thinking of judgment day. There are many accounts of men and women who engaged in all-night vigils, fasting and praying, prepared to die at any moment.