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The five daily mandatory prayers are the 'Pillars of Islam'. Referred to as Salat (Namaz), the Muslim form of prayer comprises of a series of postures in which Qur'anic verses are recited and Allah Almighty is praised and supplicated.

The primary purpose of prayer is to instill Allah-consciousness in an individual. It is our duty as a creation of Allah to worship Him at any time or under any circumstances. It will make a Muslim more disciplined and help him avoid committing deeds that are forbidden by Allah.

Prior to performing prayer, the Muslim purifies himself/herself. He/she must be clean and pure from any najaasat or impurities before performing the prayer. The purification process, via ablution or a complete bath, is with water. In the absence of water, one can perform the tayammum with sand or other alternative substances.

The five obligatory prayers that Muslims perform every day are Fajr, Zuhr ,Asr, Maghreeb and Ishaa. In countries where there are large Muslim communities, the call to prayer (azaan) is announced loudly from the mosques to indicate the time of each prayer. That is followed by the iqaamah which denotes that the prayer is about to begin. The command concerning prayer is contained in the following Qur'anic verse:

"Verily! I am Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but I, so worship Me, and perform As-Salat for My Remembrance." [Taaha: 14]

While in prayer, a state of full concentration or khushoo should be attained to ensure that the person's heart is attuned to make his/her act a true remembrance of Allah Almighty and is turned to Him for forgiveness. When khushoo is attained, the worshipper feels a kind of calmness and strength to obey Allah and to avoid what He forbids.

There are several blessings that Muslims should notice while performing their prayers. Prayer makes us fully aware that we are servants of Almighty Allah and thus we should adore and obey Him by performing what has been prescribed to us. That is why the prayer has been described as 'remembrance' in the Qur'an - its true meaning and purpose lie in remembering Allah.

Regular establishment of prayer makes one constantly aware that we live in His presence and His love, and at the same time fear His power so as to avoid whatever that may displease Him. This is emphasized in the following Qur'anic verse:

"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 (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that ye do." [Al-Ankaboot: 45]

On the importance of prayer, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

"The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad." [Bukhari]

Apart from the daily five, there are also several recommended prayers that Muslims can perform in order to please Allah Almighty and to gain rewards in the Hereafter.

The other Arabic word that can be translated as prayer in English is du'aa, which means supplication or asking assistance from Allah to fulfill a specific need of this life or in the Hereafter. In Islam, worship means to revere, serve and obey Allah in one's life wholly and completely. The word du'aa indicates a direct relationship between the worshipper and his Creator. Affirming this, the Prophet (pbuh) said:

"Du'aa is worship." [Abu Dawood]

 

 

  Importance of Prayers

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It is undeniable that prayer in Islam is a very important aspect as it is the first pillar of Islam. It was made obligatory upon all the prophets and for all of their people, be them old and young, women and men. Allah SWT spoke directly to Musa (a.s.), He said,

"And I have chosen you, so listen to that which is inspired to you. Verily, I am Allah! There is none worthy of worship but I, so worship Me and offer prayer perfectly for My remembrance." [Taaha: 13-14]

The prayers were made obligatory upon the Prophet Muhammad SAW during his ascension to heaven. Once a man asked the Prophet SAW about the most virtuous deed and he stated that it is the prayer. The man asked again and again and for the first three times, the Prophet SAW again answered, "The prayer," then on the fourth time he stated, "Jihaad in the way of Allah." [This is form a Hadeeth recorded by Ahmad and Ibn Hibban.

The important aspects in one's relationship to Allah are one's faith (imaan), God-consciousness (taqwa), sincerity and worship of Allah (`'ibaadah). All these are demonstrated and put into practice by performing the prayer . So, the rest of the deeds will be sound and proper, if the prayers are also sound and proper as the Prophet SAW himself stated.

The prayer should be performed properly with true remembrance of Allah SWT and turning to Him for forgiveness as it will have a lasting effect on the person. Our heart will be filled with the remembrance of Allah SWT and we will be fearful as well as hopeful of Allah SWT.

In the Qur'an, it described the effect of properly performed prayers upon humans:

"Verily, man was created impatient, irritable when evil touches him and niggardly when good touches him. Except for those devoted to prayer those who remain constant in their prayers…" [Al-Maa'rij: 19-23].


Source: http://www.islamvision.org/ImportanceOfPrayer.asp

 

 

  Benefits of Prayers

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When a Muslim goes to the mosque to perform his prayers, he should temporarily abandon his worldly affairs. He is recommended to utter the zikr or the remembrance of Allah SWT all the way to the mosque.

He should set out calmly and somberly with his heart full of longing and desire for the pleasure of Allah SWT, as well as fear and apprehension of His anger, and with humility and meekness towards Allah SWT.

In prayer, the Muslim actually establishes a direct link with his Creator, and bows and prostrates to Him in awe. For his obedience and devotion, he will surely be rewarded by Allah SWT. In Islam, the mosque is viewed as the ‘House of Allah SWT’, as affirmed in the following Qur’anic verse:

"In houses, which Allah (SWT) has permitted to be raised to honor, for the celebration in them of His name. In them is He glorified in the mornings and in the evenings (again and again). By men whom neither traffic nor merchandise can divert from the remembrance of Allah (SWT), nor from regular Prayer, nor from the practice of regular Charity: their only fear is for the Day when hearts and eyes will be transformed (in a world wholly new)." [An-Noor: 36-37]

Prayers which are accepted by Allah SWT would make a person more humble, more submissive to Him, more virtuous and righteous, and he will become nearer to the Almighty. Prayers fill the heart with great blessings which He bestows upon his servant along with abundant favors. Take heed against showing off, for no deed will be accepted if it is accompanied by arrogance, pride and half-heartedness.

Prayer is the heart of religion and faith. It conveys the yearnings of our miserable ignorant hearts to the Knower of all. In prayer, we invoke the Creator, glorify Him, praise Him, and supplicate to him wholly and fully. The words that we utter originate from Him, revealing His Divine Names and absolute attributes; and expressing His relationship to us and the rest of His creation.

In prayer, He sums up our faith, our hopes and our aspirations. We call to mind the Realities, seen and unseen. We offer Him worship and ask for His guidance to attain the light of His grace that illumines the righteous and helps us distinguish between the straight and the crooked paths in this world, that we might be victorious in the Hereafter.

Source: http://www.islamvision.org/ImportanceOfPrayer.asp

 

   Humility in Prayers

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You should know - may Allah have mercy upon you - that when the slave [of Allah] leaves his house to go to the mosque, that he is going to face Allah, the Irresistible, the One, the Omnipotent, the Exalted in Might, the Oft-forgiving, in the knowledge that nothing is hidden from Allah SWT, wherever it might be, and that nothing is hidden from Allah SWT and that even something as small as a mustard seed is not concealed from Him, nor even something smaller, nor larger - in the seven earths or the seven heavens, in the seven seas or the lofty mountains, fixed and firm.

And verily, the mosque to which he comes is one of the Houses of Allah SWT. He desires only Allah SWT and he sets out to one of His Houses, which:

"Allah has permitted to be raised to honour, for the celebration in them of His Name: In them He is glorified in the mornings and the evenings [over and over] by men whom neither traffic nor merchandise can divert from the practice of regular charity: Their [only] fear is for the Day when hearts and eyes will be transformed." [An-Noor: 36-37]

So when anyone from amongst you sets out from his house (for the mosque) he should say quietly to himself words of remembrance [of Allah SWT] - words unconnected with the affairs and business of this world. He should set out calmly, somberly, for this is what the Prophet SAW, ordered us to do; he should set out with (his heart full of) longing and desire [for His pleasure] and fear and apprehension [of His anger] and with humility and meekness towards Allah SWT.

For the more humble, the more meek, the more submissive he is to Allah SWT, the more virtuous and righteous does he becomes in Solaah and the greater becomes his reward, and the more noble and nearer to Allah SWT becomes the worshipper. But should he be filled with pride, Allah SWT will destroy him and will reject his deeds, for the deeds of the proud are never accepted.

It has been narrated in a hadeeth concerning Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) Allah's Khalil, that he spent the night in worship and remembrance of Allah SWT, and in the morning, he was pleased with the night's worship and he said:

"How Good is the Rabb (Lord), and how good is the slave, Ibrahim (`a.s.)."

On the following day, finding none to share his food with him - and he loved to share his food - he took his food outside to the road and sat, waiting for any passerby to eat with him. Then two angels descended from the heavens and approached him. So he invited them to eat with him and they accepted. Then Ibrahim (a.s) suggested that they approach a nearby garden which contained a fresh water spring.

They agreed to this and approached the garden, only to find that the spring had run underground, so there was no water. This was a severe blow to Ibrahim (a.s) and he was embarrassed by what he had said (because there was no spring in evidence) and so the angels said to him:

"Ask your Rabb to return the spring."

He did so, but the spring did not appear, and this was a great blow to him and so he said to the angels:

"You ask Allah."

So one of them asked Him, and behold! The water returned, then the other supplicated Allah SWT and the water flowed near to them. Then they informed him that his being impressed by his own standing in prayer the previous night had caused his supplication to be rejected. So beware - may Allah SWT have mercy on you - of pride, for no deed will be accepted if it is accompanied by pride. Be humble in your prayer.

Should any of you stand in prayer before his Rabb, he should know Allah SWT, in his heart by the great blessings which He bestows upon him and the abundant favour which He grants him, for Allah SWT has honoured him with great goodness, but he has saddled himself with sins. Therefore it is incumbent upon him to be excessive in his humility and meekness towards Allah SWT.

By Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal ('Treatise on Salaah')
Translation: S. Strauch (c) 1999 IIPH
 

Source: http://www.islamvision.org/ImportanceOfPrayer.asp

 

  The Mode of saying Namaaz

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Before saying namaaz, it is essential that the body, as well as the clothes, of the person intending to say namaaz is pure and clean, and the place where it is to be said is also pure, and the time for namaaz has arrived. then, after doing ablution, one should stand facing towards the qiblah with his feet four or five toes apart, and make in his heart the intention of saying whichever namaaz he wishes to say. it is desirable to declare the intention by word of mouth. for example, he should say: i intend to say four rakat of obligatory (fard or sunnat namaaz of zuhr, for the sake of almighty al laah and i am facing the kabah shareef. if he is behind an imaam. he should then lift his hands to his ears in such a manner that his palms are towards the quiblah and the fingers are neither seperated nor joined up but are in their natural position. he should then bring down his palms are towards the qiblah and the fingers are neither seperated nor joined up but are in their natural position. he should then bring down his hands while saying al laahu akbar (Allah is the greatest) and should put them below his naval in such a way that the right palm is over the head of the left wrist and the middle three fingers over the back of the left wrist and the thumb and the smaller fingers on the sides of the wrist and the thumb and the smaller fingers on the sides of the wrist and his gaze is on the spot where he is to prostrate (sajdah) and say sanaa (glorification of al laah almighty).

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Source: http://www.islamic-prayers.com/namaz.htm

 

  Prayers and Healing

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Prayers and Healing by Shahid Athar, M.D., F.A.C.E. *

We the Physicians have now come to accept a fact known to our patients for centuries, that healing is from God, and we are just an instrument of the Healer. We give the same medication to two different patients with the same type of medical problem or perform similar operations on two patients otherwise at the same risk and one will survive and the other one doesn't. It is more than LUCK. As Socrates put it -"I dress the wound and God heals it." This is also acknowledged by Prophet Abraham "and when I am ill, it is He who cures me" (Quran 26:80). God himself attests to it by saying "If God touches thee with an affliction, no one can remove it but He" (Quran 6:17).
Healing from Quran

Quran, the Muslim revealed scripture is not a text book of Medicine but in it are some guidance, that if followed, will promote good health and healing. Thus Quran calls itself a book of healing.

"O mankind, there has come unto you a direction from your Lord and a healing for the heart and for those who believe in guidance and mercy" (Quran 10:57).

"We have sent down in the Quran that which is healing and a mercy to those who believe" (Quran 17:82)

Healing from Quran is of three types.

a. Legislative effect: This includes Faith (Iman) in God as not only Creator but the Sustainer and the Protector. This also includes medical benefits of obligatory prayers, fasting, charity and pilgrimage, details of which is beyond the scope of this article.

b. Health Guidelines: Health-promoting items from Quran and tradition of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) include use of honey, olive, fruit, lean meat, avoiding excessive eating, and Prohibition of alcohol, pork, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity and sex during menstruation.

c. Direct healing effect of Quran: Recitation of Quran by the sick person or for the sick person (ruqya) has shown to have a direct healing effect on the sick person. This most likely uses medical benefits of Echo.

Echo of sound is such a powerful force that it has been used to blast off mountains. Now the miniaturized version of Echo is used in medicine to break Kidney Stones (lithotripsy), gallstones, and even vegetations in the subendothelial bacterial endocarditis (SBE). Listening to the recitation of Holy Quran, in a study conducted by Dr. Ahmed E. Kadi and Associates, has been shown to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and to cause smooth muscle relaxation in Muslim Arabs, non-Arab Muslims and even in non-Muslims. It is postulated that Echo Target of Alif Lam Meem is in heart and that of Ya-seen is in the pituitary gland of the brain. Thus Prophet Mohammad (P) always stressed reading Quran (Quran-recitation) loudly and not silently by saying "The comparison between a silent reader and a recitor (Qari) is like a bottle of perfume when it is closed and when it is opened."
Use of Meditation (dhikr, Zikrallah) in Prayer and Healing

Dhikr (Zikr meditation) are acts of remembrance and communications with God as ordained to us.

1. "When my servant asks you (O Muhammad) about me, (tell them) I am close to them: I listen to the prayer of each supplicant when he asks Me. Let them listen to My call and believe in Me, that they may walk in the right way" (Quran 2:186).

2. "Your Lord says: "Call on Me and I will answer your call" (Quran 40:60).

3. "Those who believe and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of God, for in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest" (Quran 13:28).

4. "Remember Me, I will remember you; thank Me and reject Me not" (Quran 2:152).

5. "Remember thy Lord much and praise Him in the evening and morning" (Quran 3:41).

6. "Such as those who remember God standing, sitting and reclining" (Quran 3:191).

7. "and men who remember God much and women who remember God, God has prepared for them forgiveness and a vast reward" (Quran 33:35).

8. "O you believe! Remember God with much remembrance and glorify Him in the morning and evening" (Quran 33:41-42).
Sayings of Prophet Muhammad (P)

Prophet Muhammad, like all other prophets of God, was engaged in the remembrance (dhikr) of God most of the time. He is known to have said

1. "There is a polish for everything that removes the rust and the polish for the rust-of- heart is the dhikr (remembrance) of God."

2. He was asked which people are most virtuous and most highly esteemed by God on the Day of Judgement. The messenger of God (P) replied "Those who remember God often."

3. It is narrated in a hadith Qudsi (direct revelation to Prophet Muhammad) "God Most High says I am as my Servant - think I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me by himself, I make mention of him to Myself. If he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than his. If he comes closer to Me a hand span, I come closer to him arms-length, if he comes to Me walking, I come to him running."

Thus dhikr (meditation/remembrance) has been a practice of all Sufi sheikhs. In the words of Sheikh al-Mursi "dhikr pleases God, defeats and drives evil forces, increases livelihood, makes personality more prestigious, cleanses the heart, removes the faults and saves the tongue from lying, gossip, backbiting and hypocrisy while engaged in the remembrance of God."

Seeking Help with Prayers

According to Imam Ghazali (RA), illness increases faith and brings man closer to God. Knowing this nature, we are told in Quran -
"O you who believe, seek help with patience and prayers, as God is with those who patiently persevere" (Quran 2:153).
Prophet Muhammad (P) when he visited the sick, used to comfort him and say the following Prayer for the Sick
-
"O Allah remove the hardship, O Lord of mankind, grant cure for You are the Healer. There is no cure but from You, a cure which leaves no illness behind."
Transliteration
- "Allahumma Azhibil bas, Rabbannas, Ishfi wa anta Shafi, La Shifa illa Shafaok. Shifaal La Yoghadiro saqama."
He used to make following prayer for his own health -
"O Allah cure my body, cure my heart and cure my eyesight from any illness" (repeated 3 times).
Transliteration
- "Allahumma Afini fi badni, afini fi qalbi wa afini fi basari" (3 times).

Do Prayers Work?

Yes they do. Dr. Larry Dossey in his book "The Healing Words" has documented the healing effects of prayer. Citing one example from the research conducted by Dr. Byrd at San Francisco General Hospital in 1988, 393 critically ill heart patients admitted to the intensive care units over a 10-month period were divided in 2 groups. Group A were the patients who were prayed for by name till they left the hospital. Group B were not prayed for. The prayer makers were not told how to pray. The results were very interesting. Those who were prayed for left the hospital early, had less cardiac arrest, 2-1/2 times less incidence of congestive heart failure and needed 1/5th less antibiotics. They also observed that prayer combined with loving care worked even better. Men who had angina pectoris and a loving caring wife, reported 50% more reduction in angina than men who were single or divorced. Prayers work for us even while we are sleeping. Thus Prophet Muhammad (P) has advised us to say prayers from Quran (Surah Ikhlas, Al Falaq, Annas and/or last verse of Al Baqra (2:286) before going to sleep.
My Own Practice
I do dhikr in all my free time, especially while driving, and I pray for myself, my family, my friends and my patients by name, knowing that cure is only from God.

One time I visited a critically ill patient who had an adrenal tumor (pheochromocytoma) and was in hypotensive shock. I asked her what could I do for her and she, out of desperation (doctors had told her she wouldn't make it) asked me to pray. So I placed my hand over the site of the tumor and made the Prophetic Prayer and left. The next day when I came, I was surprised to see her sitting up in bed smiling. She told me that evening the radiologist x-rayed her again and found no trace of the tumor. He could not explain it but thought the arteriogram may have "infarcted the tumor."
The Sufi Practices
In the treatment of diseases, Sufis use prayers and the knowledge of specific verse of Quran and names of Allah (Asmae husna). This is called the Science of Tawidh (Taweez). They use science of numerology associated with Arabic alphabets. Some sample tawidh is given for illustration. One must know the healing is not in a piece of paper, words or numbers, but only from Allah. In my humble opinion, Tawidh is only a way to become God-conscious and receive His mercy as a result.

*Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine. Presented on March 7, 1997 at the 4th Annual Convention of International Association for Sufism, San Francisco, California. Dr. Athar is also the Chairman, Medical Ethics of Islamic Medical Association of North American and Member IAS. He is the author of "Health Concerns for Believers" and edited "Islamic Perspective in Medicine."
________________________________________
Selected Reading

1. The meaning of the Holy Quran translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Amana Corp, M.D.

2. Athar, Shahid "Health Guidelines from the Quran and Sunnah" in
Health Concerns for Believers (Kazi Publication 1995).

3. El-Kadi, Ahmed "Health and Healing in the Quran" in Islamic Perspective in Medicine
edited by Shahid Athar, M.D. (ATP 1994).

4. Medicine of the Prophet by Imam Ibn Qayyim Al Jawziyya translated
by Muhammad Al-Akili (Pearl Publishing House).

5. Medicine of the Prophet by Jalaluddin Abdur Rahman As-Suyuti (Ta Ha Publishers Ltd.).

6. Bakhtiar, Laleh "God's will be Done: Moral Healing through the
most Beautiful Names" The Institute of Traditional Psychoethics and Guidance 1994.

7. Dossey, Larry, M.D., "Healing Words" - Harper Collins 1993.

8. Shaykh Hakim Moinuddin Chishti "The Book of Sufi Healing".
The Inner Traditional Int.1985.

9. Al-Gazali - Invocations and Supplications translated by
K. Nakamura, Cambridge, U.K. The Islamic Text Society 1990.

10. Gilani, Shaik Muhyiddleen Abdul Qadi
- "The Endowment of Divine Grace and the Spread of Divine Mercy"
Vol I - Pearl Publication, Philadelphia, PA 1990.

Source: http://www.islam-usa.com/

 

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