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during Prayers (Salah)
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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
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
"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]
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.),
"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
"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].
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
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.
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
"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
By Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal ('Treatise on Salaah')
Translation: S. Strauch (c) 1999 IIPH
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
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"
"We have sent down in the Quran that which is healing and a mercy to those
who believe" (Quran 17:82)
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
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
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
5. "Remember thy Lord much and praise Him in the evening and morning"
6. "Such as those who remember God standing, sitting and reclining" (Quran
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
- "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).
- "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."
1. The meaning of the Holy Quran translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Amana
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
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
6. Bakhtiar, Laleh "God's will be Done: Moral Healing through the
most Beautiful Names" The Institute of Traditional Psychoethics and
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.