The basic tenets of Islam’s five Pillars are not arbitrary religious rights individually collected by Islamic tradition. Believers accept that they are a perfect. Believers accept they are holistic interlocking of spiritual practices divinely designed to engage human beings; in all that they are, all that they should be and can once again be. Sort of sounds like an Army commercial, doesn’t it?
The Salat are the five canonical daily prayers. Muslims say them at specific times during the day. They say them at dawn, noon, evening, sunset, and night. Each prayer consists of two, three or four cycles, for a minimum of seventeen total daily. Each prayer comprises four positions; standing, bowing, prostrating and sitting in a kneeling position on the ground.
Each prayer symbolizes spiritual attitudes having their roots in humans being God’s regents on earth. They are his servants and his creations. They are all these things together, the spirit, the soul, the body; and the entirety of human beings.
Prayer serves to attach the soul to Allah and also to involve the body. It is the attachment of the soul that explains the prophet’s love for prayer above all worldly joys. The prophet said, “Three things in this world have been made lovable to me: perfumes, women, and prayer has been made the apple of my eye.”
Before the prayer there is a call to prayer, the athan, and a standing call to prayer, the iqama. During each of the movements, standing, bowing, prostrating, and sitting-kneeling there are specific formulas of remembrance, glorification, and praise of Allah.
While standing, Muslims recite the opening prayer, the Fatihah, which is according to Muhammad, “the greatest surah of the Holy Quran.” In principle it contains everything one can and should say Allah. Plus another passage of choice of the Quran.
Formal prayer is not valid without ritual ablution, the washing of one’s body or part of it. There is a greater and a lesser ablution. The ablutions consist of movements which purify both spiritually and with water the individual limbs and the body as a whole for the sins and actions they have committed. Ablution also serves to reattach the body and its limbs to Allah. It also involves repentance that detaches a person from his ego and previous sins thereby engaging the conscience.
Towards the end of the prayer there are greetings and salutations of peace to Allah, to the prophet and his family, to the believers, to the righteous and then to all the world.
The recommendation is for prayers and supplications after the prayer . In addition to the mandatory recitations there are a number of other prayers which it was the prophet’s Sunnah to pray and which one receives encouragement to engage in.
Tomorrow we’ll discuss the Zakat, giving. Islam is about submission not peace. It is about commitment of the body, soul and spirit. Each of the tenets has a place in the dogma of the religion and in construction of the rituals. Remember the basic tenets of Islam’s five Pillars are not arbitrary religious rights which Islamic tradition individually collects. They form a more complete whole.