The Holy Prophet Muhammad stated, “Prayer is the means of ascension of a believer.” Through prayers, a human is elevated. Five times a day, at specified intervals in prescribed words in Arabic, Muslims offer prayers to the Creator as ordained in the Holy Qur’an: “Surely prayer is a time ordinance for the believers.” (4:103)
This act of devotion is said from memory. The prayers consist of chapters from the Holy Qur’an as well as statements of forgiveness and glorifications of God.The regularity of Islamic prayer and its established mode is designed to instill discipline and punctuality in the faithful. Yet, the function of prayer is not limited to that alone. Prayer plays a very profound part in a believer’s life.
Prayer is the first pillar in Islam, making it the foundation of faith. The Holy Prophet affirmed, “Prayer in reality is like the pillar of a tent. If the pillar is firm and constant, the ropes, nails and covering of that tent too will remain steady, and if the pillar breaks, then its ropes, nails and covering will no longer be of any benefit.”
Thus, worship in Islam is for the benefit of humankind. Prayer is a means by which people can seek hope, solace and salvation. Prayer enables one to find refuge in a Power far greater than one can ever imagine. It is also as the Holy Qur’an asserts, a deterrence from falsehood. “…Keep up prayer; surely prayer keeps (one) away from indecency and evil.” (29:54)
If an individual ardently performs prayer five times a day with true understanding, then, after bowing to the Creator, such a person will not bow to unlawful temptations.
Islamic prayer is meant to create harmony among all people. Because of the uniformity of the prayers, a person from one part of the world can enter any congregation and pray with fellow Muslims shoulder to shoulder regardless of differing languages and cultures.
Prayers performed with a group of people, led by a prayer leader, foster unity and brotherhood. Praying together encourages socialization. Although, the men and women are separated during worship, the reason is to ensure modesty.While prescribed prayers in Islam are said from memory, in the du’a or supplication, worshippers may also pray in the language and the words of their own choosing. Supplications are prayers said at one’s will anytime.
Muslims take the time after the daily prayers to supplicate God with their wishes.
Such is the importance of prayer in Islam that when the call of prayer is made, Muslims are duty bound to leave their work and pray. This is to bring a person back to his or her reality. No matter how busy and engrossed one may be in this worldly life, one is reminded of the existence of a Higher Being and their accountability to the Maker in faith and deeds.
Indeed there is a spiritual uplifting when a person prays wholeheartedly that cannot be explained but only realized through its performance. The Sacred Qur’an declares, “The hearts of those who believe find rest in the remembrance of God; now surely in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest.” (13:28)
Ultimately, the principle of prayer is to achieve tranquility, particularly in the chaotic world that we live in. Thus, whenever Imam Ali faced a difficulty he used to stand up for prayer and recite the verse: “And seek assistance through patience and prayer.” (2:45)
Courtesy: The Morning Call