Islam: Third Abrahamic faith
Islam is the final of the three Abrahamic faiths, which emerged in the 7th century after Judaism and Christianity. It is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred around the holy Quran and the teachings of Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
The term Islam means submission to the will of Allah (God) by doing what has been commanded and refraining from what is prohibited. Muslims aim to lead a life of complete submission to Allah, firmly believing that nothing can happen without Allah’s permission, while also recognizing human free will. According to Islamic teachings, Allah’s word was revealed to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) through the angel Gabriel.
The core beliefs and practices of Islam are encapsulated in the five pillars, which are considered obligatory for all Muslims to fulfil during their lifetime.
The Prayer Times
The prayer times are at dawn (Fajr), shortly after noon (Dhuhr), mid-afternoon (Asr), sunset (Maghrib), and after dark (Isha). The prayers include recitation of the opening chapter of the Quran (Surat Al Fatiha) and are sometimes performed on a small rug or mat used exclusively for this purpose.
Muslim men pray together in a mosque, where an Imam, a leader in a mosque, leads the congregation in prayer. It is also allowed for them to pray at any other location or by themselves in case a mosque or congregation is not available.
Friday is designated as the day for congregational prayer (Jummah). Men gather in the mosque for this noonday prayer on Friday, while women are welcome but not obligated to participate. It starts with a sermon focussing on a passage from the Quran, followed by a discussion of a particular religious topic. The prayer then takes place, led by the Imam.
In Islam, prayer is considered the supreme act of worship and the ultimate way of demonstrating servitude to Allah. It is accompanied by a set of specific rules and regulations, such as timings, frequency, and direction, associated with different prayers.
Different types of prayers
There are two types of prayers in Islam: Fard (obligatory prayers) and Sunnah and Nafl (optional prayers).
Fard or obligatory prayers are compulsory for every Muslim. Muslims are required to perform five obligatory prayers every day. These prayers are considered a pillar of Islam.
Sunnah and Nafl prayers
Sunnah and Nafl prayers are considered meritorious and earn additional rewards from Allah. Sunnah prayers are based on the actions and sayings of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), while Nafl prayers are voluntary prayers that can be performed at any time, apart from mandatory prayer times.
Salah consists of two, three or four rakahs (units) within. A rakah consists of a set of actions beginning with the Qiyaam (standing with hands folded), followed by the Rukuh (bowing down, supported by placing hands on the knees), standing up once again before going into the Sajdah (prostration on the ground) twice and the Tashahud (sitting on the legs) and ending with the Tasleem (turning the head to each side while saying Salaam alaikum wa rahmathullah). Each of these positions includes different recitations.
The five obligatory prayers
1-Fajr Prayer: Also known as the dawn prayer, is the first of the five daily obligatory prayers in Islam. It is performed before sunrise and consists of two rakahs (units) of prayer. Additionally, two Sunnah rakahs are performed before the obligatory prayer.
2-Dhuhr Prayer: It is the second of the five daily obligatory prayers in Islam. It is performed after the sun passes its zenith or the highest point in the sky and consists of four rakahs of prayer. Additionally, four Sunnah rakahs are usually performed before the obligatory prayer, and two are performed after it.
3-Asr Prayer: Also known as the late afternoon prayer, is the third of the five daily obligatory prayers in Islam. It is performed after the time for Dhuhr prayer has passed and before sunset, and consists of four rakahs of prayer.
4-Maghrib Prayer: It is the fourth of the five daily obligatory prayers in Islam. It is performed just after sunset and consists of three rakahs of prayer. Additionally, two Sunnah rakahs are usually performed after the obligatory prayer.
5-Isha Prayer: It is the fifth and final daily obligatory prayer in Islam. It is performed after the twilight has disappeared and the night has begun. Isha prayer consists of four obligatory rakahs of prayer. Additionally, two Sunnah rakahs are usually performed after the obligatory prayer.
Additionally, there is Witr prayer, performed after the Sunnah rakahs of Isha. It is usually performed as one, three, five, etc., in odd numbers.
It is considered a sin to intentionally miss performing obligatory prayers. However, if a prayer is missed due to forgetfulness or some other unavoidable circumstance, the missed prayer must be offered as soon as possible to make up for it, before offering the prayer that is next in line.
Adhan is the Islamic call to prayer recited by a muezzin at prescribed times of the day. Adhan is traditionally recited from the minaret of a mosque five times daily. It is the first call summoning Muslims to enter the mosque for obligatory (Fard) prayer. A second call, known as the Iqamah, is made inside the mosque to summon those present to line up for the beginning of the prayers.
In Islam, it is considered important to call Adhan before each prayer.