We have read earlier that Islam requires its followers not only to believe in certain things but also to carry out certain duties. In the present section we will deal with those duties that relate to the worship of God.
Worship of God, in some form or another, is common to all religions of the world. The purpose of worshiping God in Islam is to evoke His help and guidance in leading a purposeful life in this world, and to acquire His attributes.
When we praise a thing, we wish to acquire it and appreciate its attributes. Praising God is appreciating His attributes and awakening a desire to acquire them. To be merciful when the situation demands, to be firm when the situation requires. The Holy Prophet said, “Create in you the attributes of God”. Mere recitation of God’s praise by the tongue, therefore, is not sufficient.
In the broader sense of the word, worship is obeying God. The various ritualistic worships described below are nothing but means of training the soul and disciplining one’s self. The five fundamental acts of worship in Islam are:
- Declaration of Faith
Now, one by one, we will study these various acts of worship.
1. Declaration of Faith
The first step towards the implementation of faith in Islam is to declare it. The declaration of faith or Kalima carries in its two short sentences the essence of Islam:
“There is none worthy of worship except God
Muhammad is the Messenger of God”
In the early days of Islam, the reciting of this Kalima marked the act of conversion to the new faith.
There are two kinds of prayers in Islam: Du’a or the Silent Prayer, invoking God’s help, and Salat or the ritualistic Prayer. In this section we will deal mainly with the Salat.
The performing of the Salat was the rust duty enjoined upon the Holy Prophet and the keeping up of Prayer is the most frequently repeated injunction in the Holy Quran.
In Islam, no one day is set aside exclusively for Prayer such as the Sabbath (Saturday) for the Jews and Sunday for the Christians. For Muslims, Prayer is made part of everyday life. There is a Prayer in the
morning before sunrise; another just after midday; a third in the afternoon; a fourth at sunset; and a fifth later in the evening. The names of these five Daily Prayers are as follows:
Fajr Prayer in the morning before sunrise
Zuhr Prayer in the early afternoon
Asr Prayer in the late afternoon
Maghrib Prayer just after sunset
Isha Prayer later in the evening
There are certain times during the day when the performing of the Salat is prohibited. These are:
- when the sun is rising
- when the sun is directly overhead, and
- when the sun is setting
The reason for this prohibition is that there are some people in the world who worship the sun and these times happen to be important in the daily cycle of the sun.
Each Daily Prayer comprises some obligatory and some nonobligatory prayers, as follows:
Fardh Prayer: these are obligatory upon all Muslims
Sunnah Prayer: although not obligatory, these Prayers were regularly offered by the Holy Prophet and, therefore, should be performed by the Muslims
Nafl Prayer: these Prayers are completely voluntary
Each Prayer starts with the standing position and includes bowing, prostration and sitting postures. Together, these four postures constitute a Raka’t. The various Daily Prayers comprise two, three or four raka’t as shown below:
In addition to the five Daily Prayers, Muslims are exhorted in the Holy Quran to get up in the middle of the night to offer the Tahajjud Prayer. It is a non obligatory Prayer and is offered in four units of two raka’t each.
The Muslims are enjoined to offer all Daily Prayers in congregation as far as possible. On every Friday, there is a special congregational Prayer called the Jumuah Prayer which is performed in place of the Zuhr Prayer. On this occasion the prayer is led by an Imam who also delivers a Khutba or sermon before the Prayer.
During their Prayers, the Muslims are enjoined to face the Ka’ba. The direction of Ka’ba from any given place is known as the Qiblah. In the early days of Islam, Muslims used to face the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. Later on, Prophet Muhammad received the revelation in which he was commanded by God to face the Ka’ba, which then became the Qiblah of the Muslims.
Besides the five Daily Prayers and the Jumuah Prayer on Friday, there are other Prayers in Islam which are performed at special occasions:
Salat ul Eid (Eid Prayer): performed at the occasion of Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha
Salat ul Kasoof (Eclipse Prayer): performed on the occasion of solar and lunar eclipses
Salat ul Istisqa (Prayer for rain): performed when the need for rain is extreme
Salat ul Janaza(Funeral Prayer) : part of the funeral services for the deceased
ADHAN OR THE CALL TO PRAYER
Before each congregational Daily Prayer, the muezzin calls the believers to Prayer:
“God is Great (x 4)
I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except God (x 2)
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God (x 2)
Come to Prayer (x 1)
Come to prosperity (x 2)
God is Great (x 2)
There is none worthy of worship except God” (x 1)
In the morning azan, before the Fair Prayer, one additional phrase is added after the words “Come to prosperity”:
“The Prayer is better than sleep” (x 2)
WUDHU OR ABLUTION
Before offering the Salat, a Muslim is enjoined to perform Wudhu which is an act of cleansing the body and the soul. It is only in this purified state of mind and body that true worship can be performed.
The ablution involves washing the hands three times, rinsing the mouth and the nose three times, washing the face and the right and left forearms three times, passing wet hands over the head, ears and neck and then finally, washing the right and left foot three times.
If one is unable to find clean water, tayammam may be performed in the place of Wudhu. The tayammam is performed by lightly putting one’s hands on some clean dust and wiping the face and forearms in a symbolic act of ablution.
ETIQUETTES OF PRAYER
In the performance of the Prayer, certain etiquettes must be observed:
- one must walk calmly and gracefully towards the mosque; one should not run even if the Prayer has started
- in a congregational Prayer, the first ranks should be filled in first
- one must concentrate on the Prayer and try not to get distracted.
- one must follow the Imam (the person leading the Prayer) in all his movements
- if one joins the Prayer in the middle, one should follow the Imam till the two “salams” have been said and then get up and complete the missed raka’at.
- if possible, one should avoid passing in front of a person who is saying his Prayer
THE TRANSLATION OF THE PRAYER
|Allaho Akbar||God is Great|
|Qiyam or standing upright|
|Subhana kalla humma||Holy art Thou O God|
|wa behamdeka||and all praise is Thine|
|wa tabarakasmuka||and Blessed is Thy Name|
|wa ta’ala jaddoka||and exalted is Thy state|
|wa la ilaha ghairoka||and there is none worthy of worship except Thee|
|Au’ouzo billahe||I seek refuge with God|
|min ash shaitani r rajeem||from Satan the accursed|
|Bismillah Hirrahman Nirraheem
||In the name of God, the Most Gracious, Ever Merciful|
|Alhamdo lillahi||All praise belongs to God|
|Rabbil A’lameen||Lord of the worlds|
|Ar Rahmanir Raheem||The Gracious, the Merciful|
|Malike yaumiddin||Master of the Day of Judgment|
|iyyaka na’bodo||Thee alone do we worship|
|wa iyyaka nasta’een||and Thee alone do we ask for help|
|ihde-nasse-ra’tal mustaqeem||Guide us in the straight path|
|sira’talla’zeena||the path of those upon whom|
|an amta alaihim||Thou bestowed Thy blessings|
|ghairil maghzube alaihim||not of those who incurred Thy wrath|
|wa lazzaaleen (Ameen).||nor of those who have gone astray (Amen).|
|Bismillahi r Rahmanir||In the name of God, the Gracious,|
|Qul howallaho Ahad||Say, He is God, the One|
|Allahus Samad||God, the Everlasting|
|Lam ya lid||He begets not|
|wa lam yoo lad||nor is He begotten|
|wa lam ya kullahoo||and there is none|
|koffowan ahad.||like unto Him|
|Roku or Bowing|
|Subhana Rabbi yal Azeem (said three times)||Holy is my Lord, the Great|
|Standing upright again|
|Sami Allaho leman hamidah||God hears him who praises Him|
|Rabbana walakal hamd||Our Lord, all praise is Thine|
|Sajdah or Prostration|
|Subhana Rabbi yal A’la (said three times)||Holy is my Lord, the Most High|
|Allahuma ghfirli||O God, forgive me|
|war hamni||and have mercy on me|
|wahdini||and guide me|
|wa aafni||and grant me security|
|waj burni||and raise me up|
|war Zuqni||and make good my shortcomings|
|warfa’ni||and provide for me.|
|Subhana Rabbi yal A’la||Holy is my Lord, the Most High|
|Second Sitting Posture (second and the last raka’at)|
|Attahiyyato lillahe||All salutations are due to God|
|was salawato||and all Prayers|
|wa tayyibato||and all things pure|
|As salamo alaika||Peace be upon thee|
|ayyo hanna-biyyo||O Prophet|
|wa rahmatullahe||and the mercy of God|
|wa barakatuhoo||and His blessings|
|As salamo alaina||And peace be upon us|
|wa ala ibadillahis-saliheen||and on all righteous servants of God|
|Ash hado||I bear witness|
|alla ilaha illallaho||that there is none worthy of worship except God|
|wa ash hado anna||and I bear witness that|
|abdohoo wa rasuloh||is His Servant and Messenger|
|Allahuma salei ala||O God, bless|
|wa ala ale Muhammadin||and the people of Muhammad|
|kama sallaita ala Ibrahima||as Thou blessed Abraham|
|wa ala ale Ibrahima||and the people of Abraham|
|inna ka||Thou art indeed|
|Hameedun Majeed.||the Praiseworthy, the Exalted|
|Allahuma barik ala||O God, bless|
|wa ala ale Muhammadin||and the people of Muhammad|
|kama barakta ala Ibrahima||as Thou blessed Abraham|
|wa ala ale lbrahima||and the people of Abraham|
|inna ka||Thou art indeed|
|Hameedun Majeed.||the Praiseworthy, the Exalted.|
|Rabba na atena||Our Lord, give us|
|fid dunya hasanatanw||in this world good things|
|wa fil akhirati hasanatanw||and in the hereafter, good things|
|wa qina||and shield us|
||from the torment of the fire.|
|Salutations (First to the right and then to the left)
|Assalamo alaikum||Peace be upon you|
|wa rahmatullah||and the mercy of God|
|Assalamo alaikum||Peace be upon you|
|wa rahmatullah||and the mercy of God.|
The third act of worship in Islam is the fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadhan by all able, adult Muslims. The fasting begins before daybreak and continues till sunset. During this period a Muslim does not eat or drink anything and abstains from any vulgar speech or act. Fasting in some form or another has been practiced by almost all religions. The purpose of fasting in Islam is summarized below:
- by fasting a Muslim obeys the command of God which is a justification for fasting in itself
- fasting is a mini sacrifice of one’s physical needs and makes one feel better spiritually
- experience shows that other worships like dua and Salat are more enjoyable and spiritually more beneficial, when one is fasting
- it is during a fast that we find out how the hungry and poor people in this world really feel
- even on purely medical grounds, fasting is an excellent activity and a good training for the body systems
Persons who are either sick or on a journey, are exempted from the fasts of Ramadhan. They must, however, make up these fasts at another time. Those people who are chronically ill or too old to keep fasts are allowed to feed a poor man for every fast that they miss.
Muslims, who are not exempted as mentioned above, are required to fast for 29 or 30 days of the month of Ramadhan; the exact number of the days depends on the appearance of the moon. Fasting starts with the sighting of the new moon of Ramadhan and ends with the appearance of the new moon of Shawwal.
Aside from the obligatory fasts of the month of Ramadhan, a person may keep voluntary fasts at any time he wishes as long as these fasts do not interfere with his normal duties.
The fourth act of Islamic worship is the performing of the Hajj or the pilgrimage to Mecca. A Muslim must perform this pilgrimage at least once in his lifetime if economic and political conditions are favourable. The focal point of this pilgrimage is the Ka’ba, which was rebuilt by Prophet Abraham some 4,000 years ago. Today, the Ka’ba stands in the middle of a large courtyard of Masjid al-Haram or the Sacred Mosque. The courtyard of Masjid al-Haram contains, besides Ka’ba, the Maqam-e Ibrahim and the fountain of Zamzam.
The Hajj is performed during the Muslim month of Dhul-Hijjah which comes two months after the festival of Eid al-Fitr. The various ceremonies of the Hajj include:
(i) Entering into the state of ihram by wearing only two seamless white sheets. This is done by the pilgrims when they reach certain designated places close to Mecca.
(ii) Saying of talbiyah starting at the place where the ihram is worn. Talbiyah consists of saying aloud the following:
“Here we come, O God, here we come
No partner have You, here we come
Indeed, praise and blessings are Yours, and the Kingdom too
No partner have You, here we come”
(iii) On entering Mecca, the pilgrims perform the first tawaf which consists of going around the Ka’ba seven times in an anticlockwise direction.
(iv) After completing the tawaf, the pilgrims perform the sa’ yy which consists of running between the two little hills of Safa and Marwa located near the Ka’ba. These are the two hills where Hajirah ran in search of water when Prophet Abraham had to leave her there on Divine command.
(v) After performing the sa’yy, the pilgrims move to Mina, a plain located about four miles east of Mecca, and spend the night there.
(vi) Next morning, the pilgrims leave for the Plain of Arafat located nine miles southeast of Mecca. They arrive there in the early afternoon, say the combined Zuhr and Asr Prayers and listen to a sermon given by the Imam. The pilgrims stay in the Plain of Arafat only till sunset. This is the same plain where the Prophet Muhammad delivered his farewell sermon.
(vii) After sunset the pilgrims leave Arafat and come to a place called Muzdalifah. In the Holy Quran, this place is referred to as al-Mash’ar al-Haram, the Sacred Monument. On reaching Muzdalifah, the pilgrims say their combined Maghrib and Isha Prayers and spend the night there. In the morning, after saying the Fajr Prayer, the pilgrims return to Mina once again.
(viii) The pilgrims reach Mina on the tenth day of Dhul-Hijjah. This is the busiest day of the pilgrimage. The first ceremony that is performed at Mina is the throwing of small stones or ramy al-jimar. In this ceremony the pilgrims throw stones at three pillars in a symbolic act of striking the devil.
(ix) The tenth day of Dhul-Hijjah is also the day when pilgrims sacrifice their animals. This day is also celebrated all over the Muslim world as the festive day of Eid al-Adha.
(x) After performing the sacrifice the pilgrims have their heads shaved or their hair clipped. After this they emerge from the state of ihram by wearing their everyday clothes.
(xi) Clad in their everyday clothes the pilgrims perform another tawaf of the Ka’ba. This tawaf is called tawaf-e-ziarat.
(xii) Before the tenth day of Dhul-Hijjah ends, the pilgrims perform another sa’yy between the hills of Safa and Marwa.
(xiii) After this the pilgrims return once again to Mina where they stay until the twelfth or thirteenth day of Dhul Hijjah. During these two or three days the pilgrims continue to perform the ceremony of ramy al jimar or throwing of stones.
(xiv) On the afternoon of the twelfth Dhul Hijjah (or of the thirteenth) the pilgrims return to Mecca for the last ceremony of the pilgrimage. This ceremony consists of the farewell tawaf of the Ka’ba after which the entire pilgrimage is completed and the pilgrims are free to go wherever they wish.
Although not part of the prescribed pilgrimage, many pilgrims carry on to Medinah and visit Masjid al-Nabvi or the Prophet’s Mosque. It was in the compound of this Mosque that Prophet Muhammad was buried.
While the Hajj may only be performed during the prescribed dates of the month of Dhul Hijjah, a Lesser Pilgrimage called Umrah may be made individually at any time during the year.
5. Zakat (Obligatory Alms with Prescribed Rate)
Charity towards man, in the widest sense of the word, is the cornerstone of the Islamic society and a constant theme in the Quranic teachings. There are two kinds of charities in Islam: the obligatory and the voluntary. The obligatory charity is called Zakat while the voluntary charity is called Sadaqah.
The concept of Zakat was not totally new to Islam; similar alms giving had been enjoined upon the Israelites and the Christians as well. In Islam, the Zakat takes the form of a prescribed contribution based on a person’s wealth and income. The rate of contribution varies with the kind of property owned but, on an average, works out to two and one half percent of the total value. The proceeds of Zakat are supposed to be devoted towards:
- relieving poverty and distress
- helping those in debt
- providing comfort and convenience for travelers
- providing stipends for scholarships
- providing ransom for prisoners of war
- propagation of Islam
- meeting the expenses for the collection of Zakat
- other things beneficial for the society
Zakat, therefore, is a duty enjoined by God in the interest of the society as a whole. While on one hand these charitable contributions provide for the needs of the society, on the other hand the act of giving in the name of God purifies the heart of the contributor from selfishness and greed.