general info WHY DO YOU PRAY 5 TIMES A DAY?
Why do you pray 5 times a day?
Updated on 04 July 2018

By: Salamah Ghudayer

Five times a day can seem like a lot, but I will ask this in response; how many times a day do you take a little break, a re-direction, a moment of distance from the grind or wish you had one?  

As for Muslims, the required prayer in Islam is called ‘Salat’ which stems from the word connection -Wasl and the connection of communications - Etisalat. Prayer is the second most important pillar in Islam. It divides up our days and nights to continually refocus us, like a pilgrim on a path, each prayer is like pulling out our map to check our direction to the destination of our choosing, within this world or towards the next. As it is required, the daily prayers remind us of priorities. Throughout the Quran it is repeated that humanity was made to worship its creator and the work, relationships, activities, with their struggles and success are still very important, but not the priority. So, we must pull the car over in the rush hour or put the shopping aside for example, if it is prayer time. To stop and admit what is most important; that we are alive is living in the now, and the problems of last week or five years ago likely have changed. Getting from point A to point B can actually wait.  

As for the number 5, if you think that is a lot, just wait. Originally God wanted Muslims to pray 50 times a day. During a holy night called Israa ma Mirage - the Night of Ascension, which it’s commemoration is a holiday here in the Emirates, Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) ascended to heaven after going to Jerusalem and was told by God Muslims should pray 50 times a day. Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) told Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) it is too difficult for people, return to God and ask for less. So, he returned and, in the end, negotiated shyly down to 5 required daily prayers.

The times for the five prayers is known by the location of the sun. Muslims use the sun as a time piece, before watches, clocks and apps. At five different locations of the sun, the Adthan or call-to-prayer is heard from the mosques. The first time is actually when the sun slips past the horizon at sunset- this is called Maghrib. When the last hint of sunlight has left the night sky past twilight - this is called Isha. When the top of the sun hits the horizon at daybreak, this is the pre-dawn prayer - called Fejr. When the sun is almost directly overhead - this is called Dhuhr. The last afternoon prayer, when the shadow equals an objects height - this is called Aser. You will also hear people making plans to meet; such as ‘ba’ad aldhuhr’ - after noon prayer is the meaning or ‘ba’ad almaghrib’ - after the sunset. The times of these prayers changes plus or minus a minute as we move through the seasons.

You may see differences in the frequency of one Muslim praying compared to another; such as colleagues at work or friends. Some Muslims are forgetful and neglectful like you will find within any religion, while some Muslims do pray more. Any additional prayer done similarly to the required prayers; with the movements and bending, is called Al - Tatawu. Some of these are simply extra prayers and some are absolutely voluntary but which Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) prayed regularly.  Any other additional communication with God aside from these prayers is called Dua’a or supplication and have no particular movements or words, it is just speaking from the heart in any condition to the person’s creator. Prayer in any religion, is about faith and a communication out to a power higher than yourself. It does not matter what you call it or what belief headlines those actions, one of the beautiful things about mankind is knowing we are equal and are humbled by how small we are compared to the intricacy of the universe. For some, prayer reminds us of this once a week, in moments of crisis, in dropping to our knees in thankfulness or for all of the above five times a day.

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