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Salah: The Second Pillar of Islam
The five pillars of Islam are the basic mandatory acts on which the religion Islam is based. They are as follows:
- Shahadah (Profession of Faith)
- Salah (Prayer)
- Zakat (Almsgiving)
- Sawm (Fasting)
- Hajj (Pilgrimage)
These are the ritual obligations practised by Muslims around the globe. Those Muslims who genuinely want to live their life according to the commandments of Allah and pursue a life similar to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) need to adhere to these five pillars wholeheartedly. Note that Zakat and Zakat ul Fitr are not the same thing.
Practising these pillars of Islam and embracing means that one has indeed submitted to Allah. Hence, Allah handsomely rewards those who follow the right path.
Here we will provide you with a detailed guide of Salah – the second pillar of Islam – one which is greatly emphasized upon in the Holy Quran.
All you need to know about Salah
Salah is an act of offering prayers to Allah five times a day. It is compulsory for all Muslims except those who haven’t hit puberty yet, are menstruating, or experiencing bleeding after childbirth. The five types of Salah have to be offered on their prescribed times in the proper way but in case of special circumstances such as during travel, war, or illness; Salah can be postponed.
Now, let’s take a look at the five different type of daily prayers – Salah.
Fajr is the first prayer of the day that needs to be performed before sunrise. It has 4 rakaats (2 Farz – mandatory – and 2 Sunaah – optional but recommended. This prayer enables Muslims to begin their day with the remembrance of Allah.
The second prayer of the day is Zohr. It needs to be performed just after midday and has 12 rakaats (4 Sunnah, 4 Farz, 2 Sunnah, and 2 Nafl – not obligatory but voluntary and it confers extra blessings of Allah). This prayer allows Muslims to take a break during their day to seek spiritual guidance.
The third and middle prayer of the day is Asr. It needs to be performed in the late afternoon and has 8 rakaats (4 Sunnah and 4 Farz). This particular prayer is meant to understand the greater meaning of lives by turning to Allah.
The fourth prayer is Magrib, and it is performed just after sunset and before dusk. It has 7 rakaats (3 Farz, 2 sunnah, and 2 Nafl).
The final and fifth prayer of the day is Isha. Just before calling it a day and retiring for the night, Muslims need to pray in order to attain the blessings of Allah and request His mercy. This prayer has 17 rakaats (4 Sunnah, 4 Farz, 2 Sunnah, 2 Nafl, 3 Witr – very close to the status of Farz -, and 2 Nafl).
All the prayers are to be performed after ablution – state of ritual purity – while facing in the direction of Mecca. Various ritualistic movements are performed and prayers are said during Salah. Salah can be performed in any clean space such as one’s home, office, or mosque. It goes without saying that Salah offered collectively in mosque yields more benefits.
Why Muslims pray?
Salah is an integral part of the faith of Muslims through which they seek closeness to Allah by paying homage to their Creator - the most beneficent and most merciful. Salah also reminds Muslims that the real objective of life is to live according to the commandments of Allah and not go astray while chasing worldly possessions and fulfilling temporary desires.
While Muslims definitely need to offer Salah five times a day and adhere to all the five pillars of Islam, it is vital that Muslims continue to make a positive difference in the world voluntarily. Small acts, such as sponsoring an orphan or providing food to an underprivileged person, can significantly help in succeeding in the afterlife.