Islamic Blueprint – Prayer

 

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The Pillars of Islam are very rarely discussed from the perspective of a non-Muslim. I will be covering all pillars and the importance for non-Muslims in order to understand the Pillars of Islam and what it could mean for themselves or their families in the future. 

All five pillars are obligatory and the laws surrounding the pillars should be a concern to all non-Muslims as the Muslim community (Ummah) grows.

Pillar Two, Prayer

Daily Prayer (salat), is the second pillar of Islam, it is a personal duty to the Islamic God, Allah.

There are five obligatory prayers to be performed everyday at prescribed times; according to the position of the sun, and supplementary prayers performed to increase Imam (faith) and oneness with Allah, the Islamic God.

As the number of prayers stated in the Qur’an as only three, 17.78 mentions the dawn and night prayer, 2.238 mentions the middle prayer, then an Islamic scholar, or Imam with understanding of hadith will be obligated to teach the other added (afternoon and sundown) prayer to Muslims. All five prayers are personally obligatory to Muslims, if a prayer is purposefully missed then it is viewed as having “left the fold of Islam”. 

Prayer is encouraged from a young age, a child can be beaten for not praying from the age of ten years old, by the father, grandfather, mother or teacher. This is conditioning the child to submit to the laws within Islam and to fear Allah, in preparation for adulthood.

There can be some concessions for missing prayer and this could be if a person accidently falls asleep, are in a place where they are not able, or it is not safe to pray, and also whilst at Jihad.

However, there is a specific prayer which can be performed whilst Muslims are fighting for Allah/Jihad. This is called the fear prayer[1]  or the prayer of peril.  Muhammad and companions performed this prayer at Jihad, the prayer is now detailed within Islamic law.

ISIS-prayer-640x400
Islamic State, praying whilst on jihad.

Another important part of prayer, is to wash up, which is ablution (5.6). Instructions are detailed in the Shari’ah and it is mandatory to complete.

There are two prescribed ways to perform ablution in this verse, one being water and the other being with sand or dry earth; the latter only for when no water is available.

This originated when Muslims were travelling to Jihad and were delayed reaching water. Shortly after, Muhammad stated he received a revelation from Angel Gabriel saying dry ablution (tayammum) is now prescribed if no water is available.

It is obligatory for a Muslim to purify:

  • Before prayer.
  • Before touching the Qur’an.
  • When attending the mosque.

To not do so would mean a Muslim is in state of ritual impurity, which would invalidate the prayer.

There are two states of ritual impurity which would invalidate the prayer, one being minor; which requires ablution, washing head, face, hands and up to arms up to the elbows and feet up to the ankles, other purification rituals are Sunnah. 

The other state of ritual impurity is major; which requires a full bath (Ghusl). 

Muslims are permitted to touch the Qur’an whilst being in a state of ritual impurity in the following circumstances:

  • If the Qur’an is likely to meet filth, burned or soaked.
  • Or if a non-Muslim touches it.[2]

A general view is that Non-Muslims believe the mosque is a place of worship (and perhaps a community center) If we examine the Islamic texts, we see the mosque was used for planning strategic moves for raids, jihad, storing weapons/armor, judgments for Islamic rulings, housing the wives and slaves of Muhammad within the courtyard of the mosque.

The first stoning in Islam, was on the front doorstep of Muhammad’s Mosque. This was when two Jews were brought to Muhammad for his judgment.

Mosques are a statement of Islamic dominance or conquest over an area. Muhammad and later Caliphs conquered land by Jihad, ordered churches and holy places to be destroyed and built a mosque in its place, usually with the materials of the former building.

In Western non-Muslim majority countries, you may note that very often mosques are built on sites of former churches. In these instances the land has usually been purchased by the Muslim community prior to demolition, some are former Churches or Temples which have been converted into a Mosque.

When Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) was under the rule of the Byzantine empire, the Hagia Sophia, Greek Orthodox Church was conquered by Muslims, they prayed within the Church after invading. 

Praying in a Holy building, or at places such as outside Parliament, the White House or any public space, means Islam has made claim to the area and marked it for conquest at a later date.

Any Holy building can be converted into a Mosque, with the provision any Holy symbolism, such as crosses and books are removed, painted over, or destroyed.

Hagia-Sophia_07
Hagia Sophia in modern day Istanbul

In 2016 Gloucester Cathedral in the UK allowed Muslim prayer, this was a very significant event due the history in Islam.

When Umar, the second Caliph, conquered Jerusalem, Muslims wanted to pray in the Church, Umar forbade them from doing so, because when prayer or the Call to prayer is held , it denotes the area for takeover, which will ensure an attempt at conquest at a later date.

Many Holy buildings in Europe and the west are now allowing prayer and calls to prayer to show unity, tolerance and to welcome migrants to the lands.

Mosques have tall minarets and large domes. When planning, permission was submitted for the Ground Zero Mosque, it was for a skyscraper mosque, although within the state of Ahl al Dhimma (non-Muslim subjects of an Islamic state) Non-Muslims are not permitted to build higher than a Muslim building, nor are they permitted to build new Churches or repair damaged ones.[3]

Muhammad and companions didn’t initially have a mosque; it wasn’t until Muhammad and companions migrated to Medina they were able to build the first mosque. 

Muhammad said earth had been made a place for prayer. Therefore, a mosque or a designated prayer room is not required, as Muslims can pray anywhere other than a church, a toilet or on top of the Ka’ba.

A mosque should be within walking distance, this is prophetic tradition (Sunnah) and it is a communal obligation to strive for a mosque within the Muslim community. This is to ensure that wherever Muslims are settled there will be a mosque. This could be a house at first and as the community grows, Muslims will apply for planning permission for a mosque to be built, usually well above capacity.

Attendance to the mosque for Friday prayer is obligatory for men. If 3 prayers are missed by negligence, then this is not permitted. Muhammad did not make this obligation on women and advised that women stay at home and due to this women are required to either be separated from men in the mosque, or sit behind men.

This is believed to be because men may get aroused at the sight of women even though women are required to be veiled at all times, wear no perfume, or attractive clothes or jewellery in the mosque.

Before the Friday prayer there is a lecture held, for which no noise can be made, added to this, no noise can be made during any prayer, even if alone, plus prayer is not allowed to be interrupted. If there is a requirement to interrupt prayer due to an emergency to draw somebody’s attention, then it is permissible. Men are ordered to say “Subhan Allah” and women are ordered to clap their hands.

Whilst in group prayer Muslims are required to stand in straight row, shoulder to shoulder, to show a firm stance of unity and dominance, this was originally a battle formation and is still practiced within mosques now.

One of the most disconcerting laws within Islamic prayer is that Muslims are required to pray within a boundary. The official requirement is that it is 32 cm tall, either an object or a concrete wall, if this is not possible then a prayer mat or a line drawn around them to create the boundary. If the boundary is crossed, then it is recommended the Muslim push the person back. If this action does not have the desired effect and the person persists then the Muslim can push back as hard as necessary. If this action results in the death of a person, then the Muslim would not be subject to retaliation/punishment, nor be required to pay any blood money within Islamic law.[4]

We are beginning to see Muslims praying in public, either alone or as a group. We very often see videos and photographs posted online of public prayer, such as blocking roads.

Islamic formation prayer

One particular video stood out; a Muslim woman was praying within a boundary in McDonald’s, there were children around her who clearly were not with her. The parents of the children were likely unaware of this law within Islam.

As the Muslim population grows in the west, this is likely to become an issue. For instance, no noise can be made during prayer. 

Will it be opposed when children are playing in a setting such as McDonald’s when a Muslim is praying ?
What will occur if the child accidentally encroaches on the prayer space?

If no verbal or physical action is taken by a Muslim, it is unlikely to be ignored and it is highly likely Muslims will ask for a prayer room or prayer space within restaurants and many public spaces, which will grow Shari’ah.

Within Europe this is already happening in workplaces, universities, hospitals and train stations. 

Prayer rooms are not counted within statistics for mosques in the UK, so it is difficult to obtain specific data about this. However there are nearly 2000 recorded mosques in the UK, In 1990 there were 440 recorded mosques throughout the whole of the UK. 

There are now over 400 recorded mosques in the capital city of London alone

The majority of mosques in the UK are of Deobandi teachings which is the most severe presentation of Islam, for which is the root of all modern day Jihad groups. 


[1] Reliance of the traveller Islamic sacred law, f16.0.
[2]Reliance of the traveller, Islamic sacred law, f9.
[3]Reliance of the traveller, Islamic sacred law, o11.0.
[4]Reliance of the traveller, Islamic sacred law,f70


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