Up and down, up and down
Why do Muslims pray that way?
Muslims often are seen engaged in their daily prayer (worshipping) in a specific format and time. Some may wonder, why are they praying or worshipping in such a particular way?
To satisfactorily answer, we may need to first answer a few related questions:
What is Islam and who are Muslims?
Does man need to pray or worship God?
Did God show humankind how to pray and worship Him?
If God did show man how to pray and worship, do we still have to follow the same old way?
What is Islam and who are Muslims?
The very name of the religion, AL ISLAM is an Arabic word that means submission, which means submission to the One God's will and commandments. AL-ISLAM also means peace, for it is in submitting to God's will, human beings gain peace in their lives in this world and in the hereafter. Muslims is an Arabic word that means "Those who are in submission".
Does man need to pray?
In our everyday lives, we smile and say a warm thank you for the small acts of kindness which others do for us. Sometimes we smile say thank you and bow or nod our heads with gratitude.
So what about thanking God (In Arabic, Allah), who in His infinite Mercy has provided for us all that which we see and that which we don?t see, even the very life that we live?
This is one way to look at worshipping and praying to God, by bowing or nodding our heads, just to say thanks.
Another way of looking at worshipping and praying to God would be considering man?s condition in this vast universe. Man could be viewed as a needy dependent. He is neither omnipotent, nor self-sufficient. He is in constant need of many vital things even for mere survival. Circumstances arise which can harm him and lay waste to his most sought after purposes. Worries, illnesses and calamities can ruin his life in a single moment.
Since everything man observes is patently dependent on something else, and since everything is transient, nothing he can see or touch can be that which he needs to worship. Rather, both reason and experience lead him to conclude that the only one to be worshipped or asked for help has to be the Maker of all things.
Supplication and invocation basically mean to ask for something. We can ask for a better job, house, etc. However, praying in Islam, which referred to as salah (salat) is reserved for "the formal prayer".
The formal prayer (salah) involves a sequence of changes in body posture with "specific statements" and recitation of verses from the holy Quran. The formal prayers include the 5 daily prayers at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nightfall, and the weekly congregation formal prayer is on Friday at noon. The choice of the weekly prayer to be on Friday was determined by God in chapter 62 of the Quran entitled Al-Jumu?a, which is Arabic for "Friday".
* The daily 'Salah' sets the rhythm of the whole day for Muslims. One starts the day with prayer at dawn, continue           through the day with three more times for prayer, then ends it with the night prayer before going to bed.
*"salah" is a direct link between the worshipper and God. This way, Muslims are given a chance to be more God              conscious and are reminded continuously of the presence of God. This makes it harder for them to make "mistakes".
Mosque -Muslims worshipping place- is from the Arabic word "Masjid", the root of the word in Arabic is sajad, which in English means "to prostrate". This simply means; a "Mosque" is a Place for Prostration.
Although congregational ?salah? is preferable in a Mosque, a Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories and universities. Visitors to the Muslim world are struck by the centrality of prayers in the daily life.
Going through the salah "process" makes one:
1- Acknowledge God as being the most high by bowing "physically" ones head and body.
2- Able to control and restrain one?s self by setting a time for worshipping out of one?s normal daily life.
3- Aware that just like there is time for working, eating and playing, there is also time to remember God.
4- In standing with other Muslims in congregation and bowing down together, one forgets the worldly differences. All Muslims are the same before God regardless of any differences they may have. Not only by words "we all are the same before God", but also with complete submission in action.
5- Acknowledges a unified structure for the formal prayer, as all Muslims worship the same way.
6- Obedient to God by following the authentic way, which He taught His Messengers to worship Him.
Did God show man how to pray?
You might have seen some of other religions way of worshipping, which may involve falling on the faceand the body to the ground or by kneeling down as in some sects in Hinduism, Buddhism, and many other ancient civilizations, such as native Americans, ancient Egyptians and so on.
The striking similarity you can see in these religions as explained by Islam, is that God did send Messengers to every corner of the earth, not only to the tribes of Israel. Had God sent Messengers ONLY to the Israelites that simply would have left the rest of the world wondering without any guidance, denying them any chance to go to heaven.
The Quran(chapter 16: verse 36) states that God: "sent amongst every people a Messenger". All the Messengers of the SAME GOD had to teach their followers ORIGINALLY exactly the same "Message", otherwise, these Messengers would have been sent by different (Gods) and not by the SAME One.
In the Quran also we find: "The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah -that which We have sent by inspiration to thee. And that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus?" (Quran, chapter 42: verse 13).
According to these verses above (Quran chapter 16: verse 36 and chapter 42: verse 13) and many other verses as well, all these great Messengers of God (Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them) and other Messengers were sent with the same Message.
In the Sunnah and Hadith -the sayings and teachings of Muhammad (peace be upon him), we find a full account regarding the timing for each daily "salah" and the specific teachings regarding what to say, which verses from the Quran to recite and when to make personal supplications. We also find a detailed description to the proper body posture, whether standing or bowing with face to the ground, just like God taught His great Messengers to do.
For Muslims, following the teachings Muhammad (pbuh) is following the same religion that God (Allah in Arabic) has sent His Messengers, as stated in the verse above.
If you can see for yourself that these great Messengers prayed and worshipped God in the same way, and that they were our teachers, then you would be able to see that God did show man how to pray.
Since most people in the west are familiar with the Bible, let us see how these great Messengers worshipped God according to the records found in the Bible:
(Genesis 17:3): "And Abraham fell on his face: and God talked with him?"
(Numbers 20:6): "And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly
unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces."
(Joshua 5:14): "And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship."
(Job 1:20) "Then Job arose,?, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped"
The Bible also shows Jesus Christ(peace be upon him) worshipping and praying to God (Matthew 26:36):
Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
How did Jesus (pbuh) worship and pray to God? The way that he (Jesus -pbuh) did so is only two verses later:
"And he (Jesus) went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible?" (Mat. 26:39)
Incidentally, the same story is reported once more, with the same details in (Mark 14:32-35):
The timing for each "daily salah" is also hinted in the Bible, as we see in:
(Mark 1:35) "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he (Jesus) went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." For Muslims this is the time for the first daily "salah".
As you can see, in most religions, whether they are ancient -native Americans, ancient Egyptians- or many of today?s known religions, God's Messengers have worshipped Him in the same way. By falling to the ground on their faces. Not only that, but in the case of Jesus Christ (pbuh) and in many of other today's religions, we can see that they did so at specific times, just like Muslims do today.
Do we still have to follow the same old way?
If we just think about this for a second: If the way to pray and to worship God is "not important", then why did these Messengers worshipped God the same way?
Unless we choose to believe that great teachers like (Abraham, Moses and Jesus pbut) did not care, or ignored teaching their followers "the right way", which they themselves did, we must conclude that they all have taught their followers to pray and worship the same way.
It would be an unacceptable idea that their "way of praying and worshipping God" to be something which they did before their followers, so that their followers MAY NOT FOLLOWsuch "way" later. In fact, this will contradict the idea of believing them to be "our great teachers" who were sent with divine teachings, for the purpose of showing us? "The Right Way".
As for Muslims, praying the same way is a complete submission to God?s will. The One who taught mankind through His messengers how to pray and worship Him.
When a Muslim worships God the Original way, he/she is simply acknowledging that:
He/she is not too shy to worship God.
He/she is like all "those who are in submission" (Muslims in Arabic), all arethe samebefore God.
He/she is not better than the greatest teachers of mankind. They all fell with their faces to the ground to pray and to worship God, so does he/she.
It is unacceptable to him/her that all of these great teachers worshipped God the same way, yet they all neglected teaching their followers to do the same, or expected their followers not to do the same.
He/she accepts the fairness and the kindness of God. He "sent amongst every people a Messenger" and all these Messengers taught their followers the same way to worship Him as stated in the Quran.
He/she found reasons and proofs as to why to believe that Islam and its Book truly are from God.
Dear friend:
Is it possible that all the Messengers who were sent by the same God have in fact "originally" taught the "same religion"? About right, and wrong? About the way to worship God? And about being obedient to His "commands" as humanly as possible in ? "Submission"? Meaning in Islam?
Will it be possible that they all taught their followers to be in Submission? Meaning to be Muslims?