NAMAZ! Why do Muslims offer it?

By Syed Ilyas Basha

(Analysis of Namaz (Salat) is submitted for the benefit and guidance of interested fellow readers to remove misgivings if any. )
NAMAZ is the Second most important in Five Pillars of Islam after ‘the Faith”. The remaining three Pillars are Fasting, Zakat and Haj. NAMAZ is a prayer with the combination of divine supplications made to Almighty Allah; performed through a set of prescribed procedural actions by the faithful. It contains symbolic gestures accompanied by recitation of verses from Holy Quran; physically embed within sense of humbleness towards fellow living beings; simultaneously showing servitude to, by acting spiritually to strengthen bond with the Almighty through full devotion and deep mental concentration. (‘Khushoo and Khuzoo’ is the phrase used to express this demonstration expected by every faithful.) The supplications made are very comprehensive, seek Almighty’s blessings, forgiveness, repentance, protection for entire HUMANITY from deed, acts and evil forces, visible as well as invisible.

NAMAZ in Islamic Law is declared obligatory, is to be offered daily FIVE times in 24 hours period at designated hours. (1). These are i)Fajr, ii) Zohar, iii) Asar, iv) Maghrib and v) Isha. Each ‘salat’ at an average may take 10 to 30 minutes depending on its category. Namaz is offered in ‘Arabic’ language only. The shortest one consists of two units or ‘rak’ahs’ (Fajr) and the longest consist of four (Zohar). These units are either Farḍ (compulsory) or Sunnah (only recommended, but generally done) or ‘Nafl’. It is a must for every male and female faithful, from the age of 10 years till death, except on a lunatic. Offered in various cycles (called ‘rakaat’) in postures (called ‘rukn’) which are qiyam or qauma (standing straight); ‘rukoo’ (kneel down); ‘sajdah’ (prostrate and ‘qaadah’ (sitting on knees). There are always two or four postures (rakaat) and sometimes three. Its offering on regular basis carries huge, numerous rewards, and dire consequences, punishments by the Almighty for those who neglect it. The regular daily Namaz is desired to be in a congregation, can be offered in the local mosque (or place allotted for that purpose) or can even be singly also.

Comparatively, the FRIDAY NAMAZ is extra-ordinarily important in the sense that it is ordered to be offered in a ‘congregation with additional acts like sermon’ and preferably in a centrally located place. The designated spot for offer of Namaz should be neat, clean and identified for that purpose (among other similar noble acts) and owned/hired by them. It should be avoided in a public place which may cause inconvenience to the common man except with permission and by making prior arrangements. Similarly one who intends to offer, he should make ablution (cleaning of hands, feet, face etc in a prescribed procedure). He should stand facing towards the direction of ‘Ka’aba’ (in Holy Mecca), make an intention (to perform the salah;) express which time and category prayer he is intending to perform. (DETAILED PROCEDURE CAN BE LEARNT FROM BOOKS)-

The meaning of opening Chapter ‘al-Fatiha’ (meaning the opener) in Holy Quran, recited in every ‘unit’ in Namaz is rendered below for the benefit of all.

“1.In the name Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
2.Praise be to Allah, The Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds.
3.Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
4.Master of the Day of Judgement.
5.You do we worship and your aid we seek.
6. Show us the straight-way.
7.The way of those on whom you have bestowed your Grace; Those
Whose (portion) is not wrath; And who go not astray.”

Islam instructs Muslims to bow down before the Almighty five times a day at appointed times and seek path of the righteous, peace, salvation, prosperity, his help and blessings for entire humanity. Urging him as Lord of all worlds, he also seeks his protection from evil forces and from the path of vice-seekers. This very act sought to be done in various postures while reciting verses from Holy Quran is called ‘NAMAZ’ (Salath in Arabic). While submission to this divine command is made obligatory for every Muslim aged 10 and above,
This is carried out by stating which prayer is to be performed, how many units (rak‘ah) and intending full-heartedly to perform that worship for the sake of God. If he or she is in a congregation following the imam then this is also specified in the intention. The intention may be uttered in any language but the rest of the prayer must be performed in Arabic. Straight after the intention, the worshipper raises his or her hands beside their head while saying Allahu Akbar (‘God is the most great’). The worshipper lowers his or her hands and puts their right hand over the left hand at either the level of the chest or the navel. All the Namazes are offered on this pattern and various chapters from Quran recited in each cycle (rakat.)

The offering is intended to seek blessings of Almighty for entire universe (as the word ‘aalameen’ describes.) It is sheer misunderstanding and misconception that objections were raised in Guru-gram (near New Delhi) and some other places some time back by some persons on offering of Namaz by Muslims. This followed by confrontationist situation, had even caused a law and order situation. Let us develop understand others’ compulsions, remove misgivings and come closer.

Syed Ilyas Basha can be contacted at Email:


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