prescribed prayer, second pillar of Islam. Five times daily at dawn (Subh), early afternoon (Zuhr), late afternoon ('Asr), after sunset (Maghrib) and after dark ('Isha). Salat is considered a duty for the Muslim and ritual purity is required (see ABLUTIONS). The prayers must be said while facing the direction of Mecca (see also Qibla), and congregational prayer is compulsory in the Mosque. See also Prayer.

A tradition says that Muhammad have a Night Journey where in a vision, he was taken by Gabriel to Paradise. Along the way, he was introduced to various apostles like Adam, Jesus, John, Joseph, Enoch, Moses and Abraham, each in a different one of the seven heavens, before meeting Allah, who gave him the command to do salat 50 times daily. Upon leaving, they met Abraham and come to Moses who asks, "What have you accomplished, O Muhammad?" He answered: "Allah has laid on me and my people 50 prayer services daily." "Return to thy Lord," replied Moses, "and request from him some lessoning for you and for your people, because they will not be able to fulfill that. Long ago I had to ... excercise all my skill... to get the children of Israel to do something less difficult than this, but they were too weak for it and quit, and your people are still weaker."

So Muhammad went back to Allah, returned to Moses, and back to Allah again. Each time, Allah reduced the number of salats by five, until there remained 5. Even so, Moses said that five is too many. Muhammad replied, "I have already returned to my Lord till I am ashamed. I am satisfied, and I submit." Compare this with the story of Abraham pleading for Sodom and Gomorrah ( Gen 18:23-33).

Actually, before that time, the Jews were praying three times a day (Daniel 6:10) and the devout Nestorian Christians seven times a day. The night prayers were eliminated in Islam.

In Surah bani Isra'il 17:110, Muslims are told not be loud-voiced or silent during worship, but should be something in between. The practice in some Muslims countries is to send it through the loudspeaker as far as it can go.

Prayer is preceded by a call to ritual prayer called the adhan) which consist of

  1. "Allah is most great." (4X)
  2. "I witness that there is no god beside Allah." (2X)
  3. "I witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah." (2X)
  4. "Come to prayer" (2X)
  5. "Come to salvation." (2X)
  6. "Prayer is better than sleep." (2X, morning only)
  7. "Allah is most great." (4X)
  8. "There is no god beside Allah." (1X)

In a mosque, stand behind imam, on a mat, facing mecca. Muezzin gives second call (iqama), a shortened form of the first. After which:

This completes one rak'a. Two rak'as in early morning, 3 in sundown, and four in others. When each rak'a is completed, certain expression are repeated, after which the worshipper turns his head to his side, saying "Salam 'alaikum" (peace be to you). This finishes the salat. He can spend the next few moments in devotions, reciting names of Allah with rosaries, etc. Personal requests are made at the end of final rak'a.

It is said that performing the 5 daily salats "removes sin as water removes dirt." Others say that doing these is equal to forgiveness of 50 sins daily.

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