Islam for Muslims

SHOLAT (صلاة‎)

Sholat refers to prayers.  The 5-daily prayers form the central and integral aspect of the Muslims' way of life.  It is thus no surprise that it comes after the syahadah in the Pillars of Islam. It is also the most evident - something even the non-Muslims are usually aware of.  The call to prayer, Azan, is also the most unique - it uses the human voice calling and enjoining others to perform the Sholat.  As such, aside from just an obligation, it is an identity.

(side note: Ka'abah is a cube made of granite, measuring approximately 13.1 m (43 ft) high, with sides measuring 11.03 m (36.2 ft) by 12.86 m (42.2 ft).  It is found within the compounds of Masjidil-Haram (المسجد الحرام‎), the Great Mosque surrounding the Ka'abah.  Masjidil-Haram is found in the town of Mecca, which is in Saudi Arabia.)

Sholat may be either obligatory or supernumerary (sunnat or mustahabb مستحبّ).  The 5-daily prayers are personal obligations or what is known as fardhu 'ain (الفرض العين‎).  It relates to tasks ALL Muslims should do such as the 5-daily prayers, the sawm (fasting) and the Hajj (i.e. all the Pillars of Islam).

The times for the 5-daily prayers vary in each country as it relates to the movement of the sun.  The times are:
  1. Fajr (فجر) or Subuh: Dawn to sunrise, should be performed at least 10–15 minutes before sunrise; there are 2 raka'at for this prayer.
  2. Dzuhur (ظهر): After true noon until 'Asr; there are 4 raka'at for this prayer.
  3. 'Asr (عصر): Afteroon till sunset; there are 4 raka'at for this prayer.
  4. Maghrib (مغرب): Sunset till dusk; there are 3 raka'at for this prayer.
  5. 'Isya (عشاء): Dusk till dawn.  there are 8 raka'at for this prayer.

All shalat are performed facing the direction of the Qiblat ie Ka'abah in Mecca.  This is symbolic because Ka'abah (الكعبة‎) is considered baitullah or the House of God (again symbolic).  When all Muslims face the Ka'abah during prayer, it shows solidarity and singularity in direction - God.

The importance of the sholat can be extrapolated from the way it was revealed to our Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه و سلم).  While most are revelations brought to Muhammad by way of revelation via Jibril (جبريل) (or Gabriel) , when Allah revealed the obligation of sholat, Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was fetched to meet Allah Himself at Sidhratul-Muntaha (سدرة المنتهى‎ ) during a night journey called Israk Mikraj (الإسراء والمعراج‎), an area where even the Archangel Jibril (جبريل) (or Gabriel) was not able to accompany Muhammad.  It is here that Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) communicated with Allah directly, and the order of sholat was revealed.

(side note: InsyaAllah I will elaborate on Israk Mikraj (الإسراء والمعراج‎) in future.

Prior to the performance of the sholat, there are several requisites that need to be met:
  1. The Muslim must be clean and free from hadath.
  2. The Muslim must be of sound mind and free from any intoxicants.
  3. The Muslim must have performed the wudhu'.
  4. The time must be appropriate for the performance of the specific sholat.
  5. The Muslim must face the Qiblah.

Prior to the performance of the 5 obligatory prayers, there will be prayer calls to each of them.  Click here to read more about the adzan.  Supernumerary prayers may be done at any appropriate time and need not coincide with any prayer call or timing, except for specific prayers that are based on time eg dhuha (morning) prayers, tahajjud prayers (night time), etc

There are 13 articles in the performance of the sholat and I shall elaborate these with pictures (coming soon).