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Which prayer in Islam is the most important?​

In Islam, two basic types of prayer are distinguished: Du’a and Salah. Du’a refers to “supplication” and is not bound to any form or time. Salah is a ritual prayer with specific movements that begins with the words “Allahu akbar” and usually includes bowing and prostration.

This includes the five daily obligatory prayers (Fard prayers), as well as voluntary ritual prayers (Nafila), whether or not they are based on the regular voluntary prayers of the Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him), i.e., at the times he (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) prayed them.

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What is the place of prayer in Islam?

In Islam, the link between the Muslim and the Creator of all worlds is prayer.

In this type of prayer, not only the heart but also the body expresses its worship of Allah and devotion to Allah. The connection between the Muslim and the Creator of all worlds.

There is an ongoing connection between the Muslim and the Creator of the worlds. The ongoing endeavor to turn to Allah (t), fulfill His commandments, and attain His pleasure causes the sincere praying person to refrain from committing sins and remain on the “straight path”. The Qur’an (29/45) states: 

“[…] and perform prayer. Verily prayer keeps away from shameful and abominable things […].”

Of essential importance is sincere intention and humility and tranquility in prayer. The Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “The man finishes the prayer, but no more is credited from him except a tenth or a ninth or an eighth or a seventh or a sixth or a fifth or a quarter or a third or a half.” There are different opinions about whether humility in prayer is obligatory.

Some think that it is wajib, the majority do not consider it obligatory in the sense that the prayer performed is not valid if there is a lack of humility.

The prayer must be performed as the Messenger of Allah (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) performed it. Nothing may be added or removed. The introduction of new forms of prayer (such as in various Sufi practices) is not permitted. If there were something good in any other form of ritual prayer, the Messenger of Allah (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) would certainly have pointed it out at the instigation of Allah (t) and it would not go unmentioned.

Instead, the Messenger of Allah (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “Perform your prayers in the same manner as you have seen me do.” (al-Buhari) And the Qur’an (19/64) says, “[…] and your Lord is not forgetful.”

Therefore, there is no difference between the “form” of prayer of a man and a woman. All acts of prayer are performed equally by both sexes. Thus, it is reported of Umm Dardaa that she sat in prayer just like a man, even though she was a good connoisseur of the fiqh regulations.

However, according to many scholars, it is more appropriate and therefore necessary for a woman praying in terms of her modesty to keep her arms and legs close to her body when bending and prostrating, and not to stretch her elbows apart (away from her body) and prostrate so that her belly touches her legs, or to be careful not to stretch out particularly in prayer.

Ritual prayer is a central obligation of the Muslim. The Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “The first thing for which a person will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment is prayer: If it was good, his deeds will also have been good; if it was bad, his deeds will also have been bad.” (at-Tabarani)

For example, even if one oversleeps the prayer time through no fault of his own, that does not justify skipping the missed prayer.

The Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “Whoever oversleeps or forgets a prayer, perform it as soon as he remembers.” Whoever denies the obligation of prayer is thereby leaving Islam.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “The obligation that distinguishes us (Muslims) from them (non-Muslims) is prayer. Whoever fails to do it is a disbeliever.”

As to how the Muslim who believes in the obligation of prayer but generally does not pray is to be classified and whether he is considered a kafir, there are partly different opinions among scholars.

According to one part, the person who deliberately refrains from prayer without a legitimate reason for not doing so commits an act of disbelief (kufr) and a major sin, but this is a graded form of disbelief that does not cause the person to cease to be called a Muslim if he believes in the obligation of prayer.

According to the other view, this actually results in disbelief. The Companions of the Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) did not consider any omission of a duty to be an act of disbelief except the omission of prayer.

Before discussing the individual actions in prayer in more depth, a standard two-unit prayer (2 rak’a) is first presented briefly and coherently. This is because the reader should not feel as if he or she is literally “not seeing the forest for the trees” in view of the details. This is to provide a kind of “red thread” that enables the reader to keep the rough flow of the prayer in mind.

This is followed by an analysis of the individual parts of the prayer. The parts and actions of the prayer are mostly divided into categories: Pillars, Conditions, Duties or Sunnah parts. A pillar of the prayer is something that is absolutely required. If it is not performed at all, the prayer is invalid.

If a condition is not fulfilled, the prayer is also not accepted. However, it must be fulfilled before the prayer begins. Duty is a command that is not a condition or a pillar, and its unintentional omission requires the performance of prostration due to forgetfulness (more on this below).

Sunnah in this context is what the Prophet used to perform forms of worship without making it an obligation. Although it is not an obligation, it should be followed because the Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him), as stated above, instructed to pray as he prayed.

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