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Islam Invite to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided." Holy Qur'an 16:125

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Old Wednesday, May 30, 2007
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Default Benefits of Salaat

The physical, mental and spiritual benefits of Salaat

Many non-Muslims are perplexed by the purpose of the five daily prayers or Salaat in Islam. Often, they do not understand why one of the five pillars of Islam is the Salaat.

Many feel that it is enough to remember God in our thoughts without complicating things with the ritual of the Muslim prayer.

Many non-practicing Muslims too argue that insisting on this ritual of Salaat is a great inconvenience to the believer. "Is it not sufficient to believe in the oneness of God and His Prophet (pbuh) without inconveniencing oneself with the hassle of Salaat?" they question.

However, if we take the time to ponder over the real purpose of the Salaat, we will realise that it is far from a mundane, mindless symbolic act. Our Creator, Allah Almighty, who knows His creation inside out, obviously has a good reason for insisting upon the five daily prayers.

Prayers have a great benefit upon the human soul and serve in the human being leading a more fulfilled existence.

First and foremost, Salaat has great benefit on the human psyche. Prayers are a form of meditation.

When we do ablution (or the wudu), the very act of washing ourselves prepares us psychologically for the very important process of prayer.

At that point, we know that we are about to begin a very important ritual and have to detach ourselves from everything else around us to face our Lord in isolation.

Dressing appropriately and making the intention before we begin the ritual of prayer, all serve to put us in the right frame of mind for the process. Standing on the prayer mat and facing the Ka'abah, we focus on a focal point. It is akin to Yoga meditation (apparently) where the Yoga practitioner shuts his or her mind to everything else and just focuses within.

When we stand in prayer, we murmur verses of the Holy Qur'aan. This recitation in itself has a calming effect on our mind.

The physical movements during the prayer too serve an important purpose. All the actions of standing, bowing, kneeling and prostrating are a form of exercise for the believer.

When one does these actions several times throughout a single day, the net effect is to reap the benefits of regular exercise.

According to a Hadith, the Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) is to have said, "Verily there is cure in Salaat."

Regular exercise in the form of Salaat helps to protect against several ailments such as high cholesterol levels, heart failures, strokes and diabetes amongst many others.

The act of prostration is no doubt one of the most important aspects of the prayer, because symbolically, we are bowing down before Allah Almighty.

An interesting fact is that scientifically too, this act of prostration holds much importance, because it is during the process of bowing down that the brain receives fresh supply of blood.

During the course of prayers, there is some movement of the shoulders and limbs. This too increases blood circulation in the body. Cartilage in our body, which only receives blood supply through joint movements, is also supplied with blood consistently through Salaat. This prevents cartilage from wearing off and hence protects us from arthritis.

There are numerous remarkable facts behind the ordinance of the Salaat and the way it is arranged at different times of the day. In the morning, Muslims are required to pray a small number of rakaat of prayers because in the morning, one's stomach is like to be empty. At night, after dinner, we are required to perform extra rakaat of prayers when we are likely to be full. This orderliness in the number of rakaats helps us to prevent indigestion during the course of our day.

Together with the mental and physical, Salaat contributes to the spiritual growth and awareness of human beings.

When we take a few moments to remember and bow down before Allah Almighty five times a day, we reinforce His existence and greatness in our lives. We remind ourselves each time that we are Muslims and we testify in our Lord and His Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam). We acknowledge His magnanimity and express our sense of servitude to the Almighty. This keeps us spiritually connected and we are less likely to get lost in the temptations of the world.

For human beings to achieve an internal balance and fulfil their lives, they need to find balance between their physical, mental and spiritual states.

Salaat is emphasised in Islam, because it contributes greatly in achieving this balance between these three aspects of our lives.

It isn't a simple, mindless routine that Muslims indulge in. Instead, it is indeed a cure for mankind. With the strict adherence to the five daily prayers, we can only bring great benefit to ourselves.
Time is like a river.
You cannot touch the same water twice,
because the flow that has passed will never pass again.
Enjoy every moment of life.

I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.
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