May 1, 2001
Orthopraxy in Islam
Islamic life is centered on the physical practice of prayer (salat). With that the religion of Islam itself is based in the methodical movement through which Muslims show their devotion to Allah. The prayer begins with the devotee standing, bending slowly into a sitting position and ending in full prostration. Bowing fully onto the ground is a practice that shows humility and represents the true devotion of members. Practice-centered religion differentiates itself from "orthodox" religion in that it focuses primarily on ritual practice, rather than theology or doctrine, orthodox meaning "correct opinion". The most visible orthodox religion of America is Christianity. Christianity centers life around the opinions of the church with less emphasis on purity and behavior. Islamic life is distinctly based on what can be defined as "orthopraxy" or the importance of religious practice. The orthopraxy of Islam can be seen in at least three of the Five Pillars of Islam, salat, Ramadan and the hajj, which are also representative of Muslim faith and duties.
Salat, as mentioned earlier, is the performance of prayer five times a day. The prayer, which includes full prostration, is performed facing Mecca. In the The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, (the earliest source of Islamic writing as dictated to Mohammed), it is written, "Whencesoever thou comest forth (for prayer, O Mohammed) turn thy face toward the Inviolable Place of Worship. Lo! it is the Truth from thy Lord. Allah is not unaware of what ye do (Surah 2:149)." Implicit directions for prayer also display the amount of emphasis on practice. Salat must be performed five times daily, at specific times of the day: early morning, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and evening. Each Friday a congregational service is held at the mosque and every male is required to attend. Before prayer, four ritual aspects are required: ritual purification, proper...