And be steadfast in prayer and regular in charity: And whatever good Ye send forth for your souls before you, ye shall find it with Allah: For Allah sees well all that ye do. (Quran 2:110) Salat, usually translated into English as "prayer", is one of the five pillars of Islam. The other four pillars are the Declaration of Faith (Shahadah), charity (Zakah), fasting (Sawm), and the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj). Salat should be performed five times a day: daybreak (Fajr), noon (Zuhr), mid-afternoon (Asr), sunset (Maghrib), and evening (Isha). These periods also conveniently correspond with man's daily routine activities: rising, noon break, after work, dinner, and sleep. One could ask, why have prayers been described for Muslims five times a day? Would not once or twice, or whenever one happens to feel like it, be sufficient? In answering these questions, it must first be pointed out that Islamic prayers (salat are somewhat different from "prayer" as used in Christian sense, although personal supplication and glorification of God (known as du'a) are also a very important part of the Muslim's worship in addition to salat. Actually, the word "worship" conveys the meaning of salat much more accurately than "prayer". Keeping all this in mind, we can now proceed to answer the above question of "why?" Salat is a multi-dimensional act of worship. Performing it regularly serves as a repeated reminder to the Muslim during the day and night of his relationship with his Creator and his place in the total scheme of reality. Its regular observance is a vital centering process that helps keep one properly oriented to the truth and reality of one's role in life as a servant of Allah (God) amid the constant distractions of mind and soul that we encounter in the material world (dunya). The remembrance of Allah and his glorification for a brief, concentrated period of prayer in the midst of one's daily activities keeps this perspective always clear and intact. True,...
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