In which direction does a Muslim pray

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Status: 06/12/2020 1:27 p.m.

Ritual prayer is one of the five pillars of Islam. Devout Muslims should turn towards Mecca five times a day and pray. In our society, however, pauses in prayer are not provided for in many areas, for example at work or at school. Hasanat Ahmad from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamat tells how prayer and everyday life can be reconciled.

The question of the meaning of life

Hasanat Ahmad is Deputy Federal Chairman of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Germany KdöR.

As a student at the university, it was not always easy for me to find a suitable retreat for my prayer. After all, the cross-denominational prayer rooms were not always close to the next event. Sometimes I had to make do with a remote bench somewhere on campus in order to fulfill my religious duty. After all, ritual prayer is a central commandment for a devout Muslim. Obeying it is an essential and meaningful part of his everyday life.

The question of the meaning of life has always played a central role across religions, in all cultures and societies. Philosophers and religious founders alike have paid crucial attention to this question. The Koran, the holy scripture of Muslims, finds a simple and clear answer to the question of the meaning of human existence. Because there Allah declares: "And I created the jinn and the people only to serve me." (51:57)

The most important pillar of Islam

The ritual, liturgical prayer, called "ṣalāt", which is compulsory for an adult devout Muslim, is the most important pillar of Islam. It forms the essence of the worship service and is performed five times a day at certain times in the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, the so-called "Qibla" (ie: direction of prayer), together with other believers. Depending on the position of the sun, there are different time windows for the five prayers, which can last for several minutes or hours, depending on the prayer. For ritual prayer, Muslims prefer to meet in the mosque. Depending on the possibility, the prayer can also be said anywhere - and also alone.

For ritual prayer, Muslims prefer to meet in the mosque, but prayer can also be performed alone.

The lunch break at work is not only used by devout Muslims to breathe and eat. Depending on the circumstances, they withdraw for a few minutes to say their noon prayer. A closed room is not absolutely necessary from a religious point of view, but it is often the more pleasant choice both for the person praying and for other employees. Cross-denominational prayer rooms such as at universities or airports could increasingly be a solution in companies as well. Even keeping the direction of prayer is not an unconditional law. If the circumstances do not allow it, because not every bench is necessarily oriented towards Mecca, then the intention counts. According to a verse of the Koran, East and West belong to God, or as Goethe puts it in his West-Eastern Divan: "God's is the Orient! / God's is the Occident! / North and southern terrain / Rest in the peace of his hands."

Although there are sometimes prescribed recitations and gestures in ritual prayer, the Qur'an points to the actual essence of worship, namely the pursuit of the love and pleasure of God, instead of being content with mere formal rites.

Voluntary and personal prayers

A special spiritual value is attached to the voluntary prayers, which can be offered for example at night and in which the devout Muslim finds the possibility of meditation and devotion in seclusion. Voluntary nocturnal prayer promises those who pray a special closeness to their Creator. So it is said in the Koran: "And wake up to it in the night - another one for you. It may be that your Lord raises you to a praiseworthy rank." (17:80)

Islam does not only know liturgical prayer, but also offers the possibility of silent, personal supplications, which one can offer at any time and in any situation, for example to express gratitude while eating, to seek God's help before an examination or for them Praying for the health and well-being of others.

Consideration and understanding for the seemingly strange

For many Muslims, observing the five daily prayers is a natural part of their lives, despite the challenges of everyday work or school. However, I am convinced that mutual understanding for what is seemingly strange and considerate interaction from all sides enable us to master all the challenges of our society. Islamic prayer teaches nothing else: respect for duties towards the Creator and creation.

AUDIO: The ritual prayer in everyday life of Muslims (5 min)

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NDR culture | Friday Forum | 06/12/2020 | 3:20 pm