Islam considers Praying (Salat) five times a day  as one of the most important practical principles. The more times one does something, the more it becomes part of him/her and his/her character; so does prayer. Also, if there were just one prayer a day, people would be more at risk of skipping it by telling themselves: it is only one! Let’s do it tomorrow! But, essentially, why should Muslims perform the daily prayers? Here are some of the answers to this question.
Of the prerequisites of the prayer is the purity of the body from major impurities [i], minor ones [ii], and the purity of clothes and place. These conditions need a state of physical and spiritual cleanliness to stand before God. So, praying five times a day bounds Muslims to take a bath regularly, wash the face and hands at least five times a day.
These are the practices of personal and public hygiene. According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), the prayers act like a river passes nearby one’s house: “If there was a river at your door and you took a bath in it five times a day, would you notice any dirt on you? That is the parable of the five prayers by which Allah removes sins from one’s soul.”.
Moreover, several narrations recommend wearing perfume and brushing the teeth before ablution (Wudu) and prayers (Salat) [2,3,4]. These and other narrations, emphasize the importance of appearing clean in public and private.
Muslims, all, should pray in the same uniform way, and manner, facing the same direction. No matter what their social position is, where they are on this planet, and what language they speak. This, particularly, means that all human beings are the same before God. Moreover, all the identical acts and words during prayer and positioning towards the same direction, are the practices of promoting solidarity among Muslims, especially when repeated at some times every day.
Praying five times a day at certain intervals is an important tool. Since it allows a Muslim to organize his/her day, be aware of time, practice and take the control over his/her daily life.
Much of what we say in our prayers is actually asking for divine help to be righteous in our decisions and actions. And, God has promised in the Quran to respond to whoever that calls him (40:60). This gives a good feeling. Knowing that a kind, wise and superior power hears us and will help us through the hard moments. He also makes us more confident and determined in our decisions.
Just as we need food to meet our physical needs, Islam teaches us to pray and worship to get the food for our souls. That is inner peace and tranquility.
One of the main objectives of daily prayers (Salat) is to remember God. It also helps to purify ourselves and keep away all the evil thoughts and actions. "Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing ... And Allah knows that which you do." (29:45).
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said that Satan is afraid of the faithful Muslim who performs the prayers (Salat) in their right times. Once a Muslim forgets to do the prayer at the right time, Satan becomes encouraged to tempt him/her to do great sins .
If we once do wrong to someone, we will be ashamed of him/her, or we do not even dare to face him/her the next time we meet. Prayer has the same effect. It is the confrontation of one's conscience, knowing that nothing can be hidden from God, whether manifested or concealed. Then, it becomes more difficult to commit evil deeds when we have to stand five times a day in front of God who knows every detail about us.
Another purpose of prayer for a Muslim is to remember. At fixed intervals, no matter how busy a Muslim is, he/she might ask himself, “OK, why am I here, what do I do in this world?” Also, prayer helps Muslims to be accountable for their daily actions which greatly change their perceptions of life.
On top of everything, worshiping God is the purpose for which the humankind was created: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (51:56).
Last but not least, what do we usually do to one who has done a favor to us? The answer is: try our best to compensate, or at least to thank him/her even several times. Now, how can we compensate the blessings that God has given us? It is not possible! Then, we pray to thank Him for all the wonderful, beautiful blessings that He has given us. Although we do not deserve many of them.
[i] Can be removed by ritual bathing (Ghusl)
[ii] Can be removed by ablution (Wudu)
- Ibn Babawayh, “Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih”, vol.1, p. 316.
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 5, p. 511.
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 5, p. 515.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Al-Khisal”, p. 481.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Uyun akhbar al-Rida”, ch. 30, T. 21.
The best way to begin this article is by this beautiful saying of Imam Sadiq (AS) regarding Hajj: “The pilgrims, i.e., performers of Hajj or ‘Umrah’ are the guests of Allah, if they ask for something, He will answer them; if they supplicate to Him, He will answer them; if they intercede, He will accept it; and if they keep quiet, He will be the beginner, and they will be compensated instead of one Dirham, a million Dirhams” [i].
Literally speaking, Hajj means heading to a place for the sake of visiting. In Islamic terminology, Hajj is a pilgrimage made to Kaaba, the ‘House of God’, in the sacred city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is obligatory for every Muslim to perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime provided that he/she is physically and financially able to do so. The rites of Hajj, which go back to the time of Prophet Abraham who built Kaaba after it had been first built by Prophet Adam, are performed over five or six days, beginning on the eighth and ending on the thirteenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar.
Hajj is the ultimate form of worship, as it involves the spirit of all the other rituals. Nearly two million Muslims from all over the world meet each other and refresh in themselves the faith that all Muslims are equal and deserve the love and sympathy of others, regardless of their race, wealth, status, class, culture and ethnic origin .
Generally, there are three kinds of Hajj: Hajj al-tamattu, Ifrad, and Qiran. The first is the duty of a person whose home is located 16 farsakhs (about 90 km) away from Mecca. The second and the third (Ifrad and Qiran) are the duties of those who live in Mecca or outside it within this distance. Hajj al-tamattu differs from the two other kinds in its rituals and practices which is the focus of this article. It is also noteworthy that even Hajj al-tamattu becomes obligatory under certain circumstances, including sanity, adulthood [ii] and Istita’ah [iii] .
In the context of Hajj al-tamattu, the question of ability to perform this task (Istita’ah) and who is capable of it (Mustati) is of utmost importance and a very sensitive issue. To be Mustati, you should have the following abilities:
financial ability – i.e., you have enough money to support yourself and your family on your journey,
physical ability- i.e., Hajj is not obligatory for the sick, the old or those who are either unable or would face severe hardship,
Sirbi ability - i.e., the route is open and safe,
Time ability- i.e., that there should be enough time to go on Hajj after becoming Mustati .
Bearing these conditions in mind, let’s take a brief look at the rituals a person should perform when they go on Hajj.
Basically, Hajj al-tamattu consists of two parts: Umrah of Tamattu [iv] and the Hajjah, both have to be performed in the same year in Dhu al-Hijjah.
Prayer of Tawaf
The pilgrims who visit Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) shrine and Imams' sepulcher in Medina before performing Hajj rituals, become Muhrim in Masjid al-Shajarah, and those who travel to Mecca from Jeddah become Muhrim in Juhfah.
To be Muhrim, men should take out all the clothes that are stitched and instead wear a two-part unsewn and clean white garment, one covering the lower parts of their body and the other their shoulders. Women, however, can wear stitched clothes provided that they are clean and white, and their face is not covered by anything. Then intending to perform the Umrah of Tamattu, they should say: LabbaikAllahommalabbaik,labbaika la sharikalakalabbaikm [vi].
Now you are Muhrim and ready for entering the sacred house of God.
Hunting the land animal
Kissing the woman.
Touching the woman
Looking at the woman and indulging in foreplay
For men only: wearing the sewn clothes
Applying kohl on the eyes
Looking in a mirror
Wearing shoes or socks (For men only)
Cursing other people
Quarreling with others
Killing the insects on one’s body
Applying oil on the body
Getting rid of the bodily hair
For men only: covering the head. (Even submerging the head in a body of water is not allowed, for both men as well as women.)
Covering the face (For women)
For men: shading themselves from sun or rain.
Causing blood to come out of one’s body
Clipping the nail
Pulling out the teeth 
After saying your intention (Niyyah), you have to circumambulate (turn around) Kaaba located in Masjid al-haram seven times; “a fixed point in the center and everything else moving round it; a circular movement… sun in the center and turning round it are people, each a star in their own sky” ; you are performing Tawaf.
The reason for this rite is that the heart and soul of the pilgrim should move around the House of Allah and his love for Allah should become so great that no worldly attraction, neither the East nor the West, would distract him from this path. Only the Oneness of Allah (Tawhid) should attract him. Tawaf also conveys the message of unity. The pilgrims have come from different countries in the world; they have all gathered in Masjid al-haram circumambulating around Kaaba. It seems as though they were drops of water that now have made a huge ocean altogether .
When circumambulating, note that Kaaba should be on your left side, your clothes should be completely clean, and you should perform Wudu (ablution) before starting. Also, be careful not to bump into other pilgrims and keep your shoulders straight. After completing this holy task, you should perform a Salat which is called prayer of Tawaf (Tawaf’s Salat) and is performed like Morning Prayer behind Maqam Ibrahim.
Now, you have done your Tawaf and performed the Salat after it; what you will go through next is called Sa’y. You should walk the distance between Safa and Marwah seven times, starting from Safa and terminate the first lap at Marwah, then walk the second lap from it to Safa and so on till you terminate the seventh lap at Marwah. Don’t worry, if you get tired you are allowed to take a brief rest and start over from where you stopped.
Last but not least, in the rituals that should be performed throughout Umrah al-tamattu is called Taqsir, meaning that you have to cut a short piece of your hair or nails. With this task done, your Ihram will be finished, and everything that was Haram in this process will become Halal again, and you can take off your Ihram clothes.
Congratulations! You made it; you have completed the first part of your pilgrimage. Now, you will enter the next phase, called Hajjah.
Staying at Arafat
Staying at Muzdalifah (Mash'arul Haram)
Going to Mina
Stoning the Jamratul Uqba
Sacrificing an animal
Tawaf of Hajj
Prayer of Tawaf of Hajj
Prayer of Tawaf-un Nisa
Staying at Mina
Stoning the three pillars (Jamaraat) on the 11th and 12th of the month
On the 8th day of Dhul-Hijja, pilgrims become Muhrim again and go to Arafah -a plain about 20 km Southeast of Mecca- and stay there on the 9th of Dhul-Hijja from noon to sunset. You can walk, sit or sleep, talk or keep quiet and think in there, but it is strongly recommended to spend the entire day, especially the afternoon, in supplication and Dua.
At sunset, you have to set out to Muzdalifah (Mash’arul Haram) where you are supposed to stay until sunrise and at which you gather pebbles for hitting the Jamaraat. Then on the 10th day, you leave for the land of Mina. You need to stone the Jamratul Uqba (biggest pillar) with seven pebbles, sacrifice a sheep, a camel or a cow, and shave your head or perform Taqsir [vii].
After performing three of these you can come out of Ihram, but there are still acts you have to do and ones that are forbidden like wearing perfume, hunting, and marital relations.
Tawaf of Kaaba; you turn around Kaaba, seven times as you did for Umrah.
Salat of Tawaf; after performing Tawaf, recite two-Rak’at Salat behind Maqam-e- Ibrahim.
Sa’y; perform Sa’y the same as the one did for Umrah except for the intention which has to be of Hajj-al-Tamattu.
Tawaf-un-Nisa; return to Kaaba and perform another Tawaf with the intention of Tawaf-un-Nisa of Hajj-e-Tamattu.
Salat of Tawaf-un-Nisa; recite another two Rak’at Salat behind Maqam-e-Ibrahim with the intention of Salat of Tawaf-un-Nisa of Hajj-al-Tamattu.
Spending the night in the land of Mina; it is obligatory (Wajib) to spend the night of 11th and 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah in Mina.
Rami al Jamaraat; while in Mina, you have to stone all the three pillars (Jamaraat) with seven pebbles between sunrise and sunset on both the 11th and 12th day.
After stoning the three Jamaraat on the 12th day, you will leave Mina for Mecca before sunset. Your Hajj is complete, and you are free to do everything you were allowed to do before Ihram. There is also a great emphasis on visiting the Prophet's mosque in Madinah before or after Hajj. Pilgrims return to their countries after Hajj rituals, and they are as pure as a newborn baby.
May God accept your Hajj.
[i] A unit of currency in several Arab states
[ii] People who have reached the age of shar‘ī puberty
[iii] Having the capacity to perform Hajj
[iv] Not to be confused with the Umrah al-mufradah which refers to Umrah that is performed independently of Hajj. However, they have some rituals in common.
[vi] «لَبَّيْكَ اللّهُمَّ لَبَّيْكَ، لَبَّيْكَ لا شَرِيكَ لَكَ لَبَّيْكَ»: "Here I am (for Hajj). Oh Allah, here I am. Here I am. You have no partner. Here I am."
[vii] Women clip their hair or the tip of their fingernail.
One of the ten practical principles of Islam, The Holy Struggle, Jihad, is literally defined as “hardship, endeavor, exaggeration in work, reaching the height of something and capability”, while in the Sharia of Islam Jihad is sacrificing one’s life and property primarily for the sake of Allah, elevating and sustaining Islamic beliefs and standpoints. In this sense, Jihad is the act of Defending the Islamic territory against the assaults and intrusions of outsiders and invaders.
The essence of Jihad lies in Defense, thus any violence which is shown with the intention of invading a country or a nation’s lives, property, etc. and for manipulating their economic potentials or human resources, not only is not called Jihad but also considered as the overt manifestation of injustice and cruelty which is strongly rejected in Islam.
If an individual or a nation participates in a struggle in order to defend their life, money, property, or independence, they have in fact committed a holy task since they have stood up against the injustice of the intruder who has questioned their legitimate human rights. Therefore, the act of Jihad is permitted in the following cases:
When the life and possessions of the people of a country are threatened by the invasion of the intruders and opportunists, they have the right to defend themselves against these threats and retain what has been taken away from them.
It is the whole nation’s responsibility to defend the personal and domestic privacy of its members, preventing the enemies to violate and invade the family units especially women and children.
To defend national independence and integrity is a totally legitimate action for a nation. Accordingly, if a government or nation tends to undermine or insult the independence of another nation and try to manipulate them, the latter is bound to defend itself in order to restore its legitimate rights.
The struggle to retain your rights is not limited to an individual or a nation; rather there are some values that are far beyond these and include the whole of humanity. In other words, Jihad is the act of defending the “right” that spans not only personal and public ones but also that of humanity.
Freedom is one of these human values that is precious for every single person on earth regardless of their nationality or religion, so when it is threatened or undermined in any place around the world every conscious soul finds it necessary and feels responsible to defend and retain it; if a group of people is being oppressed or treated unfairly, one cannot and should not remain indifferent to this injustice and is bound to fight for their freedom. There existed and still exist many freedom-loving people who are not just concerned about their own country or nation and instead strive for the freedom of all human beings around the globe.
To further illustrate this issue, let’s consider this example: nowadays, medical researchers are in a constant struggle to find a final and determinate cure for cancer, but they are still unsuccessful. Imagine the cure was found by a medical company, but its managers amassed it and prevented people from using it in order to increase their own interest, or even destroyed the formula so that no one would reach it, they have violated the rights of the whole humanity and should be fought with.
The answer is yes monotheism, and the concepts like this are of human values and need to be defended, but it does not mean that we are allowed to impose these beliefs on an individual or a nation since faith and belief is something that each person should reach and accept through his own intellectual and logical investigation and not through force; this is clearly reflected in this verse of Holy Quran: “there is no compulsion in religion” (2:256).
Nevertheless, if this axiom -or any other fundamental belief in Islam- is being threatened or insulted in order to arise enmity and to undermine Islam, it is every Muslim’s duty to stand up for this cause.
Up to this point, we understood that the keyword in the definition of Jihad is Defense in the four cases above. The religion of Islam is fundamentally the religion of peace and strongly recommends a peaceful relationship with others, as these verses explicitly reveal: “And if they incline toward peace, then you [too] incline toward it, and put your trust in Allah. Indeed He is the All-hearing, the All-knowing” (8:61), or “So if they [polytheists] keep out of your way and do not fight you, and offer you peace, then Allah does not allow you any course[of action ]against them”(4: 90).
However Islam makes a clear distinction between the idea of peace and surrender; while it encourages the former, it emphatically rejects the latter. In other words, peace is reached when both parties are on friendly terms, respecting each other’s beliefs and rights mutually, and live beside one another without intruding or violating each other’s rights.
But if one of the parties were to keep on invading the other one – either covertly or overtly -, and the one whose rights have been threatened did not react, this would not be called peace anymore, rather surrendering and yielding to their injustice which is totally unacceptable in Islam.
Finally, it should be noted that Islam is a religion that ranges all aspects of human’s life and has established rules for each; accordingly, it should include a rule which would protect individuals as well as the society against possible threats and guarantee society’s tranquility and harmony through retaining the social justice. Jihad is that principle that would practically provide these opportunities for Muslims.