1. Flexible Timing
Muslims pray five times a day. The timings for the prayer are set to before sunrise, afternoon, late afternoon, sunset, and evening. When one hears this, they might get the impression that Muslims must stop everything they are doing at an exact time and start praying. Each prayer has a window which makes it easier for Muslims to pray. For instance, the window for the afternoon prayer might be between 1:00-5:00 pm. This provides Muslims with about four hours to perform the prayer.
2. Shortening/Combining the Prayers
Islam is a religion that has fixed teachings, these teachings cannot be changed, but they are flexible. Islam is a practical religion that takes rare circumstances into consideration. If one is travelling, taking a long exam, performing a surgery, or ill they may shorten or combine their prayers. The combining and shortening of prayers are done in exceptional circumstances because God does not intend to make things difficult. Allah intends for you ease and does not want to make things difficult for you (Qurʾān 2:185).
3. One Direction, One People
There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and they all face the city of Mecca when they perform the prayer. This is meant to instill a sense of unity among Muslims. It also helps orient the heart toward the Kaba, the holiest site in Islam. Muslims do not worship the Kaba it simply serves as a focal point. Although all directions belong to God, people often need a focal point to center their concentration.
One might argue that all directions belong to God and this is accurately stated in the Qurʾān: And to Allah belongs the east and the west. So wherever you [might] turn, there is the Face of Allah . Indeed, Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing (Qurʾān 2:115). However, when Muslims throughout the world face toward Mecca five times a day it creates oneness and unity. Furthermore, it instills a sense of similarity and connection between all Muslims even though they live in different parts of the planet. It unites them in their praise of God and it represents their similar belief in the teachings of Islam despite their geographical, cultural, and linguistic differences.
4. The Qurʾān is Recited in the Prayer
Each prayer consists of certain movements such as standing, bowing, and prostrating. One of the most important parts of the prayer is the recitation of some part of the Qurʾān from memory. This allows Muslims to constantly be in touch with the word of God. It is to be recited in a beautiful and melodic manner that appeals to the emotion of the listener. The word “Qurʾān” actually means “The most recited.” It is a fact that the Qurʾān is actually the most recited book on earth. With a significant percentage of the 1.5 billion Muslims praying five times a day, the Qurʾān is constantly being recited all over the world.
5. Remembrance of God
If you love someone, they are always on your mind. Prayer keeps Muslims in touch with God. It serves as a reminder of the Creator and Sustainer. Verily, I am Allah! There is none worthy of worship but I, so worship Me and offer prayer perfectly for My remembrance (Qurʾān 20: 13-14).
6. It Keeps You in Check
And keep up prayer; surely prayer keeps (one) away from indecency and evil (Qurʾān 29:45). Praying five times a day keeps on in check because they are constantly speaking to God and reflecting on their actions. One who does not remember God does not reflect on their actions and will not feel the urge to repent. Additionally, it is encouraged the pray in congregation. This allows one to interact with other righteous people who will inspire and encourage him or her to do good. They will help him on his path to change and remind him when he makes a mistake.
7. Prayer is Tied to Charity
The Qurʾān constantly ties prayer to charity. Indeed, those who believe and do righteous deeds and establish prayer and give zakah will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve (Quran, 2:277). Another verse reads: Men whom neither merchandise nor selling diverts from the remembrance of Allah and the keeping up of prayer and the giving of poor-rate (Qurʾān 24:37).
When one prays in congregation several times a day they get to know the other worshipers. It provides an opportunity to know who is in need, sick, or in need of assistance. If everyone prayed in his or her home the opportunity to help others would not be as readily available.
8. Washing Before Prayer
Before praying, Muslims must perform a washing of their hands, face, head, and feet. This washing is called ablution. The purpose behind it is to ensure physical purity before standing in front of God. However, the ablution also reminds one of the need to be spiritually pure. As one washes their limbs, they remember the sins they might have committed with those limbs. The Prophet peace be upon him said: “When a Muslim washes his face for prayer every sin he has committed with his eyes is washed away from his face along with the water, or with the last drop of water; when he washes his hands, every sin they wrought is erased from his hands with the water, or with the last drop of water; and when he washes his feet, every sin towards which his feet walked is washed away with water, or with the last drop of water, with the result that he comes out cleansed of all sins” (Sahih Muslim).
Most would consider it important to be clean before they meet someone important, go for a job interview, or stand before an important person. Similarly, Muslims consider it important to be in a state of physical purity when they stand before God in prayer. This washing also creates a culture of cleanliness where everyone in society is in the habit of washing their hands, face, and limbs regularly.
9. It is a Spiritual Cleansing
The Prophet peace be upon him best summarized this point when he said: “If a person had a stream outside his door and he bathed in it five times a day, do you think he would have any filth left on him?” The people said, “No filth would remain on him whatsoever.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said, “That is like the five daily prayers: Allah wipes away the sins by them” (Sahih Muslim).
10. It Ends with Peace
Each prayer ends with a statement that means “peace be upon you.” The word salah in Arabic comes from the root word sila, which means to connect. It literally interrupts one’s day in order that they disconnect from this world and reconnect with God and the hereafter. Ultimately, this world is temporary, and no one will be here forever. Prayer provides regular and constant opportunities to disconnect from the temporary and connect with the Eternal.
The prayer is therefore peaceful and liberating from the shackles of temptations and worldly things. After one reconnects with God they have a sense of peace in their heart. This peace cannot be found through materialism, fun, entertainment, or fame. It is only found by disconnecting from this brief and transient world and reconnecting with God.