Saturday, August 18, 2007

Salat | The Islamic Prayer and Meditation

A Muslim need not go to any Ashram (or Special Retreat) for meditation if he or she knows how to perform Salât. Salat is the formal, uniform way of prayer for whole of humanity taught by God through the last messenger, Muhammad, the praised one.

Salât is a meditation of the highest order but even most Muslims have forgotten it. They read Namâz (the persian word for Salat) or recite Namâz or even offer Namâz but they do not meditate in it though it is a pre-requisite. A Salât does not even start without the state of meditation. The Prophet, peace be upon him, instructed a person in Salât to meditate upon the presence of God who is watching the devotee. A state of trance is reached when he really meditates upon it.

Then comes the voice of The Word of God from the lips of the Imam (person who leads the prayer in a gathering). If he really started Salât with a state of meditation, the voice of the Imam seems to be coming from a spiritual source. The words of the Qur’ân work as suggestions in a trance and he gradually starts believing in the orders and teaching of those words. There are repetitions of Allâhu Akbar (Glorifying God) and the Tasbihât (Praising God) of Ruku' (bowing down) and Sajda (prostration) etc. They all work wonders in a state of trance. They are autosuggestions. An individual Salât (the prescribed obligatory and voluntary) is based completely on autosuggestions where there is no outside voice but his own recitation works as autosuggestion.

Remember what Qur’ân said about Zikr (Remembrance and not merely chanting)? "Beware! In remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace" (13:28)

Salât, while offered properly and associated with meditation of Allah's presence and His watchfulness is the remembrance of the highest order and must provide peace. Qur’ân proclaims: "Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to thee and establish Regular Salât: for Salât restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that ye do." (29:45)

Qur’ân announces that Salât will prevent you from shameful and unjust deeds. Please note that it is not said that a person offering Salât should restrain himself from committing shameful acts and unjust deeds. Salât will restrain the devotee from evil. On the other hand we observe people involved in shameful acts and unjust deeds though they may be regular Namazis for years! The claim of Qur’ân cannot be false. They in fact did not offer Salât in the prescribed manner. It is high time that camps of teaching Salât with meditation be organised. Alas all our books of Salât procedures, Salât taught to the children by elders in their homes and even Salât taught by Mullahs in Madrasah is comprised of recitation and postures only. There is no meditation and hence it is neither providing peace of mind nor restraining from unjust deeds.

. islamicvoice via crescentlife | . meditation in islam

Note: In Islamic term Salat or Salah is the archetype pattern of communion with God, thus the simple english translation prayer doesn't do justice to the term. According to Coleman Barks and Green, no single word in English fits for the Arabic word Salat, which is "a devotional heart-surrender" that incorporates prayer, supplication, grace, and blessing. It is more than prayer and meditation and more than just dialogue between devotee and God. To emphasize its value, the holy Prophet even said: for the devotee, salat is the mystical ascension into the most holy presence of God.

The Illuminated Prayer is the best book that I have read so far on the inner meanings of islamic prayer, which is suited not only for western non-muslim readers but for muslim readers as well. The book is by Coleman Barks and Michael Green based on the teachings of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen and Jalaluddin Rumi. This book is truly something else! read a review here.

. Prayer, Salat
. The Illuminated Prayer | The Five-Times Prayer of the Sufis
. related post | Quranic verses that encourage meditation Pin It Now!