Prayer is an important part of every religion that exists. For some religion, carrying out a prayer is an obligatory duty. Others consider it an important ritual to achieve better spirituality. Still, every religion has one and most have their own style when performing their prayers. Some like to keep it simple, some are more complex, some need tools and equipment, and some require nothing at all.
In this article, we will discuss the Muslim prayer or more commonly known as Salah or Salat. Also known in the Persian language as Namaz. Meanwhile, Salah is one of the five basic acts in Islam, which forms the very foundation of Muslim life and are considered mandatory. Thus, the five basic acts are known as the Five Pillar of Islam (arkan al-Islam).
Basic of Salah (Namaz)
Salah itself consists of several repeated movement and citations called rakats. Basically, a rakat is comprised of (in a specific order):
- Bowing or Ruku
- Second Standing
- Prostration or Sujud
- Second Prostration
- Second Sitting
All of this is counted as one rakat. Due to the differences in interpretations, there are several schools of Islam, and each of them probably has minor differences in details regarding the worship ritual.
Muslims are obliged to do the prayers for five times daily, and each prayer will consist of several rakats. These five daily prayers are performed in a certain specified time according to the movement of the sun. These five daily prayers are:
- Fajr – At dawn or sunrise, obligatory 2 rakats
- Zuhr – After midday, obligatory 4 rakats
- Asr – In the afternoon, obligatory 4 rakats
- Maghrib – After sunset, obligatory 3 rakats
- Isha – Around dusk or nightfall, obligatory 4 rakats
The number of rakats beyond the obligatory ones are varied between schools, and should a Muslim failed to perform any of these prayers on time, it must be performed later.
Aside from the obligatory prayer, Muslim also has the voluntary prayers, such as Sunnah salah, Nafl salah, Istikhaarah, etc. Any Muslim who do all of this regularly would certainly receive many benefits, both spiritual and physical. Let’s find out the health benefits of performing salah (namaz).
Physical Advantages of Doing Namaz
As we all know, a regular exercise’s goal is to provide our body with improved physical abilities. Due to the high amount of physical activity required and its repetitive nature, performing salah is arguably similar to doing a regular exercise. So, although salah was meant as a worshipping ritual, it could provide the same benefits to your physics as the regular exercise.
1. Cardiovascular Health
Every exercise, when done regularly, will increase your metabolism which in turn, would increase your overall cardiovascular health. Since performing a rakat is similar to an exercise, and you have to do it more than once if you salah regularly, you could get a significant increase in cardiovascular health.
2. Promote Cleanliness
It is customary to perform a ritual ablution before conducting salah. You can use water (wudu) or sand (tayammum) for the ablution. The ablution is necessary to cleanse the body from any contaminants such as germs, dust, etc. A person doing wudu is supposed to wash their hands, mouth, nose, arms, face, hair, ear, and feet until clean and by doing so, they will maintain their hygiene levels.
3. Maintains Oral Hygiene
Since many people include gargling when performing wudu, it could help boosts oral and throat health as well. Gargling reduces the risk of viral respiratory infections and removes bad breath too.
4. Relieves Joint
The postures in rakat include bending, prostrating and bowing. You will encounter many difficulties when doing this if your joints are bad or injured. Performing salah regularly will certainly help ease the joints.
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5. Reduces Back pain
Performing the postures particularly the ruku will also reduce your back pain, relaxing the ligaments and muscles in the same way as yoga. Many exercises include this movement as well because the bowing move is essential to your spine and hip.
6. Builds Better Abs
A lot of posture in salah requires good abdominal muscles. For example, both hands need to be placed in the knee cap while bending forward when doing the ruku. In order to keep the legs and spines straight, your stomach will have to pull some muscles. Switching between postures would also habituate your abdominal muscles.
7. Improves Blood Circulation
The series of postures particularly sujud will help your blood circulate better throughout your body. As you bend your body to the front and let your forehead touches the ground, the blood will flow to your upper part of the body such as eyes, cheeks, etc.
8. Improves Digestive System
The sitting posture will stimulate peristaltic action inside your intestines, improving your digestive system. It also aids in liver detoxification functions.
9. Improves Posture
Most people get improper posture because of their daily habits, for example, a person who carries a heavy load on their back every day might develop a hunch back posture. Since every posture in salah is a proper posture, performing it every day surely will improve your posture.
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10. Yoga Exercise – Each and every posture in rakat have their own benefits, including the standing position. Performing an upright stand for a certain period of time will improve your body to achieve better body posture by strengthening your spine.
11. Promotes Clean Body – Doing Wudu (Ablution) before performing salah is automatically promotes body cleanse. As it wash body part such as nose, mouth, head, hands, till feet.
12. Promotes Clean Face – Thus, one of ablution rule is to wash face three times, By that, it will clean oily face, prevent acne or pimples.
The main purpose of salah is to worship Allah. So, it’s only natural that practicing salah regularly will be beneficial spiritually.
13. Improves Selflessness
A study reveals that performing prayers daily could reduce ego and increase humility. It means if done properly, salah could increase one’s awareness about the greater good and become less selfish. This way, people practicing salah every day would grow more selfless with each passing day.
14. Relaxes State of Mind
Salah lifts up your spirit to be closer to Allah. By doing so, your mind will become more relaxed and calm. A relaxed state of mind could significantly reduce your stress levels and make you think more clearly.
15. Improves Insight
As your mind gets relaxed and able to think more clearly, you will receive insights on many things more often. Insights will only be provided to those without clouded judgment or troubled mind, so your insight will certainly improve while you are performing salah.
16. Reduces Anger
The main purpose of salah or prayer is to worship Allah. Nobody in their right mind hopes to achieve that by getting angry and resentful. Before someone performs salah, they need to prepare their readiness, including removing anger from their heart and mind.
17. Promotes Social Skills
Most Muslims went to the mosque or musala to perform salah. Especially in Jumu’ah, the congregational prayer every Friday. In the mosque, everybody will perform salah together side by side. By practicing salah regularly, you will certainly meet many people and improve your social skills by interacting with other Muslims.
18. Increases Positivity
People who perform a prayer regularly and properly will achieve some sort of sense of direction in their life. This sense allows you to become more optimistic and see the world in a more positive way.
19. Increases Diligence
As a good Muslim, you certainly cannot be lazy. The five daily prayers are compulsory, with each prayer requires a certain amount of obligatory rakats. Not to mention there are other voluntary prayers as well. This may seem exhausting at first, but through diligence, these daily tasks will prove to be not tiresome at all.
No matter what is this, performing salah is the best way for self-meditation. During the time you may find yourself in reflection and self-thinking for a being better person.
21. Overall Health – It meant to be have piece, harmony, and balance life.
22. Heart Meditation – Also, this is may be another way to look deep to your heart and get the answer of anything.
The most important thing to remember is that the main purpose of salah is to worship Allah, not to reap any benefit such as relieve joints, become more muscular, etc from it. With that being said, all the benefits of performing salah (namaz) will certainly provide an extra incentive for the Muslims to perform salah more regularly.