Sunday, May 20, 2012
WHAT IS MY PRAYER? / THE BENEFITS OF PRAYER
Salaat has been made compulsory on all believers in all situations. It is an activity which cannot be neglected under any circumstance. This obligation on us should not be regarded as a burden, but rather it should be cherished and appreciated. It is said that a pious person is one who enjoys their prayer. This statement conforms to the hadith, which states that the Prophets’ three most beloved things were his wives, perfume and prayer. Besides attaining spiritual upliftment from performing one’s salaat, one may also gain many physical and psychological benefits. The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) is recorded in a hadith (Ibn Majah) stating that prayer is a cure for many diseases. The wisdom in this claim can be understood when assessing the physical benefits of the act of prayer.
The process of performing salaat expects certain movements and actions, these actions performed at least five times a day have been found to equate to jogging or walking at a rate of 3 miles an hour. This is a basic level of exercise strongly advocated by doctors and members of the medical fraternity on a whole. The importance of exercise is undeniable, with potential benefits to the cardiac, respiratory, skeletal and muscular system. The dynamics of salaat contribute to the improvement of all of these systems, with specific emphasis on the muscular and cardiac systems. Each physical aspect of the prayer is beneficial, but we will focus on ‘sajdah’ to illustrate the effectiveness of salaat as a form of exercise. Before we delve into this discussion, it needs to be noted that the purpose of performing salaat should not be to obtain health benefits, but rather to fulfil a religious requirement. The fact that there are physical benefits associated with prayer comes as a blessing.
Sajdah is the part of the prayer which requires the musalli (individual carrying out the prayer) to prostrate with his/her nose and forehead pressed against the ground. It has a particular spiritual significance in that it is in this position that the believer is closest to his/her Lord. Knowledge of this has psychological benefits as the believer develops a connection with their creator placing them at ease. In terms of the muscular system, the Prophet advised those in sajdah to keep their forearms elevated, this has been found to place more tension on the muscles of the upper and lower arms. The back and neck muscles also actively contract and extend during the process, and it is these mechanisms which work towards strengthening the muscles and ligaments.
This position of the prayer is also quite unique in that it is one of the few postures which lowers the brain to a level lower in height than the heart. This allows blood to flow with less resistance to the central nervous system, allowing improved performance of cognitive function.
There is also great wisdom in the timing of the five daily prayers. The salaat which tends to impact most dramatically on the routine of most believers is Fajr, as it is often this prayer which defines the sleeping pattern of the believer. Studies in America have shown that for most people the optimum amount of sleep required is seven hours, while those who exceed this period tend to have slightly shorter life-spans. The Prophet in this respect, like all other areas, provides the best example. It is narrated that the Prophet Muhammed (s.a.w) would sleep soon after Isha and then awake at midnight to perform night prayers. This sleep routine has been adopted in Europe to treat patients with depression, as this structure has been found to improve wellbeing.
In this article a glimpse of the benefits of prayer has been presented, and Insha-Allah with this knowledge you may develop a greater appreciation for your salaat.
Source : http://www.imanprojects.com