Comparing Islam’s Second Pillar To Christian Prayer
The practice of prayer is an integral part of many formal religions in the world. Islam has been defined as “submission to God” and prayer for a Muslim, “means submission to the infinite and unknowable Allah” (Goldmann, 2004: 84). It is interesting how Islam claims their God is unknowable. Prayer, or better known to Muslims as “salāt”, is the second of the five pillars of Islam.
According to Mawdudi, salāt is “the prescribed daily prayers which consist in repeating and refreshing five times a day the belief in which you repose your faith” (2006). One more important aspect to Islamic prayer is the required attendance for men to participate in congregational prayers every Friday. Below is a list of the following characteristics that define salāt more specifically:
- 5 prayers a day at set times as demanded by Allah
- Muslims must perform a ritual wash before each prayer called wudhu or cleansing (if water is not available sand can be used)
- The prayer is performed facing Mecca or otherwise known as qibla
Muslims must abide by certain requirements during their formal prayers in order to perform them worthily before Allah. The salāt must be recited with the tongue silently in Arabic and include praises to Allah, the shahada, prayer for forgiveness and blessings, and an optional prayer for oneself. “For Muslims prayer is more than a repetition of words since it involves significant actions: kneeling, looking to left and right, touching the ear. Muslims have their own qibla, the direction to be faced when praying” (Riddel 2003: 46). These prostrations and repetitions are seen as a witness to the Islamic faith.
Salāt compared to Christian prayer
How do Christians respond to the issue of prayer in their daily lives? First of all, we must examine what the Scriptures say in regards to this.
Jesus has given Christians a model of prayer that is better known as the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13). He begins this passage by telling his disciples, “This, then, is how you should pray” (Matt. 6:9, NIV) assuming that they will pray. There are various Scriptures that discuss how Christians are to pray continually (1 Thes. 5:17), pray in the Spirit on all occasions (Eph. 6:18), and how believers should approach the throne of God with confidence (Heb. 4:16). It is not simply only the actions of how Muslims deviete from true worship of God in their prayer rituals that are aimed at pleasing their “unknowable deity,” but it is the God to whom a Muslim prays to and the motivation and nature of the prayer that separates these two faiths.
Christianity diverges from Islam in the nature and practice of prayer. For Christians, prayer is not something that is formally done with preset times and bodily movements; although, some Christians could be found praying at meal times, in church settings, and also randomly with one another. Prayer is something that is birthed out of a relationship with God and is based not on an outward manifestation or adherence to a particular code of conduct, but is rather directed at the inward heart of a believer as a response to the grace of God.
Christians should devote themselves to prayer as Colossians 4:2 states, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” While there are differences in the motivation for a Christian to pray we should take to heart the dedication and devotion of the Muslim’s attitude towards prayer. Prayer is the essential aspect of our relationship with the one true God. As Christians move to develop their prayer lives they should appreciate God’s willingness to reach out to mankind. He does not demand a rigid form of prayer or ritual, but a loving relationship that is based on His amazing grace. The Muslim who understands that the Quaran’s Allah gives impossible demands will instead direct his dedication away from the false diety and express prayful dedication to the God of Grace as a response to His revealed, and knowable, love which is ONLY found in the Bible. This is the real God who gives faithful love through His compassion to forgive sinners freely by His passionate sacrifice that took the place of sin. Christians can pray for and only hope that God’s grace will be given to many Muslims and give them a dissatisfaction toward the false, demonic god of Islam that demands impossible works based rituals, and deeds to decieve people into remaining slaves to their sins.
Islam teaches that Allah is “unknowable.” Their God is unknowable not simply because Islam says so, but because their god does not exist so their submissive prayers are empty and a waste of time. Allah in no way at all can ever be considered the same God of Abraham in the Bible. The fact that many missiologists want to promote such heresy is a sign of the times that we live in. The differences in prayer between Christianity and Islam are only one example of how the two religions are opposite.
Goldman, David. (2004). Islam and the Bible. Chicago: Moody Publishers. p. 84.
The Holy Bible, New International Version. (1973). Grand Rapids,MI: Zondervan.
Mawdudi, Abul Al’a. (2002). Towards Understanding Islam. [online]. Accessed 17 May
2006. Available at http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/M_tui/index.html.
Riddel, Peter G. Cotterell, Peter. (2003) Islam in Context. Baker Academic.Grand
Rapids, MI. p. 46.