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What is Salah? And Why Do We Pray?

What is Salah? And Why Do We Pray?

Prayer (Salah)is the second most important pillar among the five pillars of Islam. It is only after the Shahadah (the testimony of accepting the faith of Islam). There are a number of questions regarding Salah. These questions are as follows:

What is Salah? Why do we pray Salah? In the following, these questions are being answered. 

What is Salah

Salah is an Arabic word that literally means to make dua for or to pray. In the technical sense of Islamic Sharia, the term Salah is the combination of a number of acts of worship that are done by Muslims are fulfill the obligation prescribed by Allah Almighty upon them as the second pillar of the five pillars of Islam. In one form or the other, the Salah or worship has been obligatory in all divine religions. However, there is a difference between the Salah in Islam, and other divine religions are about the place where Salah can be performed. As far as the previous religions are concerned, they had to perform Salah in a specific place dedicated to the purpose of worship, while the Muslims, they can offer Salah anywhere if the place is clean.

The Prophet peace be upon him said: “For my Ummah, the whole Earth has been made Masjid.” The Salah is a combination of different acts in which physical activities and physical positions –such as standing, bowing down, prostrating, and sitting- are involved.

What is Salah, Why do we Pray

Why Do Muslims Pray Salah?

Muslims pray Salah because it is obligatory for them to pay. Right after the beginning of revelation to the Prophet peace be upon him, Salah was one of the earliest commandments that were given to Muslims. It is the second pillar after Shahadah among the five pillars of Islam. The other three are paying Zakat, doing Hajj, and fasting in the month of Ramadan. There are many verses in the Holy Quran that show that offering Salah is obligatory on Muslims. In one verse,

Allah Almighty says: “And observe Salah and pay Zakat and do the Ruku with the people who are doing Ruku.” (2:43).

In another verse, Allah Almighty explains the great reward for Salah as

He says: “and those who hold fast with the Quran and observe Salah, we do not cause the reward of pious people to go wasted.” (7:170).

In a Hadith, the Holy Prophet declared the Salah to be distinguishing between Muslims and non-Muslims. Since the main purpose of the creation of human beings is to worship Allah Almighty alone as He says in the Quran, “And I did not create Jinns and men except for the worship.” (51:56) and Salah is one of the great examples of worshiping Allah Almighty alone, Muslims pray. 

Why Do Muslims Pray 5 Times a Day?

The reason why Muslims pray five times a day is that Allah Almighty has made it obligatory to perform Salah 5 times a day. And it was the mercy of Allah Almighty that He made it obligatory to perform Salah only five times a day. Otherwise, in the era of Musa peace be upon him, the number of Salah in a day was 50. In the Quran Allah Almighty says “Indeed, the Salah is obligatory on you (the Muslim) according to the times.”

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The number of the timing of Salah is specified by the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet peace be upon him. Imam Bukhari narrates the story of Mejran in which the Prophet(PBUH) visited the heavens on the night of Meraj. According to the narration of the Bukhari, initially, the number of Salah was 50. But Musa peace be upon him advised the Prophet to request for a decrease in the number, and the number of Salah became five times a day after repeated requests from the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him on the advice of Prophet Musa peace be upon him. And this is the reason why we need to pray five times a day.


Salah is the second pillar of Islam, and offering the Salah is compulsory for all Muslims. The Prophet (PBUH) informed us that Salah would be the first thing Allah would hold us to account for on the Day of Judgment. Hence, we must take care of offering the five daily prayers at their prescribed times. We should try and offer them as early as possible and get into the habit of doing so, making it a part of our general routine. This is the best way for us to offer the prayer regularly and ensure we don’t miss it.