More Than Just Prayer

The rite of salah is far more than just a personal statement of communion with the Creator. The Quran talks about the establishment (iqaama) of salah’ as a central pillar of social life and collective existence. Just as every species of creature performs salah in accordance with its own ‘tongue of disposition’ (lisaan-i haal), human society as a whole is designed to commune with its Creator at every level and in every way, by reflecting the Divine names and attributes in exactly the way it was meant to reflect them. This means that the aim of society is not the individual performance of ‘acts of worship’, but the collective performance of worshipful acts. The aim of society is to engage in the same ecstatic dance of oneness that is typified by the revolving Mevlevi dervishes, and which we see not only throughout the whole of creation, but even in the spinning of the subatomic particles around the nucleus of the atom. The goal of salah is not just a submissive individual but a prayerful society, with all of its component parts working in unison to reflect the glory and majesty of its Creator. The establishment of salah is one of the sacred goals of our faith, which has Divine communion and human community at its heart. Not for nothing has congregational prayer been accorded a value twenty-seven times greater than individual prayer. And not for nothing has it been said that the whole of the earth is our place of prostration (masjid).

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