Prayer: The Crown of Arab Muslim Culture

Men gathered in Mosque for prayer
Muslims praying in mosque © Wisconsinart | Dreamstime.com

The 1.9 billion Muslims of the world are spread across the globe. Therefore, they live in different cultures while practising a single religion. This phenomenon has created prominent Muslim cultural groups like Asian Muslims, Middle Eastern, European, African, and American Muslims. Every Muslim cultural group has its own customs and traditions. Hence, they might have small variations of expression of faith. The unity among the diversity of Muslim cultural groups paints a unique elegant picture. Therefore, today, we will have a glimpse of a single scene of that unique and elegant broad picture of Islam by exploring the concept of prayer in the Muslim culture of the Arab Muslim world which is also known as the Middle Eastern Muslim World.

Concept of Prayer in Islam

Muslims are required to offer prayers five times a day and these prayers have to be offered in a certain way and within specified time limits. To fully comprehend, the following are the names and timings of each of the five prayers which Muslims have to offer:

1. Salat al-Fajar: It is offered at dawn before sunrise.

2. Salat al-Zuhr: It is offered at midday right after the sun passes its highest.

3. Salat al-Asr: It is offered in the late part of the afternoon.

4. Salat al-Maghrib: It is offered just after the sunset.

5. Salat al-Isha: It is offered between sunset and midnight.

Each prayer can easily be offered within 10 to 20 minutes including the timing of ablution i.e. the practice of washing hands, mouth, nose, face, arms and feet, etc.

Prayer in the Arab Muslim World

The Arab world  is very strict about the offering of the five prayers. Some Arab countries have gone as far as to create a force that roams around the streets at the time of prayer to encourage people to offer their prayer. All the five prayers are usually offered in the mosque after the adhan in the Arab world. The other Muslim cultures of the world are not as institutionalised as the Arab Muslim culture. It is evident from the fact that as soon as the Azan is heard from the mosque, the shops and business start to close down in the markets instantly. Similarly, all the markets and businesses are opened instantly after the prayers. It is the most magical moment that can be primarily witnessed only in Arab Muslim culture.

Gender and Prayer in the Arab Muslim World

Men are encouraged to offer prayer in the mosque to strengthen the community bonds of Muslim society. However, women enjoy a concession to pray inside the house if they wish, due to family responsibilities. Furthermore, men are bound to pray five times a day but women have the concession to not offer prayer during the menstrual period.

Arrangements of prayer in the Arab Muslim World

The Muslims around the world prefer to pray in the mosques. However, the Arab world is geographically a desert and the Arabs used to cover long distances without any population. This requirement to cover long distances without mosques or population paved the way for a unique practice in Arab Muslim culture. This unique practice is taking the prayer rug along during the journey. Therefore, Arab Muslims usually have prayer rugs in their cars or other vehicles despite the fact that distances can be covered quickly now. Hence, one can usually witness the unique view of Arab man comfortably praying at the roadside while his car is parked near the road and scenes like these make the prayer a crown of Muslim culture in the Arab Muslim world.