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The Physical benefits of Islamic prayer on the human body are discussed in this article. The act of prayer requires the worshiper to move through several distinct bodily postures while reciting a specific supplication. Salah involves a certain level of physical activity which includes standing, bowing prostration and sitting consecutively. Each position involves the movement of different parts of the human body in ways that Some muscles contract isometrically (same length) and some contract in approximation or isotonically (same tension). The prayer movements would enhance flexibility and general muscular fitness. This results in moderate physical exercise particularly to the large muscle group and encourages health and wellbeing. Besides being an excellent form of exercise, physical activity breaks the monotony of chores.
Salah (Arabic term for Muslim Ritual/Islamic prayer) is a spiritual practice performed by Muslim believers which must be performed at least five times a day. There is a lot of discussion on the spiritual significance of Salah. The physical significance, however, is often overlooked. This article looks into the way Muslims pray. The knowledge acquires through this article would help the health/fitness professional to explore the significance of the Prayer positions and may facilitate them to prescribe an individualized tailored exercise program for the Muslim population with special medical considerations. Anyone who does not perform prayer (non-muslims) can adopt these easy postures. For easy assimilation, a comparison has been drawn from Yogic exercise postures as well.
Rakah during salah
As an activity of Daily living, salah (prayer) is performed by Muslim believers at least 5 times a day; each prayer comprising of a certain number of repetitive units called Rakʿah . A practising Muslim if he offers FARD (Compulsory) Salah alone, repeats these Rak’ah a minimum of 17 times every day. The number of total Rakʿah is approximately 48 Raka’a per day which includes all mandatory and Optional Rak’ah. Table 1 summarizes each daily prayer and a different number of obligatory Rakʿah.
Table 1: Table of Rakʿah.
SALAH and Pray time
- (The dawn prayer) FAJR: SUNNAH 2 FARD (Compulsory) 2.
- (The afternoon prayer) ZOHR: SUNNAH 4 FARD (Compulsory) 4 SUNNAH 2 NAFL (optional) 2=12.
- (The Late Afternoon Prayer) Asar: SUNNAH 4 FARD (Compulsory) 4=8.
- (The evening Prayer) MAGRIB: FARD 3 (Compulsory) SUNNAH 2 NAFL (optional) 2=7.
- (The Night Prayer) ISHA: SUNNAH 4 FARD 4 (Compulsory) SUNNAH 2 NAFL(optional) 2 WITR (Odd Rakʿah, the last prayer of night) 3 NAFL(optional) 2 =17.
Physıcal fıtness, physıotherapy and salah
Among the important activities of daily living in Muslim populations is the act of prayer. It is crucial for every Muslim to be able to perform these various postures, which require significant amount of flexion of the lower limb joints to fulfil their religious responsibilities. As these postures demand greater Range Of Motion (ROM), It is among the major concerns for Muslim patients indicated for total knee or hip arthroplasty .
Based on a study , The current available replacement device needs the range required to conduct Muslim prayers adequately for the hip joint. However, the available knee implant device does not yet allow Muslim individuals to satisfy their daily act of prayer.
The recent research [22-24], conducted considering four main factors: population, gender, percentile, and prayer posture. For healthy individuals, the results showed that there is an inverse relationship between the time spent on each prayer posture and the back compression force affecting the person during that posture. In addition, modifications to the bowing posture were studies for individuals with low back pain considering three main factors: back angle, knee angle, and pain level. It was found that all the main factors and one interaction effect (back angle × knee angle) are significant. This can help identify the back and knee angles that minimize the compression force for individuals with low back pain.
Physical rehabilitation involves doing a regular, gentle stretch and strengthen movement program. Regular movement involves in Salah will help to decrease the stiffness in joints and lower limb stretches prevent muscle injuries . It also increases the strength of the muscles, in order to improve physical fitness. This is necessary to be able to return to activities such as, cooking, housework, prayers (Salah) and work.
In the acute injury phase/acute medical conditions or in the early post-surgical stage, patient can pray in modified positions, but as soon as the inflammatory process subsides and the recovery starts, the Fitness expert in clinical setting can develop an exercise training program and set rehabilitative goals tailored for an individual to improve joint flexibility and to strengthen the muscle groups involved in standing, forwarding bending, kneeling, squatting and prostrating, thereby encouraging the patient to return to the normal praying position gradually.
The knee joint is highly loaded during daily life. If each posture has been performed correctly then the individual may prevent knee problems. But many Muslims today aren’t aware of the proper postures. Some pray at a very fast pace, this way they are harming their knees, even when standing sometimes they put pressure on one foot more than the other, overload can lead to more joint problems. Some do not bend at right angle in Ruku posture therefore doesn’t get proper spinal flexibility and lower extremity stretch. It’s being observed also that many people continued to pray on chair even after the acute or sub-acute phase subsided and the consequence are muscle shortening and joint stiffness at knee & hip and tightness at ligaments and tendons, eventually their physical fitness level is compromised.
Movement in prayer if done in the proper position can prevent, treat and rehabilitate a number of diseases. If prayer is practiced to perfection, this practice may nourish the heart, strengthen the kidney, treat impotence for men, improve the quality of sex and genital muscle recovery (neurotherapy-of-christian-brain, 2014) .
A’ishah Siddiqa (Wife of Prophet, PBUH) narrates that The Prophet used to prolong the prostration to such an extent that one could recite fifty verses (of the Qur’an) before he would lift his head [Sahih al-Bukhari] In another Hadith narrated by Anas bin Malik (radiAllahu anhu) the Prophet (PBUH) advised Muslims to perform Ruku’u (bowing) and Sajdah properly.
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