Before praying, Muslims must perform a washing of their hands, face, head, and feet. This washing is called ablution. The purpose behind it is to ensure physical purity before standing in front of God. However, the ablution also reminds one of the need to be spiritually pure. As one washes their limbs, they remember the sins they might have committed with those limbs. The Prophet peace be upon him said: “When a Muslim washes his face for prayer every sin he has committed with his eyes is washed away from his face along with the water, or with the last drop of water; when he washes his hands, every sin they wrought is erased from his hands with the water, or with the last drop of water; and when he washes his feet, every sin towards which his feet walked is washed away with water, or with the last drop of water, with the result that he comes out cleansed of all sins” (Sahih Muslim).
Most would consider it important to be clean before they meet someone important, go for a job interview, or stand before an important person. Similarly, Muslims consider it important to be in a state of physical purity when they stand before God in prayer. This washing also creates a culture of cleanliness where everyone in society is in the habit of washing their hands, face, and limbs regularly.
9. It is a Spiritual Cleansing
The Prophet peace be upon him best summarized this point when he said: “If a person had a stream outside his door and he bathed in it five times a day, do you think he would have any filth left on him?” The people said, “No filth would remain on him whatsoever.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said, “That is like the five daily prayers: Allah wipes away the sins by them” (Sahih Muslim).
10. It Ends with Peace
Each prayer ends with a statement that means “peace be upon you.” The word salah in Arabic comes from the root word sila, which means to connect. It literally interrupts one’s day in order that they disconnect from this world and reconnect with God and the hereafter. Ultimately, this world is temporary, and no one will be here forever. Prayer provides regular and constant opportunities to disconnect from the temporary and connect with the Eternal.
The prayer is therefore peaceful and liberating from the shackles of temptations and worldly things. After one reconnects with God they have a sense of peace in their heart. This peace cannot be found through materialism, fun, entertainment, or fame. It is only found by disconnecting from this brief and transient world and reconnecting with God.
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