(Salaat) Prayer is at once an external and an internal practice : a set of physical exercises, and the richest spiritual nourishment. The prayer is done by assuming eight separate positions of the body and reciting various Qur’anic verses with each posture. The postures are illustrated in turn, and a brief description is given of the benefits ascribed to each.
Posture 1 – After Niyaat (intention) : Bring hands, palm open, up to ears, and place thumbs behind earlobes, as “ Allahu Akbar ” (Allah is the Greatest) is uttered. Beneficial Effects : Body feels relieved of weight owing to even distribution on both feet. Straightening back improves posture. Mind is brought under control of intellect. Vision is sharpened by focusing upon the floor, where head will prostrate. Muscles of upper and lower back are loosened. Higher and lower centers of brain are united to form singleness of purpose.
Posture 2 : Qiyam (standing) : Place hands, right over left. Then Recite first chapter of the Qur’an and a short chapter of at least three verses should be recited from the Holy Qur’an. Beneficial Effects : Extends concentration, causes further relaxation of legs and back, generates feelings of humility, modesty and piety. In the recital of the verses from the Qur’an, virtually the sounds that occur in Arabic are uttered, stimulating dispersal of all of the ninety-nine Divine attributes in perfectly controlled degrees through the body, mind and soul. The sound vibrations of the long vowels ‘a, I and u’ stimulate the heart, thyroid, pineal gland, pituitary, adrenal glands and lungs, purifying and uplifting them all.
Posture 3 : Ruku (Bowing) : Bend at waist, placing palms on knees with fingers spread. Back is parallel to ground, such that if a glass were on the back, it would not spill. Eyes are looking down, directly ahead. Do not bend the knees. While bending at the waist, recite Allahu Akbar, then, Subhana Rabbi Al Azim. Beneficial Effects : Fully stretches the muscles of the lower back, thighs and calves. Blood is pumped into upper torso. Tones muscles of stomach, abdomen and kidneys. Over time, this posture improves the personality, generating sweet kindness and inner harmony.
Posture 4 : Qauma (Straight standing) : While rising from the bending position of ruku, recite Sami Allahu Li-man Hamidah, Rabbana wa lakal Hamd. Then return to standing position, arms at side. Beneficial Effects : The fresh blood moved up into torso in previous posture returns to its original state, carrying away toxins. Body regains relaxation and releases tension.
Posture 5 : Sajdah (Prostration) : Place both hands on knees and lower yourself slowly and easily into a kneeling position. Then touch the head and hands to the ground. The following seven body parts should be in contact with the ground : forehead, two palms, two knees and toes of both feet. Recite Allahu Akbar while going down and then, Subhana Rabiil al-Ala. Beneficial Effects : Knees forming a right angle allow stomach muscles to develop and prevents growth of flabbiness in midsection. Increases flow of blood into upper regions of body, especially the head (including eyes, ears and nose) and lungs ; allows mental toxins to be cleansed by blood. Maintains proper position of fetus in pregnant women. Reduces high blood pressure. Increases elasticity of joints. Annihilates egotism and vanity. Increases patience and reliance upon Allah Almighty. Increases spiritual stations and produces high psychic energy throughout body. This posture of supreme submission and humility is the essence of worship.
Posture 6 : Sitting : Reciting Allahu Akbar, rise from posture 5 and assume the sitting Posture. Beneficial Effects : For men, the heel of the right foot is curled up and the weight of the leg and part of the body rests upon it. This aids detoxification of the liver and stimulates peristaltic actions of the large intestine. Women keep both soles up, underneath their bodies. The body returns to even greater relaxation, and the posture assists digestion by forcing the contents of the stomach down ward.
Posture 7 : Sajdah (prostration) : Repetition of posture 5 exactly. Beneficial Effects : Repetition of the deep prostration within a few seconds cleanses the respiratory circulatory, and nervous system. Gives experience of lightness of body and emotional happiness. Oxygenation of entire body is accomplished. Balances sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
Posture 8 : Standing / Sitting : From posture 5, with head in prostration, lift the head away from the floor and bring the torso backward. Placing the hands on knees, reverse the procedure for going down, and while again reciting Allah Akbar, return to the standing position (posture 2). In case this is the even number of rakat, return to the sitting position and recite relevant verses and complete the prayer.