The Pillars of Islam are very rarely discussed from the perspective of a non-Islamic person, I will be covering all pillars and the importance for a non-Muslims to understand the Pillars of Islam and what it could mean for themselves or their families in the future. All five pillars are obligatory and the laws surrounding the pillars should be a concern to all non-Muslims as the Muslim community (Ummah) grows.
Daily Prayer (salat) is the second pillar of Islam.
There are five obligatory prayers to be performed everyday at prescribed times, according to the position of the sun, and supplementary prayers performed to increase Imam (faith) and oneness with Allah, the Islamic God. As the number of prayers stated in the Qur’an as only three, 17.78 mentions the dawn and night prayer, 2.238 mentions the middle prayer, then an Islamic scholar, or Imam with understanding of hadith will be obligated to teach the other added (afternoon and sundown) prayer to Muslims. All five prayers are personally obligatory to Muslims, if a prayer is purposefully missed then it is viewed as having “left the fold of Islam”
Prayer is encouraged from a young age, a child can be beaten at ten years old for not praying, by the father, grandfather, mother or teacher. This is conditioning the child to submit to the laws within Islam and to fear Allah, in preparation for adulthood.
There can be some concessions for missing prayer and this could be a person accidently falls asleep, is in a place where they are not able or it is not safe to pray, or being on Jihad. However, there is a specific prayer which can be done whilst Muslims are fighting for Allah/Jihad. This is called the fear prayer or the prayer of peril Muhammad and companions performed this prayer at Jihad, the prayer is now detailed within Islamic law.
Another important part of prayer is wash up (ablution) Qur’an 5.6, where instructions are detailed and is mandatory. There are two prescribed ways to perform ablution in this verse, one being water and the other being with sand or dry earth; the latter for only when no water is available. This originated when Muslims were travelling to Jihad and was delayed reaching water. Shortly after Muhammad stated he had a revelation from the Angel Gabriel saying dry ablution (tayammum) is now prescribed if no water is available.
It is obligatory for a Muslim to purify before touching the Qur’an or when attending the mosque, not doing so would mean a Muslim is in state of ritual impurity which would invalidate the prayer. There are two states of ritual impurity which would invalidate the prayer, one being minor, which requires ablution (washing head, face, hands and up to arms up to the elbows and feet, other purification rituals are Sunnah) The other state of ritual purity is major which requires a full bath (Ghusl)Whilst being in a state of ritual impurity, Muslims are permitted to touch the Qur’an in the following circumstances; if the Qur’an is likely to meet filth, burned or soaked, or; if a non-Muslim touches it.
Non-Muslims believe the mosque is a place of worship (and perhaps a community center) If we examine the Islamic texts, we see the mosque was used for planning strategic moves for raids, jihad, storing weapons/armor, judgments for Islamic rulings, housing the wives and slaves of Muhammad within the courtyard of the mosque. The first stoning in Islam, was on the front doorstep of Muhammad’s Mosque when two Jews were brought to Muhammad for his judgment. Mosques are a statement of Islamic dominance or conquest over an area. Muhammad and later Caliphs conquered land by Jihad, ordered churches and holy places to be destroyed and built a mosque in its place. In Western non-Islamic countries, you may note sometimes mosques are built on sites of former churches. In these instances the land has usually been purchased by the Muslim community prior to demolition.
Mosques have tall minarets and large domes, which is to show dominance in the land, either by grandeur or height. When planning, permission was submitted for the Ground Zero Mosque, it was for a skyscraper mosque, although within the state of Ahl al Dhimma (non-Muslim subjects of an Islamic state) Non-Muslims are not permitted to build higher than a Muslim building, nor are they permitted to build new Churches or repair damaged ones.
Muhammad and companions didn’t initially have a mosque; it wasn’t until they migrated to Medina that they could build one. He said that earth had been made a place for prayer. Therefore, a mosque or a designated prayer room is not required, as Muslims can pray anywhere other than a church or a toilet.
A mosque should be within walking distance, this is prophetic tradition (Sunnah) and it is a communal obligation to strive for a mosque within the Muslim community. This is to ensure that wherever Muslims are settled there will be a mosque. This could be a house at first and as the community grows the Muslims will apply for planning permission for a mosque to be built, usually well above capacity.
Attendance to the mosque for Friday prayer is obligatory for men. If 3 prayers are missed by negligence then this is not permitted. Muhammad did not make this obligation on women and advised that women stay at home and due to this women are required to either be separated from men in the mosque, or sit behind men. This is believed to be because men may get aroused at the sight of women even though women are required to be veiled at all times, wear no perfume, or attractive clothes or jewelry in the mosque.
Before the Friday prayers there is a lecture held, for which no noise can be made, added to this, no noise can be made during any prayer, even if alone, plus prayer is not allowed to be interrupted. If there is a requirement to interrupt prayer due to an emergency to draw somebody’s attention, then it is permissible. Men are ordered to say “Subhan Allah” and women are ordered to clap their hands. Whilst in group prayer Muslims are required to stand in straight row, shoulder to shoulder, to show a firm stance of unity and dominance, this was originally a battle formation and is still practiced within mosques now.
One of the most disconcerting laws within Islamic prayer is that Muslims are required to pray within a boundary. The official requirement is that it is 32 cm tall, either an object or a concrete wall, if this is not possible then a prayer mat or a line drawn around them to create the boundary. If the boundary is crossed, then it is recommended the Muslim push the person back. If this action does not have the desired effect and the person persists then the Muslim can push back as hard as necessary. If this action results in the death of a person, then the Muslim would not be subject to retaliation/punishment, nor be required to pay any blood money within Islamic law.
All the above requirements and recommendations for prayer detailed in this article are within the Islamic law/Shari’a.
 Reliance of the traveller Islamic sacred law, f16.0.
Reliance of the traveller, Islamic sacred law, f9.
Reliance of the traveller, Islamic sacred law, o11.0.
Reliance of the traveller, Islamic sacred law,f70