Islamic Beliefs on Prayer
Many with only a smattering of knowledge about Islam may at least be aware of the relatively well-known Muslim practice of praying five times each day. This prayer practice is one of the so-called “Five Pillars of Islam,” the observance of each of which is mandatory for all Muslims.
Five times a day, every day, Muslims stop whatever else they may be doing in order to participate in their formal prayers. Wherever they may happen to be at the designated prayer times, they must find a suitable location (if nearby, a mosque is ideal, but not necessary). These five daily prayer times are obligatory; if one of them is missed due to unavoidable circumstances, it must be made up later.
Wherever on the face of the earth that they may currently find themselves, Muslims worldwide are required at these five daily periods to face the direction of Mecca (in Saudi Arabia), and then perform the prescribed ritual prayers. Whatever language they may otherwise speak in their daily lives, these formal prayers are memorized and uttered in Arabic, the language of the Quran.
These five prayer times are set, and specific: at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and nightfall. Traditionally, a muezzin (a sort of Islamic town crier) would announce the call to prayer for the local community from atop a mosque’s high minaret (a tall tower or spire) at the onset of each appointed prayer time. Today, such modern conveniences as P.A. systems, automatic timers, and even online websites have supplemented or replaced the traditional muezzin‘s prayer call in many places around the globe.