Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Prayer Time

I   am by no means an expert on Islam, but I try my best to convey my impressions and to be accurate and not promote any misinformation. However if I do, please accept my invitation to clarify or make corrections in my comments section.
 Prayer in Arabic is called “salah,” which translates to supplication. According to Islam, Muslims are required to pray five times every day. Prayer times are very specific, and each prayer has a name. The very first prayer of the day is called Fajr. The call to prayer sounds at about 4:45am for this prayer, although when I first arrived here back in October, it was about an hour later. The prayer times change by minutes every day, changing to earlier in the day and later in the evening in the summer months when the days are longer. The second prayer of the day, called Duhur, now comes at about 1pm, although it was at about noon when I first got here. The third prayer time of Asr is about 4pm (used to be at 3:30pm). The fourth prayer is known as Maghrib and is at about 7pm (which used to be at 6pm), and the last prayer of the day, called Isha, comes now at about 8:30pm (previously at 7:30pm). The prayers vary in length according to how many “rakaahs,” or recitations of a unit of prayer, are required for that particular prayer time. Positions change during prayer from standing, to bending over at the waist, back to standing, then down to the floor on your knees touching your head to the floor - this is why prayer rugs are used - and kneeling on the floor sitting on your feet. These positions are repeated until the prayer is completed by turning the head to the right and then to the left.

Speaking of prayer rugs, they come in all colors and many sizes. My son has one that is a really plush leopard print. Some women try to match the color of their prayer rug with the color of their sharshaf, the loose fitting total body covering that is worn at home when praying. I have even seen prayer rugs with built in compasses on them so you know which way Mecca is, since that is the direction you must face when you pray.

When the call to prayer sounds, the devotees must prepare for prayer by performing the cleansing ritual of ablution, called “wudhu.” In a previous post, I described a bit about how this is done, about the calls to prayer, and some other information. Here is the link to that prior post:   Islam and Me...When in Rome

From what I understand, women who are on their periods or who have given birth and are still bleeding are not allowed to participate in prayer. Someone told me that the reason for this is because women are considered unclean during these times. When men and women pray together, as at home, a man must lead the prayer, and women must be behind the men. People who are physically unable to perform the movements of the prayers are allowed to sit during prayer. When a person has had sex, a complete bath, called “ghusl,” is required, instead of just performing wudhu. My husband gave me a 16 page instruction booklet that deals with, among other things, the prayers, cleansing, prayer positions, things that are allowed and things that are disliked during prayer, purification for prayer and impurities, when wudhu and ghusl are required and what things invalidate them, and bathroom etiquette. Let me stress how complete and specific these instructions are. In the future, I intend to post sections of this very interesting booklet.

Prayer time takes a little getting used to here in Saudi Arabia. All businesses must close for prayers. This means that all businesses open and close several times a day. It also means that shoppers are either kicked out of shops or at some places they are locked inside when it’s prayer time. Once we were in a large supermarket when prayers were called and we were locked inside the store for about half an hour. Many businesses open in the morning and then close from about 12-3 or 1-4 depending on what time of year it is, and then open and close again and again for the last two prayers of the day. Most businesses stay open pretty late, until at least midnight or so, due to the limited open times during the day. Another reason is because of the extreme heat here during the day which can be quite uncomfortable, and since the weather is more pleasant in the evenings, many people prefer to do their business or shopping then.
Foreign workers who are not close enough to go to a mosque for prayers gather on the sidewalks outside businesses, lay down carpets and prayer rugs, and pray together as a group. I have seen groups on the sidewalks as large as forty to fifty men, and of course smaller prayer groups of just a few men. My husband hates being out of the house during prayer times so I have had a difficult time trying to get photos of these sidewalk prayers, as we are usually home then anyway, but if we’re not, we are speeding by on our way home. I love seeing the men praying on the sidewalks, by the way. I admire their devotion. I can only imagine what people in America would think if they saw men praying on the sidewalks there.

Some mosques are located in the middle of busy business areas where there is not much parking available. It is not unusual to see cars double and triple parked in the streets around the block near the mosques. I have been told that this is perfectly fine and no one can complain because these men are at the mosque praying. Usually only men go to the mosques to pray on a daily basis. Women generally pray at home, even on the holy day which is Friday.

Every shopping mall I have been to so far is equipped with separate fully carpeted prayer room facilities for men and women, located near the restrooms so they can wash up first. Literally every store in the mall closes when it’s prayer time, so every day hundreds of shoppers are left to roam the corridors of the mall until the shops open back up about a half hour later.

A couple of times we were in a restaurant when it was prayer time. The waiters scurried around making sure we were comfortable and had our drinks, and then they were gone for half an hour. After prayer time they picked right back up where they left off, continuing with our service.

I remember back in Florida, whenever Adam had a sporting event or a school function that we should have attended to show support for our son, my husband would refuse to go if the event coincided with a prayer time, which was often the case. It used to be upsetting to me because my reasoning is that God would understand why he would have to pray later since he was supporting his son by being there for him. This argument never held water with my husband, and it was always a sore spot between us. I always resented having to attend these functions alone.

Here, it seems like if we are out during the day to try to get things done, we are always in a rush to finish before the next prayer time. No wonder the traffic is so horrendous here with everybody zipping around to beat the clock. I must admit I don't find shopping here nearly as enjoyable as I used to in the states. It is inconvenient and stressful and many times you have to go back several times to try to find what you are looking for because you simply run out of time.


  1. Hey susie I want to commend you for doing a wonderful job covering all the aspects of the prayer. You've learned and seem to understand it all very fast. I was just wondering what your feelings about the prayer are as they are mandatory at their given times which is diffrent than most other religions where you can pray whenever you like.

  2. I, too, experienced some frustration in shopping and dining, and having to interrupt the activity just when you got going. It wouldn't have been so bad if prayer facilities for women were larger and more numerous-- perhaps they have improved since I've been there. Practically speaking, the men went to prayer; the women and children hung out idly for the duration.

    I, too, used to love seeing all the cars gathered, blocking the streets around the large mosques, while rows and rows of men overflowed the entrances. That scene, however, was tinged with a bit of disappointment. Prayer times were not family affairs. They belonged to the men.

    I used to love praying in a mosque, and I did so at every opportunity.

    I find your description of prayer adequate and accurate, especially for non-Muslims. The timings of prayer are keyed to the position of the sun, hence the fluctuation in times over the year.

    I became very comfortable, over the years, with arranging my activities around prayer times. In fact, I now miss that structure here in the USA, where everyone is a slave to the clock, with no leeway--ever. Also, it's nearly impossible for a weak person (such as me) to make the prayers at the proper times without the prompting from the environment.

  3. Thank you for pointing out the basics of prayer. You are doing a great service informing non-Muslims about Islam.

    I just wanted to add that the times that women are not allowed to pray are more of a mercy for women than a negative. I don't consider myself unclean when I have my period, but that God has given me a break from my usual routine because he created me a woman with special qualities. Men do not get these breaks. We do so much bearing children and raising them, that it is refreshing to have that time to recoup and reorganize in our 'down time.' Women are special and we have special allowances and exceptions thus. Alhamdulillah.

  4. You did an admirable job of describing the prayers and I only have a few corrections and comments:
    TO clarify we pray towards the Kabba not just Mecca. Which must be interesing depending on what side of the city your at which direction you will pray unlike USA where it is fixed.
    Plush and wildly colroed rugs are frowned upon as they distract you from the prayer of worshipping God. Many rugs have pictures of masjids/mosques on them to help you consintrate on what you're doing but as we dont believe in pictures of animals you wont see animal pictures on them. Plsh isn't good because we should humble ourselves in bowing to God not put a "pillow" under our forhead for comfort.
    As for the women who are bleeding part: ANyone who is in a state of BIG impurity cannot pray men or women, since men have only one BIG impurity which is the release of sexual fluid/doing sexual act this is what they ghusl full bath cleanse for. Women having two impurities have to make ghusl bath after bleeding and sexual fluid release/doing sexual act. Small impurities are having urine, feces, clotting blood, bloodstained(old) clothes, any bodily fluids, alcohol (in purfumes which you shouldn't wear anyways), or holding something which has these thing in it...all of these are not allowed for prayers. You have to clean them off with water first and then make Wudu/ablutions. A person who prayes to God has to be absolutly clean no matter woman or man. You wouldn't go visit the Queen of ENgland with dirty clothes so why "visit" the ONE who created you with any filth on you? God know whereas the Queen doesn't if you are bleeding "down there". Islam doesn't demean women calling them filth. Men have impurities too. Just a heads up for any misinterpretation from Non-Muslims.
    As for the shops closing I really like it because it forces you to remeber your prayers when normally you might forget, too Busy with worldly things like shopping and eating. I wish the UAE closed it shops. It may be a hassle to stop and wait but it's something small compared to the benefit of the soul's benefit from God.

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  6. To Umm Zubair -
    Thanks! I realize that there is so much more to Islamic prayer than the brief overview I posted. I must admit that the demands of it (specific times, 5x a day, washing up, covering up, etc) are a tad difficult to swallow, coming from a background that was much less structured. Not being a big fan of rituals, I struggle with trying to understand and question the reasons for it all. And it seems that many answers do not fully satisfy or convince me. I am not a person of blind faith. Organized religion never really appealed to me before, and I prefer to think of religion instead as spirituality, which I do possess.

  7. To Marahm -
    Thanks so much for your comments.
    I was actually a little surprised once I arrived here to learn that women do not usually go to the mosque with the frequency of men. The only time I have been so far was the morning of Eid after Ramadan, and there were hundreds of women in attendance. This is something I don't understand.
    When you went to the mosque, were there many other women who did so? Maybe it happens more than what I see.

  8. To Nicole -
    Thanks for explaining from a woman's perspective. I never thought of it that way!

    To AMW -
    You are so knowledgeable - thanks for taking the time to explain further about this!

  9. Ah, prayer. I could never understand the concept of telling an omniscient being that you need or want something. Shouldn't He already know that? I also don't believe that God cares how you're dressed or what time of the day it is or what position you're in. God is spiritual not material. However, I can imagine that perhaps the rituals help Muslims get in the right frame of mind for praying.

    In my religion, prayer is more like meditation. I pray to be a better person or to have more compassion. I don't tell God I need help, I remind myself that God supplies all my needs. It's not God who needs the reminding, it's me. I also remind myself of the good I've already received.

    As for how I pray, I sit quietly with my hands in my lap, or I could be walking or laying down or sitting at my desk. I do once in a while let God know my desires, but I also know that it is His will not mine.

  10. It must be tough for you to have your day filled with these rituals.
    It would bug the heck out of me.

  11. I do like what Nicole said, that women get a break because they have other responsiblities. I like her explanation.

    But all those rules about praying are obviously man-made.

  12. To Linda -
    Thanks for adding your views. I would have to say that I would tend to agree with you.

    To Taylor -
    Even though I don't necessarily care for rituals, it is a small sacrifice on my part. Thank you for your comment.

    To Schmlindy -
    I like Nicole's explanation as well. It makes sense. Thanks for commenting.

  13. The notion of women being unclean during their periods and after pregnancy is something that transcends culture and religion. Irish friends of mine recall their mothers not being able to enter the church for x number of days after giving birth. That said, I've never been able to reconcile this notion that women as created by God with a monthly function that deems them unclean are automatically forbidden from praying during that function. Break from a routine or otherwise, it means women have been designed by their creator to pray less. Just a concept that's never sat well with me...

  14. Nicole, excellent take!
    I agree.
    In Wicca women are extra special during their period because it is what makes women women, creators of life, and therefore closer to God or the Goddess.
    Women should get a bit more respect in this world I think.

    Susie, good exerpt about praying and prayer times. In this context I'd consider it a sin not to provide suitable provisions for women to do their prayers. It is just as important for women as for men to do your prayers on time.

    Over here farj is at 03.14 at the moment (sun comes up really at 05.30) And Isha is at 23.14. Sun is really down at 22.00
    And it's going to get worse as the sun will be coming up earlier and setting later as we move on.

    So I'm wondering what do you do when you are in Sweden or Norway around midsummernight? When the sun doesn't set at all? And winter? when the sun doesn't come up?

  15. A few things. Whereas the adhan goes off at a specific time at a mosque you do not have to pray at that time.

    I know there are some that believe they must pray EXACTLY at that time, but this is not the case.

    God sent the Prophet to command us, but also as a mercy. There is a hadith, and if I had time, I would look it up. Basically it lays out the time spans between which each prayer must be said.

    There is a rather large span of times within which each prayer can be said. As I remember the shortest period for prayer was for fajr (morning) and for Isha (evening) but even then the period ranged for a half an hour or more depending on the time of year.

    Personally, I do not like the fact that prayer is forced upon people. Of course I know it is fard (required) in Islam, but if a person is forced into it there is little ajr (reward).

    Being forced into it is why for many it because an automatic thing. They dont do it because God demands it of them, they do it because they have to, society demands it, public perceptions and the like.

    As to the prayer rugs, for me it is best if they are plain. if they are too nice it causes the mind to wonder.

    My father in law used to say that when you are looking at the ground when you pray you should ignore the rug and instead think of the grave.

    Picturing the grave and the fact that you will someday be in it, as we all will be, will help your mind to focus.

    As a Muslim we know every prayer could be our last and pray it in such a manner.

    Great post Susie!

  16. Wow, Susie thank you for the very informative info on the aspects of prayer. You are doing just great!!

  17. Nice blog susie...glad I stumbled(clicked) upon it.

    Prayer is a good source of meditation and helps bring one closer to God(or whatever your trying to get closer too). In Islam God tells us He created human beings to worship Him and nothing else. Our whole purpose of being is to worship I dont really understand the thinking behind the belief that women are not allowed to worship God during a certain time of their lives just because their bodies are doing something their bodies were designed by God to do? Women are not more special then where in the Quran does God make one gender more special then the other...regardless of what some Muslims might like to believe. We are all created equal with equal obligations as of which is to pray 5 times a day. The belief that women are impure or dirty during their monthly cycles is a pre Islamic held belief that stuck around...there is no mention in the Quran of God forbidding women from prayer while on their period. Wouldnt you assume that if humans were created for the sole purpose of worshipping God and nothing else...and that Muslims are required to pray 5 times a day to fullfill their obligations as Muslims...and to not pray is deemed a sin...and if it was considered a sin for women TO pray while on their period that God would be absolutely clear about that in the Quran.....if God can mention the period in regards to sex and forbidding husbands to approach wives at that time...then how much easier is it to mention that prayer is forbidden to women while on their periods as well? Prayer is so important and required that God does not give us excuses for not performing them. If we are sick we do what we can manage...and make up what we might miss...if we travel we shorten them...if we sleep we wake up and do what we missed...if we are sexually impure or came from the bathroom we clean ourselves up and do them...if we are old we do what we can(moving the finger if thats what we can manage etc) no matter how you look at it..prayer is essential for Muslims and I dont believe that it being this important to God that we devote ourselves to prayer to such an extent that He does not accept excuses for missing them...that He would then turn around and give women an excuse not to perform them...the period. It just doesnt make sense. And whoever points to hadith as proof tend to forget that there are just as many hadith referring to women in the mosque praying with periods(sitting on containers that collected the blood) as there are mentioning it was forbidden. But the end result being...for this very important aspect of Muslim life...prayer...we must first open the Quran and see what God says about it...and God says we pray no matter what.

    Sorry for the long post...but your topic was intersting and some of the comments made me want to comment. Keep up the excellent work.

  18. Isn't it true that women that miss prayer or days of fasting during Ramadan are required to make that up later, when they are clean? So, it's not quite the 'freebie' after all.

  19. Hi CairoGal -
    I would have to say that I feel the same way. I think women should be allowed and encouraged to pray regardless. Thanks for voicing your opinion.

    Hi Aafke -
    I love that Wicca belief about women! That's the way it should be. You know, I never thought about countries where the sun never sets or rises depending on the season. But I did ask my knowledgeable hubby and he said that the times are set simply by the clock in those cases. Great question, Aafke - thanks!

    Hi Abu Sinan -
    I agree with you about being forced or required to pray 5 times daily. To me, it seems that it then becomes disingenuous and brings one's sincerity into question. People should pray because they truly want to, not because they have to. I know that most Muslims pray because they want to, but I'm sure there are some who do it because they have to. If it doesn't come from your heart, then what is the point?
    And I love what your father in law said about focusing on the grave instead of the prayer rug! Thanks, Abu Sinan - you always make great points.

  20. Hi CoolRed -
    Welcome to my blog! And thanks so much for your logical thoughts about Islamic prayer. I really appreciate your taking the time to add all of thast important information! Your reasoning makes so much sense.

  21. Hey Susie, you did a great job explaining about the daily prayer:-D

    Some people seem to think that when we pray, we are worshipping the Ka`aba, or something called a "moon god". It is nice to read that not all people think this:-)

  22. Prayer is always beautiful.Thanks for showing how it's done in your part of the world.

    I like that people can pray on the streets.That must be something to see.

  23. Dear Susie,
    Ever since I stumbled on your blog I look forward to each new post. I enjoy reading how you find your way in an environment that is completely Muslim. This must be so strange and difficult for you. I admire the efforts you make to understand and fit in. This is certainly no easy thing especially since you have not lived in the Kingdom until recently.
    I also have a practical question: you mentioned a 16-page booklet that your husband gave to you. Is this booklet available somewhere? I take a personal interest in Muslim teaching materials, especially for adult new Muslims.
    I wish you lots of success with your learning. If you can understand the daily prayers by doing them, you will certainly be guided to do them better and better, and you will come to love them. It is a mercy to be able to withdraw from this crazy hectic world a few times a day. And the home is really a good place to pray.

  24. To Aalia -
    Thank you! I appreciate your comments so much.

    To Always... -
    Seeing the groups of men praying on the sidewalks is just amazing to me. Yesterday as I was being driven to my tutoring job, I saw a group of about a dozen, but again I was disappointed because the photos I tried to take as we were whizzing by didn't come out again. One of these days...

  25. To Anonymous -
    I am so glad you found my blog and that you are enjoying it.
    The booklet I spoke of is copied from a copy machine. Sorry, but there is nothing to indicate where it came from. I even tried Googling some of the direct quotes from some of the pages, but nothing came up. There is a good source of reference online that I have used before called Islam Online. Here is the link:

    I also have a children's book which explains the basics of prayer very well. It is called "My Prayer Book" (ISBN: 9960-897-20-6) and is published by Darussalam. I hope this helps.

  26. Ok a few more comments about the "comments".
    The reason women don't go to masjid/mosques often is because we are bogged down with noisy messy children to take care of or houses to keep clean and food to cook for our families it would be rediculous for us to try and dress and prepare all of our kids (some babies still suckling) and clean our house and cook our food and still try to get to and from the masjid 5 times a day. SO Allah gave us the permission to pray anywhere and the best place being our homes where we can fit the prayer in durring our breaks. Allah being our creator means he knows our needs as women. Like he gives us mercy in not having us go to the masjid with each prayer he has given us a greater mercy to not pray at all durring our periods. Many women have painful periods where they lay about alot and rest more and obviously have to use the restroom more and take time to clean up more. Many have small depressive feeling which makes them letharigic to do anything and we all know about PMS. For these reasons too we have a time to relax and not have to worry about prayers. Once we are clean (just like after a man is unclean and thn when he is clean he prays) we clean and pray agian but the bonus is WE DONT HAVE TO MAKE THESE PRAYERS UP. So Allah is giving us the best of treatment for us to not have to pray formal prayers. That is not to say we can't make du'a (supplication, which are like american style prayers) and ask God for good things for our families or praise him in many ways we can still be spiritual durring our break we just anen't obliged as a benefit to us to do the formal ones.
    A note about prayers poeple: The 5 prayers are FORMAL prayer the rules of which were given in Hadith not the Qur'an. Because the Qur'an mostly gives general rules and then the hadith supports them with details. Qur'an says PRAY Hadith says HOW. These prayers as I said above are mainly to worship God and the only thing we ask for ourselves in normal prayers is for God to keep us on the right path. Other then that it is all praiseing god. We ASK for things in Du'A or supplication... this is where we say Oh God please let my husband get a good job and my kids to stop being difficult etc... Of course God already knows what is best for us and He will give us what He wills based upon our needs in life. Another very important note is that Prayers do not benefit God. He doesn't NEED our prayers. God doesn't need anything from what he created because ebing in need of something means he's less then that thing and God is the Greatest of all things. SO when we pray it is to benefit ourselves and to recognise God's power of creation and all he gave us. Everyone knows the benefits of prayers physically: yoga like stretching and moving, deep breathing, centered minset of relaxation, and mentally/spiritually of realizing our place in the universe and the creator of everything in it. So again we pray to benefit ourselves and when we are ritualized in formal prayers we are following God's commands of worshipping him when He wants NOT when we feel like it.
    You can make personal prayers/du'a at anytime in any way you like to. You can say anything in praise or ask Him anything you need. He Knows everything about you and your dreams and wants and desires and He KNows everything of everyone elses too. He can See everything and Hear everything (in a way that suits HIM, not with our lowly human ears and eyes).
    There is no "blind faith" really in Islam, we are encouraged to seek knowledge. How many times in the Qur'an does it give you parables to REFLECT UPON, how many ties does it tell you to go forth in the Earth and seek knowledge. If you dont know something you ask. If you don't know WHY you have to pray you ask and ask from those with CORRECT knowledge as asadly in these days anyone just thinks he's a scholor. You don't have to just blindly follwo and this is not encouraged. You should know why you're doing something and why it benefits you to do it. Or else your intention can not be pure and we are all going to be Judged by our intentions.
    I hope this maybe will clarify a few points others have made and Allah knows it I'm far from the higest of those with knowledge I just open my eyes and seek it and then inform others of what I have found and then apply it.

  27. To AMW -
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and for taking so much of your time to clarify for us! Your input is greatly appreciated.

  28. I, too, was put off by the discouragement of women to attend the mosque. Even when a mosque had a women's section (and many do) very few women ever entered it except in Ramadan.

    Still, I tried to go to the mosque at every opportunity, because I loved hearing the Qur'anic recitations, and I enjoyed the meditative atmosphere, and the beauty of the larger mosques.

  29. Hi Susie,

    Hope you are well. I just came across your blog. Great stuff! I am writing to you because my partner and I are launching a website that will be populated with cross-cultural information about every country in the world. We will be looking to the web community to help do this with all the information being available for free. I was wondering if you and/or members from your community may be able to help us out with the Saudi Arabia pages. We would love your input. Let me know if you would be open to this and I'll send along a brief questionnaire. Please also feel free to check out the website and become a member, it's free!

    Here is a link to the site:


    Michael Landers
    Director - Culture Crossing

  30. american muslim writer...

    I understand the points you make about how women on the menses can feel quite out of sorts and experience pain etc at that time. Basically what your saying is that we are "sick" for one week out of the month...12 weeks out of the year...yes? But, as I pointed out...sick people are not exempt from prayer...they are encouraged to do what they can manage...even if its just moving a finger. So how can sick from cancer...or a cold..or just old considerd no excuse from prayer responsibilites...but sick from menses is? I would like someone to explain that. Also, people who bleed from wounds and injuries are "allowed" to it cant be the presence of blood that would forbid a woman from what exactly has caused this belief that woman cannot pray while on the menses?

    I agree that not all Muslims should consider themselves scholars...but neither should Muslims be led by the nose and never critique those that came before them. The only thing "written in stone" so to speak about Islam is what we find written in the Quran...everything else is the word of man...including hadith...and so are open to critique...should be analyzed and investigated to warrant acceptance and belief...not just cause the Muslim who taught you(general you) told you something was true or fard means it is...every Muslim on this planet should learn about his/her religion and not leave it up to the "powers that be" to make all laws. A "law" or legal ruling only has power and legal authority...if God Almighty gave it that power and authority first and foremost.

    Not being harsh with your opinions or anything...just expressing my own. Have a nice day.

  31. Dear Susie,
    Thanks for the information about the booklet, and thank you very much for your trouble. I am well acquainted with both sources you mentioned.
    I would also like to add that I also enjoy your photographs! I am an inveterate photographer myself, and have started making short films even, so much fun.
    So please keep the photographs coming!

  32. I just wanted to point out that "prayer" in English encompasses both salah (the five daily ritual prayers) and dua (supplications, which are made at any time, including during salah). I mention this because I've heard some non-Muslims say, "Well, WE can pray at any time, not just at certain times"... because they didn't understand that what they call "prayer" is more like our "dua" (supplications). We have duas that are recommended to make all through the day - upon waking, on entering or leaving the bathroom, when leaving the house, starting a journey, etc. And then we also are encouarged to make dua about anything, for us or for others.

    If we actually do that, and do the five prayers, and remember Allah through dhikr (repeating phrases like "There is no god but Allah", etc.), then we are remembering Allah throughout the day. Whenever we begin anything, we say "Bismillah" (In the name of God), when we sneeze, we say "Alhamdulillah" (praising God), when we see something beautiful, we say "Masha'Allah" (acknowledging that God made this possible), when we talk about something we plan to do tomorrow, we say "insha'Allah" (if Allah wills it), etc. And even many names are referring to Allah, such as Abdullah (slave/servant of Allah) or AbdulRahman (slave/servant of The Merciful).

    The salah forces us to stop whatever we're busy with and focus on Allah at that time, too. American Muslimah Writer explained a lot of this, but the fact that menstruating women don't pray is not seen as any kind of insult to women. Some cultures regard women as "unclean" at that time; they don't associate with others and can't cook for anyone else, etc.; Islam is not that way at all. The only thing that's different during that time is that we don't have to make salah, don't fast (if it's Ramadan), and don't have conjugal relations. There is no reason why other people should even know when we're menstruating, and there's no negative connotation of being "sick" or "unclean".

    Men should ideally go to the mosque and pray salah in congregation, but women don't have that requirement, although they shouldn't be prohibited from going if they want to. As someone already explained, it would be an incredible hardship if we were required to go to the mosque five times a day. For anyone who has children, you can imagine having to drag all the children out of bed, get them all dressed (and breastfed if you have a baby) and get yourself washed and dressed, and then take them for the dawn (fajr) prayer - which is at about 3:30 a.m. these days! And then again at noon, mid-afternoon, sunset (maghreb) and the night prayer. Many times, I have appreciated that as I lay in bed watching my husband get up and dresed for the dawn prayer, and then go out in the cold night to go to the mosque, while I could just wash and pray in my bedroom, and climb back into my warm bed.

    Just because we don't do salah during that time doesn't mean we can't worship in other ways.

    By the way, women can also pray outdoors; my friends and I meet in a park every weekend, and most of us just pray right there where we're sitting in the park; some walk up to the mosque at the other end of the park. And in most schools of Islamic law, a woman can lead the prayer if it's a group of women. I often pray with groups of women when I attend classes (or in the park), and I find that a really wonderful feeling of being connected to the sisters around me, who are usually from various countries around the world.

    Coolred, there is absolute agreement among scholars, all over the world, in all schools of law, throughout the centuries, that a woman on her period or with postpartum bleeding doesn't perform salah. I've never even heard anyone question that or complain about it.

  33. ann

    If you've never heard anyone question or complaint about it...then you should read more then just hadith books. There are plenty of modern day Muslims(and through out Islamic history) questioning the interpretations that Muslims before us put forth as law. Prayer while on the menses has been debated throughout Muslim well as belief that women can lead prayer...and that men cannot get more than one wife "just cause they want to". The reason most Muslims dont hear about these sorts of on going debates is because they dont read more then the usual accepted literature about Islam. Spread your wings a little sister and see whats out might surprise yourself and find a whole "new" Islam...or should I say...old Islam...the one we started out with...but that has been disgraced along the way with the hubris and desires of man. I couldnt make this stuff up if I wanted to.

    But as I said before...its in the our Holy Quran...easy for you to check for yourself. I leave it to you to decide what God desires for us and what man wants to burden us with.

    btw why do women need a "break" from prayer. Many Muslim women will gloat and say...just be thankful we get a break from prayer...the men dont get one. That indicates men are burdened with prayer more than women...and thats not justice so that cant be Islamic...also, why if we are not permitted to fast and pray during Ramadan...are we then ordered to make up the fasts that we missed but not the prayers? Arent prayers and fasting both pillars of Islam...but then we somehow make the fasting more important then the prayers by allowing one to pass without observation...but ordered to make up the other. Does it make sense? Doesnt to me...and plenty of other Muslims out there.

    It seems that plenty of "laws" Muslims practice are designed to get women away from the prayers and other Islamic obligations...and then we wonder why there is hadith stating that more women are in Hell then men...maybe its because women are so easily led by the whims and beliefs of men...and not by the words written especially for them in the Quran. God dedicates an entire chapter to women...raising us up where men kicked us seems that women prefer to be held down, held back, held accountable for the mere fact of being a woman and having a monthly cycle that God desired for us in order to procreate. This cycle is a blessing...yet Muslims tend to see it as a curse or impure or dirty...that prevents women from praying. Thats a very Jewish way of looking at women...rather coincidental considering the number of Jews that converted to Islam back in the day...many "laws" we have in Islam today were brought over with the Jews and were incorporated and eventually seen as codified laws in Islam....such as the stoning law. No mention in the Quran of stoning for adultery...yet its seen as was practiced by the Jews and not Muslims and yet we have it. We have hadith that liken women to the "bent rib of Adam"...obviously this is a very Christian concept...Muslims are in no doubt that women are a separate but equal creation in the eyes of God...we are not made from a piece of man...or Adam...yet we have hadith that indicate this to be true. We got that from the Christians that came into Islam.

    All Im saying is doesnt hurt to read and find out true Islamic practice from whats "accepted" as Islamic practice. You might end up changing your mind...or believing exactly the same way...but at least you convinced yourself of your belief by discovering for yourself...and not having been led to that belief. Have a nice day.

  34. I'm just curious... how does a Muslim "convince" herself of something that's against all Islamic literature and all Islamic scholars? And why would she want to? I do study Islam and Quran, but of course I study from respected scholars and books... Coolred, are you someone who rejects the hadith?

    And just in case non-Muslim readers get a distorted view, let me say again that this is not something that there's any disagreement. Unfortunately, Coolred is trying to create doubts and controversy where there is none. And a woman on her period is not regarded as cursed or dirty. The people around her - except her husband - normally don't even have to know whether she's on her period or not. Sometimes, when there is a group of women and it's time to pray, we'll just turn to someone and say "Are you praying?" - just to know whether we should wait for her before we start - and if she says No, then that's that.

    There is a question of purity; we have to be in a state of purity before praying, and menstruation prevents that (along with using the bathroom, sleeping, having had intercourse, etc.; in those cases, the person washes before praying). If the woman's period lasts longer than a certain number of days, though, then she just washes and prays normally, as if she didn't have the period.

  35. Sorry...but I didnt make anything up. I have to much respect for this religion of mine...and I wouldnt dare prohibit or allow something the God didnt do so first...even the prophet was rebuked for attempting such a thing.

    As for trying to cause controversy or did I do putting a differing opinion then the "consensus"...the consensus will not stand in front of me on Judgement Days and defend my neglect of prayers as God sanctioned ...its me and only me sister...and I know one thing with all my heart...when I wasnt praying while on my period...back when I first learned all the "rules"...I walked around in a constant state of guilt. It didnt sit easy on my mind or soul that the adhan was calling me to prayer and I was ignoring it. Since I started investigating the Quran a little deeper...researched varying opinions about it...and basically listened to my heart...and started praying all the time...that guilty feeling has left.

    Call me crazy...but I would rather stand before God on Judgement Day and be asked why I performed prayers I didnt have to do...then why I didnt perform prayers I was obligated to do....but to each his or her own...or in the words of the Quran..."to you your religion and to me mine".

    btw...if you continue to bleed after a certain number of days...and thus can just start praying as if you didnt have a period...what makes that blood after the cutoff day more clean then the blood that passed before it? Its all the same and coming from the same place...why the distinction?

  36. What is the realtionship between Allah and prophet Muhammad? Are they father and son? Are they friends? Is Allah man or woman? Is he Arab? Is he a Saudi? Are prophet Muhammad and Allah realated to shytaan, why do they look and think alike? Are they homosexuals, why do they hate women?

    Which school or University did Allah and prophet Muhammad go to?