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The Foundation of Muslim Prayer

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The Qur'ān stresses the importance of prayer, but in no instance explains exactly how worship is to be performed. Even when it does refer to certain specific parts of the prayer such as "rukū" and 'sujūd,' its diction suggests that these postures are already known to the believers. The hadīth literature presents conflicting reports on the performance of prayer. While some narrations suggest that Muhammad taught the Muslims all the rituals of prayer, others show that some of these Muslims had performed this form of ibāda before Islam. Traditions regarding the actual legislation for the number of times of daily worship provide an image of Moses as Muhammad's advisor, and speak of prayer as a concept common to them both. This study concludes, after analysis of the Qur¸ānic verses, Torah, and the hadīth, that Muslim prayer, as outlined in the Qur'ān, is essentially the same as a Judaic form at the time of Muhammad.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University

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