By Muhammad Younus
THE daily prayers are the easiest way to achieving happiness and fitness. There are abundant benefits of Salat narrated in the Quran. There is a Hadith, ‘Inna fissalati shifa’, verily there is cure in Salat.
Prior to offering prayers, a Muslim has to perform ablution. If Wudu is accomplished as per the instructions, optimum vigour could be acquired; this means brushing the teeth, washing the oral and nasal cavities, the face, the hands up to the elbows and feet up to the ankles.
The August 2008 issue of the Journal of Period ontology carried a study conducted by Swedish researchers on the use of miswak. It found that suspended miswak pieces in petri-dish (a medium for culturing bacteria) were able to kill bacteria that cause periodontal ailments.
The research suggested that miswak might be emitting antibiotics as gases, trying to elucidate this phenomenon.
Another study available with the US National Library for Medicine Service concluded that miswak was more effective than tooth brushing in reducing plague and gingivitis. Miswak releases a stuff that soothes toothaches. It also thwarts smoking in adults. It may also perk up appetite and regulate peristaltic movements of the gastro-intestinal tract. The WHO recommends the use of miswak in its global consensus reports on oral hygiene, published in 1980 and in 2000.
Wudu done five times a day not only cleans vital parts of the body but also refreshes them. The Prophet (PBUH) recommended ablution before going to bed. Yoga experts also encourage washing of hands, arms, eyes, legs, mouth and genitals before sleep with cool water for a deep sleep.
Ablution stimulates biological rhythms of the body and specifically Biological Active Sports (BASes) which are akin to the idea behind Chinese reflexo-therapy. It is a treatment which includes hydro massage of the BAS, their thermal and corporal stimulation. Ablution also prevents skin cancer, respiratory and eye infections, body imbalances, athlete’s foot, etc.
It has an exercising effect on every muscle, which is stimulated five times a day or more. After a microscopic investigation, it is confirmed that the noses of those who do not perform ablution were exposed to a huge amount of harmful microbes which can cause many diseases.
It is also established that blood circulation at the limbs is weaker because they are far from the centre of the blood pumping heart.
Therefore, their washing activates blood circulation at these remote areas of the body, making the person more vigourous. Then worshipers stand up and concentrate their minds on praying during Qaiyam. The determination to pray also has a remedial action on depression and the standing helps develop balance. Muscles of the tongue and the face are exercised during the recitation of the Quran in the prayers and blood flow is increased to the brain which can be measured by MRI, PET and the like tests.
Salat also has a psychological, musculo-skeletal and cerebral effects on improving the muscular functions of the geriatric, disabled and dementic patients in a rehabilitation programme. Salat is a short-duration, mild to moderate psychological, physical and brain activity. Such an activity, when performed daily, can have long-term health benefits, according to the American Heart Association.
In prostrating position, the entire body is in active motion and serves as exercise. This position can be considered as a mini-dive. In prostration due to increased blood supply, the brain receives more nourishment and it has a good effect on memory, vision, hearing, concentration, psychic and cognitive abilities. People who offer their prayers regularly have more will power and can cope with the difficulties of life in a much better way. They have fewer headaches, psychological problems and defects in cognitive functions. Prostration helps improve cerebral circulation and avoid ischemic brain disease.
In prostration during Ruku and Sajda, the neck muscles get the best exercise; stronger cervical muscles mean that cervical vertebra is better protected. It is uncommon that a person who offers his prayers regularly will get the usual neck myalgies or cervical spondylosis. Sajda is an excellent exercise for men too, as getting up from the Sajda to the sitting position and standing up from the Sajda, perennial muscles are mobilised giving strength to the muscles. Tasleem or sitting after a Sajda is similar to the relaxation position of Yoga and has a calming effect.
Repetition of a prayer, a verse of the Quran or remembrance of Allah with muscular activity leads to a passive disregard for intensive thought process and thus relaxes. One who offers Salat regularly thus has little probability of getting arthritis, as one exercises the bones and joints while offering Salat. A remarkable tissue in the body is cartilage. It has no direct blood supply and receives nutrients and oxygen through the movement of the joints. Those who sit are in greater danger of amassing dead tissues which lead to arthritis, painful joints and possibly paralysis. Salat, therefore, has many orthopaedic benefits as well.
A prayer is not meant to be an exercise per se; however, there are a lot of medical advantages associated with it. Muslims desire therapeutic and spiritual benefits starting from Wudu to the physical movements in Salat, Takbir, Qaiyam, Ruku, Sajda and Tasleem.
The writer is a civil servant.
Source: The Dawn, Karachi