By Nastik Durrani, New Age Islam
November 24, 2013
One of the matters that different religions have stressed is number and timings of prayers. The scheduled times of obligatory prayers are of utmost importance, as prayers are accepted only if they are offered within a certain span of time meant for them. That’s precisely why prayers have been deeply linked with their scheduled times right from their inception. Most of the religions have scheduled times of prayers at sunset and sunrise. In ancient times, people merely looked at the sun to determine the various times of day for prayer. This was partly because they were unable to make out the time and partly because they showed great veneration to the sun, the moon and the stars, as they are the most prominent celestial bodies that appear and disappear every day and night.
Aryan and Semitic religions enjoined upon their followers to offer prayers in fixed times. For instance, Zoroastrianism has fixed three daily prayers—Morning Prayer, noon prayer and afternoon prayer—for those who have come of age. In addition, there is a prayer called “Salat al-Firash” (bedtime prayer) which is offered before going to bed and after waking up (1).
In Judaism, there are prayers such as Saturday prayer, prayers for every new month, festival prayers, prayers at the end of fasting days, funeral prayers etc. The Torah mentions a Salat ul Tahajjud that was performed by only prophets and religious jurists. Moreover, there were some previous prayers that were later on given up.
Daily prayers in Judaism include pre-dawn prayer and night prayers called “Shima” meaning Sima (listening). Certain verses from the Torah are recited in these prayers. The reason why these prayers have been named after Shima (Sima) is that they start with the Kalimah (declaration of faith) that goes like this: “Yashma Israel” meaning “Listen, O Isarel”. This sentence is the Kalimah (declaration of faith) for people of Israel (2). Jews offer these prayers before sleeping and after waking up and believe that they protect them from all dangers, prevent harms, and save them from malicious and jealous people and evil spirits (3). They also believe that whosoever performs these prayers and recites “Shima” is destined to be saved from the hellfire” (4). Then, there are three more prayers called “Taphillah”. They are categorized into three prayears. The first is “Taphillah Bi Shahar” (pre-dawn prayer). It is also known as “Shahriyat” meaning morning, as it is offered at the dawn (5). The noon prayer is called “Taphillah Bimanhihi” and also known as “Manhihi”, while the afternoon prayer is called “Taphillah Bi Arbiyat” and also known as “Arbiyat” that means sunset (6).
The prayers of “Shima” and “Taphillah” are offered five times a day by Jews. They are also called “the five daily prayers”.
The Saturday prayer of Jews is known as “Sibath”. They perform it much in the same way as Muslims offer Juma’h prayer and Christians do on every Sunday.
In Zoroastrianism, there is a prayer called “Antaremah” which is offered to welcome every new month (7), while it is also found among Indian and European peoples.
1- The Old Persian Religion, P., 24.
2 - The Deuteronomy, chapter 6, verse 4 to 9, chapter 15, verse 37 and the next.
3- A. Cohen, Everyman's Talmud, P., 286, 299, 405.
4- Berakoth, 15, b.
5- Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, PP. 444, Mittwoch, S., 8, Berakah 21b.
6- Mittwoch, S., 8.
7- The Old Persian Religion,, P., 124, yasna, 1, 8, 2.
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