Assalaamu alaikum [Peace be to you],
While many non-Muslims find images of Muslims in prayer (called Salat in Arabic) to be peaceful or even awe-inspiring, some find the Muslim method of prayer to be odd. but The Muslim practice of standing, bowing, kneeling, and prostrating in worship is not foreign to past traditions.
When Muslims pray, they do so in a manner taught by Prophet Mohammed -peace be upon him-, the Last Prophet of Islam sent by Allah[God]. His words and his actions have been preserved in numerous books, called Ahadith. It is from the Ahadith that Muslims derive their model for how to live, love, work, raise children, eat, give charity, greet each other, pray, etc. The point, here, is that after having received the command from God to pray, Muslims look to the example of Prophet Mohammed -peace be upon him- to learn how to pray. Are Muslims the only ones praying in this manner? let's see...
While Muslims don't consider the totality of the Bible to be God's word, (so they don't base their belief on it), I'd like to quote some biblical verses just to explain this point to my dear non-Muslim readers, using their book of authority (for those who consider it so) and it's also a good opportunity for my Muslim readers to learn a couple of verses from the Christian Bible.
Prophet Abraham -peace be upon him- prostrated in his prayer:Genesis 17:1-4
(1) When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. (2) I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” (3) Abram fell facedown,
and God said to him, (4) “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations"Psalm 95:6
"Come, let us bow down
in worship, let us kneel before the LORD
Note that both bowing and kneeling are mentioned in Psalm 95:6, the very order in which Muslims perform them.
the Angels prostrate in their prayers:Revelations 7:11
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces
before the throne and worshiped God,Joshua 7:6
Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown
to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their headsNumbers 20:6
Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and fell facedown
, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them.Matthew 26:36-39
(36) Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” (37) He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. (38) Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (39) Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed
, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
We have read that Moses, Joshua, Aaron, Abraham and Jesus -peace be upon them all- worshipped God through bowing and prostration. The angels did the same. Muslims, in their way of prayer, are following the exact example set by these prophets of God in their prayers to God.
Many first reactions to this information is that it is interesting, but not significant or important. for example, someone may say: "Wow, I never realized that Jesus prayed with his face on the ground, as Muslims do. That's interesting, but who cares? The important part of prayer comes from the heart, not the act of bowing and prostrating."
In one sense this is true. AN important part of prayer is what comes from the heart......but that's not all. Islam (which literally means submission to God) is a way of life in all respects. As such, it does not divorce the physical act of submission from the submission of the heart. When Muslims pray, they do so in a manner taught by the prophets -peace be upon all of them-. Muslims consider the prayer an act of mind, body, and soul. so Submission takes place in all of these realms.
I hope that was beneficial.
All Biblical verse are taken from the New International Version (©1984)
If I made any mistake in quoting, please let me know and I will correct it.