Discover Islam TV Series – The Daily Prayer (Medical Benefit of Prayer)
This interview is extracted from Darul Kautsar website.
The Daily Prayer (Medical Benefit of Prayer)
Linda Thayer: Welcome again to our viewers and welcome to our guest Dr. Zakir Naik. Assalamu Alaikum.
Dr. Zakir: Walaikum salaam.
Linda Thayer: Dr. Zakir is a medical doctor from India and a spokesman for Islam. After belief in God, the Muslim is required to establish a habit of regular daily prayer. A ritual form is prescribed and times are fixed at 5 times a day. Dr. Zakir, I wonder, a question in many people’s minds; is ritual prayer repeated when it is repeated time and time again, can it benefit anybody? Is there a spiritual aspect to the ritual?
Dr. Zakir: As I mentioned in the earlier episode that Salah is a sort of programming towards righteousness, that we are programmed towards righteousness. And the requirement [is] that it should be repeated [a] minimum [of] 5 times a day. For example for a very healthy body, a doctor will tell you, you require [a] minimum [of] 3 meals a day. Similarly for a spiritual soul, a person is required to offer Salah 5 times a day. And the requirement is, [that] there are chances that because of the evil in the society around us, we may get de-programmed. So if we are kept on being re-programmed, there are more chances that you will remain [steadfast on the] Sirat al mustaqeem, on the straight path. Therefore it is compulsory that every Muslim should offer Salah [a] minimum [of] 5 times a day.
Linda Thayer: What purpose do you think is fulfilled by interrupting one’s daily activities. We have to think in the modern world about time. [Will] the gain offset the loss of productivity and work time?
Dr. Zakir: If you know the rules of management, [you will know] that a person cannot work continuously for hours together. If a person comes to office at 9 o’clock in the morning and sits till 6 o’clock in the evening, continuously for 9 hours, in fact he will be less productive. That is the reason that there are some short breaks given in between. So a person can get re-created, you know we have recreation. Similarly Salah is a sort of recreation. It rejuvenates you. If someone tells me that I am losing time, I am less productive, because I waste 15 minutes having lunch break, I would say that he is not a logical person because only if he has meals regularly, can he do more work. Similarly if a person offers Salah at intervals, I do agree he may have to work for a few minutes but when he stops and he comes back to work he works with a much better frame of mind and productivity overall will be much better. So for a logical person and a modern person he has to agree that there should be breaks so that a person can get recreated and Salah is the best form of rejuvenating your mind.
Linda Thayer: How can one expect to concentrate on the spiritual aspects of prayer, considering that for most of us we pray in a language that is not our own; it is a foreign language. We pray in Arabic normally.
Dr. Zakir: Yes I do agree that it’s compulsory that when we offer Salah we should pray in Arabic language. The requirement is because the Quran cannot be translated into any other language, in perfect total. You can come close to the meaning but not the exact meaning. That is the reason we have to pray in Arabic, the language in which the Quran was revealed, so that there is unanimity, [and] uniformity between the sort of prayer people [offer] throughout the world. And for concentration it is required that every Muslim whatever he reads in the Salah, he should know the meaning. I do agree that there are many Muslims who are unaware of the meaning that they recite, in Salah. That’s why I advise Muslims throughout the world [to] at least know the meaning of those portions of the Quran or those verses they recite in the Salah, so that they can concentrate on the Salah better. They can [then also] implement the guidance that they get in the Salah.
Linda Thayer: As a medical doctor you must have thought quite a bit of the medical benefits of the Salah. You have been talking about the programming effect. What are the medical benefits to the body?
Dr. Zakir: There are several medical benefits of offering Salah and as every Muslim knows that the best part of Salah is the sujood, that is the prostration. No wonder the Quran has mentioned the word sujood, prostration no less then 90 times in the glorious Quran. Where [do] you do sujood in the Salah? Normally when you [stand] erect, blood does flow into the brain but it is not sufficient for a healthy brain. During Salah when you [go into] sujood extra blood flows into the brain, which is very important for [a] healthy brain. When you do sujood, this extra blood supply to the skin on the face [helps] prevent diseases such as chilblain etc. When you do sujood there is drainage of sinuses and there are fewer chances that a person will have sinusitis, that is inflammation of the sinus, this drainage of module sinus, of the frontal sinus, and a person has less chances of having inflammation of the sinus, that is sinusitis. There are various benefits. [For example], when a person does sujood even the bronchitis’s, the secretion of the bronchitis, they get drained, there are less chances of having bronchitis. When a person breathes normally only two thirds of the capacity of the lung is exhaled out, the remaining one third remain in the lung as a residual air, now when you do sujood the abdominal visra, they press against the diaphragm and the diaphragm presses against the lower part of the lungs, the lower lobes, and when you breath during sujood even this one third residual air is aired out and that’s very important for a healthy lung. There are less chances of having diseases of the lungs. When you do sujood, there is increased venes return there is less chance of having hernia, etc. Due to posture in sujood there is less chances of having hemorrhoid, that is piles. In a salah we stand up and we sit down, do qayam, rukuh, sujood and when we stand up from same position the weight is localized on the bottom of the feet and the calve muscle and the thigh muscle are activated and they increase the blood supply to the lower part of the body, which is very important. Further we do various postures like standing erect, bowing down, prostrating, the vertebra column takes various postures and there are less chances of having disease of the vertebrae, of the spine. There are medical benefits [and] you can give a talk only on this topic. But we Muslims, we offer Salah to thank Allah (SWT), to praise Him. These are just side dishes. They are like dessert. You know it may attract a person who is a non-Muslim, towards Salah but our main meal, our main biryani, our main course is to thank Allah (SWT) and to obey the commandments of Allah and the Prophet. That is the reason we offer Salah.
Linda Thayer: How does paying careful attention to Salah bring about piety and righteous behavior? Is there any connection there?
Dr. Zakir: Yes paying careful attention is very important. The more attention you pay during Salah the more chances of you becoming pious. When you offer Salah, as the Quran says in Surah Anqabut, chapter 29, verse 45:” Recite of what we have revealed to thee by inspiration and establish regular prayers, for prayers restrain from shameful and unjust deed”. The Quran says, prayer restrains you from shameful and unjust deeds and makes you a rational person. If you pay careful attention to what you are reading in Salah, you get guidance, that you should not bribe, that you should not rob, that you should be honest, should love your neighbor, you should be good to your wife, good to your parents etc. And the more you offer Salah with concentration the more righteous you will become.
Linda Thayer: Thank you very much Doctor and thank you to our viewers for joining us.