What is said in the Muslims’ five times/day prayer?
Muslim prayers follow a very elaborate, seventeen-part formula. The full cycle of a prayer is called a rak’a, and it includes bowing, kneeling, and reciting certain phrases and statements in a specified sequence. Each prayer includes multiple rak’as. These prayers are repeated five times a day. While there is room for a spontaneous supplication in the dawn (fajr) prayer, the rest of the prayers stick to a strict formula. The guidelines for prayer cover 118 pages in Reliance of the Traveler, 166 pages in The Guidance (Al-Hidayah), and 273 pages in Fiqh us-Sunnah. It is estimated that fulfilling the basic prayer requirements, including the necessary ablution, consumes two-and-a-half hours daily.
So, what do Muslims actually pray for? The only supplication in the rak’a is the recitation of Al-Fatiha (Surah 1 of the Quran). This is what they pray for:
Guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom You have favored,
Not of those who have incurred your wrath, nor of those who have gone astray.
The phrase ‘those who have incurred your wrath” comes from Surah 2:61 which says,
Shame and misery were stamped upon [the Israelites] and they incurred the wrath of Allah; because they disbelieved Allah’s signs and slew His prophets unjustly; because they were rebels and transgressors.
The phrase “those who have gone astray” comes from Surah 4:44 which says,
Consider those to whom a portion of the Scriptures was given [i.e., Christians]. They purchase error for themselves and wish to see you go astray.
So, the only supplication in the standard Muslim prayer is asking Allah to keep the Muslim from the path of the Jews and Christians. This prayer is recited seventeen times a day.
The FRIDAY (Juma) prayer is even more offensive to Jews and Christians, as it requires not only two recitations of Al-Fatiha, but also Surah 62 – The Friday Congregation – and Surah 63 – The Hypocrites. Surah 62 specifically condemns Gentiles as being “in gross error,” and Jews are compared with “a donkey laden with books.” Surah 63 condemns “hypocrites,” those who have renounced their Muslim faith. “They are the enemy. Guard yourself against them.”
There is nothing arbitrary about the daily or the Friday prayers. The requirements were established in Reliance of the Traveler, paragraphs F8.17 and F18.12, over 600 years ago. The Quran urges Muslims to “keep up prayer” forty-four times. (Examples: Surahs 2:43, 6:72, 11:114, and 31:17).