Molana Hazrat Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha in the book Al-Salat reveals the mystery of the praises and bodily postures of Salat in the following sections[i]. The performance of the praises and the mystery of the bodily posture in salat is one of the essential instructions regarding the prayers in Islam. Especially, the description of the instructions in prayer is beyond man’s reason and thoughts, and it is certainly among the revelations to the pure soul and heart of the holy Prophet of Islam, Hazrat Mohammad Mustafa (peace upon him). These instructions are God’s blessings for the guidance and perfection of man on his journey to cognize his true self.
In salat, at all times emphasis is on the purification and the cleansing of the self, self – renunciation, and the affirmation of the one and only God.
In prayer, the heart, the recitations, and body postures of the believer seek only one truth, and it is the remembrance of the holy phrase la ilaha illa Allah (there is no god but God), as the holy prophet has said: “Qulu (say): la ilaha illa Allah and be saved.”
Qulu is a plural imperative word and it means that with all your effort free the heart from the desires , and collect all inner powers, words , and bodily actions in saying La ilaha illa Allah, so that you are saved.
The designated actions and bodily postures in prayer after neeyyat, (intention) and takbirat-ol-ehram are five: qiyam (standing), ruku (bowing), qiyyam mot’tasel be ruku (standing after bowing ), sujud (prostration) and tashahhud (witnessing)
These postures in prayer are not subject to personal choice or fancy, and have no ordinary aspects, nor can they be justified by simple interpretation, for they are actions based on revelations from supreme Empyrean and require sincerity and truthfulness in the performance of prayer. Niyyah, takbirat-ol-ehram, qiyyam, and all other bodily postures signify the holy phrase la ilaha illa Allah.
The human form is divided into two parts:
1. The part that faces the earth and encompasses all of man’s natural deeds is symbolized by the letters لا اله الا (La Ilaha Illa).
2. The upper part, meaning the heart, hands, neck and head, face toward the heavens and in action is related to takbirat-ol-ehram which takes the form of لله . And the reason why at the time of standing the feet must be kept apart is that turning to God must be done both outwardly and inwardly, for he is the beginning, the end, the manifest, and the hidden. And of the two steps of the praying person, one is taken towards the earth, the other towards heaven, as the created are the appearance of reality and the multiplicity of existence is a reflection of the Absolute Reality and Existence, and this the meaning of لا اله la ilaha.
1. Qiyyam (rising)
The first posture in salat is standing which reflects the praying person’s worship of the one God and it is the form of the written alif ا whose reality is the unity of existence and whose meaning is the Guardianship of the Exalted One in the supreme rank of Existence.
Ruku and Sujud (bowing and prostration)
Mawla ‘Ali (peace be upon him) has said “With sujud and ruku’, humility and meekness praise the greatness of God and seek closeness to Him.”
2. Ruku’ (bowing)
Ruku is bowing to God and the Praying person’s state is complete Humility, and it is in the form of لا (la) which means his absolute renunciation in the presence of the Exalted One.
3. Qiyyam mot‘tassel be ruku (standing after bowing)
The standing after ruku’ is in the form of the written alif ا prior to prostration.
4. Sujud (prostration)
Sujud is the total annihilation of the ‘ Arif (sufi)where he has totally abandoned all worldly attachments to the earth and has reached total union with God.
It is said that Mu’tassim asked Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Musa (peace be upon him) about the mosque, he replied: “it is the seven parts of the body with which one prostrates.” And Sayyid ibn Jubar, Zujuj and Fara have also confirmed this.
Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) has said: I have been designated to prostrate myself with seven ceremonies of reverence”. This refers to the seven mounts of the heart to which the enlightened have also alluded. And the above saying “I have been designated to prostrate myself with seven ceremonies of reverence,” refers to the journey the seven mounts of the heart from the heavenly realm to celestial realm, reaching the Empyrean of the Lord. The meaning of, “Therefore do not call anyone with God” is that you should not admit any but Him in your prostrations. [ii]
This is the rank of those who have reached the state of permanence, for in that state position, name, or meaning remains not with the servant who is worthy of the eternal reality, for he renounces the ephemeral and this the rank of he who hears by God and sees by God.
With this pure being for the purpose of reaching closeness to God, he has prostrated which is the position of the body at the time of prostration and the standing which follows ruku takes the form of Allah.
5. Tashahhud (witnessing)
Tashahhud by itself is in the form of the written له It is praising and giving special thanks to God, and the affirmation of His Oneness and of the Messenger in complete cognition and clarity and saluting all the believers and the self in perfect sincerity and unity, the true affirmation must be done with knowledge and faith.
Therefore all the bodily postures in prayer depict at all times la ilaha illa Allah.
The five bodily postures in prayer
The bodily postures are in conjunction with the intention of the heart and the words of the praying person in the performance of the true salat in truthfulness and perfect union with God.
Further, on the meaning of the bodily postures, it may be said: the hands and the head at the time of takbir are (ھ) and (لله) , when connected to the written alif at the time of standing become Allah (الله). The value of the letter (ھ) ( h ) according to the abjad table is five and when joined to the alif makes six, and the letter (و) (v) in the word (هو) (hova) in itself refers to the six days of creation, and because form of the letter (ھ) (h) at the time of ruku’ takes the shape of the written (و ) at the time of ruku’ it comprises the word (هو) (hova) and when joined written alif (ا) (A) of standing after ruku and sujud takes the form of (لله) (llah) so that in one rak’ah of prayer it forms the image of ( الله ) (hova Allah).
- Molana Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha, Al-Salat, The Reality of Prayer in Islam (Riverside, CA: M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi Publications®. pp. 78-85
- Molana Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha, Al-Salat, The Reality of Prayer in Islam (Riverside, CA: M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi Publications®. pp.27-28