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Categories:  Islamic Knowledge
Tags:  salah

Part I

Salah  (Prayer) is one of the Five Pillars in the faith of Islam and an obligatory religious duty for every Muslim. It is a physical, mental, and spiritual act of devotion that is to be performed five times every day at prescribed times. In this ritual, the believer starts stand-up, bows, prostrates themselves, and completes while sitting in the prayer platform. At the time of each posture, the believer delivers or recites certain sections, phrases and prayers. The term salah is generally translated as “prayer” but this definition is little unclear. Muslims use the words “dua” or “prayer” when mentioning to the common description of prayers which is “reverent requests made to God”.

Many scientific studies are done on belief and worshiping approaches. A team of scholars from Malaysia recently answered this query by learning how Muslim prayer affects alpha waves in the brain, and their results show a profound connection between mind and body. The study was completed using brain scanning technology, such as magnetic-resonance imaging and electroencephalograms (EEG), to know how the brain responds to spiritual or divine practice.

Islamic prayer, or salat, needs the believer to go through more than a few distinct bodily postures while performing specific supplications. The sequence of positions is fixed, and it’s repeated many times for each act of prayer. Believers start out standing, then bow at the waist till their upper bodies are corresponding with the ground, with their hands pressed against the knees. Then, they come back to a standing posture before bowing down to the fully prostrate posture and touching the foreheads on to the ground. After bowing, believers sit up on their knees temporarily before coming back to a final bowing position. The same cycle will start again. Each of the stage in this prayer cycle will last for a few seconds, and the total prayer cycle lasts around 30 seconds and a full minute.

During the study, the researchers studied brain waves at variety of postures with and without vocal prayers. To learn more into this and understand how these different postures mark brain waves, they fitted the helpers with EEG monitors around the frontal, central, temporal, parietal, and occipital regions and told the volunteers to complete a series of prayer cycle. Consequently, they found substantial increases in alpha movement in volunteers’ parietal and occipital but, amazingly, only during the bowing stage of the salat. In contrast, alpha wave stages didn’t vary much at all amid inactive state and prayer in the standing, bowing, or kneeling positions.

This following study dig through the effect of Islamic prayer (salat) on a relative power (RPα) of electroencephalography (EEG) and autonomic nervous movement and the connection between them by means of spectral scrutiny of EEG and heart rate variability (HRV).

where fmax=95 Hz, fl=8 Hz, fh=13 H

During the prayer salat, a remarkable increase (p<.05) had been observed in the mean RPα in the occipital and parietal regions and in the normalized part of high-frequency (nuHF) power of HRV. In the meantime, the standardized unit of low-frequency (nuLF) power and LF/HF of HRV reduced according to HRV analyses.

Related to this prayer, fact is that a certain body position gives the impression to rise alpha waves strongly and suggests that performing that type of posture can give relaxation, reduce tension, and strong focus.

Continued on Part II

Content Sources:

Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine Muslim prayer may increase alpha waves in the brain