Spirituality and prayer in Shiite Islam

Shaker, Muhammad K. (2005) Spirituality and prayer in Shiite Islam. AHRC. ISBN 9780906165553

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Abstract

In the first place, it should be understood what is meant by the terms in the title. Therefore, we shall take a brief look at the concepts “Shi’a”, “spirituality” and “prayer”. The word Shi‘a literally means “follower” and comes from the expression “shi‘at-u ‘Ali” = a follower (partisan) of ‘Ali – a prominent companion of the Prophet Muhammad. Technically, this term is applied to one of the two major branches of Muslims; the other larger branch is called Sunni Islam. The Shi‘a Muslims believe that the Prophet of Islam like the other prominent prophets, has successors (awsia, plural of wasi) whom God appoints and the prophet introduces to people. The equivalent of “spirituality”, in Islamic terminology, are the two words; ruhaniyyt and ma‘naviyyt, the first comes from ruh = spirit – as opposed to body, and the second comes from ma‘na, meaning immaterial. In Islamic terminology the word ‘spirituality’ suggests every state that leads the human spirit to reach the immaterial experience of a Supreme Power. In other words, spirituality means experience of communion with a Higher Power. The ultimate aim of spirituality in Islam is nearness to God. In this paper, we shall take a short look at the spiritual character of the Shiite Imams and its various dimensions, and then examine the spiritual relationship between Shi‘a Muslims and their Imams. The word ‘prayer’ generally suggests two concepts of Islamic terminology; (i) al-Salat, the specific practice that five times a day a Muslim stands in the presence of God and worships Him. (ii) al-du‘a that literally means ‘calling’, and technically means ‘remembering God and calling upon Him’. The English word ‘prayer’ is therefore, used for both. The focus of this paper is on the latter. Aside from the prescribed daily prayers, Muslims are encouraged to call upon God for forgiveness, guidance, and to ask for what they wish and desire in their own words, in any language and any time of the day and night. The Qur’an relates many statements from the prophets of God where they call on their Lord and ask Him for their needs. Muslims are encouraged to imitate the behaviour of the prophets and from them we learn how to pray. Moreover, the Shiite benefit from a precious heritage of prayers, composed by their Imams, some of which must be considered as literary and mystical masterpieces in religious literature. In this article, we shall briefly speak of these priceless spiritual sources.

Item Type: Book
Additional Information: Series: RERC Second Series Occasional Papers;42.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Experience (Religion), Islam
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
Divisions: Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre > Second Series of Occasional Papers
Depositing User: John Dalling
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2014 10:36
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2018 13:57
URI: http://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/448

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