Question regarding prayer?


that's my Boss in the pic
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Greetings All,

A few years ago I was travelling from India to Jordan by Airplane, and half-way through the flight a gentleman in Muslim dress got up and walked to a space in the aisle and turned to face the other passengers. As I was
wondering what he was doing, he then put his hands over his ears (or to the sides of his face) and started singing a prayer out-loud. As well as being quite relieved that the man was praying, I thought it sounded very
beautiful, and related to it as similar to a form of prayer within my own tradition (but with different language).

My question is what is the significance of the act of covering one's ears (or holding one's face) when praying? Also I was wondering - is this a common form of prayer when in public? I have seen a form of prayer where devotees
kneel down & prostrate themselves on the floor, but never anything similar to this before.

Best Wishes,

... Neemai :)
Hi neemai,

Muslims put up their hands to the ears and say "AllahuAkbar" when they start their formal prayer; this is the way Allah directed His messenger [saw] to pray, and thus well all pray the same way.

Hope that helps

Hi neemai

What you saw was actually touching one's earlobe's with the thumbs, while palms face forward. And saying "God is greatest". There are many views about the significance of this act. Some people interpret it spiritually, others say its a symbolic gesture (mudra?) for "I bear witness" (And then saying God is greatest, so it becomes "I bear witness that God is the greatest"). Still others believe that it is to show that a person hasent brought any idols in the mosque.

I wont be able to give some concrete evidence of the significance though. Muslims do it because they saw their parents & they saw their parents & this goes all the way to the companions of Prophet Muhammad who saw Prophet Muhammad doing it. He was taught to do it by Angel Gabriel who brought to him, the word of God. So Muslims do it because God wants them to do it.

Regarding the form, what you saw (both times) are different postures of the same prayer. It is one of the "acts of worship" that is called Salah, which means connection/blessing/supplication. You can consider it a dynamic meditative rememberence of God (Although everybody might not agree with this interpretation) . Its a structured ritual prayer that progresses from touching one's earlobes to standing (& reciting a prayer for guidence & other verses from Quran) , bowing, prostration & sitting (& reciting some more prayers for blessings upon prophet, & for oneself in this world & hereafter) . Each posture has its own set of invocations. It ends with saltaton to the angels. This form of prayer is obligatory upon muslims five times a day. Two other times are for non-obligatory prayers (for people who are interested ;)).

Other forms of worship include fasting in the 9th lunar month, giving 2.5% of ones belongings to poor, once in a lunar year, & a pilgrimage to Mecca (for those who can afford) where, to be very simple, muslims remember the sacrifice of Prophet Abraham by symbolically going through it themselves.

Peace & take care
Hi Neemai

This is taken from a fatwa (scholars opinion) about prayer while travelling (car, bus, train, plane, etc), I think this may explain to you why you did not see the man kneel on the floor:


Prayer during the time of traveling by any means is of two kinds: obligatory prayer or optional one. If it is an obligatory prayer and a traveler can delay performing the prayer till the time of next prayer and combine the two prayers in the time of later prayer, then it is recommended to do so. And this is only applicable to Zuhr and Asr or Maghrib and Isah prayers. If he can not do this since the time of prayer may pass, then he should pray according to his capacity. If he can pray standing, he should pray so. If he can not do so, he should pray as he can make gestures for Ruku and Sujood. The gesture for Sajdah should be lower than that of his Ruku.

Thanks for all the info ...

I was thinking it might have been an act of humility to cover one's ears while singing or something similar. But touching the earlobes is different again.

Best Wishes,

... Neemai :)