Customs and Rituals

What kinds of rituals do Muslims engage in privately?

Since one can perform the five daily ritual prayers anywhere, most Muslims generally pray the salat alone or in small groups. In mosques everywhere you can find individual Muslims praying privately outside the regular ritual prayer times as well. But Muslims also engage in a variety of other private devotions. Some are associated with local or regional custom, others practiced across the globe. Private recitation of the sacred scripture is foremost among the universal customs. Muslims who read Arabic but who are not formally trained in the refinements of performative recitation often sit alone and recite in a low voice. Meditative reading of the text in any language can nourish the spiritual life. Another popular devotion involves a prayerful consideration of the “Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names” of God. Many Muslims use the tasbiha, a set of either thirty-three or ninety-nine beads, to keep count. (These are the so-called “worry beads” people all over the world like to fidget with even when not praying.) Islamic traditions of spirituality also offer a vast array of devotional literature, from hagiography (lives of prophets and holy persons) to prayers recommended for daily use and refined religious poetry suitable for praying.


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