The Prayer

An example of language use is the word “salah” and its synonyms as used by Muslims. “Salah” is often translated and/or adopted in regional languages (“namaz” in Urdu and from thence in Pakistani English, and “the prayer” or “prayer” in English). “I must go to salah” “It’s time for namaz” and “the prayer is due” variously use “salah” “namaz” and “the prayer” synonymously to refer to the formal Muslim prayer of either a pair of rakahs, two pairs of rakahs or one pair of rakahs and an odd rakah. The signification is contextually dependent on the time of day. That is, it depends on which of the prayers are being referred to (Fajr/Dawn, Zuhr/Noon, Asr/Mid-afternoon, Magrib (Sunset) or Isha (Evening) each within its time and preferably in congregation.

“The prayer” is very seldom used by westerners in this denotation, though “the Lord’s Prayer” refers to the “Our Father” and “prayers” refers generally to linking up with God, usually before going to bed. The New Oxford Shorter English Dictionary (1993) has four definitions, and, although they all catch something of the spiritual meaning, the Shariya praxis of “the prayer” is not represented by any of them. In the dictionary list of collocations, “prayer” is used as a descriptive noun collocation with “rug” to refer to the” sajda”, or “Muslim prayer rug”, but that is all. British Muslims use “namaz”, “the prayer” or “prayer” in the sense of “salah”, and the verb “pray” or “perform the prayer/namaz” in the sense of “salli” or “do/make salah”. Therefore the words “prayer” and “pray”, as well as “namaz” and “salah”, when used by Muslims (to other Muslims and often while propagating Islam) are all examples of Islamic lexical patterns of English.

Read on: Towards an ME Corpus


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