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Prayer in Islamic Thought and Practice

$23.99 (P)

Part of Themes in Islamic History

  • Date Published: April 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521716291
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About the Authors
  • The five daily prayers (ṣalāt) that constitute the second pillar of Islam deeply pervade the everyday life of observant Muslims. Until now, however, no general study has analyzed the rules governing ṣalāt, the historical dimensions of its practice, and the rich variety of ways that it has been interpreted within the Islamic tradition. Marion Holmes Katz's richly textured book offers a broad historical survey of the rules, values, and interpretations relating to ṣalāt. This innovative study on the subject examines the different ways in which prayer has been understood in Islamic law, Sufi mysticism, and Islamic philosophy. Katz's book also goes beyond the spiritual realm to analyze the political dimensions of prayer, including scholars' concerns about the righteousness and piety of rulers. The last chapter raises significant issues around gender roles, including the question of women's participating in and leading public worship. Katz persuasively describes ṣalāt as both an egalitarian practice and one that can lead to extraordinary religious experience and spiritual distinction. This book will resonate with students of Islamic history and comparative religion.

    • The first general book on prayer in Islam appropriate for comparative courses
    • Multidimensional approach bringing together perspectives from Islamic law, mysticism, Sunni and Shi'ite sources
    • Strong focus on gender, including the question of women's participating in and leading public worship
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Marion Holmes Katz's richly textured book offers a broad historical survey of the rules, values and interpretations relating to Salāt. This innovative study on the subject examines the different ways in which prayer has been understood in Islamic law, Sufi mysticism and Islamic philosophy."

    "A thoughtful and at times eye-opening examination of the role of prayer in Islamic societies … indispensable …"
    Stephen Schwartz, Middle East Quarterly

    "A review such as this can only whet readers' appetites and encourage them to read this richly erudite and enjoyable book. It is truly a feat of scholarship, not only thoroughly researched, but also written in a clear style that makes it accessible to relative beginners and more advanced scholars alike. Marion Holmes Katz is to be commended for taking on this difficult task and executing it almost perfectly."
    Maya Yazigi, Middle East Media and Book Reviews (

    "This thoroughly researched book cites a wide range of sources from Islamic thought, which makes it of interest to students and scholars alike."
    Yasmin Amin, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

    'In this rich, engaging, and illuminating book, Marion Holmes Katz attempts, and largely achieves, something remarkable. … One of the best qualities of the book is its capacity to make clear that Islam is no monolith as regards prayer or, by implication, virtually any element of belief or practice.' Paul Powers, Journal of the American Oriental Society

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    Customer reviews

    07th Nov 2015 by Toyin

    Contains a magnificent summation of Ibn Arabis philosophy of prayer. Majestic. Luminous.

    Review was not posted due to profanity


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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521716291
    • length: 250 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.34kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Canonical prayer (Salāt) and supplication (du'ā'): development and rules
    2. Valid prayer and ideal prayer
    3. Interpretive models: what is Salāt, and what does it do?
    4. The community at prayer: congregational prayer, prayer leadership (imāma), and the boundaries of the religious community
    5. Women and prayer.

  • Author

    Marion Holmes Katz, New York University
    Marion Holmes Katz is Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. Her publications include Body of Text: The Emergence of the Sunni Law of Ritual Purity (2002) and The Birth of the Prophet Muhammad: Devotional Piety in Sunni Islam (2007).

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