This paper is an attempt at understanding the spiritual meaning of ritual prayer in Islam (salah) through an exploration of the various conceptual metaphors found in Islamic religious texts, including Quranic, Prophetic, and Sufi sources. Using conceptual metaphor theory as a theoretical framework, the study investigates the metaphorical (and, to a lesser extent, metonymic) dimensions of salah. The main finding is that Muslims conceptualize ritual prayer primarily as a ‘building’ to be erected. In addition to promoting our theoretical understanding of prayer, the study also aims at helping religious practitioners to improve the quality of their prayer through the use of these rich metaphors as visualization prompts. Making use of visualizations to enhance worship is not a practice imported from the West or from Far Eastern religions, as some may believe, but is also deeply rooted in the history of Islam. Finally, the study explores similar metaphors in other religious traditions, especially the Judeo-Christian tradition and Nichiren Buddhism.
Student, PhD, University of Arizona, Egypt
RITUAL PRAYER, SALAH, CONCEPTUAL METAPHOR, METONYMY, ISLAM, SUFISM
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