Short Answer: “Yes! You could pray the way Muslims pray, for sure. These prayers belong to God and not humans, whoever they are. No Muslim should assume some sort of ‘monopoly’ over the way of prayer that Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught humanity… Accepting Islam does not mean to have all your questions ‘answered’. To become Muslim, you must believe in what is called the ‘six pillars of belief’…If you believe in the above, then you are a Muslim or a believer, and the rest are details… Unanswered questions, as long as they are not about the basic pillars of belief, do not affect the fact that you are a believer in the Islamic sense.”
Salam Dear Amy,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
To start with, the answer is: Yes! You could pray the way Muslims pray, for sure.
These prayers belong to God and not humans, whoever they are. No Muslim should assume some sort of ‘monopoly’ over the way of prayer that Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught humanity.
In fact, Muslims believe that Muhammad merely revived prayers, fasting, and acts of worship that believers before Islam used to practice in the original versions of their faith.
I think that you have to try praying and fasting the Muslim way and try to discover for yourself the feelings and spirituality associated with these acts of worship whether it is in their individual or collective forms.
What is a Mosque Like?
In the mosque or the ‘house of worship’, ideally speaking, you will meet pious people, witness many acts of charity, and find the light of belief.
God says in the Quran about His own Light:
In the houses [of worship] which God has allowed to be raised so that His name be remembered in them, there [are such as] extol His limitless glory at morn and evening – people whom neither [worldly] commerce nor striving after gain can divert from the remembrance of God, and from constancy in prayer, and from charity: [people] who are filled with fear [at the thought] of the Day On which all hearts and eyes will be convulsed, [and who only hope] that God may reward them in accordance with the best that they ever did, and give them, out of His bounty, more [than they deserve]: for, God grants sustenance unto whom He wills, beyond all reckoning. (Quran 24:35-38)
However, frankly, I would like to mention to you, sister, that any mosque is a mirror of its local community.
In Islam, mosques do not have any divine or doctrinal status, as it is the case in many Christian churches.
A mosque does not represent God or Islam; it only represents its local Muslim community.
It is, more or less, a community place that is opened for their collective prayers, in addition to their social events and community functions, etc.
If you happen to feel uncomfortable in a mosque that you visit, try another mosque.
On the other hand, various Muslim cultures in various mosques are adamant about a certain outlook for all women attendees.
Therefore, when you go to the mosque, try to adhere to this outlook, whatever it is, merely out of respect to the local community.
It is also a good opportunity in the mosque to try to make new Muslim friends and find answers for your questions.
Act On What You DO Know
However, accepting Islam does not mean to have all your questions ‘answered’.
To become Muslim, you must believe in what is called the ‘six pillars of belief’. These are:
2) God’s Prophets (including Jesus and Mohammad),
3) God’s Holy books (which He had sent to these prophets),
4) the hereafter,
5) angels, and
6) that God created everything that had happened and everything that is destined to happen.
If you believe in the above, then you are a Muslim or a believer, and the rest are details.
Never Stop Searching for Answers
The search for answers for these detailed questions could continue within Islam.
From my experience with questions about Islam, I find that many questions that remain ‘unanswered’ are related to certain historical factors, being political, social, cultural, or even environmental.
The problem is that many Muslims, including some Muslim scholars, do not recognize these historical dimensions of some of the Islamic rulings, and hence fail to offer reasonable and adequate answers to important questions.
This leads to confusion in the minds of many seekers of the truth, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
For example, some of the common difficulties that many non-Muslims have with Islam are related to the issue of the status of women in the Islamic law.
However, a closer look at many of the popular rulings concerning women will reveal certain underlying historical basis for these rulings that are, today, non-applicable, such as certain guardianship patterns, marriage customs, or acceptable costumes.
Islam is Timeless
These things are subject to change, as long as the principles and moral values behind them are fixed and preserved.
Islam is about these principles and moral values; not about the specific manifestations that they take in certain cultures in the past or present.
What I would like to say here is that such unanswered questions, as long as they are not about the basic pillars of belief mentioned above, do not affect the fact that you are a believer in the Islamic sense.
Many Muslims, too, do have unanswered questions of ‘why’ in these areas, including myself.
But we all know that the Islamic spirit of knowledge is to keep on searching for the truth and finding answers.
I hope this helps answer your question.
We wish you success in your journey for truth, and please don’t hesitate to write to us again in case you have further questions.
(From AboutIslam’s archives)