Salat is initiated by raising the hands up to the level of the ears and then folding the arms at the naval area by holding the right wrist on top of the left. This action provides a surge of oxygenated blood to the torso.
Whilst clenching the wrists and hands, blood flow is increased in the hand area of the left motor cortex and the matching sensory areas in the Postcentral Gyrus. The postcentral gyrus “allows you to experience the sensations of temperature, pain, light touch, and proprioception (a sense of where your body is)” 18. This gives mental clarity and calmness to the worshipper.
Whilst standing, a Muslim endeavours to concentrate and strives to keep that concentration; astonishingly this resolve according to one study has a remedial effect on depression19. During Salat, one recites various prayers in a low voice. This exercises various facial muscles. In fact, a bilateral increase in blood flow to the face, tongue mouth sensory and motor areas and the upper premotor cortex in the brain can be detected during this phase, whilst the Broca’s speech area of the brain increases in blood flow. 20
Three out of the five compulsory prayers are read with the Imam reciting verses from the Holy Quran in a melodious tune. The sound of listening to the Holy Quran has miraculously been linked to an increase of alpha waves in both left and right sides of the brain. Alpha waves are brain waves which can be detected by electroencephalography (EEG). They occur when one is in a wakeful relaxed mental state but not asleep or tired. In fact, people use music therapy which aims to increase a patient’s alpha brain waves and thus allowing him to become calmer and at ease. Classical music is also sometimes specifically used by students to help them concentrate because the classical music induces alpha brain waves that help students relax and focus. Here I would like to mention a study done by Zulkurnaini Noor Ashikin and his colleagues in the faculty of electrical engineering ‘University Teknologi MARA’ ,Malaysia.
They took 28 healthy participants with the age range of 20-28 years old. They were measuring the EEG signal of the brain before, during and after exposing the participants to Surah Ya-sin of the Holy Quran and Pachelbel’s Canon D major of classical music. Results showed an increase of 12.67% of brainwaves whilst listening to the Holy Quran whereas listening to the classical music showed a 9.96% increment of brainwaves. They concluded that listening to the Holy Quran increases the alpha band more than listening to classical music.21
This goes to show how just by passively listening to the words of the Holy Quran we are positively affected with our well-being. It is not without reason that Allah, the All-Knowing, has said;
وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ مَا هُوَ شِفَاء وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
“And we are gradually revealing of the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers”22
18 Muslim (223), Tirmithi (3517), Ibn Majah (280), Ahmad (22953), and Darimi (653)
19 The Human Body in Health and illness, Chapter 10 pg.185
20 Mohammed Faruque Reza, MBBS : Yugi Urakami, MD, Yukio Mano, PHD – Evaluation of a new physical exercise taken from Salat (prayer).
21 The Comparison between Listening to Al-Quran and Listening to Classical Music on the Brainwave Signal for the Alpha Band- Fac. of Electr. Eng., Univ. Teknol. MARA Malaysia, Shah Alam, Malaysia Kadir, Ros Shilawani Sheikh And; Murat, Zunairah Haji;Isa, Roshakimah Mohd pg 181 – 186
22 The Holy Quran, Ch.17 V.83