An Introduction to the Meanings of Prayer

An introduction to the various aspects and mysteries of the ritual prayer (salat) and how they relate to contemporary life.

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Cambridge Muslim College now offers a new Online Learning Platform providing exclusive access to Lecture Series and Courses that you can take at your own pace and in your own space.

What does it mean to be "present" during prayer? What is the significance of the various body movements in salah? What is the fundamental nature of witnessing God when we worship? Want to learn about the meanings of the Islamic ritual prayer?

An Introduction to the Meanings of Prayer with Dr. Samir Mahmoud covers the various aspects and mysteries of the ritual prayer and how they relate to contemporary life.

Structured as a series of eight sessions, the course looks at key terms and phrases including presence, the heart and their centrality in the ritual prayer. It covers the meaning of salat and the prayers of humans as well as the prayers of angels and creatures. Exploring the significance of intentions is followed by looking at the importance of purification of the body as well as the heart. The start of the ritual prayer is then understood through its movements, the role of the body, eye, hands and feet as well as the inner significance of these movements. The course then moves on to the importance of recitation of the Divine word before concluding with a session on the fundamental nature of witnessing God and the crucial role of imagination in prayer.

Following the sessions there are eight thematic meditations and reflections on the implications of prayer for our day to day life, covering issues and topics ranging from creativity, art and imagination to our relationship to nature, time and more.

If you have any questions please see the Frequently Asked Questions below.

Course Overview

Watch this course overview from course tutor Dr. Samir Mahmoud.

Your Instructor

Samir Mahmoud
Samir Mahmoud

Dr. Samir Mahmoud is currently Assistant Professor at the Lebanese American University. He has a BA (Hons) in Anthropology & Politics with a focus on multicultural theory and comparative religion, and an MA in Architectural History, Theory & Urban Design with a focus on the traditional townscape from the University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia. He also holds an MPhil in Theology & Religious Studies with a focus on comparative philosophy and aesthetics. He completed a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Dr. Timothy Winter (Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad).

Dr. Mahmoud is a former Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-14) in the Arts & Humanities Initiative at the American University of Beirut and a Postdoctoral Research Associate (2012-2013) at the University of Oxford.

Email: [email protected]


  Q&A Session Recording (2021)
Available in days
days after you enroll

"This course really helped me start seeing prayer as an experience. Now, every time I lift my hands for takbir I notice myself internalising every movement and every utterance, understanding it all as communication with Allah. Thank you to Dr Samir and Cambridge Muslim College for providing an accessible and practical learning experience that lets me work on my relationship with the Divine."

— Alia Abu Bakar

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is this Online Course for?
This course is for anyone looking for a deeper understanding of the Islamic ritual prayer (salat).
Are there any prerequisites?
Though not essential, it is beneficial to know basic fiqh of how to perform the ritual prayer (salat).
Can I contact the tutor?
Yes! If you have any questions before, during or after the course, you can contact Dr. Samir Mahmoud directly at [email protected].
Are there any exercises?
Yes. Do the course at your own pace and put what you've learnt into practice at the end of every session before moving on to the next.

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