In order to understand the significance of the salaat in Islam, it is important to understand that Islam is not a religion and there is no priesthood in Islam. This is because Islam does not believe in the dichotomy of the secular and the religious and all the extremists and fundamentalists teachings and practices within and between them that make them separate and exclusive.
In addition to this, we also have to understand that all things in our Universe have been created for a specific purpose and that we humans are no exception.
Hence, the difference between us humans and the different creations (sun, moon, stars, trees, mountains, birds, etc) is that they are programmed according to the knowledge of science to perform their duties and we are not. And that we are given freewill to do so.
Therefore, according to the Qur’an, we are told that we have been created to serve God by “inheriting and ruling over the earth” as caliphs (vicegerents) of God according to the Divine System, which does not separate the secular from the religious and vice versa, and that we should accomplish this feat both, as individuals and the community to develop ourselves and our community.
But our problem with our Divine System is that it is just as much material as the Godless system of atheism and secularism, because both the systems are based on “science and reason”. The difference being that our system does not believe in the dichotomy of the secular and religious but they do and we operate according to the methodology of ilm-ul-yaqin, ayn-ul-yaqin and haqq-ul-yaqin and they according to the methodology of modern science (evidence based/science based) that denies the existence of God.
Therefore, although I as a individual know what the Divine System is and what it entails, I still have to remind myself that my Divine System which is based on “science and reason” like atheism and secularism, it is not entirely material and Godless, especially because my mundane activities are no less material than theirs.
But doing so on my own is not enough because I, my family and children rely on many of the institutions that are developed and managed by my community and if they have no knowledge of the Divine System, it makes it very difficult for me to live and function with them.
The “ritual salaat” as “ritual pledge” that we will function in all aspects of our lives according to the knowledge of the Qur’an Alone we recite in the standing position of the salaat is a very good platform or institution for me and my community to start developing in all aspects of our lives according to our Divine System by a pledge and shurah.
Like brother Sidqi mentioned that it does not matter how many rakaats or times in a day we perform the ritual, we can develop consensus on that. I find that it adequate to do so three times a day (fij’r, zuh’r, magrieb) and believe me even if you have busy day it does not cause any grief or sweat.
This is also an ideal platform to establish a Direct Democratic government from parish level where people from grassroots level make the law and manage their affairs rather than people they elect at the national level to make law and manage their affairs like in the Indirect Democratic system over which the people at the grassroots level have no control.
AK Sayed (South Africa).