Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 67, Issue 5, pp 547–562 | Cite as

The Experience of Muslim Prayer: A Phenomenological Investigation

  • W. Paul WilliamsonEmail author


Some form of prayer is a central feature of virtually all religious traditions. In Christianity, this practice has been studied periodically by social scientists over decades, although it has received only recent attention in Islam. Among these few prayer studies, none has focused on the awareness of experience in Muslim prayer from a first-person perspective, which is the aim of this study. This investigation conducted phenomenological interviews with seven Muslims of five different cultures to obtain detailed descriptions of their prayer experiences. A hermeneutic-thematic analysis of the transcribed interviews found a pattern of four themes that emerged across all protocols to collectively describe the meaning of the experience of prayer for participants: (1) No Connection/Connection; (2) Particular Feelings; (3) Spiritual Change; (4) and Certain Knowledge. These findings are discussed in relation to the existential grounds of Body, Others, and Time, as well as current empirical literature on Muslim prayer.


Prayer Muslim prayer Phenomenology Religious practices Islam 



An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Washington DC, October 2017.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Henderson State UniversityArkadelphiaUSA

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