A possible reason why prayer is a good act.
First, I would like to say that God commands those things that are good for you. God has no needs. I'm afraid that without taking this as an axiom the latter parts might not make much sense.
Prayer, is a good thing. This is for many reasons, one of which is that it is transformative. By praying we are reminded of who we are. Sincere prayer will increase our possibility to do good deeds. A more complete explanation is given in the thread I linked to at the start of this thread.
So we are rewarded for doing as is commanded to us and we are rewarded for doing something that will improve ourselves and others.
I am not saying that prayer is the most important thing, but it has its place and it is a good act. Islam works best as a whole, and prayer aids in this.
The image-obsessed, bloodthirsty, sensationalistic world outside your window is the real madhouse.
"Those who deny the strength of truth,
God does not give them courage." - Bulleh Shah
Yes you are right there.The Sukkot festival is one such example which included circumambulation of the Temple altar...
I doubt there is any connection between that tradition and the circumambulation of the hajj, but to each their own interpretation.
What is your definition of a righteous act?
God has bestowed infinite bounties upon us for which we ought to be grateful. Gratitude is only one of several reasons why we pray (the other reasons have been covered already in this thread and for simplicity I shall only deal with praying out of gratitude in this post)."If you count the blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them." [Quran 14:34]
If someone gives you something (e.g. a gift) and you thank that person/show gratitude, then surely that is a righteous act. To merely do nothing is inconsiderate, thoughtless and rude.
If you then proceed to share this gift (bounties) with others, then this act of generosity/kindness is another righteous act. So now you have 2 or more righteous acts. Of course, even if you decide not to share your gift/bounties, then that still does not detract from the fact that you have already done a righteous act in expressing gratitude.
So your statement that prayer is “not a righteous act, in and of itself” is inaccurate. Praying out of gratitude is a righteous act in itself; it is NOT absolutely necessary to further share that gift/bounty in order for it to qualify as a righteous act (though admittedly that would be a further commendable, righteous act). Sincerity in prayer is assumed.
It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.
You do not believe that someone getting up at 2 in the morning to pray is a righteous act, even though such a prayer is not obligatory. You seem to have more of an issue with the moral classifications of Islam than anything else. Is it fair to say that you do not believe that God rewards obedience? I'm not fishing by the way, I am just curious.
I entered this conversation to correct the assertion that Christianity commands ritualized prayer similar to Islam. It does not, neither does the Tanakh. I have no doubt that Jews may have prayed at certain times of the day according to some stylized ritual, and it's quite possible that the earliest Jewish Christians followed suit. However, it is not mandated by scripture. Prayer in the NT is primarily spoken of as a means of communication between the believer and their 'Father in heaven.' Therefore emphasis is placed on attitude, motives, and issues that would affect that relationship. Whether Christians adopt or develop any systematic form (and many religious orders have done exactly that) is left to for them to decide according to their cultural context and psychological needs.
Knowledge shrinks as wisdom grows.
~ Alfred North Whitehead
So your only contention is prayer being called a righteous act, not that the prayer is rewarded by God, even if He has obliged it upon the worshipper?