How should we pray?
There are two forms of “prayer” in Islamic tradition. One is the realm of remembering and exaltation of the Divine through supplication, invocation and benediction. This can be a continual process that only requires the presence of heart and mind. The other is the salah, from the Arabic “to connect.” It is akin to the Aramaic (shelayvah) and Hebrew (shalah) for "to be at ease; to have quiet; [and also] to prosper.” It is the distinctive physical act of kneeling and genuflection at prescribed times of the day. It is a cosmic “connection” with one's world. It involves the same physical limbs that one utilizes in her earthly, temporal world. These faculties are gifts that one is entrusted with, and how one chooses to use them can either honor or debase. The ritual washing preceding the Muslim Prayer is a spiritual cleansing of one's limbs to prepare the mortal human to connect with the eternal, heavenly realm.
Women are endowed with a spiritual preeminence that stems from their devotion to genuineness and belonging. It is a yearning for what is viscerally authentic in all their connections and relationships—especially with God. It is this very essence that makes woman profoundly soulful in her giving and at once so insatiable in her yearning. It is also what makes her so bewilderingly enigmatic, so disarmingly incomprehensible—even to herself. Ironically, it is also this gift that makes her appear tentative, often uncertain—when all that she wishes is for everything that she ever does to be meaningful, authentic and pure. Women usually need privacy when they pray to replenish their formidable repertoire of giving, though their very essence is a form of prayer; their speech is prayer; and— (as distinct from their whims)—their feelings are prayer too. Devotion is the secret behind a woman's eloquence and the essence of her virtue. This is epitomized by Mary in the Quran, and Fatimah in the prophetic tradition.
(New York: HarperCollins, 2006), 270.