| The importance of the
prayer in Islam cannot be understated. It is the first pillar of Islam that the
Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned after mentioning the testimony of faith,
by which one becomes a Muslim. It was made obligatory upon all the prophets and
for all peoples. |
Allah has declared its obligatory status under majestic circumstances. For
example, when Allah spoke directly to Moses, He said, "And I have chosen
you, so listen to that which is inspired to you. Verily, I am Allah! There is
none worthy of worship but I, so worship Me and offer prayer perfectly for My
remembrance." [Taha 13-14]
Similarly, the prayers were made obligatory upon the Prophet Muhammad (peace be
upon him) during his ascension to heaven. Furthermore, when Allah praises the
believers, such as in the beginning of Surah al-Muminoon, one of the first
descriptions He states is their adherence to the prayers.
Once a man asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) about the most virtuous deed.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) stated that the most virtuous deed is the
prayer. The man asked again and again. The first three times, the Prophet (peace
be upon him) again answered, "The prayer," then on the fourth occasion
he stated, "Jihad in the way of Allah." [This is form a Hadith
recorded by Ahmad and Ibn Hibban. According to al-Albani, the Hadith is Hasan.
Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, Sahih al-Targheeb wa al-Tarheeb (Beirut:
al-Maktab al-Islami, 1982), vol. 1, p. 150]
The importance of prayer is demonstrated in the many of the Prophet’s
statement. For example, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The first
matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is
the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it
is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad." [Recorded by al-Tabarani.
According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol.1, p. 503.
The importance of the prayers lies in the fact that no matter what actions one
performs in his life, the most important aspect is one’s relationship to
Allah, that is, one’s faith (Iman), God-consciousness (taqwa), sincerity
(ikhlas) and worship of Allah (`ibaadah). This relationship with Allah is both
demonstrated and put into practice, as well as improved and increased, by the
prayer. Therefore, if the prayers are sound and proper, the rest of the deeds
will be sound and proper; and if the prayers are not sound and proper, then the
rest of the deeds will not be sound and proper, as the Prophet (peace be upon
him) himself stated.
In reality, the prayer is performed properly – with true remembrance of Allah
and turning to Him for forgiveness – it will have a lasting effect on the
person. After he finishes the prayer, his heart will be filled with the
remembrance of Allah. He will be fearful as well as hopeful of Allah. After that
experience, he will not want to move from that lofty position to one wherein he
disobeys Allah. Allah has mentioned this aspect of the prayer when He has said,
"Verily, the prayer keeps one from the great sins and evil deeds"
Nadwi has described this effect in the following eloquent way, Its aim is to
generate within the subliminal self of man such spiritual power, light of faith
and awareness of God as can enable him to strive successfully against all kinds
of evils and temptations and remain steadfast at times of trial and adversity
and protect himself against the weakness of the flesh and the mischief of
immoderate appetites. [Nadwi, p. 24]
The overall affect that the properly performed prayers should have upon humans
is described in other verses in the Quran: "Verily, man was created
impatient, irritable when evil touches him and niggardly when good touches him.
Except for those devoted to prayer those who remain constant in their
prayers…" (al-Maarij 19-23).
As for the Hereafter, Allah’s forgiveness and pleasure is closely related to
the prayers. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "Allah has
obligated five prayers. Whoever excellently performs their ablutions, prays them
in their proper times, completes their bows, prostrations and khushu` [Khushu`
in the prayer is where the person’s heart is attuned to the prayer. This
feeling in the heart is then reflected on the body. The person remains still and
calm. His gaze is also lowered. Even his voice is affected by this feeling in
the heart. For more details on this concept (as well as the difference between
it and khudhu`), see Muhammad al-Shaayi, al-Furooq al-Laughawiyyah wa Atharahaa
fi Tafsir al-Quran al-Kareem (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ubaikaan, 1993), pp. 249-254.]
has a promise from Allah that He will forgive him. And whoever does not do that
has no promise from Allah. He may either forgive him or punish him."
[Recorded by Malik, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Nasa’I and others. According to
al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 1, p. 616.] ]
The prayers are a type of purification for a human being. He turns and meets
with his Lord five times a day. As alluded to above, this repeated standing in
front of Allah should keep the person from not performing sins during the day.
Furthermore, it should also be a time of remorse and repentance, such that he
earnestly asks Allah for forgiveness for those sins that he committed. In
addition, the prayer in itself is a good deed that wipes away some of the evil
deeds that he performed. These points can be noted in the following Hadith of
the Prophet (peace be upon him): "If a person had a stream outside his door
and he bathed in it five times a day, do you think he would have any filth left
on him?" The people said, "No filth would remain on him
whatsoever." The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said, "That is like
the five daily prayers: Allah wipes away the sins by them." (Recorded by
al-Bukhari and Muslim.) In another Hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
"The five daily prayers and the Friday Prayer until the Friday prayer are
expiation for what is between them." (Recorded by Muslim.)
By: Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo