Importance of the Salaat (prayer) in the life of a Muslim
Source: The importance of Salaat in the life of a Muslim by Shaikh Salih al-Fawzan (May Allah have mercy upon).
As-Salaah is one of the acts of worship which Allah, the Exalted has enjoined upon His servants, which has great virtues. The prophet (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):
1- To testify that La ilaha illa Allah wa anna Muhammad Rasool Allah [none has the right to be worshiped but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah].
2- Iqamat us-Salaah [to offer the compulsory Salaat dutifully and perfectly].
3- To pay Zakaat
4- To observe fast during the month of Ramadaan.
5- To perform Hajj (i.e. pilgrimage to Makkah). [Al-Bukhaari]
· As-Salaat is the second pillar of Islam after the Testimony and it is the pillar on which Islam is established. The Prophet (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said to Mu’adh (May Allah be pleased with him): “Shall I tell you of the root of the matter, its Pillar and its highest point?” Mu’adh (May Allah be pleased with him) replied, “Yes! Certainly, O Prophet of Allah.” He (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The root of this matter (foundation) is Islam, its pillars (main story) is As-Salaat (the prayer) and its highest point is Jihad (fighting in the cause of Allah).” [At-Tirmidhi].
As-Salaat is the distinction between the Muslim and the Kaafir (the disbeliever).
· The Messenger of Allah (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Between the slave and the Kufr or the shirk is abandonment of the Salaat, if one abandons the Salaat he becomes a disbeliever (or he has disbelieved).” [Saheeh at-Targheeb no. 568 authenticated by al-Albaani]
· Muslim reported also a Hadeeth on the authority of Jabir (May Allah be pleased with him) who narrated: “I heard the Messenger of Allah as saying, ‘The leaving of the Salaat (the prayer) is (the difference) between man and shirk (Polytheism) and kufr (disbelief).” [Muslim]
· The Prophet (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said, “That which distinguishes us from the disbelievers and hypocrites is our commitment to As-Salaat (the prayers). He who abandons it, becomes a disbeliever.” [At-Tirmidhi]
The Salaat is the first thing that the person will be asked about on the Day of Resurrection.
· The Prophet (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The first deed which a man will be called to account on the Day of Resurrection will be As-Salaat (the prayers). If it is found to be perfect, he will be safe and successful, but if it is defected (spoiled), he will be unfortunate and a loser.” [At-Tirmidhi]
· In another narration, “He (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said, “As-Salaat is of three thirds, the purification is one third, Bowing (Ruku’) is one third, and the prostration (Sujood) is one third. Whoever has performed it dutifully (i.e. fulfilled its due right) then it will be accepted from him and will be accepted from him the rest of his deeds and whoever’s Salaat is rejected then the rest of his deeds will be rejected as well.” [Saheeh at-Targheeb no. 539 and authenticated by al-Albani]
If the Salaatis reformed then the rest of the deeds of the person will be reformed and if the salaat is spoiled (defective) then the rest of his deeds will be defective too. [Saheeh al-Jami’e no 5573]
Allah, the Exalted says in Surat al-Ankabut (29:45)
Verily As-Salaat (the prayer) prevents from Al-Fahshaa’ (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse) and Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil, wicked deed).”
In this verse, it is mentioned two great merits for the Salaat:
1- It prevents one from every kind of evil wicked deeds or sins. This means, whoever maintains offering the Salaat then he will be maintaining his religion. He will become a person easy for him committing the sins and the prohibitions, and he will not enjoin the Ma’roof (the good) or forbid the Munkar (the evil).
2- In the Salaat there is Dhikr (remembrance) of Allah which is greater.
As-Salaat is sought with to overcome to difficulties and hardship of this life.
Allah, the Exalted says in Surat al-Baqarah (2:45)
And seek help in patience and prayer and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except of the Khashi’oon (I.e true believers in Allah- those who obey Allah with full submission, fearmuch from His Punishment, and believers in His promise paradise etc.) and in His warnings (i.e. Hell etc.).”
Again Allah, the Exalted says in Surat al-Baqarah (2:153)
O you who believe! Seek help in patience and prayer. Truly! Allah is with the patient.
As-Salaat is a great matter and it has a great status with Allah, the Exalted. Whoever wants to know the value of Islam in his self let him look at the value of Salaat to himself. Whoever knows the value of Salaat, take care of it, then this indicates that he cares about it, magnify the religion of Islam. And if the person is neglecting his Salaat, then he will be neglecting everything else. Therefore, Allah, the Exalted made the Salaat to be offered repeatedly (frequently) in the life of the Muslims in the day and night five times. The Salaat should be offered in its stated times in the day and night.
· Allah’s Messenger (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Allah, the Exalted has (enjoined) deeds in the day which he will not accept in the evening and He has deeds (which he has enjoined) in the night which He will not accept in the day.”
It is not permissible for the Muslim to play with the timing of the Salaat such that he offers it according to his desire (whims) and according to his free time. Rather, he should offer it in its stated prescribed times.
Allah, the Exalted says in Surat al-Baqarah (2:238)
Guard strictly the (five obligatory) prayers especially the middle (i.e. the best – ‘Asr) prayer and stand before Allah with obedience (and do not speak to others during the prayers).
Allah, the Exalted also says in Surat al-Mu’minun (23:9-11)
And those who strictly guard their (five obligatory) prayers (at their fixed stated hours). These are indeed the inheritors, who shall inherit the Firdaws (Paradise). They shall dwell there in forever.
Allah, the Exalted says in Surat al-Ma’arij (70:34-35)
And those who guard their prayers well, such shall dwell in the gardens (i.e. paradise) honored.
Guarding the prayers means they establish it in its fixed stated time in the day and night and do not play with its timing.
· A man came to the prophet (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) and said, “O Messenger of Allah! If I testified that La Ilaha illa Allah (There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah) and that you are the Messenger of Allah, offered the five obligatory Salaat and paised the Zakaat and observed the fast in the month of Ramadaan and established (its night with) voluntary prayer (Qiyam) then from whom will I be?” He (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said, “From the Siddiqeen and Martyrs.” [Reported by Ahmed and authenticated by Al-Albaani]
The categories of the people regarding their guarding the Salaat:
1. There are some people who do not offer the Salaat (at all) they abandon the Salaat totally.
Whoever abandons the Salaat purposely is considered Kaafir as many verses and Hadeeths prove that.
He is considered Kaafir even though he claims that he / she is Muslim.
2. There are some people who offers the Salaat, but they don’t offer it in its stated time, i.e. he has lost his Salaat (neglects his Salaat).
Allah, the Exalted says in Surat Maryam (19:59)
They there has succeeded then a posterity who have neglected given up prayers (i.e. made their prayers to be lost, either by not offering them or by not offering it perfectly or by not offering them in their fixed times, etc.) and have followed desire lusts. So they will be thrown in Hell.”
Except those who repent and believe (in the oneness of Allah and His Messenger (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him), and work righteousness. Such will enter Paradise and they will not be wronged in aught.” [19:60]
Al-Ghayy is a valley in Hell-Fire which is very deep and its food is filthy, [As Ibn Masu’d (May Allah be pleased with him) said]. Others said Ghayy is a Valley in Hell made of Puss and blood.
Also Allah, the Exalted says in Surat al-Ma’un (107:5):
So woe unto those performers of prayers, who are heedless of their prayers (i.e. hypocrites who pray in public and not pray in private and who delay their prayers from its stated fixed times).
He offers the Salaat because Allah said “Woe to those who offer the Salaat” but he is not offering it in its fixed time. Either he is offering out of its time, or they always delay it until the end of its time, or they usually do so.
This person is threatened by this severe threat and punishment of Allah, the Exalted.
3- There are some people who offer the Salaat in its fixed time but do not offer it in congregation (for men in the Masjid).
Allah’s Messenger (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever hears the call for prayer and is not prevented from joining the congregation by any excuse, his prayers will not be accepted from him.” [Saheeh al-Jamie’ no. 3112 and authenticated by al-Albaani]. Offering the Salaat in congregation in the Masjid is obligatory upon the (male) Muslim. Let not the Shaytaan play with the Muslim and make him neglect and lose his Salaat.
4- There are some people who answer the call for the prayer but they join the Salaat he misses some Rak’aat or misses all the prayer and prays alone or with a group of people who are also like him who come late to the Masjid. This is great negligence. This may lead the person to abandon the Salaat totally gradually.
This is because whoever does not consider Salaat an important matter in his life, he may neglect it little y little, gradually he will abandon it because he will be following the steps of the shaytan.
Deliberate delay in offering the Salaat is wrong. The ultimate result of deliberate delay is that one becomes sluggish and begins to ignore and neglect it by force of habit, which is obviously very dangerous. The Muslim should guard the Salaat strictly because it is his means of Salvation, because it is his religion, and it is the first thing that the person will be asked about on the Day of Judgment.
If the Muslim takes care of His Salaat and maintains it, he will achieve a great success in this life and Hereafter, and all the rest of acts of obedience will become easy for him and it will make the sins evil/ wicked deeds hated to him. It is obligatory upon every Muslim (male of female) to guard strictly the Salaat, offering it in its time and with the Jamei’ah (if he is male) and always, not offer the Salaat sometimes and other times he bands it, this person’s Salaat will not e accepted because he did not maintain his Salaat. Whoever leaves one Salaat, he is like the one who abandons all the prayers.
5- There are some people who do not offer the Salaat except on Friday. This person who neglected all the prayers, will not be accepted his Friday prayer. He should offer it all in its time in order to maintain his religion and for the Salaat to be a light for him and a plea for him with Allah on the Day of Resurrection. Who neglects the Salaat? The one who obeys the Shaytaan, obeys his self which persistently encourage him to do evil. If one offers the Salaat always, then it becomes a habit for him and it becomes easy for him to keep it and to long for it.
· Ibn Mas’ud (May Allah be pleased with him) said, “Whoever like to meet Allah tomorrow (i.e. on the Day of Judgment) as a Muslim, should take care and observe the Salaat (prayers) when the Adhaan is announced for them. Allah has expounded (prescribed) to your Prophet (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) Sunan (the ways of right guidance), and these (the prayers) are part of these Sunan (the right guidance). If you have to offer Salaat in your houses, as this man who stays away (from the Masjid) and offers Salaat in his house, you will abandon the Sunnah (practice) of your Prophet, and the abandonment of the Sunnah of your Prophet (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) will lead you astray. I have seen the time when no one stayed behind except a well known confirmed hypocrite. I also saw that a man was brought swaying (on account of weakness) between two men till he was set up in a row (in the Masjid).” [Muslim]
This Hadeeth emphasizes that abandonment of the Salaat in congregation is a practice of hypocrites and following the Sunnah of the Prophet (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) because abandonment of it is bound to lead one astray.
Fear Allah concerning your Salaat, whoever neglects his Salaat then he becomes as the one who has no religion. He (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) induced the Muslim to keep the right of Salaat, establishing it and observing it in the right times and in the way that is pleased to Allah.
Maintain you Salaat in order to be of those whom Allah, the Exalted said in Surat al-Mu’minun (23:11)
"These are indeed the inheritors. Who shall inherit the Firdaus (Paradise). They shall dwell there in forever."