The Second Pillar: Salah

And we’re plowing on really quickly because I want to get to the hadith about Creation in the Mother’s Womb 😀 I’ve finished taking notes on this hadith (of the five pillars), but just need to put it on the computer. InshaAllah just two more parts after this one…

Next in our An Nawawi series, we will discuss the pillar of salah (prayer) inshaAllah.

The Meaning of Salaat (“prayer”)

Salaat is a word that existed in the Arabic language before the time of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The word salah lexically means supplication. However, its meaning in Islam is something different and special. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demonstrated the proper manner of prayer that is pleasing to Allah.

Salat is showing one’s dependence upon the worshiped one by speech, action or both.

Establishing the Prayer

The word for “performer of prayer” is rarely used in the Qur’an. Allah requires the believers to establish the prayers (iqaamat al-salaat).

Ibn Abbaas said: “Establishing the prayer is to perform its bowing, prostrations, reciting in a complete manner as well as having fear of Allah and complete attention to it.”

Establishing the prayer doesn’t just include the outward aspects or only the spiritual/inward aspects. It is not simply the physical performance of the prayer nor is it only in the heart. Establishing the prayer is both of these things together. It is to fulfill the prayers in the best way we can, according to the Sunnah, with correct intention and proper attention to the prayer.

Nadawi says that the human personality is made up of the body, mind and soul. All of these fundamental aspects are represented in Salah.

If a person performs the prayer properly and correctly, he can say he has prayed. If he doesn’t, it is possible that the prayer itself may be negated. There is a place between these two – he/she may have performed it from a legal point of view, but his reward for it may be lacking. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi  wa sallam said:

“A person may finish from [the prayer] and all that is recorded for him of his prayer is one-tenth of it, one-ninth, one-eight, one-seventh, one-sixth, one-fifth, one-fourth, one-third or one-half.” (Abu Dawood and Ahmad)

Importance of Prayer

The importance of prayer cannot be ocerstated. It is the pillar mentioned right after the testimony of faith. It was made obligatory upon all of the Prophets and for all peoples.

It is the first thing which will be held to account for on the day of judgment. If it is sound, then the rest of the slaves deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of the deeds will be bad. (al-Tabaraani)

Prayer is a purification for us. It should keep up from performing sins. It is a time of remorse and repentance, a time to wipe away bad deeds.

If a person prays properly, it will have a lasting effect on the person. One would be filled with remembrance of Allah, fear and hope even after the prayer has ended. And in such a state of mind and heart, he would not want to disobey Allah.

If one is  constant and regular in prayers, then their soul would be at rest and it would e easier to perform good deeds. Plus, prayer would lessen the desire to perform bad deeds.

The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam gives a beautiful analogy for prayer; he said:

“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 prople said, “Not filth would remain on him whatsoever.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said, “That is like the five daily prayers: Allah wipes away sins by them.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Does a person become a disbeliever if he doesn’t pray?

Anyone who misses the prayer because of forgetfulness or sleep is not a disbeliever, of course 🙂 The scholars all agree that all of the following are disbelievers:

1) The one who doesn’t pray and rejects the idea that it is obligatory

2) The one who refuses to pray out of pride or envy

3)  The one who doesn’t pray out of disdain and ridicule for the prayer

4) The one who refuses to pray even under the threat

5) The one who disregards it completely, without recognizing that it is obligatory or rejecting it as an obligation

The place where the scholars differ is over the one who does not pray out of laziness.

There are two opinions about these people:

1) Such a person is a disbeliever. Their strongest evidence is the hadith in which the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

“Between a man and polytheism (al-shirk) and disbelief (al-kufr) is the abandoning of the prayer.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

This group of scholars says his punishment should be death (as an apostate) unless he repents.

2) Such a person doesn’t leave the fold of Islam, though he is an evil doer and at the doorstep of leaving Islam. Their strongest evidence the hadith:

“Allah has obligated five prayers. Whoever excellently performs their ablutions, prays them in their proper times, completes their bows, and khushoo’ has the 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 He may punish him.” (Malik, Ahmad, Abu Dawood and others).

But the conclusion of both of the scholars is the same: abandoning the prayer is such a heinous sin that it is deserving of death.

Siddiqi says: “Prayer is the soul of the religion. Where there is no prayer, there can be no purification of the soul.”

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