Salat: The obligatory prayers in Islam

Javed Ahmad

 

Salat is one of the five pillars of Islam. It means ‘worship by bowing and prostration submitting completely to Almighty Allah’. A Muslim submits to Allah by this physical and an open act.

 

There are five obligatory prayers per day. It was originally fifty! Here is the story how the number of prayers were reduced-

 

Narrated Abu Dhar: Allah's Apostle said, "While I was at Mecca the roof of my house was opened and Gabriel descended, opened my chest, and washed it with Zamzam water. Then he brought a golden tray full of wisdom and faith and having poured its contents into my chest, he closed it. Then he took my hand and ascended with me to the nearest heaven, when I reached the nearest heaven, Gabriel said to the gatekeeper of the heaven, 'Open (the gate).' The gatekeeper asked, 'Who is it?' Gabriel answered: 'Gabriel.' He asked, 'Is there anyone with you?' Gabriel replied, 'Yes, Muhammad I is with me.' He asked, 'Has he been called?' Gabriel said, 'Yes.' So the gate was opened and we went over the nearest heaven and there we saw a man sitting with some people on his right and some on his left. When he looked towards his right, he laughed and when he looked toward his left he wept. Then he said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious son.' I asked Gabriel, 'Who is he?' He replied, 'He is Adam and the people on his right and left are the souls of his offspring. Those on his right are the people of Paradise and those on his left are the people of Hell and when he looks towards his right he laughs and when he looks towards his left he weeps.' Then he ascended with me till he reached the second heaven and he (Gabriel) said to its gatekeeper, 'Open (the gate).' The gatekeeper said to him the same as the gatekeeper of the first heaven had said and he opened the gate. Anas said: "Abu Dhar added that the Prophet met Adam, Idris, Moses, Jesus and Abraham, he (Abu Dhar) did not mention on which heaven they were but he mentioned that he (the Prophet ) met Adam on the nearest heaven and Abraham on the sixth heaven. Anas said, "When Gabriel along with the Prophet passed by Idris, the latter said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious brother.' The Prophet asked, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Idris." The Prophet added, "I passed by Moses and he said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious brother.' I asked Gabriel, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Moses.' Then I passed by Jesus and he said, 'Welcome! O pious brother and pious Prophet.' I asked, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Jesus. Then I passed by Abraham and he said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious son.' I asked Gabriel, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Abraham. The Prophet added, 'Then Gabriel ascended with me to a place where I heard the creaking of the pens." Ibn Hazm and Anas bin Malik said: The Prophet said, "Then Allah enjoined fifty prayers on my followers when I returned with this order of Allah, I passed by Moses who asked me, 'What has Allah enjoined on your followers?' I replied, 'He has enjoined fifty prayers on them.' Moses said, 'Go back to your Lord (and appeal for reduction) for your followers will not be able to bear it.' (So I went back to Allah and requested for reduction) and He reduced it to half. When I passed by Moses again and informed him about it, he said, 'Go back to your Lord as your followers will not be able to bear it.' So I returned to Allah and requested for further reduction and half of it was reduced. I again passed by Moses and he said to me: 'Return to your Lord, for your followers will not be able to bear it. So I returned to Allah and He said, 'These are five prayers and they are all (equal to) fifty (in reward) for My Word does not change.' I returned to Moses and he told me to go back once again. I replied, 'Now I feel shy of asking my Lord again.' Then Gabriel took me till we '' reached Sidrat−il−Muntaha (Lote tree of; the utmost boundary) which was shrouded in colors, indescribable. Then I was admitted into Paradise where I found small (tents or) walls (made) of pearls and its earth was of musk." (Bukhari 1.345).

 

Thanks to Prophet Musa (A) for encouraging Prophet Muhammad (S) to seek reduction of prayers from Allah for us, otherwise it would have been an extremely difficult task for Muslims to perform. Although the number of prayers was reduced ten times but the reward and benefit remained the same! Which means, for every session (waqt) of prayer we get reward for ten sessions!

 

In after life, the first thing that we would have to account for is the salat. That is why Allah is advising us to strictly follow our prayers –

 

Guard strictly your (habit of) prayers, especially the Middle Prayer; and stand before God in a devout (frame of mind).” (Qur’an 2:238).

 

The commandment of prayer is not new; it was bestowed on the followers of People of the Book – meaning the Jews and Christians-

 

“"O Mary! Worship Thy Lord devoutly: Prostrate thyself, and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down."” (3:43).

 

We find evidences in the Torah and Bible that earlier Prophets also offered their prayers the way Muslims do today. But in time, the rituals of offering prayers have been abandoned by the people of the book.

 

Purification of body and mind is essential for a prayer to be accepted. Understanding our sayings in a prayer is also important, but unfortunately, most of the Muslims in Bangladesh do not know Arabic and therefore do not understand what they say in their prayers, and the prayer is offered in Arabic! The following verse refers to that requirement-

 

“O ye who believe! Approach not prayers with a mind befogged, until ye can understand all that ye say,- nor in a state of ceremonial impurity (Except when travelling on the road), until after washing your whole body. If ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands. For God doth blot out sins and forgive again and again.” (4:43).

 

One can offer short prayers during journeys (Kashor prayer)-

 

“When ye travel through the earth, there is no blame on you if ye shorten your prayers, for fear the Unbelievers May attack you: For the Unbelievers are unto you open enemies.” (4:101).

 

Shortening of prayer is allowed, but under no circumstance a prayer should be missed. From the verse it seems like it was allowed at a time when the believers were in danger from being attacked by the enemies. Many Muslim shortens their prayers whenever they are in travel away from their homes, but from this verse it appears to be an ‘option’ allowing the believers to shorten the prayer (usually reducing the fard in half except for Fajr and Maghrib). It does not mean that we have to shorten it as we are no longer in apparent danger. There is no barrier in offering full and normal prayer even in journeys if one chooses to keep it that way without shortening it. Methodology of offering prayer at the time of danger and war is described in the Qur’an. We find an example to this in the following verse-

 

“When thou (O Apostle) art with them, and standest to lead them in prayer, Let one party of them stand up (in prayer) with thee, Taking their arms with them: When they finish their prostrations, let them take their position in the rear. And let the other party come up which hath not yet prayed - and let them pray with thee, Taking all precaution, and bearing arms: the Unbelievers wish, if ye were negligent of your arms and your baggage, to assault you in a single rush. But there is no blame on you if ye put away your arms because of the inconvenience of rain or because ye are ill; but take (every) precaution for yourselves. For the Unbelievers God hath prepared a humiliating punishment.” (4:102).

 

Prayer is not excused even during war or danger times. The Qur’an guides us on how to offer prayers during such times.

 

“When ye pass (Congregational) prayers, celebrate God's praises, standing, sitting down, or lying down on your sides; but when ye are free from danger, set up Regular Prayers: For such prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times.” (4:103).

 

Set up of regular prayers means offering the five daily prayers at a specified time. The five daily prayers we have are:

 

1. Fajr or morning prayer: The early morning prayer before sun rise.

2. Zuhr (Duhr) or noon or middle prayer: Mid-afternoon prayer.

3. Asr or late noon prayer: Late noon prayer before sunset.

4. Maghrib or evening prayer: The prayer following the sunset.

5. Isha or night prayer: Late evening prayer.

 

Some Sunni Muslim scholars have drawn wrong conclusion that the Qur’an mentions only three prayer times and not five, which is wrong. The Holy Qur’an does mention of the daily prayers to be offered at five different time frames in several verses –

 

Fajr and Isha prayers are mentions here:

 

“O ye who believe! Let those whom your right hands possess, and the (children) among you who have not come of age ask your permission (before they come to your presence), on three occasions: before morning prayer; the while ye doff your clothes for the noonday heat; and after the late-night prayer: these are your three times of undress: outside those times it is not wrong for you or for them to move about attending to each other: Thus does God make clear the Signs to you: for God is full of knowledge and wisdom.” (24:58).

 

Duhr prayer is mentioned here:

 

“Guard strictly your (habit of) prayers, especially the Middle Prayer; and stand before God in a devout (frame of mind).” (2:238).

 

Fajr and Asr prayers are mentioned here:

 

“Establish regular prayers - at the sun's decline till the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer and reading: for the prayer and reading in the morning carry their testimony.” (17:78).

 

Fajr and Maghrib prayers are mentioned here:

 

“And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night: For those things, that are good remove those that are evil: Be that the word of remembrance to those who remember (their Lord):…” (11:114).

 

Ablution before prayer is a requirement. In a place where water is not readily available and scarce, one can perform Tayammum – an alternative to ablution. The process is outlined in the following verse-

 

“O ye who believe! When ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles. If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body. But if ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands, Allah doth not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete his favour to you, that ye may be grateful.” (5:6).

 

Intoxicants were prohibited for the reason that Satan uses it to create enmity, hatred and hider from remembrance of Allah (meaning offering prayers)-

 

“Satan's plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain?” (5:91).

 

A prayer is like standing before Allah as if we are to talk directly to Him in submission who sees us and witnesses our acts. Therefore, Allah wants to see us in beautiful and clean appearance. Not just on Eid days, we should follow this for every prayer even when offered at home-

 

“O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for God loveth not the wasters.” (7:31).

 

Allah is guaranteeing that when Muslims hold on to their Book (The Qur’an) and establishes regular prayers; our efforts will be rewarded-

 

“As to those who hold fast by the Book and establish regular prayer,- never shall We suffer the reward of the righteous to perish.” (7:170).

 

From our reading about the life of our Prophet (S) we find that he always offered his prayers in congregation at the masjids. Only at rare occasion he offered his prayers at home. The main reason for this could be the verse we refer below where offering prayers at masjids is recommended-

 

“The mosques of God shall be visited and maintained by such as believe in God and the Last Day, establish regular prayers, and practise regular charity, and fear none (at all) except God. It is they who are expected to be on true guidance.” (9:18).

 

Offering prayers in congregation not only shows unity and strength of the Muslim community but also allows strong bonding in Islamic brotherhood by personally knowing one another. Unfortunately, we do just the opposite; we offer most of our prayers at home and seldom at the masjid. Security is another issue that our prayers tackle-

 

“Of their goods, take alms, that so thou mightest purify and sanctify them; and pray on their behalf. Verily thy prayers are a source of security for them: And God is One Who heareth and knoweth.” (9:103).

 

In the verse below we see a link between a masjid and piety. It began with the first masjid (meaning the Kaaba) that was built by Prophet Adam (A)-

 

“Never stand thou forth therein. There is a mosque whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety; it is more worthy of the standing forth (for prayer) therein. In it are men who love to be purified; and God loveth those who make themselves pure.” (9:108).

 

The meaning of a prayer is outlined in the verse below. It is basically turning to Allah for repentance, offering services to Him with devotion. The process of prayer is also described here through bowing (Ruku) and prostration (Sejdah) -

 

“Those that turn (to God) in repentance; that serve Him, and praise Him; that wander in devotion to the cause of God,: that bow down and prostrate themselves in prayer; that enjoin good and forbid evil; and observe the limit set by God;- (These do rejoice). So proclaim the glad tidings to the Believers.” (9:112).

 

Nothing happens against the will of Allah. Even our regularity in prayers depends on Allah’s wish. Therefore, Allah is teaching us to seek the followings from Him-

 

“O my Lord! Make me one who establishes regular Prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring O our Lord! And accept Thou my Prayer. "O our Lord! Cover (us) with Thy Forgiveness - me, my parents, and (all) Believers, on the Day that the Reckoning will be established!” (14:40-41).

 

Some prayer timings are mentioned in the Qur’an with some optional prayers (e.g., Tahajjud) that carry special benefits. Here is one such verse-

 

“Establish regular prayers - at the sun's decline till the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer and reading: for the prayer and reading in the morning carry their testimony. And pray in the small watches of the morning: (it would be) an additional prayer (or spiritual profit) for thee: soon will thy Lord raise thee to a Station of Praise and Glory!” (17:78-79).

 

Congregation (Jamaat) prayers are normally conducted in middle course voice as suggested below-

 

“Say: "Call upon God, or call upon Rahman: by whatever name ye call upon Him, (it is well): for to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Neither speak thy Prayer aloud, nor speak it in a low tone, but seek a middle course between."” (17:110).

 

It is not uncommon for us to neglect prayers at times. But we should not allow this condition to go on for long. The door of Allah will always open for those who repent and returns-

 

“But after them there followed a posterity who missed prayers and followed after lusts soon, then, will they face Destruction,- Except those who repent and believe, and work righteousness: for these will enter the Garden and will not be wronged in the least,- Gardens of Eternity, those which (God) Most Gracious has promised to His servants in the Unseen: for His promise must (necessarily) come to pass.” (19:59-61).

 

We need to understand that we have been created by Allah to worship Him alone-

 

"I [God] did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me" (51:56).

 

He has all the right to demand this from his creations because-

 

“"Verily, I am God: There is no god but I: So serve thou Me (only), and establish regular prayer for celebrating My praise. "Verily the Hour is coming - My design is to keep it hidden - for every soul to receive its reward by the measure of its Endeavour.” (20:14-15).

 

The importance of constancy of prayer is stressed in the following verse. Allah provides sustenance to everyone – believers and disbelievers alike, but He is declaring that the fruits and benefits of the hereafter is the those who are righteous only-

 

“Enjoin prayer on thy people, and be constant therein. We ask thee not to provide sustenance: We provide it for thee. But the (fruit of) the Hereafter is for righteousness.” (20:132).

 

The ritual of hajj was begun by Prophet Adam (S) when he used to come for hajj to Makkah from Sri-Lanka every year. Sri-Lanka was probably a part attached to the main land of India. Since he was evicted from the heaven he asked Allah to make a place like heaven on earth so that he could visit the place in remembrance. Upon granting his prayer Allah transformed Makkah into a heaven like place with rivers, forests and friendly animals. Adam (A) built a House (Kaaba) as a replica of the original House in the heaven. Prophet Adam (A) used to perform hajj there every year but chose not to live there as he always felt he did not deserve to live in that heaven like setup. Makkah remained in a heaven like condition as long Prophet Adam (A) was alive. Later after his departure from Earth the place was transformed into its present condition – rocky and barren. This might explain why a mysterious and special pond like “Zam Zam” is in existence there. Scientists strongly believe that rivers are still flowing under the barren rocky tracts of Makkah and surrounding areas.

 

Surprisingly, there is an “Adam’s Peak” in Sri-Lanka with a giant foot print of Adam (S) who was 60 yards tall! Strangely enough, the foot print is just of one foot only. Legend says, Adam (S) stood in one foot in prayer to punish himself for the mistake he had done in the heaven by disobeying Allah. After 350 years of prayer in that condition Allah forgave him. And that is why we see just one foot print of Adam (A). The links to that story is given below at the reference part.

 

It was Prophet Abraham (A) who rebuilt the Kaaba and re-introduced it to mankind reviving the rituals of hajj as we do today. Qur’an is revealing that information here-

 

“Behold! We gave the site, to Abraham, of the (Sacred) House, (saying): "Associate not anything (in worship) with Me; and sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer).” (22:26).

 

Dedication to worship is something that comes from Allah’s will. We should seek Allah’s mercy and support to be like the ones described below-

 

“By men whom neither traffic nor merchandise can divert from the Remembrance of God, nor from regular Prayer, nor from the practice of regular Charity: Their (only) fear is for the Day when hearts and eyes will be transformed (in a world wholly new),- That God may reward them according to the best of their deeds, and add even more for them out of His Grace: for God doth provide for those whom He will, without measure.” (24:37-38).

 

Not just the believers among mankind who worships Allah, but all other beings also worship Him in their own way-

 

Seest thou not that it is God whose praises all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? Each one knows its own (mode of) prayer and praise. And God knows well all that they do. Yea, to God belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; and to God is the final goal (of all).” (24:41-42).

 

Along with maintaining regular prayer and charity a believer should obey the apostle (i.e., Prophet (S)) through the teachings he has left behind for us in his traditions and sunnah-

 

“So establish regular Prayer and give regular Charity; and obey the Apostle; that ye may receive mercy.” (24:56).

 

Other than some benefits of prayer discussed above earlier, we find more clues on benefits of prayers in the following verse-

 

“Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to thee, and establish regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of God is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And God knows the (deeds) that ye do.” (29:45).

 

We should be grateful to Allah for making us Muslims. No one can come to the fold of Islam or remain in Islam without Allah’s will. Therefore, Allah does not like Muslims to engage in un-necessary disputes and arguments on religion with the people of the book unless they force us into disputes-

 

“And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our God and your God is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)."” (29:46).

 

Here is an interesting verse. Normally, when a believer offer prayers regularly a mark or spot appears on the forehead which is basically due to thickness of skin in that area that develops from head pressure during prostration. What is ironic is that the same mark used to appear on the foreheads of the practicing members of the people of the book! It indicates that the earlier members of the followers of Taurat (or Torah) and the Gospel (The Gospel of Jesus according to Barnabas- link to site is given at the reference part below) used to offer prayer just like the Muslims do today and also used to develop that trace on their foreheads symbolizing their piety-

 

“Muhammad is the apostle of God; and those who are with him are strong against Unbelievers, (but) compassionate amongst each other. Thou wilt see them bow and prostrate themselves (in prayer), seeking Grace from God and (His) Good Pleasure. On their faces are their marks, (being) the traces of their prostration. This is their similitude in the Taurat;  and their similitude in the Gospel is: like a seed which sends forth its blade, then makes it strong; it then becomes thick, and it stands on its own stem, (filling) the sowers with wonder and delight. As a result, it fills the Unbelievers with rage at them. God has promised those among them who believe and do righteous deeds forgiveness, and a great Reward.” (48:29).

 

In the following verse, we find the most important benefit of our prayers, which is direct communication with Allah. When we complain to Allah directly on any matter He listens and takes notes to decide on a matter. In Islam, we do not need any ‘mediator’ like a priest or rabbi or even an imam to communicate directly with the Lord of the universe. This is one of the unique matters with Islamic prayer. Considering what we have discussed so far it seems like it is Satan who deviate mankind from communicating directly with the Creator so that their prayers do not get answered and thus he could then manipulate mankind for subjugation to get them to do whatever he likes, which is a nice way to seek revenge against the children of Adam (A)-

 

“God has indeed heard (and accepted) the statement of the woman who pleads with thee concerning her husband and carries her complaint (in prayer) to God: and God (always) hears the arguments between both sides among you: for God hears and sees (all things).” (58:1).

 

Among all the daily prayers, Friday congregational prayer is important where all the believers partake to offer the noon prayer at a community masjid together. Allah Himself has ordained it stressed upon its importance, so Muslims should not neglect this prayer-

 

“O ye who believe! When the call is proclaimed to prayer on Friday (the Day of Assembly), hasten earnestly to the Remembrance of God, and leave off business (and traffic): That is best for you if ye but knew! And when the Prayer is finished, then may ye disperse through the land, and seek of the Bounty of God: and celebrate the Praises of God often (and without stint): that ye may prosper.” (62:9-10).

 

Prayer is important as a part of worship, but we should not make it a burned on ourselves. Many of us over react in offering prayers causing burden on oneself. Therefore, Allah has set a limit and offered a methodology in the following verse. This mainly applies to extra prayers (Nafl) we offer during the Night of Qadr-

 

“Stand (to prayer) by night, but not all night,- Half of it,- or a little less, Or a little more; and recite the Qur'an in slow, measured rhythmic tones.” (73:2-4).

 

Thus realizing the difficulties we face in observing our worship acts Allah has simplified some of the matter as we find in the verse below-

 

“Thy Lord doth know that thou standest forth (to prayer) nigh two-thirds of the night, or half the night, or a third of the night, and so doth a party of those with thee. But God doth appoint night and day in due measure He knoweth that ye are unable to keep count thereof. So He hath turned to you (in mercy): read ye, therefore, of the Qur'an as much as may be easy for you. He knoweth that there may be (some) among you in ill-health; others travelling through the land, seeking of God's bounty; yet others fighting in God's Cause, read ye, therefore, as much of the Qur'an as may be easy (for you); and establish regular Prayer and give regular Charity; and loan to God a Beautiful Loan. And whatever good ye send forth for your souls ye shall find it in God's Presence,- yea, better and greater, in Reward and seek ye the Grace of God: for God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (73:20).

 

There is no alternative to reading the Qur’an in order to learn the practices of Islam for easy following in reference to the Hadiths or Sunnah. The other advantage of sticking to the original sources of Islam is to stay free from manipulations of ‘fatwa’s’ that many so called ‘Islamic scholars’ attempts to deliver in order to control the Muslim mass. Many Muslims depend on their fatwa’s and subject themselves to manipulation and misguidance. There is no alternative to stand correct on matter of Islam without going through the books directly with full understanding; because in the end we ourselves would be responsible for our own actions and mistakes for which we would be held accountable in the end for neglecting our personal duty and obligation of learning Islam and practicing it wrongly based on someone else’s fatwa.

 

It is the prayer that separates a believer from the crowd of disbelievers-

 

"Verily, between man and polytheism and disbelief is abandonment of the prayer." (Sahih Al Muslim)

 

Why would anyone with a sane mind abandon prayer that links one directly to the Almighty Creator, Lord, God of the universe? Yes, it is possible only if one remains in illusion under the spell of Satan. It is the Satan that does not want mankind to connect to God. That is why we see people running from mazar to mazar (grave of the pious saints) bowing in prostration seeking their help to mediate for them with Allah believing that the dead ones are the pious folks therefore Allah would not turn down their requests. By doing this they are actually committing shirk or blasphemy against Allah. They act like brain dead zombies without realizing that a dead person can longer mediate with Allah, not even for himself. When a person dies all his powers to communicate with Allah dies with him or her. After death, begins the waiting period for the Day of Judgment in the grave. The pir (saints), fakir (spiritual pious) and dorbesh (sufis) have no power to recommend or mediate with Allah on anyone’s behalf even when they are alive. Yes, one can offer recommendation (dua) to Allah through prayer but there is no guarantee that Allah would accept it. Muslims should totally abhor these practices and repent by returning to Allah.

 

Our Prophet (S) was so liberal in encouraging believers in maintaining and establishing their prayers that he even allowed one just to offer the compulsory (Fard) prayers if one chooses to do-

 

Narrated Abu Huraira: A Bedouin came to the Prophet and said, "Tell me of such a deed as will make me enter Paradise, if I do it." The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, "Worship Allah, and worship none along with Him, offer the (five) prescribed compulsory prayers perfectly, pay the compulsory Zakat, and fast the month of Ramadan." The Bedouin said, "By Him, in Whose Hands my life is, I will not do more than this." When he (the Bedouin) left, the Prophet said, "Whoever likes to see a man of Paradise, then he may look at this man." (Bukhari 2.480).

 

But he himself practiced offering more prayers by in fact doubling the numbers of prayers in each session and advised his followings to do the same. See the reference chart below (based on common Hanafi practice in Bangladesh):

 

Sl.#

Prayer

Fard (Rakahs)

Sunnah (Rakahs)

Extra (Rakahs)

1

Fajr

2

2 (Before fard)

0

2

Zhur

4

4 (Before) + 2 (After) = 6

0

3

Asr

4

4 (Before fard)

0

4

Maghrib

3

2

0

5

Isha

4

4 (Before) + 2 (After) = 6

1 or 3 Witr

 

Total

17

20

1 or 3

 

According to the hadith above one can get away with (17+1 = 18) rakahs (not counting the number of Taraweeh prayer during Ramadan) of prayer to meet the minimum requirement in prayers without getting any extra rewards for any extra prayers. This strategy would work fine if he or she never misses any prayer in life. But the reality of life is such that we do often miss our prayers for various reasons. We may miss prayers for illness, busyness, unfavorable situations or what have you and may not have the opportunity to fulfill the missed prayers completely at a later time. Then what?

 

All of us have a fixed number of prayers allocated. Taking the above example again we could do the following math to understand the matter:

 

If a person say lives for 50 years. His prayer counting age begins at the age of 10. Therefore, Allah would seek for his 40 years of prayers in this world. If we are to offer a total of 18 rakahs of prayer each day, then this person would have to have an account for a total of (18 x 354 x 40 = 254880) rakahs of prayer (considering a lunar year as 354 days) at a minimum. But what if some of those prayers offered were null and void and not accepted due to lacking and short falls of some kind? In that case, there will be a shortage in count. But if the person offered his or her prayers according to the method of the Prophet (S) then he or she need not worry. In that case, the number of total prayer is more than double and any uncounted prayer could be filled in with any of those extra prayers in account. Therefore, this is a safe way to deal with the matter. Never mind the extra nafal prayers we offer at other times and at the special nights that carries even more values! This is a hidden benefit to it in the method of Prophet’s (S) prayer, which is safe.

 

Fortunately, out of love and respect most of the believers do follow the method of Prophet’s (S) prayer and offers the Sunnah prayers along with the fards. Now come to think of those who never offer their prayers? How will they pass the test?

 

Same thing goes for the fasts in the month of Ramadan. We normally have 29 obligatory fasts in a year. Therefore, the same person would have to account for a total of (29 x 40 = 1160) days of fasts for 40 years of his or her life on Earth. One of the main benefits of fasting is that the fasts would appear as a shield against the blazing fire in hell that would try to capture people to be its fuel to burn. At that time the shield will protect the person from fire and refuse hell from claiming the person to be its fuel. If the fasts are done properly then the shield will be strong and durable, but if the fasts are carelessly observed then the shield would be weak with holes. So imagine, what would be the situation of the person who never fasts or did not fulfill his or her fasts to make the shield to protect oneself?

 

Once again the month of purification and preparation is at our door step and is about to knock on our doors. Welcome it with honor and dedication to tame self when the Satan will be locked up in chains for a month allowing believers to work on their own devil inside them to revert it to Islam so that instead of going against the soul it would advocate and protect it. This is a grand opportunity for Muslims around the world to prepare and strengthen oneself to fight against evil and devil for the next one year. So why not change your position and situation in this Ranadan? Ramadanul mubarak!

 

References:

 

Why Salat?: http://www.justgodoit.net/

 

Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka: http://www.sacredsites.com/asia/sri_lanka/adams_peak.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam%27s_Peak

 

Salah: The Meaning of the Muslim Prayer: http://javedahmad.tripod.com/islam/salah.htm

 

Adhan: The Meaning of Muslim Call for Prayer: http://javedahmad.tripod.com/islam/adhan.htm

 

PROPHET MUHAMMAD’S PHYSICAL ASCENSION (ME’RĂJ) TO THE HEAVENS IN THE LIGHT OF SCIENCE AND THE QUR’ĂN: http://javedahmad.tripod.com/islam/meraj.htm

 

Traces of Mother Hawa or Eve (Peace be upon her): http://javedahmad.tripod.com/islam/eve.htm

 

The Five Questions of Angel Gabriel: http://javedahmad.tripod.com/islam/five-questions.htm

 

Kaaba: The House without Any Windows: http://javedahmad.tripod.com/islam/hajj.htm

 

The Gospel of Barnabas: http://barnabas.net/how-the-gospel-of-barnabas-survived.html