Importance Of Prayer
The importance of prayer in Islam is great as it is the foremost duty of the Muslims; and the chief of the pillars on which the structure of Islam stands. It is the distinguishing feature between a Muslim and non-Muslim. The Holy Prophet PBUH said:
“What stands between a man and disbelief is the abandonment of Salat”. (Muslim)
“The first thing which a person shall be called a account for on the Day of Judgement is Salat.” (Tirmizi)
A unique service that the Prophet PBUH rendered to humanity was that he made Prayer to Allah not only the foundation stone of the individual development of a man but also the basis of a vast brotherhood of humanity.
The first revelations were in the following order:
To read and write; to warn the people and declare the Greatness of Allah; and to pray to Allah not only during the daytime but also during night.
The Quran says:
” Establish regular prayers – at the sun’s decline till the darkness of the night – and pray in the small watches of the morning ” (17: 78-79)
The object of prayer is to remember Allah. It is, therefore, the chief reason why prayer was dearest to the Prophet PBUH, He said:
“Prayer has been made a coolness for my eyes.”
He declared prayers to be the pillars of Islam and said:
“He who gives up prayer has indeed disbelieved.” (Tirmizi)
The Quran mentions prayer many times and has laid the greatest emphasis on it: therefore, the sin of giving up prayer is great as also praying carelessly or with an absent mind, The Quran says:
“So woe to the worshippers who are neglectful of their prayers”. (107: 4-5) Observance of prayer five times a day is compulsory. Basically, it consists of recitations from the Holy Quran and glorification of Allah accompanied by various bodily postures, such as standing, bowing, prostrating and sitting. Through these postures, Muslims express submission, adoration and humility to Allah. The self-discipline which is needed to perform Salat regularly and proper times, to perform the ablution which precedes prayer and to carry on these prayers in the early morning when sleep is so attractive, during the busy daylight hours when one is preoccupied with work and other activities, and at night when one is tired and wants to sleep reaffirms to human being’s total dependence on his creator and his position as his slave.
The Holy Prophet PBUH exhorted his followers to offer their prayers as if they were standing in front of Allah, looking at him; In Prayers, the Divine presence is to be felt as a reality:
” You should worship Allah, as if you see him; if you do not see him, He surely sees you.” (Muslim)
Prayers is further meant to seek help as well as guidance from Allah. This seeking of help and guidance is linked in the daily prayers of the Muslims:
” Thee do we worship and thine aid we seek. Show us the straight way.” (1: 5-6)
In the Holy Quran, prayer is referred to as a sustenance for the human soul so that the man who does not pray to Allah must be regarded as spiritually dead. Prayer protects one from sins and shameful deeds. Prayer purifies him and brings him closer to Allah. The Quran says:
“Establish regular prayer, for prayer restrain from shameful and unjust deeds.” (29:45)
This continuous reminder keeps the conscience alive, functioning in a proper manner. Without the regular performance of prayer, it is likely to become inactive and easily corrupted. Prayer once a week or even once or twice a day, does not fulfil this purpose and is only a partial and insufficient expression of the human being’s relationship with his Sustainer.
The three conditions of the believers as given in the Holy Book are:
“Those who believe in the unseen , are steadfast in prayer and spend out of what we have provided for them.” (2:3)
It will be seen that belief in Allah, the Great Unseen, is immediately followed by the keeping up of prayer, thus showing that by means of prayer, belief is turned into a certainty of the divine existence. This is followed by spending out of what Allah has given to man, for the benefit of others, in charity. Thus, faith in Allah is translated into practice by prayer, which in turn, leads to the service of humanity.
The Holy Prophet PBUH further explained what the Holy Quran taught . On one occasion, he said to his companions:
“Tell me , if there is a stream at the door of one of you in which he washes himself five times a day, what do say, will it leave any dirt on him?”
And on receiving the reply that it would not, he added,
“This is the likeness of the five prayers with which Allah washes away all faults.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
A Muslim is required to pray at the prescribed times wherever he may be .
But it is preferable and meritorious to pray in congregation with his fellow Muslims if possible. This gathering of all Muslims living in the same locality five times daily, is a step towards the establishment of healthy social relations.
In the daily service, these relations are limited to a narrow circle i.e, to members of the same neighbourhood. The circle becomes wider in the weekly Friday service which gathers together all Muslim members of a particular locality, and still more extensive in the two annual gatherings of Muslim festivals of Eid. Thus, prayer promotes social relations between different sections of the Muslim community.
Salat is the central point of the life of a Muslim, without which he would not be able to maintain a strong and vital link with his lord or continue his inner struggle against wrong doing or temptation. Because of all these aspects, Salat is the principal means whereby the Muslim keeps in mind the limited and temporary nature of worldly life and the certainty of death and life so come. Thus, he is able to maintain a sense of balance and proportion between the needs and claims of this world and the Hereafter.