The Importance of the Ritual Prayer (Shafii)

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What is the importance of the ritual prayer? What is ritual prayer in islam?

Performing the five daily prayers is obligatory (fard) upon all sane believers who have reached the age of puberty.  Fulfilling the prayers leads to Paradise and neglecting them may lead to punishment and the Hellfire in the Hereafter. The Prophet (pbuh) said:

“Allah enjoined the five daily prayers on His servants. He assures Paradise on the Day of Judgment to those who faithfully perform these prayers . Yet, Allah does not assure this for those who perform the prayers lightly, without care and with defects in the manner of its performance, Allah deals with them as He wishes, either punishes them, or forgives them.”[1]

Furthermore, in another hadith, it is stated: “Whoever neglects prayer on purpose, the protection of Allah and His Messenger will be lifted from him.”[2]

Allah. the Almighty expresses the bad situation awaiting those who do not fulfill the prescribed prayers as follows:

“Except the companions of the right. Who will be in gardens, questioning each other, about the criminals, [and asking them]“what led you into the hellfire?” They will say “We were not of those who prayed.”“ (al-Muddathir 74: 39-43)

Abu Hurayra (r.a) narrates the following from the Prophet (pbuh): “The first thing the people will be held accountable for on the Day of Judgment is prayer, Allah will say to His angels: “Look at my servants’ (fard) prayers. Were they complete or not?” If they were complete It will be written as complete. If they were not fully performed, Allah will say: “See if my servant has voluntary (Sunnah) prayers.” If he has them Allah will say: Complete his obligatory prayers’ shortage with his voluntary prayers.” Then the rest of his deeds will be dealt with in the same manner.”[3]

The aim of the believer is to fulfill his prayers at their proper time, and not to neglect them. Allah says in the Qur’an “And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah]?” (al-Baqara, 2: 45)

Neglecting prayer due to worldly affairs cannot be presented as excuses in the presence of Allah. Every sane Muslim who can perform minor ablution must perform every prayer at its prescribed time. Even at times of war, Allah has given permission to shorten the prayer, however not to neglect it.

Prayer should be performed with the consciousness of being in the presence of Allah. However, simply because we may not pray in the best spiritual manner does not give us the excuse to neglect it.

This is because Allah has not allowed us to miss the prayers when we feel like it, or under certain circumstances, other than the menses period and post-natal bleeding of a woman. Therefore, every Muslim is obliged to perform the prayers in the best manner possible at their specified times.

Prayer is a very beneficial act of worship for the believer, and aids in resisting the temptations of the nafs (inner self). The following verse highlights this point: “… and establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing …” (al-Ankabut, 29: 45) If such a quality does not develop in a person who prays, then it is quite evident that he or she does not pray with full sincerity and effort.

Allah says in the Qur’an that the true believers are those who perform their prayers in the best manner, with sincerity: “And those who guard (the sacredness) of their prayers” (al-Ma’arij, 70: 34).

Ritual prayer requires patience and effort as it is a lifelong obligation and differs from other acts of worship. The person who performs prayer concentrates on nothing but his prayers, however, other ‘ibadat are not as such. For example, those who fast continue to buy or sell groceries and other daily activities while they are fasting, likewise for those who perform hajj.

The prayer encompasses several acts such as takbir, tasbih, hamd (gratitude), shukr (thankfulness), tawazu (humbleness), du’a (supplication) for all believers and peace and greetings upon the Prophet (pbuh).

The distribution of the obligatory prayers over different times of the day consists of wisdom and many benefits that we may not be able to comprehend. Thus, the Prophet warned his companions on his deathbed, “The Prayer, be wary of the prayer!” and soon after that left this world.

The peace and tranquility experienced in prayer cannot be felt with any other acts of worship. The closest state a believer can get to Allah on earth is during the ritual prayer.

A Muslim should also try to fulfill the Sunnah cycles of the prayer, and not underestimate their benefits. The Prophet would perform the Sunnah cycles of the prayer as complementary to their obligatory cycles. Some of the narrations related to this subject are as follows:

“The two-cycle performed before the dawn (Fajr) prayer are dearer to me than the whole world . .”[4]

“May Allah bless whosoever prays the four-cycle (Sunnah) before the asr prayer!”[5]

Islam encourages educating the children about prayer. This particular matter should not be neglected. This is expressed by the Messenger of Allah as follows:

“Order your children to pray at the age of seven. And beat them [lightly]if they do not do so after the age of ten …”[6]

Allah encourages perseverance about prayer in the Qur’an, and presents us the following supplication of the Prophet Ibrahim as an example:

“My Lord, make me an establisher of prayer, and [many]from my descendants. Our Lord, and accept my supplication.!” (Ibrahim, 14: 40)

The Prophet (pbuh) used to perform prayer under all circumstances. Sometimes he would pray until his feet ached. When his wife Aisha asked him; “Why do you tire yourself so much?” he replied, “Should I not thank Allah for his blessings?”[7] Thus, our beloved Prophet displayed the best example for humankind, and showed us that praising and showing gratitude to Allah is best done with prayer.

[1] Ibn Majah, Iqamat al-Salat, 194[2] Ibn Hanbal, V, 238[3] Al-Tirmidhi, Salat 188[4] Muslim, Salat al-musafirin, 96[5] Al-Tirmidhi, Salat, 201[6] Abu Dawud, Salat 26; Ahmad b. Hanbal, II, 180,187[7] Al-Bukhari, Tahajjud 6

Source: Fiqh1 (According To The Shafi’i School Of Islamic Law), Erkam Publications

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