Saturday, 26 November 2011

The second pillar of Islam: Salaah

The Majesty of Salaah

In kullu man fissamaawathi val ardi illaa
aathiyir rahmaani ab’daa

There is not a single being in the heavens and the earth
who does not appear before Allah, the Most Gracious,
in any form other than a slave’s.
(Surath al Mariam: 93)

Inna’nee anAllahu la ilaaha illa anaa
fa a’abud’nee va aqimis Salaatha li zikree

(Listen to your Lord and) doubt not. 
I am Allah. No one else deserves to be worshipped by you.
So be obedient to My Commands and establish (regular) Salaah
that you may be constant in My remembrance.
(Surath Al Tha’ha: 14)

Allahu Rabbul Izzat, the Glorious Lord, created us for Ibaadah (for prayers to Him and for obedience to His Commands as set forth in the Holy Qur’an as above, and in Surath Al Ankabooth: 45: 


Salaah is the best form of worship. Allah conferred Prophethood on Syedina Mohammed S.A.W.S. and ordained the Archangel Jibrayeel to teach Mohammed S.A.W.S.  From the bedrock of Faith, rises the majesty of Salaah.  The Mishkaath (collection of Hadith) confirms that the Prophet S.A.W.S. has informed us that on the Day of Judgment, the lifetime record of every human being will be evaluated by Allah. In this final reckoning, a person’s Salaah will prove to be his/her most valuable possession.

This record will prove whether his/her life was of success and high achievement or was a tragic failure.
A Hadith in the Durre Mansoor likens the importance of Salaah to the indispensability of the head to the body.  No one can survive without a head on one’s shoulders. So too, no one can be a Muslim in any real sense without performing  regular Salaah.

Whoever desists knowingly from Salaah ceases to be Allah’s responsibility and is no more entitled to Allah’s help and protection.

The Prophet of Islam S.A.W.S. assures us that whoever has observed regular Salaah will be rewarded by Allah.  

His Salaah will be
the radiance pointing to the glory which awaits him/her in  heaven,
the witness proving his/her faith and eimaan (grandeur of faith) and
the means to the salvation of his/her soul.

Allah’s love for, and promise to, the righteous Muslims
is expressed in the Holy Qur’an:
Those who recite the Book of Allah (The Holy Qur’an)
and perform regular Salaah and give away in charity,
both secret and open, from the (wealth and) good fortune
We have endowed on them,
theirs (indeed) is an enterprise that will never face a loss.
(And their hopes in Allah will be fulfilled)
that He will reward them fully (for their good deeds)
and in fact, He will make the prize even more abundant
for them from His Grace.
He is Forgiving (of their sins and)
Responding (to the aspirations of His slaves).
(Surath al Fa’thir: 29-30)

Through Salaah we express our gratitude to the Almighty for the bounties He has endowed on us. 

Every tissue of our being owes its healthy and active state and its perfect alignment with the rest of our system to the compassion of Allah. It is from Allah that our wealth has come, as also our family life and its harmony and safety and security.

By remembering Allah and performing Salaah at the proper timings and in the most sincere and excellent manner possible, we are doing ourselves a great favor.
Salaah is a daily course in self-discipline.  It is a perfect physical-cum spiritual exercise. It is also the best means of renewing our faith and our commitment to positive and sustained action for peace and progress.

Allah's majesty and omnipotence are such that He is above all want.  He is in no need of our prayers or invocations.  But we are in dire need of His Rah’math, His help and the Protection that only Allah gives.

Every moment of the day and every moment of the night, all through life and also in the life beyond death, we are dependent on Allah.

The Holy Qur'an awakens us to the incontrovertible truth that, if at any time, the entire world turns against us and Allah is with us, no harm whatsoever can come near us. Likewise, if ever we go against Allah's will and earn His wrath, there is no power on earth that can save us from the divine punishment that would result.

Salaah is the golden gateway to success and prosperity in this life and to eternal joy in the hereafter.

An Urdu poet reminds us of this: “The one Saj’dah (to Allah) that appears to you so hard to perform, saves you from begging in vain before a thousand seats of far lesser power!”

Teaching Salaah to Children: Parents and guardians are entrusted this responsibility. In the Hadith related by Abu Dawood, we are commanded to motivate and instruct our children and wards to perform Salaah. As soon as they are seven, we must initiate this motivation.

And if they do not pray at age 10, the Prophet S.A.W.S. has said they may be gently but firmly persuaded to observe Salaah. They must be given separate beds at that age.  They must sleep away from one another.
Islam is foremost in its loving concern for the little angels Allah has entrusted to us for an excellent Islami upbringing.  Muslim parents are among the most loving and devoted to their progeny.

They pray to Allah in every Salaah: RABBIJ'ALNEE MUKHEEMAS SALAAH VA MIN ZURRIYAATHEE. A'MEEN! ("Allah, Our Beloved Creator, kindly bless us and our progeny to be constant and steadfast in our Salaah to You, Our Lord!")
And they  train their children with love and Duaa’yaen to be on the right road of Islam always.
Thawakkalna al Allah.

In Allah's Rah’math (compassion) do we place all our trust.
And Allah is enough for those who believe in righteous conduct
(as the means to triumph and magnificence here and in the hereafter).

We start our Islami life when we fear Allah and abjure evil.
We pray to Allah, the Rahmaanir Raheem,
the Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate.
By remaining steadfast in this, we enter the second phase.
 Here fear turns into friendship.

The Holy Qur’an assures us:
Inna valiyAllahullaze naz’zalal kithaaba
va huva yathavallus saaliheen.
(Say, O Mohammed S.A.W.S S.A.W.S.):  ndeed
my Protecting Friend is Allah, Who reveals the Holy Qur’an. 
He befriends the righteous. 
(Surath al Aeraaf: 196)

Alaa inna av’liya Allahi la khav’fun alai’yhim
va la hum yah’zanoon.
Allazeena aamano va kaanoo yath’thaqoon.
The friends of Allah are (those) who have nothing to fear. 
Nor do they encounter any grief.
 Those who believe in Allah and keep their duty to Allah
 (are the friends of Allah).
(Surath al Younus: 62 & 63)

And in stages, this friendship blossoms on both sides.
"Allahu tha  Aala says: I declared war on anyyone onyone who is an enemy of any of my allies. There is nothing better with which my slave can come closer to me than fulfilling all that I have made obligatory upon him. Then, my slave will continue to come closer to me be making extra efforts until I love him. When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks. If he asks me, I will give him, if he seeks refuge with me, I will give him refuge. I have not hesitated in anything which I do as I hesitate in taking the soul of my believing slave. He dislikes death, and I dislike annoying him, but he must meet his death."
And whoever obeys Allah and His Prophet are among those upon whom Allah has bestowed His grace: the prophets and the ever-truthful, ever-believing, and the martyrs, and the righteous doers of good, and what good companions these are. Qur'an 4/69

Our prayer is the expression of our gratitude to Allah for giving us health and wellbeing and granting us the proper and smooth functioning of all our faculties. 

In good health as in bad, in prosperity as in adversity, in peace as in war, we turn to Allah, offer Him praise and our grateful thanks and seek from His Grace, the blessings that we need every moment of our life
Compassion is at the core of Islam, the faith and its practice.  The religious duties we perform are much easy to carry out if we keep in view the limitless blessings they bring us from Allah.
Alone among the five duties, Salaah was prescribed for us by Allah at the audience Syedina Mohammed S.A.W.S. had with him on the night of his ascent to heaven (Mei’raaj) with Angel Jibra’yeel as his escort.

Allahu Sub’hanahu va tha Aalaa prescribed for us 50,000 as the number of the Salaah’s we were to perform every day. At the Prophet S.A.W.S.’s repeated pleading, it was brought down, by stages, to five hundred and then to fifty and finally to five.

Allahu Rah’maanir Raheem gave Syedina Mohammed S.A.W.S.  the assurance “I consider these five prayers as fifty in number and their reward shall be accounted as such.”  Shuk’r Alham’dulillah, the five daily Salaah’s performed by us bring us a reward ten times higher than what we deserve!

Thus the Practicing Muslim prays to Allah five times a day. These Salaah’s are so spaced through the day that, through them, he/she is in constant communion with the Creator.  It is best for him/her to perform the Far’d (obligatory) Salaah’s in the Masjid or wherever the congregational prayer is performed. 

The reward from Allah is the greater for such Salaah performed in a Jama’ath (group). In fact Salaah in jama’ath in a Masjid brings us 27 times more sawaab, reward from Allah, than a Salaah performed by ourselves anywhere.

When we go to the Masjid and meet other Muslims there and renew brotherly relations with them, we earn sawaab of limitless value.  Salaah in jama’ath and also the approval of Allah as we reestablish excellence in human relationships. 

Islam advocates good neighborliness and companionship.  It tears down the barriers that divide people and breed suspicion and rancor among them.

The Islami environment is a clean and invigorating one that attunes people to positive thinking and motivation for progress. It is unpolluted by the selfcentered syndrome, insecurity complex and obsession with unresolved fears that possess those who know not the joy and comfort of having Allah as their Protector and their Best Friend!

If a Muslim is unable to perform the Salaah’s at the appointed timings, he/she must perform them, by himself/herself, at the earliest.
This can be done at home or at any other clean location.

In countries like USA, for instance, where many Muslim households are not close to Masaajid, it is best if the family performs the Far’d Salaah’s in jama’ath at home and the senior member leads them.

The Imam has to be a male. It is forbidden for Muslim males to pray behind a woman. However, if it is a congregation entirely of women, the lady well versed in the recitation of the Holy Qur’an may lead the Salaah. In fact, women are counselled by the Prophet S.A.W.S.  that it is better for them to perform all their prayers in their own homes.

Since Salaathul Juma’a can only be performed in the Masjid so designated, we are exhorted, in another Hadith, to encourage women, including house maids, to join the Juma’a prayers at the big Masjid.

Muslim men and boys are called upon to perform the Far’d Salaah’s in masaajid.  Sunnah and Naf’l Salaah’s are best performed, even by them, in their homes.

The Holy Prophet S.A.W.S. has told us that the Sunnah and Naf’l Salaah’s performed at home are like lamps to any Muslim who seeks to illumine  his abode. They also inspire, train and motivate the women and children of the family to experience the joy and fulfillment that Salaah brings them.  In another Hadith, we are urged to perform at least some of our prayers in our homes, as otherwise the houses will look like graves. 

A graveyard is one of the few places where Salaah is not performed. As such a house that is not blessed and brightend by the prayers performed by its inmates, could take on the appearance of the silent world.

The Muslim home enlivened and energized by the Salaah’s and recitation of the Holy Qur’an within them, receives blessings beyond measure from Allah. And it becomes a haven of peace, prosperity and happiness..

However, Salaah is not to be performed during three specific periods:

When the sun is rising from the horizon at daybreak.
The Faj’r prayer is concluded well before this. Those who have missed it, may pray half an hour or so after sunrise.
Exact noon, when the sun is at its zenith.
When the sun has begun to set.    
Maghrib prayer is performed after the sun has set completely.
It is important to memorize:  For our Salaah to be accepted by Allah, we must learn to pronounce clearly the Niy’yath (our intention). This expression of intent, however, is made in one’s mind and heart and not by word of mouth.

Before every Salaah and for every good deed, the dedication "For Allah” is a must.  We may state the Niy’yath in our own language.

But the Thakbeir (“Allahu Akbar”), Sanaa (Praise of Allah), the Opening Surath Fa’thiha and another Surath from the Holy Qur'an, the Aththahiyyaath, the Darood-e-Ibrahim and the Du’aa following it, must all be rendered in original Arabi. 

It is not difficult to learn them and commit them to memory once the will is there. No prize in the world is of any higher value than the Grace, the Approval and the Blessings we seek from Allah in this manner.