13 Oct Learning how to Pray Part 2
The Arabic word salaat (commonly translated prayer) literally means supplication. It is the connection a Muslim establishes with his Lord and Creator and comprises the loftiest manifestations of total submissiveness to Allah, turning to Him and seeking His assistance and support.
When a Muslim stands in prayer before his Lord, invokes and remembers Him, his mind becomes serene. He realises his true and deep sense of nothingness, the worthlessness and transitory nature of this life, and recognises the greatness of his Lord and the immense mercy He has shown him. This prayer then prompts him to adhere to the principles of the divine law and to shun injustice, indecency and wrongdoing, as the Qur’an states, “The prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds.” (Soorat Al-‛Ankaboot,29:45)
Position and Virtues of Salaat in Islam
The prayer (salaat) is undeniably the greatest and most exalted act of worship. It is an act of worship which engages not only the body but also the heart, the mind and the tongue. Its immeasurable significance can be perceived in a number of aspects including the following:
It Occupies the Loftiest Position in Islam
1) It is the second pillar of Islam, as the Prophet r said, “Islam has been built on five [pillars]: Testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, performing the prayers, paying the zakaat, making the pilgrimage to the House, and fasting in Ramadaan.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 8; Saheeh Muslim: 16) These pillars are the foundations upon which Islam is firmly established, and a pillar is a post that is used to support a building, without which it will certainly collapse.
2) Textual evidence from the Qur’an and the Prophet’s traditions considers performance of the prayer to be the act which distinguishes Muslims from non-Muslims. The Prophet r said, “What makes a person become an unbeliever or a polytheist is his abandonment of the prayer.” (SaheehAl-Bukhaaree: 8; Saheeh Muslim: 16) He also said, “The criterion between us and the polytheists is performance of the prayer. Thus, whoever abandons it is an unbeliever.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhee: 2621; Sunan An-Nasaa’ee: 463)
3) Allah I commands the believers to perform it under all circumstances—whether travelling or residing, in times of war and peace, and whether one is sick or in good health, according to their ability. The Qur’an says, “Strictly observe the prayers.” (Soorat Al-baqarah, 2:238). Almighty Allah describes His faithful servants as those “who consistently observe the prayers.” (Soorat Al-Mu’minoon, 23:9)