Part 1: Salatul Faridah [the Five Obligatory Prayers]
Ubada ibn us-Samit narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, “Allah has obligated five prayers. Whoever excellently performs their ablutions [wudu is part of perfecting your Salah so don’t rush in it—no splashing—you have to perfect it], prays them in their proper times [that is during their respective times, not out of your convenience. They have to be performed within the window of time allowed you. Go out of your convenience to perform them], completes their bows, prostrations [you have to perfect the actions associated with it] and khushu` [Khushu` is concentration in the prayer is where the person’s heart is attuned to the prayer. This feeling in the heart is then reflected on the body. The person remains still and calm. His gaze is also lowered. Even his voice is affected by this feeling in the heart] has a promise from Allah that He will forgive him. And whoever does not do that has no promise from Allah. He may either forgive him or punish him.” [Recorded by Malik, Ahmad]
A person who does what is described in the above hadith has a promise from Allah (SWT) to forgive his sins. But whoever does not, or views it as an obligation that needs to be done and over with, then does not have this promise of forgiveness. He may be forgiven and maybe not. Allah (SWT) says in:
“So woe to the worshippers who are neglectful of their prayers ” [Ma’un: 4-5]
You will be asked about both the quantity and quality of your Salah.
Chapter 1: The Value of Salat
1) The main pillar of Islam:
Mu’adh ibn Jabal “The Prophet said: The uppermost level of the matter is al-Islam [submission to Allah—so you listen and obey]. Its pillar is Salah and its hump is al-jiad” [Tirmidhi]
Salah is it’s pillar: what happens to a building missing pillars, it will undoubtedly collapse. And if one pillar is missing it will be unreliable structure, anyone in it will feel uneasy. A building is considered well maintained when its 5 pillars are there.
2) The first obligation after Shahadah is Salah: The Prophet (saw) sent Mua’dh ibn Jabal to Yemen and said, “You are going to a people from the People of the Book. So let the first thing that you call them to bear the testimony that there is no deity worthy of worship other than Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger.If they accept that from you, then inform that Allah has made it obligatory upon them 5 daily prayers in a day and a night. If they accept that from you, then inform that that Allah has obligated on them a charity ( Zakat ) that is taken from the rich and given to the poor.” [Sahih Bukhari]
Raises the question? Should we immediately ask the person who has just become Muslim to pray right away. Yes, but gradually since it takes time to learn.
3) It was prescribed in the heavens, during the magnificent journey [Al Isra wa al Mi’raj]: Salah is the only obligation that we know, that the Prophet (saw) was commissioned to appear in person before Allah to receive its command. Nothing else was prescribed other than this one form of worship, which shows how important a command it is.
4) Allah gave the Messenger the obligation of Salah directly, without any intermediaries: The command was received with no mediator—not even Jibreel—Allah (SWT) spoke to the Prophet (saw) and ordered him to perform the five daily prayers directly.
5) A public call: the Adhan was made to remind of it. It is the only act of worship that there is a public announcement for, every day, 5 times a day. In the US we don’t hear it since we are not allowed to broadcast it. But in other Muslim nations thousands of minarets make a public announcement for Salah. Today we have digital or electronic Muadhens at homes. Why the public announcement? Because the public needs to be notified about it.
6) Purification act is stipulated prior to its performance: you cannot make Salah except if you purify yourself—either by taking a full shower [major hadath], or performing ablution [minor hadath]. It is the only Ibadah that you cannot perform except with purification. If you break your purification during Salah, you have to stop , perform ablution and then come back and start over.
7) Its obligation is maintained regardless of being in state of travel, fear or sickness: If you are travelling are you no exempt for performing Salah, you shorten it and combine. If you are sick you still need to perform Salah—it is commonly known that in hospitals Muslim patients ask for trays of dirt for Tayamum, and ask for beds to be moved to face the Qiblah. Non-Muslims are amazed about how dedicated and devoted they are to Salah. They are not forced, but feel an urge and desire to maintain their prayers on a regular basis despite their struggles with their health. Actually at such times prayer is the best thing to do to get closer to Allah.
8) The first matter of account on the Day of Judgment is Salah: 2 things you will asked, of them the first is Salah, and in another hadith is blood. The scholars asked why these two especially? The first is ones relationship with Allah which is through your Salah, and the second is your relationship with people [hurting others]. So, it’s an open book exam—you already have the questions and the answers are in the manual. All you have to do is take action.
“The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the Salah. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad.”[al-Tabarani]
9) The best of all deeds of worship:
Bukhari narrates on the authority of Abdullah ibn Mas’iud (ra): “I asked the Messenger of Allah (saw) which deed is most beloved to Allah (swt)”. He (saw) said: “Salah at it’s appointed times”. Then Abdullah (ra) asked: “and then what?” he (saw) said: “Then kindness to parents”, then he (ra) asked: “and then what?” he (saw) said: “Jihad in the way of Allah”.
In another narration of the same hadith, “to perform salah at the beginning of its appointed time [not just within the window but as soon as that window of opportunity opens up]”
Accountability for Salah
To be accountable for Salah a person should be:
1) Be a Muslim, man or woman: You have no right to tell a non-Muslim to come over and pray. If they so choose out of curiosity , and wanting to experience Salah come and join the Muslims while they pray, but you do not obligate them to pray. Are the commandments of Shariah obligated on non Muslims? Some scholars said yes. Others said even if they are they are not valid because they do not confess that there is one God.
2) Have reached the age of puberty: That is after a woman’s first cycle, and a man’s first wet dream. If it is delayed, at 15 regardless of whether there is a physical manifestation of puberty according to the characteristic features of each sex, we consider them of the age of puberty. Narrated Ibn `Umar: “That the Prophet inspected him on the day of Uhud while he was fourteen years old, and the Prophet did not allow him to take part in the battle. He was inspected again by the Prophet on the day of AlKhandaq (i.e. battle of the Trench) while he was fifteen years old, and the Prophet allowed him to take Part in the battle” [Bukhari]
3) Be in the state of sound mind: So one is exempt if one loses his/her faculties, permanently or temporarily until they recover. That is until they are able to recognize what they perform. Aisha (raa) narrated that the Prophet (saw) said, “The pen has been lifted for three: the insane until he regains his sanity, the child until he reaches puberty, and the sleeper until he wakes up.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
What is the ruling on the Salah of a child?
They are not obligated, until they reach puberty however you can teach them and train them at an early age. Children by nature like to imitate their parents. So, it is okay if they do part of Salah or do it off and on at the age of 6 and 7. You can also incorporate reward and punishment until they are 10 years old so they understand that they will be held accountable when they are adults. This is ensure that when they are adults they can do it on their own Insha Allah. Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-Asr, narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Command your children to make salah when they become seven years old, and spank them for it (salah) when they become ten years old, and arrange their beds (to sleep) separately.” (Abu Dawud)
Ruling of neglecting/abandoning Salah
1) Consciously neglecting Salah by denying its obligation: that is that they don’t acknowledge the obligation of salah. Eg. say things like, “It’s the 21st C, we’re in America, get with the times.” This is an act of Riddah [apostasy]. This is provided that there person knows the severity of his decision and it is not merely out of ignorance [as is the case with some families who neglect to teach their children about the obligation of Salah here in the states]. Scholars say this person leaves the fold of Islam because he/she is denying a pillar of Islam.
Exemption: a new convert who has no support system to teach her/him to perform Salah–they are Muslim.
“But (even so), if they repent, establish regular prayers, and practise regular charity,- they are your brethren in Faith: (thus) do We explain the Signs in detail, for those who understand.” [9:11]
Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah narrated that the Prophet (saw) said, “Between a man and shirk and kufr there stands his neglect of the prayer.” [Muslim]
2) Neglecting Salah out of laziness or other reasons without denying its obligation: so they say things like, “Please make dua for me. I wish I were like you.” They are not denying the obligation but say one day they hope to be among those who establish prayer. They know they should but they don’t. Regarding these there are 2 opinions:
This person is considered Muslim, but he/she is committing a major sin. Category they belong to is Fisq [disobedience], and is called Faseq [disobedient]. What they are committing is an act of disobedience, and Allah has the right and power to either forgive them or punish them.
Another opinion is that they are out of the fold of Islam, since they willingly chose to leave and abandon their religion. Why? Because most important obligation on a Muslim, what makes a Muslim is this connection with Allah (SWT).
It was narrated that Buraydah ibn al-Husayb (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: ‘The covenant that distinguishes between us and them is the prayer, and whoever neglects it has disbelieved (become a kaafir).’” (It was narrated by Ahmad, Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisaa’i and Ibn Maajah).
A person who prays once in a while belongs to this category.
Savor the Sweetness of the Status of Salah
1) Every day you have a promise from Allah to forgive you, maintain your Salah: Salah is a golden opportunity for forgiveness, and it is available every single day, and if you miss it then I feel sorry for you. You are bound to misbehave either early in the day or late in the day.
2) Your Salah is the best capital you have to offer on the Day of Judgment, so increase your investment: It is the best capital, you can invest in a lot of things but most important capital that you invest for the Hereafter is your Salah. Remember you will be stopped at stations in the Hereafter, and the very first one will be an investigation of your Salah log.
3) Salah is a unique form of creating a Muslim identity, carry your bade wherever you go: Today, the airport is a scary place to pray, but when you find someone prostrating in the corner while performing Salah you feel an immediate connection with them. Solution to problem of racism, foot by foot, shoulder to shoulder, people of different social status , all in line–no front seats, backseats, VIP. When someone is missing in the Masjed, you realize right away and go and check on them. You feel a bond with other Muslims. But if Muslims don’t come to the congregational prayer, you can’t tell what they are going through.
4) Salat was prescribed in the Heavens: it’s the divine link
The Prophet (saw) said: “The Prophet (saw) said: “Allaah, the Blessed and Exalted has said: ‘I have divided the prayer between Myself and My slave, into two halves, and My slave shall have what he has asked for.” When the slave says ‘Praise be to Allaah, Lord of the Worlds,’ Allaah says, ‘My slave has praised Me.’ When the slave says, ‘The Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy,’ Allaah says, ‘My slave has extolled me.’ When the slave says, ‘Master of the Day of Judgement,’ Allaah says, ‘My slave has glorified me.’ When the slave says, ‘It is You alone we worship and it is You alone we ask for help,’ Allaah says, ‘This is between Me and My slave, and My slave shall have what he asked for.’ When the slave says, ‘Guide us to the Straight Path, the path of those whom You have favoured, not the path of those who receive Your anger, nor of those who go astray,’ Allaah says, ‘All these are for My slave, and My slave shall have what he asked for.’ ” [Saheeh Muslim] Mentioned recitation of the fatiha, say it, Allah responds to you as you recite it. You have communication with Allah, you recognize his superiority over you, and you ask him for your deeds.
Oftentimes we talk to others about Salah, holding a whip to their back and frequent talk about the hellfire. So:
Target a friend or relative whom you love so much and fear for their akhirah
Talk to them about Salah
Do your best to help them value, and learn how to do their Salah.
Share the reward with them. You don’t want them to miss one Salah, do you?