What Good Is Salah?

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What Good Is Salah?

Post by Noor'e Sahar on Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:57 pm

In one of his circulars Sayyidna Umar ibn Khattab (RadiAllahu anhu) sent
instructions to all his administrators saying,



"In
my opinion, salah (Islam's prescribed act of worship or prayer. The
word prayer, though, is also used for supplication or dua and is
therefore avoided in this article.) is the most important of your
obligations. Whoever takes good care of it and safeguards it safeguards
his religion and whoever neglects it will neglect other things even
more." He then added instructions about the times for the five salaahs
and admonition against dozing off before Isha.
[Muwatta Imam Malik. Hadith No. 5]

This letter from the ruler of a vast empire to the officials of
his government -- shall we call it Executive Order? -- gives us a lot to
reflect upon. For salah is among the most emphasized commands in
Shariah. Unfortunately it is also a grossly neglected obligation in our
life today.

Even a Muslim school child knows that salah is a pillar of Islam. What
Sayyidna Umar (radiAllahu anhu) expressed was that it is true at all
levels and in all settings, from the private to the public. One cannot
build an Islamic life, an Islamic community, an Islamic institution, or
an Islamic government while neglecting or weakening this pillar. It is a
measure of its extraordinary status that unlike all other obligations
the command for salah was given by Allah Most High to Prophet Muhammad
(salAlahu alayhi wasalam) during his miraculous Ascent to Heaven or
Mir'aj. Very fittingly so, for salah is the meraj of the believer.

One begins the salaah by standing while facing the Ka'bah or the House
of Allah, isolating himself from the worldly affairs, and then
addressing Allah directly: "Oh Allah, You are sanctified and (I begin)
with Your praise. Your name is Blessed and Your Greatness is Supreme.
And no one else is worthy of worship except You." During salaah a
believer repeatedly stands, bows, and prostates to Allah. Each of these
acts brings him closer and closer to his Master and Creator filling him
with the feelings of love, devotion, and obedience. The sitting position
even includes the re-creation of the conversation that took place
between the Prophet (salAlahu alayhi wasalam) and Allah during the
Heavenly Ascent.
Prophet (salAlahu alayhi wasalam): "All greetings, blessings, and good
acts are for Allah."
Allah: "Peace is upon you O Prophet, and the Mercy, and the Blessings of
Allah."
"Peace be with us and unto the righteous servants of Allah. I bear
witness that there is no deity except Allah."

"And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger."



This closeness is the most valuable gift for the believer. It is the
source of all strength and all goodness in his life. It is the light
that shows him the right from wrong in all walks of life. It is the
river that bathes and cleans him of all sin and contamination. In the
hardships of life, it is the source of solace and strength. It is the
regulator of the Muslim life, the daily schedule of a believer being
built around the five daily salaahs. It is a source of joy and
happiness, of spiritual nourishment and purification. It is the key to
all success. It is the key to paradise.

On the other hand, neglecting the salaah is key to hell. Qur'an says,
"Woe to the worshippers who are negligent in their salah." Hadith says:
"Salah stands between man and unbelief." Another hadith says: "Salah is
the pillar of religion. Whoever destroys it has destroyed the religion."
Another hadith informs us that salaah is the first item about which one
will be questioned after death. The person who succeeds in this test,
will likely pass through the subsequent tests. The one who flunks this
one has little chance of getting through the rest. Yet another hadith
warns us that the person who neglects his salaah has walked out of the
protection of Allah. We can understand the enormity of missing just one
salaah on purpose from the hadith that says that such a person is like
one who lost all his family and all his wealth!

In the presence of all the persuasion and all the admonition about salah
in Qur'an and hadith, one wonders how could any sane believer be
negligent in this matter. To a person who claims to be a believer yet
does not offer his salaah regularly five times a day, we must ask: What
is your justification? The more one thinks about it the more he or she
will realize that there is none. Absolutely none.

One cannot plead that he did not know about the obligation or its
extraordinary importance. Even if an unfortunate Muslim were never to
open the Qur'an or a hadith book in his life, he cannot not notice the
call to salaah that comes from every masjid throughout the world five
times a day. It repeatedly reminds him: "Come to Salah. Come to
Success."

The distribution of mosques in the world today is such that the call to
salaah can be heard round the clock in a never-ending stream as one
moves around the globe. One can begin with Fajr adhan in Indonesia and
follow it at small intervals in Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan,
Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt etc. etc. By that time
Zuhr adhan has already started in Indonesia. Twenty-four hours later
when the Muezzins of Indonesia are again calling out Fajr adhan, the
Muezzins in Africa are calling out the adhan for Isha. How can one plead
ignorance in the presence of this massive and continuous universal
call?

One cannot plead that the obligation is too difficult or time consuming.
While the obligation remains whether one is healthy or sick, and
whether it is rain or shine, Shariah goes to great lengths to
accommodate our circumstances. If you cannot stand, you can offer it
sitting. Cannot sit? You can offer it lying down. Cannot move? Use
whatever gestures are possible. Traveling? Just offer two units instead
of four. Cannot figure out the direction of qibla? Use your best
judgment. Can't use water to purify yourself in preparation for salah?
Perform dry ablution.

As people run out of excuses they sometimes try rationalizations. What
good is salah if one's mind wanders all over the place? Well our job is
to try to concentrate not to achieve concentration. We are doing our job
if we are simply making the effort. What good is salaah if one is still
involved in other sins, like the proverbial person who steals and
prays? The simple answer is that our lives are combinations of good and
evil. Our goal is to increase the good and reduce or eliminate the evil.
And that won't happen by putting the good on hold until we can get rid
of the evil. It may also be helpful to remember that the greatest theft
is that of salaah itself.


An article by Khalid Baig

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Noor'e Sahar

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