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An Introduction To Prayer

Salat is the obligatory Muslim prayer that should be performed five times each day by every sane and adult Muslims. Salat is not compulsory for Muslims who are minor, insane or unconsious.

Allah ordered Muslims to pray at five set times of day standing before Him and pray to Him begging His mercy and forgiveness. That is one way of showing the ultimate submission toward Allah the Almighty.

The prayer ritual, which is over 1400 years old, is repeated five times a day by hundreds of millions of people all round the world.

Carrying it out is not only highly spiritual, but connects each Muslim to all others around the world, and to all those who have uttered the same words and made the same movements at different times in Islamic history.

Prayers of body, mind and soul

The set prayers are not just phrases to be spoken. Prayer for a Muslim involves uniting mind, soul, and body in worship; so a Muslim carrying out these prayers will perform a whole series of set movements that go with the words of the prayer.

Muslims make sure that they are in the right frame of mind before they pray; they put aside all daily cares and thoughts so that they can concentrate exclusively on Allah.

If a Muslim prays without the right attitude of mind, it as if they hadn’t bothered to pray at all.

“Woe to those who pray, but are unmindful of their prayer, or who pray only to be seen by people” [Qur'an 107:4-6]

 

Muslims don’t pray for God’s benefit

Muslims do not pray for the benefit of Allah. Allah does not need human prayers because he has no needs at all. Muslims pray because God has told them that they are to do this, and because they believe that they obtain great benefit in doing so.

 

Muslims pray directly to God

A Muslim prays as if standing in the presence of Allah. In the ritual prayers each individual Muslim is in direct contact with Allah. There is no need of a priest as an intermediary. (While there is a prayer leader in the mosque – the imam – they are not a priest, simply a person who knows a great deal about Islam.)

 

Cleanliness

Allah said in the Quran:

"O you who believe! When you intend to offer As-Satat (the prayer), wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to ankles. If you are in a state of Janaba (e.i. had a sexual discharge), purify yourself (bath your whole body). But if you are ill or on a journey or any of you comes from answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women (i.e sexual intercourse) and you find no water, then perform Taymmum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands. Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His favour on you that you may be thankful" [Quran 5: 6]

Before starting the prayer, a person is required to perform ablution (wash). It consists of washing his or her hands, face, head and feet. It is a condition of the prayer that one’s body, clothing and place of prayer are all clean and free from impurities. Impurities in this context refers mainly to bodily fluids such as urine, faeces, blood etc.

 

Source with slight modifications

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The Status of Prayer In Islam

Prayer occupies a great status in Islam that is not shared by any other act of worship. This is indicated by the following:

1 – It is the pillar of the religion, which cannot stand without it.


According to a hadeeth narrated by Mu’aadh ibn Jabal (may Allaah be pleased with him), the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Shall I not tell you of the head of the whole matter and its pillar and top?” I [Mu’aadh] said, “Yes, O Messenger of Allaah.” He said, “The head of the matter is Islam, its pillar is prayer and its top is jihad.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2616; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 2110.

2 – It is second in status to the Shahaadatayn (twin testimony of faith) as further proof of the soundness of a person’s belief and as visible evidence of the beliefs that reside in the heart.  

The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Islam is built on five [pillars]: the testimony that there is no god but Allaah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, establishing prayer, paying zakaah, performing pilgrimage to the House, and fasting Ramadaan.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 8; Muslim, 16.

Establishing prayer means performing prayer in full with all its words and actions, at the appointed times, as it says in the Qur’aan (interpretation of the meaning):

“Verily, As-Salaah (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours” [al-Nisa’ 4:103]
i.e., at defined times.

3 – Prayer occupies a special position among other acts of worship because of the way in which it was enjoined.

It was not brought down to earth by an angel, rather Allaah wanted to bless His Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) by taking him up to heaven and addressing him directly concerning the obligation of prayer. This is something that is unique to prayer among all the rituals of Islam.

Prayer was enjoined on the night of the Mi’raaj [Prophet’s ascent to heaven], approximately three years before the Hijrah.

Fifty prayers (per day) were enjoined at first, then the number was reduced to five, but the reward of fifty remains. This is indicative of Allaah’s love of prayer and its great status.

4 – Allaah erases sins by means of prayer

Al-Bukhaari (528) and Muslim (667) narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said – and in the hadeeth of Bakr it is narrated that he heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say – “What do you think if there was a river by the door of any one of you and he bathed in it five times a day, would there be any trace of dirt left on him?” They said, “No trace of dirt would be left on him.” He said, “That is like the five daily prayers, by means of which Allaah erases sin.”  

5 – Prayer is the last part of religion to be lost, and if it is lost the whole religion is lost.

It was narrated that Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Between a man and shirk [associating others with Allaah] and kufr [disbelief] there stands his giving up prayer.” Narrated by Muslim, 82.

Hence the Muslim should be keen to perform the prayers on time, and not be lazy or take the matter lightly. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “So woe unto those performers of Salaah (prayers) (hypocrites), Those who delay their Salaah (prayer from their stated fixed times)” [al-Maa’oon 107:4-5]

And Allaah warns those who cause their prayers to be lost by saying (interpretation of the meaning):
“Then, there has succeeded them a posterity who have given up As-Salaat (the prayers) [i.e. made their Salaat (prayers) to be lost, either by not offering them or by not offering them perfectly or by not offering them in their proper fixed times] and have followed lusts. So they will be thrown in Hell” [Maryam 19:59]

6 – Prayer is the first thing for which a person will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection:

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “The first deed for which a person will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayer. If it is good then he will have prospered and succeeded, but if it is bad then he will be doomed and have lost. If anything is lacking from his obligatory prayers, the Lord will say, ‘Look and see whether My slave did any voluntary prayers, and make up the shortfall in his obligatory prayers from that.’ Then all his deeds will be dealt with likewise.” Narrated by al-Nasaa’i, 465; al-Tirmidhi, 413. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2573.


Reference: al-Salaah by Dr. al-Tayyaar, p. 16; Tawdeeh al-Ahkaam by al-Bassaam, 1/371; Taareekh Mashroo’iyyat al-Salaah by al-Balooshi, p. 31.

 

Source

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Adhan (The Call to Prayer)

Adhan, is the first thing recited in the ears of a newborn babe; it’s often the first thing recited in a new home. And it rings out in mosques, Islamic schools, homes, and on the street in Muslim communities five times a day. The adhan, or Islamic call to prayer, is an integral part of the Muslim faith.

The adhan is one of the most lyrical, inspiring prayers for Muslims. A hadith recounts that the Prophet’s companions one day were discussing how to gather everyone for prayer. Some suggested using a bell as Christians do, and others advised using a ram’s horn, following an ancient Jewish practice. Then Umar, one of the Prophet’s companions, suggested having one person call others to prayer. The Prophet agreed, calling his ex-slave, Bilal, to recite the adhan, according to a hadith from the collection of al Bukhari.

The Arabic text of the adhan is similar for all five prayers (with a slight difference in the adhan recited for the pre-dawn prayer, which adds the line “Prayer is better than sleep”). Its compelling sound is amplified by the skill of the person who recites it: The more melodius and clear the voice, the more powerful the adhan is.

The following is the Adhan in Arabic with an English translation:
Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar
Allah is Most Great. Allah is Most Great.

Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar
Allah is Most Great. Allah is Most Great.

Ash'hadu an la ilaha illa Allah
I bear witness that there is none worthy of being worshipped except Allah.

Ash'hadu an la ilaha illa Allah
I bear witness that there is none worthy of being worshipped except Allah.

Ash'hadu an Mohammad rasool Allah
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.

Ash'hadu an Mohammad rasool Allah
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.

Hayya alaa assalaah, hayya alaa assalaah
Come to prayer. Come to prayer.

Hayya alaa al falah , hayya alaa al falah
Come to Success. Come to Success.

Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar
Allah is Most Great. Allah is Most Great.

La ilaha illa Allah
There is none worthy of being worshipped except Allah.

Source

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Times of Prayer and How Many Rak'ah for Each Prayer

There are five times daily for the obligatory prayers as following:

1. Salat Al-Fajr: Prayer of dawn, before sunrise, two Rak'ah
2. Salat Al-Dhuhr: Prayer midday, after the sun passes its highest, 4 Rak'ah
3. Salat Al-Asr: Prayer the late part of the afternoon, 4 Rak'ah
4. Salat Al-Maghrib: Prayer just after sunset, 3 Rak'ah
5. Salat Al-Isha: Prayer between sunset and midnight, 4 Rak'ah


There are some "preferred" prayers and prayers that the prophet used to pray (Sunnan) and strongly recommend us to pray, but those are not obligatory like the above prayers. If we perform them we will be highly rewarded but there is no harm upon anyone leaves them.

 

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Mosques and Congregational Prayer

Prayer in congregation is considered to have more social and spiritual benefit than praying by oneself. The congregation is led by a person called an imam, who is usually chosen as the person with the best knowledge of the Quran, preferably someone who has memorized the entire Quran (a hafidh). The remaining people stand behind the imam in straight parallel rows, all facing the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca. In the first row behind the imam, if available, would be another hafiz to correct the imam in case a mistake is made during the performance of the salat.

Congregation prayer in Mosques is particularly encouraged for men and is optional for women. Muslim men are encouraged to offer as many of the five daily prayers in the Mosque as possible, as the reward for doing so is at least 25 times greater than offering the prayer alone at home.

It should be noted that 'mosque" is the English translation of the Arabic word masjid "مسجد" which literally means the place of prostration.So the mosque is the place of prostration and worshiping.

Friday is the holy day of the week for Muslims and it is mandatory for men to offer the early afternoon prayer, known as Jumu'ah, in congregation. During Friday lunchtime, Muslims are required to take a break from their work, or other worldly activities they are involved in, and head to the Mosques or prayer halls to offer the Jumu'ah prayer. The Jumu'ah prayer is composed of a sermon followed by 2 units (or rakats) of congregational prayer.  The sermons can be on a variety of topics but tend to focus on spiritual reminders to help motivate the community to do good deeds and strengthen their relationship with God. After the Jumu'ah prayer, people are free to return to their workplaces.

In addition to being a place of prayer, Mosques have also become a focal point in the community. People meet and greet one another, receive news about the community (e.g. those who are sick), and children come to learn. The Mosque is therefore the central point for growth and development of the community.

It should be noted here that Muslims can pray anywhere, but it is especially good to pray with others in a mosque. Praying together in a congregation helps Muslims to realise that all humanity is one, and all are equal in the sight of Allah.

 

 

Sources:

[1] Prayer - whyislam.org

[2] Mosques and congregational prayer - whyislam.org

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The Importance of The Mosques in Islam

From the events of the emigration to Madinah, it is clear that the Prophet (peace be upon him) never stayed in any place unless he built a mosque therein for the believers to gather. He built the Qubaa mosque when he stayed there for four days. He also built a mosque between Qubaa and Madinah when the time of the Friday prayer came while he was in the residence of the tribe of Salim ibn Auf in the heart of Ranonaa’ Valley.

When he arrived in Madinah, the first act he performed was the building of a mosque.

This indicates the importance of a mosque in Islam. All acts of worship (ibadah) in Islam are for the purification of the soul, refinement of morals, and strengthening the ties of mutual cooperation among the Muslims. The congregational prayers and the Friday and Eid prayers are strong examples of the nature of the Muslim community and in the unity of their opinions, goals and cooperation in achieving righteousness and in fearing Allah.

Thus, if this is the case with the acts of worship, it is no wonder that mosques carry a great social and spiritual place in the lives of the Muslims. The mosque is the thing which unites them and their efforts. It refines their souls and awakens their minds and hearts. It solves their problems. The mosque shows their strength and cohesiveness.

The history of the mosques in Islam has proved that from them come the great armies of Islam which rush to fill the earth with Allah’s guidance. From the mosques the beams of the light of guidance emanate for the Muslims and others. Inside them, the seeds of Islamic civilization develop and grow.

Is it not true that Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, Ali, Khalid, Saad, Abu Ubaidah, (may Allah be pleased with them all) and their likes from among the greats of Islamic history were but the students of the Muhammad’s school which was headquartered in the Prophet’s mosques?

Another special characteristic of the mosques in Islam is that the word of truth emanates from them every week on the tongues of the preachers "in the Fridays sermons". The topic may be about forbidding evil and enjoining good or an invitation to do some good, an awakening for the heedless, an invitation to assembly, objections to a wrongdoer, or a warning about a tyrant. Fridays sermons play an important rule in educating people from different cultural backgrounds, different ages and different educations levels.

 

Taken from islaam.com with slight modifications

 

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Neglecting Prayer Out of Laziness

Imaam Ahmad said that the one who does not pray because of laziness is a kaafir. This is the more correct view and is that indicated by the evidence of the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger, and by the words of the Salaf and the proper understanding. (Al-Sharh al-Mumti’ ‘ala Zaad al-Mustanqi’, 2/26).

Anyone who examines the texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah will see that they indicate that the one who neglects the prayer is guilty of Kufr Akbar (major kufr) which puts him beyond the pale of Islam.
Among the evidence to be found in the Qur’aan is:
“But if they repent [by rejecting Shirk (polytheism) and accept Islamic Monotheism], perform As-Salaat (Iqaamat-as-Salaat) and give Zakaat, then they are your brethren in religion.” [al-Tawbah 9:11]

The evidence derived from this aayah is that Allaah defined three things that the Mushrikeen have to do in order to eliminate the differences between them us: they should repent from shirk, they should perform prayer, and they should pay zakaah. If they repent from shirk but they do not perform the prayer or pay zakaah, then they are not our brethren in faith; if they perform the prayer but do not pay zakaah, then they are not our brethren in faith. Brotherhood in religion cannot be effaced except when a person goes out of the religion completely; it cannot be effaced by fisq (immoral conduct) or lesser types of kufr. Allaah also says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Then, there has succeeded them a posterity who have given up As-Salaat (the prayers) [i.e. made their Salaat (prayers) to be lost, either by not offering them or by not offering them perfectly or by not offering them in their proper fixed times] and have followed lusts. So they will be thrown in Hell. Except those who repent and believe (in the Oneness of Allaah and His Messenger Muhammad), and work righteousness. Such will enter Paradise and they will not be wronged in aught.” [Maryam 19:59-60]

The evidence derived from this aayah is that Allaah referred to those who neglect the prayer and follow their desires, Except those who repent and believe, which indicates that at the time when they are neglecting their prayers and following their desires, they are not believers.

The evidence of the Sunnah that proves that the one who neglects the prayer is a kaafir includes the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Between a man and shirk and kufr there stands his neglect of the prayer.” (Narrated by Muslim in Kitaab al-Eemaan from Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)).

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). What is meant here by kufr or disbelief is the kind of kufr which puts a person beyond the pale of Islam, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) made prayer the dividing line between the believers and the disbelievers. It is known that the community of kufr is not the same as the community of Islam, so whoever does not fulfil this covenant must be one of the kaafireen (disbelievers).

There is also the hadeeth of ‘Awf ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him), according to which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The best of your leaders are those whom you love and who love you, who pray for you and you pray for them. The worst of your leaders are those whom you hate and who hate you, and you send curses on them and they send curses on you.” He was asked, “O Messenger of Allaah, should we not fight them by the sword?” He said, “Not as long as they are establishing prayer amongst you.”

This hadeeth indicates that those in authority should be opposed and fought if they do not establish prayer, but it is not permissible to oppose and fight them unless they make a blatant show of kufr and we have evidence from Allaah that what they are doing is indeed kufr. ‘Ubaadah ibn al-Saamit said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) called us and we gave bay’ah (oath of allegiance) to him. Among the things that we pledged to do was to listen and obey him both when we felt enthusiastic and when we were disinclined to act, both at times of difficulty and times of ease, and at times when others were given preference over us, and that we would not oppose those in authority. He said: ‘unless they made a blatant show of kufr and you have evidence from Allaah that what they are doing is indeed kufr.’” (Agreed upon). On this basis, their neglecting the prayer, for which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said we should oppose them and fight them by the sword, constitutes an act of blatant kufr for which we have evidence from Allaah that it is indeed kufr.

 

Prayer divides between faith and Kufr (disbelief)

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) made prayer the dividing line between kufr and faith, between the believer and the disbeliever. This is where he drew the line, and the two things are quite distinct and do not overlap.
Prayer is one of the pillars of Islam, so when the person who neglects it is described as a kaafir, this implies the kind of kufr that puts a person beyond the pale of Islam, because he has destroyed one of the pillars of Islam. This is a different matter from attributing kufr to a person who does one of the actions of kufr.
There are other texts which indicate that the kufr of the one who neglects the prayer is the kind of kufr which puts a person beyond the pale of Islam, so what is meant here by kufr should be interpreted according to the apparent meaning, so as avoid contradictions between the texts.

The description of kufr in those ahaadeeth is different. Concerning neglecting the prayer, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Between a man and shirk and kufr.” Here the word kufr is preceded in the original Arabic by the definite article “al”, which indicates that what is referred to here is the reality of kufr. This is in contrast to the other ahaadeeth where kufr is referred to without the definite article, or in a verbal form, which indicates that this is a part of kufr or that the person has disbelieved by doing this action, but it is not the absolute kufr which places a person beyond the pale of Islam.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said in his book Iqtidaa’ al-Siraat al-Mustaqeem (p. 70, Al-Sunnah Al-Muhammadiyyah edn.), concerning the hadeeth of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ““There are two qualities that exist among people which are qualities of kufr”:
“The phrase ‘which are qualities of kufr’ means that these two qualities which exist among people are qualities of kufr because they are among the deeds of kufr and they exist among people. But not everyone who has a part of kufr becomes a kaafir because of it, unless there exists in his heart the reality of kufr. Similarly, not everyone who has a part of faith becomes a believer because of it, unless there exists in his heart the essential reality of faith. So there is a distinction between kufr that is preceded [in the original Arabic] by the definite article “al”, as in the hadeeth ‘Between a man and shirk and kufr there stands nothing but his neglecting the prayer’, and kufr that is not preceded by the definite article but is used in an affirmative sense.’”

So it is clear that the person who neglects the prayer with no excuse is a kaafir who is beyond the pale of Islam, on the basis of this evidence. This is the correct view according to Imaam Ahmad, and it is one of the two opinions narrated from al-Shaafa’i, as was mentioned by Ibn Katheer in his tafseer of the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):
“Then, there has succeeded them a posterity who have given up As-Salaat (the prayers) [i.e. made their Salaat (prayers) to be lost, either by not offering them or by not offering them perfectly or by not offering them in their proper fixed times] and have followed lusts” [Maryam 19:59]

Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned in his book Al-Salaah that it was one of the two views narrated from al-Shaafa’i, and that al-Tahhaawi narrated it from al-Shaafa’i himself.

This was also the view of the majority of the Sahaabah, indeed many narrated that there was consensus among the Sahaabah on this point. ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Shaqeeq said: the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not think that neglecting any deed made a person a kaafir, apart from neglecting the prayer. This was reported by al-Tirmidhi and al-Haakim, who classed it as saheeh according to the conditions of (al-Bukhaari and Muslim).

Ishaaq ibn Raahawayh, the well known imaam, said, It was reported with a saheeh isnaad from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) that the one who neglects the prayer is a kaafir. This was also the view of the scholars from the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) until the present day: that the person who deliberately neglects the prayer with no valid excuse, until the time for that prayer is over, is a kaafir

Source

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