IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER [SALATH]
MJ Mohammed Iqbal
The glorious Almighty does not insist upon the performance of any other devotion as much as He does on the performance of salat, the Great Imam Khawja Moinudeen Chisty told that the verses of Holy Qur'an in "Show us the straight path, the path of those whom you love and have favoured" are special imploring by the human to Almighty for his guidance.
However, in the very first verses of the second surah of the Holy Qur'an, Allah establishes the only keys that will open the blessings of this book:
"This is the scripture wherein there is no doubt, a guidance to those who shun evil, who believe in the unseen, and establish salat, and spend of that which we have bestowed upon them". (2:1)
The word salat in arabic is translated as prayer or worship, and also supplications for forgiveness, compassion, and mercy. (In persian, Turkishm and Urdu, the term is 'namaz')
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is reported to have said "the difference between a believer in God and a disbeliever in Him is the performance of salat"
The great scholar Hazrat Khawja Moinudeen Chisty commented on the importance of the salat with the following statements:
"Without performing salat, none can approach God, because salat is the climax in the process of such approach for the pious.
Salat (Prayer) is the ladder leading to the proximity of god.
Salat (Prayer) is a trust committed to human care by almighty God, a secret relationship existing between the worshiper and the worshiped."
Prophet (PBUH) said: Prayer, five times is like a flowing canal, of pure water by the side of one's, house. He takes bath five times daily in it. Will you see any impurity in his body? They said: No. the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: As water removes impurities, so prayer for five times removes sins. Prayer for the five times expiates the sins of a man till he does not commit major sins. The distinction between us and the hypocrites is our presence at morning and night prayers and their absence at these two prayers. If a man meets God after destroying his prayer, God will not look towards his virtues. Prayer is the pillar of religion. He who gives it up destroys the pillar. The Prophet(PBUH) was once asked :Which action is best? Prophet told :To pray at the appointed times. If a man protects his prayer for five times with full ablution and at appointed times, these will be proof and light for him on the Resurrection Day. He who destroys his prayer will rise with Pharaoh and Haman enemies of Almighty.
Salat is at once an external and an internal practice: a set of physical exercises (some have compared them to yoga asanas), and the richest spiritual nourishment. By considering each of these aspects in some details, one can learn why the learned scholars have considered in many cases that they would rather die than forgo their salat.
The practice of salat is performed at five regular intervals throughout the day as a minimum and can be done at other times according to the capacities of the worshiper. The times of performance are fixed according to the journey of the sun and planets across the heavens. These times are as follows:
Morning Prayer: Begins approximately forty-five minutes before sunrise and extends up to the rising of the sun.
Mid day Prayer: Begins after the sun has passed the median point in the sky and has just begun its downward arc.
Afternoon Prayer: Begins when the sun has crossed a bisection of the arc made by the sun, midpoint between noon and the line of the horizon; or when the body's shadow is equal to two body lengths.
Evening Prayer: Begins just after the sun has set below the horizon and no light is left reflecting off the clouds (i.e, there is no more redness).
Night Prayer: Begins when night has fully fallen, approximately one hour and twenty minutes after the time of Magrib, or sunset.
By following these prayer times, one is perfectly tuned to the motions of the planets, seasonal changes, and geographic variations. In so doing, one becomes harmonized with all of the natural cycles f the universe.
Apart from this lot of social benefits are also there.
Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "If a man says prayer at its appointed time, establishes ablution, makes his bow and prostration perfect and has got god fear, salath will become bright and rise upwards and the salath would say: 'May god guard you as you have guarded me'. If a man does not pray at its appointed time, does not make ablution well and does not make perfect his ruk'u (position) and prostration and god-fear, salat will become dark and rise upwards and word say: 'May god destroy you as you have destroyed me'. God will keep it folded as old cloth is kept folded. The Prophet said: The world thief applies to one who steals in prayer.
In this Holy Month, one can witness more gathering in the masjids for regular prayers and extra Taraawih prayers, midnight prayers during night time at mosques as well as in the homes. These all the wonderful practices and blessings gifted by the Almighty Allah and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) for human well being physically, socially and spiritually