The prayer, the prayer
Sheikh Saalih Aal Taalib
January 9, 2004 ~ Dhul Qa’dah 17, 1424
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All praise be to Allah. All praise be to Allah, Abundant in gifts; Excessive in bounties; the Remover of difficulties; the Averter of afflictions; He knows the hidden, and He sees what is in the dark. I praise Him – Exalted is He – and I thank Him. He created us from non-existence and extended to us bounties. He guided us with Islam. So for Allah is all praise from before and after. And I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone. He has no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger. He conveyed the message and discharged the trust, and advised the ummah, and truly strove towards Allah, until the certainty (death) approached him. May Allah send salutations and peace on him, and on his family, companions and those who tread on his upright method.
Then fear Allah O Muslims! “O you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” [Ale Imraan: Verse 102]. Fear Allah and obey Him. “And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine.” [Talaaq: Verse 2-3]. Take account of yourselves before you are taken account of, for verily it is easier for you than the reckoning tomorrow. And prepare for the great exhibition by Allah. “That Day shall you be brought to Judgement, not a secret of you will be hidden.” [Haaqqah: Verse 18]. Save your relaxation for your grave, and decrease your amusement and your sleep, for verily before you is a sleep, the morning of which is the Day of Judgement.
Thereafter: Servants of Allah:
Before the sending of the prophet (Salallahu Alayhi Wassalam) this ummah was at the rear of the nations in worship, religion, strength, popularity, and taking the means of this world and being in the forefront, until Allah – the Exalted – blessed it with the sending of the leader of mankind, Muhammad (Salallahu Alayhi Wassalam). So it was just a few years until it (this ummah) excelled over the nations of the earth in every single field, and with truth it ruled, then with good it became expert. And its civilization and rule continued in extension and (thereafter) decreased until our present time and our late era, the condition of the ummah is complained to Allah. The enemies rule, and occupy some of its (ummah’s) homes, and depreciate from its lands, and steal their produce and they fight the Muslims in their religion and ideas. (Together) with the disunity of the Muslims, confusion in opinion and differences (thereby) increasing the rule of the enemies over them.
And verily the enumerating about the weak side and its portrayal humiliates and grieves, but it is necessary to expose the wound in order to cure it. And for many years, those affiliated with the Islamic nation compete in removing the disease and describing the cure, so from ascribing the weakness of the Muslims to material reasons or cultural and ideological reasons or other than that, everyone is looking and striving and every group is rejoicing with what it has. In fact, the condition has reached with some of the Muslims to accusing Islam itself or some of its laws. But the one who ponders over the history of the Islamic nation since its inception and the reflector over its methods and laws knows its illness and medication and its disease and its cure; he knows with certainty the reasons for disgraceful weakness, just as he knows the reasons for victory and stability.
Verily deriving that knowledge is not from humans, but from the Creator of humans – Glorified is He – Who is wise in His saying: “And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much.” [Shoora: Verse 30], and the One Who said (Majestic in His Being): “When a single disaster smites you, although you smote (your enemies) with one twice as great, you say: “From where does this come to us?” Say (to them), “It is from yourselves (because of your evil deeds).”” [Ale Imraan: Verse 165]. Just as the beholder also knows that the breezes of change do not blow from idleness, and that reformation starts with the self, “Allah will not change the good condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allah).” [Ra’d: Verse 11], just as he knows that guidance comes after striving, “As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (i.e. Allah’s Religion – Islamic Monotheism). And verily, Allah is with the good doers.” [Ankaboot: Verse 69].
Therefore, the reason for the current condition of the ummah and its painful situation is the deficiency in adopting the true means of victory, those of which there is no victory without, for we are a nation whom Allah has granted honour through Islam. However, if we seek honour with other than it, Allah will humiliate us. Therefore it is imperative that we take account according to this method. It is compulsory for the Muslims to inspect their conditions with regards to their religion and their relationship with their Lord.
O Muslims: O those who have intended (visiting) the honoured house of Allah:
This is a moment of taking account with the greatest subject of connection with Allah, and the most important pillar after testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Behold, it is that of the prayer.
Prayer – O believers – is a pillar of religion and the ascension of the pious and the compulsion of Allah on the Muslims. There is no religion for the one who has no prayer. And there is no place in Islam for the one who omits the prayer. Whoever omits a compulsory prayer intentionally with no valid excuse, the protection of Allah is cleared off him. The companions of the prophet (Salallahu Alayhi Wassalam) would not regard leaving out any action as disbelief except prayer. And in saheeh Muslim, that the prophet (Salallahu Alayhi Wassalam) said: “There is nothing between a man and disbelief – or polytheism – other than leaving out the prayer.” In fact, Allah made prayer the epitome of Islam, so he said: “Have you (O Muhammad – peace be upon him) seen him (i.e. Abu Jahl) who prevents, A slave (Muhammad -peace be upon him) when he prays?” [Alaq: Verse 9-10]
Every compulsory act Allah (the Exalted) descended upon His messenger except prayer – for verily He (Glorified is He) made His messenger ascend to it. So He made His prophet (Salallahu Alayhi Wassalam) ascend to the seventh heaven, then He hosted him until he was happy, then He obligated five prayers on him, so it is the most mentioned compulsion in the Quraan. In fact it was the advice of the messenger (Salallahu Alayhi Wassalam) when leaving this world, while he was overcome by the pangs of death. His noble soul was coming out while he was kind to his nation, he sacrificed himself and he called out: “The prayer, the prayer, and what your right hands own,” and his concern while he was at the last breath asking: “Have the people prayed? Command Abu Bakr to lead the people in prayer.”
It is the epitome of success and the path of success. “Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their prayers with all solemnity and full submissiveness.” [Mu’minoon; Verse 1-2], until He says at the end of their characteristics: “And those who strictly guard their (five compulsory congregational) prayers (at their fixed stated hours). These are indeed the inheritors. Who shall inherit the Firdaus (Paradise). They shall dwell therein forever.” [Mu’minoon: Verse 9-11].
Prayer is compulsory on the Muslim in every condition. It does not fall away in sickness or fear. In fact even until inability on its conditions and pillars, as long as the intellect is present, and even in the conditions of fear and fighting. “Guard strictly (five obligatory) prayers especially the middle prayer (i.e. the best prayer – ‘Asr). And stand before Allah with obedience. And if you fear (an enemy), pray on foot or riding. And when you are in safety, offer the prayer in the manner He has taught you, which you knew not (before).” [Baqarah: Verse 238-239], and the description of the fear prayer is mentioned in Sura Nisaa. The Muslim should pray on every condition, facing the qibla, then if he cannot he should pray facing any direction; standing, and if he is unable then sitting, and if he is unable then lying down, and if not then on any condition. And if he is unable to be in purity or to cover his body or something else, then he should pray in any condition. Yes, in any condition, because it is the prayer, that which will be the first of which the servant will be asked about on the Day of Judgement, then if it is sound, then the rest of the actions will be sound. And if it is corrupt then the rest of the actions will be corrupt, just as was authentically narrated to us by the innocent one – peace be upon him – so Allah will not accept worship without it.
O Muslims, five compulsory prayers every day: Fajr Thuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha, are an expiation for what is between them, so the heart is purified from the dirt of sins. In fact it prevents it from the beginning: “Verily, the prayer prevents from Al-Fahsha’ and Al-Munkar” [Ankaboot; Verse 45]. And when your sins narrow upon you a day, and (when) sins burden your back, then race to the prayer and listen to the saying of the God: “And perform prayers, at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night (i.e. the five compulsory prayers). Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds (i.e. small sins). That is a reminder (an advice) for the mindful (those who accept advice).” [Hood: Verse 114], and in the two authentic (books of Hadeeth: Bukhari and Muslim): Abu Hurairah (Radiallahu Anhu) reports: I heard the messenger of Allah (Salallahu Alayhi Wassalam) saying: “Do you think that if there was a river at the door of one of you and he bathed in it five times a day, there would remain any dirt upon him?” They said: “No dirt would remain upon him.” He said: “That is how it is with the five daily prayers, through them God washes away the sins.”
And the prayer is a door of sustenance: “And enjoin the prayer on your family, and be patient in offering them (prayers). We ask not of you a provision (i.e. to give Us something: money, etc.); We provide for you. And the good end (i.e. Paradise) is for the pious.” [Taaha; Verse 132]. It is a sanctuary at the time of anxiety, and to it is the escape at the time of fear. “O you who believe! Seek help in patience and the prayer. Truly! Allah is with the patient ones.” [Baqarah: Verse 153]. Therefore it was the coolness of the eyes of the prophet (Salallahu Alayhi Wassalam) for when a matter became serious he would take refuge in the prayer, and he would call: “Let us relax, O Bilal, with prayer,” and he replied when asked: Which is the best action? by saying: “Prayer at its appointed time” [Agreed upon]
And after this how can the ummah hope for the help of its Lord when it abandons its link with Him and is unable to fulfil His compulsion?! Verily those who neglect these prayers do not deserve respect and help from the Creator or the creation. Verily prayer is the first condition of victory and stability. “Those (Muslim rulers) who, if We give them power in the land, (they) order to perform the five compulsory congregational prayers, to pay the Zakat and they enjoin Al-Ma’ruf, and forbid Al-Munkar. And with Allah rests the end of (all) matters.” [Hajj: Verse 41]. So how can a Muslim be helped or granted ability when he leaves out the prayer while it has been made the reason for entering the fire?! “”What has caused you to enter Hell?” They will say: “We were not of those who used to offer their prayers.” [Muddathir: Verse 42-43], and in the description of the frowning faces: “So he (the disbeliever) neither believed (in this Quran, in the Message of Muhammad – peace be upon him) nor prayed! But on the contrary, he belied and turned away! Then he walked in full pride to his family admiring himself! Woe to you! And then (again) woe to you! Again, woe to you! And then (again) woe to you! Does man think that he will be left neglected without being punished or rewarded for the obligatory duties enjoined by his Lord (Allah) on him?” [Qiyaamah: Verse 31-36] And with all this, you will be disappointed and grieved to know that a group of Muslims leave out the prayer or are lax regarding it.
So fear Allah O Muslims, and enjoin good, and forbid evil, and advise towards the prayer, and let the example of the trainers and preachers be the command of Allah to His prophet: “And enjoin the prayer on your family, and be patient in offering them (prayers).” [Taaha: Verse 132]. And surely Allah praised Isma’eel – peace be upon him – by His saying: “And he used to enjoin on his family and his people the prayers.” [Maryam: Verse 55]. And in the authentic Hadeeth, according to Muslim, that the prophet (Salallahu Alayhi Wassalam) said: “Command your children to pray when they reach the age of seven and hit them if they leave it off when they reach the age of ten.” And commanding people with it, likewise commanding the family and children is (a means of) preserving it.
O Muslims: And there is a type of people for whom prayer has become cheap, for it is the last of their business, the end of their actions, and at the end of their concerns, so they combine prayers without an excuse, and they delay it beyond its appointed time, Allah’s saying applies to them: “Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them. And when they stand up for the prayer, they stand with laziness” [Nisaa: Verse 142] and regarding them the saying of the True – Glorified is He – was revealed: “So woe unto those performers of prayers (hypocrites), Who delay their prayer from their stated fixed times” [Ma’oon; Verse 4-5], that is: leaving it out, delaying it from its appointed time. Have they not heard the saying of Allah (Glorified and Majestic) : “Verily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours.” [Nisaa: Verse 103]?! That is: from time to time, knowing its beginning and ending times. It is not permissible (to pray) before its time just as it is not permissible to pray after its time except with a valid excuse.
So fear Allah, and preserve the prayers at their appointed times. And the men should know that it is compulsory upon them in the congregation of Muslims in the mosques. And if it were permitted for anyone to omit the (prayer in) congregation, then the merciful prophet to his nation would have permitted that blind old man who between him and the mosque was a valley with many predators and lions and there was no guider to guide him, so he asked the prophet (Salallahu Alayhi Wassalam) permission to pray in his house, but he did not permit him, so what about the one whom Allah has blessed and made easy for him?! And if not, then why were the mosques constructed, minarets raised and congregations established?! Is it only for Jumua (prayers)?! Is it only for Jumua (prayers)?! There is no might and power except with Allah.
Abdullah bin Mas’ood (Radiallahu Anhu) said: “If anyone would like to meet Allah tomorrow as a Muslim, he should persevere in observing these five prayers whenever the call for them is made, for Allah has chosen for your prophet the way of right guidance. And the (five prayers in congregation) are part of this right guidance. If you were to pray them in your houses, as this man who stays behind in his house, you would be leaving a Sunnah of your prophet. If you leave the Sunnah of your prophet, you would go astray. Verily I have seen a time when no one stayed away from them (the congregational prayers) except for the hypocrites who were well known for their hypocrisy. A man would be brought, supported by two people (due to his weakness) until he was placed in a row.” [Narrated by Muslim]
O Muslim: O servant of Allah:
Here you have heard the reminder, and surely you know, so hold fast. Hold fast onto the path of guidance.
May Allah grant me and you the ability to please Him, and may He make our future condition better than its past.
I seek protection in Allah from satan, the rejected one. “And seek help in patience and the prayer and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashi’un. (They are those) who are certain that they are going to meet their Lord, and that unto Him they are going to return.” [Baqarah: Verse 45-46]
May Allah bless me and you in the Book and the Sunnah, and benefit us with what is in them of verses and wisdom. I say these words of mine. And I seek forgiveness from Allah – the Exalted – for me and you and the rest of the Muslims, male and female, from every sin and error. So seek His forgiveness and repent to Him. Verily He is Oft-Forgiving, most Merciful.
All praise be to Allah, the Forgiver of sins, Undoer of offences. “He it is Who accepts repentance from His slaves, and forgives sins” [Shoora: Verse 25]. I praise Him – Glorified is He – and I thank Him. And I repent to Him, and seek His forgiveness and I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone. He has no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger. A witness by which we hope for saviour on the day of death. O Allah send salutations, peace and blessings on Your servant and messenger Muhammad, and on his family, companions and those who follow them in goodness until the Day of Judgement.
Thereafter: O Muslims:
Whosoever wishes for refuge, protection, ability and security should preserve the prayer. Jundub bin Abdullah (Radiallahu Anhu) narrates: The messenger of Allah (Salallahu Alayhi Wassalam) said: “Whoever prays Fajr in congregation will be under the protection of Allah.” [Narrated by Muslim]
Likewise, prayer is a shared compulsion among the prophets, for all of them were commanded with it. Allah (Glorified is He) said about Ibraheem, Loot, Ya’qoob and Isma’eel – peace be upon them – : “And We inspired in them the doing of good deeds and performing the prayer.” [Anbiyaa: Verse 73], and it is the supplication of our father Ibraheem when he supplicated to his Lord saying: “O my Lord! Make me one who performs the prayer, and (also) from my offspring” [Ibraheem: Verse 40], and he said: “O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in an uncultivable valley by Your Sacred House; in order, O our Lord, that they may perform the prayer” [Ibraheem: Verse 37], and He (Glorified is He) said about ‘Eesa (Alayhi Salaam): “And He has enjoined on me prayer, and Zakat, as long as I live.” [Maryam; Verse 31], and in Allah’s (the Exalted) speech to Moosa (Alayhi Salaam): “Verily! I am Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but I, so worship Me, and perform the prayer for My Remembrance.” [Taaha; Verse 14], and to our prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him -: “And enjoin the prayer on your family, and be patient in offering them (prayers).” [Taaha: Verse 132], “Perform the prayers from mid-day till the darkness of the night, and recite the Quran in the early dawn. Verily, the recitation of the Quran in the early dawn is ever witnessed.” [Israa: Verse 78], and He (Glorified is He) said about His pious, reforming servants: “And as to those who hold fast to the Book and perform the prayers, certainly, We shall never waste the reward of those who do righteous deeds.” [A’raaf: Verse 170]
So do you find after this – O believers – an act of worship enjoying a rank above the prayer?! Or do the abandoners and neglecters (of prayer) find an excuse after this proclamation?!
Servants of Allah:
And connected to the topic on prayer is an important indication of its spirituality and its essence, behold it is that of perfection and devotion in it. From its perfection is abiding by its conditions, its ablution and being calm in it, and not preceding the Imam, and following the Sunnah in its fulfilling as the Chosen One (Salallahu Alayhi Wassalam) has said in a Hadeeth narrated by Bukhari: “Pray as you see me praying.”
And devotion, O you praying ones, is the crumbling of the heart in the presence of Allah (the Exalted) and filling it with His awe and respect, and putting off worldly thoughts, and realising the greatness of the Creator (Glorified is He) and being undividedly busy with prayer with respect and peace. At that the body is at peace and the eyes bow down.
‘Uthman bin Affaan (Radiallahu Anhu) narrated: The messenger of Allah (Salallahu Alayhi Wassalam) said: “When the time for a prescribed prayer comes, if any Muslim performs ablution well and offers his prayer with humility and bowing, it will be an expiation for his past sins, so long as he has not committed a major sin, and this applies to for all times.” [Narrated by Muslim], and Allah (the Exalted) said: “O you who believe! Approach not the prayer when you are in a drunken state until you know (the meaning) of what you utter” [Nisaa: Verse 43], and how many a praying person does not drink intoxicants (yet) he does not know what he is uttering in his prayer. The world and its problems have intoxicated him.
So fear Allah, O Muslims and preserve the covenant of Allah with you, and prepare, for the reckoning is in front of you.
And know that Allah commands you with a command that He begins Himself, so He said: “Allah sends His Salat on the Prophet and also His angels too. O you who believe! Send your Salat on him, and gree him with the Islamic way of greeting.” [Ahzaab: Verse 56]
O Allah send salutations, peace and blessings on Your servant and messenger Muhammad, and on his family, wives, companions, those who follow them and those who follow them in goodness until the Day of Judgement.
O Allah grant honour to Islam and the Muslims…