سُبْحَـٰنَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِۦ لَيْلًا مِّنَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ إِلَى ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْأَقْصَا ٱلَّذِى بَـٰرَكْنَا حَوْلَهُۥ لِنُرِيَهُۥ مِنْ ءَايَـٰتِنَآ إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْبَصِيرُ
Isra 17: 1 Glorified (and Exalted) be He (Allah) Who took His slave (Muhammadﷺ) for a journey by night from Al-Masjid-al-Haram (at Makkah) to the farthest mosque (Masjid Al-Aqsa), the surroundings of which We have blessed, in order that We might show him (Muhammadﷺ) Our Ayat (signs). Verily, He (Allahﷻ) is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.
It was one of the most difficult periods of the blessed life of Rasoolullahﷺ when His Rabb, called him to Himself, alive, in his normal human form and caused him to be transported from Makkah to Jerusalem and from there up into the Heavens, one after the other until he (Muhammadﷺ) was before Allahﷻ in a way that Allahﷻ knows best. It is not for us to speculate about what Allahﷻ chose not to explain to us. What is clear however, is what happened because of this miraculous journey and ascension. Allahﷻ honored His Messengerﷺ and through him, He honored the Ummah of His Messengerﷺ by giving us the best and highest possible gift, the permission to come into His presence whenever we have the need to do so.
We all know the story of Al-Isra wal Me’raj and how Allahﷻ made Salah obligatory 50 times a day. Rasoolullahﷺ was delighted that Allahﷻ wanted him to be in His presence every half hour. You must know love, to understand this. May Allahﷻ fill our hearts with love for Him and His Nabiﷺ. But when Rasoolullahﷺ met Musa (AS) on his return from the presence of Allahﷻ, Musa (AS) advised him to request Allahﷻ to reduce the number of times because Musa (AS) said, “Your people will not be able to do it.” This happened multiple times until it came to five times a day. Musa (AS) advised Rasoolullahﷺ to ask for a reduction even of this, but Rasoolullahﷺ refused to do that because he said that he felt very shy to go back to Allahﷻ again and again, asking for a reduction in the times to be in His Glorious Presence. Allahﷻ, in His Infinite Generosity declared that the number of times had been reduced from 50 to 5 but the reward would remain the same i.e., the reward for 50 prayers would be given for 5 prayers.
Let us reflect therefore, if Salah is a burden, a duty, an onerous responsibility or an honor and the privilege of being a Muslim? To be a Muslim means to have an access card to the Darbar, the Court, the Audience Chamber of Allahﷻ, to stand in His Glorious Presence, to praise and thank Him and to ask Him for anything we need or want, knowing that He Sees and Hears us.
Salah is our biggest resource, our most potent and powerful tool and weapon, our best asset, but like everything else, we must work on it to strengthen it. The best tool is the one which we know how to use. So also, Salah which is as powerful as we can make it. That happens with thoughtful practice. Allahﷻ gave us a way to contact Him and to ask for His help.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اسْتَعِينُواْ بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلاَةِ إِنَّ اللّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ
Baqara 2: 153. O you who believe! Seek help in (Sabr) patience and As-Salat (the prayer). Truly! Allah is with As-Sabirin (the patient ones).
Ibrahim (AS) understood this and so when he left his wife and infant son in the barren valley of Makkah he made this dua:
رَّبَّنَا إِنِّي أَسْكَنتُ مِن ذُرِّيَّتِي بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِي زَرْعٍ عِندَ بَيْتِكَ الْمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ فَاجْعَلْ أَفْئِدَةً مِّنَ النَّاسِ تَهْوِي إِلَيْهِمْ وَارْزُقْهُم مِّنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ
Ibrahim 14: 37. “O our Rabb! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in an uncultivable valley by Your Sacred House (the Ka’aba); in order, O our Rabb, that they may establish As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), so fill some hearts among people with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits so they may give thanks.
Ibrahim (AS) shows his understanding of the importance of Salah as being the head of the matter which will result in all other matters falling into place. See the order of his dua; what he asks for first. Consider his situation and the situation in which he left his wife and son and then let’s ask ourselves what we would have asked for first if we were making this dua. Then ask why Ibrahim (AS) did the opposite?
Establishing Salah before safety and sustenance? Ask why the first thing that Rasoolullahﷺ did when he made Hijra to Madina was not to build his own house, but to build the masjid? They knew the right order of causality. The Anbiya understood the true priority in life because they were the most successful people in the world. They knew how the world works and came to teach us that. We need to ask ourselves what our standards and role models for success are. Are our role models the Anbiya (Prophets) of Allahﷻ or someone else?
Ibn Umar (RA) narrates: Rasoolullahﷺ stated, “The place of Salah in religion is like the place of the head in the body.” (Majmau’l-Awsat, Mu’jamu’s-Saghir)
Abu’d-Darda (RA) stated: “My friend Muhammadﷺ gave me the following advice, “Even if you are chopped up and burnt, do not associate partners with Allahﷻ and do not miss your Fardh Salah deliberately. Allahﷻ will remove His protection from a person who misses his Fardh prayers deliberately.” (Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Bayhaqi)
Abdullah bin Qurt (RA): Rasoolullahﷺ said, “On the Day of Judgment, a slave will be questioned about his prayers first. If his prayers are good, his other deeds will be good, too. If his prayers are bad, his other deeds will be bad, too.” (Tabarani)
Abdullah bin Umar (RA) reported that Rasoolullahﷺ said, “A person who misses the afternoon prayer (Asr) is like a person whose family and property have been destroyed.” (Jamiu’l Ahadith)
Salah is the sign of the Believer and differentiates him from the disbeliever.
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ
الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَى صَلَوَاتِهِمْ يُحَافِظُونَ
أُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْوَارِثُونَ
الَّذِينَ يَرِثُونَ الْفِرْدَوْسَ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ
Mu’minoon 23: 9 And those who strictly guard their (five compulsory congregational) Salawat (prayers) (at their fixed stated hours). 10. These are indeed the inheritors. 11. Who shall inherit the Firdaus (Paradise). They shall dwell therein forever.
مَا سَلَكَكُمْ فِي سَقَرَ
قَالُوا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ الْمُصَلِّينَ
Muddathir 74: 41 About Al-Mujrimun (polytheists, criminals, disbelievers, etc.), (And they will say to them): 42. “What has caused you to enter Hell?” 43. They will say: “We were not of those who used to offer their Salat (prayers)
Rasoolullahﷺ emphasized the importance of Salah in the strongest terms:
حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ بُرَيْدَةَ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ﷺ الْعَهْدُ الَّذِي بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَهُمُ الصَّلاَةُ، فَمَنْ تَرَكَهَا فَقَدْ كَفَرَ
Abdullah bin Buraidah (R) narrated that his father said, “Rasoolullahﷺ said: ‘The covenant that distinguishes between us and them is Salah; so, whoever leaves it, he has committed Kufr.’” [Sahih] Sunan An-Nasa’i]
Jabir (R) reported, Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Verily, between a man and idolatry and unbelief is abandoning the prayer (Salah).” [Sahiḥ] Muslim
Abdullah bin Shaqiq Al-Uqayli [Tabiee] said, “The Sahaba of Rasoolullahﷺ did not consider the abandonment of any good deed to be disbelief except the abandonment of Salah.” [Tirmidhi]
The second right of Allahﷻ is that He should be worshiped alone without ascribing any partners to Him. That is our Salah.
We enter Islam by pronouncing the two Kalimatani – declarations: La ilaha ill-Allahu Muhammadar Rasoolullahi. [There is nobody worthy of worship except Allahﷻ and Muhammadﷺ is His Messenger]. Salah is the proof, the evidence of belief in this Kalima. We bear witness to and give evidence of the first part of the Kalima by our willingness to pray and to the second part of the Kalima by praying in the way taught to us by Rasoolullahﷺ.
My brothers and sisters, we enter Islam by believing in the Uloohiyat of Allahﷻ; that only Allahﷻ is worthy of worship and the Risaalat (Messengership) of Rasoolullahﷺ and declaring that in the form of the Shahada and demonstrating our belief by establishing As-Salah. Islam is not merely a philosophy or ideology but a practice. That’s why as soon as we declare the Sahada, Allahﷻ requires that we give evidence of that by our actions. That action, evidence of our Imaan, is Salah.
Allahﷻ didn’t leave it to us to decide what constitutes worship or to worship Him in any way we liked. Allahﷻ taught His Messengerﷺ how He wished to be worshipped and Rasoolullahﷺ taught us how to do it. The beauty of this is, that when we worship, we are not in any doubt about whether what we are doing really works. How beautiful is that?
Narrated Malik bin Huwairath (RA) (مالك بن الحويرث): We came to Rasoolullahﷺ and stayed with him for twenty days and nights. We were all young and of about the same age. Rasoolullahﷺ was very kind and merciful. When he realized our longing for our families, he asked about our homes and the people there and we told him. Then he asked us to go back to our families and stay with them and teach them (the religion) and to order them to do good things. He also mentioned some other things which I have remembered or [??] forgotten. Rasoolullahﷺ then added, “Pray as you have seen me praying and when it is the time for Salah one of you should call the Adhan and the oldest of you should lead Salah. [Bukhari] https://sunnah.com/bukhari/10/28
This also reiterates the position and importance of Rasoolullahﷺ without whose guidance we cannot perform even the most important and basic action in Islam, which is Salah. This is one of the most important proofs of Wahi Ghayr Matloo – the revelation that is not recited but which is still revelation and that refers to the Ahadith of Rasoolullahﷺ.
Allahﷻ could have revealed the method of Salah in the Qur’an but He didn’t. He taught it to Rasoolullahﷺ, who taught it to us. May Allahﷻ help us to truly appreciate the position of Rasoolullahﷺ and the importance of following his Sunnah in every aspect of our lives.
Reflect on this; in all societies, the priestly class is considered the highest because they are responsible for worship. In Islam we do not have any clergy or priestly class but Allahﷻ elevated all humanity and declared that He created us for His worship. Those who refuse, degrade themselves because whatever else they may do, other than the worship of Allahﷻ can only be less honorable and praiseworthy.
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ ٱلْجِنَّ وَٱلْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
Zariyat 51: 56 And I (Allah) created not the jinn and humans except they should worship Me (Alone)
Benefits of Salah: We ask Allahﷻ to help us to appreciate them. How tragic to have wealth and still be hungry and beg others for aid, when you have direct access to the ONLY ONE who can help! May Allahﷻ forgive us.
اتْلُ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاء وَالْمُنكَرِ وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ
Ankabut 29: 45. Recite (O Muhammadﷺ) what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur’an) and establish As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat). Verily, As-Salat (the prayer) prevents from Al-Fahsha’ (great sins of every kind) and Al-Munkar (every kind of evil wicked deed) and the remembering (praising, etc.) of (you by) Allahﷻ (before the angels) is greater indeed [than your remembering Allahﷻ in prayers]. And Allah knows what you do.
Abu Huraira (RA) reported: Rasoolullahﷺ said, “If there was a river at a person’s door and that person took a bath in it five times a day, would you notice any dirt on him?” They said, “Not a trace of dirt would be left.” Rasoolullahﷺ said, “That is the parable of the five prayers by which Allahﷻ removes sins. [Bukharī, Muslim]
Ibn Umar (RA) reported: Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Verily, when a slave stands to pray, his sins are placed on top of his head and shoulders. Every time he bows or prostrates, they fall away from him.” (Ibn Ḥibbān)
Abu Huraira (RA) reported: Rasoolullahﷺ said, “The five prayers, Friday to Friday, and Ramadan to Ramadan will expiate the sins committed between them, as long as major sins are avoided.” (Muslim)
Jabir ibn Abdullah (RA) reported: Rasoolullahﷺ said, “The key to Jannah is Salah, and the key to Salah is Wudhu.” (Tirmidhi)
Abdullah Ibn-Amr Ibn Al-Aas (RA): One day, Rasoolullahﷺ talked about prayers. He said, “The Salah of a person who performs five daily prayers without missing will be brightness, evidence in his favor and salvation for him on the Day of Judgment. A person who does not perform five daily prayers properly will be together with Qarun, Haman, Firaun and Ubayy Ibn Khalaf.” [Musnad, Darimi, Ibn Hibban]
Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Allahﷻ has obligated five prayers. Whoever excellently performs their Wudhu, prays Salawaat at their proper times, completes their Ruku’u, Sujood and has Khushu’ has a promise from Allahﷻ that He will forgive him. And whoever does not do that has no promise from Allahﷻ . He may either forgive him or punish him.” [Sahih – Malik, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Nasa’i]
Rasoolullahﷺ said, “When anyone of you is engaged in Salah, he is holding an intimate conversation with his Rabb.” [Muslim]
The Sahaba considered Salah to be a great gift from Allahﷻ, which it is.Someone asked the servant of Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) to tell him about the daily schedule of his master. He said, ‘He waits from one Salah for the next and between the two, he recites Qur’an.’ Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) was a businessman. He did this while doing his business. Today we give business as an excuse to delay or leave Salah. Let us reflect on this and repent. I ask Allahﷻ to grant us the sweetness of Salah and to fill our hearts with love for it and to grant us dedication and concentration during Salah and to accept our dua and make our Salah a light for us in this life, our grave and Aakhira.