Salah and its importance in Islam
Importance of Salah in the life of the Muslim’s individual:
1. Salah is an act of worship: It is not a custom. It is not a ritual. It is very special. It has no equal. It has no alternative. There are no excuses, even when you are ill, on a journey or even in a war.
2. Salah is the second and most important pillar of Islam.
3. Salah is a practical sign of obedience to the commands of Allah. It is the practical proof of our faith in Allah and Islam.
4. Salah is the only distinction between a Mo’min and a non-Mo’min.
5. Salah reminds you of Allah (SWT), when you get up in the morning, it reminds you three more times when you are busy during the day, and once again before you go to bed.
6. Salah is a direct contact or link between the worshipper and Allah with no earthly intermediaries. It is the Me’raaj of a Mo’min.
7. Salah builds a strong defense against evils which exist around us. It is said in the Holy Qur’an that, surely, Salah keeps you away from indecency and evil. This is why the prayer is described as “remembrance” to Allah (SWT).
8. Salah wipes out our sins: Prophet Muhammad (SAAWS) once asked his companions “Tell me if there was a river at the door step of one of you in which you washed 5 times a day would any of your dirt remain?” When he received the reply that none of it would remain he then said “That is like the 5 times Salah, with which Allah (SWT) wipes out sin.
10. Salah was the last will of the Prophet (SAAWS). As his soul departed he said with his last breaths: As-Salah, As-Salah.
11. Salah is the first thing that a person is judged by on the Day of Judgement. If it was good, the rest of all his deeds will be good. But if it was poor, the rest of all his deeds will be poor.
This narration sets a clear declaration as to how we will be judged on the Day of Judgement. We are given a clear message: [get your Salah in good order, and it will take care of the rest… Lose your Salah, and you are in big trouble]; Very simple message, but very powerful, and very direct.
That is how important Salah is. It was the first command in Islam, it was the last will of the Prophet (SAAWS), and it is the first act that we will be judged by on the Day of Judgement. Therefore, we need to know why it is so important, and how can we uplift our prayers and make our Salah in the manner that will give us the reward in this life and in the hereafter.
Importance of Salah in the life of the Muslim’s Ummah:
12. The knots “in the rope of Islam” will be undone one by one. Every time a knot is undone, people will adhere strongly to the next. (By undone, we understand that people no longer act by this aspect of Islam). The first knot to be undone is living by the law of Islam, and the last to be undone is Salah. What we take from this Hadith, is that when a Muslim community gives up Salah, it will be the last act in giving up their Islam. We have seen this happening across the world and across the generations. This is also why we see that when a Muslim community wants to hold on to Islam, and wants to be recognised as faithful, people make that extra effort to return to Salah.
In this society, we can look at Salah in Islam as our last line of defence. We hold on to it, we preserve ourselves as Muslims, and God willing, we preserve our children and their children and so on, as Muslims. If we lose Salah, God forbid, we lose everything, in this life and in the hereafter. That is truly a disaster.
This is what the Holy Qur’an says about those communities who gave up their Salah: [But after them there followed future generations who lost the Prayers and followed after lusts. Soon, then, will they face destruction] (S19, A59).
The following are just a few more verses from the Holy Qur’an to cast away any further doubts about the rule of establishing Salah in Islam: [And establish regular prayer and give zakah and obey the Messenger, that you may receive mercy] (S24, A56)
[And be steadfast in prayer; give zakah and bow down your heads with those who bow down ‘in worship] (S2, A43)
[They are those who, if We establish them in the land, establish regular prayer and give zakah, enjoin the right and forbid the wrong. With Allah rests the end (and decision) of (all) affairs] (S22, A41)
Brothers and sisters, there should be no doubt in our minds and hearts about the need to establish regular prayers. It is vital for our present community, and it is vital for our future generations.
We cannot instil in our children the need to establish regular prayers if we do not act as an example. We cannot understate this point. We have to act as an example to our children. We are asked to encourage our children by age seven, and we are asked to enforce prayers by age ten. There is no doubt as to what the instructions are. We are responsible for our children. We may feel happy that we have been able to establish regular prayers ourselves, and that we have preserved Islam in our community for this generation, but what about the next, and what about the one after. There is no room for leniency here, and we need to be very vigilant. Indeed, there is a Hadith that states that between the person and Kufr (wilfully renouncing Allah) is abandoning Salah on purpose. This was narrated by Muslim and by Ahmad, and it is also agreed by the Sahabah.
15. Importance of Salat al-Jama’ah (Congregational Prayer)
A. What about the role of the mosque and the Jama’ah prayers?
This is an important concept in Islam. Islam encourages the Jama’ah prayers. In an agreed Hadith, the Prophet (SAAWS) states that the Jama’ah prayers is worth 27 times the prayers of a person by himself. There is always more reward when we pray together.
In another hadith, the Prophet (SAAWS) states that the prayer of the man in Jama’ah is worth 25 times his prayers alone. When he performs good Wudu, and leaves his house for the sole purpose of prayers, with every step he takes his status is uplifted, and a sin is forgiven. As he prays, the angels will continue praying for him, saying, God bless him and God forgive him, until he finishes his Salat. This is the reward for establishing Jama’ah prayers.
In another Hadith, the Prophet (SAAWS) mentions that if three Muslims are present in a community, they need to establish Jama’ah prayers, or Satan will get to them, as we are weakened by being separate, and strengthened by the Jama’ah.
In fact, establishing Jama’ah prayers is a definite Sunnah, to the extent that we are informed in another Hadith, that if we leave the Jama’ah prayers, we are actually abandoning an established Sunnah of the Prophet (SAAWS).
14. Other examples of the reward for attending the mosque for Jama’ah prayers are the following Hadith.
The Prophet (SAAWS) said who ever attends the mosque and returns, God prepares for him paradise on every occasion he attends and leaves. The Prophet (SAAWS) also says when you witness a person that regularly attends to the mosque for prayers it is a testimony of his faith.
[The mosques of Allah shall be visited and maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last day, and establish regular prayer] (S9, A18)
The Prophet (SAAWS) said; Shall I guide you to what wipes away the sins and lifts up your status.
The mosque is the home of every pious person. God will look after this person with mercy and guides him along the straight path to paradise.
Brothers and sisters; We all know that Salah is compulsory, but even with this pillar there are important issues that we need to address.
The most important for us, for the community in anywhere, is that we should encourage ourselves to attend the mosque for Jama’ah prayers more and more. Not just the Juma’ah prayers, but for most Jama’ah prayers if we can.
B. What are the worldly and spiritual benefits of Salat al-Jama’ah?
There is a great reward when Salah is offered in Jama’ah.
Salah gives us both Worldly and Spiritual benefits; these are listed below:
1. ISLAMIC EQUALITY:
In the congregation, rich and poor, high and low, all stand shoulder to shoulder. It is the best scene of mankind’s equality.
In this Salah all have one Niyyah, one language and identical actions. All kneel together, all go to Sajdah together.
This teaches us the lesson that we, as Muslims, should be united at all times.
3. LOVE AND CO-OPERATION:
People meet with one another in the Jama’ah Salah. They know the hardships and worries of one another and try to help each other. New things are known there. Mutual love develops. Circle of friendship is widened. We get an opportunity to perfect our life in the light of others experiences.
While offering Salah in Jamat we stand in rows, follow the Imam of Jama’ah and practice obedience to Allah, this forces discipline in us, which is the essential feature of a community’s life.
5. PRESTIGE OF ISLAM:
Our Mosques remain thriving – due to Salah in Jama’ah. It enhances the prestige of Muslims, and the Unity of Muslims affects greatly the enemies.
6. LIMITLESS REWARD:
Allah has put a big reward for Jama’ah Salah. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) has laid great emphasis on Jama’ah Salah.
Therefore we should offer Jama’ah Salah as often as possible. We should know also know that if there are more than 10 people in Jama’ah, then nobody can estimate its limitless reward except Allah.
My last point is that we must all strive to maintain and protect our mosque, for it is this establishment that will hopefully look after our children and their children. Please invest in this mosque, both financially and with your efforts. This is where our community starts, and this is where we maintain our faith.