For the introduction for the 40 ahadith on prayers, we could not think of anything that could be more complete, interesting and profound than what appears in the beginning of the chapter on prayers in the Tawdhihul Masail of Ayatullah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Hence we have selected it with the hope that all those who love the AhlulBayt (peace be upon them) and that great gnostic may derive abundant benefits from their invaluable words and statements.
“The prayers are the most important of the religious acts such that if they are accepted by Allah, all the other acts of worship shall also be accepted. However if the prayers are not accepted, then the other acts too shall not find acceptance.”
And just as a person who washes himself five times a day has no dirt and uncleanness remaining on his body, similarly the five daily prayers cleanse a person from his sins.
It is befitting that the prayers are offered as soon as their time sets in, and one who considers the prayers to be trivial is like one who does not offer his prayers. The Noble Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) has said: “One, who does not attach importance to (his) prayers and considers them to be inconsequential, deserves the chastisement of the hereafter.”
One day, while the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) was present in the mosque, a person entered it and engaged himself in prayers. However, the manner in which he offered them was such that he neither performed his ruku (bowing) correctly, nor his sujood (prostration). Observing this, the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) remarked: “If this person happens to die and his prayers are like this, he would not have died upon my religion!”
Hence, a person must exhibit care that he does not offer his prayers in haste. Whilst offering his prayers, he should remember Allah (s.w.t), possess a dignified, humble and submissive demeanor, should know with Whom he is conversing, and consider himself absolutely trivial and minor before the greatness and exaltedness of the Lord of the Worlds.
If the person were to focus on these aspects in their entirety, he would become oblivious of himself. He would be just like Amirul Mo’minin (peace be upon him) who was oblivious to the removal of the arrow which was taken from his foot whilst he was engrossed in his prayers.
A person who prays should also repent (for his past misdeeds), and refrain from sins that hinder the acceptance of prayers such as jealousy, pride, backbiting, consuming haram food and wealth, drinking intoxicants, withholding zakat and khums, etc… Rather, he should refrain from all sins!
It is also befitting that he should desist from committing acts that reduce the rewards of prayers such as offering prayers in a state of drowsiness, or while withholding one’s urine, or looking up at the sky while offering prayers.
At the same time he should perform acts that increase the rewards of prayers such as wearing an agate (Aqiq) ring, wearing clean clothes, brushing the teeth, combing the hair and applying perfume.”1
We conclude this introduction by narrating a beautiful2 tradition from the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny). He has said:
“My Ummah consists of four groups:
1. One group offers the prayers, however yet are unmindful of their prayers, and they shall be placed in ‘Wayl’. ‘Wayl’ is the name of one of the bottom-most levels of hell. Allah has said:
فَوَيلٌ لِلْمُصَلِّينَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنْ صَلاَتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ
“So woe to the praying ones, who are unmindful of their prayers.”3
2. One group is such that it occasionally offers the prayers, and so, ‘Ghayy’ is the abode for the people of this group. ‘Ghayy’ is the name of another of the bottom-most levels of hell. Allah has said:
فَخَلَفَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ أَضَاعُوا الصَّلاةَ وَ اتَّبَعُوا الشَّهَوَاتِ فَسَوْفَ يُلْقَونَ غَيًّا
“But there came after them an evil generation, who neglected prayers and followed the sensual desires, so they will meet perdition.” 4
3. The third group consists of those, who never offer their prayers, and for them is ‘Saqar’, which is also the name of another of the low levels of hell and about which Allah has said:
مَا سَلَكَكُمْ فِي سَقَرَ قَالُوا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ الْمُصَلِّينَ
“(The inmates of paradise shall ask the inmates of hell) What has brought you into hell? They shall say: We were not of those who prayed.” 5
4. The fourth group consists of those, who offer their prayers regularly and are humble in them. Allah has said:
قَدْ أَفلَحَ الْمُؤمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلاَتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ