Allah, the Exalted, said:
"As-Salat is a timed ordinance for the believers". (4:103)
As-Salat is a daily worship, fixed in its time, and Rak’ahs [units], during which a Muslim stands before Allah, the Glorified, five times every day, admitting His Oneness, worshipping Him, invoking His help, forgiveness and guidance.
Therefore, the Salat is a means of purifying the soul from sins and disobedience, reforming behaviour, and teaching man to do good and avoid evil deeds. The Messenger of Allah (s) described the Salat as to be like the water which purifies man of the Najasat and filth; by saying:
"If there is a river running at the foot of one's house, and uses it to wash one's body five times a day, would there remain any dirt on his body?" They said, 'No.' He said, 'So the Salat is like a running river. When you perform a Salat, your sins, which you might have committed between this Salat and the one before, would be washed off."1
When a person performs his Salat, standing before Allah, the Glorified, reciting Suratul-Fatihah in praise of Allah, glorifying Him, asking Him for guidance and righteousness, renouncing those who had gone astray and those who have incurred upon themselves the wrath of Allah, he is actually educating himself and making himself accustomed to righteousness, loving good and staying away from evil and evil doers. Therefore, Allah, the Exalted says:
"Recite that which has been revealed to you of the Book and perform the Salat, as indeed, the Salat forbids abomination and evil, and certainly the remembrance of Allah is [even] greater, and Allah knows what you do." (29:45).
Thus, the Salat enjoins on us to do the right and forbids us to do the wrong. It teaches us to love Allah, and wish good for the people. When the Musalli raises his hands in invocation, for example, during the Salat, and says: "O our Lord! Forgive me, my parents, and the believers, on the Day of Judgment", he actually, invokes goodness for himself, his parents, and his fellow believers.
The Salat purifies the heart from arrogance and pride. When a Muslim bows in his Ruku, and prostrates in his Sujud, as a sign of his submission to Allah, saying: "Subhana Rabbiyal- Azimi Wa Bihamdih" in his Ruku, and "Subhana Rabbiyal-Ala Wa Bihamdih" in his Sujud, he is actually announcing his submission to Allah's greatness.
He is admitting man's weakness before his Creator, renouncing pride and arrogance. He feels himself equal to his other brothers, because he submits and prostrates to Allah as they submit and prostrate to Him, and stands with them in a single row for the Salat.
As-Siddiqah, Fatimatuz-Zahra (a.s.), the daughter of the Holy Messenger (a.s.) had explained this point by saying: "He made the Salat [a means of] doing away with arrogance".
The Salat reforms the individual as well as the society. The love of goodness grows and develops in both, as well as the hatred of evil, injustice, pride and arrogance. It attaches people to Allah, so that they remember Him, do not forget His Name and His Oneness, obey Him in worship and servitude, deny the tyrants and renounce the lost and the wrongdoers. The Musalli does feel this when he recites, in his Salat, Suratul-Hamd:
"In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, the Beneficent the Merciful, the Master of the Day of Judgment. You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help. Guide us to the right path, the path of those whom You have favoured, not (the path) of those upon whom Your wrath is brought down, nor of those who have gone astray."(1:1-7)
Similarly, the Messenger of Allah (s) explains the significance of the Salat, and renounces those who do not perform it, saying: "The one who belittles his Salat will not get my intercession"2
In another narration we read: Allah His Messenger and the believers renounce the one who neglects the Salat. The Hadith says: "Do not neglect the Salat deliberately, because the one who deliberately neglects it, will be renounced by the religion of Islam." Therefore, the Holy Qur’an warns us:
"So, woe to the Musallis who are unmindful of their Salat…" (107:4&5)
It also speaks of those who neglect their Salat, of their punishment in Hell, and of the reason for their entering it. It says:
"What has brought you into Hell?' They said: 'We were not of the Musallis." (74:42&43)
The Holy Messenger (s) said: ''Between Kufr [disbelief] and Iman [belief] is nothing but the negligence of the Salat"3 Hence the importance of the Salat, and its greatness in Islam, as it represents the identity of the Muslim, distinguishing him from the disbeliever.
The Salat in Islam is of two kinds:
1. The Mustahabb Salats: Such as Salatul-Layl [the Salat of the night], the Nafilahs [supererogatories] of Salatus-Subh [morning], Salatuz-Zuhr [noon], Salatul-Asr [afternoon], Salatul-Maghrib [after sunset (evening)] and of Salatul-Isha [after evening].
These Salats have been very much recommended and made lovable to us by Islam. But they are not incumbent upon us and Allah will not punish us for neglecting them. Yet, they are of the great deeds which bring the believer nearer to Allah, and encourage the returning to Him and to please Him.
2. The Wajib Salats: These are the Salats which Allah, the Exalted, has enjoined upon every Mukallaf. They are the most important Rukns [pillars] on which Islam has been built. We had formerly talked about their significant importance. The compulsory Salats incumbent upon us are:
• The daily Salats (in five times).
• Salatut-Tawaf (in Hajj and the Umrah).
Q1. Explain the Messenger's (S.A) saying: "Between Kufr and Iman is nothing but the negligence of the Salat''.
Q2. Tell which of the following are Mustahabb Salats and which are Wajib Salats: Nafilatus-Subh, Salatul-Layl, Salatul-Ayat, Salatul-Mayyit and Salatut-Tawaf.
Q3. Explain the saying of Al-Batul, Fatimatuz-Zahra (a.s.) the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (s): "He made the Salat a means of doing away with arrogance."
Q4. The Salat forbids the doing of evil and wrong; so, what do you think of the Salat of somebody who does not keep away from evil and wrong?
- 1. Al-Hurrul-Amili's "Wasa'ilush-Shi'ah". Kitabu-Salat, vol. 3, p. 7, 5th ed. And it is narrated with nearly similar wording by Al-Bukhari in his Sahih, Kitabus
Salat, Bab Mawaqitus-Salat Wa Fadliha, vol. 1, p 141.
- 2. Al-Hurrul-Amili’s "Wasa’ilush-Shi’ah". Kitabu-Salat, vol. 3, p. 29, 5th ed.
- 3. Ibid, vol 3, p. 29, 5th ed.