The Institute of Islam International Publications Ltd. is rendering unprecedented services in the field of publicising accurate Islamic teachings and is engaged day and night in producing books for the spiritual uplift of mankind. As a proof here is a new publication;
ṢALĀT - THE MUSLIM PRAYER BOOK
Prayer, in every religion is regarded as the pivot on which rests man’s Communion with God. God prescribed prayer as the second pillar of His everlasting religion ISLAM.
In this modern materialistic world such books can serve as satisfying spiritual food for the starving souls and as such are the need of this age. With many people coming into the fold of Islam this book can certainly be a source of explaining to them all the aspects of the congregational prayer.
Although some other booklets on the subject are available, they are not so comprehensive and explanatory. In addition to detailed word-pictures about the significance of prayer, combined with Arabic text, its transliteration and translation, all the postures have been demonstrated with pictures. The postures in prescribed prayer play a very important role in the proper performance as they represent the real state of mind of the worshipper in the presence of God. All these postures are divinely taught.
Another landmark of the book is the all exhaustive description of each and every kind of Islamic prayer, obligatory or non-obligatory so that the reader is not left looking for some other help in connection with the Islamic prayers.
This book is the need of the time and should be possessed by every Muslim family.
The purpose of the creation of man, according to Islam, is that he should worship Allah. Allah says in the Holy Quran:
And I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship Me. (51:57)
Worship means total obedience to the commands of Allah. The Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) brought the message of God and explained all the commandments concerning the religion of Islam.
Islam has five basic duties which a Muslim has to perform. They are known as the Five Fundamentals of Islam or the Five Pillars of Islam.
The first pillar of Islam is the Islamic declaration of faith, i.e. to bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. The oneness of God is the basis of our belief in Islam.
The second pillar is called Ṣalāt, i.e. to perform Prayer in a prescribed form.
The third pillar is called Zakāt, a form of levy which Muslims of means pay annually in cash or kind, and is spent for good causes mentioned in the Holy Quran.
The fourth pillar is called Ṣaum, i.e. to keep fasts in the month of Ramadan.
The fifth pillar is called Ḥajj, i.e. to perform pilgrimage to the Ka‘bah in Mecca least once in the lifetime of a Muslim.
Of all religious obligations, Islam has laid greatest emphasis on the institution of Ṣalāt. It is enjoined upon every Muslim to pray five times a day. Besides the five obligatory Prayers, there are other types of Prayers which are optional.
A Muslim takes the spiritual side of life as seriously as a worldly person takes the material side of it. As air and food are essential for our physical life, likewise, we cannot survive spiritually without offering Ṣalāt or Prayer regularly in different parts of the day.
Ṣalāt or Prayer, consists of various postures, i.e. Standing called Qiyam, Bowing down called Rukū‘, Prostration called Sajdah and Sitting called Qa‘dah. During each posture prescribed phrases are to be recited. As these phrases are in Arabic, every Muslim is required not only to memorise these verses but also to know their meaning so that the worshipper knows what he is saying to his Lord during the Prayer.
Prayer, in the prescribed manner, is obligatory upon every adult Muslim of sound mind. As far as children are concerned, it is not obligatory on them until they come of age. However, it requires continuous effort and persuasion to get them to the stage where they start offering their Prayers regularly in the manner prescribed for the Prayer. Proper training and education is therefore necessary for children. It is for this reason that the Holy Prophet(sa) has directed that when children reach the age of seven, parents should urge them to be regular in their Prayers and when they reach the age of ten, they must be admonished if they fail to offer their Prayers regularly. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitabus-Salat).
Once the children reach the age of maturity, it becomes compulsory for them to offer their Prayers. At that stage, no individual or Government has the right to force them to offer their Prayers, as the Ṣalāt offered under compulsion does not mean anything. It ought to be offered willingly. The matter rests between the person and his God. Therefore, it is the duty of every and all Muslim parents to prepare their children for Ṣalāt from an early age. Moreover, it is highly essential for them to pray to God Almighty that their children become regular in Prayers. God’s help is sought because the task is huge.
It is mentioned in the Holy Quran that throughout his life Ḥaḍrat Ishmael(as) used to exhort members of his household to offer their Prayers regularly. It is often observed that in homes where elders offer their Prayers regularly, the children start copying the movements of their elders naturally and thus become regular in their Prayers, with time. However, when a child reaches the age of seven, the proper method of Prayer should be taught to him. He should be encouraged to join in Prayer and, if possible, he should be persuaded to accompany the parents to the mosque. This will develop in the child an affinity with Prayer, and will safeguard the habit of Prayer in the following generation. The parent or guardian, however, is permitted to be somewhat strict with the children between the ages of 10 to 12, should they become slack in offering their Prayers. This does not mean that they should be treated cruelly or punished, rather they should be admonished to the same degree as parents often admonish them for missing school. However, when they reach the age of twelve, they should be made to realise that their parents have discharged their duty and from that time on, the matter rests between them and God, to Whom they are answerable. This does not mean that they should not be advised, exhorted or admonished because as far as advising them is concerned, it can go on for life, if required. It is only the element of strictness which comes to an end when the child reaches the age of twelve. As mentioned earlier, Hadrat Ishmael(as) adopted the same method of love and kind persuasion with the members of his household. The Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) treated the grown-ups in his family in the same manner. It is reported that he used to call out to his daughter Ḥaḍrat Faṭimah(ra) and his son-in-law Ḥaḍrat ‘Alī (ra) to wake them up for Fajr Prayer.
Ṣalāt or the prescribed Prayer has been mentioned in the Holy Quran as an essential characteristic of a true believer. The Holy Quran states:
This is a perfect Book; there is no doubt in it; it is a guidance for the righteous, Who believe in the unseen and observe Prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them; (2:3-4)
Prayer or Ṣalāt, helps us to get rid of sins; inclines us more and more towards God and goodly things and so gradually purifies us. But this is not the end. Prayer does much more than this. It brings man closer to his Creator. The worshipper tries to imitate God in His most excellent attributes and is constantly transformed from a lowly and worldly person to a highly noble and sublime servant of God. The Holy Quran mentions this distinctive quality of Ṣalāt by saying:
Recite that which has been revealed to thee of the Book, and observe Prayer. Surely, Prayer restrains one from indecency and manifest evil, and remembrance of Allah indeed is the greatest virtue. And Allah knows what you do. (29:46)
Prayer is indeed a sure and well-tried prescription for purity of the heart and the soul. It is through Ṣalāt alone that we are able to establish a living communion with Allah. The Quran says:
Surely, only those who follow the Book of Allah and observe Prayer and spend out of what We have provided for them, secretly and openly, hope for a bargain which will never fail; In order that He may give them their full rewards, and even increase them out of His bounty. He is surely Most Forgiving, Most Appreciating. (35:30-31)
According to the Holy Prophet(sa) Ṣalāt is the pinnacle of the spiritual life of the believer. It is the highest form of Divine worship. The Holy Prophet(sa) is further reported to have observed:
Prayer brings the believer into communion with his Lord
It must be realised that sincere prayer never goes in vain. Sometimes, the deep spiritual experience of the intense love of God brings tears to the eyes. Sometimes, a milder pleasure of love fills the heart with sublime happiness. These experiences are signs of the Prayer being alive, meaningful and fruitful. Otherwise, just a performance of formality is not enough to benefit man. That would be obeying an order without one’s heart being in it. That is why it is highly essential that every beginner should keep this noble objective before him and always try to make his Prayers come alive.
The Ṣalāt combines all forms and degrees expressive of humility and submission. The worshippers stand in rows and respectfully behind the Imām.
All the worshippers who line up behind the Imām must follow his movements at his call. The call for every movement is Allāhu Akbar except when the Imām straightens himself from the position of Rukū‘, i.e. the bowing position, when instead of saying Allāhu Akbar, he says Sami‘allāhu Liman Ḥamidah which means 'most certainly God listens to those who praise Him.' At this call, all the followers also straighten up with arms by their sides, saying Rabbanā Wa Lakal Ḥamd, Ḥamdan Kathīran Ṭayyiban Mubārakan Fīhi.
Sincerity and humility are the essence of prayer. Allah enjoins believers:
Surely, success does come to the believers, Who are humble in their Prayers, (23:2-3)
The Holy Prophet(sa) has said: No servant of Allah humbles himself for the sake of Allah, but Allah thereby brings about his Raf‘a. Raf‘a is an Arabic word meaning 'to raise'. It does not mean that Allah will lift him bodily to heaven. Obviously it means that Allah will exalt his status before Him.
True humility can only be achieved by mentally concentrating on the attributes of Allah. When His immense greatness dawns on someone, one has no choice but to be humbled.
For each of the five obligatory Prayers, there is an appointed time fixed in relation to the sun’s position.
The time of the Fajr or morning Prayer begins with dawn and ends just before sunrise.