Miqdad Suleman (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
It is guidance to the God-fearing people, who believe in the unseen, observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), and from our provisions to them, they give to charity. And they believe in what was revealed to you, and in what was revealed before you, and with regard to the Hereafter, they are absolutely certain. These are guided by their Lord; these are the winners. [2:3-5]
You shall observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and bow down with those who bow down. [2:43]
Salah and Zakat are both given importance in these Ayaat, and subsequently in Islam. Muhammad ibne Yaqub al-Kulayni narrated from Mu’awiya ibne Wahb, who said, “I asked Aba Abdillah about the best of actions with which the slaves can attain closeness to their Lord, and the (action) which is the most beloved to Allah.” So he said: “I do not know of a thing after the cognizance better than these prayers (five daily). Do you not see that the pious slave – Isa ibne Maryam said: And He has ordained upon me the prayer and the purification as long as I live?”
Salah provides immeasurable rewards, especially when performed in its ‘appointed time’. Sayyid Sistani has said, “It is befitting that one should offer prayers punctually. A person who considers prayers to be something ordinary and unimportant is just like one who does not offer prayers at all.” There are numerous verses of the Quran and many Ahadith relating to the importance of Salah. The first two we have seen are among the introductory verses of Surah Baqarah, which declares the Quran to be a book of guidance, enunciates the ‘roots of religion’, invites mankind to accept Allah’s guidance, and criticizes the actions of the people of the past.
The benefits of prayer are not for Allah, for he does not need our praise. Whatever deed we perform for pleasing Allah has an effect on us. Not only does the worship of Allah create a sense of respect, it also elevates the soul of man. The remembrance of Allah disciplines the mind and reins the rebellious soul.
Those who pray are constant in their remembrance of Allah, whereas a person is negligent of his Salah and faith will sin without thought to the results of his deeds. Prayer reminds us about Allah and removes this negligence from our souls.
The Holy Prophet has said, “The daily Prayers are like a stream of clean water in which a person washes himself. If a person washes himself five times a day, he will never become dirty. In the same way, a person who prays five times a day and washes his heart with the clean spiritual spring, his heart and soul will never be filled with sin.”
Another benefit of prayers is cleanliness. Cleanliness is an important part of Islam, and the ablutions we perform before praying clean all impurities from our body.
For every prayer, there is a time, and it is necessary for those who wish to pray to do so within the time. Therefore, this helps a person become disciplined and self-restrained, and make them recognize the value of time.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of Salah is that it shows the oneness in direction of the Muslims, as they stand towards the Qiblah as one. When prayed in congregation, the rewards are even higher and it promotes unity, as the worshippers stand in rows and pray together to Allah.
Allah is Aalim. There is nothing that can be kept hidden from him. If one does not pray punctually, he will know. The Holy Prophet has said, “a person who does not attach any importance to prayers and considers it to be something insignificant deserves chastisement in the hereafter.”