The second pillar: salah (prayer)
The Muslim believes that Allah has enjoined upon every sane adult Muslim five prayers each day and night, which he does in a state of purity, standing before his Lord, every day in a state of purity and humility, thanking his Lord for His blessings, asking Him of His bounty, seeking His forgiveness for his sins, asking Him for Paradise and seeking refuge in Him from Hell.
The five obligatory prayers which are required day and night are:
- Fajr (early morning, before dawn),
- Zuhr (mid-day, just after noon),
- ‘Asr (mid afternoon),
- Maghrib (just after sunset) and
- ‘Ishaa’ (at night, after dark has fallen).
There are also Sunnah prayers such as Qiyaam al-Layl (prayer at night), Taraweeh prayers, two rak’ahs of Duha prayer, etc.
Prayer, whether it is fard (obligatory) or naafil (optional/voluntary), represents a sincere turning towards Allah alone in all one's affairs. Allah has commanded all the believers to guard strictly the observance of the prayers, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Guard strictly (five obligatory) As‑Salawaat (the prayers) especially the middle Salah (i.e. the best prayer ‑ ‘Asr). And stand before Allah with obedience [and do not speak to others during the Salah (prayers)]”[al-Baqarah 2:238]
The five daily prayers are obligatory upon every Muslim man and woman, night and day:
“Verily, As‑Salah (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours”[al-Nisaa’ 4:103]
The one who abandons prayer has no share in Islam. Whoever neglects it deliberately is a kaafir (i.e. Non-Muslim), as Allah says:
“(And remain always) turning in repentance to Him (only), and be afraid and dutiful to Him; and perform As‑Salah (Iqaamat‑as‑Salah) and be not of Al‑Mushrikoon (the polytheists, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah)[al-Room 30:31]
Islam is based on co-operation, brotherhood and love, and Allah has prescribed coming together for these prayers and others, in order to attain these virtues. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Prayer in congregation is twenty-seven times better than prayer offered alone.” (Narrated by Muslim, no. 650)
Prayer helps the believer at times of hardship and calamity. Allah says:
“And seek help in patience and As-Salah (the prayer) and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khaashi‘oon [i.e. the true believers in Allah — those who obey Allah with full submission, fear much from His punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise) and in His Warnings (Hell)].[al-Baqarah 2:45]
The five daily prayers wipe out sins, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Do you not think that if there was a river at the door of any one of you, and he were to bathe in it five times each day, would there by any dirt left on him?” They said, “No dirt would be left on him at all.” He said, “That is the likeness of the five daily prayers, by means of which Allah erases sin.”
Prayer in the mosque is a means of entering Paradise. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever comes and goes to the mosque, Allah will prepare for him a house in Paradise for each time he comes and goes.” (Narrated by Muslim, no. 669)
Prayer brings the slave and his Creator together. It was the delight of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Whenever any matter grieved him, he would turn to prayer and converse with his Lord and call upon Him, seeking His forgiveness and asking Him of His bounty.
Prayer done with proper humility and fear of Allah brings the Muslim closer to his Lord, and keeps him from doing evil, as Allah says: