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Monday, 2 March 2015

SALAAT IS EASY, Don't Make It Difficult!

Salaat (‘Namaz’ or Prayer)
An Obligation Without Exemption

Salaat Is Easy,
Don’t Make It Difficult!

(M. Javed Naseem)

إِنَّنِيۤ أَنَا ٱللَّهُ لاۤ إِلَـٰهَ إِلاۤ أَنَاْ فَٱعْبُدْنِى وَأَقِمِ ٱلصَّلوٰةَ لِذِكْرِيۤ
"Verily, I am Allah! There is no god but I.
So serve Me (only), and establish regular
prayer for celebrating My praise!”
(al-Quran 20:14)

Salaat (prayer or ‘Namaz’) is a source of direct relationship, a direct link or a direct conversation with Allah, the Almighty. There’s no better option or situation of One-on-One talk with our Almighty Creator than Salaat. And Salaat is also one of the five pillars of Islam. According to one Hadith, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said that while offering Salaat, one whispers with Allah. There cannot be a better definition of prayer!

حَافِظُواْ عَلَى ٱلصَّلَوَاتِ وٱلصَّلاَةِ ٱلْوُسْطَىٰ
وَقُومُواْ للَّهِ قَانِتِينَ
“Guard strictly your (habit of) prayers,
especially the middle prayer; and stand
before Allah in a devout (frame of mind).”
(al-Quran 2:238)

فَإِذَا قَضَيْتُمُ ٱلصَّلاَةَ فَٱذْكُرُواْ ٱللَّهَ قِيَاماً وَقُعُوداً
وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِكُمْ فَإِذَا ٱطْمَأْنَنتُمْ فَأَقِيمُواْ ٱلصَّلاَةَ
إِنَّ ٱلصَّلاَةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَاباً مَّوْقُوتاً
“When you pass (congregational) prayers,
celebrate Allah's praises, standing, sitting down,
or lying down on your sides; but when you are
free from danger, set up regular prayers, for such
prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times.”
(al-Quran 4:103)

وَأَقِمِ ٱلصَّلاَةَ طَرَفَى ٱلنَّهَارِ وَزُلَفاً مِّنَ ٱلْلَّيْلِ
“And establish regular prayers at the two ends
of the day and at the approaches of the night!”
(al-Quran 11:114)

There are hundreds of verses in the Quran wherein Allah has not only commanded us to offer and maintain regularity of prayers (Salaat), but He has also reiterated the great importance of Salaat (prayer) in our lives. It protects us from evil-doing.

ٱتْلُ مَا أُوْحِىَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ ٱلْكِتَابِ وَأَقِمِ ٱلصَّلواَةَ
إِنَّ ٱلصَّلواَةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلْفَحْشَآءِ وَٱلْمُنْكَرِ
وَلَذِكْرُ ٱللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ وَٱللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ
“Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration
to you, and establish regular prayer; for prayer
restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and
remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in
life) without doubt. And Allah knows the
(deeds) that you do.”
(al-Quran 29:45)

أَقِمِ ٱلصَّلاَةَ لِدُلُوكِ ٱلشَّمْسِ إِلَىٰ غَسَقِ ٱلْلَّيْلِ
وَقُرْآنَ ٱلْفَجْرِ إِنَّ قُرْآنَ ٱلْفَجْرِ كَانَ مَشْهُوداً
“Establish worship at the going down of the sun
until the dark of night, and (the recital of) the
Quran at dawn. Lo! (The recital of) the Quran
at dawn is ever witnessed.”
وَمِنَ ٱلْلَّيْلِ فَتَهَجَّدْ بِهِ نَافِلَةً لَّكَ عَسَىٰ أَن يَبْعَثَكَ
رَبُّكَ مَقَاماً مَّحْمُوداً
“And pray in the small watches of the morning;
(it would be) an additional prayer (or spiritual
profit) for you. Soon will your Lord raise you
to a Station of Praise and Glory!
(al-Quran 17:78-79)

Salaat (prayer) is compulsory for all believers. We Muslims were commanded to offer Salaat (as an obligation) at least five times a day. You may pray as much as you can and you’ll get the reward for that. There is no limit on the ‘maximum’ but there’s definitely a limit on the ‘minimum’ for every day. That limit has been prescribed in units that are called ‘Rakaats’ in Arabic. There are five daily prayers and each prayer has a certain number of Rakaats which are obligatory (Fardh or Farz).

You can add to that number, any amount of optional (Nafl) Rakaats to get some extra or additional rewards in the Hereafter. Salaat is one of the biggest means of working on our Hereafter, to avoid Hellfire and to gain Paradise.

The ignorant Mullah tells people that
there are 12 Rakaats for Dhuhr (Zuhr),
and 17 Rakaats for Isha prayer. Wrong!
There are only 4 obligatory (Fardh/Farz)
Rakaats each to Dhuhr/Zuhr and Isha.
The rest is ‘Nawafil’ (optional) prayers.
A long Salaat of 17 Rakaats is good enough to discourage even the staunch Muslim. It’s hard to perform that on daily basis for a long time. According to Indian & Pakistani Mullahs, you have to perform 48 Rakaats of prayer every day (in 24 hours). He breaks it down like this:

Fajr: 4 Rakaats
Dhuhr/Zuhr: 12 Rakaats
Asr: 8 Rakaats
Maghrib: 7 Rakaats
Isha: 17 Rakaats
TOTAL (in 24 hours): 48 Rakaats

But that’s not right. In reality, Allah has prescribed only 17 Rakaats (in 24 hours) for His servants (Muslims) and He’ll question us about that. Here’s the break down:

Fajr: 2 Rakaats
Dhuhr/Zuhr: 4 Rakaats
Asr: 4 Rakaats
Maghrib: 3 Rakaats
Isha: 4 Rakaats
TOTAL (in 24 hours): 17 Rakaats

Let me tell you why Indo-Pak scholars added so many Rakaats to the original Fardh/Farz (obligatory) Rakaats. They copy the pattern from the Prophet (s.a.w.) who used to offer extra (Nafl or Nawafil) prayers every day. But Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) told his companions and disciples what was obligatory (Fardh or Farz) prayer and what was optional (Nafl or Nawafil).

On the other hands, the Mullahs don’t tell people that Dhuhr and Isha have only four Rakaats each of obligatory prayer. The rest is considered Nafl (optional) prayers and it is offered only to get extra or additional reward for the Hereafter. If you perform that, you will be rewarded but if you don’t, there’s no punishment for that. The obligatory prayer you MUST perform because there’s a punishment for not doing that.

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) offered 12 optional Rakaats every day in addition to the obligatory (Fardh/Farz) prayer. Sometimes, he offered more. But all scholars agree that he offered these 12 Rakaats of Nawafil regularly, without fail. These 12 Rakaats are called ‘Sunnah-tal-Muakkidah’. He never missed them. There are other Nawafil he performed also but not regularly. Those Nawafil (or Rakaats) are called ‘Sunnah-tal-Ghair-Muakkidah’. Here’s the detail of ‘Muakkidah’ Rakaats:

Fajr: 2 Rakaats (before the Fardh/Farz Rakaats).
Dhuhr/Zuhr: 6 Rakaats. (Four before the Fardh/Farz Rakaats, and two after).
Asr: None.
Maghrib: 2 Rakaats (after the Fardh/Farz Rakaats).
Isha: 2 Rakaats (after the Fardh/Farz Rakaats). 

In addition to that, the Prophet (s.a.w.) never missed 3 Rakaats of Witr prayer to close the night. He performed the Witr sometimes at the end of Isha prayer; sometimes before going to bed/before sleeping; and sometimes before dawn after Tahajjud prayer.

Now, why are there extra or additional Rakaats of prayer? The idea behind it was that since man was not perfect, he’s full of flaws, he won’t be able to perform his Salaat with 100% concentration and attention  (‘Khushooa’ and  ‘Khudhooa’). Therefore, there is a chance that his Salaat may not be accepted. To compensate this deficiency, they added more Rakaats (Nawafil) to the original obligatory (Fardh/Farz) Rakaats, so that even if we lose some of our prayers for being ‘imperfect’ or ‘not good enough’, we still get the reward for extra or additional Rakaats of Nawafil. A good thinking indeed! But they need to tell people that those extra Rakaats are not compulsory; they are optional.

Salaat is the best way to pay gratitude to Allah, to remember Him, and to glorify His name every day.

فَٱصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ
قَبْلَ طُلُوعِ ٱلشَّمْسِ وَقَبْلَ غُرُوبِهَا وَمِنْ آنَآءِ
ٱلْلَّيْلِ فَسَبِّحْ وَأَطْرَافَ ٱلنَّهَارِ لَعَلَّكَ تَرْضَىٰ
“Therefore, be patient with what they say,
and celebrate (constantly) the praises of your
Lord, before the rising of the sun, and before
its setting. Yea, celebrate them for part of the
hours of the night, and at the sides of the day;
that you may have (spiritual) joy.”
(al-Quran 20.130)

وَأْمُرْ أَهْلَكَ بِٱلصَّلاَةِ وَٱصْطَبِرْ عَلَيْهَا
“Enjoin prayer on your people,
and be constant therein.”
(al-Quran 20:132)

If you perform extra or additional Rakaats, you’ll get extra reward from The Almighty. It’s simple as that! But they don’t explain this to the common man who is very much discouraged by the big number of Rakaats in prayers and gets lazy, irregular, careless and distracted. The result is that he eventually loses the prayer (Salaat) altogether. He feels that Salaat is a big burden, a heavy load, a headache or a break-down in his daily life that does not allow him any entertainment. That’s not true!

What a common man needs to be told is that only the obligatory (Fardh/Farz) Rakaats are a ‘MUST’. The rest is like your saving bank account – the more you put into it, the better for you in the end.

We should try to encourage our children, youngsters and even the adults to perform the minimum of Salaat – the obligatory (Fardh/Farz) prayer, five times a day, regularly. Start with Fardh/Farz prayers first. When they get used to it, then they can slowly and gradually add extra Rakaats to it (like Sunnah, Nafl, etc.).

The Deen (religion) of Allah is simple and easy. It’s very practical in every time and place. Allah has assured us in the Quran that He does not want any difficulty for us. People only need education and guidance – and that can come only from the educated people who have the knowledge of the Quran.

As per one Hadith, somebody asked the Prophet (s.a.w.):
What was the deed liked most by Allah?
The Prophet (s.a.w.) answered: Any good deed, no matter how small, if it was done regularly.

So, what’s the message here? Regularity or steadfastness! Don’t give up! There’s a beautiful term to define that: The patient perseverance.

وَأَقِيمُواْ ٱلصَّلاَةَ وَآتُواْ ٱلزَّكَاةَ وَٱرْكَعُواْ مَعَ ٱلرَّاكِعِينَ
“And be steadfast in prayer; practice regular
charity; and bow down your heads with those
who bow down (in worship).”
(al-Quran 2:43)

وَٱسْتَعِينُواْ بِٱلصَّبْرِ وَٱلصَّلاَةِ
“And seek (Allah's) help with patient
perseverance and prayer!”
(al-Quran 2:45)

When Prophet Abraham (a.s.) laid the foundation of the Holy Kaabah along with his eldest son Ishmael (a.s.), he prayed to Allah through many supplications. One of such supplications (Dua) was this:

رَبِّ ٱجْعَلْنِى مُقِيمَ ٱلصَّلاَةِ وَمِن ذُرِّيَتِى رَبَّنَا وَتَقَبَّلْ دُعَآءِ
“O my Lord! Make me one who establishes
regular prayer, and also (raise such) among my
offspring O our Lord! And accept  my prayer.”
(al-Quran 14:40)

That shows how important prayer was for Prophet Abraham (a.s.) and his children. Abraham (a.s.) was a staunch Muslim; an upright man; an obedient servant of Allah and a faithful slave of his Creator. From among many of his generations, Allah chose the Prophets or the Messengers. But there were others too who did not care much about the prayers and they went astray:

فَخَلَفَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ أَضَاعُواْ ٱلصَّلاَةَ
وَٱتَّبَعُواْ ٱلشَّهَوَاتِ فَسَوْفَ يَلْقَوْنَ غَيّاً
“But after them, there followed a generation
who neglected prayers and followed lusts.
But soon they will meet perdition.”
(al-Quran 19:59)

For the Muslim community, Friday is the best day of the week as it’s full of blessings. Allah, as a special act of mercy, has given us concession in Dhuhr (Zuhr) prayer on Friday, by reducing it to 2 Rakaats, but adding sermon (Khutbah) to it which is also obligatory. Remember! This concession is only for offering prayer in congregation in a mosque, not at home.

يٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُوۤاْ إِذَا نُودِىَ لِلصَّلاَةِ مِن يَوْمِ ٱلْجُمُعَةِ فَٱسْعَوْاْ
إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ ٱللَّهِ وَذَرُواْ ٱلْبَيْعَ ذٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
“O you who believe! When the call is proclaimed
to prayer on Friday (the Day of Assembly), hasten
earnestly to the Remembrance of Allah, and leave
off business (and traffic). That is best for you
if you but knew!”
فَإِذَا قُضِيَتِ ٱلصَّلاَةُ فَٱنتَشِرُواْ فِى ٱلأَرْضِ وَٱبْتَغُواْ
مِن فَضْلِ ٱللَّهِ وَٱذْكُرُواْ ٱللَّهَ كَثِيراً لَّعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
“And when the Prayer is finished, then may you
disperse through the land, and seek of the Bounty
of Allah; and celebrate the Praises of Allah often
(and without stint), that you may prosper.”
(al-Quran 62:9-10)

Prayer (Salaat) is easy but it should not be taken lightly. It has great importance both from spiritual as well as physical-moral point of views. Some scholars even go that far to say that the only difference between a ‘Kafir’ (unbeliever) and a Muslim is that of Salaat (prayer). My aim here is not to deliver or promote any Fatwah about those who are not regular or careful about their prayers. We are all humans, full of faults, sins, carelessness and imperfections. On the other hand, Allah is the Most Merciful, Most Forgiving! Our duty is to try to deliver and leave the rest to Allah. He’ll do whatever is best for us in this world and in the Hereafter. We should always remember that Allah has commanded to offer regular prayers and He does not like the neglectful.

فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُصَلِّينَ
ٱلَّذِينَ هُمْ عَن صَلاَتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ
“So woe to the worshippers,
who are neglectful of their prayers.”
(al-Quran 107:4-5)

عَنِ ٱلْمُجْرِمِينَ
مَا سَلَكَكُمْ فِى سَقَرَ
قَالُواْ لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ ٱلْمُصَلِّينَ
“And (ask) of the Sinners: What led you
into Hell Fire?" They will say: "We were
not of those who prayed.”
(al-Quran 74:41-43)

So, in other words, if we don’t pray, we’ll find our place in Hellfire. And that verse alone says volumes about the importance of Salaat (prayer).

{To read more about prayer, please check out chapter “Prayers Of The Prophet (s.a.w.)” of my book “The Way (Sunnah) Of The Prophet (s.a.w.)”}


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