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Pillars of Islam

Salat

 

Salat

The Philosophy of "Prayers": Salat:

'Salat' (Prayers: Namaz) is a very distinctive divine command of Islam. It is distinctive because it is binding under all the circumstances. You may be at home or undertaking a journey, in health or sickness, in peace or at war, what ever the situation may be, there is no exemption or relaxation. 'salat' has to be offered.

After embracing Islam, this is the commandment of foremost significance, as in the world hereafter too, salat will be the first thing to be interrogated and accounted for. From the moment it becomes obligatory, one has to offer prayers at all times: there is no concession, no escape, it has to be offered for the whole life.

Muhammad SallAllahu Alaihi Wasallam, The moment these few words are recited by a person, he is invited towards salat. This is the first Commandment which has to be obeyed, and refusal to submit this very first command by any one will mean he never believed in Islam from the core of his heart; In other words as if he never accepted Islam.

According to the revered saying of the holy prophet Muhammad SallAllahu Alaihi Wasallam:

Indeed! The line of demarcation between man (Momin) and polytheism and blasphemy, is forsaking (this is the difference) of salat.
(Saheeh Muslim, Vol: 1, Page: 49)

So it is explicitly evident that salat is something, the forsaker of which goes back to the group, in which he was before entering into the folds of Islam. In other words his becoming a muslim carries no weight what so ever. Disobedience to the very first command of the Supreme Lord (Allah) simply means that the man did not accept the Creator as his absolute Lord. Instead he gave preference to himself and his desire over the command of Allah, and as such became a slave to his own self, not that of Allah. And it is for this reason that the forsaking of salat has been termed as polytheism.
In the light of revered saying of the holy prophet: (Muhammad SallAllahu Alaihi Wasallam) forsaking of salat takes one to a position of sure and certain polytheism and blasphemy. This statement is a clear indication that there is certainly a mystery, a philosophy, a force, an institution for training, contained in salat, which is necessary for happiness and success in this world and the world hereafter. Without the institution of salat, neither in this world one could live in true joy and happiness, nor could aspire for an abode in the heavens. So Islam and salat are integral parts of each other, and the foremost identification of a muslim is that he offers prayers regularly and constantly.

Faith (Iemaan) and good and virtuous deeds alone will account for absolution in the life hereafter. Salat is itself both, the faith and the virtue. It will be highly appropriate to call 'Salat' as "Mother of Virtues". Salat is the first virtuous deed, which goes on till the life ceases to exist. For the betterment and rectification and reform of both, the individual and the society, there could not be a better, less or rather inexpensive, educational or training system than 'salat'. If we could in true sense of word, appreciate and perceive the significance, advantage and the position of 'salat', then our entire life, including all the segments, will be adorned and decorated; and then we will live the way the life demands from us.

Allah declares:

No doubt! Salat restrains from vulgar and evil things.
(Surah: Ankaboot, Verse: 45)

The verse throws light on the objective and purpose of salat; the purpose being to educate and train the man in such a manner that evils like rudeness, bad manners, poor conduct, all are erased and he becomes a well mannered, well behaved, decent and well cultured person. There is attraction and beauty in his own self (internally) and in his personality. The philosophy through which the salat restrains from evils is also unique and wonderful. There are innumerable evils and vices in this world, and to train, educate and forbid one not to commit any one of them, may not be possible for any one. However, it is quite different in case of salat. In 'salat' there is such a dynamic and inspiring force, that the man on himself starts restraining from evils and vices. In 'salat' while offering prayers, all the lawful and just things become unlawful and unjust. Even there is no freedom of mind and thought, the eyes are under control, the tongue is locked (no talk is allowed), hands and legs too, except the movement of salat, cannot move on their own. Food and water (eating, drinking) is also prohibited. So in brief, many times in a day, man is given the training of restraining from lawful and just things, and the exercise is repeated again and again. So when a man's body, mind and mental approach are trained to restrain from doing things otherwise just and lawful, then his mind develops and inculcates, within himself, a capability, a force which checks and prevents him all the time, and it is very easy to keep away from the charms and beauty of evils and vices. More over in salat, the verses of the holy Quran are recited, which informs the prayer about the evils and vices. In this way the message is repeated again and again and helps a lot in guarding against the evils.

Salat is not only a source of absolution in the life hereafter but it is also extremely necessary for a good righteous life in this world. It imparts training regarding good and decent manners of the society. Rights and duties of an individual and the society as a whole, salat is an effective and important tool for making an individual's life beautiful and peaceful. It always keeps the concept intact and fresh that man is Allah's slave The moment the 'Muazzin' gives the call: and the words "Hayya Alal Falah" strike the ears, the steps, with fondness and pleasure, start moving towards the mosque. And this is the training that whenever there is a 'call' for a good and noble cause, leave every thing aside and respond to the call. Salat also emphasizes a lot about personal hygiene. For salat it is imperative that we keep ourselves neat and clean, and it is achieved by means of Wazoo and use of 'Miswak' for cleaning the teeth and mouth. This cleanliness and personal hygiene plays a leading role in keeping us hale and hearty, so salat is a guarantee for healthy mind and healthy body.

The training, education and the command for offering prayers together in congregation (Ba Jamaat) provide the very "base" for our social life. There is assembly of people, from the near by areas, five times in a day. Those who assemble have the same belief and faith: Theirs Allah is one, prophet one, book one, the 'Qibla' one: And then they all have 'One Purpose' also. This concept and philosophy of unity and oneness is a source of education and invitation for external unity. What happens while offering prayers? All together, irrespective of old or young, rich or poor, capitalist or the labour, ruler and the subject, stand in a row, with shoulder to shoulder and step to step, as if a lead fortified wall. While in prayers, there is neither some body's place reserved or specified in the row, nor any one could be removed or asked to change his place. Be the ruler or the subject, they stand together and the superior does not feel disgraced about it. Mahmood and Ayaz stand shoulder to shoulder (It is a symbolic expression of King Mahmood and his obedient servant Ayaz) The very sense of arrogance, haughtiness and vain vanity, is crushed and trampled over five times a day, making the mind and soul clean and purified. So this demonstration of our unity and union emphasizes the truth that we are one people, one Ummah. We are brother and friend to each other. Our aims and objectives, our gains and losses are common and shared by all. Just imagine and visualize, what would happen, if people of a locality with such thoughts and feelings offer their prayers together? Certainly this would make our days and nights, some thing real pleasant and peaceful, something to be proud of. And only then we will be in a position to truly appreciate and realize the significance and importance the system of salat has to play in our lives.
There could never be peace and happiness in a society, unless and until people living there in have been imbibed with the passion and feeling of listening and obeying. Offering of salat together in a congregation provides an opportunity for education in this important direction also. It does create and inculcate the passion for obedience, respect for Imam, leader, and reverence to seniors and elders. In an event of an omission or error by the 'Imam', he is not interrupted or questioned spontaneously or abruptly, as it amounts to disrespect and arrogance to elders. The respect and honour to 'Imam' demands that his error ought to be pointed out in a very decent and nice manner. If there is error in recitation, then the same verse may be recited correctly by some of the follower; if the error in other than that then the words ( ' ‚ ‰   ž ž ) ought to be said reasonably loud to hint the error; meaning that only Allah is absolutely pure from all errors; and it is man liable to commit errors. Is it not really an opportunity to ponder? What a beautiful way to rectify or amend the errors of our guide, leaders and the patriarch. If at all the 'Imam' does not rectify the pointed error, one is not allowed to leave, and part with the Jamaat (congregation) The error is rectified in accordance with the divine law when the "Salat Ba Jamaat" is over. In this way no room is left for any dissension and discord, which could strike the system of "Salat Ba Jamaat. This training and education has a great role to play in our social life as it will totally erase the disputes and discords arising out of misunderstandings and differences based on interpretations of certain propositions.

So salat mends, improves and adorns different walks of our lives. It serves as a platform, an institution for the training and education of an individual and the society as a whole. It restrains from immodesty, shamelessness and evils; teaches a lesson of practical equality; inculcates and develops qualities like, love, affection, kindness, unity, sacrifice and selflessness, rendering of obligations and guards from indolence and helps acquiring self-restraint by practice. Develops quickness and regularity and creates the passion for listening and obedience. So, the mind, thought and the self of the 'Praying person' are trained and educated with such a discipline and control that afterwards he spends his entire life in obedience to Allah. And if at all mistakes and blemishes are committed, the process of rectification goes on simultaneously in the presence of an on going system of training and education and as such there is no turmoil or disturbance in the society of permanent nature.

Now we are really in a position from where we can understand and appreciate the importance of salat, both, in this world and the world hereafter. However, all these benefits that is goodness in this world and the salvation in the world hereafter could only be destined when the prayers be offered according to the way and method prescribed by Allah.

The holy prophet (Muhammad SallAllahu Alaihi Wasallam), was "taught the way how to offer prayers" by Allah through Gabriel (Alaihi Salaam) Then the holy prophet Muhammad SallAllahu Alaihi Wasallam commanded his companions: "Offer prayers as you see me offer prayers"

But in spite of Allah's command and the emphasis stressed by His prophet (Muhammad SallAllahu Alaihi Wasallam), things deviated and differences appeared "In the way and method" of prayers. For a long time, after the death of the prophet (Muhammad SallAllahu Alaihi Wasallam), there was no change in the manner and method for offering the prayers. Both men and the women used to offer prayers in an identical manner. However, later on the difference erupted not only between men and women's manner but also amongst men themselves. This was just the beginning of deviation from the right and established way and manner and as a consequence every sect and class started offering prayers according to its own manner. Although the only, and the right manner was the manner as described and demonstrated by the holy prophet Muhammad SallAllahu Alaihi Wasallam.

Now naturally the question arises as what is the lawful or established manner according to Sunnah for offering prayers? As an authentic reply to the question this book is being offered.

In the beginning of the "Title salat" under the topic titled "Adaab-e-Salat", attention has been drawn towards all those shortcomings and inappropriate and undesirable things which are being committed in salat by us, consciously or otherwise, erasing the beauty and charm of salat. And in such a salat the heart and the mind are wide apart; there is no sense, feeling or the element of fear, one must have while standing in front of the Almighty Allah. There is no spiritualism at all, only the ritualism is there, withdrawing away the soul from the body. This is not all, such a salat, devoid of its true charm and beauty, creates an aversion for those who are looking at all these rituals. However, just little attention and effort on our part will reverse the picture, making our salat beautiful and charming.

In the beginning of the title, salat "The significance of salat" has also been included. It is earnestly hoped that the readers will derive full advantage of the topic.
 

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