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The Prayer has an exalted status in Islam that is unrivaled by any other act of worship .The prayer is the pillar of Islam, on which the religion is firmly established. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:

"The head of the matter (religion) is islam,its pillar is the prayer and its highest peak is Jihad for Allah's cause." (collected by At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Ahmad, and rendered authentic by Al-Albani)

The prayer is an obligation that is necessary throughout one's life and must be established even in times of fear. Allah (SWT) said:

"Guard strictly (five obligatory) As-SAlawat(the prayer) especially the middle Salat(i.e ,the best prayer- Asr). And stand before Allah with obedience [and do not speak to others during the Salat (prayer)].And if you fear (an enemy), perform Salat on foot or riding.And when you are in safety,offer the Salat in manner He has taught you, which you knew not(before)." (2:238-239)

The prayer is the first act of worship that Allah has ordained. the first act of worship for which the slave will be recompensed (on the Day of Resurrection) and the last commandment that the Prophet(PBUH) kept repeating prior to his death:

"(Preserve the prayer, the prayer,and what your right hands possess(slaves)." (Ibn Majah and Ahmad collect this hadith which Al-Albani classed as authentic)

The prayer will be the last pillar of Islam that will be given up, indicating that the entire religion will then have been given up. The Messenger of Allah Muhammad (PBUH) said:

"The pillars of islam will be given up one after another,and every time a pillar is given up,people will adhere to the next one; the first being government and last being the Prayer." [Ahmad,Ibn Hibban and Al hakim collected this hadith

Allah mentioned the prayer among the basic ingredients to gain guidance purity and piety. Allah, The Exalted said:

"Alif-Lam-Mim. This is the Book(The Qur'an) whereof there is no doubt,a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun.Who believe in Ghaib and perform As-Salat,and spend out of what we have provided for them(i.e,give Zakat)."(2:1-3)

Allah has also excluded those who establish the prayer perfectly and on time from the group of people,who have ill conduct:

"Verily,man(disbeliever) was created very impatient ,irritable(discontented) when evil touches him; and niggardly when good touches him. Except those who are devoted to Salat(prayers).Those who remain constant in their prayers." (70:19-23)

Also Allah said while describing the people of the Fire: "What has caused you to enter Hell?'They will say: 'We were not of those who used to offer the Salat(prayers)"(74:42-43)

Furthermore, Allah has warned those who abandon the prayer: "SO woe unto those performers of Salat (prayer) (hypocrites). Those who delay their salat."(107:4,5)

This Ayah sternly warns against delaying performing the prayer until its designated fixed time passes. Allah has warned against abandoning the prayer and threatens those who do so with severe Torment:

"Then there has succeeded them a posterity who have given up As-Salat and have followed lusts. So they will be thrown in Hell." (19:59) 

Throughout history,Muslims took special care of the Prayer,imitating prophet(PBUH),whom Aishah (Allah be pleased with her) described:

"The Messenger of Allah(PBUH) used to talk to us and we talk to him. But when the time of prayer started,he would act as if we did not know him or if he did not know us."

Indeed,the Messenger (PBUH) is our best example in this and any other act of piety and worship. The righteous Salaf imitated the Prophetic guidance with regards to being conscientious about the prayer. For instance, Sa'id bin Al-Musayyab (Radhi Allahu anhu) was so meticulous concerning his dedication to the prayer that for forty years  he made sure to enter the mosque before the Adhan (the call to Prayer), as Burud the servant of Sa'id narrated. Burud said:

"For forty years, the Adhan was never called but Sa'id bin Al-Musayyab(ra) was in the mosque before it was called." [Tabaqhatu Al- anabilah,vol.1,P.141]

Further,Rabi'ah bin Yazid said: "For the past forty years ,the caller to the prayer(the Mu'adhin) never called the people to Zuhur prayer without me being in the mosque,except when I was ill or travelling." [As-Siyar,vol.5,p.240]

The Salaf obeyed The Messenger of Allah(PBUH) who ordered Muslims to preserve and protect the prayer when he said: "Know that the prayer is the best of Your acts and only a believer preserves Wudhu." [Collected by Ahmad,Al Bayhaqi and Al-Hakim, and classed as authentic by Al-Albani]

Also men who are known to be righteous Muslims testified that other righteous Muslims preserved the congregational prayer in mosque for years in a row.For instance,Yahya bin Ma'in narrated that Yahya bin Sa'id attended the congregational Zuhr prayer in mosque for forty years in a row.[As-Siyar,vol.9,p.181]

The hearts of this type of Muslims are tied to the mosques,and it is they,to whom the Prophet(PBUH) gave this glad tiding: "Allah will give shade,to seven,on the Day when there will be no shade but His."

The Prophet(pbuh) mentioned among these seven types of people: "A man whose heart is attached to the mosque (to pray the compulsory prayers in the mosque in congregation).From the time he departs from it until he comes back." (Al Bukhari and Muslim)

This is why Sfyan bin 'Uyainah encouraged Muslims to come to prayer even before the call of Adhan is pronounced.[At-Tabsirah,by Ibn Al-Juzi,vol.1,p.137]

"Should I direct you to (righteous)acts because of which Allah erases sins and elevates grades?"They said,"yes O Messenger of Allah(PBUH)!" He said,"Performing perfect ablution in unfavorable conditions(such as extreme cold), the many steps one often takes to the mosque and awaiting the prayer after the prayer(in the mosque);verily, this is Ar-Ribat(to man Muslim outposts to protect Muslim lands from enemy attack),This is Ar-Ribat,this is Ar-Ribat."

Standing before Allah

Our Salaf used to take special care concerning praying perfectly, as prayer should be performed , by fulfilling its pillars, obligations, its recommended and Sunnah acts.They also fulfilled the required Khushu in the heart and feeling humble before Allah, and attended the prayer in heart and mind. They are those whom Allah has praised, when He said:

"Those who offer their Salat(prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness."[23:2]

 Also the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: "One might finish the prayer, but only has a tenth,ninth,eighth, seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth, third or a half of it written for him." [Abu Dawud and Ahmad]

Umar (ra) said while standing on the podium: "A man might have white hair in Islam (i.e reaches in old age while Muslim), yet, has not completed even one prayer for Allah, The Exalted!"

 He was asked,"Why is that?" He said "HE does not perfect the prayers's required Khushu, solemness and attending to Allah with his heart."[Al-Ihya,vol.10,p.202]

This statement from Umar(ra) in the beginning of Islam should be considered in our time, since many Muslims are indulging in life's affairs and pray  with their body but not their heart and mind. They think about this life, its markets, selling and buying, increasing and decreasing, all the while standing in prayer! This indicates  the heedlessness of most people today, except those few whom Allah has granted His Mercy.Al-Hassan said:

"Amir bin Abd Qays heared some people saying that they find it difficult to concentrate while praying and he commented,'By Allah! It is better for me that swords are cutting my inside than I feel what you say you feel in prayer.' [Az-Zuhd, by Imam Ahmad, p.321]

To continue ,Hammad bin Salamah said: "I have never stood up for prayer without imagining that JAhannum is before my eyes." [Tathkiratu Al-Huffath,vol.1,p.219]

 This is how they pray , those who know Allah and give  Him due consideration. What type of prayer those , who fear that they might fall into Jahannam, would perform? Certainly, it would be a prayer that is full of fear from Allah's torment and hope in the rewards that He has with Him. It will be a prayer of he who is certain that he will soon leave this life , thus , dedicating full attention to the affairs of the Hereafter and what has been prepared in it for the Faithful. Mu'adh bin Jabal advised his son:

"My son ! Prsy the prayer of he who is just about to leave and imagine that you might not be able to pray ever again. Know that the believer dies between two good deeds, one that he performed and one that he intended to perform later on." [Sifatu As-Safwah,vol.!,p.466]

 If each one of us had these feelings and thoughts while praying, we would be able , Allah willing , to perform the prayer as it should be performed in obedience to Allah, the Exalted and Th Mosr Honored. BAkr Al-Muzani gave us advice that should help us performing the prayer perfectly and properly.

"If you want your prayer to be of benefit to you , say to yourself, 'I might not have a chance to perform another prayer." [Jami' Al-Ulum Wal-Hikam,p.466]

If we implement this advice , the way we perform the prayer would change for the better and become nearer to perfection. Verily, prayer is the provision of the Muslim on his journey from this life to the Hereafter, and the first act that he or she will be asked about therein.

 Sufyan Ath-Thauri said: "Had you witnessed Mansur bin Al-Mu'tamir pray,you would think he was going to die in that same hour."[Sifatus-Safwah,vol.3,p.114]

This demonstrates the Salaf dedication to perform the prayer in the best possible manner, and surely, those who try to do so during all prayers, will, in the end ,perform a prayer that will be his or her last. However, this way , the last of his or her acts will be his or her best. Abdullah bin Mas'ud (ra) said:

"As long as you are still in prayer,you will be knocking at the door of the King(Allah). Verily,he who knocks at the king's door,then He will open it for him."[Sifatus-Safwah ,vol.1,p.451]

Most certainly, Allah is the Most Generous, Most Merciful for those who obey Him, implement His orders and refrain and avoid what He has prohibited.

Shubrumah said:

"We accompanied KArz Al-Harithi on a journey. Whenever we wanted to set camp  in an area ,he used to scan it with his eyes and when he found a good piece of land that he liked, he would go to it and pray there until it was time to leave." [Sifatus-Safwah, vol.3,p.120]

This is because his heart was tied to the acts of worship and thus eager to use his time worshiping Allah. There is no time in man's life to spend on play and heedlessness, when even his breaths are numbered . The Salaf used their minutes and hours in the acts of worship; they strived and worked hard to gain Allah's eternal delight. Their entire life was spent in worship, obedience , piety and righteousness.

Amir bin Abdullah was asked: "Do you talk to yourself about anything during the prayer?" He said,"Yes,about my stand before Allah, the Exalted and Most Honored, and about my destination to either of the two dwellings (Paradise,or the Fire)." [Al-Ihya,vol.1,p.202]

How do we pray now days? Is it not true that when we start the prayer, all types of thought and ideas come to us, as if the prayer was our chance to think about buying ,selling, profits or losses? It is strange that these thoughts keep recurring with every prayer, and some people travel far away while standing in prayer between Allah's Hands. If one was standing before a person of authority ,he or she would dedicate more attention to what is being said and done.Not one word uttered at that audience would he or she miss, and every thought would be controlled. As for the prayer are those who perform it from beginning to end without losing concentration and thinking about other things? Surely, only those who have earned Allah's  Mercy, perform the prayer perfectly in every respect.

If the slave's time and dedication were spent and concerned with Allah alone by day and night ,Allah would suffice for him concerning all his needs. Allah will surely relieve one's concern in this case and empty his heart except for His love, dedicate his tongue only for His remembrance, and help him to submit his limbs to His obedience, unlike we the slave's concern and dedication is about this life and its affairs by day and night. 

In this case, Allah will make one dependent on himself, and thus he will alone carry the burden of his concerns, sadness, grief and earning sustenance. This slave's heart will not be busy in Allah's love , because it is busy in loving the creation, and his tongue will not be busy remembering Allah, because he only remembers the creation. He will dedicate his energy to other than the obedience of Allah by serving the creation instead, striving hard as a beast of burden would do in service of others.  

Abu Abdur Rahman Al-Aidi said: "I asked Sa'id bin Abdul-Aziz,'why do you cry while praying?' He said ,'My nephew, why do you ask about this?' I said,'Might that Allah benefit me.' He replied,'Whenever i stand up for prayer, i imagine Jahannam is before me." [As-Siyar,vol.5,p.259]

As for Asim bin Abu An-Nujud, who was a good worshipper of Allah, he used to stand firm in the prayer as if he was a piece of wood and would remain in the mosque until the Asr prayer on Fridays, after the Jumu'ah prayer. Compared to these righteous people, one might live and die while striving hard to collect material gains in this life, but only what one has performed of good deeds will remain for him and all that he or she collected will vanish and disappear.Al-Qasim bin Muhammad said:

"Whenever I went out in the morning, I used to visit 'Aishah(ra) ,(his aunt and wife of Prophet(pbuh) and greet her.One day I found her performing Ad-Duha Prayer,reciting this ayah repeatedly, crying and invoking Allah: "So Allah has been Gracious to us, and has saved from the torment of the fire."(52:27)

I stood there until I felt bored , so I left and went to the market to do something and said to myself that when I finish what I have to do,I will go back (to Aishah ra) .When I finished and went back to her, I found her still standing in the prayer reciting the same Ayah, crying and invoking Allah." [Al-Ihya,vol.4,p.436]

Nowadays many people have ignored compulsory prayers, let alone Ad-Duha voluntry prayer, even though the Messenger of Allah(pbuh) recommended Abu Hurairah ra to perform it. Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated:

"My friend, the Messenger of Allah(pbuh) ordered me to do three things:To fast three days every month, to offer the Ad-Duha prayer and to pray With before i go to sleep."

In the present time , we see that even those who often perform Fajar prayer, remember Allah but little during the long time between the Fajar and Zuhr prayers.These are rather long hours and precious moments that are being wasted by being busy with this life.

1.These are those who wrong themselves by falling into shortcomings in the prayer,such as performing imperfect Wudhu,praying late and disregarding perfection concerning the pillars and requirements of the prayer.

2.These are those who pray on time,after making an excellent Wudhu,and preserve the prayer's pillars and obligations.However,when they pray,they fall victim to stray thoughts,thus ,loosing concentration and attention of the heart.

3.A third category strives to preserve the pillars and obligations of the prayer and repel aal types of thoughts and doubts.This type is busy praying,as well as ,fighting the enemy,Satan ,so he does not steal any part of their prayer.

4.When this type stands up to pray,they fulfill the obligations and limits of the prayer and dedicate their hearts to attending to its acts,so that they do not lose any part of it.Their concern is directed at establishing the prayer perfectly and on time,thinking only about the prayer and their obedience to Allah the Exalted and Ever-High.

5.This type stands up to pray in the same manner as the former type,in addition to,placing their hearts between the HAnds of Allah,The Exalted and Most Honored,feeling Allah's love and Might as if gazing directly Him.In this state ,all doubts and concerns vanish from their minds and hearts, dissipating any barrier between them and their Lord.The difference between the Exalted standard of performing the prayer by this type, as compared to the next best type,is the difference between the HEavens and Earth.This type is fully attentive,delighted and content in prayer with Allah,the Exalted and Most Honored.

The first type will be recompensed for their shortcomings ,while the second will be questioned about their inadequacy.The third type will gain forgiveness for their effort while the fourth will be rewarded.As for the fifth type, they are the ones close to Allah,because they are those to which the prayer is the comfort of their eyes.

The Messenger of Allah(pbuh) said: "From your world,I was made to love Teeb(perfume) and women(in marriage);and the comfort of my eye

            was made through the orayer." [An-Nasai and Ahmad,rendered sahih by Al-Albani]

To those whom the prayer represents the comfort of their eyes, in this life of the world,will be comforted further by closeness to Allah in Hereafter.Further, those who are content with Allah,then all righteous eyes will feel content with them.However, those who are not pleased or content with Allah the Exalted,their hearts will be torn apart by grief because of the life of this world. (They would grieve for not taking sufficient provisions from this life for the Hereafter,or they would grieve that they did life not remain longer in life to enjoy it further.!)

One of the Salaf said: "O son of Adam ! you need your share in this life, but need your share in Hereafter even more. If you took care of your share in this life , then you will lose your share in the Hereafter and are soon bound to lose your share in this life too.If you take care of your share in the Heerafter,you will also win your full share in this life with ease." [Fada'il Ath-Thikr,by Ibn Al-Jauzi,p.19]

To continue ,we should state that the heart becomes rusted and needs two healers to remove the rust:invoking Allah for forgiveness and remembering Him always.When someone becomes heedless habitually,his heart becomes covered by rust,according to the degree of Heedlessness he manifest. When the heart becomes completely covered and sealed,it will not be able to see falsehood as truth and truth as falsehood.

This is because the heart has become dark due to seal that was placed on it and that has deprived it of its power to recognize truth.When the rust increases  and engulfs the heart with the Ran(covering of sins and evil deeds), the heart's essence and comprehension will become corrupted and will neither accept or recognize truth any more,nor will it recognize and reject falsehood. This,indeed,is a severe punishment inflicted on heart, originating from one's heedlessness ans following his lusts,two serious ills that extinguish the light of the heart and blind its sight.[Fada'il Ath-Thikr,by Ibn Al-Jauzi,p.46]

To heal these two ills ,one should put in use this beneficial advice by Talaq bin Habib: "Allah's Rightsa are greater than slave's capacity and ability to fulfill them.Therefore ,reach the morning in a state of repentance and reach the night in the state of repentance." [Al-Ihya,vol.4,p.16]

Finally, we should reiterate what the Prophet pbuh advised ,recommended and ordered his ummah,when he was dying:

"The prayer,The prayer ,and what your right hand possess." [Ahmad and Ibn MAjah,rendered authentic by Al-Albani] 

Therefore ,be where Allah wants you to be,and stay away from all paths, statements, actions, associates, and environments where Allah want you to be.

This post first appeared on Mesothelioma Symptoms Online, please read the originial post: here

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