2.1. WHAT IS PRAYER?
Prayer is the pillar of the religion and a divine principle that preserves the religion.
Prayer is a call to divine presence by the Creator, Lord of Majesty, at pre-determined times during every twenty-four hours.
Prayer is glorifying, honoring and thanking Allah.
Prayer is a high bond, lofty relationship and a decent service between man and Allah.
Prayer comforts the heart, spirit and mind. It summons and attracts the love of every conscience and spirit.
Prayer emplaces the magnificence and greatness of Allah into the hearts and maintains it. It orientates minds towards Allah and ensures their obedience to divine laws and the system of Allah.
Prayer is the food and spiritual richness of the heart in the guesthouse of the world.
Prayer is a kind of food and light in the grave that man is bound to enter.
Prayer is salvation and a bond in the gathering place in the hereafter where man is definitely going to be questioned.
Prayer is a kind of light and something to ride on over Sirat bridge.
Prayer is the ascension (miraj) of the believer.
Prayer is a holy worship that contains all kinds of worship and the various kinds of worship of all the creatures.
2.2. THE NATURE AND THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER
Prayer is an obligatory duty to be carried out at certain times for every sane and pubescent Muslim, man or woman. Allah promises that those who carry out this important fardh will receive a lot of bounties and grants in the hereafter. Those who neglect it deliberately are threatened with severe torment by Allah. Our affectionate Prophet (PBUH), who always thinks of the benefit of his ummah, utters the following as his last words lest his ummah should make a loss: Never skip praying! Never skip praying! .! (Abu Dawud,).
2.2.1. Prayer is a call to the spiritual presence of Allah
This call is by Allah, who created us out of nothing and who educated us. Allah is the owner of the earth, the sky, all of the universe. We are His property and we work in His property. Everything is in need of Him. He is the one that gives life; all of the bounties that are necessary for life belong to Him. The air that we breathe in order to continue our life, the water we drink, the sun whose light we make use of, the land out of which various kinds of food emerges belong to Allah. We are always at His table. He is the one who created us, He is the one who feeds us and He is the one that makes us live too. In short, all of the good deeds, beauties, graces, mercies and bounties belong to Allah.
Allah shows that He loves human beings with so many bounties and grants. Man should show that he loves Allah with worships that are kinds of thanks. Thus a person who performs five prayers during twenty-four hours will have accepted Allahs call.
2.2.2. Prayer includes the samples of all kinds of worship
Prayer includes all kinds of worship. One of the five pillars of Islam, kalima shahadah, is uttered in all prayers. Eating and drinking invalidates prayer. So while praying a person also fasts. A person who prays will have given the alms of his body. Thus the worship of almsgiving will have been carried out. Turning towards Kaaba is necessary in hajj. It is also necessary in prayer.
2.2.3. Prayer includes all of the worship of all of the creatures
Prayer includes symbolically forms of worship made by all kinds of creatures. For instance, there are angels that always stand, bow, prostrate and sit. A person who prays represents all of those worship forms in prayer. Similarly, trees always stand and glorify Allah with the language of state. On the other hand, animals are always in a state of bowing, worshipping Allah. Reptiles worship Allah by kind of prostrating. The situation of mountains expresses the sitting position in prayer. So the prayer of man includes various kinds of worship of all creatures symbolically.
2.3. WHAT PRAYER MAKES MAN GAIN
2.3.1. Prayer is a lofty duty connecting the slave to Allah
Prayer is an exalted relationship and a lofty connection between the slave and Allah. It is a clean and pure service that has secrets attracting every spirit. So it means a person who does not perform prayers weakens his connection to Allah. There cannot be a greater loss than that for man. Man is always in need of Allah for everything. He has come from Allah and he will return to Him.
Man, who cannot kill the death, who cannot close the grave, who cannot stop partings should think about it seriously. Therefore the most necessary thing, the most important duty for man should be increasing his relationship with Allah. One of the best ways to do it is to perform the five prayers, which paves the way to renew the love of Allah. It is a very important issue to make the dignity of Allah stable in the hearts and maintain it; because the heart is the center of spiritual life. The material heart pumps blood to the whole body to make life continue; similarly in order to make spirituality continue a strong belief in the spiritual heart of man is necessary. The most important worship that strengthens belief in the heart and revives the feelings is five prayers.
To perform prayers is an occasion for turning minds to Allah and making them obey divine laws. Thus man tries to obey the orders and prohibitions defined by Allah.
Man needs to obey the wishes of Allah that are defined as orders and prohibitions very much. Man is bound to live in a community because of his nature. Peace and ease in the individual and social life is only possible by the observance of the rules in the community by individuals. It is the Creator who knows best the system to obey. He who makes knows; he who knows talks is an unchanging rule.
Allah, who created man out of nothing and equipped him with various feelings, informed us about the principles of the system and order of the life in the Quran. One of the most beautiful and important ways of obeying those principles is the prayers ordered to be performed at certain times.
A person who does not follow that way and skips prayers because of laziness or who does not realize the value of it understands how much he loses later, but then it becomes too late. So since we have the opportunity, lets follow that way. Lets look for the ways to be free from loss.
2.3.2. Prayer relieves the heart and soul
Our Lord, who created us, equipped us with material and spiritual feelings. He created bounties like air, water and bread to feed our material feelings. He made the continuation and ease of our lives dependent on them. We cannot live without them.
Similarly, Allah ordered the worships for our spiritual feelings. The most important of them is the prayer. Our spirit, heart and mind find the real peace in the bounty of prayer. If this bounty is not received, that is, if prayer is not performed, the spirit, heart and mind become disturbed. Nothing can provide the peace that prayer, which is a kind of natural bounty, provides. Those who try to find ease and peace through games deceive only themselves. Therefore, just as it is necessary to take certain foods in order to continue our material lives, so is prayer necessary for the continuation of our spiritual lives.
For instance, someone who dies of hunger will lose a temporary life of fifty or sixty years. A person who does not perform prayers and who disobeys Allah will lose his eternal life. Therefore a clever man will not risk his eternal life intentionally. As he thinks about his worldly tasks, he will also think about the tasks that will be necessary in the hereafter. He will use the daily twenty-four hour capital in a planned way to gain both the life in this world and in the hereafter. He will comfort his mind, spirit and heart and he will attain the contentment of Allah by allocating one hour of the twenty-four hours to prayers.
As a matter of fact our Prophet states the following regarding this issue: Every useful thing that reminds Allah and religion is useful and relieves man. The words other than those harden the heart and increase the stress and crises. (Abdullah Parlıyan, Açıklamalı Tam Riyazus-Salihin Tercümesi, Konya, t.y ).
2.3.3. Prayer is a reason for the forgiveness of minor sins
Prayer is a reason for the forgiveness of minor sins. The minor mistakes and faults between the prayers, if any, of a person who performs prayers continuously are cleared. Our Prophet states the following regarding this issue:
Five prayers and the Friday prayers clear the minor sins – unless major sins are committed - committed between. (Muslim, Tahara, 5..) That is, a reason for them to be forgiven.
A correctly performed prayer whose reality is known keeps man away from ugly and indecent behaviors between two prayers. As a person continues to perform prayers correctly, his good deeds increase. Allah states the following regarding this issue: Recite and convey to them what is revealed to you of the Book, and establish the Prayer in conformity with its conditions. Surely, the prayer restraints from all that is indecent and shameful, and all that is evil. Surely Gods remembrance is the greatest (of all types of worship, and not restricted to the Prayer) God knows all that you do. (al-Ankaboot, 45)
2.3.4. Prayer cures spiritual diseases
Allah does not need anything; He does not need our worships either. We need worships. Allah is Samad. That is, everything needs Him; He does not need anything. For instance, suppose that an ill person goes to see the doctor and the doctor prescribes him some useful medicine and wants him and demands him to use them; if the ill person says:
- What do you need? Why do you insist so much?
It is clear that this question is meaningless. Allah, whose mercy is endless, created the food that the stomach needs; similarly he ordered the worships so that the spirit would attain peace.
Worship consists of Allahs orders and prohibitions. Whatever Allah orders is nice and useful. The primary worship ordered by Allah is prayer. In the prayer, the peace of the spirit, heart and mind is present. It has no expenses or hardships. One hour of the twenty-four hours every day is sufficient for five prayers.
Prayer is very valuable since it is the pillar of the religion. A building without pillars is bound to collapse; similarly the religion of a man who does not perform prayers is in danger.
2.3.5. The worldly works of a person who performs prayers are regarded as worship
To perform prayers turns the worldly works of a person into worship. For instance, a person who works as a driver can work as a driver when he does his military service. When he finishes his military service and returns and he is asked What did you do?, he answers I did my military service. He does not say I worked as a driver. Why? because he had the uniform on him. That uniform painted the job of driving with the color of military and driving became military service. As a result he was a soldier.
If he says You make me work as a driver. I worked a lot as a driver when I was a civilian. Regard them as military service. when he is a soldier, they will say, No. The reason is that he had no uniform on then.
Similarly prayer is the uniform of slavery. All of the worldly, legal deeds of a person who wears that uniform, that is, a person who performs prayers are regarded as worship. If he drives, it becomes worship; if he eats, it becomes worship; in short no matter what he does, it becomes worship. Even if a thorn pricks on his thorn, he is regarded to have done a good deed. The result is a life full of worships and consequently eternal happiness.
If a person does not perform prayers, it means he takes off the uniform of slavery; then the result of all of his worldly works is a worldly, minor and infertile benefit. It gives no benefit in the hereafter. On the contrary it imposes responsibility.
2.4. How old should one start to perform prayers?
Islam advises that a child should be made used to praying when he is seven and should be made pray when he is ten. In order to have a career or job, a person starts school at the age of six or seven. He faces all kinds of troubles in order to obtain knowledge, attain worldly ranks, and to earn money. Since all of these are done in order to live comfortably in this world, isnt it necessary to work harder for the eternal life? Isnt it necessary to endeavor to obtain the high ranks, eternal tastes and pleasures of Paradise?
The way to do it is to know Allah, which is the aim of the creation of man, to believe in Him and to worship him. To this end, man should try to learn the fundamentals of belief, the pillars of Islam, the sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH), who was sent as the unchangeable guide, before pubescence. When he enters the pubescent age, he should carry out the orders of Allah and avoid His prohibitions and apply what he learnt. To learn and apply them is not something that man cannot do; Allah burdens no man beyond his capacity. (al-Baqara, 286)
A person who obeys Allah will attain the eternal Paradise, a person who disobeys Him, will suffer punishment and will feel the discomfort and uneasiness in the world.
You can't teach an old dog new tricks is a famous proverb. Therefore a person who does not learn the orders of the religion and who does not get used to applying them when he is young will have great difficulty in learning them when he is old. He will find them very hard to do. He will have difficulty in reciting. Therefore it is necessary to say to the children, Come to prayer and make them get used to praying before they reach pubescence.
If a person does not receive a strong belief lesson when he is a child, later he can embrace the principles of Islam and belief with great difficulty. It will be as difficult as a non-Muslims embracing Islam; he becomes somewhat wild. Especially if he does not see anything about religion from his parents and if he is educated only through worldly sciences, he will get wilder (Nursi, Emirdağ Lahikası, rnk Neşriyat, İstanbul, 2005).
2.5. THE IMPORTANCE OF CORRECT PERFORMANCE OF PRAYERS
Allah points to the correct performance of prayers in 72nd verse of Chapter al-Anam as follows:
Say: (We have been commanded) to establish the Prayer in conformity with its conditions, and keep from disobedience to Him in reverence for Him and piety. He it is to Whom you will be gathered. (al-Anam, 72)
Allah states the following in another verse:
Those who believe in the Unseen, establish the Prayer in conformity with its conditions, and out of what We have provided for them (of wealth, knowledge, power, etc.), they spend (to provide sustenance for the needy and in Gods cause, purely for the good pleasure of God and without placing others under obligation. (al-Baqara, 3).
Those verses underline the importance of conformity to the conditions when praying.
What is meant by correct performance of prayers is to carry out the prayer in accordance with its principles and conditions and observe the order and the organization. For instance, to carry out the prostration (sajdah) calmly, to sit still between the two prostrations long enough to say Subhanallah. It is also to remain still and calm in the standing (qiyam) and the standing after the bowing (ruku) and to recite or read silently all of the verses and supplications carefully; and to carry out each constituent of the prayer without haste.
Those who feel a spiritual enjoyment in prayers observe the conditions of the prayer and do not haste. They regard hasting as contrary to respect and good manners. The most useful and valuable times of life are those spent worshipping. It is a pity that some people who spend their time in vain or for a short-lived benefit do not work not to be deprived of a high worship like prayer, the way of a continuous happiness and the pleasure of divine presence.
2.6. THE IMPORTANCE OF GLORIFICATION OF ALLAH AFTER PRAYERS
Prayer is the glorification of Allah, honoring him and thanking him. That is, to say Subhanallah (glory be to Allah) and honoring Him using words and actions towards His beauty. It is also saying Allahu Akbar (Allah is greatest) and honoring Him using words and actions towards His perfection. It is also saying Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah) and thanking him using the heart, the tongue and the body towards his glory.
So glorifying, honoring and thanking are like the seeds of prayers. Therefore those three things are present in all acts and mentioning of Allah in prayers. Therefore, after prayer, each of those three words is uttered thirty-three times in order to strengthen the meaning of the prayer. That shows how important the glorification of Allah after the prayer is. Therefore one should not be lazy and skip the glorification of Allah after prayers!
The glorification of Allah after prayers is something that our Prophet (PBUH) always did. Therefore it is of great importance.
A person whose heart is alert can imagine himself after prayer as glorifying Allah in a big circle led by the prophet (PBUH). Those illuminated millions of people who glorify Allah can feel it spiritually. He says Subhanallah, Subhanallah with that dignity and loftiness. Then, when he says, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah by obeying the spiritual order of that being, he thinks of the praise of millions of people in that circle. He joins that congregation by saying Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar with the same meaning. After the supplication, he says There is no god but Allah, There is no god but Allah and turns towards the personality of the Prophet (PBUH) by looking at his Muslim brothers in the Islamic world. That is the importance of glorification of Allah.
2.7. THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYING ON TIME AND IN
Prayer shows the obedience to Allah. Obedience is more virtuous and virtuous in congregation. Praying on time is also important.
It is advisable to imagine Kaaba and pray when the prayer time starts. That is, it is something nice and virtuous. So he sees the ranks that form like overlapping circles around Kaaba. He imagines that the nearer ranks surround Kaaba and the farther ranks surround the Islamic world. He himself joins that magnificent, great congregation. So the repetition and approval of each word he utters in the prayer by this congregation becomes a great evidence for his belief and creed.
For instance: When the person who performs a prayer says اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ (Praise be to Allah) it looks as if the believers who form that great and magnificent congregation say, yes, you are right and approve his word. These approvals become like a shield against the attacking doubts and anxieties. All of his faculties and feelings take their pleasures and shares from that prayer.
Man is addressed by Allah on behalf of all creatures and he presents the glorification and worships of them to Allah on behalf of them since he is the most honorable creature and the caliph on the earth. For instance, when the believer says, اِيّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَاِيّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ (You alone do we worship, and from You alone do we seek help) during the prayer, he utters this verse on behalf of three great and tremendous congregations. The first one is the congregation consisting of the believers and unifiers on the earth. The second is the congregation of all of the living and non-living creatures that glorify Allah in their own languages. The third is the congregation consisting of the particles and feelings that form the human body, which is a small circle in terms of outward appearance and quality but in reality a big circle in terms of duty and quantity.
An army officer presents the services of all the soldiers that he represents to the commander using his own name. Similarly, man, who is the officer of the animals and plants and who has the talent to be the caliph of the beings on the earth and who regards himself as the deputy for all of the beings in his private world, says, اِيّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَاِيّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ (You alone do we worship, and from You alone do we seek help) and presents all of the worships and wishes of all of the beings to Allah using his own name.
The prayer that causes man reach the rank of a commander and to be addressed by Allah is a lofty and comprehensive worship. The best way of performing it is at the early stated time, in congregation and in conformity with its conditions. Abandoning prayers is not only a disobedience to an order but also a deprivation of the rank of being superior to all of the beings and the most important of all a deprivation of the honor of being addressed by Allah.
2.8. OBLIGATORY ACTS (FARDHS) OF PRAYER
There are twelve fardhs of prayer. Six of them are before prayer and they are called prerequisites of prayer. Six of them are within the prayer. They are called the constituents of prayer.
All of those obligatory acts have to be carried out fully for a prayer to be correct.
2.8.1. Prerequisites of prayer:
1) Taharat (cleanliness) of the body: To take ablutions (wudu) or to have a bath (ghusl) to remove the spiritual impurity (najasah).
2) Tahara (cleanliness) of the clothes and place: To clean any impurity on the body, clothes and the place to prayed.
3) Satr (covering): To cover parts of the body obligatory to be covered during prayer.
For men: the part of the body between the navel and the knee (knee included),
For women: all of the body except the face, hands and feet.
4) Facing Qiblah: It is to perform the prayer facing qiblah. Qiblah is the direction towards the holy building, Kaaba, in the city of Makkah. Kaaba was built by Hazrat Ibrahim (Abraham) and Ismael (Ishmael).
5) Time: It is to perform prayers within the predefined periods. It is not valid to perform a prayer before its time.
6) Intention (Niyyah): It is to be aware of which prayer one is going to perform and to remember it in his heart. It is sunnah to utter the intention by tongue.
2.8.2. The constituents of prayer:
1) The Opening takbeer: It is to say Allahu Akbar when starting prayer.
2) Standing (Qiyam): It is to stand while praying.
3) Reciting: It is to recite something from the Quran while standing.
4) Bowing down (Ruku): It means to bend down with ones hands on his knees.
5) Prostration (Sujud): To place ones feet, knees, palms and forehead on the ground.
6) The last sitting: To sit long enough to recite the tashahhud at the end of the prayer.
Things that are fardh for those following Shafi sect:
Reciting Chapter al-Fatiha (for everybody)
The organs should remain still during the bow down and standing,
Standing still after bow down
To do tumaninah after the bow down,
To prostrate twice in each rakat (section of a prayer),
To do tumaninah in prostration,
To sit between the two prostrations,
To do tumaninah between the two prostrations,
To recite tashahhud during the last sitting,
To recite salawats for the Prophet (PBUH) during the last sitting,
To utter the first salam (To say at least As-salamu alaykum, or
better As-salamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi ve barakatuhu.)
To observe the order of the sections
2.9. SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PRAYER
(For more information regarding this issue refer to the Risale-i Nur collection.)
Question: During the prayer some scruples emerge in my heart, what should I do?
Answer: When a person prays, some scruples and dirty memoirs either by the devil or his own soul attack the heart and the mind like flies. In such a state one should not try to drive those ugly scruples away; because scruples are like bees. As you deal with them, they increase their attacks. If you do not deal with them, they go away. Scruples, too, leave man if man does not deal with them. Besides, those scruples do not harm worship or a mans heart. It is harmful to think that scruples are harmful. Those words are not the words of the heart. Maybe they are the blowing of the devil which is near the heart. The heart is disturbed by it. The fact that the heart is disturbed by those words shows that those words do not belong to the heart; on the contrary they are the scruples of the devil. Man is not responsible for something that does not belong to his heart.
For instance, when man contemplates on the verses in the presence of Allah, opposite Kaaba, a scruple comes to his imagination. Thus it tries to distract him from prayer. The imagination of the man who is exposed to such a scruple resembles to a mirror. The image of a snake in the mirror does not bite, the fire does not burn and the dirty things do not contaminate the mirror; similarly the scruples and ugly memoirs that come to mans mirror of imagination do not harm mans belief and worship.
If the scruple is too disturbing, then man should take shelter in Allah, who is Wise and Merciful, and say, I seek refuge in Allah from Satan.
Question: The Prayers are fine, but to perform them every single day five times is a lot. Since they never end, doesnt it become wearying?
Answer: Listen to the four reasons below and then decide.
1.Your life is not eternal. You may die next year, maybe tomorrow. What causes you boredom is that you fancy you shall live for ever. You complain as though you will remain in the world for pleasure eternally. If you had understood that your life is brief, and that it is departing fruitlessly, to spend one hour out of the twenty-four on a fine, agreeable, easy, and merciful act of service, that is, prayer, which is the means to the true happiness of eternal life, surely does not cause boredom, but excites a real eagerness and agreeable pleasure.
2.Every day you eat bread, drink water, do they cause you boredom? They do not, because since the need is repeated, it is not boredom, but pleasure, that they give. In which case, the five daily prayers should not cause you boredom, because they are the food of your heart, life source of you spirit, and the development of your subtle faculties. Indeed, the sustenance and strength of a heart which is afflicted with infinite grief and sorrows and captivated by infinite pleasures and hopes may be obtained by knocking through supplication on the door of One All-Compassionate and Munificent.
3.Yes, man who, by its nature, desires eternal life and was created for eternity and who is a mirror of the Pre-Eternal and Post-Eternal One and who has a conscious inner sense which is infinitely delicate and subtle, is surely most needy for air in the sorrowful, crushing, distressing, transient, dark, and suffocating, conditions of this world and can only breathe through the window of the prayers.
O man who is weary of performing prayers! The troubles of yesterday have today been transformed into mercy. The pain has gone while the pleasure remains and the hardship turned into reward. In which case, you should not feel wearied at it, but make a serious effort to continue with a new eagerness and fresh enthusiasm. As for future days, have not yet arrived, and to think of them now and feel bored and wearied is a lunacy like thinking today of future hunger and thirst, and starting to shout and cry out. Since the truth is this, if you are reasonable you will think of only today in regard to worship. And say: "I am spending one hour of it on a agreeable, pleasant, and elevated act of service, the reward for which is high and whose trouble is little." Then your bitter dispiritedness will be transformed into sweet endeavor.
4.O man who is weary of performing prayers! Is this duty of worship without result? Is its recompense little that it causes you weariness? Whereas if someone was to give you a little money, or to intimidate you, he could make you work till evening, and you would work without slacking. So is it that the prescribed prayers are without result, which in this guest-house of the world are sustenance and wealth for your impotent and weak heart, and in your grave, which will be a certain dwelling-place for you, sustenance and light, and at the Resurrection, when you will anyway be judged, a document and patent, and on the Bridge of Sirat, over which you are bound to pass, a light and a mount?
Someone promises you a present worth a hundred liras, and makes you work for a hundred days. You trust the man who may go back on his word and work without slacking. So if One for Whom the breaking of a promise is impossible, promises you recompense like Paradise and a gift like eternal happiness, and employs you for a very short time in a very agreeable duty, if you do not perform that service, or you act accusingly towards His promise or slight His gift by performing it unwillingly like someone forced to work, or by being bored, or by working in halfhearted fashion, you will deserve a severe reprimand and awesome punishment. Have you not thought of this`? Although you serve without slacking in the heaviest work in this world out of fear of imprisonment, does the fear of an eternal incarceration like Hell not fill you with enthusiasm for a most light and agreeable act of service, that is, prayer?
With the right intention, all the other acts of someone who performs prayers become like worship. He can make over the whole capital of his life to the hereafter in this way. He can make his transient life permanent in one respect.
Question: I have a lot of work to do. I cannot perform prayers. What should I do?
Answer: O man who is connected to the world as if worshipping it! Does your slackness in worship and deficiency in prayers arise from the multiplicity of your worldly occupations, or because you cannot find time due to the struggle for livelihood? Were you created only for this world that you spend ail your time on it?
Why do you not understand that your basic duty is not to labor like an animal, but to expend effort for a true, perpetual life, like a true human being.!
Besides, the worldly works are trivial matters that mostly do not concern you, and that you meddle in officiously and confuse. You leave aside the essential things and pass your time in acquiring inessential information as if you were going to live for thousands of years.
As a result: O man! Know that yesterday has left you, and as for tomorrow, you have nothing to prove that it will be yours. In which case, know that your true life is the present day. So throw at least one of its hours into a mosque or prayer-mat, a coffer for the hereafter like a reserve fund, set up for the true future.
Question: I perform prayers. However I cannot perform them properly. Will performing prayers like this be of any use to me?
Answer: Never say, "What are my prayers in comparison with the reality of the prayers?", because like the seed of a date-palm describes the full-grown tree, your prayers describe your tree. Similarly the prayers of a great saint, the prayers of ordinary people like you or me - even if they are not aware of it - have a share of that light. There is a mystery in this truth, even if the consciousness does perceive it. However the unfolding and illumination differ according to the degrees of those performing them. As there are many stages and degrees from the seed of a date-palm to the mature tree, so the stages in the degrees of prayers may be even more numerous. However, in each degree, the basis of that luminous truth is present.
Question: Why are prayers allocated to five times?
Answer: Each time of prayer is the beginning of an important revolution and also a mirror of the divine disposition. It is necessary to glorify and honor Allah more at those times. Prayer, which means thanking and praising, was ordered for the numerous bounties accumulated between two times.
For instance, at the time of the morning prayer, there is a huge day and a lot of tasks awaiting man. It is an essential need of the spirit to take refuge in Lord and ask for His help for the coming troubles. Man is weak and poor. The weight of those burdens overwhelm him. To know and ask for the help of his Lord gives man peace. Therefore, from this aspect, it is an essential need of the spirit to perform the morning prayer.
Noon is the time when the spirit of man that is spiritually overwhelmed by the tiring and suffocating weight of the worldly works. So the spirit attains the peace through the noon prayer by turning towards Allah.
Afternoon is the time when the day starts to end and reminds partings. The sun goes away gradually. The day is leaving, the life is going, the world is going towards the Day of Judgment. The heart and the spirit always feel pain due to the partings, they do not want to leave the things that they are interested in and they do not even want to think of it. So, to perform the afternoon prayer at that time is an essential need of the heart and the spirit.
Evening prayer reminds man that with the end of the day life will also end and the Day of Judgment will come. It is shown at the time of evening prayer that the spirit of man is need of taking refuge in Allahs presence and man is reminded that the world and the worldly things that man is interested in are not of help to him and will leave him alone.
The time of night prayer is the time when the day closes and it reminds man the silence of the grave and his loneliness. Man is in need of taking refuge in a Lord that will console him and will free him of his loneliness. So by performing night prayer he ascends to His presence.
It is understood from the explanation above how wise it is that five obligatory prayers are allocated to certain times of the day.
PRAYER IS THE PILLAR OF THE RELIGION
Based on the hadith Prayer is the pillar of the religion it will be seen in this reading text how profitable a trade a person who performs prayers makes and how much a person who does not perform prayers loses.
If you want to understand with the certainty that two plus two equals four just how valuable and important are the prescribed prayers, and with what little expense they are gained, and how crazy and harmful is the person who neglects them, pay attention to the following story which is in the form of a comparison:
One time, a mighty ruler gave each of two of his servants twenty-four gold pieces and sent them to settle on one of his rich, royal farms two months' distance away. "Use this money for your tickets", he commanded them, "and buy whatever is necessary for your house there with it. There is a station one day's distance from the farm. And there is both road-transport, and a railway, and boats, and aeroplanes. They can be benefited from according to your capital."
The two servants set off after receiving these instructions. One of them was fortunate so that he spent a small amount of money on the way to the station. And included in that expense was some business so profitable and pleasing to his master that his capital increased a thousandfold. As for the other servant, since he was luckless and a layabout, he spent twenty-three pieces of gold on the way to the station, wasting it on gambling and amusements. A single gold piece remained. His friend said to him: "Spend this last gold piece on a ticket so that you will not have to walk the long journey and starve. Moreover, our master is generous; perhaps he will take pity on you and forgive you your faults, and put you on an aeroplane as well. Then we shall reach where we are going to live in one day. Otherwise you will be compelled to walk alone and hungry across a desert which takes two months to cross." The most unintelligent person can understand how foolish, harmful, and senseless he would be if out of obstinacy he did not spend that single remaining gold piece on a ticket, which is like the key to a treasury, and instead spent it on vice for passing pleasure. Is that not so?
And so, O you who do not perform the prescribed prayers! And O my own soul, which does not like to pray! The ruler in the comparison is our Sustainer, our Creator. And of the two traveling servants, one represents the devout who perform their prayers with fervor, and the other, the heedless who neglect their prayers. The twenty-four pieces of gold are life in every twenty-four-hour day. And the royal domain is Paradise. As for the station, that is the grave. While the journey is man's passage to the grave, and on to the Resurrection, and the Hereafter. Men cover that long journey to different degrees according to their actions and the strength of their fear of God. Some of the truly devout have crossed a thousand-year distance in a day like lightening. And some have traversed a fifty-thousand-year distance in a day with the speed of imagination. The Quran of Mighty Stature alludes to this truth with two of its verses.
The ticket in the comparison represents the prescribed prayers. A single hour a day is sufficient for the five prayers together with taking the ablutions. So what a loss a person makes who spends twenty-three hours on this fleeting worldly life, and fails to spend one hour on the long life of the Hereafter; how he wrongs his own self; how unreasonably he behaves. For would not anyone who considers himself to be reasonable understand how contrary to reason and wisdom such a person's conduct is, and how far from reason he has become, if, thinking it reasonable, he gives half of his property to a lottery in which one thousand people are participating and the possibility of winning is one in a thousand, and does not give one twenty-fourth of it to an eternal treasury where the possibility of winning has been verified at ninety-nine out of a hundred?
Moreover, the spirit, the heart, and the mind find great ease in prayer. And it is not trying for the body. Furthermore, with the right intention, all the other acts of someone who performs the prescribed prayers become like worship. He can make over the whole capital of his life to the Hereafter in this way. He can make his transient life permanent in one respect... Badiuzzaman