Silent strengthening the Faith to Allah SWT

Purpose of Prayer in Islam

Prayer (salat) is the most important practice in Islam after declaring faith in Allah and His Messenger. The Prophet described the prayer as a light, the pillar of Islam, and among the best deeds. But this is for the true and sincere prayer that completes its purpose and objectives, both inwardly and outwardly, not simply going through the motions without the presence of the heart. In order for the prayer to be fulfilled, we must allow it to purify our hearts, keep us away from sin, and enrich our lives in the remembrance of Allah. Allah says:

اتْلُ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ ۗ وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ

“Recite what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Verily, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, but the remembrance of Allah is greater, and Allah knows what you do.” (Surah Al-Ankabut 29:45)

Prayer, or Salat, was made obligatory for all Muslims, whether they be rich or poor, strong or weak, black or white, male or female. Prayer allows the believer to enrich their spirituality and cultivate the soul’s right to love and worship the Creator, Allah. The importance of prayer is conveyed constantly in the Quran and was also stressed by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “Know that among your duties, prayer is foremost”. Allah says:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّىٰ وَذَكَرَ اسْمَ رَبِّهِ فَصَلَّىٰ

“He has succeeded who purifies himself, who remembers the name of his Lord and prays.” (Surah Al-A’la 87:14-15)

Purification of the heart is the ultimate religious objective of prayer. Prayer will only be acceptable to Allah if it is done with sincerity, reverence, awareness, and repentance. Our prayers should cleanse the heart of every spiritual disease such as envy, malice, and arrogance. The parable of the prayer is that of a running river in which we cleanse our hearts five times a day. Each prayer ends with a statement that means to connect. It literally interrupts one’s day in order that one disconnect from this world and reconnect with God and the hereafter. Ultimately, this world is temporary, and no one will be here forever. Allah says:

إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ ۗ وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ

“Verily, the prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater.” (Surah Al-Ankabut 29:45)

Having performed prayer with this understanding and spiritual purpose, the natural result is that our prayers should prevent us from committing further sins and instil us with good character. How then can a person perform the prayer, intending to purify his heart and repent for his sins, and thereafter commit more sins and crimes? Further indulgence in wrongdoing after the prayer only demonstrates that the prayer performed had been deficient. Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ

“O you who believe! Seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer). Truly! Allah is with As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.” (Al-Baqara 2:153)

Prayer provides regular and constant opportunities to disconnect from the temporary and connect with the Eternal. When we are preparing for prayer, we should keep this image in mind so that our awareness is focused on the goal of attaining a pure heart. Related to this inward purification is the purification from sin, as prayer is among the greatest good deeds for which we expiate our sins. Allah says:

وَأْمُرْ أَهْلَكَ بِالصَّلَاةِ وَاصْطَبِرْ عَلَيْهَا لَا نَسْأَلُكَ رِزْقًا نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُكَ وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ

“And enjoin (on) your family the prayer and be steadfast therein. Not We ask you (for) provision; We provide (for) you, and the outcome (is) for the righteous[ness].” (Surah Taa-Haa 20:132)

This is expiation is another way to view the prayer as a river, since it cleanses us from the sins we commit. The ablution with water (wudu), which itself precedes the prayer, represents this process of repentance and purification. When we perform ablution, we should imagine that the sincerity and purity of our actions are cleansing the sin from our souls with every drop of water. Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ

“Oh, you who believe! Seek help through patience and Salah. Truly, Allah is with those who are patient.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:153)

The performance of prayer five times a day is considered vital to attaining success in this life and the hereafter. In general, the prayer expiates minor sins for which there is no need for specific repentance. We should not think to ourselves that we may perform major sins and expiate them with prayers alone.

مَا مِنْ امْرِئٍ مُسْلِمٍ تَحْضُرُهُ صَلَاةٌ مَكْتُوبَةٌ فَيُحْسِنُ وُضُوءَهَا وَخُشُوعَهَا وَرُكُوعَهَا إِلَّا كَانَتْ كَفَّارَةً لِمَا قَبْلَهَا مِنْ الذُّنُوبِ مَا لَمْ يُؤْتِ كَبِيرَةً وَذَلِكَ الدَّهْرَ كُلَّهُ

“When the time of prescribed prayer arrives, no Muslim performs it with its ablution, its reverence, and its bowing except that it will be an expiation for his previous sins as long as he does not commit a major sin, and this applies for all time.” (Sahih Muslim 228)

Major sins which involve the rights of people, such as theft, require specific acts of repentance like returning the stolen money or otherwise redressing what was done wrong. However, in some special cases, a sincere prayer as an act of repentance can expiate sins that might otherwise involve worldly punishment.

مَثَلُ الْبَيْتِ الَّذِي يُذْكَرُ اللَّهُ فِيهِ وَالْبَيْتِ الَّذِي لَا يُذْكَرُ اللَّهُ فِيهِ مَثَلُ الْحَيِّ وَالْمَيِّتِ

“The example of the house in which Allah is remembered and the house in which Allah is not remembered is that of the living and the dead.” (Sahih Bukhari 6044)

Essentially, the prayer is an entire act of remembrance for Allah, remembering His greatness, the path of the prophets, and the Hereafter. This remembrance is at the core of prayer and every act of worship and good deed. It is what enriches our lives and leads to eternal life in Paradise. Hence, the parable of those who remember or forget Allah is like the difference between the living and the dead. Allah says:

إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَابًا مَّوْقُوتًا

“Verily, the prayer is a duty upon the believers at prescribed times.” (Surah An-Nisa 4:103)

The concept of healing most ailments through prayer before seeking out other ways of dealing with them. The testimony of faith, performance of the prayers at their correct times and complete in bowings, prostrations, and humility, will guarantee forgiveness from God and everlasting paradise. Muslims believe that the first matter that they will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of their deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad. Allah says:

أَقِمْ الصَّلَاةَ طَرَفَيْ النَّهَارِ وَزُلَفًا مِنْ اللَّيْلِ إِنَّ الْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّيِّئَاتِ

“Establish prayer at the two ends of the day and in the first hours of the night. Verily, good deeds take away evil deeds.” (Surah Hud 11:114)

Prayer provides a constant reminder of the essence of our creation and provides a direct connection to Allah, who linked success and felicity to humility in prayer. It emphasizes the proximity between religion and daily life. Life, from an Islamic standpoint, is to be directed to Allah. Life is an opportunity for worship and the remembrance of Allah. Prayer provides a means of repentance and is a restrainer from shameful and unjust deeds. This is portrayed through the following saying of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

Going deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart:

  1. Praying together in a congregation helps Muslims
  2. Prayer is something that safeguards the health
  3. Praying realize all are equal in the sight of God
  4. Prayer unites mind, soul, and body in worship
  5. Prayer perform supplication with conviction
  6. Prayer is caused one to receive sustenance
  7. Prayer is all clean and free from impurities
  8. Praying realize that all humanity is one
  9. Prayers set just phrases to be spoken
  10. Prayer brightens one’s countenance
  11. Prayer keeps away harmful things
  12. Prayer safeguards one’s blessings
  13. Prayer is nourishment for the soul
  14. Prayer sets the rhythm of the day
  15. Prayer: A Universal Muslim ritual
  16. Prayer makes the limbs active
  17. Prayer strengthens the heart
  18. Prayer casts away illnesses
  19. Prayer illuminates the heart 
  20. Prayer delights the soul
  21. Prayer gets rid of laziness
  22. Prayer expands the chest 
  23. Prayer repels catastrophes
  24. Prayer brings on blessings
  25. Muslims can pray anywhere
  26. Prayer close to Ar-Rahmaan
  27. Muslims pray directly to God
  28. Prayer utter his name with pure love
  29. Prayer feels the bond with your Lord
  30. Praying reminds the Day of Judgment
  31. Prayer transmits belief of man’s heart
  32. Prayer refreshes the mind and the soul
  33. Prayer gives us the habit of being clean
  34. Prayer strengthens the goodness of God
  35. Prayer enlivens the belief in practical life
  36. Prayer protecting the body from bacteria 
  37. Muslims prays as in the presence of God
  38. Prayer increases one’s physical strength
  39. Prayer fight laziness and procrastination
  40. Prayer keeps away the Shaytaan (the Devil)

Praying repeatedly throughout the day and interrupting daily activities brings about the realization of this concept. The believer, through prayer, acquires a spiritual awareness that he takes with him throughout all of life’s endeavours. Prayer purifies the heart and truly, through Prayer, a believer attains spiritual devotion and moral elevation. Prayer not only gives a deep connection with God but in prayer one establishes patience, humility and sincerity. Allah says:

فَإِذَا قُضِيَتِ الصَّلَاةُ فَانتَشِرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَابْتَغُوا مِن فَضْلِ اللَّهِ وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

“When the prayer has been concluded, then disperse within the land and seek from the bounty of Allah and remember Allah often that you may succeed.” (Surah Al-Jumuah 62:10)

Most would consider it important to be clean before they meet someone important, go for a job interview, or stand before an important person. Similarly, Muslims consider it important to be in a state of physical purity when they stand before God in prayer. This washing also creates a culture of cleanliness where everyone in society is in the habit of washing their hands, face, and limbs regularly. Allah says:

إِنَّمَا وَلِيُّكُمُ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ

“Indeed, your protecting friend (Wali) is none other than Allah, His Messenger, and the Believers who establish Salah, and give Zakat, and bow down (in prayer).” (Surah Al-Ma’idah 5: 55)

When one prays in the congregation several times a day they get to know the other worshipers. It provides an opportunity to know who is in need, sick, or in need of assistance. If everyone prayed in his or her home the opportunity to help others would not be as readily available. If you love someone, they are always on your mind. Prayer keeps Muslims in touch with God.

Allah Almighty says In the Holy Quran : 

  • “Pray to me and I will hear your prayer.” (Quran 40:60).
  • “Verily, prayer restrains (oneself) from shameful and unjust deeds…” (Quran 29:45)
  • “Successful indeed are the believers, who are humble in their prayers.” (Quran 23:1-2)
  • “Without a doubt, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.” (Quran 13:28)
  • “Then, there came after them a generation who gave up Salah and followed lusts; so they will be thrown in Hell.” (Quran 19: 59)
  • “Oh, ye who believe! Seek help with perseverance and prayer: for God is with those who patiently persevere.” (Quran 11:153)
  • “Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He who deceives them; When they stand up for Salah, they stand with laziness, only to be seen by men; and they do not remember Allah but a little.” (Quran 4:142)
  • “Shaytaan desires only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from Salah. So will you then not abstain (from these evils)?” (Quran 5:91)
  • “When have finished performing the Salah, remember Allah standing, sitting, and reclining, but when you are free from danger, perform the Salah. Surely, Salah is enjoined on the believers at fixed times.” (Quran 4:103)
  • “Guard strictly the Salah, especially the middle Salah. And stand before Allah with obedience.” (Quran 2:238)
  • “Guard strictly your (habit of) prayers… If you fear (an enemy), pray on foot, or riding.” (Qur’an 2:238-9)

Praying five times a day engages the believer in constant remembrance of God and keeps him away from any unjust deeds and leads him only to deeds that will earn the pleasure of God. It is through prayer that one really finds inner peace and fulfilment. It is also a source of patience, courage, hope, confidence, inner peace, stability, equality, unity and an expression of thankfulness to God. Allah says:

مُنِيبِينَ إِلَيْهِ وَاتَّقُوهُ وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَلَا تَكُونُوا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ

“Turning to Him, and consciously revere Him. and establish the prayer and (do) not be of the polytheists.” (Surah Ar-Rum 30:31)

Islam is a religion that has fixed teachings, these teachings cannot be changed, but they are flexible. Islam is a practical religion that takes rare circumstances into consideration. If one is travelling, taking a long exam, performing surgery, or ill they may shorten or combine their prayers. Praying five times a day keeps on in check because they are constantly speaking to God and reflecting on their actions.

فَذَلِكَ مِثْلُ الصَّلَوَاتِ الْخَمْسِ يَمْحُو اللَّهُ بِهَا الْخَطَايَا

“That is the example of the five prayers with which Allah erases evil deeds.” (Sahih Bukhari 505)

There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and they all face the city of Mecca when they perform the prayer. This is meant to instil a sense of unity among Muslims. It also helps orient the heart toward the Kaba, the holiest site in Islam. Muslims do not worship the Kaba it simply serves as a focal point. Although all directions belong to God, people often need a focal point to centre their concentration. Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَجِيبُوا لِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَأَنَّهُ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ

“O you who believe! Respond to Allah and His Messenger when he calls you to what gives you life. And know that Allah comes (in) between a man and his heart and that to Him you will be gathered.” (Surah Al-Anfal 8:24)

The prayer is therefore peaceful and liberating from the shackles of temptations and worldly things. After one reconnects with God they have a sense of peace in their heart. This peace cannot be found through materialism, fun, entertainment, or fame. It is only found by disconnecting from this brief and transient world and reconnecting with God. It serves as a reminder of the Creator and Sustainer. With this in mind, we must strive to make our prayers meaningful on every level, inwardly and outwardly, according to the rules of proper practice and the rules of the heart.