Prayer or al-Ṣalāt
Prayer or al-Ṣalāt (Arabic: الصلاة) is the most important worship of Muslims which is referred to by highly respectful and reverent phrases in the Qur'an and hadiths, such as the pillar of the religion, ascension of spirit, soul purifier, the first practice which will be questioned about on the Day of Judgement, and the requisite for the acceptance of good deeds. It is also mentioned in these sources that prayer wards the sins off, determines the border of faith and infidelity, and eliminates arrogance.
Prayer became obligatory for Muslims before the Prophet's (s) hijra. At the beginning, Muslims performed prayer towards Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem al-Quds, but from the second year after hijra/623-4, they were supposed to say prayer in the direction of Ka'ba in Mecca.
In addition to its spiritual aspects, prayer is known as the most important motto of Islam. Friday prayer and congregational prayer embody the social aspect of this worship.
In addition to obligatory prayers, there are a lot of prayers which have been mentioned in hadiths as highly beneficial for both this world and the future life. Among those, the most important ones are Night prayer and Nafila prayer which accompany the obligatory ones.
The Arabic word "صلاة" (ṣalāt) is derived from the root "ص ل و" which means prayer and its plural form is "salawat". Salat is also used in the meaning of du'a (supplication) in some verses of the Qur'an.
The word salat (prayer) along with its derivatives has been repeated ninety eight times in the Qur'an. It has such a great importance that has been mentioned, beside faith, as the first and the most important individual and collective practice in many verses. It has been said in the Holy Qur'an that the first groans and shrieks of hell dwellers, refer to not having said their prayer in their life in this world. Also, people who were negligent about their prayer have been said to be similar to those denying the religion. No obligatory practice has been emphasized as much as prayer in the Qur'an. It is a way to reach deliverance, an assistance when encountering troubles, one of the important God's orders to prophets, one of the prophets' great concerns mainly for their family, and it helps one avoid committing sins.
Prayer has a remarkable position in both the Prophet's (s) words and deeds. There are over 11,600 hadiths about prayer in the books Wasa'il al-Shi'a and Mustadrak al-wasa'il, demonstrating its unique significance among the twelve Imams. Imam al-Husayn's (a) noon prayer on the Day of 'Ashura', and many other instances from Imam's lives, bear witness to the importance of prayer.
There are various expressions and phrases referring to prayer in hadith:
- The pillar of the religion
- Pious men's ascension
- Pious men's light
- Sign of faith
- The best means to approach Allah
- Representation of Islam
- A key to Heaven
- A gleam in the Prophet's (s) eyes
- One of the best practices on the Day of Judgement
- The first practice which is going to be questioned about on the Day of Judgement
- A criterion to recognize real Shi'as
- A companion for man in the darkness of grave
- Provision for one's future life
- A means to fulfill one's wishes
- A means to purify one's spirit
- A fortress against the Satan
- The forerunner of other practices and actions
- Warding off arrogance
- An expiation for sins
- A means to banish the Devil
- A means to lighten ones house by Allah's guidance light
- A means to ward off calamities
- A means to overcome grief and sadness
- A permit to pass the Sirat (the bridge on the Day of Judgement)
- The first divine obligatory practice
Severe punishments and consequences have been considered for neglecting or not saying prayer such as:
- A cause of becoming the dweller of the Hell
- A sign of hypocrisy
- Causing vain regret in barzakh
- Becoming deprived of intercession
- No blessing for lifetime
- No blessing for earning and property
- A dark face
- Having no rewards for good deeds
- A death with contempt
- Not fulfilling wishes and supplications
- Not fulfilling others' good wishes for the person
- Darkness and pressure in grave
- Severe punishments and harsh judgments on the Day of Judgement
- God does not bless him/her
Prayer is a worship which every religion has introduced, although there have been different types of it due to dissimilarities in religions. Some prophets' prayers including Abraham (a), Isma'il (a) (Ishmael), Ishaq (a) (Isac), Moses (a), Zakaria (a) (Zechariah), Jesus (a), Shu'ayb (a), and Luqman (a) is mentioned in the Qur'an. In hadiths, Adam's prayer as well as many other prophets is indicated.
According to the Qur'an, prayer is not specified to humans. Every creature either in sky or land has its own particular prayer:
||Have you not regarded that Allah is glorified by everyone in the heavens and the earth, and the birds spreading their wings. Each knows his prayer and glorification, and Allah knows best what they do.
|— Qur'an 24:41
During the first years of Islam, over the Prophet's secret propagation, he was saying a prayer along with Imam Ali (a) and Lady Khadija (a). But the obligation of daily prayers was announced by God in mi'raj (the ascension night), about eighteen months before the emigration. These prayers consisted of two units (rak'a) and seven other units were added to them in the first year after the emigration, therefore, the ultimate form of prayers was developed.
Prayer is a kind of worship and no one has the right to make up a prayer which has not existed in religion. This is prohibited in Islam. Types of prayers are:
Obligatory prayers can be categorized into two groups:
Main article: Daily Prayers
Daily prayers are five prayers with the total of 17 units (rak'a), here are the names of prayers and their time:
- Fajr prayer (dawn prayer): two rak'as from early dawn (fajr) till sunrise.
- Zuhr prayer (noon prayer): four rak'as after zuhr (noon) till maghrib (sunset).
- Asr prayer (afternoon prayer): four rak'as after noon prayer till maghrib (sunset).
- Maghrib prayer: three rak'as at maghrib (when the redness of eastern sky has passed over one's head after sunset) till midnight.
- Isha prayer: four rak'as after maghrib prayer till midnight.
When traveling, prayers comprising of four rak'as (units) are reduced into two rak'as. (see Qasr Prayer)
Occasional Obligatory Prayers
- Ayat Prayer (signs prayer): with two rak'as and five ruku's in every rak'a; whenever the following happenings occur: lunar eclipse, solar eclipse (partial or total), earthquake, etc.
- Qada prayer (compensation prayer): if one does not say one's prayer on its particular time, one has committed a sin and must say the prayer later with the intention of compensation. Quality of the qada prayer is the same as the missed prayer except for the time.
- Funeral Prayer: with five takbirs while standing and special recitations (dhikr) between every two takbirs, it is performed for dead Muslims before their burial.
Since prayer is the most beautiful and perfect practice of worship, there are lots of supererogatory prayers in addition to obligatory ones for those enthusiastic. It is almost impossible to find a religious occasion not having a special prayer. Many of these prayers are assembled in Mafatih al-jinan.
Other recommended prayers are Eid Prayer, Prayer of Ja'far al-Tayyar, Prayer for help and many more.
Before starting to say prayer, preparations must be made. First of all tahara have to be achieved through performing wudu, ghusl, or tayammum according to circumstances. Then, one must face qibla (Ka'ba in Mecca) with clean body and clothes.
Obligatory elements of prayer are eleven:
The first five ones are essential components of prayer (rukn). There is a difference between essential (rukn) and non-essential components: If one does not perform essential components either accidentally or on purpose, the prayer is void. But about non-essential components, if one does not perform on purpose the prayer is void and if one forgets them accidentally, the prayer is correct.
How to Say Prayer
Face qibla with comfort and take your niyyat (intention) into mind. Altough uttering niyyat is not necessary but it's better to utter the niyyat, for instance, "I say two rak'as (units) of the Fajr prayer for God's sake and satisfaction." And so for other prayers.
- Say takbirat al-ihram: Raise your hands up to near your ears and say اَللهُ أکبَر (transliteration: "Allah-u akbar", meaning: Allah is the greatest).
- Perform ruku' (bowing) and say its dhikr: سُبْحانَ رَبّیَ الْعَظیمِ وَ بِحَمْدِه (transliteration: "subhan-a rabbi-a l-'azim-i wa bi-hamdih"; meaning: exalted be my Lord, the great, and I praise him) or instead, you can say three times سُبْحانَ الله (transliteration: "subhan Allah"; meaning: exalted be Allah).
- After that stand up again and then, perform sujud (prostration): place your head on the ground and say dhikr of sujud سُبْحانَ رَبّیَ الْاَعلی وَ بِحَمْدِه (transliteration: "Subhan-a rabbi-a l-a'la wa bi-hamdih; meaning: exalted be my lord, the highest, and I praise him), or say three times سُبْحانَ الله (transliteration: "subhan Allah"; meaning: exalted be Allah). Then, sit on your knees for a few seconds and perform sujud again and restate its dhikr (recite).
- After reciting Fatiha and another sura say qunut: raise your hands and Keep your hands in front of your face, turning the palms facing the sky, and keep both the hands and fingers close together. In this condition, you can say any du'a (supplication) you wish. For instance: رَبَّنا آتِنا فِی الدُّنْیا حَسَنَةً وَ فِی الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَ قِنا عَذابَ النَّار (transliteration: "Rabbana atina fi l-dunya hasanat-an wa fi l-akhirat-i hasanat-an wa qina 'adhab-a l-nar"; meaning: "Our Lord, give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and save us from the punishment of the Fire"), however saying qunut is supererogatory.
- After Qunut, you have to perform ruk'u the same as the first rak'a.
- then stand and again prostrate twice.
اَشْهَدُ اَنْ لااِلهَ اِلاَّ اللّهُ وَحْدَهُ لاشَرِیكَ لَهُ، وَاَشْهَدُ اَنَّ مُحَمَداً عَبْدُهُ وَ رَسُولُه، اَلّلهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلی مُحَمَّد وَ آلِ مُحَمَّد
- (Transliteration: "Ashhad-u an la ilah-a illa Allah, wa ashhad-u anna Muhammad-an abduh-u wa rasuluh, Allahumma sall-i ala Muhammad-in wa al-i Muhammad; meaning: I bear witness that there is no God except Allah who is one without any partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger, O Allah bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad)
- If the prayer consists of two rak'as (units), in the second unit after tashahhud you must read salam:
اَلسَّلامُ عَلَیْكَ اَیُّهَا النَّبِیُّ وَ رَحْمَةُ اللّهِ وَ بَرَکاتُهُ، اَلسَّلامُ عَلَیْنا وَ عَلی عِبادِ اللّهِ الصّالِحینَ، اَلسَّلامُ عَلَیكُمْ وَ رَحْمَةُ اللّهِ وَ بَرَکاتُهُ
- (Transliteration: al-salam-u 'alayk-a ayyuha l-Nabiy-yu wa rahmat-u l-Allah-i wa barakatuh, al-salam-u 'alayna wa 'ala 'ibad-i l-Allah-i l-salihin, al-salam-u 'alaykum wa rahmat-u l-Allah-i wa barakatuh; meaning: peace be upon you O the Prophet, and the mercy of God and His bounties, peace be upon us and upon the virtuous servants of Allah, peace be upon you all, and the mercy of Allah and his bounties.)
Prayers of two rak'as are ended after salam.
Third and Fourth Rak'as
- If the prayer is composed of three or four units, you must stand after tashahhud, and instead of reading sura al-Fatiha and another sura, you are supposed to read tasbihat al-arba'a (the four tasbihs):
سُبْحانَ اللّهِ وَ الْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ وَ لاإلهَ اِلّا اللّهُ وَ اللّهُ أكْبَر
- (Transliteration: subhan Allah wa l-hamd-u li-Allah wa la ilah-a illa Allah wa Allah-u akbar; menaing: exalted be Allah and the praise belong to Allah and there is no god but Allah and Allah is the Greatest.)
- Next, it is the turn of ruku' and two sujuds.
If the prayer consists of three units, Tashahhud and Salam must be read after the two sujuds on the third unit. But if the prayer is comprised of four units, you have to stand up after sujuds and read tasbihat al-arba'a, and after ruku and the two sujuds, tashahhud and salam must be said.
All supererogatory prayers are 2 units, except for the last prayer of the Night prayers (Witr prayer) and A'rabi prayer. For instance, one of the practices at Eid al-Ghadir is a supererogatory prayer consisting of 12 units, it must be said as six prayers, each of them 2 units.
Many formalities and recommended practices have been suggested for prayer. The most important ones are:
- Saying prayer on the beginning of its time,
- Saying adhan and iqamah before the prayer,
- Performing prayer in mosque and in congregational way
- Having deep concentration and being modest.
Besides, a lot of blessing and beneficial supplications have been introduced to us to read after prayer is finished (ta'qibat). The most important of them is tasbih of Lady Fatima (a). Most of these formalities are explained at the first chapter of Mafatih al-jinan.
Philosophies of Prayer
There are many philosophies for praying:
- Reminding of God is the foundation, base, purpose, spirit, preliminary, conclusion, and reason of prayer.
- Prayer builds up the spirit of worship. If one performs prayer in a form that God prefers (not the way one wants), despite lacking deep concentration during prayer, it demonstrates one's perfect devotion to Allah. One can praise Allah in one's own language. This kind of worship and prayer is blessing and rewarding and makes one closer to God; however, it does not contain the compliance and obedience spirit before almighty God. Because it actually is in the way one prefers, not on the basis of God's order and will.
- By prayer, the sins could get washed away and it brings about God's forgiveness. As it is necessary for one to clean one's body, it is also essential to wash away the dirt of sins which has covered one's heart.
- Prayer is a barrier to commit sins, since it fortifies faith and grows the piety in one's heart. According to what is found in numerous hadiths, there were some people who had gotten used to committing sins, but also performed their prayer; despite that, Imams (a) had foretold that their prayer would make them repent and reform in the future.
- Prayer makes one think of God in every moment and to eliminate neglect. The worst catastrophe for pious men tending to step in God's passage is to forget the purpose of their creation. Since prayer is performed in different intervals and must be said five times a day, it constantly warns the human and reminds him of his real status in the universe.
- Prayer destroys and eliminates arrogance and haughtiness inside human.
- Prayer must be performed on the basis of some rules which invites one to purify one's life from any impurity. For example, the place of praying, the clothes the person intends to say prayer with, the rug or carpet which one is standing on, and the water one uses to make wudu must be free of any violation of others' rights and property.
- Prayer has to be performed in particular times (sooner or later than its specified time is not acceptable). Besides, it contains some formalities and orders (for example niyya, ruku', sujud, etc.) which if being obeyed and accepted, facilitates discipline and order in one's life.
- Prayer reduces impatience and greed. Almighty God tells us in the Holy Qur'an: "Indeed man has been created covetous: anxious when an ill befalls him, and grudging when good comes his way —[all are such] except the prayerful, those who are persevering in their prayers."
- Prayer builds up perseverance when encountering life obstacles. God had recommended in two parts of the Qur'an to get help from prayer and patience. With the aid of the peace which prayer brings to one's life, one can easily cope with problems and hardships.
- Jump up↑ Rāghib al-Iṣfahānī, al-Mufradāt fī gharīb al-Qurʾān, under the word «صلی».
- Jump up↑ Qurʾān, 9:103; 33:56; 2:157.
- Jump up↑ Nurūzī, Muqaddamaʾī bar falsafa-yi namāz, p. 116.
- Jump up↑ 'What drew you into Hell?' (42) They will answer, 'We were not among those who prayed.' (Quran 74:42, 43)
- Jump up↑ Did you see him who denies the Retribution? (1) ... So woe to them who pray, (4) —those who are heedless of their prayers, (5) (Quran 107:1, 4, 5)
- Jump up↑ Felicitous is he who purifies himself, (14) celebrates the Name of his Lord, and prays. (Quran 87:14, 15)
- Jump up↑ And take recourse in patience and prayer, and it is indeed hard except for the humble (Quran 2:45)
- Jump up↑ (Jesus said,) He has made me blessed, wherever I may be, and He has enjoined me to [maintain] the prayer and to [pay] the zakat as long as I live (Quran 19:31)
- Jump up↑ He (Isma'il) used to bid his family to [maintain] the prayer and to [pay] the zakat, and was pleasing to his Lord. (Quran 19:55)
- Jump up↑ Recite what has been revealed to you of the Book, and maintain the prayer. Indeed the prayer prevents indecencies and wrongs, and the remembrance of Allah is surely greater. And Allah knows whatever [deeds] you do. (Quran 29:45)
- Jump up↑ Muḥammadī Riyshahrī, Mīzān al-ḥikma, vol. 5, p. 370.
- Jump up↑ Miybudī, Kashf al-asrār, vol. 2, p. 676.
- Jump up↑ Rāwandī, Shahāb al-akhbār, p. 50.
- Jump up↑ Rāwandī, Shahāb al-akhbār, p. 59.
- Jump up↑ Ḥarrānī, Tuḥaf al-ʿuqūl, p. 455.
- Jump up↑ Pāyanda, Nahj al-faṣāḥa, Hadīth 1588.
- Jump up↑ Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 82, p. 193.
- Jump up↑ Nūrī, Mustadrak al-wasāʾil, vol. 3, p. 7.
- Jump up↑ Muttaqī al-Hindī, Kanz al-ʿummāl, vol. 7, Hadith 18859.
- Jump up↑ Ṣadūq, Khiṣāl, p. 103.
- Jump up↑ Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 82, p. 232.
- Jump up↑ Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 82, p. 232.
- Jump up↑