By Imam Syed Anisul Haque | 24 May 2024

It is one of my most important duties as an Imam to remind us all about the essentials of our religion. Today, I wish to speak about a pillar that forms the very foundation of Islam - Salah, the five daily prayers.

Salah holds an exalted status in our faith, being the only pillar that was made obligatory by Allah Himself during the miraculous Night Journey, the Israa wal-Mi‘raj. As narrated by Anas ibn Malik:

Fifty prayers were obligated upon the Prophet ﷺ when he was taken on his night journey. Then, it was reduced until it was set at five and an announcement was made, ‘O Muhammad, My word is never changed, so these five prayers will be counted as fifty.’

Sahih Muslim

The prophets before us, from Isa to Ibrahim to Ismail (peace be upon them all), were all commanded by Allah to establish prayer. It is a timeless act of submission that connects us directly to our Creator. When we are in distress, rushing to pray like the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ did, saying, “O Bilal, call iqamah for prayer: give us comfort by it”, is a source of comfort and healing.

Most remarkably, in Salah we have the honour of conversing with Allah Himself. As the Prophet ﷺ relates in a Hadith Qudsi – a sayings of the Messenger ﷺ in which he quotes Allah directly:

Allah Almighty said: ‘I have divided prayer between Myself and My servant into two halves, and My servant shall have what he has asked for.’

Sahih Muslim

So with every verse of Surah Al-Fatihah we recite, Allah is listening and responding. What greater privilege could there be?

Not only does Salah purify us spiritually, washing away the sins of the day like a river flowing by our door in which we cleanse ourselves five times, as narrated in a famous Hadeeth in Sahih Muslim, prayer also safeguards us from immorality and wrongdoing.

Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing.

Qur’an, 29:45

Salah instils taqwa (God-consciousness) in the heart of the steadfast believer.

Moreover, Salah is a means of attaining sustenance and blessings in both this life and the next. When Allah commanded the Prophet ﷺ regarding prayer, He followed it with the mention of provision: “And enjoin prayer upon your family and be steadfast therein. We ask you not for provision; We provide for you.” [Qur’an 20:132].

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya (13th century CE) beautifully summarised the manifold benefits of Salah, stating that it “attracts sustenance, protects health, repels harm, forces out illnesses, strengthens hearts, illuminates faces, satisfies souls, removes laziness, makes limbs active, reinforces strength, expands hearts, nurtures souls, grants radiance to hearts, protects bounties, repulses wrath, attracts blessings, distances one from Satan, and brings one closer to the Most Merciful.”

Salah occupies such a lofty position in Islam that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ warned us about the grave consequences of neglecting it. Numerous Hadith highlight the alarming reality that the loss of Khushu (a state of devoted concentration) and the abandonment of Salah are among the signs of the approaching Day of Judgment. The Prophet ﷺ is reported saying:

The first thing you will lose from your religion will be Khushu and the last thing you will lose will be Salah.


Our righteous predecessors had such a deep love for Salah that they would let anything distract them from it. Take the example of the noble companion Abbad ibn Bishr, who, while standing guard one night, was struck by enemy arrows during his prayer. Despite the pain of his wounds, he continued standing in Salah with unwavering devotion, only attending to his injuries after completing the Salah. Such was the level of his devotion.

Similarly, the great Imam Sufyan al-Thawri (8th century CE) was known to spend the entire time between the Maghrib and Isha prayers in a single prostration, so absorbed was he in his supplication to Allah. These are but a few examples of the heights of devotion our predecessors reached. How far are we from emulating our pious predecessors?

On the Day of Judgement, Salah will be the first matter we are brought to account over. The Prophet ﷺ stated, “If it is found to be perfect, he will be safe and successful; but if it is incomplete, he will be unfortunate and a loser.” [At-Tirmidhi]. Therefore, let us perfect our prayers, seeking to understand what we recite. Let us rekindle our love for this daily act of worship that is key to our salvation.

I pray that Allah makes us of those who guard their prayers with utmost devotion. May He grant us the Khushu of His righteous servants and gather us in His eternally-abiding Gardens of Bliss.


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