THE IMPORTANCE OF SALAAT
Salaat is the second most important pillar of Islam after Iman (Faith). The word Salaat means attending to, praying to or seeking nearness to Allah. Technically it refers to the five daily prayers in Islam. Allah made Salaat obligatory for the followers of all the Prophets.
There are a total of 67 verses in the Quran where the word Salaat has been mentioned describing either its importance or blessings.
Salaat distinguishes a Believer from non-Believer:
Establish regular Salaat, and be not among those who join (other) gods with Allah. (Rum 30:31)
Salaat is essential for receiving guidance from the Quran:
Alif Lam Meem, This is the Book, in it is guidance without doubt to those who fear Allah, who believes in the unseen (and) who are steadfast in (their) Salaat. (Al Baqara 2: 1-3)
Salaat is an essential attribute of Muslims:
The Believers men and women are protecting friends: They enjoin right and forbid wrong and they establish Salaat, practice charity and they obey Allah and His Messenger. (AI Tauba 9:71)
Punishment for those who neglect Salaat:
Each soul is a pledge for its own deeds except those of the right hand; they in the garden will ask the sinners: What drove you into Hell? They will say: We were not of those who observed Salaat (regularly), nor were of those who fed the indigent; but we used to talk vanities with vain talkers. (AI Muddassir 74:38-45)
On the Dreadful Day they shall be summoned to prostrate (in reverence), but they shall not be able to do so: Their eyes will be-cast down, ignominy will cover them: seeing that they had been commanded aforetime (to bow themselves), while they were hale and hearty, (but they refused to bow). (AI Qalam 68:42-44)
It is a means of achieving nearness of Allah:
Bow down in adoration (in Salaat), and bring yourself closer (to Allah). (Al Iqra 96: 19)
Salaat is a means of self-purification:
.... and establish regular Salaat, for Salaat restrains from shameful and unjust deeds. (AI Ankabut 29:45)
Salaat is a means of tranquility to the heart:
Behold! The hearts find solace in the remembrance of Allah. (Al R 'ad 13:28)
Salaat is a source of strength and patience:
0 ye who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and Salaat, for Allah is with those who patiently persevere. (Al Baqara2:153)
Following are a few Ahadis that further elaborate the importance and the blessings of Salaat.
It is a means of attaining Allah's Forgiveness:
Abu-Hurairah RA reported Prophet Peace Be Upon Him said: Tell me: if there be a river by the side of the door of someone wherein he takes bath five times a day, will there remain any dirt (on his body)? "No", said the companions. He then said: Thus are the five daily Salaat. Allah blots out all sins therewith (provided the great sins are avoided). (Bukhari, Muslim)
DIFFERENT KINDS OF SALAATS
1. Fardh (Imperative). It is obligatory to pray the Fardh Salaat. Missing a Fardh Salaat constitutes a grave sin.
2. Wajib (Obligatory). It is obligatory to pray the Wajib Salaat as well. Missing a Wajib Salaat also constitutes a sin, but not as great as that of missing a Fardh Salaat.
3. Sunnah (Prophet's Practice). There are two kinds of Sunnah Salaat. One is known as Muakkadah. This is the one which Prophet Peace Be upon Him offered regularly; hence missing it also constitutes a sin. The other is known as Ghair Muakkadah. This is the one which Prophet Peace Be upon Him occasionally. Hence one may or may not observe it.
4. Nafil Voluntary. One may offer it for extra virtues but missing it does not constitute a sin.
ALLAH'S COMMANDMENT FOR DAILY SALAATS
Establish Salaat at the two ends of the day (Fajr and Maghrib), and at the appearance of night (Isha)( Al Hujrat)
Establish Salaat at the going down of the sun (Zuhr). (Bani Israeel 1 7: 78)
Guard strictly your Salaat, especially the middle Salaat.( 'Asr). (Al Baqara 2:238)
Times for Daily Fardh Salaat
1. Fajr: Dawn Salaat - From dawn break till prior to sun rise.
2. Zuhr: Early afternoon Salaat- From the beginning of the decline of the sun till the time when the shadows of objects double in size
3. 'Asr: Late Afternoon Salaat - Just after the end of Zuhr time till the sun begins to set
4. Maghrib: Sunset Salaat- From the time of sunset till the disappearance of twilight. The latest time of Maghrib Salaat is about one and a quarter hour from the time of sunset.
5. Isha: Night Salaat - Just after the end of the Maghrib Salaat till the break of dawn
Times for Wajib Salaat
According to Imam Abu Hanifah there are three different Wajib Salaats.
1. Witr: It is usually offered immediately after the Isha Salaat. The preferred time for praying Witr is after Tahajjid (late night) Salaat. The other schools of Fiqh consider Witr as Sunnah Muakkadah.
2. Eid Salaats: Eid Salaats are offered on the two Eid days after the sun rises, and has brightened distinctly. It can be offered till the decline of sun, but the preferred time is the early morning hours.
Hambali consider Eid Salaat as Fardh, whereas Shafa 'i and Maliki consider it to be Sunnah Muakkadah.
3. Once a person starts a NAFL l Salaat, it becomes Wajib for him to complete it, that is if for any reason he needs to leave it uncompleted he has to offer it later on.
Times when Salaat is Haraam (Forbidden)
1. When the sun is rising.
2. When the sun is setting.
3. At mid-day when the sun is at the highest point.
Times when Salaat is Makrooh (Undesirable)
I 1. The period between Fajr Salaat and the sunrise.
1 2. The period between 'Asr Salaat and the sunset.
This is based on the following Hadis narrated by Abu Sa'eed Khudri. No prayer should be offered after the Fajr Salaat until the sun rises or after the 'Asr Salaat until the sun sets. (Bukhari, Muslim)
3. When the food is ready to be served.
4. When one feels the need for passing stool, urine or gas.
5. When Fardh congregational Salaat is about to start or has started.
This is based on the following Hadis narrated by Abu Hurairah: When the Iqamah has been said, there is no valid Salaat except the Fardh Salaat for which the Iqamah was said. (Ahmad, Muslm)
6. When the Imam has started his sermon either on Friday or Eid days.
This is the Hanafi view. Other Jurists recommend praying of two Rak 'aat of Tahiyyat a1 Masjid even when the Imam has started his sermon.
RAK'AAT OF DIFFERENT SALAAT
A Rak 'at is a unit of Salaat. It consists of Qayom (standing in erect position), one Ruku (bowing down) and two Sajdu (Prostrations). Each Salaat consists of two to four Rak'aat. According to Hanafi Fiqh, the five daily Salaats consists of the following sets of Rak 'aat.
Fajr: 2 Sunnah Muakkudah before 2 Fardh.
Zuhr: 4 Sunnah Muakkudah before 4 Fardh followed by 2 Sunnah Muakkudah and 2 Nafil.
'Asr: 4 Sunnah Ghair Muakhdah before 4 Fardh
Maghrib: 3 Fardh followed by 2 Sunnah Muakkadah and 2 Nafil.
Isha : 4 Sunnah Ghair Muakhdah prior to 4 Fardh, then 2 Sunnah Muakkadah, 2 Nafl , 3 Witr and 2 Nafil.
How to Pray Fardh, Sunnah and Nafil Salaat
1. Begin the Salaat with the proper intention either in your mind or verbally, that is, the kind of Salaat you are offering; Fardh, Sunnah or NafiI and the time of Salaat; that is, Fajr, Zuhr or 'Asr etc.
2. Face the Qibla and standup in a natural position. Put your feet at least four inches apart and your gaze towards the place of your Sajdah. Men should raise their hands up to the ear lobes and the women up to their shoulders. The palms should be open and facing the Qibla.
It should be added that according to Imams Hambal and Shafa'i the hands should be put on the chest.
The first uttering of AIIaho Akbar is called Takbeer-e- Tahrimah. The worshipper then enters the act of Salaat. All worldly actions, talking and even unnecessary motions are then forbidden.
The worshipper should keep his eyes open and look only towards the place where the forehead rests for prostration.
4. Begin the Salaat with the recitation of Sana.
Glory be to you, 0 Allah!, and I praise you. Blessed is your name, and you are exalted. There is no God other than you.
5. Recite Auzbillah and then bimillah (I seek Allah's protection from Satan, ths accursed. I begin in the name of Allah, who is Most Kind and Most Merciful.)
6. Recite chapter Al Fatiha and say Aameen at the end of its recitation. Afterwards recite at least three short verses or one long verse from the Quran.
7. While praying Sunnah and Nofil Salaat, recite the extra verses from the Quran besides chapter Al Fatiha in each Rak'at. While praying Fardh Salaat, recite the extra verses of the Quran only in the first two Rak'aat. In the remaining Rak'aat recite only chapter Al Fatiha.
8. Saying Allaho Akbar, bend down for Ruku (bowing). Keep your head aligned with your back and tightly hold the knees with your palm. Now recite the following Tasbeeh three or any odd number of times.
Glorified is my Lord, the Great.
9. Saying the following, resume the upright position, which is called Qaumah.
Allah listens to him who praises Him. According to Hambali Fiqh, one should raise both hands up to his ear lobes while going down and also while rising from the position of Ruku, and when standing up from the position of Sajdah. The other jurists do not recommend this practice.
10. Stand at ease for a while and leave your hands hanging by the sides of your body and say the following.
Our Lord! Praise is only for you.
1 1. Saying Allaho Akbar, go down for Sajdah (Prostration). Put your face on the ground between your palms in such a way that the thumbs are lined with the ear lobes. The stomach should be raised above the thighs. The whole body should rest on the knees and the toes should point towards Qibla. In this position recite the following Tasbeeh three or any odd number of times.
Glorified is my Lord, the Exalted.
12. Saying Allaho Akbar, assume the upright siting position which is called Jalsah. Keep your right foot up as in Sajdah and place your left foot flat on the ground. Rest the two hands on the thighs with the fingers reaching the knees. Wait for a few moments, then by saying Allaho Akbar, go down for the second Sajdah and recite the Tasbeeh as in the first Sajdah.
13. Saying Allaho Akbar, stand up in the erect position. This completes one Rak 'at of Salaat.
In a similar manner complete the number of Rak 'aat prescribed for different Salaat.
14. After completing the two Sajda in the second Rak 'at, assume the sitting position of Jalsah, and recite Tashahhud, this is known as the position of Qaidah.
Allah's peace be upon you, 0 Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu AIaihi wasallam and His Mercy and Blessings. Peace be on us and on all righteous servants of Allah. I bear witness that there is no god but
Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam is His servant and Messenger.
While saying, "There is no god but Allah". make a fist with right hand and raise only the fore-finger, denoting the oneness of Allah.
15. If the Salaat consists of more than two Rakat, one should say Takbeer i.e. Allaho Akbar after the recitation of Tashahhud and stand up for the remaining part of Salaat.
16. If the Salaat consists of only two Rak 'aat, then after recitation of Tashahhud, recite the following invocation on Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasdam. 0 Allah! have mercy on Muhammad and those related to Muhammad just as you had mercy on Ibrahim and those related to Ibrahim. Surely, you are praiseworthy, the exalted. 0 Allah! send blessings on Muhammad and on those related to Muhammad just as you sent blessings on Ibrahim and those related to Ibrahim. Surely, You are praiseworthy, the exalted.
17. After this, say any of the following Du 'a (supplication) :
0 Allah, I have been unjust to myself and no-one grants pardon for sins except You, therefore, forgive me with Your forgiveness and have mercy on me. Surely, You are the Forgiver, the Merciful.
18. Turn your face first to right and then to left shoulder. Each time say the following:
Peace be on you and Allah's Mercy.
19. This act is called Tasleem. It constitutes the end of Salaat. The person then may resume the normal activities of life.
20. It is most recommended to offer Dua (supplication) after the completion of Fardh Salaat. In one of the Hadis reported in Tirmidhi it is narrated that invocations made after Fardh Salaat are granted. Following are a few of recommended invocations:
Allah! You are the peace and You are the source of peace. You are blessed and the possessor of (all) Glory and Honor. (Muslim)
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