Sunday 26th of June 2022
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The visage of prayer

The visage of prayer


Whatever can be said and written about prayer would still not be enough to fully describe it. How could it be possible to express in a few words the pillar of religion, the banner of Islam, the reminiscence of religions and prophets, and the pivot of the acceptance of all deeds?

?     Prayer is the program for every morning and evening. In the morning the first obligatory word is prayer and in the evening the last obligation is prayer. So, the beginning and the conduct of every day is through remembrance and for the sake of God.

?     Prayer is the secret of the one who—wherever he is and whoever he is, whether traveling or not, on the ground or in the air, whether in poverty or in affluence—is subservient to Him and not to other than Him.

?     Prayer is the practical ideology of the Muslim in which he expresses his beliefs, ideas, aspirations, and models.

?     Prayer means strengthening values and preventing the disintegration of the personality of individuals and members of the society in the same way that if the materials of a building are weak, the building will collapse.

?     The call to prayer [adhān] is the clarion of monotheism [tawīd], which summons the scattered soldiers of Islam in a single line and under a single banner, and places them behind a just leader [imām].

?     The imām of the congregation [jamā‘ah] is one person so as to serve as a clue that the imām of the society [jāmi‘ah] should also be one person so as to have centralization in the conduct of affairs.

?     The imām of the congregation is supposed to attend to the weakest among the people, and this is a lesson that in decision-making, the deprived class of the society must be attended to. While praying, when the Messenger of Allah () heard the cry of a child, he hurriedly performed the prayer so that in case the mother of the child had ever participated in prayer, she could quickly attend to the needs of her child![1]

?     The first command after the creation of man was the command for prostration addressed to the angels: “Prostrate before Ādam (Adam)!”[2]

?     The first place on earth that surfaced and became dry was the site of worship (Mecca and the Ka‘bah).[3]

?     The first task done by the Messenger of Allah () after his emigration [hijrah] to Medina was the construction of a mosque.

?     Prayer is both the enjoinment of what is good [amr bi’l-ma‘rūf] and the forbiddance of what is evil [nahyi ‘ani’l-munkar]. We say everyday in the adhān and iqāmah: العمل خيرعلىٰ حيّ الفلاح علىٰ حيّ الصّلوٰة علىٰ حيّ” [ayya ‘ala’-alāh, ayya ‘alā’l-falā, ayya ‘alā khayr al-‘amal] “Come to prayer; come to (the means of) success; come to the best of deeds.” That is, of all affairs, the best deed is prayer. Also, prayer keeps man away from corruption and indecency:


﴾ إِنَّ الصَّلاةَ تَنْهى عَنِ الْفَحْشاءِ وَ الْمُنْكَرِ ﴿


“Indeed the prayer prevents indecencies and wrongs.”[4]

?     Prayer consists of movements which have emanated from consciousness and cognition. It is through the cognition of God that by His order, for His sake and because of zeal for Him, we stand in prayer, and thus, the Qur’an has prohibited us from praying while in a state of drunkenness[5] and indolence[6] so that whatever we recite in prayer must be with consciousness and attention.

?     Prayer gives awareness. The Jum‘ah prayer is held every Friday of the week and prior to it two sermons [khutbahs] are delivered. These two sermons are made in lieu of two rak‘ahs of prayer, and in a sense, are part of the prayer. According to Imām ar-Ridā (‘a), the sermons must inform the people of all the issues in the world.[7] Listening to the sermons and then praying means being informed and then praying.

?     Prayer means exit from one’s self and soaring toward God. The Qur’an says in this regard:


وَ مَنْ يَخْرُجْ مِنْ بَيْتِهِ مُهاجِرًا إِلَى اللّهِ وَ رَسُولِهِ ﴿

﴾ ثُمَّ يُدْرِكْهُ الْمَوْتُ فَقَدْ وَقَعَ أَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللّهِ


“And whoever leaves his home migrating toward Allah and His Apostle, and is then overtaken by death, his reward shall certainly fall on Allah.”[8]


Imām Khomeinī says:


Migration [hijrah] from the abode of the heart to God is one of the manifestations of this verse. Migration from self-admiration, self-centeredness and self-conceit toward worship of God, love of God and God-wariness is the greatest of migrations.[9]


?     Prayer is in the rank [manzilah] of the Greatest Name of Allah [ism al-a‘am], nay it is the Great Name of Allah itself!

?     In prayer, the honor [‘izzah] of the Lord [rabb] and the lowliness [dhillah] of the servant [‘abd] is manifested, and this station is already sublime.

?     Prayer is the banner of Islam. “.اَلصَّلوٰة الاِسْلامِ عَلَمُ

Just as a banner is a symbol, prayer is the symbol and the emblem of Islam. Just as a flag is respected, and insulting it is tantamount to insulting a nation and country, insulting and neglecting prayer also means insulting and neglecting the religion as a whole. Just as hoisting the flag is a sign of political vitality and military prowess, performance of prayer is also the same.

[1] Biār al-Anwār, vol. 88, pp. 41, 93.

[2] Sūrah al-Baqarah 2:34: “And when We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate before Adam,’ they prostrated, except Iblis: he refused and acted arrogantly, and he was one of the faithless.”

[3] Sūrah Āl ‘Imrān 3:96: “Indeed the first house to be set up for mankind is the one at Bakkah, blessed and a guidance for all nations.”

[4] Sūrah al-‘Ankabūt 29:45.

[5] Sūrah an-Nisā 4:43: “O you who have faith! Do not approach prayer when you are intoximated, [not] until you know what you are saying.”

[6] Sūrah an-Nisā 4:142: “When they (hypocrites) stand up for prayer, they stand up lazily, showing off to the people and not remembering Allah except a little.”

[7] Biār al-Anwār, vol. 89, p. 201.

[8] Sūrah an-Nisā 4:100.

[9] Sirr a-alāh, p. 12.

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