The Prayer - The Importance of Prayer
If we are asked to explain Islam with just one word, we can say prayer/salah. So, the Messenger of Allah defined prayer as the pillar of the religion [al-Hindi I/278 (1372), from Abu Naim].
Men have been created to know Allah (Adh-Dhariyat 51/56; see also Ajluni, Kashfu’l Khafa N/173). The best sign showing that one knows Allah is the prayer.
The prayer has a collecting feature. There is a part from all kinds of worship in the prayer (Imam Rabbani explained this topic very well in his book, The Letters).
Our Creator regards prayer to be equal to belief (faith). When the Qiblah was changed, someone asked whether his prayers went for nothing. Allah used the word faith instead of prayer in the verse: “And never would Allah make your faith of no effect (al-Baqara, 2/143).
So, the Companions of our Prophet said, "we did not regard abandoning any kinds of worship except prayer equal to being an unbeliever."
There is no other deed except for prayer that gathers all people from the richest one to the poorest one in the same rank and that emphasizes that all people are equal before Allah as human beings.
As human body needs different nutrients and vitamins, his soul also needs nutrients and vitamins. The primary nutrient of the soul is prayer. As human body gets polluted, his soul also gets polluted. Prayer cleans and purifies both of these pollutions.
Prayer relieves man of the feeling of loneliness. Anyone who throws the universe and everything in it behind him when uttering “Allah is the Greatest” at least five times a day declares the following:
Even if the whole world is opposite me, Allah is enough for me. I do not accept anyone except Him who is worth of being worshipped.
Allah-u Akbar = Allah is the Greatest; so, I admit that He does not need my prayers.
The five daily prayers are a gift of Allah to through the Prophet; How can we refuse it?
Being a gift of the Ascension, prayer is assumed as the ascension of believers. Namely, prayer is an elevator that elevates man to the highest levels. Those who do not hold it remain in the lowest of the low.
Perhaps, the one who needs the prayers the least is the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (PBUH). However, he is the one who appreciates the meaning of the prayers the best. So, he sometimes performed prayers so much that his feet got swollen. Once, having a pity on him, Hz. Aisha asked him; “O Messenger of Allah, although Allah forgave all your sins in the past and future, why do you exhaust yourself?” The Prophet said,
“Should I not be a grateful servant? (Bukhari, Commentary 48, Tahajjud 6; Muslim, Hypocrites, 79,81). That means the prayers is a sort of thanks for bounties of Allah to us.
Then, we must understand better how the purity of the heart is. So, the purity of the heart necessitates performing prayers, not neglecting them.
Yet, there is a condition for all kinds of good effects of the prayers; performing them sincerely as if you are face to face with Allah, performing the prayers as if you are speaking with Allah. So, it is forbidden to passing in front of a person who is performing a prayer. It is rudeness to pass between two people who are speaking to each other.
Therefore, Allah mentions the people who perform prayers in awe (humbly) first among those attaining salvation.
“The Believers must (eventually) win through Those who humble themselves in their prayers; Who avoid vain talk; Who are active in deeds of charity; Who abstain from sex…(al-Mu’minun, 23/1-9).
Therefore, Allah says, “establish regular prayer for celebrating My praise (Ta-Ha, 20/14). Namely, the prayers are performed for remembering and mentioning Allah.
So, Allah says “For, Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds (Al-Ankabut, 29/45). Everybody can see this reality by performing prayers in awe (humbly) even in a day, not in a week or in forty days, but performing it with tranquility as much as possible.
So, when the Messenger of Allah got tired with the worldly works, he would say, “O Bilal, stand up and refresh us (Abu Dawud, Decency 78, Musnad V/364, 371). Namely, recite the call to prayer and we will pray.
Some of his Companions forgot everything except for Allah when they started to pray. Once an arrow was stuck into back of one of them. Because he could not bear the sorrow, no one could remove the arrow. Only when he started the prayers could they remove it; and he did not feel anything (for a similar example, see Kandahlawi, The Life of the Companions NI/605).
Another one donated his very precious garden of dates to the Messenger of Allah because he remembered the garden during the prayers, and it prevented him from remembrance of Allah.(see Kandahlawi ibid NI/544; Ibnu`l-Munzir, at-Targhib I/316. )
So, how can we abandon prayers? And how can we not accept being slaves of Allah. How do we think that we have a pity on our children when we do not make them perform prayers. The age of starting prayers is determined by the one who orders it. He makes His Messenger say, “Command your children to perform prayers when they are seven years old. When they become ten years old, beat them if they do not perform prayers, and separate their beds.”
In fact, it is very difficult to get used to the things that you did not start during childhood.