It is claimed that Hazrat Ali, the Prophet's nephew and son-in-law and one of the four great caliphs, performed the obligatory five daily prayers of those who have affection for him. Is that claim true?

Such a claim is valid in terms of neither religion nor reason. Though Hazrat Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) loved his sons Hasan and Hussein (may God be pleased with them) most, they and their sons coming after them did not claim that their prayers were performed, on the contrary, they not only performed the obligatory prayers but also completely adhered to the sunnah, and nafilah (extra, voluntary) prayers. 

To claim that all believers who love Hazrat Ali will be freed of their prayers thanks to his prayers is just like claiming that all sons and grandsons of a man will be full thanks to his eating and filling his stomach or all his descendents will be knowledgeable thanks to his knowledge. If the assumption that Hazrat Ali (may God be pleased with him) performed the prayers of all the believers who love him is imagined to be true for just a while, then the result would be: 

As every believer, apart from the Kharijites, loves Hazrat Ali, then all the verses revealed about the prayers and all the hadiths of the Prophet about it would address only Hazrat Ali and Kharijites. However, those who are addressed by the verses and the hadiths are all the believers to come till Doomsday. On the other hand, according to such a view, after the death of Hazrat Ali, all the works published about the prayers and all mosques and places of prayers would have been meaningless and unnecessary. It is also clear that the life of Hazrat Ali was not long enough to perform the prayers of billions of Muslims to come till Doomsday. 

After the short explanation about the illogic of the claim, let us emphasise this point: «God Almighty has prescribed the prayers as a duty/obligation on every believer in person, including prophets. Nobody can perform the prayers in somebody else's stead. This is also so at times of necessity. Even if somebody is too ill to perform the prayers, somebody else cannot perform it in his stead.» 

God Almighty says in Surah Al-Baqarah, in verse 286: «It (a soul) gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns. » and takes every Muslim in person accountable in reward and penalty for what they do. 

There are more than a hundred verses about the prayers in the Qur'an. One of them is in Nisa Surah: 

« Set up Regular Prayers: For such prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times. » (An-Nisa Surah, 4:103). 

Also the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: « The prayer is the pillar of the religion. » and in many of his hadiths expained the importance of the prayer to his community. Even at the most intense times of battles, he not only did not postpone his prayer (to make up for it at a later time) but also stuck to the merit of congregation, and led the prayers in front of his companions in two groups, in turns. The Messenger of God also paid great importance to preferable prayers, and sometimes prayed the whole night. 

Once he said to the Companions: 

« Say to me, if one of you had a river in front of his house, if he got bath in this river five times a day, would he then have a spot of filth? » and when they said: « No, o Messenger of God, he wouldn't. » the Prophet continued: « The five daily prayers are just the same. God Almighty cleanses the faults of believers with their prayers. » 

The Prophet said to his daughter Fatima: « O Fatima! Do not abandon the prayers by saying 'I am the daughter of the Chosen Muhammad.' I swear by God Who has sent me as a rightful Messenger that you cannot ever enter the paradise if you do not perform the five daily prayers in their due time. »  (Abdullâtif, Meclisu’l-Anvâri’l-Muhammadiyya, p. 26) 

This being the truth, now it should be seen how wrong it is that some abandon the prayers by relying on their love for the family and descendents of the Prophet.

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