There are narrations about rewards (sawabs) which will be given to the prayers cited. What are the conditions for deserving rewards promised for prayers? Can anyone citing that prayer deserve that reward?

Details of the Question
There are narrations about rewards (sawabs) which will be given to the prayers cited. What are the conditions for deserving rewards promised for prayers? Can anyone citing that prayer deserve that reward?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is necessary to state this firstly:

Praying is worship. And worship is performed in order just to gain Allah’s consent and because Allah ordered us to do so. We will see and take the rewards and results of it in the Hereafter. On the other hand, worldly benefits, offers and things given without being demanded do not harm this prayer on condition that they are not main purpose of praying and not demanded on purpose. This is because this results in encouraging the weak to perform these prayers. If one thinks of benefits and becomes eager to cite these prayers in order to gain Allah’s consent and to succeed in the Hereafter, this is not harmful. And this is acceptable.

As for your question:

Some of these expressions cited in hadith and prayer books may be weak in reliability. However, there are ones which are quite reliable. For this reason, we would like to point out to how these expressions should be understood:

1. There is a rule: when a word is spoken, the most perfect of it must be understood. For instance, when the word “human” is spoken, what must come into mind is our prophet who is the most perfect of humankind. When one says “physician” we remember the most famous one. Similarly, what comes into mind from the expression  “whoever cites that prayer gets this reward” is the zenith of that prayer, the most perfectly cited of the prayer. That’s to say; this is the most perfect result of the prayer.

2. All promises have conditions. For example, let’s take that it is written in a catalogue that a car can speed up to 200 km/h. This does not mean that this car will speed up to this degree at all times and every driver can do that. It does not mean that this expression in the catalogue is wrong when an inexperienced driver cannot speed up to this extent on a stabilized road, with water mixed up into car’s fuel and with headlight not working properly. Contrarily, this expression is true but it does not work unless some necessary conditions are met. For this reason, the car will still be beneficial but not as much as we would like. Similarly, we are like a perfect car created by car. Eyes which are the headlights of this car should be as perfect as what they eat, drink, think so that one will have that reward when having cited that prayer. Therefore, the expression is true on condition that the necessary conditions are met.

3. The saying “Every seed is a tree.” is true. However, although every seed is programmed to grow into a tree, it will not grow if not planted under right conditions. Similarly, there is a secret in every prayer which leads us to Allah and which results in redeeming sins. However, some conditions are necessary to be met in order for this secret which is like a seed to reveal itself. One who fulfills the conditions such as belief, worship, determination and refraining from forbidden acts will unwind this secret. This will redeem his/her previous sins. Otherwise, the seed will always stay as a seed and it will never grow. Moreover, he/she will be responsible for wasting his/her life for wrong things.

4. A patient sees a doctor and he/she is given two medicines after being diagnosed. Doctor explains to the patient what the medicines are and how they should be used. The doctor emphasizes that he/she should take one from these medicines when hungry in the morning, at noon and in the evening and if he/she follows these rules strictly the patient will recover. Then, the patient follows these strictly; but he/she starves him/herself. He/she wanders out in cold weather and catches a cold. He/she drinks from unhealthy water, does not sleep at nights and gets him/herself busy with unnecessary things till morning. Malnutrition hinders him/her from recovering and he/she again goes to the doctor’s. He/she enters doctor’s room and says complainingly: “Doctor, you said I would recover in a month. I used all medicines as you told but nothing changed, even I got worse”. How reasonable and fair can this objection be? It cannot be so at all. In fact, these are the main issues that we must follow.

Similarly, narrations such as one will be rewarded or be saved from this or that when he/she cites this or that prayer are like medicine. The main issues of the religion such as prayer (salah), fast, zakat (alms) are like food, water and oxygen for our souls to stay alive. Forbidden things such as fornication, gambling are diseases which harm our spiritual life such as poison, high temperature and virus. Recommended prayers (dua) and nawafil prayers will be effective on condition that one avoids harams and performs fard prayers. Otherwise, the result may not be as expected. Though it will still be beneficial, it will not be as much as promised. In summary, every believer can benefit from recommended prayers as much as he/she deserves on condition that taking essential nutrition for soul and avoiding harmful acts.

Moreover, it is not necessary to cite these prayers all at once. They can be cited in different times and also by more than one person.

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