What can be the reasons for the decrease in the thawabs of prayers (salat)?

The Details of the Question

- Is the following a hadith reported from Ammar Ibn Yasir: “A man returns after performing his prayer while a tenth part of his prayer, or a ninth part, or an eighth part, or a seventh part, or a sixth part, or a fifth part, or a third part, or half of it, is recorded for him.”?
- What decreases the value/thawab of the prayer?
- Is the hadith above related to those who commit sins despite performing prayers or those who shorten ruku’ and sajdah?
- What is the source of the hadith and how should we understand it? Will you explain it in detail?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

“A man returns after performing his prayer while a tenth part of his prayer is recorded for him. A man returns after performing his prayer while a ninth part, or an eighth part, or a seventh part, or a sixth part, or a fifth part, or a third part, or half of it, is recorded for him.” (Abu Dawud, Salah 124)

- What is mentioned in the hadith is the state of performing the prayer. If a person does not fulfill the parts of the prayer like qiyam, ruku’ and sajdah, which are called ta’dil al-arkan, properly, he is regarded to have stolen from his prayer and his thawab decreases accordingly.

As a matter of fact, the Prophet stated the following in a hadith: “The worst thief is the one that steals from his prayers.” Thereupon, the Companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah! How does a person steal from his prayers?” He said, “He does not complete ruku’s and sajdahs.” (Muwatta, Qasrus-Salat, 72)

- It is important to fulfill the apparent parts of the prayer but it is equally important to perform prayers with an alert heart in spiritual peace and awe. Performing prayers heedlessly means stealing from the thought, mind and consciousness.

The thawab that people earn from prayer is according to their sincerity and awe (khushu’) in prayer. A person who is engaged in prayer with all his heart will receive a full thawab because he complies with the smallest details of the prayer.

However, the thawab of a person who fails to comply with the fards, wajibs, sunnahs and manners of prayer will be according to his performance.

In this respect, a person should know that he is in the presence of Allah when he is prayer; he should think carefully about the meaning of the verses and prayers he reads; he should not have anything other than Allah in his heart, and he should be in awe.

"Being in awe (khushu’) in prayer" means that the person who performs a prayer should be engaged in prayer with all his being and should turn to Allah; there are external (apparent) and internal (invisible) conditions of it.

External conditions: The person performing the prayer should be calm; he should look at the place of prostration (sajdah) while standing, at the tip of his feet while in ruku’, at the tip of his nose in prostration and at his lap while sitting; he should not look left or right; he should not let his hands loose on his sides; he should not to be busy with anything other than prayer; he should avoid doing things before the imam.

Internal conditions: He should think that he is in the presence of Allah; he should think about the meaning of the verses, supplications and glorifications that he reads; he should be in the divine atmosphere by shivering spiritually.

According to the majority of scholars, the completeness of the prayer depends on the presence of khushu’. Some scholars say that "khushu’ is a part of the prayer", but actually khushu is not a condition for the soundness of prayer; it is a condition for getting more thawabs.

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