Whom does a person who does not perform prayers oppress?

Details of the Question

- I heard in a religious talk I listened to that prayer (salah) was not between Allah and the slave only and that even the angels and animals will sue him in the hereafter and demand their rights because he interrupts the spiritual circle of the angels. Is it true?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- The prayer has two parties; the slave who prostrates and Allah, before whom the slaves prostrates. From this point of view, it is clear that prayer is the invocation of the slave between him and Allah.

This issue is clearly emphasized in a sacred hadith:

According to what Hz. Abu Hurayra narrates, the Prophet stated the following in a “sacred hadith”:

"Allah states the following: 'I have divided the prayer into two halves between Me and My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks.'

When the servant says, 'Alhamdu lillahi rabbilalamin (Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds)', Allah says, 'My servant has praised Me.'

When the servant says, 'Arrahmanirrahim (Most Gracious, Most Merciful)', Allah says, 'My servant has lauded Me.'

When the servant who performs a prayer says, 'Maliki yawmiddin (Master of the Day of Judgment)', Allah says 'My servant has glorified Me.'

When the servant who performs a prayer says, 'Iyyaka na'budu wa iyyaka nastain (Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek)', Allah says, 'This is between Me and My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks for.'

When the servant says, 'Ihdinassiratal mustaqim, siratalladhina an'amta alayhim, ghayrilmaghdubi alayhim waladdallin (Show us the straight way, The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray)', Allah says,'This is for My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks for.'" (Muslim, Salah 38; Muwatta, Salah 39)

- This hadith mentions the state of the chapter of al-Fatiha read in prayers but the word “prayer=salah” is used instead of “the chapter of al-Fatiha”; since al-Fatiha is an indispensable part (fard-wajib) of the prayer and since al-Fatiha is between Allah and His slave, it is indicated that prayer is also between them.

- That prayer is a deed of worship that really takes place between Allah and His servant does not mean that it has no relation with other beings.

For instance, it can be said that every person who performs a prayer says, “Peace be on us and on the righteous slaves of Allah” in tashahhud; thus, he prays for all believers.

Accordingly, a person who does not perform prayers deprives believers of this dua (supplication) and hence harms them.

- Besides, a person who does not perform prayers violates the rights of all beings.

Let us listen to this reality from Badiuzzaman Said Nursi:

"A king who in order to protect his subjects’ rights, inflicts a severe punishment on an ordinary man in accordance with the degree that his crime infringes those rights."

"In the same way, the man who gives up worship and ritual prayer is violating in a significant manner the rights of beings, who are like the subjects of the Monarch of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity, and is in fact acting unjustly towards them."

"For, the perfections of beings are manifested through the glorification and worship performed by that aspect of them which is directed towards their Maker. The one who abandons worship does not and cannot see this worship. Indeed, he denies it. Furthermore, beings occupy an exalted position by reason of their worship and glorification, and each is a missive of the Eternally Besought One, and a mirror to its Sustainer’s names. Since he reduces them from their high positions and considers them to be unimportant, lifeless, aimless, and without duties, he is insulting them, and denying and transgressing their perfections."

"Indeed, everyone sees the world in his own mirror. Allah Almighty created man as a measure and scale for the universe. And from the world He gave a particular world to each person. This world He colors for him in accordance with his sincere beliefs."

"For example, a despairing, lamenting, weeping person sees beings as weeping and in despair, while a cheerful, optimistic, merry person sees the universe as joyful and smiling. A reflective man given to solemn worship and glorification discovers and sees to a degree the certain, truly existent worship and glorification of beings."

"A person who abandons worship through either neglect or denial sees beings in a manner totally contrary and opposed to the reality of their perfections and so transgresses their rights."

"Furthermore, since the person who gives up prayer does not own himself, he wrongs his own soul, which is a slave of its True Owner. His Owner delivers awesome threats in order to protect His slave’s rights from his evil-commanding soul."

"Also, since he has given up worship, which is the result of his creation and the aim of his nature, it is like an act of aggression against divine wisdom and dominical will, and he therefore receives punishment."

"In short, the abandoner of worship both wrongs his own soul, which is the slave and totally owned property of Almighty Allah, and wrongs and transgresses the rights of the perfections of the universe. Certainly, just as unbelief is an insult to beings, so is the abandonment of worship a denial of the universe’s perfections."

"And since it is an act of aggression against divine wisdom, it is deserving of awesome threats and severe punishment." (Lem'alar, Yirmi Üçüncü Lem'a, Hatime)

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