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QnA on Salaah

QnA Snapshots: Get to know your Salaah

Salaah importance

Cii Radio | 19 May 2014/19 Rajab 1435

Mufti Ak Hoosen

Where does the name Salaah come from and why do we call our prayer Salaah?

In the Arabic language we find the word Assalaah which comes from the word Assila – Silatur Rahim is the joining of family ties, between siblings and parents etc therefore Salaah is the link, the connection, the nexus between the servant, the slave and Almighty Allah SWT. Never can a Muslim be a true Muslim without Salaahbecause he will have no connection with Almighty Allah SWT.

When did Salaah become compulsory as a pillar of our Deen?

The five times a day Salaah became compulsory on the miraculous, nocturnal journey and this was during the year of grief and sadness when Nabi Muhammad’s SAW wife Khadiha RA passed away and his uncle Abu Talib passed away. Nabi Muhammad SAW was approximately 50 or 51 years old. The beginning of the 15th Chapter of the Quraan Allah SWT makes reference to Nabi Muhammad’s SAW journey from Makkah Mukarramah to Masjudul Aqsa, Jerusalem at night. The Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah believe this journey was a physical journey and in a state of being awake and not a dream or a vision. Nabi Muhammad SAW performed the imaamat at fajr for the Ambiyah AS, and thereafter the miraculous nocturnal journey – Mehraj – took place. After Rasulullah SAW was ascended to the heavens a dialogue between Rasulullah SAW and Almighty Allah SWT took place. The authentic hadith in Sahih Muslim, three gifts were given to Rasulullah SAW. The first, the gift of five salaah, the second gift was the last two verses of Surah Baqarah and the third gift was to give glad tidings to those who do not commit kufr and shirk, for them there will be glad tidings and Jannah. The five times a day salaah became compulsory on this miraculous journey of Mehraj. One lesson we can glean from this is that everything which became compulsory, that is zakaah, fasting and Hajj, on the land and sand but salaah became compulsory in the heavens. To show us the importance and the significance of salaah Almighty Allah SWT invited Rasulullah SAW personally and it shows how attached we should be to salaah.

Where do the different number of rakaats that make up the five times salaah come from?

In Islam everything is based on wahi – revelation. Therefore we say when there is a conflict between reason and revelation we have to give revelation preference. The main reason is because Almighty Allah SWT commanded us to emulate Nabi Muhammad SAW.  This is the revelation However from a logical perspective we say: a person embracing Islam and they are new in Islam, at the time of salaah When a person reads two rakaats salaah at fajr, we thank Allah SWT for the sense of touching – a sign of gratitude to Allah SWT for blessing us with the sense of touch. At Zuhr we perform four rakaats, we thank Almighty Allah for the sense of hearing – from all four directions, North, East, South and West. This is to thank Almighty Allah SWT for the sense of hearing. Again at Asr we perform four rakaats and this is to thank Almighty Allah for our sense of smell.  With it we are able to smell things from all four directions. At Maghrib we perform three rakaats as gratitude to Allah SWT for the sense of sight. Every normal human being can see in three directions, the front, right side and left side. To thank Almighty Allah SWT for all that we consume, the solid and liquid, that is for the sense of taste, we perform four rakaats at Esha. In this way we are thanking Almighty Allah daily for these five faculties that Allah SWT has blessed us with. People without a particular sense are not exempt from performing their salaah, this is the logical explanation of how the salaah was divided into its specific number of rakaats.

This is the manifestation of the Mercy of Almighty Allah SWT. Allah SWT is our Master and we are His servants and to show our servitude and our gratitude, we perform the salaah with this number of rakaats.

Why are the particular times of salaah set out as such?

When we look at how the times of salaah has been dictated we see the beauty of Islam and salaah. At Fajr there is darkness. After 45 minutes to an hour, the sun rises. We are often taught as children “early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. From the sayings of Nabi Muhammad SAW we learn that he (SAW) has taught us: “Oh Allah you give baraqah to this Ummah in the early part of the morning” – Tirmidhi. In Bukhari Sharif it is narrated that a person who does not read fajr on time, the shaytaan is urinating in that person’s ears. When the sun reaches its zenith and it begins its descent, we perform the zuhr salaah, this is to teach us a lesson also, that human beings can reach the highest pinnacle that a human can imagine but the day will come when decline will take place. During the late afternoon there is a change in the atmosphere, the heat is no longer as intense, we perform Asr salaah and thereafter maghrib salaah at the alternating of the day and the night, when the sun has set. We then read Esha before we retire, there is darkness. Whenever there is a difference during the day, that is the atmosphere and the creation undergoes a change, we have an appointment to speak with Allah SWT.

What are the benefits of salaah?

Almighty Allah SWT has mentioned the benefits of salaah in the Quran. “When a person reads salaah”, when we read and perform it the way we ought to perform it and not rushing through it, “it will save you from all obscenities and all forms of injustice and sins”. Almighty Allah SWT wants us to be a nation and a people who have shame, modesty and hayah. This is one of the unique features of Islam. “Every religion has its salient features, the salient feature and characteristic of Islam is shame, modesty and hayah.” Salaah teaches us that we stand for truth and that we stand for justice. Allah says: “Remember me,” and we remember Allah SWT by reading salaah. We are not doing Allah SWT a favour by reading salaah, we are doing ourselves a favour. By not performing our salaah we do not harm Allah SWT at all, but ourselves. Today the world is worried about the economy and worldly matters.When addressing Nabi Muhammad SAW, Almighty Allah SWT told Rasulullah SWT to command his family, wives, children and grandchildren about salaah and to remain steadfast on it. Allah says, “We do not ask you for sustenance or anything, We provide the sustenance,” but the shame and disgrace of the Ummah is that many say they have no time for salaah. Perform salaah and Allah will increase your rizq. This is what Quraan teaches us.  

What are the warnings to one who does not perform salaah?

Almighty Allah SWT warns us in various places in the Quraan. “Those in paradise will ask the criminals what has landed you all in Saqar? They will say: “We were not of those who used to pray, and we didn’t feed the poor, and we used to talk vainly with those who talked vain talk; and we used to deny the Day of Recompense until death came to us and we saw the reality of all that we denied” (Mudathir:40-47)

A person who does not read salaah is a kaafir, he is out of the fold of Islam and this is the verdict of the majority of the sahaabah RA. This is also the verdict of Imam Ahmed Hanbal RA. Imam Abu Hanifah RA, Imam Shafi RA and Imam Malik RA, say he dies a Muslim but Imam Shafi RA and Imam Malik RA have said that this person must be killed. Imam Abu Hanifah RA has said this person must be imprisoned.

Munafiqeen – Hypocrites – people who claim to be Muslim but are not. When they stand for salaah, it is done for show. Last one to arrive at the masjid and first to leave – in the light of the Quraan they are munafiqeen. To those who read salaah haphazardly and for show, Allah SWT says destruction to themor a valley in Jahannam. Nabi Muhammad SAW has said, “A person who leaves out their salaah deliberately is a kaafir and out of the fold of Islam.” There are many translations.

Nabi Muhammad SAW has said, “The most difficult salaah for the hypocrite is fajr and esha salaah.” Our masaajids at fajr are empty. May Allah SWT grant us the tawfeeq to perform our salaah daily and on time whether we are at home or on a journey.

At what age should children begin performing salaah?

Almighty Allah SWT commanded Nabi Muhamamd SAW to command his family to perform their salaah. Nabi Muhammad SAW has said, “Teach your children about salaah at the age of seven,” it is not compulsory for them to read salaah but they should be trained and taught by this age, “At the age of ten they must be disciplined,” Hadith Tirmidhi. We have undermined the importance of salaah and take lightly impressing the importance ofsalaah and its practice to our children.

Upon whom is salaah compulsory?

Salaah is compulsory upon every Muslim who is sane and mature, whether male or female – five times a day. Salaah is not compulsory on a non-Muslim. Salaah is not compulsory on people who are insane. Whether we are on the land or in the sky they must perform their salaah.

Is there any exemption from salaah for any particular reason?

A minor, that is a child who has not reached puberty, but a child must be taught and be disciplined to begin reading salaah by seven years old. One who is mad or insane, a woman in her menses, after the completion of her menses she is obligated to make ghusl but does not have to perform the qadha of the missed salaah. Similarly a woman in nifaas, post natal, for those 20 to 40 days, salaah is not compulsory. Once the compulsoryghusl is performed at the completion of this period, qadha is not necessary but salaah as usual must be performed. The salaah missed during the life of a non-Muslim does not have to be repeated (qadha is not compulsory).

What was Nabi Muhammad SAW farewell advice to the Ummah?

We understand from this the importance and significance of salaah. Nabi Muhammad’s SAW advice during a fatal illness was “As salaah” – The salaah. Regarding the rights of Allah SWT, guard your salaah. Regarding human beings who have authority fulfil it with justice and in a manner that tomorrow one in this position is not taken to task about it in the court of Allah. In Tirmidhi it is narrated that the first thing that Allah SWT will question the Muslims about is salaah.

Surah Ebrahim, verse 40, “Oh Allah make me from those who read salaah and make others read salaah, and from my progeny. Oh Allah you accept our dua and supplication.”

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