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When It Is Time to Pray

{Prayers have been prescribed for the believers at set times.} (Quran 4:103)

There are many sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that emphasize the importance of performing prayers on their set time.

“There are five Prayers which God has prescribed for His servants. For those who perform them properly, without disrespectful omissions, there is a guarantee that God will admit them to Paradise. To those who do not observe them, however, God offers no such guarantee: He may punish them or He may admit them to Paradise, as He wills.” (An-Nasa’i)

Once the Prophet told his Companions:

“The five set Prayers may be compared to a stream of fresh water, flowing in front of your house, into which you plunge five times each day. Do you think that would leave any dirt on your body?”

They replied: “None at all!”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

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“Indeed, the five Prayers remove sins, just as water removes dirt.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet also said:

“The five set Prayers are expiation, for there is something amongst them by which major sins are repelled.” (Muslim)

“What distinguishes us from the hypocrites is our attendance at late night and early morning Prayers, both of which they miss.” (At-Tirdmidhi)

“Had anything been dearer to Him than this, it would have become a form of worship for His angels. As it is [each of them performs part of the Prayer,] some bowing, some prostrating themselves, some standing upright and some sitting on their heels.” (At-Tabarani)

One of the Prophet’s Companions, Abu Hurairah, said:

“If someone makes his ablution and does it well, then sets out with the intention of performing the Prayer, he is already in the state of Prayer while on his way to it. With each two steps he takes, a good deed is added to his record and a bad deed is erased from it. So do not linger when you hear the signal that the Prayer is beginning, for the one who is farthest from home will get the greatest reward.”

They asked: “Why is that, Abu Hurairah?”

He said: “Because of all the steps he had to take.” (At-Tirmidhi)

According to tradition, of all a person’s actions, the first to be examined on the Day of Resurrection will be the Prayer. If it is found to be complete, it will be accepted of him along with the rest of his works, but if it is found wanting it will be rejected along with the rest of his deeds.

A scholar once said:

One who performs Prayer is like a merchant, who does not start making a profit until he has recovered all his capital. In similar fashion, one who performs Prayer gets no credit for supererogatory devotions until he has discharged his basic obligations.

If someone performs his Prayer at the proper time, makes his ablution correctly, does the bowing and prostration properly and observes due humility, that Prayer will rise up, all bright and shining, and will say: “May God take care of you as you have taken care of me!”

But if someone performs his Prayer at the wrong time, without correct ablution, not bowing and prostrating properly and not observing due humility, his Prayer will rise up all dark and gloomy, saying: “May God neglect you as you have neglected me.”

Then when it has reached wherever God wishes, it will be folded up like an old rag and he will be slapped with it in the face. (At-Tabarani)

Merit of Congregational Prayer

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“The merit of congregational Prayer surpasses that of individual Prayer by twenty-seven degrees.” (Muslim)

According to the Companion Uthman that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“To perform the late evening Prayer in congregation is equivalent to spending half the night in vigil, while to perform the dawn Prayer in congregation is like keeping vigil throughout the night.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Excerpted from the author’s book: “The Revival of Religious Sciences”.