What is Salah?
Salah is simply a form of prayer offered to God. All Muslims offer this prayer five times a day; according to specific movements of the sun in the sky.
All five prayers need to be performed by all Muslims as it is an obligatory act; missing a prayer purposefully is classed as a direct sin.
After the most basic Muslim belief that God is one, Salah (prayer) is the most important.
This second pillar of Islam is so crucial that children from the age of eight are taught the prayer and should be performing prayer by the time they turn twelve.
Although this is the ideal, teaching children the historic and spiritual significance of the prayer is a task in itself!
Reported from Jabir Ibn Abdullah: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
The key to Paradise is prayer; the key to prayer is wudu (ablution). (Musnad Ahmad)
Salah is not only a prayer performed to glorify our Lord but a moral compass for all Muslims. It is a small amount of time taken out the day to reflect on our actions and think about the consequences.
There are so many problems we face in our daily lives and the answer to many can be found through quiet contemplation during prayer.
Should I have spoken to my brother like that?
Or should I feel bad for cutting someone out of a business deal?
How can I amend what wrong I have done to my family?
Is the money I earned rightfully gained?
Prayer forces humans to reflect on their past failures and gives time to think about future plans. It forces the person to amend what wrong they have committed; or at least remind them of their misguided actions.
The Historical Significance of Salah
Now, let’s go all the way back to when Adam (peace be upon him) was sent down to this Earth. Prayer has always been obligatory upon every nation and taught by Jibreel to the Prophets of that time. However, the manner is said to vary; postures and the amount of times to be prayed etc.
The only recurring theme of prayer was the full submission to Allah; this is the only factor to have not changed.
The way prayer was gifted to prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was when he went to the heaven. The Prophet Muhammad spoke to Allah and met the Prophets who came before him.
At first, Allah decreed 50 daily prayers, however, when the Prophet Muhammad was making his descent he met Prophet Moses. Moses (peace be upon him) inquired about what had happened beyond the Lotus tree (the glad tidings of establishing prayer) to which Moses said:
Go back to your Lord and ask for a reduction.
This meant that Prophet Moses knew that the Ummah would not be able to fulfill the decree. This resulted in the Prophet Muhammad going back and forth to Allah, to have the amount decreased.
There is a very important lesson in this magnificent story. When the Prophet Moses insisted to go back and reduce the prayers even more saying:
O Muhammad, I know people, your nation will not be able to handle it, go back and ask for the burden on your people to be relieved.
Prophet Muhammad answered:
He felt ashamed to ask for another reduction and said he was satisfied with five daily prayers.
A voice rang out, saying:
The prayers have been reduced to five but they will be rewarded as though they were fifty.
Eventually, the Ummah was gifted by God the five daily prayers.
Salah – A Blessing for the Ummah
There is a strange reality in this world that many people fail to realize. When life is wonderful, people tend to forget their Lord, however, as soon as a calamity falls upon them they reach for the prayer mat before anyone advises them to do so.
As humans, we are imperfect creatures desperately fighting our own nafs; and many times, giving into the temptation of the materialistic world.
Why is this? Why is it that time and again we come to prayer after a very long hiatus; our hearts full of small and mighty sins to ask for forgiveness?
The reason for this is that we have made prayer into a habit or a meaningless ritual where you tell your children ‘READ or the fires of hell await you!’
Read: Your Salah is Your Oxygen
As adults, we grow up with this habitual prayer that loses its meaning very quickly. It is then much easier for a person to fall off the bandwagon and stop praying overnight… what else can be expected when there is no spiritual attachment to this amazing act of worship?!
It doesn’t happen overnight, I can tell you this much. First, you pray because your parents tell you to, then slowly your mind starts wondering to ‘I’m so tired let’s get this over with quickly’.
As the years blur on, you begin to see prayer as a burden; sometimes you will pray other times you are having too much of a good time with your friends… your nafs begins to unconsciously see this beautiful act as an empty gesture of fear.
This can only be avoided if you begin to teach a child the love Allah has for every human being. We need to teach children about the rewards we all gain for praying and give them the key to access deeper knowledge that.
This knowledge will lead a child to see the true meaning behind praying; the infinite love of Allah. Instead of habit or prayer if we can instill the love of Allah in the hearts of children there will never need to be a time to worry about our child ever missing a prayer for the rest of their lives.
Let us detract from the generations that taught their children to fear Allah and pray Salah by using snakes and hell fire, and instead teach the all encompassing love of Allah. We are dear to Allah and He forgives His creation.
Let’s forever trust in Allah and be hopeful and never to think we are in a hopeless state. As long as we have Allah and His gift of Salah, then we are better.
If we feel we are far from Allah, (meaning our Iman is weak) then we can always close the distance by just one supplication.