Importance of Salat and the Five Pillars of Islam
Ramadan, 1419 – January 8, 1999
Alhamdulillah for the favor that Allah (swt) honored us with Islam, to be Muslims. To be Muslims is enough to be a pathway for us to Paradise, enough to at least put our first step in paradise.
It is enough to say that you have reached the side of safety. When someone says that ‘I am a Muslim’ it means he or she accepted and admitted Kalimat at-Tawheed, Kalimat ash-Shahada, “ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasulullah”.
To become a Muslim means accept the shahada, or else you are not a Muslim. By saying “I am a Muslim” you have passed the first level. Then you have to go to the second level. It means you have said, “O Allah I admit that you are the Creator and I am your slave.” Slave, not servant.
A servant is different from a slave: a servant is higher. That is a level that Allah did not give to anyone other than the Prophet (s). When he said subhan alladhi asra bi abdihi laylan min al-masjid al-haraam ila al-masjid al aqsa alladhee barakn hawlahu... – “Glory be to Him Who made His servant to go on a night from the Sacred Mosque to the remote mosque of which We have blessed the precincts…”. [17: 2]
He called the Prophet (s) “`Abd“. He specified him with that title. To be a slave is a lower level, because our Islam is not yet perfect. We accept to say kalimat shahada, we accept Allah (swt) as our Lord and Prophet Muhammad (s) as our Messenger. Yet, we are not doing what is supposed to be done. To do what is supposed to be done is a very important aspect of Islam, it is the most… when you say shahada when you declare Kalimat at Tauheed – how many times are you obliged to say it per day, week, month year, or lifetime how many times. You can say Kalimat at-Tauheed one time, it is enough not to say it all the time. You don’t need to repeat it every time, once is enough to put you into the circle of Islam. So Kalimat at-Tauheed, the first pillar of Islam, can be said only once in the whole lifetime – it is obligatory to say it once.
The second pillar of Islam is iqamatu ‘s-salaat (establishing prayer). We will to it come later.
Poor due – Zakat
The third pillar is ita’uz-zakat. Who can, must do it once a year. And you cannot do it if you don’t have money. If you are poor and you did not make enough profit–a certain amount of money that goes from one year to another–you are not obliged to take out your zakat. It is an obligation fard to be done once a year for those who are obliged to give because they have made on their money, money from one year, min al hawli il al-hawli. But if you did not, then you are not obliged to give it. If there is a poor person who cannot find food for one day’s sustenance, you cannot expect him to have saved money on the side. This means some people will do it every year and some people will not do it. Who cannot afford to, is not obliged to do it.
Fasting – Siyam
Wa sawmu ramadan. Fasting, you are obliged to do it every year one time, for one month. And alhamdulillah Allah (swt) gave us this month to remember Him. And the Prophet (s) used to urge the Sahaba for `itikaf in the last 10 days of that month. And many Muslims around the world do `itikaf and they try to do their best to come closer to Allah (swt) and for Allah (swt) to be happy with us and to for us to be nearer to Him in this life, dunya, and the hereafter, akhira.
Fa man kana minkum mareedan aw `ala safarin fa `iddatun min ayyamin ukhar- (Fast) a certain number of days; and (for) him who is sick among you, or on a journey, (the same) number of other days; [2: 184]. In that case Allah gave you permission to fulfill them later. If someone is continuously sick then he is excused. It means you have to do it once a year, but some people if they cannot fast,they do not have to do it–Allah is relieving them, excusing them.
Pilgrimage – Hajj
The fifth pillar wa hajj al-bayt li man istata`a ilahyi sabeela. Whoever can afford to do hajj who is physically and mentally and financially able to go, must perform it at least once in a lifetime.
Prayer – Salat
So on the other hand we see that salat, the second pillar of Islam-you cannot leave it. Five times a day you are obliged to do it and you cannot leave it for any reason. No reason. No excuse. there is a very severe penalty for leaving prayer. If you are sick and you don’t fast there is no penalty. If you are poor and you have no money to give zakat there is no penalty. If you cannot afford to go to hajj there is no penalty. But for leaving salat there is a very high penalty – hellfire. Ma bayn al-kufr wal iman tark al-salat, – What is between belief and disbelief is leaving prayer. So there is no way, no excuse for any sick person, for a person with or without money, he or she has to pray. Five prayers. The sick person who cannot pray standing can sit and pray; who cannot pray sitting prays lying down, one who can’t pray lying down may pray with his eyes. Salat has to be performed. Oh Muslims don’t avoid giving salat its importance. No.
Worship – `Ibadat 24×7
It is so very very important to Allah (swt) that He ordered and obliged 50 salat a day, not one. Allah ordered the Prophet (s) to perform fifty prayers, which means continuous worship. Wa ma khalaqta al-jinn wal ins illa liy`abudun. “And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should worship Me.”[51: 56]
If it was fifty and if it was still fifty, we would have no time even to raise our heads. Fifty salat, every salat, if you performed it correctly takes fifteen minutes. Fifty salat by fifteen minutes is 750 minutes plus eating, plus time to make ablution, wudu, for fifty prayers. So what is left? That is meaning of the verse:
Wa ma khalaqta al-jinn wal ins illa liy`abudun. [51: 56]
Allah said fifty prayers but what is kayfiyya al-salat– how it is done, what are arkan as-salat the procedures? We know Fajr has two sunnah raka`at; Dhuhr has eight or four; four sunnah before, `Asr has two or four sunnah, Maghrib has two; and eleven raka`at for ‘Isha. Then you have Salat ad-Duha, Salat al-Awwabin, Salat al-Ishraq, Salat an-Najat, Salat al-Tahajjud. Then the fifty other prayers also have their sunnah!
So all of your time 24 hours is going to be occupied.
That is the verse: ma khalaqta al-jinn wal ins illa liy`abudun ma ureedu minhum min rizqin wa ureedu an yu`imun. inna Allahu hua ar-razzaqa dhul quwwat il-mateen – “I do not desire from them any sustenance and I do not desire that they should feed Me.”
Allah can give you, you cannot give anything. Don’t think you are going to work for your children, bringing money. If Allah wants to close it—it is finished—nothing. Submit. Allah gives. Allah provides. So 24 hours you are going to be in continuous `ibadat through salat, prayer.
Allah (swt) gave Sayyidina Muhammad (s) fifty salat but then with His mercy reduced it to five. But in the mizan, in the Balance, the five salat are considered fifty. If we do our five prayers correctly with complete submission to Allah, complete presence (khush`u) then it as if we were performing salat 24 hours a day, it is equal to fifty prayers. Then it will be written for us, in the Mizan, Balance, Wa ma khalaqta al-jinn wal ins illa liy`abudun. You will be under the tajalli, manifestation, of that verse.
The key to the Mercy and Blessing of this verse for Allah (swt) to dress you with the blessings of this verse is five prayers which leads you to the fifty prayers which lead you to the verse of Qur’an: Wa ma khalaqta al-jinn wal ins illa liy`abudun.
Salat – Summation of Worship
Additionally, salat is very important because in it is contained the whole of `ibadah. First in salat you declare the shahada the Oneness of Allah in at-Tahiyyat: ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa rasuluh. To become a Muslim you say shahada only one time in your life. In your salat you are saying it every day in every two raka`at. So salat includes the first pillar of Islam, kalimat at-tauheed.
Salat as Zakat
Salat includes your zakat–not 2½ percent but 100% percent. Because when you work and make money and go from one year to another year you are only obliged to give 2 ½ percent of the profit–not the capital. You are going to give on what you have profit.
Out of your capital and it is 2½ percent. Whatever you have of jewelry and gold or any kind of savings is money on which you must give 2½ percent, from one year to another. But in salat you do not only give that. Because when you work you are spending time to go work five; six; eight hours a day making money, saving and then paying 2 ½ percent.
In salat you are giving your whole time to Allah swt. If you make ten dollars in one hour; if you spend one hour in salat, it is as if you are giving the entire ten dollars, not just 2 ½ percent. And the ten dollars might be spent and won’t last for one year and you don’t pay any zakat on it, but the salat you are giving. You are giving the entire amount so it is in a geometrical multiplication that increases from 2½ percent to 100%. That is real zakat! You are giving everything that belongs to you. And the most important thing that belongs to you is when Allah gave you the body and this spirit–you are giving to Allah (swt) you are giving to Allah’s will.
Salat as Siyam
Second in salat you are holding your tongue from eating, drinking, backbiting, speaking. Not only your tongue, but your whole body from touching. Because in siyam a man cannot approach his wife or vice versa, because it is not allowed. Eating is not allowed. In salat you cannot do anything like that. In siyam you can fast but you can also speak. In salat it is more you fast you cannot speak and you cannot approach your spouse. That is a higher level of fasting that is included in salat.
The last pillar of Islam is hajj. In your prayer it is as if you are making pilgrimage five times a day. When you direct yourself to the qiblah as soon as you say “Allahu Akbar.”
Even in Mecca near the end of the renovation of al-Haram ash-Sharif, you could not see the Ka`aba. And from outside Mecca you cannot see the Ka`aba. Anywhere in Mecca even you cannot see the Ka`aba. From outside Mecca you can face the Ka’aba [without seeing it] and in Mecca and in the haram you might face it without seeing it.
As if you are going on a trip through your salat because hajj is to visit the Holy Ka`aba. Ziyarat al Ka’aba al-musharrafah.
The most important pillar (rukn) of hajj is to be in the Holy House, al-Baytu ‘l-haraam. So the most important thing for us is when we say “Allahu Akbar“, is to see it through our hearts, through our mind, through every cell of our body and with every drop of our blood. EVERYTHING is saying “Allahu Akbar” in the presence of the Ka’aba, the House of Allah (swt) on earth, which Allah wanted people to face and direct themselves toward. Allah knows what kind of secrets and tajalli are there. So in your prayer it is as if you are directing yourself by disconnecting with the dunya and facing the Ka`aba. So it as if you have gone there for hajj.
So in salat you find all the five pillars of Islam. That is why you cannot be excused from leaving one prayer, else there will be heavy punishment. If you want heavy punishment that is up to you. If you want to save yourself, then Oh, Muslims let us keep our connection with Islam tight!
Wrapping it all up
Islam is five pillars. The Prophet (s) wrapped all of them, shahada, salah, zakat, siyam and hajj with two cords: iman bil-ghayb, belief in the Unseen, and the state of ihsan – perfected character. These five pillars, which every Muslim performs, cannot be perfected without first tying up salat, prayer. That is because prayer includes all five pillars. One cannot perform the prayer properly when one’s heart is dirty and damaged – when one’s faith is damaged. It must be wrapped like a gift. When you look at a present, wrapped nicely from outside, it looks very pleasing, and when you open it, it is also very pleasing. So how are you presenting your prayers to Allah (swt) when your heart is not clean? Cleanliness of the heart by means of attaining the state of Iman and then the state of Ihsan is very essential. We will continue about that, insha-Allah another time.
© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America