PRAYER AND WORSHIP
The earlier discussion has made it clear that the
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has enjoined us to believe in five articles of
Belief in one God. Who has absolutely no
associate with Him in His divinity.
Belief in God's Angels.
Belief in God's Books, and in the Holy Qur'an
as His Last Book.
Belief in God's Prophet, and in Muhammad (God's blessing be
upon him) as His Last and FinalMessenger.
Belief in life after death.
These five articles make up the bedrock of Islam.
One who believes in them enters the Muslim community. But by a mere verbal profession
alone, one does not become a complete Muslim. To become a complete Muslim one has to fully
carry out in practice the instruction given by Muhammad (peace be upon him) as ordained by
God. For belief in God makes practical obedience to Him incumbent; and it is obedience to
God which constitutes the religion of alone is your God, and this means that He is your
Creator and you are His creature; that He is your Master, and you are His slave that He is
your Ruler and you are His subject. After having acknowledged Him as your Master and
Ruler, if you refuse to obey Him you are a rebel on your own admission. Along with faith
in God you believe that the Qur'an is God's Book. This means that you have admitted all
the contents of the Qur'an to be from God. Thus it become your bounden duty to accept and
obey whatever is contained in it. Along with that you have admitted Muhammad (peace be
upon him) to be God's Messenger, which means that you have admitted that each and every
one of his orders and prohibitions are from God. After this admission obedience to him
become your duty. Therefore you will be a full-fledged Muslim only when your practice is
consistent with your profession otherwise your Islam will remain incomplete.
Now let us see what code of conduct Muhammad
(peace be upon him) has taught as ordained by God Al-mighty. The first and foremost things
in this respect are the 'Ibadat' the Primary Duties which must be
observed by each and every person professing to belong to the Muslim community.
'Ibadat' is an Arabic word derived from 'Abd'
(a slave) and it means submission. It portrays that Allah is your Master and you are His
slave and whatever a slave does in obedience to and for the pleasure of his Master is 'Ibadat.
The Islamic concept of 'Ibadat' is very wide. If you free your speech from filth,
falsehood, malice and abuse and speak the truth and talk goodly things and do all these
only because God has so ordained to do they constitute 'Ibadat, however secular they may
look in semblance. If you obey the law of God in letter and spirit in your commercial and
economic affairs and abide by it in your dealings with your parents relatives friend and
all those who come in contact with you verily all these activities of yours are
If you help the poor and the destitute give food to the hungry and serve the ailing and
the afflicted persons and do all this not for any personal gain of yours but only to seek
the pleasure of God, they are nothing short of 'Ibadat. Even your economic
activities the activities you undertake to earn your living and to feed your dependants
are 'Ibadat if you remain honest and truthful in them and observe the law of God.
In short all your activities and your entire life are 'Ibadat if they are in
accordance with the law of God and your heart is filled with His fear and your ultimate
objective in undertaking all theses activities is to seek the pleasure of God. Thus
whenever you do good or avoid evil for fear of God, in whatever sphere of life and field
of activity you are discharging your Islamic obligations. This is the true significance of
'Ibadat, viz. Total submission to the pleasure of Allah, the moulding into the patterns of
Islam one's entire life, leaving out not even the most insignificant part thereof. To help
achieve this aim a set of formal 'Ibadat (worships) has been constituted which serves as a
course of training. The more assiduously we follow the training, the better equipped
practices. The 'Ibadat are thus the pillars on which the edifice of Islam rests.
Salat is the most primary and the most important
of these obligations. And what is Salat? It is the prescribed daily prayers which consist
in repeating and refreshing five times a day the belief in which you repose your faith.
You get up early in the morning, cleanse yourself and present yourself before your Lord
for prayer. The various poses that you assume during your prayers are the very embodiment
of the spirit of submission; the various recitals remind you of your commitments to your
God. You seek His guidance and ask Him again and again to enable you to avoid His wrath
and follow His Chosen Path. You read out from the Book of the Lord and express witness to
the truth of the Prophet and also refresh your belief in the Day of Judgment and enliven
in your memory the fact that you have to appear before your Lord and give an account of
your entire life. This is how your day starts. Then after a few hours the Muezzin calls
you to prayers and you again submit to your God and renew your covenant with Him. You
dissociate yourself form your worldly engagements for a few moments and seek audience with
God. This once again brings to the fore of your mind your real role in file. After this
rededication you revert to your occupations and again present yourself to the Lord after a
few hours. This again acts as a reminder to you and you once more refocus your attention
an the attention on the stipulations of your Faith. When the sun sets and the darkness of
the night begins to shroud you, you again submit yourself to God in Prayers so that you
may not forget your duties and obligation in the midst of the approaching shadows of the
night. And then after a few hours you again appear before your Lord and this is your last
prayer of the day. Thus before going to bed you once again renew your Faith and prostrate
before your God. And this is how you complete your day. The frequency and timings of the
prayers never let the object and mission of life be lost sight of in the maze of worldly
It is but easy to understand how the daily
prayers strengthen the foundations of your Faith prepare you for the observance of a life
of virtue and obedience to God, and refresh that belief from which spring courage,
sincerity, purposefulness, purity of heart, advancement of the soul, and enrichment of
Now see how this is achieved. You perform
ablution and perform it in the way prescribed by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). You
also say your prayers according to the instructions of the Prophet. Why do you do so?
Simply because you believe in the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and deem it
our bounden duty to follow him ungrudgingly. Why don't you intentionally
miss-recite the Qur'an? Isn't it so because you regard the Books as the Word of God and deem it a sin to
deviate from its letter? In the prayers you recite many a thing quietly and if you do not
recite them and make any deviation therefrom there is no one to check you. But you never
do co intentionally. Why? Because you believe that God is ever watchful and He listens all
that you recite and is aware of thing open and hidden. What makes you say your prayers at
places where there is not one to ask you to offer them or even to see you offering them?
Isn't it so because of your belief that God is ever looking at you? What makes you leave
your important business and other occupations and rush to1wards the mosque for prayers?
What makes you terminate your sweet sleep in the early hours of the morning to go to the
mosque in the heat of the noon and to leave your evening entertainment's for the sake of
prayers? Is it anything other than sense of duty-your realisation that you must fulfil
your responsibility to the Lord, come what may? And why are you afraid of any mistake in
prayer? Because your heart is filled with the fear of God and you know that you have to
appear before Him on the Day of Judgment and give an account of your entire life. Now
look! can there be a better course of moral and spiritual training than prayers? It
is this training which makes a man a perfect Muslim. It remains him of his covenant with God,
refreshes his faith in Him, and keeps the belief in the Day of Judgment alive and
ever-present before his mind's eye. It makes him follow the Prophet and trains him in the
observance of his duties.
This is indeed a strict training for conforming
one's practice to one' ideals. Obviously if a man's consciousness of his duties towards
his Creator is so acute that he prizes it above all worldly gains and keep it refreshing
through prayers he would certainly be in visiting the displeasure of God which he all
along striven to avoid. He will abide by the law of God in the entire gamut of life in the
same way as he follows it in the five prayers ever day. This man can be relied upon in
other fields of activity as well for if the shadows of sin or deceit approach him he will
try to avoid them for fear of the Lord which would be ever present in his heart. And if
even after such a vital training a man misbehaves himself in other fields of life and
disobeys the law of God it can only be because of some intrinsic depravity of his self.
Then again you must say your prayers in
congregation and especially so the Friday prayers. This creates among the Muslims a bound
of love and mutual understanding. This arouses in them the sense of their collective unity
and fosters among them national fraternity. All of them say their prayers in one
congregation and this inculcate in them a deep feeling of brotherhood. Prayers are also a
symbol of equality for the poor and the rich the low and the high the rulers and the ruled
the educated and the unlettered, the black and the white all stand in one row prostrate
before their Lord. They also inculcate in them a strong sense of discipline and obedience
to the elected leader. In short prayers train them in all those virtues which make
possible the development of a rich individual and collective life.
There are a few of the myriads of benefits we can
derive from the daily prayers. If we refuse to avail ourselves of them we and only we are
the losers. Our shirking the prayers can only mean one of the two things. Either we do not
recognise prayers as our duty or we recognise them as our claim to Faith shall be a
shameless lie, for if we refuse to take orders we no longer acknowledge the Authority. In
the second case if we recognise the Authority and still flout His Commands then we are the
most unreliable of the creatures that ever tread the earth. For if we can do this to the
highest authority in the universe, what guarantee is there that we shall not do the same
in our dealings with other human beings? And if double play overwhelms a society what a
hell of discord it is bound to become!
What the prayers seek to serve five times a day
fasting in the month of Ramadhan (ninth month of the lunar year) does once a year. During
this period from dawn to dusk we eat not a grain of food nor drink a drop of water no
matter how delicious the dish or how hungry or thirsty we feel. What is it makes us
voluntarily undergo such rigours? It is nothing but faith in God and the fear of Him and
of the Day of Judgment. Each and every moment during our fast we suppress our passions and
desires and proclaim by our doing so the supremacy of the Law of God. This consciousness
of duty and the spirit of patience that incessant fasting for full one month inculcates in
us help us Strengthen our faith. Rigour and discipline during this month bring us face to
face with the realities of life and help us make our life during the rest of the year a
life of true subservience to His Will.
From yet another point of view fasting has an
immense impact on society for all the Muslims irrespective of their status must observe
fast during the same month. This brings to prominence the essential equality of men and
thus goes a long way towards creating in then sentiments of love and brotherhood. During
Ramadhan evil conceals itself while good come to the fore and the whole atmosphere is
filled with piety and purity. This discipline has been imposed on us to our own advantage.
Those who do not fulfil this relied upon in the discharge of their duties. But the worst
are those who during this holy month does not hesitate to eat or drink in public. They are
the people who by their conduct show that they care not a trifle for the commands of Allah
in Whom they profess their belief as their Creator and Sustainer. Not only this, they also
show that they are not loyal members of the Muslim Community rather they have nothing to
do with it. It is evident that in so far as obedience to law and regard for a trust
reposed in them goes, only the worst could be expected of such hypocrites.
The third obligation is Zakat. Every
Muslim, whose financial conditions are above a certain specified minimum, must pay
annually 21/2% of his cash balance to a deserving fellow being, a new covert to Islam, a
traveler, or one involved in debts. This is the minimum. The more you pay the greater the
reward that Allah shall bestow on you.
The money that we pay as Zakat is mot
something Allah needs or receives. He is above any want and desire. He, in His benign
Mercy, promises us rewards manifold if we help our brethren. But there in one basic
condition for being thus rewarded. And it is this that when we pay in the name of Allah,
we shall not expect nor demand any worldly gains from the beneficiaries nor aim at making
our names as philanthropists.
Zakat is as basic to Islam as other forms of 'Ibadat salat (prayers) and saum (fasting). Its fundamental importance lies in the fact
that it fosters in us the qualities of sacrifice and rids us of selfishness and
plutolatry. Islam accepts within its fold only those who are ready to give away in God's
way from their hard earned wealth willingly and without any temporal or personal gain. It
has nothing to do with misers. A true Muslim shall, when the call comes, sacrifice al his
belongings in the way of Allah, for Zakat has already trained him for such sacrifice.
The Muslim society has immensely to gain from the
institution of Zakat. It is the bounden duty of every well to do Muslim to help his lowly
placed poor brethren. His wealth is not to be spent solely for his own comfort and luxury
there are rightful claimants on his wealth, and they are the nation's widows and orphans,
the poor and the invalid those who have ability but lack the means by which they could
seek useful employment, those who have the faculties and brilliance but not the money with
which they could acquire knowledge and become useful members of the community. He who does
not recognize the right on his wealth of such members of his own community is indeed
cruel. For there could be no greater cruelty than to fill one's own coffers while
thousands die of hunger or suffer the agonies of unemployment. Islam is a sworn enemy of
such selfishness, greed and acquisitiveness. Disbelievers, devoid of sentiments of
universal love, know only to preserve wealth and to add to it by lending it out on
interest. Islam's teachings are the very antithesis of this attitude. Here one shares
one's wealth with others and helps them stand on their own legs and become productive
members of the society.
Hajj, or the Pilgrimage to Mecca, is fourth basic
'Ibadat. It is obligatory only on those who can afford it and that too only once in a
Mecca today stands at site of a small house that
the Prophet Abraham (God's blessings be upon him) built for the worship of Allah. Allah
rewarded him by calling it His own House and by making it the center towards which all
must face when saying prayers. He also made it incumbent on those who can afford to visit
is not merely to be a courtesy call. Even this pilgrimage the its rites and conditions to
be fulfilled which inculcate in us piety and goodness. When we undertake the pilgrimage,
we are required to suppress our passions, refrain from bloodshed, and be pure in word and
deed. God promises rewards for our sincerity and submissiveness.
The Pilgrimage is, in a way the biggest of all
Ibadat. For unless a man really loves God he would never undertake such a long journey all
his near and dear ones behind him. Then this pilgrimage is unlike any other journey. Here
his thoughts are concentrated on Allah, his very being vibrates with spirit of intense
devotion. When he reaches the holy place, he finds the atmosphere laden with piety and
godliness; he visits place which bear witness to the glory of Islam, and all this leaves
an indelible impression on his mind, which he carries t o his last breath.
Then there are as in other 'Ibadat many
benefits that the Muslims can enjoy from this pilgrimage. Mecca is the center towards
which the Muslims must converge once a year meet and discuss topics of common interest and
in general create and refresh in then selves the faith that all Muslims are equal and
deserve the love and sympathy of others irrespective of their geographical or cultural
origin. Thus the pilgrimage unites the Muslims of the world into one international
Though the defense of Islam is not a fundamental
tenet but its need and importance have been repeatedly emphasised in the Qur'an and the
Hadith. It is in essence a test of our sincerity and truthfulness as believers in Islam.
If we do not defend one whom we call our friend against intrigues or assaults from his
foes, nor care for his interest and are guided solely by selfishness we are indeed false
pretenders of friendship. Similarly if we profess belief in Islam we must jealously guard
and uphold the prestige of Islam. Our sole guide in our conduct must be the interest of
Muslim at large and the service of Islam in the face of which all our personal
considerations must sink low.
Jihad is a part of this overall defense of
Islam. Jihad means struggle to the utmost of one's capacity. A man who exerts
himself physically or mentally or spends his wealth in the way of Allah is indeed engaged
in Jihad. But in the language of the Shari'ah this word is used particularly for the war
that is waged solely in the name of Allah and against those who perpetrate oppression as
enemies of Islam. This supreme sacrifice of lives devolves an all Muslims. If however a
section of the Muslims offer themselves for participating in the Jihad the whole
community is absolved of its responsibility. But if none comes forward everybody is
guilty. This concession vanishes for the citizens of an Islamic State when it is attacked
by a non-Muslim power. In that case everybody must come forward for the Jihad. If
the country attacked has not strength enough to fight back then it is the religious duty
of the neighbouring Muslim countries to help her if even they fail then the Muslims of the
whole world must fight the common enemy. In all these cases Jihad is as much a
primary duty of the Muslims concerned as are the daily prayers or fasting. One who shirks
it is a sinner. He is plainly a hypocrite who fails in the test of sincerity and all his 'Ibadat
and prayers are a sham a worthless hollow show of devotion.