Saturday, June 28, 2008

Virtue and Significance of Solāh

The Virtue and Significance of Solāh

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-`ālamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam is His Messenger.

Solāh occupies an immense status in Islam that is not shared by any other act of worship. It is not only the pillar of the religion erases sins, but it is the first thing for which a person will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection.

The significance is as follows:

1 - It is the pillar of the religion, which cannot stand without it.

According to a hadīth narrated by Abu Abdul Rahman whose real name is Mu’adz Ibn Jabal (radiyallāhu’anhu), the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:  “Shall I not tell you of the head of the whole matter and its pillar and top?” I [Mu'adz] said, "Yes, O Messenger of Allāh." He (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “The head of the matter is Islam, its pillar is Solāh and its top is jihad” [Narrated by al-Tirmidzi, 2616; classified as sahīh by al-Albāni in Sahīh al-Tirmidzi, 2110].

2 - It is second in status to the Shahādatayn (twin testimony of faith) as further proof of the soundness of a person's belief and as visible evidence of the beliefs that reside in the heart.

The Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Islam is built on five [pillars]: the testimony that there is no god but Allāh and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, establishing Solāh, paying zakāh, performing pilgrimage to the House, and fasting Ramadhān” [Narrated by al-Bukhāri, 8; Muslim, 16].

Establishing Solāh means performing Solāh in full with all its words and actions, at the appointed times, as it says in the Qur'an (interpretation of the meaning):

Transliteration: 'Inna Aş-Şalāta Kānat ‘Alá Al-Mu’uminīna Kitābān Mawqūtān

"Verily, As-Solāh (the Solāh) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours" [Al-Nisā' 4:103]. i.e., Solat is performed at defined times.

3 - Solāh occupies a special position among other acts of worship because of the way in which it was enjoined.

It was not brought down to earth by an angel, rather Allāh wanted to bless His Messenger Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) by taking him up to heaven and addressing him directly concerning the obligation of Solāh. This is something that is unique to Solāh among all the rituals of Islam.
Solāh was enjoined on the night of the Mi'rāj (Prophet's ascension to heaven), approximately three years before the Hijrah.

Fifty Solāhs (per day) were enjoined at first, and then the number was reduced to five, but the reward of fifty remains. This is indicative of Allāh's love of Solāh and its great status.

4 - Allāh erases sins by means of Solāh

Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “What do you think if there was a river by the door of any one of you and he bathed in it five times a day, would there be any trace of dirt left on him?” They said, "No trace of dirt would be left on him'' He (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “That is like the five daily Solāh, by means of which Allāh erases sin”. [Al-Bukhari (528) and Muslim (667)]

5 - Solāh is the last part of religion to be lost, and if it is lost the whole religion is lost.

It was narrated that Jabir ibn 'Abdallāh (radiyallāhu’anhu) said: The Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Between a man and shirik [associating others with Allāh] and kufur [disbelief] there stands his giving up Solāh” [Narrated by Muslim, 82].

Hence the Muslim should be keen to perform the Solāh on time, and not be lazy or take the matter lightly. Allāh says (interpretation of the meaning):

Transliteration: Fawaylun Lilmuşallīna, Al-Ladhīna Hum ‘an Şolātihim Sāhūna

"So woe unto those performers of Solāh (hypocrites); Those who delay their Solah (Solāh from their stated fixed times)" [Al-Mā'ūn 107:4-5].

And Allāh warns those who cause their Solāh to be lost by saying (interpretation of the meaning):

Transliteration: Fakhalafa Min Ba’dihim Khalfun ‘adā‘ū Aş-Şalāta Wa Attaba`ū Ash-Shahawāti Fasawfa Yalqawna Ghayyān

"Then, there has succeeded them a posterity who have given up As-Solāh [i.e. made their Solāh to be lost, either by not offering them or by not offering them perfectly or by not offering them in their proper fixed times] and have followed lusts. So they will be thrown in Hell" [Maryam 19:59].

6 - Solāh is the first thing for which a person will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection.

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (radiyallāhu’anhu) said: I heard the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) say: The first deed for which a person will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be his Solāh. If it is good then he will have prospered and succeeded, but if it is bad then he will be doomed and have lost. If anything is lacking from his obligatory Solāh, the Lord will say, 'Look and see whether My slave did any voluntary Solāhs, and make up the shortfall in his obligatory Solāh from that.' Then all his deeds will be dealt with likewise” [Narrated by Al-Nasa'ie, 465; Al-Tirmidzi, 413: sahīh].

We ask Allāh to help us to remember Him, give thanks to Him and to worship Him properly.

Solāh is consisting of pillars, duties, and Sunnan. The Spirit of Solāh is intention, devotion, and contemplation of heart. Without the contemplation, invocation is of no avail since this will be futile utterance. By the same token, all other acts of Solāh will not bring forth its avowed fruits of the act of Qiyam (standing) that connotes the observation and Sujud (prostration) that implies humility and glorification, which will never be attained without attention (khusyuk).

Allāh, Most Exalted Says: "It is not their meat or their blood that reaches Allāh: it is your piety that reaches Him." (Al-Hajj: 37)

It is now clear that what counts most in the Sight of Allāh, Most Exalted, is the state of the heart, by which one submits to the commands of Allāh. In this way alertness and mindfulness are required in Solāh even if a lapse of negligence is pardoned by the Allāh as long as consciousness dominates it.

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.

[Reference: Al-Solāh by Dr. Al-Tayyaar, p. 16; Tawdīh Al-Ahkām by Al-Bassām, 1/371; Tārīkh Mashrū'iyyat Al-Solāh by Al-Balūshi, p. 31.]

[Via Islam Q&A]

Addendum 1:

the Virtue of Wudhu’ and Nawafil Wudhu’

In a narration by Humran who related that he observed `Uthman Ibn `Affan  (radhiyallāhu`anhu) performing his Wudhu': `Uthman would washed his hands thrice, rinsed his mouth and then washed his nose, by putting water in it and then blowing it out, and washed his face thrice, and then washed his right forearm up to the elbow thrice, and then the left forearm up to the elbow thrice, then wiped his head with water, washed his right foot thrice, and then his left foot thrice and said, “I saw Allāh's Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) performing wudhu’ similar to the one I’ve just performed, and then Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: ‘Whoever performs Wudhu’ (as I’ve just done) and then offers two raka`at (of Nawafil Wudhu’) in which he does not think of worldly things, all his previous sins will be forgiven’.” [This is recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Addendum 11:

The Measure of an Acceptable Solāh.

1 - Consciousness: It means to show indifference to all worldly interests and have absolute consciousness of Allāh subhānahu wa ta`ala. The cause of such consciousness is decisive intention since the man who has decisive intention to do something, necessarily puts his heart to it. Consciousness, in fact, differs according to the strength of belief in the Hereafter and scorn of this world. Therefore, if you miss consciousness in Solāh, you should know that the root-cause of this is weakness of faith, and so you should exert yourself to strengthen and bolster it.

2 - Reflection on the words; this is the second step after consciousness: Consciousness may be present without grasping the meaning, and so attention should be directed to grasping the meaning by refraining from thinking of other matters.

3 - Glorification and fear of Allāh subhānahu wa ta`ala, which emanate from two facts: realizing the Majesty and Magnificence of Allāh, and looking down upon one's self, which would result in humility and consciousness. Hope is also an important factor in Solāh. The one who offers Solāh should hope for the reward of Allāh, and fear the punishment due to his imperfection.

The worshiper should contemplate on every act of Solāh: When he hears the Adzān (Call to Solāh), he should remember the call on the Day of Judgment, and prepare himself to the answer, thinking how to reply. When the worshiper covers his private parts, he should remember his concealed vices which no one knows except Allāh, Most Exalted, and which require repentance.

When the worshiper faces the Qiblah (Direction of Solāh), he turns his face towards the House of Allāh and turns his back to all other directions. No doubt, directing his heart towards Allāh is worthwhile.

When you say: "Allāh is Greatest", your heart should not belie your tongue. If you believe that there is something greater than Allāh, you will be a liar. Be cautious.

When you say: "I seek refuge in Allāh from the accursed Satan", you should take into account that you resort to Allāh subhānahu wa ta`ala. In this case, if your heart is not in tune with your tongue, what you say will be nonsense and irrational. Try to grasp the meaning of what you say.

• When you say: "Praise be to Allāh, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds," you should ponder over the meaning of these words. Also, you reflect on Allāh's mercy when you read: "Most Gracious, Most Merciful". Think about Allāh's power when you read: "Master of the Day of Judgment". In this way, one should reflect on what he reads or say in Solāh.

It is reported that Zararah Ibn Abi Awfa (radiyallāhu`anhu) fell dead when he recited the Qur`anic verse, "Finally, when the trumpet is sounded." [Al-Muddathir: 8] which is, no doubt, was due to his imagination of this horrible scene.

When ruku’, observe humility to your Lord. Likewise, you should be more humble when prostrating since you place yourself in its proper and original position, namely, the earth from which you have been created. In this case, try to reflect on what you say.

Finally, you should know that performing Solāh in such a manner purifies and enlightens the heart, which, in turn, could behold the Glory of Allāh. In fact, no one but the devout scholars can grasp these meanings.

In contrast, whoever performs Solāh without observing its requirements would in no way grasp its significance? Such a man, furthermore, may exceed the limit and deny its existence.

Allāh Almighty knows best.

[Excerpted with slight modification, from Ibn Qudamah ‘Al-Maqdisi's Mukhtasar Minhaj Al-Qasidin’, published by Darul-Manarah for Translation, Publishing and Distribution, Egypt, 2001.]

[Via Islam Online]

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