In the name of Allāh, the Supremely Beneficent, the Sublimely Magnanimous
نحمده و نصلي على رسوله الكريم
و على عبده المسيح الموعود
We send prayers and blessings upon His (swt) Noble Messenger (saw) and upon his (saw) Servant, the Promised Messiah (as)
Salāt in the Qur’ān al-Karīm
Salāt in the Ahādīth
Athār (Sayings) of the Sahābah Kirām (Noble Companions) and Awliyā’ Allāh (Saints of Islām)
Imām Mahdi’sas Love for Salāt
Inner Significance of the Posturess of Salāt
Inner Significance of the Timings of Salāt
Salāt (ritual prayer) is the basis of all Islām, and is the means to form a relationship and link with the Creator of the Universe. Without Salāt, a person is lost in the desert of mundane worldliness. Salāt is the oasis that quenches our spiritual thirst. The following is a small compendium of resources taken from the Words of God in the Qur’ān, Ahādith (Sayings of the Noble Prophetsa), Athār (Narrations of the Saints of Islām and Companions of the Prophetsa), Writings of the Imām Mahdi Seyyidina Ahmadas, and Writings of hisas Noble Successorsra.
The word salāt (صَّلَاةِ) has been mentioned by Allah Ta’āla more than 65 times in the Qur’ān, showing its utter significance and importance. The Holy Qur’ān also mentions the merits of performing Salāt and the consequences of not performing it. It also states the way in which Salāt should be done; namely in utter humility and concentration, or it does not merit the believer.
وَأَقِيمُواْ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتُواْ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَٱرۡكَعُواْ مَعَ ٱلرَّٲكِعِينَ
“And establish prayer regularly and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience].” (al-Baqarah – The Cow, 2:44)
وَٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ عَلَىٰ صَلَوَٲتِہِمۡ يُحَافِظُونَ
“[The true believers are] And those who safeguard the observance of their Prayers.” (al-Mu’minūn – The Believers, 23:10)
إِنَّ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ كَانَتۡ عَلَى ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ كِتَـٰبً۬ا مَّوۡقُوتً۬ا
“….verily Prayer is enjoined on the believers to be performed at fixed hours.” (al-Nisā’ – The Women, 4:104)
إِنَّ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ تَنۡهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلۡفَحۡشَآءِ وَٱلۡمُنكَرِۗ وَلَذِكۡرُ ٱللَّهِ أَڪۡبَرُۗ
“Surely, Prayer restrains one from indecency and manifest evil, and remembrance of Allah indeed is the greatest virtue.” (al-‘Ankabut – The Spider, 29:46)
إِنَّ ٱلۡمُنَـٰفِقِينَ يُخَـٰدِعُونَ ٱللَّهَ وَهُوَ خَـٰدِعُهُمۡ وَإِذَا قَامُوٓاْ إِلَى ٱلصَّلَوٰةِ قَامُواْ كُسَالَىٰ يُرَآءُونَ ٱلنَّاسَ وَلَا يَذۡكُرُونَ ٱللَّهَ إِلَّا قَلِيلاً۬
“The hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but He will punish them for their deception. And when they stand up for Prayer, they stand lazily and to be seen of men, and they remember Allah but little.” (al-Nisā’ – The Women, 4:143)
Oh my Lord perpetually bless your Prophet
In this world and in the next
The Prophetsa would pray the farā’id (essential) prayers as well as his own Sunnah prayers and the Witr prayer after ‘Ishā’ (night prayer) throughout his life even during battles and when he was very ill near his death.
Our Noble Prophet, the Seal of the Prophets and Best of All Creation, Seyyidina Hadrat al-Aqdas Muhammad al-Mustafā – صلي الله عليه و سلم (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) – signifies the importance of offering Salāt regularly, on the prescribed times and preferably in congregation.
Here are a few notable Sayings of hissa in regards to Salāt:
“الصلاة معراج المؤمن – Salāt is the Mi’rāj (Spiritual Ascension to Heaven) of a Mu’min (Believer).” – 40 Ahādith Collection
“Giving up prayer is tantamount to kufr (disbelief) and shirk (associating partners with Allah).” – Sahīh Muslim
“The difference between us and the hypocrites is that they do not perform the Fajr (Pre-Dawn) and ‘Ishā’ (Night) prayers.” – Sahīh al-Bukhārī
“مفتاح الجنه الصلاة و مفتاح الصلاة الطهار – The key to Paradise is Salāt and the key to Salāt is purification (of the heart).” – Sahīh Muslim
“Abū Hurayrahra relates that he heard the Holy Prophetsa say: Tell me if one of you had a stream running at his door and he should take bath in it five times every day would any dirt be left upon him?…This is the case of five Prayers, Allah wipes out all faults as a result of them.” – Sahīh al-Bukhārī
“‘Abd Allāh ibn Mas’ūdra relates that he asked the Holy Prophetsa, which action is most acceptable to Allah, the Exalted? Hesa answered: Performing the Salāt at its appointed time.” – Sahīh al-Bukhārī
“Worship in jamā’ah (congregation) is better than solitary worship by twenty-seven degrees.” – Sahīh al-Bukhārī
“Salāt is a pillar of Islām.” – Bayhāqī
“The prescribed worship is like a balance: whoever pays is repaid in full.” – Kitāb Asrār-e-Salāt (Book of the Mysteries of Worship), 4th Book in the Rubʿ al-ʿIbadāt (Acts of Worship) Section of the Ihyā’ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn (Revival of the Religious Sciences) by Imām al-Ghazālirh, Mujaddid (Centennial Reformer) of the 5th Century AH
“No man, jinn, or thing hears the Ādhān (Call to Prayer) of the mu’ādhin (Caller to Prayer) but that he (the mu’ādhin) will bear witness for him on the Day of Judgement.” – Kitāb Asrār-e-Salāt
“Al-Yad (the hand) of al-Rahmān (the Compassionate One) is upon the head of the mu’ādhin until he finishes his Call.” – Kitāb Asrār-e-Salāt
“Whenever you hear the Ādhān, repeat after mu’ādhin, except when he gives the haya’alatayn (حي على الصلاة – Haya ‘alas-Salāh ie. Come to Prayer, and حي على الفلاح – Haya ‘alal-Falāh ie. Come to Prosperity) whereupon he should say لا حول و لا قوة إلا بالله – Lā Hawla wa Lā Quwwatah Illā biAllāh (There is no power or strength except in Allāh).” – Kitāb Asrār-e-Salāt
Athār (Sayings) of the Sahābah Kirām (Noble Companions) and Awliyā’ Allāh (Saints of Islām)
Abū Bakr al-Siddīqra, Khalīfat al-Nabī I, used to say that “Whenever the Salāt time comes, stand up to the fire which you have ignited, and put it out!” – Kitāb Asrār-e-Salāt
al-Muhaddith (Compiler of Ahādīth) Yazīd al-Raqashi said, “The Salāt of the Messenger of Allāhra was symmetrical, as though it were measured in a balance.” – Kitāb Asrār-e-Salāt
Abū Hurayrahra said, “Whoever performs the wudū’ (ablution) well and then goes out (to the Masjid [mosque] or Bayt al-Du’ā [appointed space in a house for prayer]) for Salāt, is in worship as long as he is walking and there is written for him with one of his footsteps one good deed, and there is erased for him with other footstep one evil deed. So whenever one of you hears the Call to Prayer, it is not fitting for you to hang back, for the one of you who gets the greatest reward is the one whose house is the most distant…on account of the large number of your footsteps.” – Kitāb Asrār-e-Salāt
Abū ‘Abd al-Rahmān Hātim ibn ‘Alwanrh said “I once missed Salāt in congregation and my righteous friend Abū Is’hāq al-Bukhārīrh consoled me as I was sad. But, had a child of mine died, more than ten thousand would have consoled me, for religious misfortune is lighter with men than this life’s misfortune.” – Kitāb Asrār-e-Salāt
Abū Hurayrahra said, “Truly, that the ear of a human being should be filled with molten lead would be better than that he should hear the Ādhān and not respond!” – Kitāb Asrār-e-Salāt
“On the Day of Judgment, there will be assembled a people whose faces are like the bright star, so the angels will ask them, ‘What were your works?’ and then they will answer, ‘We were (people who) whenever we heard the Call to Worship, rose for the purification, nothing else preoccupying us.’
Then there will be assembled also a group whose faces will be like moons, and they will say, after inquiry, ‘We used to perform the ablution before the time (of the Worship).’
Then there will be assembled a group whose faces are like the sun, and they will say, ‘We used to hear the Call to Worship in the mosque.” – Kitāb Asrār-e-Salāt
Abū Hurayrahra narrated that the Prophetsa said that when the Promised Messiah appears, “One sajdah (prostration in Salāt) will be worth more than all of the world and what it contains” (Sahīh Bukhārī, Sahīh Muslim).
The Promised Messiah and Imām Mahdi, Seyyidina Mīrzā Ghulām Ahmad al-Qādiānīas, in his capacity as the reviver of Islām back to the original pristine Islām of the Prophetsa was an ardent lover of Salāt and never missed a prayer in his entire life. He would even pray during the court proceedings brought forth against him by the antagonists of the Appointed One of Allāh without any fear whatsoever, and pray during his severe illness near the time of his death.
Here are a few excerpts from the Writings of our Imām showing the deep love he had for Salāt and the inner significance it contains:
“Man is held in a diversity of chains and collars. He desires to get rid of them but they persist. Despite man’s intense desire to be purified his Reproaching Self (Nafs-e-Lawwāmah) does sometimes stumble. It is for God to purify a person from sin. There is no power that can purify you by force. God has prescribed Prayer for the generation of pure sentiments.
Salāt is a prayer which is submitted to God in travail and burning with a heart aflame, so that vicious thoughts and evil designs may be got rid of and a holy love and a pure relationship may be established and one may be enabled to keep God’s commandments.
The word Salāt indicates that true Prayer is not offered only with the tongue but must be accompanied by burning and sizzling and being consumed by fire. God Almighty does not accept Prayer until the worshipper at the time of prayer arrives a kind of death….
The various postures of the Salāt demonstrate respect, humility and meekness. In Qiyām (standing posture) the worshipper stands with his arms folded as a slave stands respectfully before his master and king. In Rukū‘ (bowing) the worshipper bends down in humility. The climax of humility is reached in Sajdah (prostration), which indicates extreme helplessness.” – Speeches to Jalsah Salāna (the Annual Convention), 1906, pp. 6-8
“What is Salāt? It is a supplication addressed to the Lord of Honour without which a person cannot be truly alive, nor can he procure any means of security and happiness. When God Almighty bestows this grace upon a person it is only then that he obtains true comfort. From that moment he will begin to feel pleasure and delight in Salāt. As he derives pleasure from delicious food he will begin to derive pleasure from his weeping and crying in Salāt. Before he experiences that condition in his Salāt it is necessary that he should persist in Salāt as he swallows bitter medicine so that he may be restored to health. In the same way it is necessary for him to persist in Salāt and in making his supplications while he derive no pleasure from them. In such condition he should seek pleasure and delight in Salāt with the supplication:
Allāh! Thou knowest how blind and sightless I am, and at the moment I am like the dead. I know that in a little while I shall be called and shall present myself before Thee and no one will be able to stop me. But my heart is blind and unenlightened. Do Thou cause to descend upon it such a flame of light that thereby it may be inspired with Thy love and devotion to Thee. Do Thou bestow upon me such grace that I shall not be raised up sightless nor join the blind.
When he supplicates in this manner and persists in the supplication he will see that a time will arrive when something will descend upon him while he is engaged in such type of prayer which will melt his heart. – Malfūzāt (Sayings of the Promised Messiahas), vol. IV, pp. 321-322
“It is obvious that a person is extremely watchful every moment only of that the loss of which he deems would spell his ruin, like one who, while traversing a waterless wilderness in which there is no likelihood of his finding water or food for hundreds of miles, is most watchful of such provisions as he has with him, holding them as dear as his life because of his conviction that their loss would mean his death. Thus the true believers are watchful of their prayers like such a traveller. They do not neglect their prayers even at the risk of losing their wealth or honour, or of incurring someone’s displeasure. Any apprehension of missing their prayer causes them great anguish and brings them near unto death.” – Barāhīn-e-Ahmadīyyah ‘alā Haqīqah Kitāb Allāh al-Qur’ān wa al-Nabūwwah al-Muhammadīyyah (Proofs of the Truth of the Book of Allah – the Qur’an, and the Prophethood of Muhammadsa), Part V
“The Salāt purifies the spirit and the fast illumines the heart. The purification of the spirit means that one may be delivered from the passions of the self that incites to evil; and the illumination of the heart means that the gates of vision may be opened so that one may be able to behold God.” – Malfūzāt (Sayings of the Promised Messiahas), vol. IV, pp. 256-257
‘Umar bin al-Khattab, Khalīfat al-Nabī IIra narrates:
“While we were one day sitting with the Messenger of Allah, sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, there appeared before us a man dressed in extremely white clothes and with very black hair. No traces of journeying were visible on him, and none of us knew him.
He sat down close by the Prophet, sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, rested his knee against his thighs, and said, ‘O Muhammad! Inform me about Islām.’
Said the Messenger of Allah, sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, ‘Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity save Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should perform salāh (ritual prayer), pay the zakāh, fast during Ramadan, and perform Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House (the Ka’bah at Makkah), if you can find a way to it (or find the means for making the journey to it).’ Said he (the man), ‘You have spoken truly.’
We were astonished at his thus questioning him and telling him that he was right, but he went on to say, ‘Inform me about Īmān (faith).’ He (the Messenger of Allah) answered, ‘It is that you believe in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and in the Last Day, and in fate (qadr), both in its good and in its evil aspects.’ He said, ‘You have spoken truly.’
Then he (the man) said, ‘Inform me about Ihsān.’ He (the Messenger of Allah) answered, ‘It is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him, for though you cannot see Him yet He sees you.’…
…I waited a while, and then he (the Messenger of Allah) said, ‘O ‘Umar, do you know who that questioner was?’ I replied, ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said, ‘That was Jibrīl (Angel Gabriel). He came to teach you your religion.’” – Sahīh Muslim
It is evident from this that true religion consists of Islām (actions), Īmān (beliefs), and Ihsān (spirituality). It can be seen that in the Qiyām (standing posture), the brain representing ‘aql (intellect) is above your qalb (heart), through which God speaks to man. Then, in the Rukū’ (bowing posture), the brain is at the same level as the heart. Finally, in sajdah (prostration), the heart is above the brain.
Therefore, the inner significance of these postures is that the Qiyām represents the 5 pillars of Islām (actions), whereupon it is mostly the intellect working, the Rukū’ represents Īmān (beliefs) where intellect and heart are attuned, and Sajdah represents Ihsān (spirituality) where the heart is above the intellect.
In addition to this, the postures together spell the word “Adam” in Arabic, which means “the original human”.
Allāh informs us that we are closest to Him when we are in sajdah:
كَلَّا لَا تُطِعۡهُ وَٱسۡجُدۡ وَٱقۡتَرِب
“Nay, yield not thou to him [a person who stops someone from praying], but prostrate thyself and draw near to God.” (al-‘Alaq – The Clot, 96:20)
“Such a state is termed Liqā’. The word Muhsin in the above verse most clearly points to this stage, because Ihsān, according to the explanation of our Holy Prophetsa, signifies a perfect state in which a man has such a connection with the Almighty that he, as it were, sees Him at the time of his worship.
This state of Liqā’ is fully realised by the spiritual wayfarer (sālik) when his humanity is over-coloured by the Divinity and completely concealed and hidden under it, just as fire overcolours iron in such a way that apparently the iron becomes fire. And it is at this stage that some seekers after God have stumbled. The apparent has been taken for the real. The Awliyā’ (friends of God) who attain to this point and those who get a glimpse of it have been called ‘Atfāl Allāh’ (the children of Allah) by some mystics because they throw themselves, as it were, into the lap of Divine attributes. And just as a son resembles his father in physical features and outward appearance, the beautiful attributes of God are reflected to a certain extent in such men as a result of their efforts to imitate the attributes of God.” – A’īna-e-Kamalāt-e-Islām (Mirror of the Perfection of Islām)
The Salāt is also universal in nature and even the ritual purification is not without significance. Khalīfat al-Masīh II, Seyyidina Mīrzā Bashīr al-Dīn Mahmūd Ahmad al-Qādiānīra writes:
“The very word Wudū’ indicates both these objects, for it means both ‘cleanliness’ and ‘beauty’. The performance of Wudū’ promotes physical cleanliness which is indispensable for spiritual purity, and renders the Salāt beautiful by preventing and arresting the interruption or disturbance of the worshipper’s thoughts, thus making it possible for him to achieve the real object of prayer.
Having performed the Wudū’ the worshipper stands with his face towards the Kaaba which is meant to remind him of the sacrifices made by Abrahamas in the path of God and the vast good that resulted from them. He then repeats certain prescribed passages from the Holy Qur’ān. The first part of these is devoted to the praise and adoration of God whereby the worshipper can perceive, as it were, the reflection of God’s image, and his heart is flooded with love and longing and he is drawn towards God. In the second part he confesses that at every step in the course of his progress he is dependent on the help and assistance of God, and thus perceiving his own helplessness he is impelled towards self-improvement and greater trust in God. The third part contains prayers and supplications, which are the essence of Salāt. By prayer man attracts the grace of God, and through the union of the love of man with the love of God in prayer the seed is sown of a new spiritual creation in the same way as a new physical being comes into existence through the union of a male and a female…
…The external acts prescribed by Islam for the performance of Salāt are not without their significance.
During the course of Salāt the worshipper must at different stages stand with folded arms, bow down with his hands resting on his knees, stand erect with his arms hanging by his side, prostrate himself on the ground and sit with folded legs. All these movements are symbols of perfect humility and surrender among different peoples. In some countries people express complete submission by standing with folded arms; in other countries, by standing with their arms hanging by their sides. In ancient Egypt bowing with one’s hands on one’s knees was regarded as a symbol of deep respect; in India prostration was in vogue and in Europe falling on one’s knees is considered to be a mode of showing reverence. Islam has combined all these symbols in its mode of worship.” – Invitation to Ahmadiyyat, pp. 75-77
It is known that when the Prophetsa went on his Mi’rāj (Night Journey to Paradise), Allāh initially told the Prophetsa to tell the Muslims to perform 50 prayers a day but the Prophet Mosesas beseeched the Prophetsa to ask Allāh to shorten the amount of prayers as humans would not be able to bear such an amount, so it was shortened to 5 times a day. The timings for these prayers, ie. pre-dawn, when the sun is at its zenith, afternoon, evening, and night, all have a deep significance to them. It is also understood that it is forbidden to pray when the sun is rising or setting because the sun-worshippers would pray at those times. The Promised Messiahas writes:
“What are the five daily prayer services? They are pictures of your different conditions during the course of the day. You pass through five conditions at a time of trial and your nature demands that you must pass through them.
The first of these is when you are warned that you are about to be afflicted with a calamity. For instance, imagine that a warrant has been issued for your presence in court. This is the first condition which disturbs your serenity and contentment. This condition resembles the time when the sun begins to decline, as on the receipt of the court warrant. Corresponding to this condition, the noon prayer (Zuhr) has been prescribed, the time of which begins with the decline of the sun.
You experience the second condition when you are drawn close to the place of the calamity. For instance, when having been taken into custody under the warrant you are produced before the magistrate. At that time you are in terror and the light of security seems as if it were about to depart from you. This condition resembles the time when the light of the sun diminishes and the human eye can fix itself upon the sun and it becomes obvious that the time of its setting is near. Corresponding to this spiritual condition the afternoon prayer (‘Asr) has been prescribed.
The third condition sets in when you lose all hope of deliverance from the calamity. For instance, when after the recording of the prosecution evidence, which is designed to bring about your ruin, you are charged with an offence and a charge sheet is prepared. At this time you almost lose your senses and you begin to think of yourself as a prisoner. That condition resembles the time when the sun sets and hope of daylight comes to an end. The sunset prayer (Maghrib) is prescribed corresponding to this spiritual condition.
The fourth condition is when you are afflicted by the calamity and its deep darkness envelops you completely. For instance, when after the close of the evidence you are convicted and sentenced and are committed to the custody of the police. This condition resembles the time of nightfall, when everything falls into deep darkness. The evening prayer (‘Ishā’) is prescribed corresponding to this spiritual condition.
When you have spent a certain time in the darkness of the affliction, Divine mercy surges up and delivers you from the darkness, as the dawn succeeds the darkness of the night and daylight begins to appear. The dawn prayer (Fajr) is prescribed corresponding to this spiritual condition. God Almighty in view of your five changing conditions has prescribed five prayer services for you.
You can thus understand that these services have been prescribed for the benefit of your soul. If you desire security against these calamities you should not neglect the five daily services, as they are a reflection of your inner and spiritual conditions. The Salāt is a remedy for the calamities that may threaten. You know not what type of circumstances the new day might confront you with. So before the beginning of the day supplicate your Divine Master earnestly that the day may prove to be a source of benefit and blessing for you.” – Kashti Nūh (Noah’s Ark)
ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَتَطۡمَٮِٕنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكۡرِ ٱللَّهِۗ
أَلَا بِذِڪۡرِ ٱللَّهِ تَطۡمَٮِٕنُّ ٱلۡقُلُوبُ
“Those who believe, and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of Allah. Aye! it is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort.” (al-Ra’d – The Thunder, 13:29)
و آخر دعونا أن الحمد لله ربّ العالمين
And our final call is to praise Allāh, Lord of all the realms