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11. Steadfastness in Salaat
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Hayaatul Muslimeen(Life of Muslims)
11. Steadfastness in Salaat
Salaat is of vital importance for the life of' a Muslim, Some Qur'aanic Aayaat and Ahadith pertaining to Salaat will be narrated here.

1. Allah Ta'ala says in the Qur'aan Majeed in regard to the attributes of those who fear Him:

"They perform Salaat correctly...” (Surah Baqarah)

This is a reference to proper performance of Salaat; performing Salaat regularly at appointed times and observing all the rules of Salaat. In numerous places in the Qur'aan Shareef, Allah Ta'ala commands the correct performance of Salaat. The large number of times referring to the correct observance of Salaat abundantly illustrates the vital importance of Salaat.

2. The Qur'aan Majeed states:

"0 People of Imaan! Seek aid with Sabr (Patience) and Salaat." (Surah Baqarah)

A special characteristic of Salaat is mentioned in this aayat. Everyone stands in need of assistance in both material and spiritual life. In terms of the Qur'aan Majeed, Salaat is a great and wonderful source of aid, which a Believer can obtain by means of correct performance of Salaat.

3. The Qur'aan Majeed orders:
"Guard (all) Salaat..." (Surah Baqarah)

Allah Ta'ala commands that we guard our Salaat diligently; that we do not delay or postpone the proper and due performance of Salaat, no matter what the exigency or emergency may be. The insistence on performing Salaat at the divinely-appointed times is so much stressed that the Qur'aan commands that Salaat be performed even in times of grave danger when engaged in fighting the enemy - in times of war. Even if the fighting is severe and heavy, the Qur'aan Shareef orders that Salaat be performed while mounted on one's means of transport and facing any direction, even while in motion and even if one is unable to perform ruku and sajdah due to the extreme danger and awkward circumstances produced by the war. Indeed, we must ponder and realise the vital importance of Salaat from this command to perform Salaat at the appointed time even when one's life is in grave danger. There is no permission to postpone the performance of Salaat. This is what is meant by "guarding" Salaat mentioned in the Qur'aan.

4. The Qur'aan Shareef also commands that if the danger of the enemy making a sudden attack is imminent, the Muslim army should split up into groups. One group should perform Salaat while the other group fights on or guards. After the one group has performed Salaat, the other group will come to Salaat while the first group will go into confrontation with the enemy. The Salaat to be performed on the battlefield under such dangerous conditions differs to some extent from the normal Salaat in method of performance of the rakaats.

1 The method of performing Salaat in dangerous circumstances is described in the books of fiqh. The point to observe and reflect on here is that even in the most dangerous of times, permission to delay the Salaat is not granted. This amply establishes the vital importance of Salaat in the life of a Muslim.

5. In certain circumstances, e.g. sickness, non-availability of water, etc., one is not able to utilise water to achieve the states of tahaarat (purity). However, notwithstanding such circumstances, the Qur'aan does not grant permission to delay performance of Salaat until one is able to acquire the state of tahaarat by means of water. For this exigency, the Qur'aan orders that Tayammum be made. By means of tayammum, Allah Ta'ala bestows on us the states of tahaarat; hence Salaat has to be executed at its proper time. There is no permission to postpone the Salaat. The Qur'aan orders that if one is unable to stand and perform Salaat, due to illness or weakness, one has to sit and perform Salaat. If the sickness and weakness are such that even sitting is not possible, then Salaat has to be performed while lying down and ruku and Sajdah shall be made by means of signs. But, permission to delay Salaat is not granted.

Salaat is the salient and most outstanding feature of Islam. It is the distinguishing factor between kufr and Imaan. All Ulama unanimously aver that if a kaafir whom none has heard proclaiming the Kalimah, performs Salaat, then it is incumbent to regard him as a Muslim.  Zakaat, although of fundamental importance, is not a salient and conspicuous sign of Islam as Salaat is.

6. The Qur'aan Majeed while mentioning a group of Ambiyaa and the corrupt people who followed after them, says:

"(After their) such corrupt persons were born who destroyed Salaat...Soon will they (in Aakhirah) see the punishment (for their destruction of Salaat)." (Surah Maryam)

This aayat sounds a grave warning of terrible punishment for those who neglect and ruin the institution of Salaat.

7. The Qur'aan Shareef commands:

"Order your family to perform Salaat, and you, yourself, also be steadfast on it. " (Surah Taa Haa)

In the first instance, this command is directed to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), and in general it applies to all Believers. From this command we realise that when even the august and holy personage of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is not excused from Salaat, then to a very greater degree will the command be applicable to us. We also learn from the aayat that while we have to be steadfast in the observance of Salaat, it devolves as an incumbent duty upon us to ensure that we inculcate the proper observance of Salaat in our families and our dependants.

8. Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"Will there remain any impurity on a person who baths five times a day in a river flowing in front of his house?"

The people said: "No impurity will remain on him."

Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"This is the effect of the five Salaat. By means of it, Allah Ta'ala purifies the performer of all sins." (Bukhaari, Muslim)

Indeed, a great significance of Salaat is stated in this hadith.

9. Hadhrat Saber (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"The distinguishing factor between kufr and Imaan is the deliberate neglect of Salaat." (Muslims)

Deliberate neglect brings one close to kufr. One who abstains from Salaat flounders on the brink of kufr.

l0. Hadhrat Abdur Rahmaan Bin Amr Bin Al-'Aas (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"Salaat, on the Day of Qiyaamah, will be a light, a proof and a means of salvation for the one who guarded it. He who neglects Salaat, will have no fight, no proof and no salvation (from the direction of Salaat). He (the one who neglected Salaat) will be in the company of Qaroon, Fir'oun, Hammaan and (Ubay Ibn Khalf on the Day of Qiyaamah." (Ahmad, Daarami, Baihaqi, Shu'bul Imaan)

What greater punishment and disgrace can there be than to be resurrected in the company of such great unbelievers and to be flung into Jahannum along with them`?

11. Hadhrat Bareedah (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"The subject of a pledge which exists between the people and us (the Ambiyaa) is Salaat. Thus, whoever neglects Salaat has become a kaafir (i.e. in terms of practical life, not in terms of Imaan).” (Ahmad, Tirmithi, Nisaai, Ibn Majah)

The evil of neglecting Salaat is amply illustrated by this hadith. Those who deliberately neglect Salaat are likened to the kuffaar. They appear in practical life as kuffaar. Since there is no distinguishing feature between them and the kuffaar, Islamic law will treat them on par with the kuffaar. It is clear from this hadith that neglect of Salaat is a salient feature of kufr. Although a Muslim will not be proclaimed a kaafir if he neglects the performance of Salaat, nevertheless, the Shariah views his crime with the utmost of gravity, Persistence in the neglect of Salaat is punishable by death in Islam.

12. Amr lbn Shuaib narrating on the authority of his father who in turn narrates from his father (radhiyallahu anhum) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"Stress on your children the performance of Salaat from the age of seven and beat them at the age of ten years (if they neglect Salaat)." (Abu Dawood)

13. Hadhrat Abu Hurairah states that two persons from the tribe of Abu Khuzaa'ah embraced Islam at the hands of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). One of the two was martyred and the other one died a natural death about a year or so later. Hadhrat Talhah Bin Ubaidullah (radhiyallahu anhu) says that in a dream he saw the one who died a year later entering Jannat first. Being surprised he mentioned his dream in the morning to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) who said:

“What did not the one who died later (than the martyred one keep the fasts of Ramadhan and in the year perform thousands of Rakaats of Salaat.”? (If only the Fardh, Waajib and Sunnatul Muakkadah Salaat are taken into account, the number will be close to 10000 rakaats? It is for this reason that he surpassed the martyr). (Ahmad, lbn Majah, Ibn Hibbaan, Baihaqi)

The narrations of Ibn Majah and Ibn Hibbaan further state that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) explained that the difference in rank between the two is as vast as the difference between the heaven and the earth. It is quite obvious that this greater rank and significance acquired by the one who died later were due in particular to the Salaat, which he performed in abundance after the departure of the martyr. This abundance of Salaat has in fact been mentioned by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Salaat is an ibaadat, which enables one to attain ranks higher than even the rank of martyrdom.

14. Hadhrat Jaabir Bin Abdullah (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: "Salaat is the key to Jannat." (Daarami)

This indicates the superiority of Salaat over other acts of ibaadat.

15. Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Qart (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“The first act about which one will be questioned on the Day of Qiyaamah will be Salaat. If Salaat is found to be proper, other acts too will pass as proper. But, if Salaat is found there to be despoiled, then all other acts too will fail.” (Tibraani, Ausat)

The influence of Salaat will permeate all other acts of ibaadat. Salaat will be the criterion for the reckoning of one's acts of virtue. Success in Salaat will bring about the success of all other acts of ibaadat while failure in Salaat will lead to the failure of other acts of ibaadat. This is a great proof for the significance and superiority of Salaat. Its vital importance for the success of a Muslim in both this world and the hereafter can never be exaggerated.

l6. Hadhrat Ibn Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"He who has no Salaat has no Deen. The relationship of Salaat with the Deen is like the relationship of the head with the body." (Tibraani, Ausat, Sagheer)

Without the head, man is a dead body. So too without Salaat, all other acts of ibaadat are lifeless. It is therefore, a fatal error to neglect Salaat and pin one's hopes of salvation and success on other acts of virtue. Minus Salaat, one's Deen lays bitterly in ruin.

17. Hadhrat Hanzalah (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that he heard Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) say:
"Whoever guards the five Salaat while believing that the Salaat is the Right of Allah will enter Jannat." (Ahmad)

The meaning of guarding Salaat is the proper execution of Salaat at their appointed times, observing all rules (the Fara-idh, Sunan and Mustahabbaat) of Salaat and striving in performance of Salaat with concentration and humility.

The aforementioned Qur'aanic verses and Ahadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) illustrate the great importance of Salaat. No Muslim should bring calamity and ruin upon himself by neglecting Salaat. In fact, it is inconceivable that after having been informed of this tremendous significance of Salaat, a Believer will persist in neglecting the proper performance of Salaat.
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