Amongst the greatest blessings that Allah Most High could bless His servants with, is the blessing of recognising the truth. When one realises and recognises his true Master, one will definitely be in a state of awe and it will only be natural for one to submit entirely to Him. The question then, would be, how does one submit to Allah? How should Allah be worshipped?
Amongst the commanded act of worships, and the most important one of all is the prayer, which is the second pillar of Islam. In a Hadith, narrated by Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him), the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The first action for which a servant of Allah will be held accountable on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayers. If they are in order, then he will have prospered and succeeded. If they are lacking, then he will have failed and lost. If there is something defective in his obligatory prayers, then the Almighty Lord will say: See if my servant has any voluntary prayers that can complete what is insufficient in his obligatory prayers. The rest of his actions will be judged in the same way.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)
Prayer (solah), linguistically means supplication. The technical meaning of prayer, however, is sayings and deeds that start with takbir and end with taslim, with specific conditions. There are five daily prayers that are obligatory upon Muslims. In the Quran, in surah An-Nisa’, verse 103, Allah The Exalted says, which means, “…indeed, prayer is obligatory for the believers at prescribed times.”
The five daily prayers was prescribed on the twelfth year after prophethood, during one of the most significant events, known as the isra’ & mi’raj (night journey & heavenly ascent). It was when the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ascended (mi’raj) to the highest of heavens and “met” Allah The Exalted, that Allah, Glorified is He, made mandatory upon the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his nation the five daily prayers. The prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was blessed with “seeing” Allah The Exalted, a blessing that none other receives before entering Paradise. This vision cannot be understood in a conventional way because Allah is transcendent and cannot be limited to a space or direction. The vision of Allah is something so great—a pure manifestation of Allah’s light, which is indescribable.
Initially, the prescription was fifty prayers everyday. The number of prayers was eventually reduced to five, however, from the Generosity of Allah, Glorified is He, the reward of fifty still remains. Five prayers with the reward of fifty.
Prior to the occasion, the prayer that was prescribed to the prophet (peace and blessings upon him) was twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening, 2 rakaat for each prayer.
With the advancement of technology today, there are plenty of mobile applications that can keep us informed on the timings of the prayers. However, it is always good to know the timings in relation to the phenomenon around us.
Dzuhr: Starts when the sun moves past the zenith, and ends when the shadow of an object is equal to its height.
‘Asr: Starts when the shadow of an object is equal to its height, and extends till the shadow of an object is twice the height of that object (this is the end of the preferred time, yet it is still permissible to perform it till before sunset).
Maghrib: Begins when the sun sets completely below the horizon and the eastern horizon greys. One should perform this prayer as soon as the timeframe starts, but has until the starting time of Isya’.
Isya’: Starts when the reddish hue of the twilight disappears from the western horizon, and continues until true dawn. However, the preferred time ends after a third of the night has passed.
Subuh: Begins with true dawn, when light appears along the eastern horizon, and ends with sunrise. The preferred time ends when the sky becomes light.
As muslims, we should never see prayer as a chore, even though it may be difficult to perform them at times. On the contrary, we should look at prayer as a gift from Allah—an opportunity to converse with Allah and draw near to Him. The verses of Surah al-Fatihah that we recite in our prayers are responded by Allah, Glorious is He. Thus, we should remember Whom are we communicating with in our prayers, and strive to do our best to understand the words that we say, so that we may achieve full concentration. May Allah Most High keep us steadfast in guarding our prayers and grant us presence while performing them, amin.
Being Muslim, A Practical Guide, by Asad Tarsin