Why Do We Pray?
By Sameh Strauch, Abridged from: "Why Do We Pray?" by Dr. Suhaib Hasan, Zayed Centre for New Muslims, P.O. Box 16090, Al-Ain, U.A.E. Phone (9713) 829191 Fax (9713) 645816
After a long and hectic day at work, how difficult it is for a tired person to go out to the mosque and concentrate on his prayers to Allaah, the Almighty. Snuggled up in a warm and cozy bed, how difficult it is to get up at the call of the Mu`azzin: "Come to prayer! Come to success!"

The famous doctor and philosopher, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), recalls such a moment in his life. One cold and icy night, he and his slave were resting at an inn in a remote part of Khuraasaan. During the night, he felt thirsty, so he called to his slave to bring him some water. The slave had no desire to leave his warm bed, so he pretended not to hear Ibn Sina’s call. But finally, after repeated calls, he reluctantly got up and went to fetch the water. A little while later, the melodious sound of the azaan (call to prayer) filled the air. Ibn Sina began to think about the person calling the people to prayer. "My slave, ‘Abdullaah, he mused, has always respected me and admired me. He seizes any opportunity to lavish praise and affection on me, but tonight he preferred his own comfort to my needs. On the other hand, look at this Persian slave of Allaah: He left his warm bed to go out into the chilly night, he made ablution in the icy water of the stream, and then he ascended the high minaret of the mosque to glorify Him Whom he truly serves: "I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah. I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah." Ibn Sina records: "I learned the essence of true love, that love which results in complete obedience." The love of Allaah demands total and unconditional obedience. Allaah, the Almighty says: { Say [oh, Muhammad!]: "If you love Allaah, follow me: Allaah will forgive you your sins, for Allaah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful } (Soorah 3:31)

Prayer: A Cry of the Inner Soul

His arrogance and pride have often led man to behave as an oppressor and a tyrant. Some men have been carried away by their own self-importance that they have even claimed divinity. Pharoah, the ruler of Egypt, was among those who announced: "I am your supreme Lord!" With his sense of greatness and pride, Pharoah subjugated the Israelites and made their lives wretched and miserable.

But is man really as strong and great as his ego tells him? The Qur`aan tells us the reality of man’s nature: { It is Allaah Who created you in a state of weakness, then gave you strength after weakness, then after strength, gave you weakness and a hoary head: He creates what He wills, and He is the All-knowing, the All-powerful } (Soorah 30:54)

Weakness in the beginning and weakness in the end: This is the essence of man. He is so weak and helpless at birth that his entire existence depends on his parents and his family. If he were to be abandoned in these first crucial years, he could not survive on his own. He needs a gentle and loving hand, not only in his infancy, but in his childhood and even in his teenage years. As this child enters the years of youth and independence, he begins to take control of his own life. He looks with pride at his strong physique, his handsome features and his many talents. He begins to despise those of lesser abilities, even scorning his parents, who exhausted their own health to nurture him. He becomes unjust and cruel, using his strength and vigour to dominate others. He thinks he is master, free to act as he wills. But does this youth, these good looks last forever? In only a few decades, he begins to lose his strength…his youth is replaced by old age. Weakness in the beginning, weakness in the end."

The message is clear: The real Master is Allaah. He Alone is Mighty, He Alone, is Great. He Alone is never tired, never needs rest, is never dependent upon anyone. Allaahu Akbar! - Allaah is the Greatest! In our everyday lives, we say a warm thank you for the small acts of kindness which others do for us. So what about thanking Allaah, Who, in His infinite Mercy, has provided for every single one of our needs. Just observe the beauty and perfection of the earth around you and fall down in gratitude to your Lord.

Prayer: The Ascension for a Believer

After the Messenger of Allaah e was commissioned for Prophethood, the first thing he was commanded to do by Allaah was to pray. The angel Jibreel u came to him and a spring of water gushed out of the rocks in front of them. Jibreel u then showed Allaah’s Messenger how to make ablution. He then showed him how to offer prayers to Allaah. He began to pray two rak`ah twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. He then went home and showed his wife Khadeejah what he had learnt from the angel Jibreel u.

From that time, the Prophet e never went through a day without praying. Just before his migration to Madinah, he was taken on a night journey to Jerusalem and then to the heavens (Mi`raaj). During this journey, Allaah, Almighty, ordered him to pray five times a day. This prayer was a gift given to every Believer to enable him to experience a spiritual ascension five times a day. The Prophet said: "The prayer is the Mi`raaj of the Believer." It gives every Muslim the chance to communicate with his Lord. During each prayer, the Muslim recites Soorah Al-Faatihah: This recitation is not a dull monologue by the Believer, but Allaah promises that it is a conversation between Him and the worshipper. The Messenger of Allaah reported that Allaah, the Almighty says: ‘When my slave says in his prayer: "All praise is for Allaah, the Lord of the worlds," I say: "My slave has praised Me" When he says: "The Merciful, the Compassionate, Master of the Day of Judgement," I say: "My slave has glorified Me." When he says: "You Alone we worship and your Aid we seek," I say: "This is between Me and My slave." When he says: "Show us the Straight Path," I say: "This is for My slave, and I give My slave what he wants."

The Messenger of Allaah once said: "Prayer is the pillar of religion." (Narrated by Al-Baihaqi) He also informed us that Islaam is built upon five pillars, the second being to establish prayer five times a day. (Narrated by Al-Bukhaari) This makes the image very clear: Islaam is like a building supported by five columns; remove just one column and the entire building weakens. In the same way, when a person stops praying, his faith becomes weak, and the mildest blows can cause it to crumble. The prayer is so very important that the Prophet said: "Verily, between man and polytheism and disbelief is abandoning prayer." (Narrated by Muslim)

Allaah says, concerning the plight of the disbelievers on the Day of Judgement, that they will be asked by the Believers: { "What led you into the Hell-fire?" They will say: "We were not of those who prayed." } (Soorah 74:42-43). Allaah also says: { Successful indeed are the Believers, those who humble themselves in their prayers } (Soorah 23:1-2), and: { And those who guard [strictly] their worship, such will be the honoured ones in the Gardens [of Bliss] } (Soorah 70: 34-35).

Allaah has emphasized the need for humility and concentration in prayers. There is no doubt that Satan is the most bitter enemy of man; he always tries to disturb the Believer’s prayers. He (the worshipper) finds his mind suddenly engulfed with memories, problems, worries, work and his family… and he will often find himself wondering whether he has prayed three rak`ah or four. This is how Satan steals the prayer. Man was created only to worship Allaah. He says: { I created not the jinns and mankind except to worship me } (Soorah 51:56). Man is to live in this world as a worshipper of Allaah and prayer is the best for of worship. On the Day of Judgement, man will have to answer for his deeds. Allaah says: { Then shall you be questioned about the joy [you indulged in] } (Soorah 102:8)

[Prayer] [Mainpage] [What's New?]