Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Importance of Collective Prayers in Islam

According to the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace and blessings of Allah, Salat is the pinnacle of the spiritual life of the believer.

It is the highest form of Divine worship. The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is further reported to have observed: Prayer brings the believer into communion with his Lord.

Allah says in the Holy Qur’an [22:42] “Those who, if We establish them in the earth, will observe Prayer and pay the Zakat and enjoin good and forbid evil. And with Allah rests the final issue of all affairs.”

In addition: “Surely those who follow the Book of Allah and observe Prayer and spend out of that which we have provided for them, secretly and openly, are pursuing a commerce that suffers no loss, for Allah will give them their full reward, and will add to them out of His bounty. He is surely, Most Forgiving, Most Appreciating.” (35:30-31)

It must be realized that sincere prayer never goes in vain. Sometimes, the deep spiritual experience of the intense love of God brings tears to the eyes. Sometimes, a milder pleasure of love fills the heart with sublime happiness. These experiences are signs of the Prayer being alive, meaningful and fruitful. Otherwise, just a performance of formality is not enough to benefit man.

That would be obeying an order without one's heart being in it. That is why it is highly essential that every beginner should keep this noble objective before him and always try to make his Prayers come alive. How do prayers come alive, read the writings of the Promised Messiah, alaihissalaam, begin to work with sincerity on your prayers and eliminating ego in self that prevents you from bringing sincere prayer into your life.

We as Ahmadi Muslims are blessed that we recognized the Imam of the age and that Allah has united us via the Khilafat and made us strong. We pray to Allah that He should keep on blessing us in this manner and that He enables us to be thankful for His blessings and that we should be enabled to make use of the Mosque, or mission house as it should.

We should remember that in order to obtain the blessings of Allah, it is essential to pay attention to the worship of Allah and to discharging our duties towards our fellow beings and by spreading the good in the world. Allah says that when you are given the power in the earth then your preferences should not change.

You should pay more attention to prayers so that you may be deserving of more blessings. Also, your future generations should be such that would attract Allah’s Blessings so that you may remain strong.

The same subject has been stated in verse 56 of Sura Al-Nur.

[24:56] Allah has promised to those among you who believe and do good works that He will, surely, make them successors in the earth, as He made Successors from among those who were before them; and that He will, surely, establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them; and that He will, surely, give them in exchange security and peace after their fear; They will worship ME and they will not associate anything with ME. Then whoso disbelieves after that, they will be the rebellious.

[24:57] And observe Prayer and give the Zakat and obey the Messenger, that you may be shown Mercy.

The Islamic prayer has the effect of removing one's sins. A Hadith relates that some people asked the Prophet why Muslims need to pray five times a day, and the Prophet was reported to have said, "Tell me, if there is a stream at the door of one of you, in which you bathe five times a day, wouldn't it then remove all dirt from your body?" They said, "It would." The Prophet then said, "This is the likeness of the five prayers, with which God blots out all faults.

Muslims perform the salat as a gratitude to God for giving them His favor in whatever form and however small or insignificant. The salat makes a Muslim remember God every moment of the day and helps him to keep away from committing faults intentionally or unintentionally. It must also be said that it becomes increasingly difficult to harbor unkind thoughts or perform ill-deeds when you keep God in the forefront of your conscience.

In a sense, salat is food for one's own soul. As such, no Muslim can ask another to do the salat for him, just as no hungry person can ask another to eat for him. Just as we eat a few specific times a day to keep our physical body nourished, a Muslim does the salat five times a day to keep his soul nourished.

The service of prayer is divided into two parts, one to be said in private and the other to be performed in congregation, preferably in a Mosque. While the private part is meant simply for the development of the inner self of man, the public part has other ends as well in view, ends, indeed, that make the Islamic prayer a mighty force in the unification of the human race.

The importance of congregational prayer. A greater reward as compared to
individual prayer

In principal, collective prayer is more meritorious than individual prayer, the former, it is said, having twenty-seven times the spiritual value of the later. From this, therefore, ensures the importance of the Friday prayer, al-Jumu'ah, the day of the great gathering of the community of Islam.

The Qur'an specifically mentions the Friday prayer in Al-Jumu'ah (62) verse 9 to wit: O you who have attained to Faith! When the call to prayer is sounded on the day of congregation, hasten to the remembrance of God, and leave all worldly commerce: this is for your own good, if you but knew it. (Qur'an 62:9)

Throughout the Muslim world l mosques are frequented five times a day, a task which appears to be over-much demanding to a casual observer. This aspect should be further elaborated to build a more comprehensive picture of the role of congregational prayers in the Muslims' way of life.

Muslims are urged to perform their daily prayers in congregation, and must do so for the Friday noon congregational prayer. This creates a bond of love and mutual understanding, arouses a sense of collective unity, fosters a collective purpose, and inculcates a deep feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood.

If we are steadfast in out prayers we will remain strong as long as you keep paying the Zakat and making financial sacrifices and enjoining good and forbidding evil. It is also mentioned that the end result is still in the hands of Allah. Our task is to obey the instructions with pure intentions and not merely for show.

It is reported by Hazrat Jabirra where the Holy Prophet, saw, said that the distinguishing factor between a believer and a non-believer is the non-performance of Salat. According to this Hadith, a believer is a person who is regular in the offering of his prayers. Otherwise there is no difference between that person and a non-believer.

The Promised Messiah, alaihissalaam. writing about prayer said: “In short, prayer is that sovereign remedy which converts a handful of dust into precious metal. It is the water which washes out inner impurities. With such payer, the soul melts and, flowing like water, falls at the threshold of the Divine. It stands before God and bows down before Him and prostrates itself before Him. Indeed, the salat that Islam teaches is a reflection of such prayer.” (Lecture Sialkot, Ruhani Khaza, vol.20, pp. 223-224).

In conclusion let us pay special attention to offering our prayers in congregation in the manner that would make us deserving of Allah’s Blessings. May Allah enable us to do so. Aameen


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