There's no excuse for neglecting our daily prayers
YOU'RE late for a meeting. The phone is ringing off the hook while pots boil over on the stove. Your oldest child just pushed your youngest one on the floor, which has resulted in ear shattering cries from both. You're too sick or you're just simply tired. These are just a few of the excuses many Muslims make in defence of neglecting their prayers
In Islam, all Muslims are obligated to perform the five daily prayers each and every day. There are special concessions, which Allah has allowed for, like illness or lack of water (to purify before the prayer), in case any eventuality arises that would make one miss the prayer. For example, if you are too sick to stand in prayer you can sit or lie on your side and pray. Or if there is no water, you can use clean sand to perform purification, or wud'hu. There is absolutely no reason why any Muslim should miss a single prayer. Yet some of us do, consistently, day in and day out.
Is prayer really all that important anyway? Yes, it is! It is a fundamental of Islam and one of the first questions we will be asked about on the Day of Judgment will be about our prayers.
If they were perfect, our life in the Hereafter will be perfect. If they were not so, we will be called to account and we will be punished for neglecting this most important aspect of Islam.
Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran: "I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me." (51:56)
That is the purpose of our lives. Worshipping Allah, which is done through sincere prayers, devotion, submission, remembrance and supplication. Our lives are not meant to be spent 'painting the town red' or jamming to the latest pop single on the radio. Those actions are contrary to the purpose of the creation of mankind. Yet we put them above our real purpose, which is worship.
The only thing that separates a Muslim from a non-Muslim is the performance of the five daily prayers. Neglecting the prayers means that you are falling out of the pale of Islam and straight into disbelief.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "What is between a person and committing shirk (associating partners with Allah) and kufr (disbelief) is abandoning the prayer." (Muslim)
It makes no sense for a Muslim to miss the prayer. It is a special time in which we can connect with Allah without any mediator. The moment you commence the prayer you have an immediate audience with Allah, the Lord and Sustainer of this world. Performing the prayer soothes the mind, body and soul. It's a time to worship, reflect and pour your heart out to Allah who is the only One who can truly influence the affairs in our lives. To think, some people pay hundreds of dirhams to talk with a psychiatrist who can only delve into the human psyche. We can talk to Allah for FREE and He alone knows the innermost depths of our hearts!
Allah has not asked much of us humans. The only thing we really are responsible for is performing good deeds, engaging in acts of worship and obedience to Him. Each prayer offered takes only about five minutes to perform which totals less than 30 minutes of prayers a day. Some us spend that much time running on the treadmill. Wouldn't 'exercising' our souls through prayer be more beneficial to us in this world and the next?
Sumayyah Meehan is a Kuwait-based American writer who embraced Islam.
18 January 2008