Salah Meaning and Its Importance

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Salah means supplication and prayer.

In the terminology of the Sharia,

The salah means to carry out some particular actions, which are specified by the sharia.[1]

The salah actually means the actions done in obedience to the command of Allah Almighty with takbeer-e-tahreema (prohibotory takbeer to start the prayer), salam (final greeting to mark end of the pryer) or with ruku (bowing) and sujud (pl. sajdah, meaning: prostrations) or with only sajdah. Thus, the sujud of tilawat (prostration mendatory while resiting specified verses of the Qur’an) and the Salah al-Janaiz (funeral prayer) are also kinds of salah.[2]

The salah establishes connection between the Allah Almighty and His slaves, in which they talk to each other leaving all other worldly things behind.

Salah is the symbol of Islam, truth, reality, purity, unity, morality, humility, spirituality, peace, satisfaction, support, obedience and commitment.

Most of the above-mentioned meanings are explained at different places of the Holy Quran and Hadith.

Importance of Salah

The salah is one of most important pillars of Islam. It is the backbone of Islam. It is the only regular and every-day worship. A person has to offer salah five times every day. These five times can be learnt in the chapter of ‘Time-table of the Salah’ of this book.

The salah is an obligation upon a Muslim; and a Muslim is to offer no excuse when it comes to offering salah. The offering of salah, in addition to representing the submission of Muslims to their Lord, has other benefits, which are highly cherished by every Muslim.

The establishment of salah is one of the major topics upon which the Quran has emphasized more than anything else. In the Holy Quran, Allah Almighty has stressed upon Muslims to learn to offer salah regularly. Apart from the commandment to offer salah, Allah has mentioned its benefits as well.

The phrase, which Allah Almighty used while enjoining the salah, is “to establish Salah”, althoug it was possible to use the verbs like “do, offer, pray or worship” and other similar words. But this phrase actually implies to to offer salah with all rules and regulations with your family and surrounding people.

Allah Almighty mentioned the word “SALAH” in different forms more than 86 times. We find that commandment of the salah is repeated many times and emphasized in the Holy Quran. Some of the verses having the commandment of salah are as follows:

In the Holly Quran, Allah Almighty says:

﴿ وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَمَا تُقَدِّمُوا لِأَنْفُسِكُمْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ تَجِدُوهُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ﴾

“Establish Salah and pay Zakat, and whatever good you send ahead of you to the Hereafter for yourselves, you shall find it with Allah; surely Allah is watching all your actions.”[3]

Allah Almighty says:

﴿إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ لَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ﴾

“Those who believe and do good deeds, establish regular prayers, and give regular charity will have their reward with their Rabb. They will have nothing to fear or to regret.”[4]

In the Holly Quran, Allah Almighty says:

﴿وَإِذَا كُنْتَ فِيهِمْ فَأَقَمْتَ لَهُمُ الصَّلَاةَ فَلْتَقُمْ طَائِفَةٌ مِنْهُمْ مَعَكَ وَلْيَأْخُذُوا أَسْلِحَتَهُمْ فَإِذَا سَجَدُوا فَلْيَكُونُوا مِنْ وَرَائِكُمْ وَلْتَأْتِ طَائِفَةٌ أُخْرَى لَمْ يُصَلُّوا فَلْيُصَلُّوا مَعَكَ وَلْيَأْخُذُوا حِذْرَهُمْ وَأَسْلِحَتَهُمْ وَدَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَوْ تَغْفُلُونَ عَنْ أَسْلِحَتِكُمْ وَأَمْتِعَتِكُمْ فَيَمِيلُونَ عَلَيْكُمْ مَيْلَةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِنْ كَانَ بِكُمْ أَذًى مِنْ مَطَرٍ أَوْ كُنْتُمْ مَرْضَى أَنْ تَضَعُوا أَسْلِحَتَكُمْ وَخُذُوا حِذْرَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ أَعَدَّ لِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابًا مُهِينًا (102) فَإِذَا قَضَيْتُمُ الصَّلَاةَ فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَى جُنُوبِكُمْ فَإِذَا اطْمَأْنَنْتُمْ فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَابًا مَوْقُوتًا (103)﴾

“Those who believe and do good deeds, establish regular prayers, and give regular charity will have their reward with their Rabb. They will have nothing to fear or to regret. When you, O Muhammad, are with them, leading their Salah (prayer in the state of war), let one party of them stand up to pray with you, armed with their weapons. After they finish their prostrations, let them withdraw to the rear and let the other party who have not yet prayed come forward to pray with you; and let them also be on their guard, armed with their weapons. The unbelievers wish to see you neglect your arms and your baggage, so that they could suddenly attack to overpower you all in one stroke. However, there is no blame on you if you lay aside your arms because of heavy rain or because you are sick, but you should still be on your guard. Allah has prepared a humiliating punishment for the unbelievers. When you finish your Salah (prayers) remember Allah whether you are standing, sitting or reclining; then as soon as you are safe (out of danger) establish regular Salah in full. Surely Salah are made obligatory for the believers at their prescribed times.”[5]

In the Holly Quran, Allah Almighty says:

﴿وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ طَرَفَيِ النَّهَارِ وَزُلَفًا مِنَ اللَّيْلِ إِنَّ الْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّيِّئَاتِ ذَلِكَ ذِكْرَى لِلذَّاكِرِينَ﴾

“Establish Salah (prayers) at the two ends of the day and in the early part of the night. Indeed virtues remove evils. This is a reminder for the mindful.”[6]

Allah Almighty says:

﴿ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ارْكَعُوا وَاسْجُدُوا وَاعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمْ وَافْعَلُوا الْخَيْرَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ (77) وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ مِلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَفِي هَذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّهِ هُوَ مَوْلَاكُمْ فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَى وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ (78)﴾

“O believers! Bow down, prostrate yourselves, worship your Rabb and do good deeds so that you may attain salvation. Strive in the Way of Allah as you ought to strive with sincerity and discipline; He has chosen you and has not laid upon you any hardship in the observance of your faith – the faith of your father Ibrahim (Abraham). He named you Muslims before in prior scriptures and in this (The Qur’an), so that His Rasool may testify against you and you yourselves may testify against rest of the mankind. Therefore, establish the Salah, pay the Zakat and hold fast to Allah; who is your Protector – so what an excellent Protector and what a splendid Supporter!”[7]

What is the importance of salah?

There are so many ahadith which describe the details of the salah. The ahadith tell us how to establish the salah, how to offer it, what is necessary in the salah, and all other details about it. The ahadith on salah are countless in number. We will quote here around ten ahadith highlighting the importance of the salah.

The first hadith speaks about how the salah was made obligatory. This hadith is narrated in all the collections of ahadith.

The hadith goes thus:

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ يُوسُفَ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنَا مَالِكٌ، عَنْ صَالِحِ بْنِ كَيْسَانَ، عَنْ عُرْوَةَ بْنِ الزُّبَيْرِ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ أُمِّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ، قَالَتْ ‏ “‏فَرَضَ اللَّهُ الصَّلاَةَ حِينَ فَرَضَهَا رَكْعَتَيْنِ رَكْعَتَيْنِ فِي الْحَضَرِ وَالسَّفَرِ، فَأُقِرَّتْ صَلاَةُ السَّفَرِ، وَزِيدَ فِي صَلاَةِ الْحَضَرِ”‏‏.‏4

Urwa Bin Zubair narrated from Aisha رضي الله عنها)) that she said:

“Allah enjoined the prayer when He enjoined it, it was two Rak’ah only (in every prayer) both when in residence or on journey. Then the prayers offered on journey remained the same, but (the Rak’ah of) the prayers for non-travelers were increased.”[8]

Another hadith says:

حَدَّثَنَا يَعْقُوبُ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ، حَدَّثَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ، حَدَّثَنَا يُونُسُ، عَنِ الْحَسَنِ، عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ حَكِيمٍ الضَّبِّيِّ، قَالَ خَافَ مِنْ زِيَادٍ أَوِ ابْنِ زِيَادٍ فَأَتَى الْمَدِينَةَ فَلَقِيَ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ فَنَسَبَنِي فَانْتَسَبْتُ لَهُ فَقَالَ يَا فَتَى أَلاَ أُحَدِّثُكَ حَدِيثًا قَالَ قُلْتُ بَلَى رَحِمَكَ اللَّهُ ‏.‏ قَالَ يُونُسُ أَحْسِبُهُ ذَكَرَهُ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ إِنَّ أَوَّلَ مَا يُحَاسَبُ النَّاسُ بِهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مِنْ أَعْمَالِهِمُ الصَّلاَةُ قَالَ يَقُولُ رَبُّنَا جَلَّ وَعَزَّ لِمَلاَئِكَتِهِ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ انْظُرُوا فِي صَلاَةِ عَبْدِي أَتَمَّهَا أَمْ نَقَصَهَا فَإِنْ كَانَتْ تَامَّةً كُتِبَتْ لَهُ تَامَّةً وَإِنْ كَانَ انْتَقَصَ مِنْهَا شَيْئًا قَالَ انْظُرُوا هَلْ لِعَبْدِي مِنْ تَطَوُّعٍ فَإِنْ كَانَ لَهُ تَطَوُّعٌ قَالَ أَتِمُّوا لِعَبْدِي فَرِيضَتَهُ مِنْ تَطَوُّعِهِ ثُمَّ تُؤْخَذُ الأَعْمَالُ عَلَى ذَاكُمْ “‏.‏

Anas Ibn Hakim ad-Dabbi said that he feared Ziyad or Ibn Ziyad; so he came to Medina and met Abu Hurayrah. He attributed his lineage to me and I became a member of his lineage.

AbuHurayrah said (to me), “O youth, should I not narrate a tradition to you? I said, Why not, may Allah have mercy on you?

(Yunus (a narrator) said, I think he narrated it (the tradition) from the Prophet), the first thing about which the people will be called to account out of their actions on the Day of Judgment is prayer. Our Lord, the Exalted, will say to the angels – though He knows better: Look into the prayer of My servant and see whether he has offered it perfectly or imperfectly. If it is perfect, that will be recorded perfect.

If it is defective, He will say, see there are some optional prayers offered by My servant. If there are optional prayer to his credit, He will say, compensate the obligatory prayer by the optional prayer for My servant. Then all the actions will be considered similarly.[9]

A yet another hadith reads:

حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ، حَدَّثَنَا جَرِيرٌ، وَأَبُو مُعَاوِيَةَ عَنِ الأَعْمَشِ، عَنْ أَبِي سُفْيَانَ، عَنْ جَابِرٍ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: ‏ “‏بَيْنَ الْكُفْرِ وَالإِيمَانِ تَرْكُ الصَّلاَةِ‏”‏‏.‏

Jabir (RA) narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said:

“Between disbelief and faith is abandoning the Salah.”[10]

[1] (Ibne Qudama, Abdullah Bin Ahmad Al-Hanbali: Al-Mughni: Maktabatul Qahira: Cairo: 1968: Vol.: 1: Page: 267)

[2] (Muhammad Suk-hal Majjaji Al-Maliki: Al-Mazhab Minal Fiqhil Maliki: Darul Wayi: Aljazair: Vol.: 1: P.:  109)

[3] (2: Surah Baqrah: Ayah: 110)

[4] (2: Surah Baqrah: Ayah: 277)

[5] (4: Surah Al-Nisaa: Ayah: 102-102-103)

[6] (11: Surah Hud: Ayah: 114)

[7] (22: Surah Hajj: Ayah: 77-78)

[8] (Sahih Al-Bukhari: Book: 8: Hadith: 2)

[9] Sunan Abi Dawud: Book: 2, Hadith: 474 English translation: Book 3, Hadith: 863

[10] (Jame Tirmizi: Book: 40: Hadith 13)

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