The meaning of prayer
The original Arabic word for prayer used in the Qur’an and Hadith is salah (prayer in recitation). Namaz is an ancient Persian word, and probably before Islam, it was used for some form of physical worship in the religion there, but due to its frequent use, this word (Namaz) has become synonymous with Salah. (You will remember that the words “God,” “Prophet,” “Hell,” “Paradise,” “Angel,” and “Servant” have been said before). Therefore, the word “prayer” is right and correct. The Arabic word Salah has many literal meanings, and there are common nouns and verbs with multiple meanings in all languages of the world) but the meanings close to the terminological meanings of Salah are dua, mercy, forgiveness, and good grace in the term of prayer. It means “the fixed Islamic way of worshiping Allah.”
The importance of prayer
Prayer or salah has been a part of all religions as a form of physical worship. It has been stated in the Holy Quran that pure monotheism, prayer, and zakat have always been the motto of true believers. In the same way, Hazrat Ibrahim, Hazrat Ismail, Hazrat Musa, Hazrat Zakaria, and Hazrat Isa (عليهم السلام) are mentioned in the Holy Quran. Among the virtues of the righteous people of the first nations, their obligation to pray is also mentioned in the Holy Quran. Has come to more places. In the Holy Qur’an, while citing the evil people of the first nations, their particular defect is “abandoning prayer and neglecting it.”
When Jibriel Amin (عليه السلام) came to our Prophet (ﷺ) for the first revelation in the Cave of Hira, he was taught this way of worshiping Allah, which we call “Namaz.” During the thirteen years of the Holy Prophet’s life in Makkah, this was the only prayer obligatory for Muslims. The rest of the acts of worship became obligatory much later, i.e., during the Madani period.
History of Prayer in Islam: In the beginning, only two prayers were obligatory in the morning and evening, and that too, only two (2) two (2) rak’ahs. In the last years of Makkah’s life, with the event of Miraj-ul-Nabi (ﷺ), the prayer times were increased to five instead of two (2). It is in the hadith Sharif: “As-Salat Mi’raj al-Momineen (Prayer is the Ascension for the Believers) Upon reaching Madinah, the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) laid the foundation of the Prophet’s Mosque and organized regular congregational prayers.” For this, he issued the method of adhan. At the same time, the number of rak’ahs of all prayers except Fajr has been increased from two (2) to four (4). However, three (3) rakats of the Maghrib were appointed.
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), did not leave the prayer in the congregation until the end of time, in any condition, whether in travel or presence, sickness or health, peace or war. In particular circumstances, the rulings on offering prayers were relaxed. (1)
But the original prayer was still possible under any circumstances. He even ordered him to pray it at another time as “qadha” if he missed the prayer due to extreme compulsion. Salah is a form of worship that Muslims are not excused under any circumstances even though they are conscious. Prohibition of praying only for women on their special days (1): Tahirat (Taim instead of ablution), Qasr, fear, etc. However, it is mustahabb (better) for them to perform regular ablution during the prayer times in a clean place and recite any dhikr or tasbih for at least as long as the prayer time, and This is so that their habit of ablution and prayer cannot be broken. Otherwise, there is a risk of missing out altogether.
Terms of prayer
We have used the words “fard” and “mustahab” above. Let us also note one more important point. In the context of prayer, you must be familiar with the terms Rak’at, Ruku, Sajdah, Tashahhud, Takbeer, etc. These terms started to be used during the time of the Prophet (ﷺ), but the terms of Farz Sunnah (Muqedah or Non-Muqedah), Wajib Mustahab or Nafl, etc., were used after him. This is because the actual prayer is only those rak’ahs that we now call “obligatory.” In the time of the Holy Prophet (ﷺ), it was called (Salah), i.e., “obligated prayer,” and this was the prayer that the Holy Prophet, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) always prayed in congregation in the Madani period. In the beginning, we mentioned that the rak’ahs of prayer were two and two and later four. This also refers to the rak’ahs of this obligatory prayer or “written prayer.”
During the ten years of Madani life, the Companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) prayed the same way they saw the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) praying and then taught them to pray in the same way. The Companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) saw that when the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) used to come to conduct congregational prayers, he would perform some rak’ahs before or after the actual obligatory rak’ahs (of the congregation) in different times of the prayers. Some of these more obligatory rak’ahs were so committed by him that he never left them under any circumstances. (1)
(1) In the term, apart from these obligatory rak’ats, rakats are also called “Rawatb.”
For example, the two Sunnah of Fajr. You have prayed to some rak’ats, and you have never prayed them, for example, the first Sunnah of Asr or Isha. Keeping this practice of the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) in front, the imams and jurists later classified the rak’ahs of prayer according to their importance so that common Muslims could know the difference between more, less important, or unnecessary, at least the more important. They will be banned in every situation.
Prayer system the detailed system of Sunnah Mutawatara prayer, timings, ablution, adhan, takbeer, congregation, rakats, standing, bowing, prostration, tashahhud, salam, additional (after) prayers other than the fifth prayer, times of tahajud, ishraq, etc., Friday, All the details of Eid and funeral prayers, etc., are confirmed by the Holy Prophet himself with practical Tawatar (that is, the whole Ummah learning and teaching each other by watching them perform). The Holy Prophet used to say:
(Recite as you see me praying).
When delegations and people from different tribes from Arabia came to Madinah to accept Islam (during the last period of the Prophet (ﷺ)), often the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) would make them stay for two (2) days. One day he used to read all five prayers for the first time. On the second day, every prayer was offered at its last time, then when leaving; he would say: “You have found out the first and last time of each prayer. Now go and pray within these exact times. The differences between us in the way of praying Yes, all this is proven by the Holy Prophet (ﷺ). The prayer of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was not praying like ours. He used to recite as many duas in the prayer. Yes, there are many acts of worship that scholars should be asked about. An effort should be made to ensure that the person who recites the prayer has correct and authentic information about all the parts of the prayer. In the prayer, special attention should be paid to the performance of those obligatory parts. For this purpose, the subjects of the prayer. But one should also study the available books and keep in touch with scholars.
In our religion, the method of collective worship (congregation in prayer, Fridays, Eids, etc.) prescribed by our master and teacher Muhammad Mustafa (ﷺ), has been one of the advantages that our worship has been protected from distortion. It is impossible to add anything new to what all Muslims do and see happening together. This is why there is nothing new in our prayer that the Sunnah does not prove. I couldn’t pass. For example, in prayer, there are only two (2) prostrations in each rak’ah. Sajdah is the greatest act of worship. The Holy Prophet (ﷺ) said that the servant is closer to his Lord in the state of Sajdah. Nevertheless, no one will say it is permissible to do three (3) or four (4) prostrations instead of two (2). This is because only two (2) prostrations in each rak’ah are proven by the practice and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (ﷺ).
You already know the spirit of prayer and what is recited in humble prayer. It is impossible to talk about the mysteries and points of these phrases and their meanings and purposes here, but you, as a good Muslim and an educated Muslim. It would be best if you read any book on this subject.
Focusing on Allah, humility, etc., in prayer are very important, but they are the fundamental spirit and purpose of prayer. How to get these things? At least the way to do this is to pay attention to each word that comes out of your mouth while praying that I am saying such and such a word. This will not divert the watch and stay on the words.
The second and better way is to memorize the translation of the entire prayer; it is a simple task. If you keep the meaning of these words in mind while praying, you will feel the pleasure of contact with Allah. The third and the best way is what the Prophet (ﷺ) himself has said, and that is the idea that: worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, then He will see you (Hadith Jibriel). Worship Allah as if you see Him. (If you cannot do this, remember that He is watching you).
Even by always praying in congregation, many individual defects are corrected automatically.
Philosophy of prayer
Sometimes it is asked what the benefits of prayer are. The Qur’an and Sunnah also describe some of the benefits or blessings of prayer. For example, you must have read or heard this verse:
إِنَّ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلْفَحْشَآءِ وَٱلْمُنكَرِ ۗ
Surely Salāh restrains one from shameful and evil acts. (29:45)
Muslim scholars have written a lot on the purposes and meanings of prayer, its benefits and blessings, and the philosophy of the entire prayer system. If Allah gives them a chance, he will read such books. Prayer (and all other acts of worship are also a means of direct connection with Allah. It must be done five times a day, and if Allah allows it, then in the solitude of the night when everyone is sleeping sweetly. At that time, this and the heart connection in Tahajjud make it strong. Until you start to feel a state of joy and satisfaction after prayer, continue this practice and effort. If the contact with the Lord increases, it will automatically cover all the other actions and words, and all the blessings of the prayer will automatically come. If you fail to establish this connection or do not pay attention to it, then the rest of the philosophies and wisdom “improving” is a mental indulgence and intellectual distraction.)
The philosophy of the prayerless
Whether profit is obtained or not, whether the wisdom is understood or not, whether there is any effect on the worshipers themselves or not, do not call prayer useless. Prayer is the thing that the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) used to organize the most and he used to order his Companions to do it as well. He (ﷺ) have described prayer as the pillar of religion. The Prophet (ﷺ) said that the main difference or distinction between us and them (non-Muslims) is prayer. You should never listen to those people who often say that what is the use of such prayers which do not stop people from eating wealth and oppressing others?
Remember, if a person who prays does such things, it means that he did not appear before his Lord in the right way, he did not consider prayer as a means of contact with Allah. What is the blame on prayer in this? There are people who reduce the importance of prayer by saying such things, then you will see that often such people themselves are prayerless and go around looking for justification for their actions and negligence.