The prayer (salah) is neglected today, although it is the most important responsibility in Islam after the faith (iman), and it has the top priority among worship. Unfortunately, we are faced with a problem of not praying or abandoning the prayer in the Islamic world. In this case, we, as all Muslims, have to find a solution to this problem all together. We need to raise awareness and sensitivity that will place the prayer at the center of our lives.
The reason why those who do not perform the prayer is not because of not accepting the prayer. It stems from some arbitrary reasons of their own. Those who do not perform prayers do not really have a justifiable reason in their hands, they only have some personal excuses and pretexts. There is nothing that people who do not perform the prayer achieve by not praying. There is no promised reward for those who do not pray. The oddest thing is that not performing the prayer does not help the people reach their great aim and desire like being happy forever and being peaceful. People, who have great aims and desires like being happy and peaceful forever, cannot achieve these great aims by not performing the prayer. In other words, not to perform the prayer, not to make pray (du‘a), not to present his Lord his weakness and not to ask for help from Him does not make the person happy.
On the other hand, most Muslims do not pray not because they do not know how to perform the prayer, but because they do not properly know why they should perform the prayer. They cannot perform the prayer, which is the biggest responsibility in Islam after faith, because they do not place their prayers in the centre of their lives and do not put their prayers on their agenda. Moreover, when a circle of friends who do not pray is also added to it, heedlessness and laziness predominate and thus they do not fulfill a duty of creation like the prayer.
On the other hand, we need to ask people the question “What would make you pray?” instead of the question “Why do you not pray?” Because this question is an approach that shows that we stand by the person who does not pray (to help him). This question is a very important step to learn the real thoughts of people in their subconscious in order to find a solution. Thus, in the inner world of the person, we have the opportunity to learn the reasons or excuses that prevent him from the prayer. As a result, the way to take a more conscious approach will be opened in order to be more beneficial to this Muslim brother.
We succeed in ensuring that people perform their prayers as much as we can make them feel their need for prayer and the necessity of prayer. We can be successful in praying and making others pray as much as we can realize that we are not created only for this world, and that we can keep in mind our goal of being sent to the world.
Eating is good, but it is better to feed (someone else). It is nice to wear but it is better to dress someone else; an orphan, for example. It is good to love Allah, but it is better to make others love Allah, our Lord. It is good to perform the prayer. It is very good to start the prayer. However, it is better to be a means for someone else to start prayer and to make a Muslim to start prayer. Imagine! You become a means for a person’s meeting his Creator, talking to Him, and coming into the presence of his Lord. You make that person start the prayer, you teach him the prayer, you introduce the prayer to him, and you make him like it. What a good feeling this is! What a unique happiness this is! And most importantly, what a behavior that is worthy of our Lord’s consent and love, and of the gladness of our prophet. We all know that someone who causes a goodness, who becomes a means for a goodness is like the one who has done it. This is what our Prophet said. So those who regularly pray salah have to be the volunteers of telling people about the prayer.
How can human be purposeless when everything has a purpose?
All living things have a purpose of creation. In the universe where everything from atoms to galaxies are created for a purpose, man cannot be aimless or aimless. Animals such as chickens, sheep, goats and silkworms were created for a purpose. While people benefit from the results and blessings they reveal, it is unthinkable that they are left empty and meaningless. Using the silk woven by a tiny tiny insect from a lush mulberry leaf, humanity must fulfill the gratitude of this blessing. Because these creatures perform their duties and functions perfectly defined. One should also fulfill the duties and responsibilities defined by Allah. As a human is born, he comes with superior equipment. He is born with potential high-level features such as mind, consciousness, and contemplation that are not found in other living things. The fact that human is different from animals in terms of his equipment, abilities and creation is a clear proof that he is sent to the world for very important goals and results. Human is a ‘factory’ of gratitude, because his language, eyes and emotions are given to fulfill this purpose. He is created with superior attributes from animals so that he would be grateful and thank for the blessings that come from the mercy of Allah Almighty. In other words, human is a ‘machine’ of thankfulness sent to the world to work and get to know one God. His mind, curiosity and emotion are arranged in this way.
What is human’s goal and fruit?
As one realizes that everything has a purpose of creation, he begins to question in his inner world whether he was also created for a purpose. It is his conscience that makes him do this questioning. As he realizes that human is different from other creatures, that he is created with superior features and that all living and inanimate beings are servants to him, he realizes that he has a high level of responsibility. It is faith and worship that enable this thought to occur and grow in people.
The higher the human is than the other beings, the higher the qualities he was sent to the world with, the higher the worship he is responsible for. Human has such a responsibility that befits those high qualities. If a person looks closely to his own material and spiritual qualities, he understands this responsibility by means of his conscience. One’s qualities, which carry human characteristics, resemble a wonderful seed. If this seed is planted in the land of worship and grown with the water of Islam and with the light of faith, man becomes a perfect human. That seed grows and develops in the field of world, and gives fruits in the hereafter.
The fruit of human is “faith and worship”
It is the prayer that encompasses the meaning of worship in the most comprehensive way and shows that meaning on itself with its content. Prayer is a worship that includes the meanings of all worship. The meaning of worship is to see one’s own flaw, weakness and deficiency in the presence of Allah and to prostrate in admiration and love before Allah’s perfect discipline and power and mercy. Man particularly shows the best example of obedience, reverence, dhikr, gratitude and contemplation in the prayer. Because the meaning of the prayer is to glorify and hallow and thank Allah in its most concise meaning. These are also like the nuclei of the prayer. The words of subhanAllah, alhamdulillah, Allahuakbar are found all over the prayer; after the prayer, they are repeated thirty-three times to support and strengthen the meaning of the prayer.
Prayer is like the index of all worship. In the prayer, there are the truths of oneness (tawhid) and messengership (nubuwwah), which express the meaning of the kalima shahadah that is the first condition of Islam. Nothing is eaten or drunk during the prayer; it is performed in an awareness of servanthood like in the fasting. While turning towards Qibla in the prayer, there is a situation like gathering in Arafah, like in the Hajj. On the other hand, the prayer is like the zakat of one’s lifetime. Just like a person who believes that ‘forty fourtieth’ of his property comes from Allah gives ‘one fortieth’ of his wealth to the servants of Allah; similarly a Muslim who truly believes that the twenty-four hours of every single day – which are valuable like gold – are given by Allah does not hesitate to spend one hour of the twenty-four hours performing the prayer which is Allah is pleased with. Therefore, other conditions of Islam are seen in the prayer.
Another point is the fact that the prayer is like a blessed map that shows the colours and types of worship of all creature kinds. In all the universe, beings with understanding (such as angels and jinn) and beings that are unconscious (such as mountains, stones, trees, and animals) worship knowingly or unknowingly in a way that befits their nature. So the prayer is a blessed worship that demonstrates the natural worship of all these beings like a map.
For instance, a map is not the land itself that it shows, but it gives information about the land. Similarly a Muslim shows his servanthood in the presence of Allah like the natural worship of mountains and trees while he is in the standing position (qiyam) of prayer. Likewise, during the prayer, human beings act in a way that resembles the natural worshiping of some living beings, animals, in ruqu, sajdah, and tahiyya. With the positions expressing the essence and form of their worship, one presents his nothingness and helplessness with love and respect before the glory, might and greatness of Allah.
On the other hand, we also see that there is good morality, righteous deeds, goodness and good attributes in the prayer. For example, one performs the prayer with humbleness, properly, with justice, hijab, modesty, taqwa, in contemplation and thankfulness, sincerely, faithfully and in humility.
Difference between the human and animal’s coming into the world
The greatest aim of our creation is to believe in Allah and serve Him. The fact that humans are different from animals in terms of abilities and creation clearly shows that they are sent to the world for very important goals and results. Our Lord says in the Qur’an, “I created jinn and human only so that they serve me.” (Dhariyat, 51:56)
The most obvious indication that man has been created to believe and worship Allah is the difference in the coming of humans and animals into the world. Because when an animal comes to the world, it is like it has been trained in another world. It learns all the conditions of life sometimes in two hours, sometimes in two days or two months and gains proficiency. An animal, such as a sparrow or a bee, gets the knowledge and skills that a human being gains in twenty years. More precisely, Allah inspires them what they need. These situations we see in animals show that they are not coming to this world to learn. They are not created to learn something; they are created to fulfill a number of duties given to them by Allah.
Human is very different from animals. When he comes into the world, he needs to learn everything and does not know the laws of life. He barely learns the conditions of life in twenty years. He even needs to learn many things until the end of his life. At the same time, man is born weak and powerless. He barely rises to his feet in a year or two after his birth. In fifteen years he notices what is of harm and what is of benefit. With the help of other people, he can get things of benefit and protect himself from things of harm. These characteristics of human show that he was sent to this world to learn and become perfect. In particular, the most important thing to learn and know is to recognize his Creator, turn to Him and worship. This is his true, natural duty. So he tries to get to know Allah by saying “Although I am so powerless, weak and ignorant; I am raised with such mercy, nurtured with such compassion, fed delicately with blessings and bestowals; so there has to be someone who does all these with knowledge, will and power. Who is it?”
As a result, the faith and love of that person – who knows why he is sent to the world and who knows Allah – increases. According to the strength of his faith, he becomes a servant to Allah with complete sincerity. He worships his Lord; he especially shows his servanthood by praying five times every day. He prays to Him and worships Him. As a result, he lives in accordance with the purpose of being sent to the world and thus gains eternal bliss and peace.
Every blesssing demands a price
Let’s say you have entered a market. You have filled the grocery cart with fruit and vegetable. What do you do while leaving? The cashier is there waiting for you to pay the price. We can’t get out of there. There are security cameras. There are staff at the door. We have to pay the price for it.
Let’s consider another example as follows. We are in the field; different fruits and vegetables have come out of the soil. These colorful fruits have come out of the soil. Onions, garlics, potatoes, whose tastes are completely different, have come out of the unintelligent soil. They watered the soil with the unconscious water, added a disgusting fertilizer (e.g. cow manure) on it. These fruits and vegetables have come out of that soil. Does the soil want anything from us when we are leaving the field? Does the water want anything from us? Does the sun that ripens them want money from us?
These should have a price, right? Yes, they do not want, but our Lord, Who is their Owner and Creator, wants a price from us. “O my servant, I gave them to you; mention Who gave them to you. Say, ‘Allah gave them, my Lord bestowed them to me.’ Say, ‘Whoever created my stomach also created these blessings for my stomach.’” In other words, Allah wants from us remembrance, contemplation, and gratitude.
He wants us to contemplate by thinking. How can various vegetables grow from mindless, unconscious soil? Are there paint and taste factories in the soil? What kind of a thing is there in the soil so that it “makes” these blessings – vegetables and fruits? It is our Lord Who gives them to us. But He does not give them unreturned. He wants three things from us in return.
We can give another example about animals. Does the cow know about milk? We do not give a milkman the real price of milk, but just the labor cost he makes to obtain that milk. It is Allah, our Lord, Who gives us milk. He says “Thank that I give it to you.”
One day I met a man who spoke unfairly and rebelliously about Allah. He called Allah – far be it from Him – cruel. I said to that man: let’s say you have a corn seed in your hand. Then you plant it. Finally a huge corn seedling comes out of a corn seed; and about 8 or 10 corn cobs come out of it. There are 500 corn grains in each cob. Now, let’s ask our conscience: how can one who gives 4000 or 5000 to 1 be cruel? This generosity and mercy cannot be the work of the corn and soil that are mindless, senseless. Our Lord wants thankfulness from us, not ungratefulness; and the prayer is the biggest thankfulness.
The prayer is the biggest gratitude
Do you want to thank? The worship that contains all varieties of thankfulness in the most beautiful way is the prayer. The prayer is the greatest gratitude.
Is everybody who reads this piece alive? Do we exist? If we did not exist, we could not use our hand to open the page of this article; we could not be alive either. We exist. Our Lord has preferred our existence to our nonexistence, and has created us. But there are trees and stones among the existing beings; He has not make us a stone or a grain of sand, or a molecule anywhere. He has created us, then given us life, bestowed upon us humanity. Then He has given us Islam. He wants gratitude from us. The prayer is the greatest gratitude. Since we exist, we haven’t become a tree or a stone, after a while at a time when we become mature enough to be able to think of these, our Lord says that ‘now you will have gratitude.’ What is gratitude? It is the prayer. If we do not perform the prayer, we become ungrateful for existing, for being human and being Muslim.
If someone gives you a pair of sunglasses as a gift, would you thank that person? There is a God Who has given you wonderful beautiful eyes. You thank the person who gave you this pair of glasses, which is lifeless, fragile and easily scratchable; then, why don’t you thank the One Who gave you the eyes that enable you see the world and help you make sense of the world?
Let’s think of a baby girl wearing a beautiful, colorful beret. She looks really cute with it. Her parents thank the person who weaved and gave this beret as a gift to their baby. But why don’t they thank the One Who gave that baby with soft, silky hair, two beautiful eyes, one cute face to them – that is, our Lord? If you want to thank and show gratitude, you need to perform the prayers. It is the prayer how you thank your Lord in the most intense way.
The One Who gave you your eyes also gave the sun to you. You thank someone who gives you sunglasses, but you do not thank the One Who has given the sun for you to see!? Who gives us blessings like the sun and the seasons? Who gives us the blessings that come with the seasons? All of these require us to show gratitude. We must perform the prayers as a requirement of that gratitude.
And we must keep praying constantly. The sun does not neglect its duty. Then, we should also not neglect our duty. Our eyes do not neglect their duty. They work perfectly. We should worship with these eyes. We must get to know our Lord; we must contemplate. We cannot see our Lord by our eyes, but we can find our Lord by seeing and contemplating the things He creates with His knowledge and might.
If blessings prevent our prayer, it means there is a problem here. Blessings should not interfere with our prayer. If blessings prevent our gratitude, then – Allah forbid – Allah may take those blessings from us so that we wake up from heedlessness. Are waiting for this to start performing the prayer? Are we going to wait for the blessings to go away? Allah forbid! Let us always demand goodness from Allah.
For instance, they bought a computer and gave it to you. But they gave one only to you. You will like it very much. Or for example, they gave such a computer to everyone. They gave the same to everyone. There is something strange here; giving it to everyone seems as if it is valueless. Does a blessing in our hand lose its value when everyone else also has the same blessing? This is another kind of ignorance and heedlessness.
Everyone’s having the blessing of eye should not decrease its value. What if it wasn’t given to you? We would thank someone who gives us that computer. But why don’t we be thankful to the One Who gave us the mind and the faculties of mind which are more perfect than the computer?
Allah doesn’t come to your mind – the One Who put a computer that works constantly inside your skull, placed perfect eyes, put lungs and other organs in you. That is why the prayer must be performed. The prayer is the greatest gratitude and we contemplate in the prayer. Prayer is an indication of our gratitude to all blessings. You thank someone who gave you a nice watch; but you don’t thank the One Who gave you the arm!? Just as we would thank a person who gives us this watch on our wrist, we should also thank the One Who gave us our wrist with the prayer.
The prayer does not take much time
The command to pray and give zakah in the Quran is usually mentioned together. Because the prayer is the index of bodily or physical worships. And zakat is the head of financial deeds of worship. The following point of view is very important in both worship. Namely, a person who believes that forty fortieth of his property comes from Allah has no difficulty to give one fortieth of that property to Allah’s servants. A person who does not know that all of his property is the favour of Allah or who is heedless in this regard has difficulty in fulfilling the worship of zakat. Again, a Muslim who knows that Allah has given twenty-four hours of a day’s life does not hesitate to spend an hour of those twenty-four hours as a prayer which Allah is pleased with. For this reason, assuming that the property and life in one’s hand belong to oneself is a very dangerous situation; moreover, we face this situation as a situation that prevents people from praying.
Only one hour is enough for the five daily prayers including ablution
Imagine that there is someone who gives you 24 gold coins every day. He gives them to you every day. But he wants you to return one of those coins everyday; but only one.
A person who knows that 24 out of his 24 hours every day is from Allah gives one twenty-fourth to the prayer for the good pleasure of his Lord.
Let us think over this; let us spend one hour out of twenty-four for the duty that is the command of our Lord. Let’s try to realize that we will be responsible and very regretful in the world and in the hereafter unless we spend our one hour that way. We can go around, play games, eat, spend time with friends, earn money, relax, have fun within the circle of halal, and sleep in 24 hours in a day; but we must also fulfill our duty of worship to our Lord in one of 24 hours. Our Lord does not prevent us from doing so many worldly works in the circle of halal. He gives us health, well being and the ability of pleasure while we do those works. Now, wouldn’t we be responsible if we do not devote one hour to the prayer, which is one of the most necessary works for the eternal life?
One who prays makes his life fruitful
The other twenty-three hours of a Muslim who performs the prayers become worship with a good intention. For example, for a person who goes to the military, who performs his duty as a citizen, his every hour is counted as military service while doing this duty. That soldier’s ordinary acts other than military service, such as eating and sleeping, are also counted as military service. However, the trainings and works related to military service during one day do not occupy all twenty-four hours. Just like this, a Muslim who enters Islam with faith fulfills the command of prayer of our Lord like a soldier. He wakes up in the morning before the sun rises and performs his fajr prayer. Then comes zuhr, ‘asr, maghrib and ishaa; he performs his one-hour-duty of five daily prayers in a day. Allah Almighty accepts the others acts of such a servant such as daily meals, daily commute, working, and sleeping as if he is doing them as worship. A person who does not pray, along with having the heavy punishment and responsibility of not praying, also misses the great opportunity of his entire twenty-four hours’ being counted as worship.
The daily prayers performed in a year are about 15 days in total. Since we perform the prayer our remaining 350 days can be counted as worship with a good intention.
Now let’s think about it: a person who sleeps 8 hours a day sleeps 120 days in a year. One hundred and twenty days are not a lot for sleeping, but fifteen days for the prayer is too much!? Is that so? A person who spends two hours of transportation every day for work or school spends, on the bus or metro, a full month in a year; but it is not too much and not surprising!? Now, how can it be too much and surprising to give only one hour a day to the prayer, which is the means of our eternal happy life that Allah wants? Let’s be fair.
If, however, one performs his prayer, his hours in transportation, at work, at school, during sleep also will be like a form of worship.
Muslims, who give temporary, transient, sometimes harmful television, computer and internet three hours a day, cannot really find one hour per day for the prayer, which is the insurance of world and hereafter happiness!!
What have those who do not pray gained so far? What are they gaining? What will they gain?
Let’s ask our conscience for the sake of Allah: What have the people who do not pray gained so far? Have you ever heard that a reward has been given to those who do not pray? What have those who pray lost? One’s prayers which he has not performed in the past brings nothing but responsibility and deprivation. What can “prayerlessness”, which has not gained us anything till now, gain us today? What benefit can it bring us in the future?
A very important fact to keep in mind is that no Muslim, neither today nor in the past, has ever said that I wish I had not prayed, no Muslim has ever regretted praying. However, those who have not prayed have always had a great regret, deficiency and embarrassment against Allah; and they still have it today and will have it in future. Again, a strange point is that human beings who always want to be happy, who seek peace, who are in love with eternity, who have great goals and purposes, cannot get closer to but rather move away from their objectives by not performing the prayer. In other words, not to pray, not to invoke, not to offer his Lord one’s weakness and not to ask for help does not make the human happy. In other words, unhappiness and hopelessness are hidden in “not praying.” The choice is yours!