The first and most important duty in Islam after one has brought faith in God and in Prophet Mohammad and borne witness to Divine Oneness and the Apostleship of the holy Prophet is Namaz. It is a most special act of Divine worship, which a Muslim is called upon to perform five times a day. There are numerous verses of the Quran and the Traditions of the Prophet enjoining the Namaz on us. It has been described as the pillar and the foundation of the faith.
Namaz, if it is offered with a sincere heart and proper devotion and mental concentration, is particularly vested with the property of cleansing the heart and reforming one’s life and ridding it of sins and impurities. It generates love for piety and truth and promotes fear of God in man. Thus it is that Islam has laid greater emphasis on it than on all other religious obligations. When anyone came to the Prophet to embrace Islam, the first promise the sacred prophet took from him, after instructing him in Divine Oneness, was that he will offer the Namaz regularly. In fine, after the Kalima, Namaz is the bedrock of Islam.
Traditions We know from the Traditions that the holy Prophet used to equate neglect of the Namaz with infidelity. He denounced it as the way of the unbelievers. He would say that those who did not offer the Namaz had not share in the faith.
A Tradition of the Prophet reads, “What separates a believer from infidelity is simply the Namaz”.
This Tradition clearly warns that if a Muslim will give up the Namaz he will get associated with infidelity; his conduct will become the conduct of an infidel. In another Tradition the Prophet has said, “He has no share in Islam who does not offer the Namaz”.
And here is another Tradition from which we can imagine what a great act of virtue and felicity is it to offer the Namaz regularly and how utterly fatal and ruinous is it to neglect it. Once while urging upon the Muslims to be most particular about the Namaz the sacred Prophet is reported to have observed:
“Whoever will offer the Namaz properly and regularly it will be for him on the Last Day a source of light. A proof of his faith and a mean to salvation. (On the other hand) whoever will not offer it carefully and regularly it will be for him neither a source of light, and the end of such a person will be with Karun, Fir’aun, Haman and Ubai-bin-Khalaf.
Brother, let us now imagine what our end is going to be if we fail to cultivate the habit of offering the Namaz correctly and regularly.
THE IGNOMINY AND DISGRACE OF THE DEFAULTERS ON THE LAST DAY.
The ignominy and disgrace the defaulters of Namaz will have to suffer at the very outset on the Day of Judgment has been spoken of in these words in the Quran:
The day that the shin shall be laid bare, and they shall be summoned to bow in adoration, but they shall not be able, their eyes will be cast down, ignominy will cover them, seeing that they had been summoned aforetime to bow in adoration while they were whole (and had refused). (XI: 42)
The verse tells that on the Last Day when the hour of Judgment will arrive (when all mystery will vanish and reality will be fully manifest) and gathered together, God will reveal Himself to them in full glory and splendor. Everyone will then be called upon to bow in adoration before Allah. The fortunate and the faithful among them who had been regular in their Namaz in the world and were, thus, accustomed to kneeling down before God will, at once, bow down in adoration, but those who in spite of being healthy and strong had not observed the Namaz in their lifetime will find that their backs had suddenly grown stiff like a board and they will remain standing with the infidels, unable to bend down and carry out the prostration. They will be covered with ignominy, their eyes will be downcast, they will not be able even to look up. Before the chastisement of hell, they will have to bear this chastisement of humiliation and disgrace. May Allah, by His Grace, save us all from it!
In truth, a habitual defaulter of the Namaz is a sort of a rebel against God and deserves all the humiliation and punishment that may be meted out to him. According to some legists of Islam, a Muslim who rejects the Namaz is liable to be punished with death like an apostate.
Brothers – We must realize it thoroughly and well that without the Namaz the claim to Islam is altogether meaningless. Namaz alone is the Islamic act that joins us with God and makes us deserving of His grace.
Blessings of Namaz
When a person stands before the Almighty with his arms folded, five times a day, and celebrates His praises and kneels down before Him and touches the ground with his forehead and makes earnest supplications to Him, he becomes worthy of His love and beneficence, his sins are forgiven with every Namaz he offers, his heart attains enlightenment and his life becomes pure. The Prophet once gave an excellent example to illustrate this truth. He asked his Companions, “Tell me, if a stream flows at the door of anyone of you and he takes a dip in it five times a day will there be left any grime on his body?” The Companions replied, “No, Sir. No grime will be left on his body”. The Prophet said, “It is exactly the same with the five daily prayers. God removes all impurities and sins because of their auspiciousness:”
Superiority of Congregation
It appears from the Prophet’s Traditions that Namaz should be offered in congregation if one wants to derive full benefit from it. The Prophet was so very particular about it that once while condemning the conduct of those who avoided coming to the mosque to say their prayers in congregation due to laziness or indifference he observed with anger that he felt like burning down their homes.
This one Tradition is enough to show how repugnant it is to God and the Prophet that anyone should not offer his prayers in congregation. Another Tradition says: -
“The reward on saying the Namaz in congregation is twenty times as much as on saying it alone.”
Apart from the reward in the Hereafter, there are many other advantages in offering up the Namaz in congregation. For instance, one acquires the habit of punctuality by attending the mosque regularly to say his prayers in congregation, it enables Muslim brethren of the locality to assemble at one place five times every day and this can be turned to great benefit, the practice of saying the Namaz regularly in the mosque congregationally makes a man thoroughly regular in his prayers for it has been seen that those who offer their prayers individually at home are often inclined to be neglectful. Yet another notable advantage in saying the prayers in congregation is that the Namaz of each participant becomes a part of the Namaz of the whole congregation in which, along with others, there are also generally present some venerable and virtuous servants of God whose Namaz is of a very high order. Their Namaz finds acceptance with Allah and the expectation from his Benevolent Grace is that when He will grant acceptance to the prayers of some members of the congregation He will, along with them, accept the prayers of the rest of the congregation too.
Now, imagine what rich rewards and blessings do we deprive ourselves of when we do not go to the mosque to offer our prayers in congregation without a valid excuse.
Meekness and Humility
The offering up of the Namaz with meekness and humility means that, believing God to be Omni present and All-Seeing, the Namaz should be offered is such a way that the heart is filled with His love and stricken with awe by the thought of His Greatness and Magnificence as if a criminal was standing in front of a great judge or a mighty ruler. As a devotee stands up for Namaz he should visualize that he is standing in the presence of the Almighty – that he is standing out of reverence to Him. When he bows his head in Ruku or kneels down to perform the Sajda he should imagine that it was all being carried out in front of Allah and in expression of his own utter worthlessness and humility. Better still, whatever is recited during Namaz, whether while standing or in Ruku or Sajda, should be done with a proper understanding of its meaning, The real joy and beauty of Namaz is experienced only when it is offered with an intelligent appreciation of its contents. It is not, at all, difficult to learn the meaning of the Suras that are generally recited in Namaz.
The devotion of the heart and the sentiments of awe and humility, indeed, are the very soul of the Namaz. The ultimate success and deliverance of believers who offer up such a kind of Namaz is assured. Declares the Quran: -
The believers must (eventually) win through-those who humble themselves in their prayers. (XXIII-I)
Says the Prophet, “God has made the five daily prayers obligatory. Whoever did the Wazu properly and offered them up at the right time and carried out the Ruku and Sajda as they ought to be, humbly and reverentially, for him the promise of God is that he will be pardoned; and whoever did not do so (i.e., did not say his prayers in this manner), for him there is no such promise. God will pardon or punish him as He will please.”
When the time for prayers comes we should perform the Wazu carefully, believing that this washing and cleansing was necessary before we presented ourselves before the Lord and worshipped Him. The Almighty, in His benevolence, has invested the Wazu with great auspiciousness. The sins and transgressions of the parts of the body that are washed during it are forgiven because of it. The unholy effects of sins are, so to speak, washed away by the water used in the Wazu. After the Wazu, as we stand up for the Namaz, the predominant thought in our minds should be that we, the sinning and defaulting slaves were going to stand before a Lord and Master from whom nothing was concealed, who knew all about us, the hidden as well as the manifest, and before whom we would have to appear on the Day of Judgment. We should then formulate precisely the intention to offer the particular prayer and raising the hands up to our ears pronounce not only with the tongue but with our hearts, too, the formula.
God is Great
After it, with arms folded across the chest and a full awareness of the fact of our presence before the Almighty we should recite:
(Transcription: Sub haana kal-laahumman wa bihamdika wa tabara kasm-uka wa taa alajado ka wa laa ilaaha ghairuka).
O God, with Thy glorification and Thy praise; blessed is Thy name, great is Thy glory, and there is no God except Thee.
(Transcription: ‘Aaoozu Billah-I-Min-ash – shaitanir rajeem: bismil laahir rahmaa nir raheem).
I seek refuge in God from the wicked Devil and begin with the name of God, the Most Benevolent, the All-Merciful.
(Transcription: Alhamdu lil-laahi rab-bil ‘Aalameen, ar rahmaa nir raheem, maaliki yaumid deen, iyyaaka na’budu wa iyyaaka nas-ta’een, ihdinas siraatal mustaqeem, siraatal ladheenaanamta ‘alaihim, ghairil maghdoobi’alaihim, wa lad daal leen. Aameen).
Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds the Compassionate, Thee alone do we worship, and to Thee alone do we beg for help. Show us the straight path: the path of those whom Thou hast favoured; not (the path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray. Amen!
Then some other Sura of the Quran, or a part thereof, should be recited. Here we give four brief Suras along with their translations.
(Transcription: Wal’asr, in-nal insaana lafee khusr, il-lal ladheena aamanu wa aamilus saali-haati wa tawaasau,bil haqqi wa tawaasau bis sabr).
By the Time! Lo, man is in a state of great loss, save those who believe and do good deeds, and exhort one another to truth, and exhort one another to patient perseverance.
(Transcription: Qul huwal laahu ahad, al-laahus-samad. Lam yalid, wa lam yoolad, walam yakul laahoo kufu an ahad).
Say: “It is God, the Unique! God, the eternally besought of all! He begetteth not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him!”
(Transcription: Qul’aoozu be rabbil falaq, min shar re ma khalaq, wa min shar re ghasiqin iza waqab, wa min shar rin naffasat-I-fil ‘aqad, wa min shar re hassidin iza hasad).
Say: “I seek refuge in the Lord of the Dawn from the mischief of created things; from the mischief of those who practice secret arts; and from the mischief of the envious’ one as he practices envy”.
(Transcription: Qul’aaoozu be rabbil naas, malikin naas, ilaahin naas, min shar ril was wasil khannaas, al lazi yo was wiso fi sudoorin naas, min al jinaat-I-wan nas).
Say: “I seek refuge in the Lord and Cherisher of mankind, the King (of Ruler) of mankind, the God (or Judge) of mankind, from the mischief of the sneaking whisperer, who withdraws (after his whisper), (the same) who whispers into the hearts of mankind among jinns and among men”.
Anyhow, after the Sura of Al-Hamd-o-Sharif some other Sura of the Quran, or a part of it, is to be recited. Only this much of the Quran is recited during each Rak’at of the Namaz, When the recitation has been completed, with the thought of the Majesty and Glory of God embedded in our hearts, we should say Allah-o-Akbar and perform the Ruku by placing our hands on our knees without bending them and pronounce a number of times the phrase:
(Transcription: Subhaana rabbiyal ‘azeem).
Glory be to my Lord, the most Elevated
While reciting the above formula in the Ruku we should also meditate on its meaning, on the Glory and Magnificence of the Lord. Then the head be raised, from the Ruku, saying:
(Transcription: Sami’al laahu liman hamidah)
God has heard the servant who has praised Him
(Transcription: Rab banaa lakal Hamd)
Our Lord! Praise be to Thee
Then, again, we should say Allah-o-Akbar from the depth of our hearts and prostrate ourselves before the Lord and perform two Sajdas simultaneously. During the Sajda the under-mentioned formula should be repeated a number of times imagining inwardly that God was present right there, seeing and hearing everything, and we were addressing the words directly to him.
(Transcription: Subhaana rab-biya a’laa) Glory be to my Lord, the Most High
While reciting these words in the Sajda, also, we should try sincerely to call forth within ourselves the realization of our abject helplessness and humility and the Supreme Might and Magnificence of the Lord. The deeper and stronger the realization, the better and truer will be the Namaz for this sentiment constitutes the very, life and soul of worship.
This completes one Rak’at. All the remaining Rak’ats are to be offered similarly except that (sub-haana kal-laahumaa) is recited only in the first Rak’at.
When we sit during a Namaz, or at the end of it, we recite (at-tahiuyaat) which, indeed, is its essence and substance:
(Transcription: Atthiyaatu lilaahi was salawaatu wal taiyyabaatu, as salaamu ‘alaika ayyuhan nabeeyu wa rehmatul laahi wa bara kaatuh, as salaamu ‘alainaa wa’alaa ibaad laahis saliheen, ash-ha al-laa ilaaha il-lal-laah, wa ash-hadu an-na Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasoluh).
The most blessed greetings, the purest and most sincere inclinations unto Got. Peace be with thee, O Prophet, as well as the mercy of God and His blessings. Peace be with us also, and the pious servants of the Lord. I attest that there is no God if not God himself, and I attest that Mohammad is His servant and Apostle.
If a Namaz consists of three or four Rak’ats, when we sit after the second Rak’at only the above invocation is recited, and, at the end of the last Rak’at, the Durood Sharif and a prayer are also added to it. The Durood Sharif runs as follows:
(Transcription: Allaahnmaa sal-li ‘alaa Muham-madin wa ‘alaa aal-I-Muhammadin kamaa sal-laita ‘alaa Ibraa-heema wa ‘alaa all-I-Ibraa-heema innaka hameedum majeed).
O God, bless Mohammad and his posterity (or followers) as Thou hast blest Abraham and his posterity (or followers); Verily, Thou art the Praiseworthy, the Majestic.
(Transcription: Allaahumma baarik ‘alla Muhammadin wa ‘alaa aal-I-Muhammadin kamaa baarak ta ‘alaa Ibraaheema wa ‘alaa all-i-Ibraa-heem in-naka hameedum majeed).
O God, magnify Mohammad and his posterity (or followers) as Thou hast magnified Abraham and his posterity (or followers); Verily, Thou art the Praiseworthy), the Majestic.
Though the Durood Sharif we invoke the favours and blessings of the Lord on the Prophet and his family and all those who bear a special association with him. It is, after all, through the agency of the Prophet that the Divine boon of Islam and Namaz has reached us. God has, therefore, charged us with the duty of praying for him, his family and his descendants at the end of each Namaz as an expression of our gratitude to him. After the Durood Sharif it is required of us to recite the under-mentioned prayer for ourselves and with it the Namaz is brought to an end by turning the head, first to the right and then to the left, and wishing everyone peace and blessings of the Lord.
(Transcription: Al-laahumma in-nee zalamtu nafsee zulman katheeran, wa laa yaghfirudh dhunooba il-laa anta, faghfir lee maghfiratum min indika warhmanee in-nika antal ghafoorur raheem).
O God, I have done my soul a great harm and no one can forgive sins if not Thee; so grant me forgiveness with Thy pleasure and have pity on me. Thou art Most Forgiving; Most Merciful.
By means of this prayer we make an open confession of our sins and misdeeds and beseech God for His Mercy and Forgiveness. It is best for us always to consider ourselves defaulters and transgressors and make an open hearted admission of our faults and lapses even after performing an act of worship of the class of Namaz, and to repose all our hopes in Divine Compassion and Mercy. We must not allow pride or vanity to come near us because of our devoutness or worship-fullness for, whatever we may do, we can never hope to acquit ourselves fully of the duty of worshipping God and adoring Him and of rendering to Him what is His due.
All that is necessary to know about Namaz has been described in this lesson. Once again, we assert that Namaz is that elixir among the various modes of worship which can transform a man into an angel, in the sphere of his deeds and morals, provided that it is offered with due concentration and the feelings of reverence and humility. Brothers, we just cannot afford to take lightly the significance, worth and value of the Namaz.
So overpowering was the Prophet’s anxiety for his followers to remain steadfast in the matter of Namaz and offer it regularly and unfailingly that he took pains to exhort them about it even during the last moments of his life when it had become extremely difficult for him to speak.
Muslims who neglect the Namaz and do nothing to establish it and to keep it alive in their midst should imagine, for the sake of God, how are they going to face the Prophet on the Day of Reckoning, how are they going to look towards him, after disregarding so shamelessly his last will and testament during their life.
Come, let us all pray now in the words of Prophet Abraham:
(Transcription: Rab-bij ‘alnee muqeem-us-salaat-I-wa min zurriyatee, rab-bana taqabaal duaae, rabbanaghfirlee wa le waalidaiyya wa lil momineena yauma yaqoomul Hissab).
Oh my Lord! Make me one who establishes regular Prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring; Oh my Lord! And accept Thou my Prayer. Oh our Lord! Cover (us) with Thy Forgiveness me, my parents (and all Believers) on the Day that Reckoning will be established.