The Most Important Obligation

    عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه، قال: سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: « إِنَّ أَوَّلَ مَا يُحَاسَبُ النَّاسُ بِهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مِنْ أَعْمَالِهِمْ: الصلاةُ، قَالَ يَقُولُ رَبُّنَا جَلَّ وَعَزَّ لِمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ: انْظُرُوا فِي صَلَاةِ 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 الْأَعْمَالُ عَلَى ذَاكُمْ» .  رواه أبو داود والترمذي والنسائي وأحمد.

Narrated Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) that he heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say:

“The first thing people will be asked to account for on the Day of Judgment of their deeds is the prayer (Salah).  Our Lord the Exalted says to His angels, even as He knows all: ‘Look into the prayer of My slave: has he performed it fully or has he been negligent.’ If the slave performed the prayer fully, then it will be written for him as complete.  But if he has been negligent, then Allah says to His angels: ‘See if you find any voluntary deed of My slave.’  And if he has voluntary deeds then Allah says: ‘Complete his obligatory prayer with his voluntary deed.’  Then the rest of the deeds will be judged according to that.” (Related by Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Al-Nisa’i, and Ahmad in an authentic narration).

After the shahada (testimony that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad ﷺ is the Messenger of Allah), the second and most important pillar of Islam is the obligatory prayers. Therefore, the first thing the slave will be asked about after death is the Prayer, and the first thing to be accounted for on the Day of Judgment is the Prayer. The Prophet  mentioned that if the Prayer is sound and complete, then the Muslim has achieved success and happiness; but if the prayer is incomplete or lacking and there are no voluntary deeds to compensate for it, then he or she has failed and may be punished–as other deeds are dependent on this great deed.

The nation of Muhammad ﷺ was honored with this great worship five times a day, but it is equal in reward to fifty prayers. It is prescribed at five times only, but its reward and benefit encompass the whole day and night.  And while some angels are always standing, some always kneeling, and some always prostrating, our prayer combines all of those forms of worship.  Moreover, the prayer includes all forms of remembrance (dhikr), such as the Qur’an, glorification, praise, thankfulness, prayer upon the Prophet, and supplication (du’a).  Thus, one simple act is a treasure of reward containing a mine of actions that bring the slave closer to his or her Lord if the Five Daily Prayers are fulfilled according to their right.

The Five Daily Prayers are a time-out from our busy worlds and a chance to remember the real world: the Hereafter.  When we get too involved in worldly affairs and start forgetting about the Hereafter, the Five Daily Prayers remind us of the world to come and bring our attention back to religion.  When we are overcome with problems and troubles of the world, the Five Daily Prayers act as a soothing medicine that soon makes us forget those troubles and focus on more important things to come.  When we are sad and overwhelmed by the trials and tribulations of the world, the Five Daily Prayers offer us a direct means of communication with our Lord, and a chance for du’a and supplication.

Despite all of these benefits, many of us are careless about this great worship.  Some perform the Five Daily Prayers only because it is an obligation, with no attention, no reverence, no care, and no love.  Some may neglect the Five Daily Prayers by delaying it, missing it, or forgetting about it altogether.  But according to the hadith, the Five Daily Prayers are either a source of comfort, mercy and reward, or a source of discomfort, punishment, and Hell.  For those who perform it with attention and devotion, the Prayer is a source of comfort and a chance to communicate with the Lord.  But for those who neglect the prayer, then it is a source of discomfort and punishment, both in this world and the Hereafter.

The Muslim should feel the greatness of this worship as he is standing before our Lord, and show his humility and reverence for such a great act. The Muslim should not only look at the Prayer as something she must do, but also as something she loves and longs to do. Indeed, the Prayer offers the Muslim the closest communication with his or her Lord and a great chance to become closer to the Lord of the Universe. If the Muslim performs the Prayer with such devotion and love, then the Prayer becomes a source of comfort and happiness for him in this world, and a source of great reward and Paradise in the Hereafter.  And Allah knows best.

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