Everyday, five times a day, Muslims respond to the call to pray to God-Almighty. The five daily prayers in Islam are one of the ways a Muslim upholds the Unity (Tawhid) of God-Almighty. When a person chooses to respond to this call, with presence of heart and mind, with the intention of cleansing themselves spiritually, they very quickly begin to see the impact of the daily prayers on the rest of their lives.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) taught that God-Almighty will not look at your wealth or your beauty, but He looks at the heart of the believer. In addition, God-Almighty will look at the sincerity of the actions of the believer.
In the Qur’an, God-Almighty says, “Seek help through patience (and fasting, which requires and enables great patience), and through the Prayer. Indeed the Prayer is burdensome, but not for those humbled by their reverence of God: Those who feel as if always in the Presence of their Lord, having met with Him; and are certain of following the way to return to Him.” (2:45-46) (1)
The first thing people will be accountable for on the Day of Judgment is prayer. If the prayers are complete, God-Almighty will instruct His angels to record the prayer as complete. If they are not complete, God-Almighty will seek to complete the missing obligatory prayer with the voluntary prayers.
The Benefits of the Five Daily Prayers
“The five obligatory daily prayers, the Friday prayer followed by another Friday prayer, Ramadan followed by another Ramadan, expiate sins committed in between them as long as major sins are avoided,” (Muslim).
Prayer is a refuge and an investment. Not only does it comfort the soul and free the mind from the stresses of daily life, but it also comes with grand benefits to be sought not only in this temporary world, but the permanent abode in the hereafter. When God-Almighty gave us twenty-four hours in a day, how selfish is it not to spend just one of those hours to thank Him for the life, health, and many bounties we have?
Prayer also provides mankind with a direct line of communication to God-Almighty. Prophet Muhammad said, “there is nothing more valuable in the sight of God-Almighty than prayer.” (2)
The five daily prayers also cleanse spiritually of sins. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) once said that the prayer is like a river. When one cleanses themselves in the water from that river five times a day, they will be cleansed of any filth. (3)
The Qur’an also teaches that the five daily prayers prevents a person from all that is indecent and shameful:
Recite and convey to them what is revealed to you of the Book, and establish the Prayer in conformity with its conditions. Surely, the Prayer restrains from all that is indecent and shameful, and all that is evil. Surely God’s remembrance is the greatest (of all types of worship, and not restricted to the Prayer). God knows all that you do.
The Different Types of Prayer
Fard – Fard is a term meaning compulsory. It refers to duties incumbent to all Muslims. There are two types:
Meaning something all individual Muslims must perform. Acts that fall under this category include: the five daily prayers, fasting, etc… These are acts that are required of all Muslims individually.
2. Sufficiency duty (fard al-kifaya)
Meaning something that is a collective duty among the body of believers, but may not require each individual Muslim to perform. Acts that fall under this category are things like the funeral prayer. Every Muslim does not have to present for the funeral prayer, but if it doesn’t occur, then it falls under the liability of all Muslims. The good deeds that come from performing fard al-kifaya go to the one(s) who do them, but if the act is rejected or disregarded, then the liability falls on the entire community (ummah).
Wajib – Wajib is defined as a something that is constant, necessary, and needed.
The Witr prayer and the Eid prayers are wajib. It was reported from Ibn Umar that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Make Witr as your last prayer at night.”
Sunnah – Sunnah translates to “road” or “path”
The sunnah is all of the acts outside of the fard and wajib that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) did. The night vigil (tahajjud), tarawih (a prayer performed during Ramadan), the prayer for rain, and prayers performed during eclipses all fall under the category of Sunnah.
Voluntary Prayer – A few examples of these supererogatory prayers include:
salat-al tawba, asking for God-Almighty’s forgiveness, salat-al-tasbih, the prayer to glorify God-Almighty, salat-al-duha, a prayer done in the late-morning, the prayer before a trip or journey, a prayer asking God-Almighty to bless us with something good, salat-al-istikhara, and salat-al-awwabin (done in the evening before the final obligatory prayer of the day).
The five daily prayers are the cornerstones of Muslim life. Without them, the foundation of your faith may be shaken. Prophet Muhammad warned against the abandonment of prayer when he said that the only thing that lies between a man and disbelief is the abandonment of prayer. (3)
Gulen, Fethullah. The Broken Jug. 2016.
Unal, Ali. “The Miraculous Quran.” The Miraculous Quran.
Recorded by Muslim