Why do we not offer Salah?
Abu Rajab Muhammad Asif Madani
The Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has stated: ‘Islam is established upon five things: Testifying that there is no God except Allah and that Muhammad [ صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم ] is His servant and messenger; establishing the prayer (i.e. Salah), giving Zakah, performing Hajj and fasting in Ramadan.’ (Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 14, Hadees: 8)
Dear devotees of the Prophet, fundamentally, Islam has four types of worship:
1. Hajj: To perform this once during one’s lifetime is an obligation upon the Muslim who meets eight conditions. (Bahar-e-Shari’at, vol. 1, pp. 1036-1043) Its fulfilment requires five days, from 8 Zul-Hijjah until 12 Zul-Hijjah.
2. Zakah: This is an annual obligation. Its fulfilment does not even take a few minutes, because upon a year being complete, 2.5% (fortieth of a fraction) of wealth has to be given to someone who is eligible to receive Zakah. This is also only applicable to the wealth of the Muslim who meets the conditions.
3. Fasting: Observing all the fasts of Ramadan is also an annual act of worship that is obligatory upon every sane Muslim who has reached the age of puberty according to Islamic law. However, having to spend time in any one particular place or in any particular manner is not necessary for this. Instead, during the course of one’s day-to-day activities, one is to merely refrain from eating, drinking and all those acts that invalidate the fast.
4. Salah: Offering Salah five times a day is an obligation upon every sane Muslim who has reached the age of puberty according to Islamic law. We are not permitted to do any other act whilst offering Salah. According to one estimation, out of the 1440 minutes in the 24 hours of a day, only 85 minutes (1 hr 25 mins) are required to offer the five daily Salahs. We can spend the remaining 1355 minutes for other religious and worldly works of our choice. But alas, the state of negligence found in Muslims is such that perhaps only 1% of Muslims regularly offer the five daily Salahs. This is despite there being reward for offering Salah and punishment for abandoning it.
Entry to Paradise
The Final Prophet of Allah Almighty صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has said: ‘Allah Almighty has said, ‘I have made five Salahs obligatory upon your Ummah (during the day and night); and I took a guarantee that anyone who regularly offers them within their time, I shall admit him to Paradise, and anyone who does not offer them regularly, there is no such guarantee for him with Me.’ (Abu Dawood, vol. 1, p. 188, Hadees 1397)
Sins are Washed Away due to Salah
The Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: ‘If there was a lake in the courtyard of anyone of you and you bathed in it five times a day, would any dirt remain on you?’ The people replied, ‘no.’ He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, ‘Salah washes away sins like water washes away dirt.’ (Ibn-e-Majah, vol. 2, p. 165, Hadees 1397)
A Terrifying Hellish Well
Those who are neglectful of Salah should pay attention. There is a valley in Hell called Ghayy. It has the most severe heat and depth. In this valley, there is a terrifying well named Hab Hab. Whenever the fire of Hell gets to a point when it is nearly extinguished, Allah Almighty opens that well, causing it to flare up as usual. This well is for those who do not offer Salah, those who fornicate, those who drink alcohol, those who are usurers and those who bring pain to their parents. (Bahar-e-Shari’at, vol. 1, p. 434)
Why is it that People do not Offer Salah?
There are some people who do not offer all five Salahs, and there are some who miss out Fajr and Isha and offer the rest. Why is it that these people do not offer the five daily Salah? What obstacles do they face? Of the possible reasons, nine major obstacles and their solutions have briefly been presented below:
1. Nafs (man’s inner urge) and Satan
The Nafs is our hidden enemy, and Satan is our open enemy. Neither of them would ever want us to act upon the commandments of our merciful Lord and enter Paradise. Therefore, they try and tempt us in different ways to keep us away from offering Salah. If we wish to habitually offer Salah, we must face the Nafs and Satan according to the method prescribed by Shari’ah. (To learn more about the scheming of the Nafs and Satan, it would be beneficial to read Maktaba-tul-Madinah’s published translation of Ihya-ul-Uloom, vol 3.)
2. Not being able to wake up
This is the issue faced by most of those who miss Fajr Salah. This issue can be resolved if such people were to sleep soon after Isha and set an alarm to wake up or request someone who habitually offers Salah to awaken them for Fajr. When such people have to catch a train or a flight, arrangements are made to wake up in time, and they actually manage to do so too. If one’s intention is pure, the end goal becomes easy to accomplish. Nonetheless, keep in mind that you should get up immediately upon being awakened, otherwise, Satan will be successful in keeping you asleep. The Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has said: ‘When any of you goes asleep, Satan puts three knots at the back of his head. On every knot, he places the following [thoughts] inside the heart, ‘There is still a lot of night left, so stay asleep.’ So, when a person wakes up and performs the zikr of Allah Almighty, one knot is undone; when he performs ablution, the second knot is undone; and when he offers Salah, then the third knot is also undone, and he gets up energetic and happy in the morning; otherwise, he gets up with a sorrow heart and feeling lazy.’ (Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 387, Hadees 1142)
Speaking on the importance and obligation of Salah in a Mawlid gathering, after having presented the general reasons why people do not wake up for Fajr, Hafiz-e-Millat, Maulana Abdul Aziz رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه stated: ‘Imagine someone, who has stayed awake for many nights and is extremely tired, being offered a nice room with a fine comfortable bed to stay in. Upon being told to sleep in the room, that extremely tired individual is told that there is also a snake inside the room. Now tell me, would that extremely tired individual who has not slept for many nights manage to fall asleep in that comfortable room?’ Someone from the audience replied in the negative. Maulana Abdul Aziz رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه continued and said: ‘The reason for not being able to sleep would be the fear of the snake that is instilled in the heart of the person; the presence of the fear of the snake has caused the sleep to disappear. If fearing a snake can cause sleep to disappear, how is it possible for the fear of Allah to be inside the heart of a person and yet for him to fall asleep at the time of Salah?’ (Hayat Hafiz Millat, p. 230, summarised)
Some people miss Salah because of business and work-related commitments and family events. Some even go as far as saying, ‘Earning a halal sustenance is also an act of worship.’ Undoubtedly, seeking a halal sustenance for one’s needs and that of the family is an act of worship. However, how can seeking a halal sustenance be an obstacle to offering obligatory Salah? There is not a shortage of people who offer their five daily Salahs and also earn a halal sustenance. As for the people who miss Salah due to family gatherings, this is mere laziness. If the time of Salah falls during the course of a family event, it is possible to make arrangements for offering Salah with congregation in the Masjid. Otherwise, the commitment that prevents us from acting upon the commandments of Allah Almighty should be forsaken immediately.
Travelling is another reason for people neglecting Salah. Some of these people are those who offer Salah in normal circumstances but not when they are travelling. Thought should be given as to how we continue to eat, drink and sleep when travelling, but shortcomings are only found in relation to Salah. In the current climate where there are improved facilities available for those travelling, a little effort can prevent someone from missing their Salah. It is a case of there being many solutions for the one who wishes to offer Salah and there being many excuses for the one who does not wish to offer Salah. May Allah Almighty bless us with sound reasoning.
5. Clothes are dirty
This excuse is usually used by mechanics, turners and those who are in a profession that involves one’s clothes becoming smeared. It is a Madani request to the hardworking Islamic brothers in such professions to keep a clean pair of clothes with them; they should wear them when it is time for Salah and offer their Salah with congregation. Islamic brothers who are labourers usually go to work in clean clothes anyway and take their work clothes with them. In such a case, it is easy to get changed when it is time for Salah and offer it with congregation.
6. Long Hopes
Having long hopes proves to be an obstacle in performing good actions. People miss their Salah thinking that they have a long time to live, and that they will offer Salah in the latter stage of life, etc. These are all deceptions of Satan. In the past, there have been saints who would offer every Salah of theirs thinking that it is their last. When Sayyiduna Haatim Asam رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه was questioned about the state of his Salah, he replied, ‘When the time of Salah arrives, I perform Wudu well, come and sit at the place where Salah is to be offered and enter a state of calmness. I then stand up for Salah whilst visualising the Ka’bah in front of me, the Bridge of Siraat beneath my feet, Paradise on my right, Hell on my left and the angel of death behind me. Next, considering that Salah to be my last, I stand in a state of fear and hope, utter the Takbeer and recite the Quran calmly. Thereafter, I bow down with humility and prostrate submissively, and then sit on my left gluteal and position my right leg straight. I remain very mindful of sincerity throughout the Salah, but I still do not know whether this Salah has been accepted in the court of Allah Almighty or not.’ (Ihya-ul-Uloom, vol. 1, p. 206)
7. The Habit of Sinning
Indulging in the satanic pleasure of sins deprives a man from performing numerous good deeds. The hardening of the heart causes no good word to have an impact on such a person. Such an individual does not feel like offering Salah. Even if he happens to go to the Masjid, he feels restless; whereas, the example of a believer inside a Masjid is like that of a fish in water; for as long as the fish remains in the water, it remains alive. Likewise, for as long as a believer remains inside the Masjid, he continues to be spiritually nourished. On the Day of Judgement, the believing person whose heart was firmly attached to the Masjid will be under the shade of Allah Almighty’s throne. (Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 236, Hadees 660)
Nonetheless, such an individual [who habitually sins] should adopt the company of the pious. Instead of [waiting for] tomorrow, he should begin to offer his Salah immediately. If Allah wills, he will devote himself to offering Salah.
8. Not Knowing how to Offer Salah
Some poor folks do not know how to offer Salah because they never offered Salah nor learnt it. Even if they develop the mindset to offer Salah because of someone’s efforts, they do not ask anyone to teach them Salah out of embarrassment. Such people ought to know that Dawat-e-Islami offers various courses, amongst which there is also a Salah Course that is covered in seven days. Wudu, Ghusl and the method of Salah are taught in this course, and there is no age limit for the learners either. By participating in this course, [the method of] Salah can be learnt.
9. Wrong Preferences
Having wrong preferences is also an obstacle in performing Salah regularly. A wise Muslim gives preference to the Hereafter over this world. If we begin to prefer Salah over our sleep, socialising with friends, chit-chatting with our family and engaging in other matters, it will not be possible for us to even dare to miss a single Salah of ours.
O devotees of the Prophet, if you reflect, you will see that there are many other obstacles too. It is necessary upon us to address these obstacles for the betterment of this world and the Hereafter. May Allah Almighty make us a firm upon offering Salah regularly.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ النَّبِیِّ الْاَمِیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم