which is to have a heart that is present and reflective and to be steadfast in the prayer is one of the means of achieving Paradise. Allah Almighty says: Successful indeed are the believers. Those who have Khushu' in their Salat. And those who turn away from Al-Laghw (dirty, false, evil vain talk, falsehood, and all that AlIah has forbidden). And those who pay the Zakat, and those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts, from illegal sexual acts) except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then, they are free from blame. But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors. Those who are faithfully true to their trusts and to their covenants; And those who strictly guard their Salawat (prayers). These are indeed the inheritors; who shall inherit the Firdaws (Paradise). They shall dwell therein forever. (Surah Al-Mu’minun 23: 1:11)
Sincerity to Allah in prayer, and performing it according to the way it came to us in the Sunnah - these are the two fundamental conditions for one's prayer to be accepted. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said:
Indeed deeds are by intentions, and for each one is that which he intended. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
And he (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said:
Pray as you have seen me praying. (*)
There are many great virtues of performing prayer in congregation in the mosque; furthermore, doing so is compulsory. Ibn 'Umar, (Radhi Allahu Anhuma) related that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said:
The congregational prayer is superior to the individual prayer by twenty-seven degrees. (Agreed upon)
On one occasion, according to the agreed upon Hadith, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) intended to burn the houses of men who remained behind instead of going to pray in congregation. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said:
Whoever hears the call (to prayer) but doesn't come, then there is no prayer for him, unless he has an excuse. (It was recorded by Ibn Majah, Ad-Daraqutni, ibn Hibban, and Al¬-Hakim with an authentic chain of narration.)
This Hadith indicates the elevated status of congregational prayer in Islam.
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) ordered the one who did not have tranquility in his prayer to repeat it.
The congregational prayer is a manifestation of equality, brother¬hood, and organization: All Muslims turn toward the direction of the Sacred Ka'bah when they pray.
Whenever the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) faced a difficult matter, he would hasten to prayer. Allah Almighty says:
Seek help in patience and As-Sa/at (the prayer) (Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 153)
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) used to say to Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu):
“O Bilal, give us comfort by it. (*2)
When praying, one is sure to find comfort and peace in his heart, body, and soul, for He is standing before His Lord, Protector, and Guardian. The Ruling Regarding Those Who Abandon The Prayer
A great evil is perpetrated by many of those who claim to be Muslims when they abandon the prayer, for abandoning the prayer is disbelief.
In an authentic Hadith, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said:
Between the man and disbelief or Shirk is abandoning the prayer.
He (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) also said:
The covenant between us and them is the prayer; whoever leaves it has indeed disbelieved.
Because the prayer is the support for Islam, and because there is no religion of Islam for the person who abandons it, the one who abandons the prayer most likely has abandoned all other religious ! duties as well. Abandoning the prayer is one of the actions that lead to entering the Hellfire; Allah Almighty says about the wrongdoers:
''What has caused you to enter Hell?" They will say: "We were not of those who used to offer their Salat." (Surah Al-Muddaththir 74:42-43)
Allah Almighty says:
And perform As-Salat and be not of the polytheists. (Surah Ar-Rum 30:31)
And Allah Almighty says:
And to perform As-Salat, and to be obedient to Allah, and fear Him, and it is He to Whom you shall be gathered.(Surah Al-An’am 6: 72)
But if they repent, perform As-Sa/at and give Zakat, then they are your brethren in religion.(Surah At-Taubah 9: 11)
Establishing the prayer, then, is made as a condition for repentance to be accepted and for entering Islam. Allah Almighty says:
Woe that Day to the deniers (of the Day of Resurrection)! And when it is said to them: "Bow down yourself (in prayer)!" They bow not down.( Surah Al-Mursalat 77:47-48)
The scholars from both early and later generations agree that the punishment for the one who persists in not praying is death; the verses and Hadiths that indicate the disbelief of one who abandons the prayer are indeed many.
In our time, it has become very common for one to pray the Fajr prayer after the sun has risen - and we seek protection with Allah. One way to forsake the prayer is to not pray in congregation, even though one is able to do so. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said:
Whoever hears the call to prayer but does not answer it, then there is no prayer for him.
He (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) also said:
There is no prayer for the neighbor of the Masjid except in the Masjid.
The neighbor of the Masjid is one who hears the call to prayer. In yet another Hadith, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said:
Whoever hears the call (to prayer), but doesn't answer it, on the Day of Judgement, molten lead will be poured into his ears.
The only person who remains behind, not performing prayer in congregation is the hypocrite, just as Ibn Mas'ud said.
Another way to be neglectful in prayer is to pray in a hasty manner - praying quickly, preceding the Imam from one part of the prayer to the next, or bowing and prostrating for such a short period of time that calmness is not achieved. This is the state of the one who tries to precede the Imam: he is neither praying alone nor following his Imam, and his forelocks are in the hands of the Shaitan. This hastiness prevents one from having a wakeful heart during prayer, and having a wakeful heart is the fruit and soul of prayer without which the prayer is not accepted. Rather it (i.e., the prayer) is coiled like an old garment, and with it the face of the one who prayed without a wakeful heart is struck. It says, "May Allah ruin you as you have ruined me." Such has been narrated in authentic Ahadith.
As for the conditions and pillars of prayer, we will discuss them in detail in ensuing chapters. Insha Allah *This section was taken from Risalaat As-Salah by Shaikh Muhammad bin Salih Al-‘Uthaimin. *2 That was because he was he one who called the call to prayer.