Monotheism, Righteousness, and Prayer

undertans-quran-monotheism-islam

By Syed Ubaidullah Hussainy

In the name of Allah swat, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Quranic messages to mankind through the prophets of Islam

It is Allah (swt), who provides guidance (hidayat) to mankind by His revelations through the prophets, as He did with all the prophets from Nuh (as) to the last of the prophets, Mohammed (sas). As Allah says, Certainly in the Messenger of Allah you have an excellent example for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much. [Quran, 33; 21]

Addressing Mohammed (sas), Allah (swt) says, “O Mohammed, We have sent revelations to you just as to Nuh and the prophets who came after him . . .” [Quran, 4; 163]. All the rasools conveyed the message of Islam; they also conveyed the good news as well as the warning to non-believers of the wrath of Allah (swt).

As Allah (swt) says, We have revealed to you the book (the Quran) so that you (Prophet Mohammed), may clearly explain (to them the reality of those things in which they differ) its guidance and blessing for the people who believe. [Quran, 16; 64]

He also testifies in another verse, But Allah bears witness to that which He has revealed to you. He has sent it down with His knowledge, and the angels bear witness [as well]. And sufficient is Allah as Witness. [Quran, 4; 166]   Allah (swat) also reminds us: Surely, We have revealed this reminder (Quran); and We will surely preserve it Our self. [Quran, 15: 9]

Prophets of Islam from Nuh (as) to Mohammed (sas)

Nuh (as) preached Islam for 85 years. He told his people, O my people! Indeed, I am a clear warner to you. Worship Allah, fear Him and obey me. [Quran, 71; 2-3]. Nuh (as) also pleaded, O my people! Worship Allah, you have no god except Him; Indeed I fear for you the punishment of a Great Day. [Quran, 6: 59].

Allah (swt) spoke to Musa (as) on Mount Sanai and said, We revealed Our will to Musa and his brother, saying: ‘Take your people to dwell in Egypt (for worship) and establish Salah and give good news to the believer.’ [Quran, 10; 87]. Musa (as) conveyed to his people, O my people! If you believe in Allah, then put your trust in Him, if you are really Muslims. [Quran, 10; 84]

T0 Isa (as), the son of Maryam, said, O Children of Israel! Indeed, I am the Messenger of Allah to you, confirming that which was (revealed) before (Torah) and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmed. But when came to them with clear evidences they said it is an obvious magic. [Quran, 61; 6]

Allah (swt) encourages Prophet Mohammed (sas), to Strive in the way of Allah as you ought to strive with sincerity and discipline; He has chosen you and has not laid upon you any hardship in the observance of your faith– the faith of you father Ibrahim. He named you Muslims before in previous scriptures and in this (Quran), so that His Rasool may testify against you, and you yourselves may against the rest of mankind. Therefore establish Salah and pay Zakah and hold fast to Allah, who is your protector and what a splendid supporter. [Quran, 22; 78]

He solved the problem of communication between the prophet and the ummah by selecting them from among a community that spoke the same language. As Allah (swt) says,   And We did not send any Messenger except (speaking) in the language of his people so that he might make (the Message) clear for them. [Quran, 14; 4].

Regarding protecting the Quran, Allah (swt) says, Indeed, We have sent down the reminder (the Quran), and indeed, We are its Guardian. [Quran, 15; 9].

Allah (swt) describes the verses of the Quran as, Some as decisive, they are the foundations of the Book while others are allegorical. Those whose hearts are infected follow the allegorical part to mislead others and to give their own interpretation, seeking for its hidden meaning, but no one knows its hidden meaning except Allah. [Quran, 3; 7]

In another verse, He added, Indeed, We revealed to you the Quran progressively in Arabic and clearly proclaimed it some of the warnings, so that they may take heed or that it may serve as a reminder to them. [Quran, 20; 113].

Addressing our prophet, He states, And this is the blessed Book, (Al -Quran) which We have revealed, confirming what was before it, so that you O Mohammed, may warn the mother of the cities (Makkah) and those around it. Those who believe in the Hereafter will believe in this (book), and steadfast in taking care of their salah. [Quran, 6; 92]

One of the many attributes of the Quran as Allah (swt) says, And We revealed of the Quran that which is a healing and a mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss. [Quran, 17; 82).

He also explains, “And We have divided the Quran so that you might recite it to people at intervals. And We have revealed it in stages” [Quran, 17; 106].   He also stresses that “those who have been given knowledge may realise that this (Quran) is the truth from your Rabb and thus believe in it and humble their hearts toward Him, and indeed, Allah will Guide the believers, to the Right Way” [Quran, 22; 54].

Prophet Mohammed (sas), in one of his hadiths elaborates and explains by saying “behold O people! The Quran does not contradict itself. Rather it testifies the truth to itself. Therefore whatever of it you have knowledge of it, then implement it and whatever you do not know of it, then refer it to those who have knowledge of it” (Ahmed 2:181).

Surah Fatiha and its benefits

Referring to Surah Al-Fatiha, Allah (swt) says “We have given you the Seven Verses that are worthy of recitation over and over again and the Glorious Qur’an” [Quran, 15; 87]. These verses are a kind of mission statement by which we live by, and the Quran is like our business plan.

When we observe closely, the life of our prophet (sas) appears to have been the implementation of the “business plan in action”. In Quran, 48; 29, Allah (swt) describes a part of the implementation of the business plan relating to Ibadah, as He says, “Muhammad, the Rasool of Allah, and those with him are strong against the unbelievers, and kind to each other among themselves. When you see them making rakuh and sajud, seeking the bounty from Allah and (His) pleasure, they have the mark of Sajud on their foreheads, the traces of their prostration” [Quran, 48; 29].

Addressing the muttaqeen Allah (swt) reiterates,“Your real protecting friends are Allah, His Rasool, and the fellow believers, the ones who establish Salah, pay Zakah and bow down humbly before Allah (swt) [Quran, 5; 55].

Prayer (Ibadah) a part of Islamic Monotheism

Salah is one the basic pillars of Islam, and as mentioned earlier it is the one that distinguishes a believer from a non-believer. Salah is obligatory on the believers, and as Allah (swt) has promised there is a great reward and forgiveness for those who believe and do righteous deeds.

He addresses the momeneen as “You are the best nation which has ever been raised for the guidance of mankind. You enjoin good, forbid evil, and believe in Allah” [Quran, 3; 110], and He further instructs the saleheen to recite what has been revealed in the Quran and establish prayer. “Indeed, prayer prevents from immorality and evil deeds, and surely the remembrance of Allah is greatest, and Allah knows what you do” [Quran, 29; 45].

And to safeguard from the satanic influence He advises, “So when you recite the Quran, seek refuge in Allah from Shaitaan, the accursed” [Quran, 16; 98].   And He also advises to seek help throughPatience and Salah. He says “O you who believe! Seek help through Patience and Prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient ones” [Quran, 2; 153].

Ibadah together with righteousness makes Islam the infallible true religion. As Allah (swt) says, “yet, they were commanded nothing but to worship Allah, with their sincere devotion to Him, being true in their faith to establish Salah and to pay Zakah and it is the infallible true Religion” [Quran, 98; 5].

Righteousness and Tahara, as pre-requisites for Prayers (Salah)

Righteousness (Taqwa)and Tahara (cleanliness) are the prerequisites for Salah; they are His blessing as he says; “O Children of Adam! We have bestowed upon you clothing to cover your shame and as an adornment. And the clothing of righteousness – that is the best. That is from the Signs of Allah so that they may remember”[Quran, 7; 26].

The importance of Tahara (cleanliness) has been emphasised at various verses of the Quran.   Allah (Swt) also provides a detailed procedure, rather a prescription in Quran, 5; Ayaat 6, for the performing the ablution before Salah, irrespective of the situation one is faced with.

Allah does not intend to make any difficulty for mankind, but He intends to purify the body and mind to complete His Favours. He also instructs mankind, the dress code when one enters the masajids of Allah. As He says! “O children of Adam! Put on your adornment (proper and decent attire) when you attend your masjid at the time of every prayer.” [Quran, 7; 31]

Prayer timing as provided in Quran

Allah (swt) provides the detailed timings for the five prescribed obligatory prayers in the various verses of the Holy Quran. In one such verse Allah (swt) instructs, “And establish the prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, the good deeds remove the evil deeds. That is a reminder for those who remember” [Quran, 11; 114].

Referring to the specific Salah times during the day, Allah (swt) says in another verse, “Establish Salah from the decline of the sun till the darkness of the night (Zuhr, Asar, Maghreb, and Isha) and read the Quran at Fajr (dawn): for the reading the Quran at Fajr is witnessed (by the angels),” [Quran, 17; 78].

He also advises to “Guard strictly the prayers, (prescribed obligatory five prayers), and (especially) the middle prayer (Asar prayer), and stand up before Allah devoutly obedient” [Quran, 2; 238]. He further advises, O you who believe! Bow and prostrate yourselves and worship your Rabb and do good deeds so that you may attain salvation” [Quran, 22; 77].

And, He continues, “Recite from this book (the Quran) which has been revealed to you and establish prayer (Salah); Surely prayer (Salah) keeps one away from shameful and evil deeds; and certainly the remembrance of Allah is the greatest indeed, and Allah knows what you do”[Quran, 29; 45].

Special status of Friday Prayers

In addition to the daily obligatory prayers, Allah (swt) has granted a special status for the Friday prayers, and as He instructs “O you who believe! When the call is made for the prayer on Friday, then hasten to the remembrance of Allah and leave the business that is better for you, if you only knew” [Quran, 62; 9-10].

He continues further that, “when the prayer has concluded, disperse in the land and seek from the Bounty of Allah, and remember Allah much so that you may be successful.” He stresses the importance of salah and Zikr in Quran, 2; Ayaat 200, “Then when you complete your acts of worship (obligatory prayers), remember Allah as you remember your forefathers or (rather) with greater reverence, and remembrance”. Allah (swt) has promised in the Holy Quran “We (Allah (swt)) do not burden any soul except to its capacity” [Quran, 6; 152].

Tahajjud as obligatory prayers

The additional optional prayers of Tahajjud were obligatory on our Prophet (sas), and addressing him Allah (swt) says, “During a part of the night, pray Tahajjud, an additional prayer for you (O Mohammed), very soon your Rabb may exalt you to Maqam-e- Mahmood (a station of great glory)” [Quran, 17; 79].

Allah (Swt) subsequently abrogated this injunction and made it an optional prayer to the muttaqeen.Allah (swt) follows it up in Quran, 2; Ayaat 106; “Whatever we abrogate of a sign (verses from the Holy Quran) or cause it to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it. Do you not know that Allah has power over everything?”

According to an authentic hadith regarding Tahajjud prayers, When one third of the night remains, Allah (swt) Most High, Most Exalted, descends to the first sky and announces, ”Who is there to beseech Me that I may answer his prayer and who is there to seek forgiveness that I may forgive him ” (Muslim). Allah (swt) advises the muttaqeen O you believe! Have Taqwa of Allah as is His due, and die not except as (true) Muslims [Quran, 3; 102].

Other optional prayers include Tarawey during the month of Ramadan including on Lailatul – Qadr, the prayers on Eid-ul-fitr, Eid-ul-Adha, and some during each day before and after the obligatory prayers.

Contingency provisions for prayers in unusual situations

Situations change from time to time and one may not be able to perform salah in the traditional prescriptive manner during such unfavourable situations. Allah (swt) the Rahman and Raheem has provided contingency measures for the performance of Salah to suit such emergencies.

One such concession may be, when and “And if you fear [an enemy, then pray], on foot or riding. But when you are secure, then remember Allah [in prayer], as He has taught you that which you did not [previously] know.” [Quran, 2; 239].

And for the sick and the ones on journey, He says, “So recite what is easy of the Quran. He Knows that there may be some sick people among you, and some others who travel through the land to seek Allah’s bounty; and yet some others fighting for the cause of Allah. Therefore read as much as of the Quran as you easily can. Establish the Salah and pay Zakah and to Allah, a goodly loan. Whatever good you will send before you for yourselves, you will find it with Allah, which is much better and a greater reward” [Quran, 73; 20].

Allah (swt) also grants some privileges in situations like war, sickness, and inhospitable weather conditions. Allah (swt) describes that, ‘When you travel in the earth there is no blame on you if you shorten your prayers, especially when you fear that the unbelievers may attack you, since the unbelievers are open enemies. And instructs: When you, O Mohammed, are with them, leading their Salah (in the state of war), let one party of them stand up to pray with you, and armed with weapons. After finish the prostrations, let them withdraw to the rear and let other party who have not yet prayed come forward to pray with you: and let them also be on their guard, armed with their weapons. However, there is no blame on you if you lay aside your arms because of rain or because you are sick but you should still be on your guard. When you finish your Salah, remember Allah whether you are standing, sitting or reclining; and then as soon as you are safe (out of danger) establish regular Salah in full. Surely, Salahs are made obligatory for the believers at prescribed times” [Quran, 4; 102 and 103]. Again in Quran, 3; Ayaat 191, Allah (swt) affirms that “Those who remember Allah while standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and meditate on the creation of the heavens and the earth, then say “Our Rabb! You have not created this in vain, Glory to you! Save us from the fire of Hell”.

Prophet Mohammed (sas), also endorses the importance of performing the obligatory Salah at the prescribed times and recommends in one of his hadith that if and when, one is sick and physically unable to perform salah in the prescribed traditional manner, i.e. Rakuh and Sajud etc. One should perform the Salah either sitting or even lying on bed depending on the ability of the individual to fulfil the obligation.

Shifting of the Qibla from Jerusalem to Masjid-ul-Haram

During the early period of his Risalah, the Prophets and the companions during salah used to face the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. At a later stage due to Quranic injunction it was changed to Kabah (Al Masjid- ul- Haram) in Makkah. This change in direction and practise will continue until the Judgement day, irrespective of where ever we are on the face of the earth.

As Allah (swt) says; And from wherever you come forth, turn your face during salah towards the Al-Masjid al-Haram; and where ever you are, face towards it, so that people do not have argument against you, except those amongst them, who are wrong doers. Do not fear them; fear Me, so that I may perfect My favours to you and that you may be rightly guided” [Quran, 2; 150].

According to an authentic Hadith, Prophet Mohammed (sas) during the illness leading to his last breath continued advising his companions “(Protect) the prayer, (Protect) the prayer, and (those slaves) whom your hand possess” [An-Nasaai in Al-Kubra 4:258], this reflects the commitment and regard the Prophet (sas) had for Salah.

Finally may I submit, “Our Rabb? Do not punish us if we forget or make mistake. Our Rabb! Do not place on us a burden as you placed on those before us. Our Rabb! Lay not us the kind of burden that we have no strength to bear. Pardon us. Have mercy on us. You are our Protector, help us against the unbelievers” [Quran, 2; 286]. O Allah! Grant us the paradise, “The example of Paradise, which the righteous have been promised” [Quran, 13; 35] Ameen.

References

  1. The translation of the Quranic verses are according  to  the English translation of the meaning of Al-Qur’an by Mohammad Farooq-i-Azam Malik (1997), and
  2. The indexing system was accessed from the electronic version (Version 4) of the Holy Quran by Shatiry, which provides a comprehensive indexing programmer.

Syed Ubaidullah Hussainy is Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Sustainability and Innovation, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia

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