Undoubtedly, the benefits found within prayer are unparalleled by any other form of worship. Every sentence, word, and letter of the prayer is filled with insightful and instructive points. The effect it instills in the one who prays and the benefits that accrue to them are evident to all. Through prayer, the believer’s faith and perception become divine; their life, and even their death, turn Allahly. Indeed, the very essence of the worshipper’s body and soul becomes sanctified and apparent. Although the impacts and advantages of prayer are visible in every aspect of the devotee’s life, some repercussions extend to the life beyond death. In other words, the lasting effects of prayer can be divided into two categories. One pertains to the benefits reaped in this world, while the other relates to the hereafter. However, given the significance of the latter, we first analyze and examine the spiritual and otherworldly effects under the title “Metaphysical and Eschatological Impacts,” before turning our attention to its worldly outcomes.
Prayer is among the religious obligations that is mandated in all circumstances. It is not solely prescribed in Islamic jurisprudence but has also been enjoined in other religious codes. All divine prophets have emphasized the importance of prayer and have enjoined their followers towards it. Prayer stands as the most intimate means for humans to communicate with Allah; it is a space for dialogue, a domain for expressing needs, and a realm to witness His divine manifestations deep within one’s heart. At its core, prayer radiates moral edification. While the illuminating effects of prayer upon the soul are described as the primary source of the believers’ spiritual enlightenment, prayer is also recognized for its power to purify the general soul of humanity. Indeed, prayer is seen as a deterrent from sin and transgressions, and a concealer of faults and mistakes. We continuously need such a steadfast anchor, especially when faced with looming dangers or when navigating arenas rife with potential pitfalls. The Qur’an recognizes those who pray as balanced individuals, walking the path of compassion and duty.
Remembering Allah is the most effective tool for self-restraint and for controlling our unrestrained desires, preventing a rebellious spirit. A person in prayer is perpetually in Allah’s remembrance, the deity who is acutely aware of all our minor and major deeds, and fully informed about our innermost thoughts and feelings. The minimum effect of Allah’s remembrance is that it instills balance in one’s ego and desires. In contrast, negligence of Allah’s remembrance leads to the dimming of intellect and wisdom. A person oblivious to Allah often neglects to reflect upon the consequences of their actions, recognizing no boundaries in satisfying their untamed desires. It is prayer that reminds one of Allah five times daily, clearing away the darkness of heedlessness from their soul. Truly, for an individual where desires firmly govern their essence, the most effective way to control these desires and wants is to remember Allah, the consequences of wrongdoings, and the precise and infallible accounting. From this perspective, the Qur’an introduces one of the secrets of prayer as Allah’s remembrance: “Establish the prayer for My remembrance.”
Spiritual and Eschatological Effects and Benefits of Prayer
1. The spiritual benefits
The spiritual benefits are closely intertwined with the eschatological benefits. Firstly, they are inseparable, and secondly, spiritual benefits significantly influence one’s fate in the hereafter. Therefore, they have been combined and discussed under a single topic. Those who establish their prayers, give zakat (alms), and have faith in Allah and the Day of Judgment will soon be granted immense rewards by Allah.
2. Forgiveness of Sins
Individuals who pray are encompassed by Allah’s mercy and forgiveness. O Prophet, tell My servants who have been excessive in their wrongdoings to never lose hope in Allah’s mercy. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins if one repents; He is most forgiving and merciful. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) has said, “For one who moves towards the mosque, with each step, the Almighty grants ten rewards, forgives ten sins, and elevates their status by ten degrees.” On the other hand, those who pray also seek Allah’s forgiveness and mercy during their prayers.
3. The Key to Paradise
Worship leads to rewards in the hereafter, and paradise is one of them. Prayer is the price of paradise, or in other words, attaining paradise is dependent on prayer. Every door has a key, and the key to paradise is prayer. As Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has stated, no one who neglects prayer can enter paradise.
Salvation is one of the results of prayer. Allah declares in the Qur’an that those who believe are truly saved, those who are humble in their prayers.
5. Answered Duaa
Prayer serves as a means to fulfill human needs. Prayer teaches the method and manner of making supplications, as prayer itself is a plea or the supplications recited during Qunoot. On the other hand, prayer ensures that supplications are answered. Allah says, “Call upon Me, and I will answer you” and “I respond to the call of the caller when he calls upon Me.” The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) has said that the prayer of one who remembers Allah abundantly is accepted. There are three individuals whose Duaa are never rejected: one who often remembers Allah, the oppressed, and the just leader.
6. Friendship with Allah
Prayer translates to “Salwah”, derived from the root word ‘Sillah’, meaning bond or connection. Through these acts, humans establish a connection with their omnipotent creator. Prayer is a dialogue with Allah and the key to connection with the Origin. Those who pray are among the pious, and the pious are friends of Allah. “Be pious, for Allah is with the pious.” As Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stated, Allah says that as long as my servant remembers Me and their lips move with My name, I am with them.
7. Avoidance of Corruption
Prayer keeps a person away from obscenities and wrongdoings. It is the weapon of those who pray in the battlefield against their base desires. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) has stated in a Hadith that Allah has an angel who calls out during the prayer, “O humans, rise and extinguish the fires that you have ignited upon yourselves through prayer.” Prayer not only prevents sins but also purifies the darkness and blemishes that tarnish the soul and spirit of a person due to sin, materialism, and desire. With the shining sun and the clear spring of prayer, they become pure and pristine.
8. Distancing from Arrogance
Prayer serves as a remedy for arrogance. It is the cure for the conceited, the vain, and the selfish. Prayer rekindles the spirit of humility and servitude within us, making us submissive and devoted.
9. Liberation from Worldly Attachments
Prayer awakens the hearts that have become heedless of Allah’s remembrance. It serves as a warning to those who forget the purpose of their creation and become engrossed in the materialistic life and fleeting pleasures. Through prayer, an individual finds ease and a genuine desire to detach from the worldly life. For a few moments, prayer takes us away from this world and journeys us to another realm. There’s a narration that during the Battle of Siffin, an arrow pierced the blessed foot of Imam Ali (peace be upon him). Under normal circumstances, it would have been immensely painful to remove it. However, it was advised to wait until he stood for prayer, as during his prayers, he would be so engrossed that he wouldn’t feel the pain. Following this advice, the arrow was removed during his prayer. After completing his prayer, Imam Ali noticed the blood flowing from his foot and inquired about what had transpired, emphasizing the profound presence of heart during prayers which allows an individual to forget even their own existence and become wholly immersed.
10. Spiritual Refreshment
The call to prayer, or Adhan, invigorates the true worshippers and lovers of Allah, as it heralds the moment of divine communion. The close companions of Allah, or Auliya, eagerly await the time for prayer. This is why Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once said to Bilal, “O Bilal! Relieve us from our distress and sorrow.”
The Afterlife Effects of Prayer
Prayer is a divine gift described as the key to ultimate success, “حی علی الفلاح”, the finest act, “حی علی خیر العمل”, and the pillar of the religion’s tent, “الصلوه عمود الدین”. Prayer acts as a spiritual ascent towards the pinnacle of humanity, “الصلوه معراج المؤمن”. Through it, spiritual elevation, acquisition of moral virtues, and salvation from corruption, and decay are achieved. It offers the wearer of this divine armor a badge of servitude, accessible to anyone who sincerely fulfills the requirements of this momentous act. When an individual engages sincerely in this form of worship, profound individual, societal, worldly, and afterlife effects follow.
Effects of Prayer in Divine Verses
1. Allah’s Remembrance of His Servant
In Surah Taha, Allah states: “اقم الصلوه لذکری”, which means that prayer is a commemoration and remembrance of Allah. Interpreting this verse alongside “فاذکرونی اذکُرکم”, it infers that when a servant remembers Allah, Allah, in turn, remembers the servant. Scholars, when commenting on “فاذکرونی اذکرکم”, suggest various interpretations of Allah’s remembrance:
A. Remember Me in the “world”, and I will remember you in the “hereafter”.
B. Remember Me through “prayers”, and I will remember you by accepting them. This acceptance can manifest in this world, the interim realm, or the day of judgment.
C. Remember Me during times of abundance, and I will remember you in times of hardship. This hardship can be universal.
2. Attainment of the Pinnacle of Intercession
In the Surah Isra, Allah addresses the cherished existence of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, saying: “And in some parts of the night, keep vigil and offer additional prayers, a duty exclusively for you. Perhaps your Lord will elevate you to a praiseworthy station.” The interpretation is that one might be appointed to the ‘Maqam Mahmood’ (Praiseworthy Station) which signifies the grand intercession. Narrations from both Sunni and Shia traditions, in context of this verse, interpret the ‘Maqam Mahmood’ as the Grand Intercessory Position, in which the Prophet, peace be upon him, will stand on the Day of Judgment.
3. Receiving Divine Rewards and Achieving Complete Tranquility
In Surah Al-Baqarah, The Almighty says: “Indeed, those who believe, perform good deeds, establish prayer, and give alms will have their reward with their Lord. They will have no fear, nor will they grieve.” In the light of faith and righteous deeds, including performing Salah, they become deserving of two rewards:
Receiving a reward (their recompense…)
Enjoying complete tranquility (with no fear…) accompanied by the absence of any distress or sorrow.
Effects of Salah in the Intermediate World (Barzakh):
1. Warding off the Terrors of the Grave
The Prophet, peace be upon him, has said, “The prayer will come to the deceased in his grave in the form of a luminous individual, comforting him in his grave and warding off the terrors of the Barzakh.” The Salah appears in the form of a radiant-faced person, entering the deceased’s grave, providing solace, and removing the fears of the intermediate realm.
2. A Source of Companionship in the Grave
The Prophet, peace be upon him, stated: “Salah serves as a companion in one’s grave, a cushion beneath one, and an answer for Munkar and Nakir (the interrogating angels in the grave).”
3. Angel’s Visitation of Humans in Their Graves
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, has said: “Whoever sets forth with the intention of joining the congregational prayer and takes steps towards the mosque, the Almighty Allah, for every step he takes, rewards him with seventy thousand good deeds. In the same measure, his rank is elevated. If such a person dies in this state, the Almighty appoints seventy thousand angels to visit him in his grave. They offer him glad tidings, comfort him in the solitude of his grave, and seek forgiveness for him until the Day of Resurrection.”
4. Salvation from the Terror of the Grave
Imam Baqir, peace be upon him, stated: “Whoever perfects his bowing in prayer will never experience the terror of the grave.” This implies that a sincere and complete act of bowing during the prayer protects one from the dread of the afterlife.
Impact of Prayer on Judgment Day
1- Acceptance of Other Deeds Under the Shadow of Prayer
Imam Ali (peace be upon him) states in Nahj al-Balagha: “Every deed of yours follows your prayer” . Therefore, the ascension of other deeds is facilitated in the shadow of prayer. “If [your prayer] is accepted, everything else is accepted, and if [your prayer] is rejected, everything else is rejected” .
2- Prayer as Provision for the Hereafter
The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) says: “Prayer is the provision for the believer from this world to the hereafter” .
3. Agent of Entry into Paradise
Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) declares: “Indeed, your benevolent Lord values even the smallest act. Surely, if a person sincerely performs two Rakats of prayer for Allah, the Lord will admit him into paradise due to that prayer” .
4- Exemption from Punishment and Unreckoned Entry into Paradise
The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) shares: “Allah the Almighty says: ‘I have a covenant with My servant that if he establishes the prayer in its due time, I will not punish him and will admit him to Paradise without reckoning’” . Another hadith states: “Whoever performs his prayers in congregation for forty days, such that he does not miss the first Takbir, will be written free from the Fire and free from hypocrisy” .
5- Adornment of the Hereafter
Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) reports: “Indeed, Allah the Almighty says: ‘Wealth and children are the adornment of the worldly life, but the eight Rakats that a servant prays at night are the adornment of the Hereafter’” .
6- The Hypocritical Worshiper Heading Towards the Fire
Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) narrates: When the Day of Resurrection comes, a servant who was a person of prayer is brought forth, who claims thus; they will say to him, ‘You prayed so that you would be praised. So, angels are ordered to take him towards the Fire’ .
7- Not Meeting the Prophet of Allah at the Pond of Kawthar
The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) states: “He who takes his prayer lightly is not of me. By Allah, he will not meet me at the pond [Kawthar]” .
8- Falling into the Fire
Imam Ali (peace be upon him), in Nahj al-Balagha, responding to the doomed who were asked why they were led into the Fire, states: “They say: ‘We were not of those who prayed’” .
9- Gathering with Qarun, Pharaoh, and Haman
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) has stated, “Do not neglect your prayers, for indeed, whoever neglects their prayer, Allah Almighty will resurrect them with Qarun, Pharaoh, and Haman – may Allah curse and disgrace them – and it is indeed Allah’s obligation to admit them to Hell along with the hypocrites. Woe to those who are not vigilant about their prayers!”
10- Deprivation of Intercession
The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Whoever deliberately forsakes their prayer, their name will be written among the damned at the gates of Hell.”
Various other abundant effects have been alluded to in narrations regarding prayers, or falling short in regard to prayers, and we briefly mention them:
– The grave becomes a paradise, akin to a garden from the gardens of Heaven, in the shadow of performing the night prayers.
– Meeting with the Almighty as a result of preserving the five daily prayers.
– Becoming distanced from the protection of Allah and His Messenger when deliberately abandoning the prayer.
– The body becomes forbidden to fire as one steps towards the Friday prayer.
– The testimony of a piece of land upon which one has prostrated and placed their forehead upon the soil.
– The prayer being a permit to cross the Sirat (bridge to Heaven).
Worldly Effects and Benefits
Although the impacts that have a worldly aspect are undoubtedly inseparable from the first category (spiritual and hereafter effects), they still exhibit their tangible and immediate influence in this world and are significant in improving individual and social life. Here, we briefly discuss a few of them:
1- Establishing a Reliable Support
Prayer is the greatest and sturdiest pillar that rescues us from perplexity, indecisiveness, nihilism, and apathy, guiding and leading us in this infinite existence. Prayer provides human support in life crises, sorrows, and problems, as it imparts the power of faith, management, and patience to an individual and rescues them from despair.
2- Tranquility of Heart
Prayer is the remembrance of Allah, and Allah’s remembrance is the tranquilizer of hearts: “Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest” (Qur’an 13:28). The tranquility that is vital for sustaining life and maintaining vitality and liveliness is bound to it.
Venerating Allah follows human dignity. On the other hand, venerating anything other than Allah (other humans, animals, idols, etc.) results in human abasement and humiliation. The one who venerates Allah never bends to the sinister powers and pseudo-tyrants; they never yield under the dominion of oppressive and tyrannical rulers. This self-esteem is one of the miracles of prayer. The Prophet (PBUH) has said, “He whose governance the oppressors accept, his prayer is not accepted.”
Prayer is a unifying factor. “Observe the prayer, give zakat, and bow down with those who bow down” (Qur’an 2:83). The benefits of unity and its consequences in Muslim societies are apparent to everyone. This unity and solidarity are most manifest in congregational prayers and especially in Friday prayers. Belief in the one Allah and the beloved Prophet (PBUH), having a common Qibla, sharing the Quran and heavenly book, a common language and worship, etc., have created an indestructible unity and bond that can form an impenetrable barrier against all enemies of Islam and Muslims.
5- Order and Discipline
Prayer brings about order and discipline, as observing order and discipline is a prerequisite for prayer and this order gradually becomes entrenched in everyday life and affairs. Prayer time organizes life. In numerous verses and narrations, humans are instructed to perform their prayers at the beginning of their prescribed times. Early time prayers have a special timeliness, and observing them instills order: perform such a prayer in its time as if it were the last. Observing sequence in prayer teaches us that every action should take place in its own time and place.
6- Cleanliness and Purity
Prayer necessitates cleanliness, both for its spiritual and practical aspects.
Without observing purity, prayer is not valid.
It emphasizes the importance of maintaining cleanliness not only physically but also spiritually.
7- Respecting the Rights of Others
Clothes, place, and water used for ablution must be rightfully owned and not usurped.
Ensuring the permissibility of these factors symbolizes respecting others’ rights.
Infringement upon others’ rights invalidates the prayer.
8- Respecting Parents
Praying individuals show respect and appreciation to their parents.
Imam Sadiq emphasized not looking at parents with anger, as it might affect the acceptability of prayers, even if parents have been unjust.
9- Observing Islamic Dress
Appropriate Islamic covering is a prerequisite for prayer.
Lack of proper covering not only invalidates the prayer but also contributes to societal issues.
10- Strengthening the Family Foundation
Prayer solidifies the family foundation by fostering a Qur’anic and religious morality.
The Prophet Muhammad highlighted that prayer might not be accepted if a spouse is displeased.
11- Familiarity with Political and Social Issues
Another effect of prayer is gaining awareness of global issues, especially through Friday prayer sermons.
Imam Khomeini emphasized that Islam intertwines religion and politics and emphasized understanding current socio-political needs through congregational prayers.
12- Psychological Tranquility
In prayer, humans stand humbly before Allah, which provides spiritual strength and induces mental tranquility.
This mental calmness counters the neurotic tensions arising from life’s pressures, as supported by Dr. Thomas Haslop, emphasizing prayer’s potency in creating mental calmness.
Secrets and Worldly Effects of Prayer
1- Securing Strength through Namaz
Quranic Verse: “And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah]” (Surah Al-Baqarah/Verse 45).
Humans, while limited in various aspects like knowledge and power, face innumerable unpredictable incidents. The only thing that insures this limited human against thousands of incidents is trust and seeking help from Allah. Namaz is the strong rope of Allah for achieving this help and assistance. Examples of the Prophet and Imam Ali resorting to prayer in times of hardship are noted.
– Prophet Ibrahim fights against a world of polytheism and idol worship alone.
– Imam Khomeini warns a regime linked to the whole world: “I will strike in the mouth of this government.” He also made a statement to the President of the United States and noted the inability of America to err, emanating from his independent spiritual and prayer-based strength.
2- Fostering Mental Focus
Psychologist’s Statement: “The difference between geniuses and ordinary people lies in the ability to concentrate mentally and rational powers, not in capability and other mental qualities.”
Prayer’s Role: By establishing thought at five different points daily, prayer facilitates and nurtures mental focus. Accordingly, in Islam, there are instructions to avoid anything that disrupts mental focus and concentration during prayer, such as standing in front of an open door, facing a mirror, and praying while confined, etc.
3- Achieving Moral and Personality Dignity
Quranic Insight: prayer significantly influences human morality and personality. The Quran states: “Indeed, mankind was created anxious: When evil touches him, impatient, And when good touches him, withholding [of it], Except the observers of prayer.” (Surah Al-Ma’arij/Verses 19-23).
Sayings of Imam Ali: Imam Ali discusses several moral vices like rebellion, oppression, and arrogance in Sermon 192 of Nahj al-Balaghah. He mentions, “And about that which Allah protected His believing servants by prayers and zakat and the commanded struggle of fasting in the ordained days, to calm their limbs and to humiliate their eyes and to humble their souls, and to lower their hearts, and to remove arrogance from them.”
4- Establishing Social Justice
A person who performs prayers, necessarily takes into consideration conditions related to clothing, income, prayer location, observing people’s rights, such as paying zakat, avoiding backbiting, and paying attention to the rights of others so that his/her prayer is accepted by Allah Almighty. These obligations, which influence all aspects of human life, transform prayer from an individual and personal act to a reformative flow and social phenomenon in life and itself, becoming an agent in the path of establishing social justice.
5- Accepting Discipline and Order
Daily prayers, which are set at specific times and become a religious obligation in the daily life schedule, frame the page of life activities and revive the spirit of discipline and adherence to time and order in a person.
6- Warning of the Passing of Life
Prayer is an awakening bell and a warning at different times of the day and night, which gives a plan to a person, requires a commitment from him/her, gives meaning to his/her day and night, and accounts for the passing moments. At a time when a person is busy and unaware of the passing of time and the expiration of life, it calls him/her and explains to him/her that a day has passed and a day has begun.
7- Doing Good Deeds
Allah introduces the worshipers and explains the secrets of prayer and says: “الذین هُم علی صلاتِهِم دائمون – Those who continuously perform their prayers.” By the blessing of prayer, they are drawn to doing good deeds, and a person who prays is someone who does not allocate everything at his/her disposal to himself/herself. Rather, he/she also designates a share for the poor. “وَالذینَ فی اموالِهِم حق معلوم *للسائل وَالمَحروم – And those in whose wealth there is a known right, for the beggar and the deprived.” (Surah Al-Ma’arij / Verses 25-23) Here, the talk is about lawful wealth, not illicit wealth. If someone donates from illicit wealth, it doesn’t matter. Someone who earns through lawful means becomes the owner of the wealth, and the charity is from his/her own wealth.”
8- Peace of Heart
Without a doubt, humans need a restraining factor to escape savagery and find their way to a humane life, a wholesome existence, cultivate virtuous ethics, and liberate themselves from despair and depression. This factor must control and dominate their spirit, enforcing abstention from deviation and crime, and inspiring a spirit of cooperation, empathy, affection, and love, while also revitalizing them when they wilt and become despondent.
A renowned English psychologist named “Henry Link,” after extensive clinical research on more than ten thousand depressed, criminal individuals, said, “Now I clearly understand the importance of religious belief in human life. Among all the tests, I have found this significant result: Anyone who submits to religion and religious beliefs, or is associated with a place of worship, possesses a higher human dignity and, compared to someone who has no faith and is not in touch with worship, has a peculiar nobility.”
Carl Jung, a famous contemporary psychologist, says, “I have treated hundreds of patients and confidently say that each of them was sick because they had lost what living religions have given to their followers in every age, and those who rediscovered their religious faith were genuinely not cured.” Prayer, regardless of everything, is the physician of the soul. If exercise is beneficial for health, if purified water is essential for every home, if clean air is necessary for everyone, prayer is also essential for human health. You do not know how much purifying it does to the soul if a person devotes some of his time to secret prayer with Allah day and night! Harmful spiritual elements are expelled from the human spirit by prayer. Amidst all these waves of worry and anxiety, the Holy Quran introduces “the remembrance of Allah” as the highest tranquilizing and healing remedy for hearts and “prayer” as the highest instance of remembrance. All turmoil and agitations, all unrest and anxieties are controlled by establishing the remembrance of Allah at various intervals throughout day and night. The restless entity becomes calm. The rebellion of desire and lust subsides. The despairing heart gains hope.
When the Holy Quran brings up the topic of prayer, it says, “And establish prayer for My remembrance” (Quran, Surah Taha, Verse 14).
If Allah’s remembrance is manifested through prayer, that heart is content. Because the remembrance of Allah assures hearts, “Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured” (Quran, Surah Ar-Ra’d, Verse 28).
Therefore, the heart of a person who prays is assured. He never fears anything but Allah; no enemy, either internal or external, can cause him fear; because the people of truth remember the prayer, and remembering the truth is the cause of assurance and peace. Why hasn’t today’s world, which has solved thousands of scientific, industrial, and technical problems, not progressed in creating peace? It must be said that the industrial world without Allah does not understand the profound meaning of “Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured” because human education, if not accompanied by faith and peace, will bring nothing but corruption for human society. As we read in the testament of Imam Khomeini, “I leave your service with a calm and assured heart.”
9- Plan and Management
Prayer possesses such depth and mystery that from every angle it warrants meticulous attention. For instance, in the science of management, we encounter concepts such as: planning, scheduling, discipline, design, selection, efficient manpower, productivity, supervision, and guidance, as well as encouragement and punishment. All these aspects can be observed in prayer.
Planning: Prayer is planned; it begins with “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Great) and concludes with the salutation, and its words are prescribed.
Scheduling: Each of the five daily prayers is designated a specific time.
Design: In prayer, a precise design is evident, dictating the duration of standing and sitting, the extent of bending, the number of words, whether spoken softly or loudly, the tone and type of voice, and the number of rak’ahs, each embedded with wise and mystical frameworks.
Selecting Efficient Manpower: In prayer, it is recommended to perform in congregation. Moreover, the principle has been congregational prayer, and individual prayer is a contingency. In congregational prayer, individuals must select and choose the prayer leader based on divine criteria identifying the most just and ascetic person.
Productivity: In prayer, though we remain silent while the congregational prayer leader recites, we receive manifold rewards. By using a miswak (a type of toothbrush) during ablution, we elevate the worth and reward of a rak’ah up to seventy times. By performing ablution with cold water and not drying it off, besides invigorating the body more, we enhance the reward of the ablution. Lastly, with the “intention of closeness [to Allah],” we impart a spiritual essence to all material things and bestow an everlasting hue upon transient matters.
Supervision and Guidance: According to the Quran, parents are responsible and supervisory over their children’s prayers: “And enjoin prayer upon your family [people], and be steadfast therein.” (20:132 – Taha)
Encouragement and Punishment: Islam has positioned prayer as a lever for encouragement and punishment. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) said seventy takbirs in the prayer he performed over the sacred body of Hazrat Hamza (Peace Be Upon Him) during the Battle of Uhud. On the other hand, Allah instructs His messenger never to perform prayer over the hypocrites who fled the battlefront. A conscientious and thoughtful person may not be aware of all the mysterious dimensions and subtleties of prayer, but to ignore them all is only feasible for those who, due to negligence, have denied themselves the privilege of conversing with Allah. Indeed, those who do not pray, unless they repent and compensate for their shortcomings, are deprived of the presence in the divine courtyard and the fortune of speaking with Allah. This deprivation, from the joy of communion with the Creator and dialogue with the Maker of existence, constitutes the greatest punishment and deprivation for knowledgeable hearts and conscious souls.
10- Daily Sustenance and Comfort
The Prophet of Islam, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, in response to someone inquiring about prayer, stated: “Prayer is among the pathways of religion and the way of prophets, leading to the satisfaction and approval of the Almighty. For the worshipper, it is a medium for friendship with angels, guidance to faith, and a light of knowledge. It brings blessings in daily sustenance, comfort to the body, and annoys Satan. Furthermore, it serves as a weapon against infidels, a means for prayers to be answered, and acceptance of other deeds. For a believer, prayer provides provisions for the Hereafter, an advocate at death, a companion in the grave, a bed for his body, and answers to the angels’ questions in the grave.” Also, prayer is a consolation for weary hearts and a source of brightness and purity of soul, maintaining the continuous connection of the servant with the Allah of the universe.
11- Agent of Blessing
Imam Sadiq, peace be upon him, is reported to have said: “If the Almighty Allah intends to bestow mercy upon a person in the form of blessings, He grants it in the best state. And the best state is being in the prayer niche and being in combat with the internal enemy. For example, when Allah mercifully granted Zachariah Yahya, this glad tiding was given to him during worship. He stated: ‘Indeed, the obedience of Allah, the Exalted, is His service on Earth, and nothing of His service is equivalent to prayer. Therefore, the angels called upon Zachariah, peace be upon him, while he was standing in prayer in the niche.'”
12- Recommended Prayers, Compensating for the Deficiencies of Obligatory Prayers
Love or worship and servitude leads the man of Allah to indulge in devotion and supplication even beyond the designated limits. This is manifested through recommended prayers. How can one claim to love Allah yet only perform the obligatory acts and not engage in additional prayers? These prayers are known as “Nafl” (optional). For the Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him and his family, night optional prayers were obligatory, as Allah had commanded him to rise at night and engage in midnight worship to reach that lofty status. A tradition says: “Recommended prayers are like a gift at the court of Allah that is always accepted.”
Recommended prayers compensate for the shortcomings of obligatory prayers, much like a charity that one pays.
13- Nafl, from the word Nafel, Meaning Excess, Extra over the Obligatory Amount
A narration tells us that Allah says: “He is a liar who claims to love Me, yet when the night envelops him, he sleeps and forgets Me. Is it not true that every lover desires solitude with his beloved?”
We have learned that prayer is the greatest and most fruitful of worships, and indeed the most excellent of deeds. The benefits and effects realized by the worshipper through the establishment of this act of devotion are, truly, boundless and innumerable. Prayer is a widespread banquet, filled with mercy, blessings, benevolence, and felicity. Why shouldn’t we be among the minute partakers of this magnificent feast?! Why not pluck the heavenly flowers of its layer?! Why not pray so that we may be blessed in both this world and the Hereafter?!
A Few Points:
1- In the words of Martyr Rajai: Do not say to the prayer, “I have work,” but say to the work, “It is time for prayer.”
2- The heart’s presence is the soul of the prayer, and humility and awe are its spirit.
3- Let us pray consciously, not blindly, for the Prophet (PBUH) has said: Two units of prayer offered with mindfulness are better than nights spent in heedless vigil.
4- It is narrated that: Worship Allah as if you see Him.
5- It is stated in the Qur’an that no command for worship has been given to the people unless it includes a command for sincerity therein.
6- The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) has said: The reward is greater for the worship that is more concealed.
7- The supremacy of Islam and the continuation of the governance of Allah depend on the establishment of prayer.