Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “And mankind, with regard to their performance of prayer are in five levels.
The First: The level of the one who is negligent and wrongs his soul. He is the one who falls short in performing ablution properly, performing the prayer upon its time and within its specified limits, and in fulfilling its essential pillars.
The Second: The one who guards his prayers upon their proper times and within their specified limits, fulfils their essential pillars and performs his ablution with care. However, his striving is wasted due to whisperings in his prayer so he is taken away by thoughts and ideas.
The Third: The one who guards his prayers within the specified limits, fulfils their essential pillars and strives with himself to repel the whisperings, thoughts and ideas. He is busy struggling against his enemy (Shaitan) so that he does not steal from the prayer. On account of this he is engaged in (both) prayer and jihad.
The Fourth: The one who stands for the prayer, completes and perfects its due rights, its essential pillars, performs it within its specified limits and his heart becomes engrossed in safeguarding its rights and specified limits, so that nothing is wasted from it. His whole concern is directed towards its establishment, its completion and its perfection, as it should be. His heart is immersed in the prayer and in enslavement to his Lord, the Exalted.
The Fifth: The one who stands for the prayer like the one mentioned above. However, on top of this, he has taken and placed his heart in front of his Lord, the Mighty and Majestic, looking towards Him with his heart with anticipation, (his heart) filled with His love and His might, as if he sees and witnesses Allah. The whisperings, thoughts and ideas have vanished and the coverings which are between him and his Lord are raised. What is between this person and others with respect to the prayer, is superior and greater than what is between the heavens and the earth. This person is busy with his Lord, the Mighty and Majestic, delighted with Him.
The first type will be punished, the second type will be held to account, the third will have his sins and shortcomings expiated, the fourth will be rewarded and the fifth will be close to his Lord, because he will receive the portion of the one who makes his prayer the delight and pleasure of his eye. Whoever makes his prayer the delight and pleasure of his eye, will have the nearness to his Lord, the Mighty and Majestic, made the delight and pleasure of his eye in the hereafter. He will also be made a pleasure to the eye in this world since whoever makes Allah the pleasure of his eye in this world, every other eye will become delighted and pleased with him.
May Allah Subhaana Wa Ta’ala give us the guidance to get to level five, amen.
According to the teachings of our Beloved Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, the first thing we will be asked about on the Day of Account is our prayer.
“The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad.”
Prayer is the foundation of our faith, a pillar of Islam, as the Prophet, peace be upon him, said. It even speaks for or against us on the Day of Judgment.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “When a person performs his prayer at the designated time, the prayer ascends the sky, lighting it up on the way upward, to the highest heaven. On arrival there, it asks pardon for the person. Thus it will pray till the Day of Account, saying, ‘May it please Allah to care for you, as you have cared for me.’
And when a person performs prayer outside the designated time, it ascends the sky showered in darkness. On reaching the heavens, it is rolled up like bundled clothes, and is used to smite the face of the person who performed it. And the prayer itself says, ‘May it please Allah to deny you, as you have denied me.'”
Prayer also represents the covenant we made with Allah Ta’ala from time immemorial. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Verily, the only thing separating a person from disbelief and polytheism is the abandonment of prayer.”
In other words, the prayer is what guards against falling into unbelief.
The question to ask yourself is: do you want to be happy in this world and the next? If so, then know that true happiness comes from doing what Allah has asked us and leaving that which He forbade.
Allah Ta’ala says, “Truly, to a happy state shall attain the believers: those who humble themselves in their prayer, and who turn away from all that is frivolous, and who are intent on inner purity” [Al-Mu’minun, 23:1-4].
Finally, keep in mind, that if you are a male, you are highly encouraged to go to the masjid for congregational prayer. Group prayer is a cornerstone of Muslim community life. Help to build a strong community and strengthen your own relationship with Allah by going to His house.
Isn’t it interesting that there are hadiths that speak to the merit of performing fajr and isha in congregation? That’s because the Prophet, peace be upon him, in his wisdom, realised that these prayers pose a challenge for some people. So, to encourage them, he suggested that they pray these prayers in the masjid. ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘If someone prays ‘Isha’ in a group, it is as if he had prayed half of the night. If someone prays Subh in a group, it is as if he had prayed the entire night'” [Muslim].
If you are unable to pray in congregation in the masjid then pray in congregation at home. You will be rewarded for praying in congregation and it will strengthen your relationships.
Think of prayer as a gift from Allah. Cherish the ability to stand in prayer while you are young and healthy. Remember Allah and Allah will remember you!
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