Iqamatus-Salat (Observance of Prayer) – Part III

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Ataul Mujeeb Rashed, Missionary In-charge UK

Ever since the initial stages of his appointment to the exalted status of Khilafat, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih Vaa  has repeatedly laid stress on supplication, worship and especially iqamatus-salat. I present two of these instructions as a reminder: 

“Worship Allah the Exalted and worship Him as is His right. Do not associate anyone with Him. During the timings of prayer, as is His instruction, keep your full attention towards the prayers. Your engagements or other excuses should not become a hindrance in your offering prayers. Do not leave your prayers because of your work; rather, leave your work for prayers. This is also a form of hidden Shirk [associating partners with God] because if you leave your prayers for your work, this means that your worldly engagements are dearer to you than the worship of your God.” (Friday Sermon, Baitul Futuh Mosque, 21 January 2011)

Then, Huzooraa states: 

“Every individual who wishes to become a worshipping servant of Allah the Exalted, wishes to acquire His nearness, wishes to purify himself and his future generations, wishes to save himself from the onslaughts of Satan, there is only one method, and that is, pay attention to worship, and the most important aspect of this is the congregational prayer.” (Al Fazl International, 28 January 2005)

Till now,  a brief explanation on the details of iqamatus-salat has been provided. Now let us see the actual examples of iqamatus-salat in the real world. The personality, which the Creator of the universe, Allah, has presented as a perfect model is that of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. The Holy Prophetsa fulfilled the right of iqamatus-salat so beautifully that Allah testified that his prayers, his worship, his living and dying were all for His sake, the Lord of all the worlds, and even the enemies of the Holy Prophetsa publicly announced “Ashiqa Muhammadun Rabbahu”, that Muhammadsa has fallen in love with his Lord. The Holy Prophetsa stated, “O People! I like three things from this world, but I tell you that qurratu aini fis-salat [the delight and pleasure of my eyes is in the observance of prayer].” (Sunan al-Nasai, Kitab Ishrat al-Nisa)

In iqamatus-salat, the perfect example of the Holy Prophetsa is spread throughout his life. The system of congregational prayer began since the inception of Islam, after which, throughout the whole of his life, the Holy Prophetsa did not let any lapse interfere in this obligation, whether in a state of travel or residence, health or illness, or in a state of war or peace. In a state of travel, the Prophetsa would stop the travelling caravan and shorten or combine the prayers. In the case of rain, he would also offer his prayers upon his ride, and would not let any excuse interfere with observing prayer. 

On one occasion the Holy Prophetsa was severely wounded after falling off a horse. It was impossible for him to offer his prayers while standing, but the Holy Prophetsa did not like that he should miss the congregational prayer and led the prayer while sitting (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab as-Salat). At the Battle of Badr, the supplications which the Holy Prophetsa made in a small pavilion, to this day, warm the hearts. The state of his engrossment was such that his mantle would fall off his back again and again, but this worshipper of the One God was above all that and remained engaged in his invocations. In the Battle of Uhud, the Holy Prophetsa was weakened by severe wounds. He was also grieved by the martyrdom of seventy of his Companions, yet the Holy Prophetsa offered his prayers in congregation even on that day, as per his custom. Due to the engagements of war during the Battle of Ahzab, when the Zuhr and Asr prayers could not be offered on time and the sun declined, due to his exceeding love for iqamatus-salat, the expression which spontaneously came to the blessed lips of the Holy Prophetsa was that Allah destroy this enemy, due to whom a delay had occurred in their prayers.

Another aspect of iqamatus-salat is fear and humility. This magnificence was at its peak in the prayers of the Holy Prophetsa. With eyes of perception, just observe the young man who would abandon the attractions, beauty and pleasure of this world, and retire to the cave of Hira in complete solitude to find pleasure of heart in worship. In the darkness of the night, he would enlighten the rays of spirituality with his worship and would strain his soul.

Someone asked Hazrat Aishara, the blessed wife of the Holy Prophetsa, to narrate the state of the Holy Prophet’ssa prayer. She responded, “Where shall I find the words to describe the beauty and length of those prayers?” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab as-Saum). The Holy Prophetsa would stand in prayer for so long that his blessed feet would become swollen. When someone suggested that he should take rest, he responded by saying, “Shall I not be a thankful servant to my Lord?” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Tahajjud)

The state of his prostrations to Allah were also something to behold. The narrator relates that the state of the Holy Prophetsa in prostration was like a pot fervently boiling upon the stove, or like two millstones in a grinder hitting each other. To think of this causes the body to tremble and the following supplication comes from the heart, “The emotion that existed in the supplications of Muhammadsa, if only a glitter of it were granted to my prostrations as well.” 

Hazrat Aishara was the dearest and most beloved wife of the Holy Prophetsa. She narrates:

“One night, when I woke up, I noticed the Holy Prophetsa was not in bed. I thought, perhaps he had gone to the house of another wife. As I looked here and there, I found the Holy Prophetsa had left his comfort and bed, and was on the ground, prostrating at some distance and was engaged in supplications. When I saw this, I was very disappointed at myself and I said to myself, ‘O Aisha, what thoughts are you preoccupied with, whereas look at the state in which the Messenger of Allah is in.’” (Al- Nisai)

In another narration it is mentioned that she found the Prophetsa prostrating in a nearby graveyard in the darkness of the night. 

Hazrat Aishara mentions another incident:

“One night the Holy Prophetsa came to my house. That night, the Holy Prophetsa was to spend the night with me. When the Holy Prophetsa entered the quilt in the cold winter night, he said, ‘O Aisha. Do you permit me to spend this night in the worship of Allah?’ I responded, ‘I desire your happiness; I happily grant you permission.’ Therefore, the Holy Prophetsa immediately stood up, performed his wuzu and began to offer prayer, and he spent the whole night in worship and invocations, until his place of prostration became damp with tears.” (Suyuti) 

With regard to prayer, the attachment and interest of the Holy Prophetsa was such as even in his final illness, he was suffering from a severe temperature, and was drifting in and out of a state consciousness. In anxiety, he would ask again and again, “Is it time for prayer?” He was told that the companions were waiting for him in the mosque. To decrease the severity of his temperature, he asked that cold water be poured on his body, and as he got up to go to the mosque, he fell into a state of unconsciousness again. Upon regaining consciousness, he once again asked about the prayer. He was told that the companions were waiting in the mosque. He had cold water put on his body again. The temperature fell to some extent, but he became unconscious again. Afterwards, when his physical state improved, he placed both hands on two Companions and went to the mosque in such a state that his feet were being dragged behind him. The Holy Prophetsa led the prayers sitting beside Hazrat Abu Bakrra [later to become the first Khalifa of Islam] and thus set such an example of iqamatus-salat that it shall remain unparalleled till the end of time. 

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