Ataul Mujeeb Rashed, Missionary In-charge UK
An important matter
With regard to iqamatus-salat, it should be remembered that for a Muslim to observe prayer on their own is not sufficient, rather prayer must be established as a communal worship, and this system should continue generation after generation.
This issue is so important that Allah the Exalted especially instructed his beloved Holy Messengersa:
وَأْمُرْ أَهْلَكَ بِالصَّلَاةِ وَاصْطَبِرْ عَلَيْهَا
“And enjoin prayer on thy people, and be constant therein.” (Surah Taha, Ch.20: V.133)
It should be remembered that every individual who attributes himself to the Holy Prophetsa and makes a claim of love and devotion to him, is included in this injunction. To continually instruct members of the household to offer prayer is a responsibility and a quality which is greatly liked by Allah the Exalted. Whilst alluding to Hazrat Ishmaelas, Allah the Almighty states:
وَكَانَ يَأْمُرُ أَهْلَهُ بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ وَكَانَ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِ مَرْضِيًّا
“He used to enjoin Prayer and almsgiving on his people, and he was well-pleasing to his Lord.” (Surah Maryam, Ch.19: V.56)
It is necessary to keep this aspect of iqamatus-salat in consideration, for it is the means of securing a good family and good children.
A beautiful prayer
Iqamatus-salat is such an excellent quality and so very necessary for a true Muslim, that the prayer which Hazrat Abrahamas offered for this purpose was so liked by Allah the Blessed and Exalted that He made it a part of the Holy Quran, thus preserving it for all eternity. In this manner a message has been given to every individual of the Muslim Ummah (Community) that if we wish to acquire maqam-e-Ibrahim (the lofty status of Abrahamas) in our worship, if we wish to attain maqam-e-mahmud (the highly commended status), then it is incumbent that we fasten this Abrahamic prayer to our soul. Not only should a Muslim adopt iqamatus-salat in their own life, but wish and pray for the same in the lives of one’s future generations as well.
What a beautiful prayer it is, which has been taught to us:
رَبِّ اجْعَلْنِي مُقِيمَ الصَّلَاةِ وَمِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي رَبَّنَا وَتَقَبَّلْ دُعَاءِ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيَّ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَوْمَ يَقُومُ الْحِسَابُ
“My Lord make me observe Prayer, and my children too. Our Lord! Do accept my prayer. Our Lord, grant forgiveness to me and to my parents and the believers on the day when the reckoning will take place.” (Surah Ibrahim, Ch.14: V.41-42)
A few points of wisdom
I present two points of profound wisdom from the Promised Messiahas that shed further light on the topic under discussion. Firstly, in order for a Muslim to establish their prayer, sacrifice is necessary. The strictness and discipline inflicted upon the soul also becomes a means of reward and blessings. The Promised Messiahas states:
“Opposing the self is also a form of worship. When man is sleeping, he desires to sleep more, but he opposes the self, and goes to the mosque. This opposition is also worthy of reward.” (Malfuzat, Vol.2, p. 552 [new edition])
Secondly, in a youthful age, when one’s health is good and the body is strong, one should especially pay attention to worship. The Promised Messiahas states:
“If he spent this period [i.e., the period of his youth] in the worship of Allah, the reformation of the self and obedience to God, the fruit which he shall reap is that in his old age, when he shall be unable to perform any worship, and inactivity and tardiness shall overcome him, the angels shall continue to record the same prayer, fasting, Tahajjud [pre-dawn prayer], etc. which he used to offer in his youth. And this is the grace of Allah, that despite the fact that he is unable to perform deeds, God considers him exempt and the same deeds are recorded in his account.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 4, p. 199 [new edition])
Seven stages in the spiritual journey of the observance of prayer
There are seven stages in the spiritual journey of the observance of prayer. The right of the establishment of prayer can fully be offered only after one passes through these stages. Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra has elaborated upon this exquisite topic in a remarkable manner. He states:
“The first stage, below which there is no stage whatsoever, is that man offers his five daily prayers regularly. A Muslim who offers his five daily prayers and does not break in between acquires the lowest level of faith.
“The second stage in prayer is that all five prayers are offered at the stipulated time. When one offers his five daily prayers on time, he steps to the second ladder of faith.
“The third stage is that the prayer be offered in congregation. By the congregational observance of prayer, man steps to the third ladder of faith.
“The fourth stage is that man observes the prayer whilst understanding its meaning. An individual who does not know the translation of prayer should learn the translation and observe prayers. Moreover, one who does know the translation should offer the prayer slowly, until he understands that he has done justice to the prayer.
“Then, the fifth stage is that man becomes fully engrossed in the prayer. Just as one plunges into water, man should plunge into his prayer, until he acquires one of the two ranks: either that he is seeing God, or if not, he firmly believes that God the Exalted is seeing him.
“After this, the sixth stage of belief is that an individual offers the nawafil (voluntary prayers). One who offers the nawafil expresses to God the Exalted that he has offered his obligation but he has not yet become satisfied by them, and he says, ‘O God, it is my desire to remain in Your royal court beyond the times of obligation.’
“The seventh stage of belief is that man not only offers his five daily prayers and observes the nawafil, but also prays Tahajud (Late night/pre-dawn prayer) during the night. These are the seven stages by which prayer is deemed complete.
“Hence, it is necessary for an individual to attain these seven stages. It is the responsibility of every individual that he observes prayer on time. It is the responsibility of every individual that he observes the prayer in congregation. It is the responsibility of every individual that he observes the prayer whilst understanding it, after learning its translation. It is the responsibility of every individual that in addition to the obligatory prayer timings, he offers the nawafil during the night and day … Then every individual should offer his obligatory and supererogatory [nawafil] prayers with such assiduousness that even his nights become days.
“Similarly, one should try to acquire the greatest possible advantage from the supplications of Tahajud. Until and unless one does not safeguard his prayers in this manner, for one to think that one can please God is nothing more than a fallacy.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 6, pp. 135-136)
Curing insipidity in prayer
When alluding to the topic of iqamatus salat, the question can arise that if one finds no pleasure in offering prayer, how can one familiarise oneself with it? The answer has been provided most beautifully by the Promised Messiahas:
“Whenever such a state persists that the love and pleasure which was once felt in prayer no longer remains, one should not tire, and should not be dismayed and lose strength but should be concerned as to how this lost wealth can be reacquired, and the cure is taubah, istighfar (repentance) and supplication. One should not abandon prayer due to insipidity, rather they should increase prayer even further. Just as when an alcoholic is not intoxicated, they do not abandon drinking, but drinks more and more, until finally, they experience pleasure and satisfaction; likewise, someone who feels insipidity in prayer, should offer prayer in further abundance, and it is not appropriate to tire. Ultimately a state of pleasure shall come about through that very insipidity.
“Look at how deep one must dig into the earth to acquire water; those who tire are left deprived, while those who do not ultimately acquire it. Therefore, in order to attain that pleasure, istighfar, an abundance of prayer and supplication, readiness and steadfastness is necessary.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 5, p. 432 [new edition])
The Promised Messiahas has not only prescribed supplication in order to acquire pleasure and attention in prayer, but has also taught the specified words which are to be prayed:
“One should supplicate before Allah the Exalted in extreme emotion and passion, saying, ‘Just as You have endowed us with the various pleasures of fruits and other things, let me once taste the pleasure of prayer and worship as well.’” (Malfuzat, Vol. 1, p. 163 [new edition])
In other words, one should supplicate in the following words:
“O God, I receive the pleasures of this world every day; grant me the pleasurable taste of worship once as well.”
Then one should stand in every rak‘ah of the prayer and supplicate in the following words:
“O Allah the Exalted, the Omnipotent, the Possessor of Majesty, I am a sinner and the poison of sin has affected my veins to such an extent that I am devoid of emotion and attention in prayer. Forgive me my sins with Thy blessing and grace, and forgive me my lapses, and soften my heart, and place Your greatness and Your fear, and Your love in my heart, so that my hard-heartedness may be dispelled, and I am granted attention in my prayer.”(Fatwa Hazrat Masih-e-Maudas, p. 37. )
Then the Promised Messiahas states that one should pray in the following words:
“O Allah, you see how blind I am, lacking sight, and at this time I am in a complete state of death. I am aware that soon hereafter, I shall receive my calling and will return to you. At that time, there shall be none who will be able to stop me. My heart is blind and ignorant. Send down such a flame of light upon it, as Your love and attraction are developed in it. Bless me in such a way that I am not raised without sight and do not become amongst the blind.
The Promised Messiah went on to state:
“When one supplicates in such a way with continuity, they shall see that such a time will come when something of heaven will descend upon their insipid prayer, which shall produce emotions.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 2, p. 616 [new edition])