Rahmatullah Khan Shakir (1901-2000), Former Assistant Editor and Manager of Al Fazl
The Companions were very mindful of worship, especially of the congregational Prayer.
Regularity in praying at the mosque, despite flood
Hazrat Itbanra bin Malik was visually impaired. He lived near Quba. There lay a valley between the mosque and his house. After rainfall, the valley would be inundated. Despite this hindrance, he would regularly come to the mosque to offer Salat in congregation. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Salat, Bab Masajid fil-Buyut)
Guidance on offering Salat in mosque
Once Hazrat Itbanra, a visually impaired Companion, requested the Holy Prophetsa to allow him to offer Salat at home as the way between his house and the mosque was not smooth and even, which hindered him coming to the mosque. The Holy Prophetsa asked him if he could hear the call for prayer. He replied in the affirmative. The Holy Prophetsa thus said, “You are not allowed to offer the prayer at home.” Thus he would come for Salat in the mosque. (Musannif of ibn Abi Shaibah, Bab man Qala iza Sami‘al-Munadi)
Hazrat Saeedra bin Yarbuh was blind. But Salat in congregation was so essential in the sight of the Companionsra that a slave was assigned the responsibility by Hazrat Umarra to accompany him to the mosque for Salat and back home after it was over. (Usdul-Ghabah, vol.2, p.249, Zikr Sa‘id bin Yarbu‘)
Eagerness to offer the same Salat twice
Hazrat Muazra would lead Salat in the mosque in his area. But due to his eagerness for Salat, first he would offer it in the Prophet’s Mosque in the company of the Prophetsa, then he would lead the same Salat for his people in his area. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Azan, Bab iza Taulal-Imam wa kana lir-Rajuli Hajatan fa-Kharaja fa-Salla)
Eagerness to pray in the battlefield
The following account will suffice to assess as to how eager the Companionsra were for Salat.
At the time of the Fajr prayer in the battlefield of Qadsiyah, the young Muslim troops rushed for Salat so swiftly that the opponent Iranians thought that perhaps the Muslims were about to attack them. But when they busied themselves in Salat, their commander, Rustam, said, “Umar has devoured my liver”, i.e. the Muslim army is bound to rout us. (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 3, p. 533)
Hazrat Bilal’sra passion for worship
It was Hazrat Bilal’sra routine to offer two rak‘aat [units of prayer] of Salat after the azan. He would always keep his wuzu intact and whenever he needed to renew it, he would do it instantly. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Faza‘il, Bab Faza‘ili Bilal)
Trade or commerce did not divert the Companionsra from Salat
The Companionsra were regular not only in their five daily prayers, but they would regularly offer nawafil and other forms of worship too.
Hazrat Sufyan Thaurira relates:
كانوا يتبايعون الصلاة المكتوبة في الجماعة
That is, although the Companionsra were businessmen by profession, they would never miss the congregational Salat. Hazrat Abdullah bin Umarra relates that once, at the time of Salat, he was in the market. The Companionsra instantly closed their shops and left for the mosque.
رِجَالٌ لَا تُلْهِيهِمْ تِجَارَةٌ وَلَا بَيْعٌ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللّٰهِ
(Surah al-Nur, Ch.24: V.38) that is, the Companionsra were such people whom their businesses and trades did not hinder from the remembrance of God Almighty. (Fathul-Bari, Bab Tijarah fil-Barri …, Vol. 4, p. 297)
Coming to the mosque despite physical ailment
The Companions were very mindful of congregational Salat; even in extremely difficult situations and states of physical disability, they would never bear to forgo their Salat, so much so that some unwell or physically disabled Companions would come to the mosque for congregational Prayer with the support of other people. (Sunan al-Nasa‘i, Kitab al-Imamah, Bab Al-Muhafazati ‘alas-Salati Haithu Yunada bihinna)
Every step to the mosque earns reward
Banu Salma’s settlement was at a considerable distance from the mosque in Medina. On account of their mindfulness of regularity in Salat, they decided to abandon their settlement and settle near the mosque. The Holy Prophetsa did not approve of the idea of abandoning a settlement and remarked that every step that they took to the mosque would earn them reward. (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab al-Salat, Bab Al-Ab‘du fal-Ab‘du minal-Masjid A‘zam Ajran)
Offering Salat while walking
The Companions were always conscious of offering Salat on time. Once, the Holy Prophetsa sent a companion off to complete an urgent and important errand. By Asr time, the companion had reached close to the destination. He feared that if he continued his journey to the destination, he might miss the Asr prayer. On the other hand, he did not want to cause the slightest delay in the task he was sent for. Therefore, he offered his Salat in gestures whilst walking. (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Salat, Bab Salatut-Talib)
Patiently waiting for the Prophetsa to come to the mosque for Salat
The Companionsra were always ready to bear any difficulty for congregational Salat.
One night, the Holy Prophetsa was busy in an urgent task. The Companionsra patiently waited in the mosque for the congregational Isha prayer. Many of them, in wait, went to sleep, then woke up and went to sleep again and finally woke up when the Holy Prophetsa came to lead the Prayer. (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Taharah, Bab Wuzu‘ minan-Naum)
Hazrat Anasra reports that the Companions would wait for the Isha Salat for so long that due to sleep, their necks would bend to one side.
Hazrat Abu Saeed Khudrira reports that sometimes, the Companionsra would wait for as long as midnight for the Holy Prophetsa to lead them in the Isha Prayer. (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Salat, Bab fi Waqtil-‘Isha’l-Akhirah)
Deep concentration in Salat
The Companions would come with great humility and fear of God to offer Salat on time and in congregation. The pleasure and delight they got in bowing their foreheads before their Creator can be gauged from the following account.
Once, two companions were posted on a mountain pass for security reasons. One of them went to sleep, whereas the other proceeded to offer Salat. In the meantime, an idolater happened to pass there, who shot three arrows on the praying Muslim. All the three arrows penetrated his body. But he was so engrossed in his prayer that he uttered not a single sigh of pain and continued his Salat.
When his comrade woke up and saw blood and wounds on his body, he asked how it had happened and complained as to why he did not wake him up. He replied that he was in the middle of reciting a surah in Salat and he did not like to leave it incomplete. (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Taharah, Bab Wuzu‘ min-ad-Dam)
As is clear from the above accounts, Salat was very valuable in the sight of the Companions and they would not tolerate any hindrance in its way.
Level of taqwa of companion following distraction amid Salat
Once, Hazrat Abu Talha Ansarira was busy offering Salat in his orchard when his eyes fell on a sparrow. It was a pleasing sight as it was a colourful bird and he continued to look at it for quite some time. His attention was diverted from Salat and he forgot as to how many rak‘aat he had offered and how many were yet to be offered.
He was so agitated by this that he decided to give the whole orchard in charity as it had become a trial for his spirituality. Therefore, he later visited the Prophetsa and recounted the whole event and gave the orchard in charity. (Mu‘atta Imam Malik, Kitab al-Salat, Bab An-Nazr fis-Salat ila ma Yashghiluka)
Similarly, another Companion, who, while looking at the crop of dates, forgot in Salat as to how many rak‘aat he had offered, gave his orchard in charity merely because it had diverted his attention from Salat. The orchard was so valuable a property that later, Hazrat Uthmanra sold it for 50,000 dirhams.
Prolonged worship in isolation
About Hazrat Anasra, it is reported that his qiyam [standing] and sajdah [prostration] in Salat were so prolonged that people thought he had perhaps forgotten. This is said only about his Salat in isolation. Otherwise, the Shariah ordains an Imam to lighten Salat lest ailing ones and other people do not get tired. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Azan, Bab Al-Mukthu bainas-Sajdatain)
Praying under the scorching sun of Arabia
The hot climate of Arabia is a known phenomenon. At Zuhr time, the sun would be blazing. In the beginning of Islam, the Muslims were poor and could not afford to put up a roof over the mosque. The gritty ground would blaze like a griddle. The noble Companionsra would keenly gather to offer Salat on this very land. They would blow the heat out of the pebbles to cool them before Salat and then for prostration, they would place the pebbles on their prostration spot.
Hazrat Zaidra bin Thabit relates that no other Salat, other than Zuhr, was more difficult for them, yet still they would not slacken in it.
If youngsters today, who show reluctance to come to the roofed and floored mosques with electric fans for Zuhr prayer, bear in mind the keenness of the Companionsra in this regard, their necks would hang low in shame. (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Salat, Bab fi Waqti Salatiz-Zuhr)
Struggle to go to the mosque for Salat
A companion’s house was rather far from the mosque, yet he would not let any Salat be missed and regularly came to the mosque. Another companion suggested to him that he buy a donkey for a mount so that he could comfortably come and go in the heat and in darkness. He replied that his coming and going on foot earned him merit and he did not want to be deprived of it. (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab al-Masajid wal-Jama‘at, Bab Al-Ab‘du fal-Ab‘du minal-Masjid A‘zam Ajran)
The importance of the worship of our Creator, especially of congregational Salat in the Islamic teachings does not need any elaboration. Regretfully, however, youngsters and well-off people of this age are found to be extremely negligent in this regard. Due to slothfulness and worthless engagements and activities, they slack greatly in worship and in punctuality in Salat.
This negligence of Muslims is the most essential reason for their decline. The above-mentioned accounts of the Companionsra show how important and essential Salat was for those who were trained directly by the Holy Prophetsa and who directly benefited from his companionship.
Another feature that is distinct in these accounts is that the rich and the poor, both exhibited equal alacrity in this regard. The physically well and the disabled, young and old, men and women were all equally passionate about offering Salat. And with great pleasure, they would endure all difficulties in its way.
Our youngsters should learn from these accounts. Unfortunately, the youth of today are as negligent of it as the Companionsra were keen for it. Beyond doubt, one is most ambitious and zealous in the prime of one’s life – a time of merriment and festivities. But it is equally true that worship in one’s prime is especially meritorious.
Some of the above-mentioned accounts are significant especially in this age of ours in that some Companionsra gave their orchards in charity because they caused a distraction in the engrossment of their Salat. That the Companionsra would close their shops and businesses and proceed to the mosque for Salat is something worth emulating.
Regretfully, in this age, people are not ready at all to bear the slightest of losses for the sake of prayer and worship. Shopkeepers are deprived most of the time of congregational Salat merely because they fear a reduction in sales if they leave their businesses for Salat.
A comparison of the two mentalities will help one understand the causes of strength to strength progress of the Companions and decline of the Muslims in this age.
The Ahmadiyya Community is a reflection of the Companionsra. Beyond doubt, to a large extent, they keep in view the example of their noble elders in regard to worship and regularity in Salat. But it is a fact that a large number of individuals still need to rectify themselves a great deal. The youngsters especially need to pay heed to it.
In short, how can a person, who is unmindful of Salat and without any rhyme or reason, neglects to offer Salat with all its prerequisites, claim to be the like of the noble Companionsra?
(Translated by Shahid Mahmood Ahmad, Missionary in Ghana, from the original Urdu, Muslim Nau-jawanon kay Sunehri Karnamey)