Prayer, in the prescribed
manner is obligatory upon every adult Muslim of sound mind. As far as
children are concerned, it is not obligatory on them until they come of
age. However, it requires continuous effort and persuasion to get them
to the stage where they start offering their Prayers regularly in the
manner prescribed for the Prayer. Proper training and education is therefore
necessary for children. It is for this reason that the Holy Prophet, peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him, has directed that when children reach
the age of seven, parents should urge them to be regular in their Prayers
and when they reach the age of ten, they must be admonished if they fail
to offer their Prayers regularly. (Sunan Abi Dauood, Kitab-us-Salat).
Once the children
reach the age of maturity, it becomes compulsory for them to offer their
Prayers. At that stage, no individual or Government has the right to force
them to offer their Prayers, as the Salat offered under compulsion
does not mean anything. It ought to be offered willingly. The matter rests
between the person and his God. Therefore, it is the duty of every and
all Muslim parents to prepare their children for Salat from an
early age. Moreover, it is highly essential for them to pray to God Almighty
that their children become regular in Prayers. God's help is sought because
the task is huge.
It is mentioned in
the Holy Quran that throughout his life, Hadhrat Ishmael, peace be upon
him, used to exhort members of his household to offer their Prayers regularly.
It is often observed that in homes where elders offer their Prayers regularly,
the children start copying the movements of their elders naturally and
thus become regular in their Prayers, with time. However, when a child
reaches the age of seven, the proper method of Prayer should be taught
to him. He should be encouraged to join in Prayer and, if possible, he
should be persuaded to accompany the parents to the mosque. This will
develop in the child, an affinity with Prayer, and will safeguard the
habit of Prayer in the following generation. The parent or guardian, however,
is permitted to be somewhat strict with the children between the ages
of 10 to 12, should they become slack in offering their Prayers. This
does not mean that they should be treated cruelly or punished, rather
they should be admonished to the same degree as parents often admonish
them for missing school. However, when they reach the age of twelve, they
should be made to realise that their parents have discharged their duty
and from that time on, the matter rests between them and God, to Whom
they are answerable. This does not mean that they should not be advised,
exhorted or admonished because as far as advising them is concerned, it
can go on for life, if required. It is only the element of strictness
which comes to an end when the child reaches the age of twelve. As mentioned
earlier, Hadhrat Ishmael, peace be upon him, adopted the same method of
love and kind persuasion with the members of his household. The Holy Prophet
Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, treated the grown-ups
in his family in the same manner. It is reported that he used to call
out to his daughter Hadhrat Fatima and his son-in-law Hadhrat Ali, may
God be pleased with them, to wake them up for Fajr Prayer.
Importance of Prayer
Salat or the
prescribed Prayer, has been mentioned in the Holy Quran as an essential
characteristic of a true believer. The Holy Quran states:
This is the perfect
Book, there is no doubt in it. It is a guidance for the righteous, who
believe in the Unseen, observe Prayer, and spend out of what we have provided
for them. (2:3-4)
helps us to get rid of sins; inclines us more and more towards God and
goodly things and so gradually purifies us. But this is not the end. Prayer
does much more than this. It brings man closer to his Creator. The worshipper
tries to imitate God in His most excellent attributes and is constantly
transformed from a lowly and worldly person to a highly noble and sublime
servant of God. The Holy Quran mentions this distinctive quality of Salat
Recite that which
has been revealed to you of the Book and observe Prayer. Surely Prayer
restrains one from indecency and manifest evil. Verily, the remembrance
of Allah possesses the highest beneficence. And Allah knows what you do.
Prayer is indeed a
sure and well-tried prescription for purity of the heart and the soul.
It is through Salat alone that we are able to establish a living
communion with Allah. The Quran says:
Surely those who
follow the Book of Allah and observe Prayer and spend out of that which
we have provided for them, secretly and openly, are pursuing a commerce
that suffers no loss, for Allah will give them their full reward, and
will add to them out of His bounty. He is surely, Most Forgiving, Most
According to the Holy
Prophet, on whom be and blessings of Allah, Salat is the pinnacle
of the spiritual life of the believer. It is the highest form of Divine
worship. The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is
further reported to have observed:
the believer into communion with his Lord.
It must be realised
that sincere prayer never goes in vain. Sometimes, the deep spiritual
experience of the intense love of God brings tears to the eyes. Sometimes,
a milder pleasure of love fills the heart with sublime happiness. These
experiences are signs of the Prayer being alive, meaningful and fruitful.
Otherwise, just a performance of formality is not enough to benefit man.
That would be obeying an order without one's heart being in it. That is
why it is highly essential that every beginner should keep this noble
objective before him and always try to make his Prayers come alive.
The Salat combines
all forms and degrees expressive of humility and submission. The worshippers
stand in rows and respectfully behind the Imam.
All the worshippers
who line up behind the Imam must follow his movements at his call.
The call for every movement is Allahu Akbar except when the Imam
straightens himself from the position of Ruku, i.e; the bowing
position, when instead of saying Allahu Akbar, he says Same
Allahu Liman Hamidah which means most certainly God listens to those
who praise Him. At this call, all the followers also straighten up with
arms by their sides, saying Rabbana Wa Lakal Hamd Hamdan Katheeran
Tayyiban Mubarakan Feehe.
Sincerity and humility
are the essence of prayer. Allah enjoins believers:
indeed are the believers, who are humble in their Prayers. (23:2-3)
The Holy Prophet,
on whom be the peace and blessings of Allah, has said: No servant of
Allah humbles himself for the sake of Allah, but Allah thereby
brings about his Raf'a. Raf'a is an Arabic word meaning 'to
raise'. It does not mean that Allah will lift him bodily to heaven. Obviously
it means that Allah will exalt his status before Him.
True humility can
only be achieved by mentally concentrating on the attributes of Allah.
When His immense greatness dawns on someone, one has no choice but to
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