Monday, February 25, 2013

Grades of worshipers in Salah: Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi

Of all the A’maal (actions) in Islam, Salah requires our first and foremost attention and care.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) stated, “The first thing one will be held accountable for on the Day of Judgment is Salah (prayer).” (Sunan Abu Dawud, al Nasa’i: Kitab al Salah Bab al Muhasabati `ala al Salat #469-471; Al Hakim also narrated it and said it is sahih)

In another Hadith it is mentioned, “On the Day of Judgement, the very first question that will be asked to man out of his deeds will be about Salah; if his Salah is correct he will succeed but if it is incomplete, he will be disgraced and will suffer loss.- Tabarani

Depending upon the inner and outer quality of Salah, the worshipers have different grades.

Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (RA) writes:
“There is nothing dry or mechanical about Salah. It is not a soulless ritual, frozen into rigidity, in which there is no scope for development and everyone is compelled to stay at the same level. On the contrary, its field is very vast in which the devotee is carried forward from state to state, from advancement to perfection and from perfection to heights that are beyond the imagination of man.

In it, the position of one is different from that of the other. The grade varies from person to person. A Salah performed with negligence and ignorance cannot be treated as equal to that of attention and awareness. In the same way, the Salah of the general body of Muslims cannot match the Salah of the enlightened men of God in virtue and excellence. It is also not necessary that a devotee always maintains the same standard and the Salah he offered today was identical in quality to what he had offered up yesterday or a few months or years earlier.

Thus, we find that two categories of Salah are mentioned in the Quran, praiseworthy and blameworthy.

Of the later type of Salah it says:
“Ah, woe unto worshippers who are heedless of their prayer, (and) who are hypocrites and refuse even small kindnesses.”
(Surah Al-Ma’oon- cvii: 4-7)
And, of the former:
“Successful indeed are the believers who are humble in their prayers.”
(Surah Al-Muminoon- xxiii: 1-2)

 The Holy Prophet (SAWS), also, has spoken of two kinds of Salah, one of reverence, sincerity and humbleness  and the other of negligence, hurry and carelessness.

 Concerning the Salah of the first category Uthman bin Affan [RA] relates that “He [the Prophet SAWS] performed the Wudhu, and performed it well, and then, he remarked, he who performs the Wudhu like me and performs two Rakahs of Salah in such a way that he thinks of nothing else during it, all his previous sins will be forgiven”. –Bukhari and Muslim 

It is related by Hazrat Uqba bin Aamir (RA) that the Prophet (SAWS) once said, “Paradise becomes the right of a Muslim who performs the Wudhu properly and then stands up and offers two Rakahs of Salah and remains attentive in it both with his face and his heart”. -Muslim

 About the Salah of the other kind, it is related by Ammar bin Yasir (RA) that once he heard the Prophet (SAWS)  saying, “A person completes his Salah and yet only one‐tenth, and sometimes, one‐ninth, one‐eighth, one‐seventh, one‐sixth, one‐fifth, one‐fourth, one‐third or one‐half of it comes to his lot.”- Abu Dawood and Nisai.

It is, again, related that the Prophet once said, “The worst of men is he who steals his Salah”. The Holy Companions, thereupon asked, “O Prophet of God! How can a person steal his own Salahs?” The Prophet replied, “He neither performs the Wudhu properly nor the Sajda”. - Muslim

 It is related by Hazrat Anas (RA) that the Prophet (SAWS), once said, “He is a hypocrite who keeps on looking at the sun till it turns pale and comes between the two horns of the Devil and then gets up and hurriedly offers up four Rakahs of Salah like a hen pecking at the grain in which the remembrance of God is only nominal.”- Nisai

In Salah the grades of the devotees are different. The Salah of one devotee cannot be judged by the Salah of the other. The Salah of the sacred Prophet (SAWS) was of the highest order, higher, superior and more perfect than that of any one, and it also held the greatest weight in the Scales of God. Closest to his Salah was the Salah of Hadhrat Abu Bakr (RA).
It was for this reason that Hadhrat Abu Bakr (RA) was commanded by the holy Prophet (SAWS), during his last illness, to lead the prayer‐service in his place though Hadhrat Ayesha (RA) had suggested the name of Hadhrat Omar (RA). But the Prophet insisted on it and, so, it was done. [Bukhari] 

Salah is an indicator of one’s level in the Deen:

Further, there is no better measuring‐yard of one’s place and position in Islam than Salah. The quality of person’s prayers tells more about his inner state than any other thing.

Thus, all the outstanding personalities of Islam, whose names are still cherished in history, have attained that lofty position and immortality by paying the greatest attention to Salah and carrying it to the highest stage of perfection which, in the Islamic parlance, is referred to as Ihsan.”

{See his book ‘The Four Pillars of Islam’}


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