Abu Hurayrah (R) narrated Muhammad (S) said, "Do you think if there was a river at the door of one of you and he bathed in it five times a day (that) any dirt would remain upon him? (Those who were with him) said, "No dirt would remain upon him. He (S) said, "That is how it is with the five daily prayers, through them Allah washes away the sins." (Bukhari and Muslim)
Abu Hurayrah (R) narrated Muhammad (S) said, The five daily prayers, and the Jumuah to the Jumuah are an expiation for what is between them, as long as one is not guilty of major sins." (Muslim)
We can see that if we perform our prayers correctly that they wipe out the minor sins that we commit, just like if we attend the Jumuah prayer and then the following Jumuah prayer in a correct manner our minor sins are wiped out between that time period.
Alhumdulillah there is much reward in doing the obligatory acts that Allah has legislated. If we pray five times a day correctly the above ahadith show the compensation we receive. Likewise, we know if we abandon obligatory acts then there are bad consequences with that especially with the prayer. Muhammad (S) said, "Between kufr (disbelief) and iman (faith) lies abandonment of the prayer" (Tirmidhi) In another narration he (S) said, "Between a man and between shirk (polytheism) and kufr (disbelief) there is abandonment of the prayer." (Bukhari)
The prayer is so important that Muhammad (S) mentioned it just before he (S) was about to die, "The prayer, the prayer ." (Bukhari)
Knowing how important the prayer is, we need to make sure we pray in the proper manner as Muhammad (S) said, "Pray just as you have seen me praying." (Bukhari) He (S) specified that we should all pray, whether we be male or female, as he (S) did. We should know the evidence for why we pray in the manner that we do, and we should not just rely on how people in our certain culture pray without knowing why they pray the way they do based on evidences from the Sunnah of Muhammad (S).
Prophet Muhammad (S) also said, Whoever makes wudu (ablution) as he has been ordered, and prays as he has been ordered, then whatever action he had done previously is forgiven for him." (Ahmad) We also know that we can not pray without performing ablution and this also must be done as has been ordered by Muhammad (S). Many people wipe the back parts of their neck and other acts which have not been legislated by Muhammad (S), so it is very important to know the evidence for how to perform ablution.
After making sure we are making ablution and performing the prayer based on authentic evidences, we need to obtain khushu (humility, submissiveness, atteniveness, fear of Allah) when we pray as Allah says (what means):
"Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their prayers with humility and attentiveness" (Al-Muminun 40:1-2)
Ways to attempt to achieve khushu are to remember death, reflect on what is being said in the prayer, realize Who it is we are praying to, avoid unlawful behavior and acts (make sure the money you are earning is lawful, etc.), come easily to the prayer and not running, and to pray in congregation. Allah says (what means):
"Establish the prayer, pay the poor-due, and bow your heads with those who bow (in prayer)." (Al-Baqarah 2:43)
We must also neglect to perform the voluntary prayers as they make up for any shortcomings we might have had in our obligatory five daily prayers. Muhammad (S) said, "The first thing for which the servant will have to account for on the day of Resurrection is his prayer. So if he has completed it, then it is written as complete for him. But if he has not completed it (i.e. had some deficiency), then Allah will say to His angels: See, do you find any optional prayers for My servant so that you may complete his obligatory prayer with them? " (Ahmad, Abu Dawood)
We should also note the benefits of the night prayer (tahajjud, qiyam-ul-layl). Allah (T) comes down during the last third of the night to see which of His servants are praying so he may answer their supplications.
This does not come close to cover various aspects of the prayer, but InshaAllah it has conveyed the high importance of the prayer and will remind us to do our best to attempt to perfect our prayer.
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