Salah: Life’s Forgotten Purpose


Man has taken many journeys throughout time. But there is one journey that nobody has ever taken.

Nobody—except one.

On a vehicle no man has ever ridden, through a path no soul has ever seen. To a place no creation has ever before set foot. It was the journey of one man to meet the Divine. It was the journey of Muhammad ﷺ, prophet of God, to the highest heaven.

It was al Israa wal Miraaj (the magnificent journey).

On that journey Allah took his beloved prophet ﷺ to the seventh heaven—a place not even angel Gibreel could enter. In the Prophet’s mission on earth, every instruction, every commandment was sent down through angel Gibreel. But, there was one commandment that was not. There was one commandment so important, that rather than sending angel Gibreel down with it, Allah brought the Prophet ﷺ up to Himself.

That commandment was salah (prayer). When the Prophet ﷺ was first given the command to pray, it was to be fifty times in a day. After asking Allah to make it easier, the commandment was eventually reduced to five times a day, with the reward of the fifty.

Reflecting upon this incident scholars have explained that the process of going from fifty to five was a deliberate one, intended to teach us the true place salah should hold in our lives. Imagine for a moment actually praying fifty times a day. Would we be able to do anything else but pray? No. And that’s the point. What greater way than that to illustrate our life’s true purpose? As if to say, salah is our real life; all the rest that we fill our day with…just motions.

And yet, we live as if it’s exactly the opposite. Salah is something we squeeze into our day, when we find time—if that. Our ‘lives’ don’t revolve around salah. Salah revolves around our ‘lives.’ If we’re in class, salah is an afterthought. If we’re at the mall, the Macy’s sale is more urgent. Something is seriously wrong when we put aside the very purpose of our existence in order to watch a basketball game.

And that is for those who even pray at all. There are those who have not only put aside their life’s purpose, they have abandoned it completely. What we often don’t realize about the abandonment of salah is this: No scholar has ever held the opinion that committing zina (fornication) makes you a disbeliever. No scholar has ever held the opinion that stealing, drinking or taking drugs makes you a disbeliever. No scholar has even claimed that murder makes you a non-Muslim. But, about salah, some scholars have said he who abandons it, is no longer Muslim. This is said based on ahadith such as this one: “The covenant between us and them is prayer, so if anyone abandons it, he has become a disbeliever.” [Ahmad]

Imagine an act so egregious that the Prophet ﷺ would speak about it is such a way. Consider for a moment what satan did wrong. He didn’t refuse to believe in Allah. He refused to make one sajdah. Just one. Imagine all the sajdahs we refuse to make.

Consider the seriousness of such a refusal. And yet, think how lightly we take the matter of salah. Salah is the first thing we will be asked about on the Day of Judgment, and yet it is the last thing that is on our mind. The Prophet ﷺ said: “The first thing which will be judged among a man’s deeds on the Day of Resurrection is the Prayer. If this is in good order then he will succeed and prosper but if it is defective then he will fail and will be a loser.” [Tirmidhi]

On that Day, the people of paradise will ask those who have entered Hell-fire, why they have entered it. And the Qur’an tells us exactly what their first response will be: ”What led you into Hell Fire? They will say: ‘We were not of those who prayed.’” (Qur’an, 74:42-43)

How many of us will be among those who say “we were not of those who prayed, or we were not of those who prayed on time, or we were not of those who made prayer any priority in our lives?” Why is it that if we’re in class or at work or fast asleep at the time of fajr and we need to use the restroom, we make time for that? In fact, the question almost sounds absurd. We don’t even consider it an option not to. And even if we were taking the most important exam of our lives, when we need to go, we will go. Why? Because the potentially mortifying consequences of not going, makes it a non-option.

There are many people who say they don’t have time to pray at work or school, or while they’re out. But how many have ever said they don’t have time to go to the bathroom, so while out, at work or school have opted instead to just wear Depends? How many of us just don’t feel like waking up at Fajr time if we need to use the bathroom, and choose instead to wet our bed? The truth is we’ll get out of bed, or leave class, or stop work, to use the bathroom, but not to pray.

It sounds comical, but the truth is we put the needs of our body above the needs of our soul. We feed our bodies, because if we didn’t, we’d die. But so many of us starve our souls, forgetting that if we are not praying our soul is dead. And ironically, the body that we tend to is only temporary, while the soul that we neglect is eternal.

Originally published by InfocusNews

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  • Madame Rafie

    Thank you… I enjoyed reading your piece. A soul consumption indeed.

  • Saadah_atan

    How true, thank you for the reminder. May Allah bless you for sharing.

  • Locksofebony

    Nice reminder. Mash’Allah. I feel that the waking up to go to the bathroom, and waking up for prayer(Fajr) are not good analogies. Waking up to relieve oneself is a physical response of the body that we have no control over. However, waking up when Fajr comes is not a physical response of the body, unless one has trained the body in some way to know when it comes. Since it comes at different times throughout the year, how is that possible? The use of an alarm clock, would be in order. I do see your point, we do put prayer aside for other things, I am guilty of this on occasion. To make prayer as important as the things we do to make our bodies function would be ideal! May we all strive to attain this goal.. Ameen.

  • Rida Abbasi1

    MashAllah.. Yasmin. Thats a great reminder plus in the way you stated it.. makes it more clear. Many many Duas for you.. you are doing a great Job.. Keep it up.. we need People like you.

  • mehnaz

    ALLAH give all us muslims the heedayah to pray five times a day ameen

  • Sabiha

    mashaallah .. May Allah give hidaya to all of us offering all five prayer on time and regulerly …..JazakAllah.

  • Sabiha

    MashaAllah ….May Allah give hidaya to all of us offering all five salah on time and regulerly…JazakAllah.

  • Thanks a lot for such an important and precious Post!Jazak Allah Khair

  • Thankful

    Jazakum Allahu Khayran

  • Moinuddin Ali Khan

    Very interesting post this, enlightening the mind with the essence of Salah. However, theres one think I’d like to stress here… there is difference between “praying” and “establishing” player – “wa AQEEM us Salaah…” – of a much higher degree. Just offering the prayers 5 times a day is not enough (but we find fullfilling this basic necessity itself a herculean task!). Just as a sportsman need to exercise every day in the morning, for his physical upkeep so that he can play his sport, the soul also need a basic upkeep exercise (Salaah)… so that the essence of the M’umeen is manifested for the rest of the time (AQEEM us Salaah).

  • Thank you for this post. Here are my views – Could you ever pray 50 times a day? Do you have a prayer life?

  • Mohamed S Ali

    Baraka Allahu Feeki!
    I needed this!!

  • Farrahin Sazale

    Subhanallah so true! :…the body that we tend to is only temporary, while the soul that we neglect is eternal.” Jzzk sister :)

  • Mashalanjum

    such a powerful reminder. mashaAllah, may you be blessed for reminding us. may we all become more steadfast, Ameen!

  • Sanam Ghogha

    Love love love this! Jazakallah Khair

  • Banun3431

    Mashallah, this is an inspiring soul-uplifiting article– I am going to try to pray all my salahs on time, Inshallah

  • farah a.rahim


  • Mysticy419

    jazaaka Allahau khair

  • Khalid

    some great analogies that really make you realise the purpose of our existence is ibadah and not materialistic. May Allah guide us all and increase our Iman. Jazak Allah khair for this excellent reminder.

  • Quickfix

    when i didnt know much of islam , i used to be regular in prayers,now i know a lot more of islam and appreciate myself for being muslim. I have lot more faith in Allah, i am thankful for prophet muhmmad for being mercy to mankind and I understand him more. I even do fasting , do zakat with extra charity dutifully and i am even content with my financial needs (of course if allah gives i wont say no). Yet i have lost on salah. try my best to perform , and the best will be just a day or 2. Help me out on salah so that i wont be with people who dont do salah”. How do you keep ur salah regular….what makes your body clocks timed to salah. i am trying hard to keep my body clean and in pure state. My only short coming is I am addicted to porn,only in my free time. This addiction is even keeping me away from going to Hajj, as i dont want to be same person even after coming back from hajj. My repentence are not sincere, even when i do ask , i know i will be going back to same state of addiction. This addiction is destroying me and myself. any advice will be appretiated . pray for me so i will be cured of this addiction.

  • Faria

    SubhanAllaah, amazing!!!

  • Khadigah

    word. loved the basis for this argument, mA.

  • May Allah give hidayet all of us .

  • Bibidaly

    Mashallah,so true and a great reminder for me to carry always,thank you sister.

  • Sarah

    Thank you sister for reminding us in such a beautiful and honest way. May Allah bless you for sharing your wisdom and for all good and hard work you do to help us on the right path of Allah

  • How beautifully said… Subhanallah…..

  • fromMalaysia

    “The covenant between us and them is prayer, so if anyone abandons it, he has become a disbeliever.” [Ahmad]… masyaAllah

  • Moina Haqqani

    When we pray we converse with Allah and when we read the Quran Allah converses with us

  • Guest

    That story about the Prophet (PBUH) asking Allah to lower the prayer amount from 50 times a day to 5 times a day just doesnt make sense to me. Is Allah really so cruel that Allah needed the Prophet (PBUH) to ask Allah to lower the amount? It makes it seem like the Prophet knew better than Allah and Allah made a mistake when telling us to pray 50 times a day.

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