61-80: Questions and Answers
61- Why is prayer important?
Five regular daily prayers, among the most important observances after faith itself, are acts of worship which believers are commanded to carry out throughout their lives at the specific times appointed.
Human beings are prone to forgetfulness and heedlessness. If they fail to use their will and become caught up in the flow of their day-to-day activities, then they become distanced from those subjects they really ought to be concentrating on. They may forget that Allah surrounds them in every possible way, that He sees and hears them at every moment, that they will account to Him for all their deeds, the existence of Paradise and Hell, that nothing takes place outside destiny and that there is something auspicious in all events. Falling into heedlessness may cause people to neglect the true purpose behind their lives.
The prayer, however, which is performed five times daily, eliminates this forgetfulness and neglect, and keeps a believer's consciousness and will alive. It ensures that the believer constantly turns to Allah and helps him lead a life directed towards the observance of our Creator's commandments. The believer who stands in the presence of Allah ready to perform the prayer establishes a powerful spiritual bond with our Lord. One verse describes how the prayer reminds a person of Allah and prevents all forms of wickedness:
Recite what has been revealed to you of the Book and perform prayer. Prayer precludes indecency and wrongdoing. And remembrance of Allah is greater still. Allah knows what you do. (Surat al-'Ankabut, 45)
62- Were other prophets commanded to perform the prayer?
The prayer has been made obligatory for all believers, from the prophets on down. All the prophets sent to mankind throughout the course of history have preached this observance, made obligatory by Allah, and have been role models for all believers by performing that obligation in the finest and truest manner possible. The Qur'an contains several verses regarding the prophets being commanded to perform the prayer, the scrupulous way they performed and maintained it, and the way they passed that command on to their own societies. Some of these verses read:
- For the Prophet Ibrahim (as):
"My Lord! Make me and my descendants people who perform prayer. My Lord! Accept my prayer." (Surah Ibrahim, 40)
- For the Prophet Isma'il (as):
Mention Isma'il in the Book. He was true to his promise and was a Messenger and a Prophet. He used to command his people to perform prayer and give the alms and he was pleasing to his Lord. (Surah Maryam, 54-55)
- For the Prophet Musa (as):
I am Allah. There is no Deity but Me, so worship Me and perform prayer to remember Me. (Surah Ta Ha, 14)
The blessed Maryam, a role model for female believers, was also commanded to perform the prayer:
Maryam, obey your Lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow. (Surah Al 'Imran, 43)
The Prophet 'Isa (as) also received that same commandment from Allah:
He said, "I am the servant of Allah, He has given me the Book and made me a Prophet. He has made me blessed wherever I am and directed me to perform prayer and give the alms as long as I live." (Surah Maryam, 30-31)
63- At what times has the prayer been made obligatory?
The times of this obligatory observance have been stipulated for believers in the Qur'an. The relevant verse reads:
When you have finished prayer remember Allah standing, sitting and lying on your sides. When you are safe again perform the prayer in the normal way. The prayer is prescribed for the believers at specific times. (Surat an-Nisa, 103)
There are five timings for the prayer; "morning," "noon," "afternoon," "evening" and "night." These are clearly set out in several verses in the Qur'an, one of which reads:
So be steadfast in the face of what they say and glorify your Lord with praise before the rising of the sun and before its setting. And glorify Him during part of the night and at both ends of the day, so that hopefully you will be pleased. (Surah Ta Ha,130)
Our Prophet (saas), who best understood and commented on the Qur'an through the revelation and inspiration of Allah, also described the timings of the five prayers in the day. One of the hadiths in which the timings of the prayer are revealed is that reported by 'Abdullah b. 'Amr:
The time of the noon prayer is when the sun passes the meridian and a man's shadow is the same (length) as his height, (and it lasts) as long as the time for the afternoon prayer has not come; the time for the afternoon prayer is as long as the sun has not become pale; the time of the evening prayer is as long as the twilight has not ended; the time of the night prayer is up to the middle of the average night and the time of the morning prayer is from the appearance of dawn, as long as the sun has not risen.
Both the verses of the Qur'an and the sound hadiths of our Prophet (saas), as well as statements by Islamic scholars, show that there are five timings for the prayer and that there can be no debate over this.
The five daily prayers, with their fards (obligatory), wajibs (compulsory) and sunnahs, consist of 40 rakats (units), as follows:
- Salat al-fajr (morning prayer): sunnah prayer consisting of 2 rakats, fard prayer consisting of 2 rakats
- Salat al-zuhr (noon prayer): initial sunnah prayer consisting of 4 rakats, fard prayer consisting of 4 rakats, final sunnah prayer consisting of 2 rakats
- Salat al-'asr (afternoon prayer): sunnah prayer consisting of 4 rakats, fard prayer consisting of 4 rakats
- Salat al-maghrib (evening prayer): fard prayer consisting of 3 rakats, sunnah prayer consisting of 2 rakats
- Salat al-'isha (night prayer): initial sunnah prayer consisting of 4 rakats, fard prayer consisting of 4 rakats, final sunnah prayer consisting of 2 rakats and witr prayer consisting of 3 rakats.
64- How does one perform the prayer with khushu'?
Performing the prayer with khushu' means performing this obligation through feeling an enormous awe of Allah, in the consciousness of being in His presence and feeling His majesty and greatness in one's heart. In the prayer, a believer who is aware that he is in the presence of Allah, the Lord of the worlds, will experience that majesty and fear, and the closeness he feels to Allah will be proportionate to that fear and awe.
A believer who wishes to perform the obligation of the prayer in a proper manner must take precautions against anything that might prevent that state of the heart and try to establish the requisite attention and concentration.
Allah tells us that when we stand in His presence we must remember Him alone, praise Him and express His Oneness, as the One Who is unfettered by any deficiency. The surahs and supplications unanimously agreed by the Ahl al-Sunnah should be recited in the prayer. Performing the prayer in the proper manner is a great opportunity for wholeheartedly praising our Lord. Indeed, in one verse Allah states the prayer is to be performed in remembrance of Him:
I am Allah. There is no Deity but Me, so worship Me and perform prayer to remember Me. (Surah Ta Ha, 14)
65- What does a person who starts living by religious morality have to change about himself?
In addition to obeying Allah's orders and performing the rites of worship, the most important change a person who starts living by religious morality should make is adopt a life built on good morals by always following his conscience. Everyone will have the character and way of life he adopted before becoming acquainted with religion. However, when he starts living by religious morality, he must perpetuate his good character traits for the approval of Allah, and immediately abandon those that do not meet the standards of the Qur'an, or remould them in line with the morals of the Qur'an.
True believers will not have different world views, life styles or viewpoints. The only criterion for them is the Qur'an and the sunnah, and the only models to be followed are the Prophet Muhammad (saas), the prophets and righteous believers whom Allah gives as examples in the Qur'an.
66- After I start living Islam, will I be responsible before Allah for the sins I have committed in my past life?
Before he is warned, a person would be considered ignorant about religion, with no knowledge of what is right or wrong. Therefore, if he repents and does not revert to the same sins and mistakes and seeks forgiveness from Allah, he will not be held responsible for his sinful past. What is important in Allah's Sight is not to try to justify any mistakes or sins. Allah has given the believers this good news:
As for those who believe and do good deeds, We will cleanse them of their sins, and recompense them for the best of their deeds. (Surat al-'Ankabut, 7)
67- Is it necessary to explain the morals of Islam to others?
Allah holds it the responsibility of all people to live the religion of Islam. Everyone who is aware of the existence of the religion will be asked in the hereafter whether he has abided by the Qur'an or not. Therefore, those who live Allah's religion must convey the good morals laid down in the Qur'an to other people, inviting them to the righteous way, urging them to do right and forbidding them to do wrong. In the Qur'an, Allah gave the following commandment:
Let there be a community among you who call to the good, and enjoin the right, and forbid the wrong. They are the ones who achieve success. (Surat Al 'Imran, 104)
68- In what sense does Allah appreciate patience?
In the Qur'an, Allah tells man to be patient for His sake. In a verse, it is commanded: "Be steadfast for your Lord." (Surat al- Muddaththir, 7) One of the most significant qualities of man which is inseparable from the good morals he upholds and the good deeds he performs to gain Allah's approval is patience.
Yet, we must distinguish between patience and "tolerance". Tolerance is the virtue of enduring any inconvenience that is unpleasant or painful. However, patience, as referred to in the Qur'an, is not a source of difficulty for the believer. The believer exercises patience in order to gain the approval of Allah, therefore he does not suffer any distress because of his patience; on the contrary, he derives spiritual pleasure from it.
Also, patience is an attribute that covers all the characteristics of a believer as set forth in the Qur'an, for a person may be humble, generous, sacrificing and obedient, but these qualities will be truly valuable only if he perseveres with patience in maintaining them. This means that patience is an attribute which renders all other attributes of a believer valuable and valid.
69- What does "putting trust in Allah" mean?
Putting trust in Allah is counting on Allah knowing that everything on the earth takes place under Allah's control and that no one can help or harm the individual unless He so wills. The believers know that Allah is the Almighty and anything He desires will happen just by His saying "Be!" and they never lose heart in the face of difficulties. They know that Allah will help them no matter what, and that He wishes comfort for them in this world and in the hereafter. They live a life of inner peace and joy caused by this awareness.
What falls to a believer is just to give the reactions Allah wants him to give and to wait the result from Allah. In verses, this great secret only understood by the believers is explained as follows:
... Whoever goes in fear of Allah—He will give him a means of salvation and provide for him from sources which he does not expect. Whoever puts his trust in Allah—He will be enough for him. Allah always achieves His aim. Allah has appointed a measure for all things. (Surat at-Talaq, 2-3)
70- What is taqwa? Who are those who have taqwa?
Taqwa (piety) is to abide by the commands and recommendations of Allah and to avoid adverse thoughts and acts. The believers who believe with certainty and who show unremitting perseverance in this are called "the pious ones" in the Qur'an. Allah informs us of the significance of piety: "… Provide well for yourselves; but the best provision is piety. So fear Me, those of you who are endowed with intelligence! " (Surat al-Baqara, 197)
71- What is superiority based on in the Sight of Allah?
In the Sight of Allah, superiority is not based on the race, possessions, position, beauty or anything else a person may possess, but only on his nearness to Allah, that is, his piety:
Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in Allah's Sight is the one with the greatest piety. Allah is All-Knowing and All-Aware. (Surat al-Hujurat, 13)
72- What is deep thinking?
One of the most important characteristics of those who believe in Allah is their ability to see the signs created by Allah. A believer sees the power and artistry of Allah in every subtlety around him, he glorifies His praise and takes this as a way to draw nearer to him. Believers having this characteristic are thus defined in the Qur'an:
Those who remember Allah, standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: 'Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire.' (Surah Al 'Imran, 191)
Allah emphasizes the importance of deep thinking to the believers in many places in the Qur'an with the phrases "Will you not reflect?", "There are signs for those who reflect". The subjects to be reflected on are unlimited. A believer ponders upon many subjects, like the extraordinary order in universe, the living beings on the earth, the perfect systems in these living beings, any event he experiences, the blessings Allah creates ceaselessly, disasters sent down to the unbelievers, Paradise, Hell, and eternity, and with profound thinking, he makes a better appraisal of the existence, might and infinite wisdom of Allah.
73- Religion and science are in agreement.
Religion never conflicts with science. Science is the means to see Allah's artistry. Allah created both religion and science, therefore any discord or conflict between them is impossible. In the Qur'an which Allah sent down 1,400 years ago, there are certain scientific explanations which have now been verified by means of 20th century technology. The claim that religion conflicts with science is a lie made up by those who deny Allah, imagining that they would thus create doubt in people's minds about religion.
74- Who are the scientists who believe in Allah and religion?
Many people who do scientific research see with their own eyes and in full detail the extraordinarily complex structures and the perfect order in living beings, and the great harmony between them. These people inevitably come to the realization of the existence and greatness of Allah. This truth is pointed out by the following verse: "… Only those of His servants with knowledge go in fear of Allah...' " (Surah Fatir, 28)
Some scientists who refuse to heed their consciences and who persist in denial, despite seeing the clear proofs of creation by Allah, are making a grave error. The reason for such people's attitude is purely ideological.
Many renowned scientists of our day and the past are known by their belief and devotion to Allah and religion. Some of these scientists are: Einstein, Newton, Galileo, Max Planck, Kelvin, Maxwell, Kepler, William Thompson, Robert Boyle, Iona William Petty, Michael Faraday, Gregory Mendel, Louis Pasteur, John Dalton, Blaise Pascal, John Ray.
In our day, many scientists confirm the existence of Allah and more, they see science as a means of becoming acquainted with Allah. These include Francis Collins, one of the directors of the Human Genome Project, and the philosopher Anthony Flew, who stated that he now believed after years of being an atheist.
75- How does one give thanks to Allah?
To give thanks for all the blessings Allah has given is an important act of worship. In addition to the verbal expression of thanks, using Allah's blessings in a way that He will be pleased, for charity and good purposes without being extravagant, will also be giving thanks through one's deeds. Also, the individual must know that he needs everything coming from Allah, nothing he owns belongs to him, and everything has been given to him by Allah, and he must at all times give thanks for these things. It is stated in the Qur'an:
So eat the good and lawful (halal) things that Allah has provided for you, and be thankful for the blessing of Allah if you truly worship Him. (Surat an-Nahl, 114)
76- What kind of a being is satan?
Satan is one of the jinn Allah created. After Allah created Adam, who was the first human being, Allah ordered all the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam. Only satan among them did not obey Allah's order, because he was boastful and said:
… My Lord, because You misled me, I will make things on the earth seem good to mankind and I will mislead them all, every one of them. (Surat al-Hijr, 39)
Satan, who was expelled out of the Sight of Allah, asked Allah to give him time until the day of resurrection to keep all of mankind away from Allah's path and to misguide them all. In the meantime, satan will try to cause people go astray from Allah's path and he will do his best to achieve this. Therefore, satan is the greatest danger to the successful after life of every human being and he is thus everyone's greatest enemy.
77- How does satan reach people? By what methods does he try to make them stray from their course?
Allah mentions in the Qur'an that satan whispers evil suggestions in people's hearts. Believers are advised to seek refuge in Allah "from the evil of the surreptitious whisperer who whispers in people's breasts." (Surat an-Nas, 4-5) This is the most insidious tactic of satan. Most people do not realize that the thoughts in their minds are from satan. They think that all their thoughts are their own. For instance, someone who is just learning religion is an important target for satan. He may make religion seem difficult to this person. Or he may tell him that what he already does is enough and more is not required. This person may think that all this is true. Or satan induces feelings like fear, anxiety, stress, and distress in people, and aims to exhaust their energy. He tries to prevent them from doing good and charitable deeds and thinking soundly. One must be aware that all these things come from satan, seek refuge in Allah and pay no heed to satan's whisperings. Furthermore, it must not be forgotten that satan's influence on people lies at the root of all evil, wars, massacres and debauchery in the world.
78- Does satan have independent power of his own?
The most important point to be grasped about satan is that he has no power of his own. Like all other beings, he has also been created by Allah and is under His control. He can do nothing unless Allah so wills. Satan performs his task of causing people to go astray with the permission of Allah. In this way, Allah tests who will and who will not obey satan in the life of this world, which He created to test people. Allah states this truth:
He had no authority over them except insofar as We might be enabled to distinguish one who believes in the hereafter from one who is in doubt about it. Your Lord is the Preserver of all things. (Surah Saba, 21)
79- On whom does satan have no influence?
Satan can have no influence on true believers. Allah tells us of this truth in the 99th and 100th verses of Surat an-Nahl:
He has no authority only over those who believe and who put their trust in their Lord. He has authority only over those who take him as a friend and who associate others with Allah. (Surat an-Nahl, 99-100)
80- What is "the religion of the ignorant?"
Do they then seek the judgement of the Time of Ignorance? Who could be better at giving judgement than Allah for those whose faith is steadfast? (Surat al-Ma'ida, 50)
There is a common false "religion" on earth that all people, regardless of their ideologies, philosophies or world views, who have strayed from the religion of truth, adopt. This false religion is conformed to in all societies where the religion of truth is not adhered to. In such societies, people accept the value judgements, norms and mindset offered by this false religion as a result of the intense inculcation they receive from their environment from the moment they come into this world. The name of this religion is "the religion of the ignorant".
The basic characteristic of people who live the religion of the ignorant is their seeking the approval of the society they live in rather than the approval of Allah, and their building their lives around the axis of this aim.
What is expected of the individuals living in such societies is to "become a man." What is meant by the term "to become a man" is to adopt certain type of culture, attitude and mindset commonly accepted by society and to exhibit certain traits that are favoured by the members of this society. (Further reading on the subject: Harun Yahya, The Religion Of The Ignorant)