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CHAPTER THREE » Prayer (Ṣalāh)

Prayer is the best act of worship. If it is accepted by the Lord of the worlds, then all other ritual acts of worship (ʿibādāt) are accepted. If it is not accepted, then all other acts of worship are not accepted. In the same way that no dirt would remain on one’s body if he were to wash himself in a stream five times a day, performing the five daily prayers cleanses a person of sins. It is befitting for one to perform prayers at the start of their prescribed time (awwal al‑waqt), and one who considers prayers lowly and unimportant is like one who does not perform prayers. It has been reported that the Most Noble Messenger (Ṣ) said, ‘One who does not give importance to prayers and considers them unimportant deserves chastisement in the Hereafter.’ It has also been reported that once, when His Eminence (Ṣ) was in the mosque, a man entered and began performing prayers but did not perform the bowing (rukūʿ) and prostration (sajdah) properly. His Eminence (Ṣ) said, ‘If this man dies while his prayers are like this, he will not leave this world adhering to my religion.’

Therefore, one must be careful not to perform prayers in a hurry. While performing prayers, one should remember Allah the Exalted, be humble, submissive, dignified, and mindful of whom he is communicating with. He should consider himself extremely low and insignificant in relation to the greatness and grandeur of the Lord of the worlds. If a person is completely mindful of this matter while performing prayers, he will become oblivious to his own self, just as the Commander of the Faithful, ʿAlī (ʿA), was reported to have been when an arrow was pulled out from his blessed foot while he was performing prayers. Furthermore, one must repent and seek forgiveness and not commit sins that are obstacles to prayers being accepted; sins such as jealousy, pride, backbiting, eating unlawful (ḥarām) things, drinking intoxicating beverages, and not paying the one-fifth tax (khums) or the alms-tax (zakat). In fact, one must refrain from all sins. Similarly, it is befitting that one does not do anything that diminishes the reward of prayers; for example, one should not perform prayers while sleepy or needing to go to the toilet, nor should one look at the sky while performing prayers. Instead, one should do things that increase the reward of prayers; for example, one should wear a ring with an agate (ʿaqīq) stone, wear clean clothes, comb his hair, brush his teeth, and apply perfume.
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