It is related from Abu Hurayra that he heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say: “What do you think would happen if there was a river by someone’s door in which he washed five times every day? Do you think that any dirt would remain on him?” They said, “Not a scrap of dirt would remain on him.” He said: “That is a metaphor of the five Prayers by which Allah wipes out wrong actions.” (Sahih al- Bukhari, Mawaqit, 6; Sahih Muslim, Masajid, 283. Also see: Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Amsal, 5; Sunan an-Nasa’i, Salah, 7; Sunan ibn Majah, Iqama, 193).
In this hadith, the Messenger of Allah describes the Prescribed Prayer using allegory, as this is one of the easiest and most effective means of learning and instruction. A person contemplating the similitude employed here would have no difficulty comprehending the fact that no trace of impurity would remain on a person who bathes in a river five times each day. This is because a person purifies their body and clothing of visible and palpable dirt by means of washing them with water. With reference to this widely accepted fact, Allah’s Messenger proclaims that the Prescribed Prayer cleanses a person thus, of the sins and shortcomings that signify spiritual contamination. In addition to the Prayer itself, the ritual ablution performed prior to the Prayer also provides physical cleansing. As is evident throughout the Prophetic Traditions, the ablution too is atonement for certain minor sins and misdeeds. In this way, both the ablution and the Prescribed Prayer purifies a person physically as well as spiritually. Due to the absolute nature of the statements expressed here, they are viewed as encompassing all sins, minor and major. The terms fahsha (all kinds of sin) and munkar (every kind of evil) employed in the hadith generally signify the major sins. One who does not observe the Prescribed Prayer cannot be protected from committing the major sins, as neglecting the Prescribed Prayer is in and of itself one of the major sins. It is envisaged that a person who enters the Divine presence five times each day in full awareness of this form of worship, acts in the consciousness of forever being in Allah’s presence, even outside their Prayer. Such a person does not sin knowingly; as for that which they commit unwittingly, the ablution and Prescribed Prayer serve as atonement therein.
LESSONS FROM THE HADITH
1. The Prescribed Prayer constitutes the most important and most meritorious act of daily worship incumbent upon every Muslim who has reached the age of religious responsibility (aqil baligh).
2. The Prayer must be observed in full awareness and consciousness of being in the Divine presence.
3. Regular and conscious observance of the five Daily Prayers protects a person from committing the major sins.
4. The Prayer is a means to Allah’s forgiving the minor sins a person commits unintentionally and unconsciously.
5. Using kind counsel and words of wisdom when inviting people to goodness and when conveying to them the message of Islam, and providing examples is a mode of the Prophetic speech. We too must act in the same manner.
- January 07, 2014
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