Why do we do it? As societies worldwide flourish and Islam stands to be the fastest growing religion of the world, we sometimes see a disturbing deviation within the Muslim Ummah. Forget society, forget those who are converting and reverting, forget those who are just introducing themselves to Islam. I'm talking about us: those born and raised into Muslim families and taught the values of Islam and the teachings of the Prophets and Imams (peace be upon them). For everything that we have been taught and nurtured with, we find ourselves constantly doubting the actions we perform and the teachings we follow. But Islam stands to be a religion of logic, from the time of Muhammad, and it will remain so till the mountains crumble, the Earth flattens, and the final trumpet is blown.
One of the most asked questions within our community today is, ‘Why do we have to pray?’ More often than not, we see arrogance taking over people's minds, boasting that there is no need for prayer. And if they do pray, it is ritualistically and taken very lightly.
So people ask, why do we have to pray? And I only respond, ‘Do you not find it worthy to thank Him, the One who has given you everything, and the One Who can take all that away from you if He so wishes overnight?’
In understanding why we pray, there are several factors that need to be understood first, before coming to the essence of prayer itself. The first is understanding and believing that there is a Hereafter, a life after death, one more permanent and Just by the Grace of Allah. For all the injustices and crimes caused in this world, there must be a time of exposing the truth. In accepting the faith of Islam, we have accepted that there will be a Hereafter, and that this world is only transitory.
So knowing that, we also understand that we must send our deeds forth, to serve as a light and support on the Day of Reckoning, where we will be held accountable for all that we have done in this world. We know that everything we do here will either form benefits or punishment in the afterlife. It is all about prioritizing and being prepared.
Allah does not need our prayers, so the question of prayer still remains. But if only we understood that the power of prayer is such that, though we gift it to Allah, for all His Mercy and Blessings, He gifts it back, allowing it to serve as the beacon guiding us on that Day when no wealth, money, or children, will stand beside us.
Have we ever thought of how busy our lives are? We are either rushing to go to work, to finish assignments, to do chores, and to have life sorted out; we are constantly on the run! Have we ever imagined that if Allah wanted, we could lose our job? We could lose our family? Our ability to function and think?
It is due to His Grace that we get up in the morning, and it is due to His Grace that we sleep at night.
In this world, we openly believe in the moral values of thanking someone when they do us a favor or help us in some way. So why is it one rule for the people and another rule for the Supreme Power? Is it not Him we are answerable to? Yet we tend to care what people think of us more.
So if we accept our morals and values, and the basic service to humanity, then we must also accept that we have to thank Allah for the gift of breathing, talking, and walking. We must thank Him for every ability we have – because we know and are fully aware, that all of it can be taken from us in a matter of seconds. And what better way to thank Him than the form of prayer?
In making it mandatory, Allah has only done us a favor, so that we may continue adding to our good deeds, as remembering Him is a Mercy in itself and also rewarding for us.
As we stand at the designated time in front of our Lord and raise our hands to attest that God is Truly Great, we affirm our acknowledgement of His Supremacy, His Bounties, and His Power. What better way to thank He Who Created Us and gave us everything?
In our busy lives with our never-ending agendas, it is nothing short of beneficial for us to stop everything we are doing at that precise moment in time when the call of Ibrahim is echoed throughout the world, and praise Him Who gave us the ability to wake up that morning, and He who granted us the honor of being raised in a religion that promotes direct communication with the Creator.
Thank Him, because thanking Him through compulsory prayer five times a day is sowing the seeds of reward that we will reap on that Day when none other than our deeds shall come to our aid.
* Author: Rumina Hassan