Establishing Salaat

“Establish Salaat and do not be like the mushrikeen.” (Surah Room, 31)

This is a portion of an Aayat. In this Aayat Allah Jalla Shaanuhu Wa Amma Nawaaluhu (Sublime is His greatness and all-encompassing is His bounty) instructs something and prohibits something else. I shall speak on what has been instructed and what has been prohibited. Both, the instruction and the prohibition are connected. From this something major is educed which will serve as a course of action and bearing it in mind will be extremely beneficial for all A’maal (deeds and actions). This is the gist of what I am going to speak on today.

Allah Ta’ala says:

“Establish Salaat and do not be like the mushrikeen.”

‘Establish’ means to correctly and perfectly discharge with punctuality. It is also interpreted as: observe the rights and conditions of Namaaz fully. Obviously something is only ‘correct’ when all its parts are in order and in proper proportion. If this is not the case then it cannot be called ‘correct’.

For example, when cooking food, the food will only be judged to be excellent when all the ingredients have been added and in correct proportion. Thus, if too much salt is added the dish will not be said to be excellent.

In like manner, fulfilment of the injunction of ‘establishing’ or correctly discharging Salaat can only be when all rights and regulations pertaining to Salaat are fulfilled. Then it will be said that the Salaat was correctly discharged. In Arabic, to correctly discharge, is expressed as Iqaamat. If this is not the case; its parts or postures are not correctly fulfilled or the proper proportion of the postures are not observed then it can never be said that such a person has correctly discharged his Salaat. In fact, it will be said that he has despoiled and corrupted his Salaat.

Aqeemus Salaah thus means: Offer Salaah and in this manner that all its rights and regulations are fulfilled. The Salaat should not be Salaat only in name. It is not difficult to understand the following: Your superior or your friend tells you to provide him with a worker. You fulfil this instruction of his by presenting to him a blind, cripple and lame person who only breathes but is incapable of doing any work. He asks: “What is this?” and you respond by saying: “I have fulfilled your instruction; I have brought a person.” What will the response of the superior be, and will your friend be happy with this ‘service’ of yours?

If he asks: “What kind of person have you brought?” will it be rational to say that this is a human being and therefore a qualified ‘person’? “He is of the progeny of the human race and therefore a ‘person’. Furthermore he has life. Who can say that he is not a person? I have complied with your wishes.” Your superior or friend will respond: “You can call him ‘person’, but we have not asked for a person only in name; we have asked for a person who can work. We wish to take work from him. This person himself is in need of being served and taken care off.”

Is the friend’s response correct or the dry response of the instruction having been met by the presentation of a ‘person’? Obviously the friend’s objection is correct. It is thus confirmed that there are two stages in fulfilling an instruction; one is the letter and the other the spirit. Merely the letter is not desired by anyone. Everyone desires the spirit of the instruction to be fulfilled.

Consider the example of purchasing almonds from a traditional oriental bazaar where the almond comes with its shell. The seller gives you almonds which are only in name, that is, containing no kernel. Will you return the purchase or not? If he argues: “You wanted almonds; I have given you almonds,” you will respond by saying: “The purpose is benefit and use which are from the kernel, not from just a shell.”

Friends, we should be ashamed of ourselves. In our personal dealings we desire the stage of benefit and use, whilst in dealings with Allah we suffice with the stage of name and technicalities. We then soothe our conscience by saying that we have discharged the order of Allah Ta’ala and we sit in anticipation of thawaab and recompense.

Our Salaat is read without concern for perfection of our Tahaarat and without care for the clothes we wear. Neither is our Rukoo’ correct, nor our Sajdah and nor do we separate the two Sajdahs significantly. Some people do not raise their heads from the first Sajdah enough for the separation of the two Sajdahs to be confirmed. It is recorded in the kitaabs that such a ‘sajdah’ is, in effect, one Sajdah. In this scenario, only one Sajdah was carried out. Then how can the Namaaz be done?

After making one Sajdah a person should sit up straight and all the limbs should come to rest. Then the second Sajdah should be made.

Another innovation is that many people do not have Qaumah in their Salaat. Qaumah means to stand up straight after Rukoo’. This is waajib. Without this the Namaaz is not done. Everyone knows about Qaumah, though some may be ignorant of its compulsory status. Nevertheless, everyone knows that after Rukoo’ one should say, “Sami-‘Allahu liman hamidah” and “Rabbana Lakal Hamd”. Now when do those who have excised Rukoo’ from their Salaat say these Azkaar? Do they say these in Rukoo’? But their Rukoo’ is also observed to be short. What else can be concluded from their actions other than stating that they have excised one part of Salaat? This is transmogrification of Salaat; the Salaat which has been decreed and described by Allah!

Since you do offer Salaat then why throw your Salaat away to the winds? If you cannot achieve the highest stage of Salaat then at least make sure that the minimum requirements are met. At least the mandatory postures should be performed by virtue of which it can be said that Salaat was offered. Let the external form of Salaat be there, though the true nature of it may be missing. But, as mentioned, we have despoiled even the external form of Salaat, leave alone the spirit and essence of it. Now the example which I have given of purchasing almonds at an oriental bazaar is not even applicable. The seller gives empty shells. The shells are devoid of the kernel. Or one is told, “Bring someone,” and a handicapped person is brought.

Now these examples do not even illustrate adequately our Salaat. The example of such a Salaat now is of a person asking for almonds and the seller giving him charcoal, or somebody is asked for but a dead man from the mortuary is presented. Do we think that with such a ‘salaat’ we can avoid divine apprehension? (To be continued, Insha-Allah)