The first of the quaities of the successful was salaah, prayed with humility, concentration, consciousness and presence of heart. Now we come back to guarding the salaah to highlight its importance. The word used in the ayah is Haafidh which means to actively guard and very carefully protect the 5 daily prayers at the recommended times. . Their prayer is alive and transforming them. It’s the most important thing after Iman.
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: I asked, “O Messenger of Allah, which deed is best?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Prayer in its proper time.” (as-salaatu ‘alaa waqtihaa) I asked, “What is next?” The Prophet said, “Good treatment of your parents.” (birr ul waalidayn) I said, “What is next?” The Prophet said, “Jihad in the way of Allah.” (al jihaadu fee sabeelillah) I became silent and if I had asked him more, he would have told me. [Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 2630, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 85]
The scholars explain that this refers to being precise with the timing of the prayer and perform wudhu carefully and well.
Umar ibn Abdul Aziz considered the 5th righteous khalifa. His father Abdul aziz entrusted his son to a Shaykh named Saleh ibn Kisan who was one of the most learned men of madinah. Saleh made it incumbent on young Umar ibn Abdul Aziz to attend every single prayer on time in congregation in the masjid. On one occasion, Umar ibn Abdul Aziz turned up for prayer late. After the salaah, his Shaykh Saleh asked him he said what business were you engaged in that caused you to miss your prayer? SubhanAllah the Sheikh equated coming to the prayer late to missing the prayer. Umar ibn Abdul Aziz replied I was sorting out my hair. Sheikh Saleh replied you love yourself that much that you would let it influence your prayers. He then immediately wrote a letter to his father informing him about the situation informing him that his son had missed the prayer because he was combing his hair. His father, Abdul Aziz, upon receiving this letter he sent a messenger with some clear instructions and a razor. On arrival, the messenger, immediately went to Umars quarters and without even speaking to him, shaved his head completely. Then, he gave him a letter from his father which stated “We heard that your hair is keeping you from making your prayers. Now it will not keep you”. We learn from this that we should ask ourselves what is delaying us from our prayers and remove it.
Al-Hasan Al-Basri raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: “When salah is the least of your concerns, then what is your most important concern? As much as you fix your salah, your life will be fixed. Did you not know that salah was equated with Success: ‘Come to Prayer, Come to Success.’ How can you ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) for success when you are not responding to His right upon you?”
If you are invited by the King or the President or the Prime Minister of a country, would you not attend in your best manners, best clothes, and very early? How come when Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He), the King of kings, invites us for salah, we do not take this invitation seriously?” I will go a bit deeper than this and say, ‘If we truly have faith in the unseen and have faith in the Messenger ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) of Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) telling us that Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) wants us to meet Him 5 times every day in our salah, then we should take salah more seriously.’
Narrated Abu Huraira raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him): The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “If the people knew the reward for the zuhr prayer in its early time, they would race for it. If they knew the reward for the ‘isha and the fajr prayers in congregation, they would join them even if they had to crawl. If they knew the reward for the first row, they would draw lots for it.” [Bukhari]
It was narrated that ‘Alqamah said: “I went out with ‘Abdullah to Friday (prayer), and he found three men who arrived before him. He said: ‘The fourth of four, and the fourth of four is not far away. I heard the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) say: “On the Day of Resurrection people will gather near Allah according to how early they came to Friday (prayer), the first, second, and third.’” Then he said: ‘The fourth of four, and the fourth of four is not far away.’” [Ibn Majah]
Salaah is mentioned as the first characteristic and the last in the description of the successful. And know that we enter this world hearing the adhaan but no salaah. So the question is where is the associated salaah? The scholars explain that it is the salaah which is prayed with no adhan – the janaza prayer as we leave this world.
Of all the commands of Allah(SWT) the only one which the Prophet(SAW) was called to the heavens for, rather than through Jibreel(AS) was as-salaah. If prayed properly, it will have a huge effect on our daily life. Its our daily renewal and refresh of our relationship with Allah(SWT).
“These are the heirs who will inherit Paradise and dwell therein for ever”
The reward for those who embody these characteristics is nothing less than success which is the highest station of Jannah, al Firdows. The people of true faith are those who have concentration, humility and heartfulness in salaah, turning away from useless things, spiritual and financial purification, chastity, fulfilling trusts, keeping promises and safeguarding the prayer. He (SAW) said: ‘Ten Ayah were revealed to me, whoever abides by them shall enter Paradise (man aqaamahunna dakhalal Jannah): ‘Successful indeed are the believers…’ until the completion of ten Ayat (23:1-10).” Jami` at-Tirmidhi Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3173
Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, “The Messenger of Allah said:(There is not one among you who does not have two homes, a home in Paradise and a home in Hell. If he dies and enters Hell, the people of Paradise will inherit his home, and this is what Allah said: (These are indeed the heirs.)
There is a lengthy hadith about the last man to enter Paradise mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari #806: “After Allah(SWT) judges between everyone, a man will remain between the Fire and Paradise. He will be removed from the Fire but his face will be fixed towards the it, so he will cry: ‘Please Allah, let me face elsewhere! Its heat has dried me and its wind has burnt me!’
Allah(SWT) will say: ‘If you are granted this wish, will you ask for anything else?’ He will cry: ‘No!! I swear by your Greatness I will not!’
And he will continue to promise and pledge not to ask anything else, until his face will be directed away from the Fire and towards Paradise. He will see its beauty… but [remembering his promise] will remain silent. He will stay silent for a long, long, time, then eventually [unable to bear any longer] will cry: ‘Please Lord, please bring me forward… just to the Gate of Paradise!! …’
Allah(SWT) will say: ‘Didn’t you promise that you wouldn’t ask for anything else?’ The man will cry: ‘But Lord, please don’t make me the most miserable of your creation!’ Allah(SWT) will say: ‘If I grant you your wish then do not ask for anything else?!’ He will cry: ‘I won’t!!! I promise, I swear by you Greatness I will not!’
And he will continue to promise and pledge not to ask for anything else, until he is brought to the Gate of Paradise. When he reaches it, he will look inside and see its vigour, charm and pleasure… but [remembering his promise] will remain silent. He will stay silent for a long, long time, then eventually [unable to bear any longer] will cry: ‘O Lord… please… please let me enter Paradise!!’
God will say: ‘You’re unbelievable! How treacherous can you get Son of Adam?! Didn’t you make all those promises and pledges not to ask for anything else?’ But the man will cry: ‘But Lord, please don’t make me the most miserable of your creation!’
So Allah, the exalted, will Laugh, and allow the man to enter Paradise. Then God will tell him, ‘Make a wish!’ And the man will keep on wishing and wishing and asking for so many things until he can’t find anything else to ask for. Then God will help him out and remind him saying, ‘How about this… and how about that?’ And then, when the man is completely satisfied, God will say, ‘All your wishes will be granted… and doubled!’ Abu Sa`id said, “I heard him saying, ‘That is for you and ten times more the like of it.”