Prayer is the most obligatory of the Five Pillars of Islam next to the Two Testifications of Faith, and it was ordained in the best and the most perfect way for an act of worship. Prayer includes many of the acts of worship, like the remembrance of Allah Almighty, the recitation of the Qur’an, standing humbly before Almighty Allah, bowing, prostration, supplication, and Takbeer (uttering the words ‘Allahu Akbar’).
Prayer is also the head of the physical acts of worship, of which none of the religions brought by any of Allah’s messengers is void. Prayer, unlike all other acts of worship, was enjoined by Almighty Allah on His Messenger, Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) the Seal of Messengers, on the night of Al-Mi’raj (the ascension of the Prophet). This is an indication of its greatness, a confirmation of its being obligatory, and a sign of its high status in the Sight of Allah. There are many Hadiths indicating the virtues of prayer and showing its being obligatory on all Muslim individuals. The fact that prayer is an obligatory act of worship is primarily known in Islam. So, whoever denies this fact is considered to be an apostate.
Linguistically, prayer means invocation; Allah, the Exalted Commands the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, to ‘pray’ for the believers, saying (what means): “…And invoke [Allah’s blessings] upon them...” [Qur’an 9: 103]
According to the Shari’ah (Islamic Jurisprudence), prayer is defined as a special kind of sayings and deeds beginning with Takbeer and ending with Tasleem (saying ‘assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah’). It is called ‘prayer’ because it includes invocation. During prayer, the worshipper is in a state of invocation through worshipping Almighty Allah, praising Him, or supplicating Him for something.
This is why it is called ‘prayer’. Prayer was decreed by Almighty Allah on the night of Al-Mi’raj before Hijrah, as five prayers to be performed every day and night at specified times by every legally accountable Muslim. Allah, the Exalted Says (what means): “...Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times.” [Qur’an 4: 103]
Those prayer times are the times pointed out by Allah’s Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, through his words or his deeds. Allah, the Exalted, Says (what means): “And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give Zakat. And that is the correct religion.” [Qur’an 98: 5]
In addition, in many verses of Allah’s Glorious Book (the Qur’an), Allah, the Exalted Says: “And establish prayer...” [Qur’an: 2: 43]
Almighty Allah also Says (what means): [O Muhammad], tell My servants who have believed to establish prayer…” [Qur’an 14: 31)
Moreover, Allah, the Exalted Says: “So Exalted is Allah when you reach the evening and when you reach the morning. And to Him is [due all] praise throughout the heavens and the earth. And (Exalted is He) at night and when you are at noon.” [Qur’an 30: 17-18]
Therefore, it is obligatory for whoever reaches one of the specified times of prayer, being adult and sane, to perform it, excluding women in a state of menstruation or postnatal bleeding. Scholars unanimously agree that it is not obligatory for women in the aforesaid two cases to perform prayer, nor to perform it later after purification. On the other hand, whoever is in a state of unconsciousness, as in sleeping, fainting, and the like, has to perform the prayer at the moment when they wake up or recover to the normal state. Allah, the Exalted, Says (what means): “...And establish prayer for My remembrance.” [Qur’an 20: 14]
In addition, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, says: “Whoever misses a prayer out of oversleeping or forgetfulness, let him perform it once he remembers it.”
A guardian of a child has to command him to perform prayer when the child reaches the age of seven, though it is still not obligatory for him. But the purpose is to make the child interested in prayer and used to it. Thus, the child and his guardian will be rewarded when the former performs prayer, for Allah, the Exalted, Says (what means): “Whoever comes [on the Day of Judgment] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit] ...” [Qur’an 6: 160]
Moreover, when a woman showed the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, a young boy who was with her, saying:”Does this one have to perform Haj (Pilgrimage), O Messenger of Allah?” He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, replied, “Yes, and you will have a reward.”
So, a guardian has to teach his child how to perform prayer and how to perform ablution for it. A guardian has also to beat his child if the latter is ten years old and neglects prayer, for the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Command your children to perform prayer when they become seven years old, and beat them for (not performing) it (i.e. prayer) when they become ten years old; and arrange their beds (so that boys and girls sleep) separately.” [Ahmad, At-Tirmithi, Abu Dawood, and other compilers of Hadiths]
It is also impermissible to perform prayer later than its due time, for Allah, the Exalted Says (what means): “...Indeed prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times.” [Qur’an 4: 103]
The meaning is that prayer has specified times at which it has to be performed. A prayer is impermissible to be deferred except for those who would like to combine it with the following prayer, provided that the said prayer can be combined with another, and that the case is among those in which combining two prayers is permissible as well as the person being one who is allowed to combine prayers in this way. As for delaying performing a night prayer until the morning, a day prayer until the night, or the Fajr (Dawn) Prayer until sunrise, it is by no means permissible, whether the reason is a state of major ritual impurity, minor ritual impurity, or anything else. Rather, one has to perform them at their specified times, regardless of one’s state.
A person might happen to be in a hospital where he is confined to a bed that he cannot leave to pray, or cannot change the impure clothes he wears, or cannot find pure earth to perform Tayammum (dry ablution) instead of ablution to pray. Some ignorant people in this case defer prayer on the pretext that they will perform it later when possible. In fact, this is a grave mistake and a means of missing prayer whose reason is unawareness and lack of juristic consultation. What they have to do is to perform prayer at its specified times regardless of their states. Their prayer will be sufficient, even if it is performed without Tayammum or in impure clothes; Allah, the Exalted Says (what means): “So fear Allah as much as you are able...” [Qur’an 64: 16]
Even if they pray without facing the Qibla (the direction of Ka’aba), provided they are unable to face it, their prayer is still valid.
The prayer is the basic pillar of Islam, and the main difference between a Muslim and a disbeliever. So, whatever good deeds one might do are useless if one is negligent of prayer, we ask Almighty Allah for safety. (Extracted from: A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence)

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Thinking well of others relieves the heart

Nothing relieves the heart and makes one happy more than thinking well of others. It protects one from the harm of worrisome thoughts that disturb his peace of mind and exhaust the body. Thinking well of others leads to a sound heart, strengthens the ties of cordiality and love among the individuals of a community, and frees the hearts from hatred and rancour. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Beware of assumptions, for assumption is the falsest of speech, and do not be inquisitive, and do not spy upon one another, and do not vie with one another, and do not envy one another, and do not hate one another, and do not shun one another; be fellow-brothers and slaves of Allah.”
If only the members of the Muslim community would adhere to this sublime behaviour, their enemies would never dare to attack them and their famous policy of “divide and rule” will never succeed because the hearts are united and the souls are pure.

Ways to think well of others
There are certainly many ways that a Muslim can think well of others; some of which are:
1-  Supplication
Supplicating to Allah The Almighty is the gate to every goodness. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, would ask his Lord to grant him a sound heart.
2- Putting oneself in the place of others
If each one of us puts himself in the place of his brother when the latter does or says something, this will help him think well of others. Allah The Almighty directs His slaves to this meaning in the verse where He Says (what means): {Why, when you heard it [the falsehood against ‘Ai’shah, may Allah be pleased with her], did not the believing men and believing women think good of one another?} [Qur’an 24:12] In another verse, Allah The Almighty makes the believers feel as if they are one single entity, to the extent that when one of them meets his brother and greets him, it is as if he is greeting himself. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {But when you enter houses, give greetings of peace upon yourselves - a greeting from Allah.} [Qur’an 24:61]
3-  Interpreting the words of others in the best possible way
This was the habit of the righteous predecessors. ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “Do not think ill of a word that your believing brother utters as long as it can be interpreted in a good way.”
Imam Ash-Shafi‘i, may Allah have mercy upon him, was ill once, and some of his brothers came to visit him; one of them said, “May Allah strengthen your weakness [He intended to supplicate to Allah in order to eliminate his weakness].” Ash-Shafi‘i, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “If Allah strengthens my weakness, it would kill me!”  The man said, “By Allah, I intended nothing but goodness.” Ash-Shafi‘i, may Allah have mercy upon him, replied, “Even if you insulted me, I know that you sought goodness.” Thinking well of others is true brotherhood, even in things that cannot be interpreted in a good way.
4-  Making excuses for others
When anyone says or does something that annoys or grieves one, he should try to find excuses for him and recall the status of the righteous who used to think well of their fellows and make excuses for them. They would say, “You should make seventy excuses for your brother.” Ibn Seereen, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “If you come to know that a brother has harmed you with either a word or a deed, you should make an excuse for him; if you did not find one, you should say, ‘There may be an excuse that I do not know of.’” When you exert your utmost to make excuses for the words and deeds of others, you will save yourself the trouble of assuming and you will avoid blaming your fellows excessively.
5- Abstaining from judging the intentions of others
This is one of the greatest causes that help one think well of others. One leaves the intentions to the only One who knows them: Allah The Almighty, for He did not command us to check each others’ hearts and intentions, and thus we have to avoid harboring ill-thoughts about others.
6- Recalling the harmful consequences of evil assumptions
The one who thinks ill of others lives in endless trouble and grief, to say nothing of the fact that he loses all those who socialise with him, even the closest people to him. It is natural that people make mistakes, even unintentionally. Accusing others along with thinking well of oneself is one of the evil consequences of thinking ill of others. This is one way a person may be guilty of ascribing purity to oneself that Allah The Exalted forbade in His Book. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {So do not claim yourselves to be pure; He is most knowing of who fears Him.} [Qur’an 53:32] In another verse, Allah The Exalted criticises the Jews when they ascribed purity to themselves. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {Have you not seen those who claim themselves to be pure? Rather, Allah purifies whom He wills, and injustice is not done to them, [even] as much as a thread [inside a date seed].} [Qur’an 4:49]
Thinking well of others requires extensive training and striving against one’s self, particularly because the devil is inseparable from man like the blood that runs through his body. He never stops his attempts to sow dissension within the Muslims and stir up disputes among them. Thinking well of others is one of the greatest means to block this way before the devil. We ask Allah The Almighty to Grant us sound hearts and Help us to think well of our brothers and sisters.

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