As Muslims, there are five strong foundations that actually make us firm in our faith. First is to declare the Oneness of Allah and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as HIS last Messenger. The second pillar is to establish salat, third is to offer zakat, the fourth is to observe fasting during the month of Ramadan and last is to visit the Holy city of Mecca at least once in a lifetime.

Salat is a religious obligation on every Muslim to perform throughout the course of our lives. As Muslims, we have been commanded by Allah (SWT) through our Noble Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to establish salat as a means of communicating with HIM Allah (SWT).
The reason why salat is important in our lives is that, it is the only commandment the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) went to the heavens to receive. Every other commandment that was given to Mankind was sent through Angel Gibreel to Prophet Muhammad (SAW). And yet there there was one commandment which was so important that Allah (SWT) had the Prophet (SAW) come up to HIM to receive. And that is salat. This journey the Prophet undertook is known as Israa wal Miraaj (The magnificent journey).
Originally man was commanded to pray fifty times a day by Allah (SWT). But when the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) received this command and was descending to return to the world, he (SAW) met Prophet Musa (alayhi salam) in one of the heavens. Prophet Musa explained from his experience with the people of Israel advised the Prophet (SAW) to go back to Allah for a reduction because people were not going to fulfill it. The Prophet (SAW) listened and went back to Allah for a reduction. When Allah reduced it, He (SAW) again met Prophet Musa and He complained again and asked Him to go back for a reduction. And He (SAW) went back for a reduction and the interaction with Prophet Musa happened subsequently until the prayer was reduced to just five times a day. After the prayer was reduced to five, Prophet Musa again pleaded with Prophet Muhammad to go back for a reduction, but at this stage, He (SAW) said he was too shy to go back to Allah for a reduction and decided the fives times of salat was enough. Allah being the Ever Merciful, eventhough we do not pray fifty times a day, we still get the reward of fifty in our five. Subhanallah!
Reflecting upon the incident of Prophet Muhammad receiving the commandment of salat and his interaction with Prophet Musa, one will ask did Allah (SWT) not know it will be five but why did HE (ALLAH) start with fifty? There is some wisdom in this. This is to tell us the importance of salat in our lives.
If we really were praying fifty times a day would we have time to do anything else?
Meaning our main obligation in life is to worship Allah (SWT) and that should be our purpose in Life. Because this is all that matters. If we prayed fifty times a day, we wouldn’t do anything. Our lives was just going to be all salat, salat and salat. Our focus in life is solely to worship Allah (SWT). As Allah clearly says in the Qur’an,

“HE hasn’t created the Mankind and Jinn for nothing except to worship HIM”.

So this should be our focus in life. Our lives must revolve around salat.
But question is, Do we make our lives revolve around salat?

PURPOSE AND IMPORTANCE OF SALAT IN OUR LIVES

Salat is a unique training and developmental program which if well and devotedly performed can achieve for a Muslim many valuable spiritual, physical and ethical gains. It is obligatory on every Muslim to observe salat as it was observed by Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) expressed the importance of prayer as He says in one of his hadiths;

“The first matter the slave will be brought to account on the Day of Judgment is Prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is incomplete then the rest of his deeds will be incomplete”.

This saying of the Prophet is a statement of meaning and power which we must all adhere to. Question is if salat is the first matter we will be questioned on then why don’t we make efforts in strengthening it?
Salat is key to success in the life of every believing Muslim. It is a means of a direct communication with Allah (SWT). One might ask how we communicate with Allah? The Glorious Quran is the book and message of Allah and we recite it when we are praying, therefore anytime we stand in prayer we are reciting Allah’s message to us and HE answers our duas and requests during our observance of salat. That is to say, when we want to speak to Allah or want HIM to speak to us then we should establish salat. The Prophet said “When any of you stands in prayer, he is communicating with His Lord, so let him pay attention to how he speaks to HIM”. Another importance of salat is to show gratitude to Allah for all HIS Greatness. Allah (SWT) has created us and HE is our Guide and Protector in this world. HE has blessed us with the gift of life, health, wealth and a lot of other positive things in our life. What else can we offer HIM if not show gratitude to HIM. And therefore salat is the perfect act a Muslim can engage in to show gratitude to Allah (SWT). Salat shields us against evil, enriches our souls, washes away our sins and makes us humble both in the sight of Allah and Man.
As Muslims, some of us do not pay attention to salat, we ignore it as part of lives. We pray when we want to, like during occasions. But that shouldn’t be the case, salat is an everyday obligation and not an occasional thing. Not performing salat regularly can lead us into falling heedless to the true purpose of life, which is to worship Allah. Salat is a protection for us. When we ignore salat we fall distance from Allah and begin to sin even more. The more we neglect salat, the more there’s the desire to sin.

PRIORITIZING SALAT AND DEVELOPING CONCENTRATION

As discussed earlier, salat is a means of direct communication and a means of getting closer to Allah (SWT). The first step we can ensure in concentrating in our salat is to learn how to recite the Qur’an properly. The Arabic language is the language of the Quran and it’s a complex one. Wrong pronunciation of words from the Qur’an changes its meaning which is unacceptable. Therefore as Muslims, we need to learn and recite the Qur’an properly. We have to learn it’s meaning and tafsir too. In salat, we know we are communicating with Allah, but how can we communicate with anyone without understanding what we are saying to them? Even in our daily lives, we can’t have a good relationship with people if we do not understand what they are saying to us. Therefore it’s important for us as Muslims to learn the meaning of what we recite in salat. When we don’t learn the meaning of the Qur’an and all the azkar we recite in salat, then our salat will become a ritual that is, something we do to finish not something that deeply affects us or not something that brings us closer to Allah.

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As discussed earlier, salat is a means of direct communication and a means of getting closer to Allah (SWT). The first step we can ensure in concentrating in our salat is to learn how to recite the Qur’an properly. The Arabic language is the language of the Quran and it’s a complex one. Wrong pronunciation of words from the Qur’an changes its meaning which is unacceptable. Therefore as Muslims we need to learn and recite the Qur’an properly. We have to learn it’s meaning and tafsir too. In salat, we know we are communicating with Allah, but how can we communicate with anyone without understanding what we are saying to them? Even in our daily lives, we can’t have a good relationship with people if we do not understand what they are saying to us. Therefore it’s important for us as Muslims to learn the meaning of what we recite in salat. When we don’t learn the meaning of the Qur’an and all the azkar we recite in salat, then our salat will become a ritual that is, something we do to finish not something that deeply affects us or not something that brings us closer to Allah.

As discussed earlier, salat is a means of direct communication and a means of getting closer to Allah (SWT). The first step we can ensure in concentrating in our salat is to learn how to recite the Qur’an properly. The Arabic language is the language of the Quran and it’s a complex one. Wrong pronunciation of words from the Qur’an changes its meaning which is unacceptable. Therefore as Muslims we need to learn and recite the Qur’an properly. We have to learn it’s meaning and tafsir too. In salat, we know we are communicating with Allah, but how can we communicate with anyone without understanding what we are saying to them? Even in our daily lives, we can’t have a good relationship with people if we do not understand what they are saying to us. Therefore it’s important for us as Muslims to learn the meaning of what we recite in salat. When we don’t learn the meaning of the Qur’an and all the azkar we recite in salat, then our salat will become a ritual that is, something we do to finish not something that deeply affects us or not something that brings us closer to Allah.
The next step we can take to ensure concentration in salat is to pray at the appropriate time. The salat we have been commanded to observe by ALLAH (SWT) has been spread out throughout the day such that at a particular time, there is a kind of prayer to be observed.
The timing of salat is dawn, noon, afternoon, evening and late evening. Popularly known as the prayer of 5 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, 6 pm and 7 pm.

So be steadfast in the face of what they say and glorify your Lord with Praise before the rising of the sun and before its setting. And glorify HIM during part of the night and at both ends of the day, so that you will be pleased. (Surat TaHa, 130).

No matter how busy we find ourselves, it’s important to make efforts to observe our salat. Combining salat might not give us the full concentration we require. We should make our lives revolve around salat rather than make salat revolve around our lives. We have to re-adjust our priorities and put salat back where it belongs, the centre of our lives. And remember it is the first thing we will be questioned on, on the Day of Judgment.
We have to realize and perfect the salat of the Prophet; that is it should be done in a manner which is slow with a measure of Love.
When we observe salat appropriately, we will develop a level of contentment and serenity in our lives.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, I think our Imams must take up the responsibility of educating the society on the importance of salat and how to perform salat effectively. Re-orient the system of madrasas, our Imams should ensure that children they are teaching are able to offer their salats well and know its importance and purpose in their lives. There is too much focus on completing the Quran which undoubtedly is a good thing. But what is the importance of Quran in our lives when we don’t even understand its meaning in the salat we observe.

SALAAM ALAIKUM WARAHMATULLAH!