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Imām al-Riḍā ▧:

May Allāh ◣ shower mercy upon an obedient who has revived our cause.  The Imām was asked “how could one revive your cause”?  He replied: by learning about our knowledge, and making it known to [other] people.  People would indeed follow us if they knew about the virtue of our words.

 Book No. 25, v.1, p.180

Imām al-Ḥusayn ▧:

Verily, the love of us, Ahl al- Bayt, sheds sins off an individual, just as a strong wind sheds leaves off the tree.

Book No. 3, v. 27, p. 77, h. 9, c. 4.

Imām al-Bāqir ▧:

A believer can escalate to highest degree of belief with prudent study of our narration.

Book No. 3, v. 1, p. 106, h. 2, c. 3.

Ḥaḍrat Fāṭimah Zahrā ▨:

We, Ahl al-Bayt, are the intermediaries in His Creation, we are His favourites, and the descending point of divinities, and we are His final Proof of His unseen world, and we are inheritors of His prophets.

The Fatimiyyeh Sahifah, p.174

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Section18

الصَّلاةُ وَ الصُّومُ

نماز و روزه

‍‍ Ṣalāt (Prayer) and Ṣawm (Fasting)

Part1,Introduction

Ṣalāt [i] ( صَلاَة or صَلَوة ) is a derivative of the root <ص.ل.و.>.  It is a diversified word, having many meanings and applications.  It is a bi-directional process; i.e. it can be descended from the heavens, or be ascended from the earth.  Please refer to ḥadith No. 18-17 in part 2 of this section). 

 

In general, it may mean mercy, attention, blessing, purification, wishing peace upon someone, inclination toward someone, returning to Allāh, treating compassionately, pleading for forgiveness, supplication, salutation, glorification, praising, well wishing, facing or striding towards Allāh, appealing to Him, and special remembrance of Allāh, depending on the usage of this word.

 

In particular, it means the regular daily ṣalāt (prayer), with certain procedures and formalities, which include relevant features of physical and spiritual applications.

 

Normally, the Arabic word ṣalāt is translated as prayer.  The English word prayer does not exactly reflect the meaning of ṣalāt.  In Islām, there are many types of prayers, with specific names, for specific purposes.  Ṣalāt is the most important -and most complete- type of prayer.  It is a multi-dimensional obligatory ritual, which includes all other types of prayers in it (such as glorification and gratification, du ʿā , munājāt, dhikr, recitation of the Glorious Qur ān , bowing down, prostration, etc.).  This is performed five times a day, at least.  

 

The plural form of ṣalāt is ṣalawāt ( صَلَوات ).  The latter has also a specific meaning.  It means wishing peace upon a rat Muḥammad and his infallible and purified progeny, as frequently used in the phrase (O’ All ā h Please bestow peace and blessing upon Muḥammad and his progeny الٰهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلیٰ مُحَمّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمّد ).

 

Part 2 of this Section includes a good selection of aḥādith regarding the Ṣalāt and the Ṣawm (fasting).

 

The ṣalāt is also the most beautiful way of worshipping Allāh.  The harmonious language and the delightful postures bring body, mind, and spirit into a humble and courteous attitude, feeling, and thought.  It is a very profound way of communicating with our Lord to show gratitude, and to glorify Him.  All messengers of Allāh have spent most of their times in various postures of the ṣalāt, especially the position of prostration.  Their first and last recommendation has been the ṣalāt.  The Glorious Qur ān presents many examples.  In fact no divine religion has been delivered without ṣalāt, even though they might have been different in performance at different times.  To prophet Mūsā (a.s.), Allāh says:

 

... وَ اجْعَلُوا بُيُوتَكُمْ قِبْلَةً وَ أَقِيمُوا الصَّلاةَ وَ بَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ .

…Make your houses places of worship, keep up prayer ( صلاة ), and give good news to the believers.

Sūrah Yūnus (10), Āyah 87.

 

Pr ophet Ibrāhim (a.s.) asks Allāh:

رَبِّ اجْعَلْنِي مُقِيمَ الصَّلاةِ وَ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي...

O’ my Lord!  Make me one who establishes the al ā t ( صلاة ), and [make so] among my offspring [too]…

Sūrah Ibr ā him (14), Āyah 40.

 

Prophet ʿIsā (a.s.) says:

 

... وَ أَوْصانِي بِالصَّلاةِ وَ الزَّكاةِ ما دُمْتُ حَيًّا.

…And All ā h has enjoined on me the Ṣalāt (prayer) and the Zak ā t [ii] (poor-rate), so long as I live.

Sūrah Maryam (19), Āyah 31.

 

 

To prophet Ismāʿil (a.s.):

 

وَ كانَ يَأْمُرُ أَهْلَهُ بِالصَّلاةِ وَ الزَّكاةِ وَ کانَ عِندَ رَبِّهِ مَرضيّاً.

And [ All ā h (J.J.)] commanded [ prophet Ismāʿil (a.s.)’s] family to establish al ā t and pay Zak ā t , and he was one with whom his Lord was well pleased.

Sūrah Maryam (19), Āyah 55.

 

To the older prophets (before a rat M ūsā (a.s.)), All ā h says:

 

... وَ أَوْحَيْنا إِلَيْهِمْ فِعْلَ الْخَيْراتِ وَ إِقامَ الصَّلاةِ ...

…And, We revealed to them the acts of doing good, and establishing the Ṣalāt

Sūrah ’Anbiyā’ (21), Āyah 73.

 

To prophet Shu ʿayb , his people said:

 

يا شُعَيْبُ أَصَلاتُكَ تَأْمُرُكَ أَنْ نَتْرُكَ ما يَعْبُدُ آباؤُنا...

O’ Shu ʿ ayb !  Does your Ṣalāt enjoin you that we should abandon what our fathers worshipped...?

Sūrah H ū d (11), Āyah 78.

To ḥaḍrat Maryam (the Virgin Mary) Allāh says:

 

يَمَرْيَمُ اقْنُتى ل ِ ِرَبِّكِ وَ اسجُدِى وَ ارْكَعِى مَعَ الرَّكِعِينَ(43)

O’ Maryam !  Worship your Lord devoutly, prostrate yourself, and bow down (in al ā t ) with those who bow down.

Sūrah al-Baqarah (3), Āyah 43.

To the mu minīn (believers), Allāh says:

 

حافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَواتِ وَ الصَّلاةِ الْوُسْطى‏ٰٰٰ وَ قُومُوا لِلَّهِ قانِتِينَ.

Guard your Ṣalāt, especially the Middle Prayer; and stand long before Allāh in devotion.

Sūrah al-Baqarah (2), Āyah 238.

 

To his son, Luqm ā n said:

 

يا بُنَيَّ أَقِمِ الصَّلاةَ وَ أمُرْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ…

O’ my son!  Stand up for the Ṣalāt, and enjoin the good…

Sūrah Luqmān (31), Āyah 17.

 

The ṣalāt is also an obvious manifestation of the Unitheism, in theory and in action.  All over the world, Muslims direct themselves to One focal point (the Ka ʿbah) , and give attention to Allāh, several times during each day and night.  If one were to look from the sky, all the graceful worshipping movements of bowing, prostrating, sitting, and rising would seem endless, due to the global time differences on earth.  Worldwide, this motion continues ceaselessly at all times. 

 

We found 16,968 entries of ṣalāt in the C.D. of aḥādith [iii] we use (this C.D includes 442 volumes of 187 books by 90 reputable narrators).  The Glorious Qur ān talks about the ṣalāt in 78 different verses, clarifying that it is the most powerful means of relating to Allāh via verbal, mental, and spiritual communications. 

 

In āyah 14 of sūrahṬāhā (20) Allāh commands:  Establish the ṣalāt for remembering Me (أقِمِ الصَّلاةِ لِذِكری).  Therefore, in simple words it is a way to say O God!  Forget you not, and O God!  Forget me not.  

 

Does Allāh need our ṣalāt, ṣawm, worship, or need to be remembered?  Of course, not!  We are constantly reminded that He, (J.J.), is absolutely free from any need.  It is definitely for our own benefit to adhere to His directives.  The ṣalāt induces heavenly peace and tranquillity, as well as certain spiritual energy.  It keeps physical, mental, and spiritual illnesses at bay, and it safeguards against internal and external satanic influences.  Please consider the following two āyahs:

 

...أَلا بِذِكرِ اللَّهِ تَطمَئنُّ الْقُلُوب .

Know that the tranquillity for the heart rests with the dhikr[iv] of Allāh

Sūrah ar-Raʿd (13), āyah 28.

al ā t is the best form of dhikr.  Therefore, it is the best antidote to stress, anxiety, tension, sadness, and trauma which cause heart attacks and strokes.

 

...إِنَّ الصلَوةَ تَنهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشاءِ وَ الْمُنكَرِ...

  Verily, the ṣalāt protects against the indecent filthiness and the unbearable evil deeds

Sūrah al-ʿAnkabūt (29), āyah 45.

The Glorious Qur’ān shows clearly what happens if we ignore to establish the al ā t .

كلُّ نَفْسِ بِمَا كَسبَت رَهِينَةٌ(38)  إِلاّ أَصحَبَ الْيَمِينِِ(39)  فِى جَنََّٰتٍ يَتَساءَ لُونَ (40)  عَنِ الْمُجْرِمِينَ(41)  مَا سَلَكَكُمْ فى سَقَرَ(42)  قَالُوا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ الْمُصلِّينَ(43)  وَ لَمْ نَكُ نُطعِمُ الْمِسكِينَ(44)

وَ كُنَّا نَخُوضُ مَعَ الخَْائضِينَ(45)  وَ كُنَّا نُكَذِّبُ بِيَوْمِ ٱلدِّينِ(46)  حَتى أَتَاناَ‏ الْيَقِينُ(47)  فَمَا تَنفَعُهُمْ شَفَ ٰ عَةُ ٱلشَّٰفِعِينَ(48)

 Every soul is held in pledge for what it earns, ‌ Except the Companions of the Right Hand.‌‌  In Gardens, they ask each other about the guilty ones “What has brought you into Hell Fire?”  They answer, “We were not of those who established al ā t .  And we were not of those who fed the poor.  And we used to talk vanities with the vain-talkers.‌  And, we used to deny the Day of Judgment, until death overtook us.”  So, intercession of the intercessors shall not yield any benefit for them.‌

Sūrah al-Muddaththir (74), Āyāt 39- 48 .

Fasting (Ṣawm صوم ) is a course of physical, psychological, and spiritual self-control for purification of body, mind, soul, and heart to satisfy Allāh and ourselves.  It also helps us receive internal energy and knowledge.  Whenever worldly desires are curtailed, the Wisdom [v] shall approach, and when this kind of internal wisdom arrives, it results in internally-acquired Knowledge [vi] .  Upon the receipt of this internal knowledge, we arrive at the ultimate goal of Certainty [vii] .  Please refer to the following ḥadith Qudsi, which was revealed to the holy prophet (hp&ph) during his ascension to the heavens (al-mi ʿrāj ), regarding the above-mentioned Wisdom, Knowledge, and Certainty:

 

"The ṣawm leads to Wisdom , and wisdom leads to Knowledge , and knowledge leads to Certainty ."

 

Consider, also, the famous poem from the great Iranian ʿ Ārif , a rat Mawlānā Jalāl ud-Din Balkhī (also known as al-Rūmi), about the month of ṣiyām [viii] (Ramaḍān) in his ʿIrfānic masterpiece, the Spiritual Book of Mathnawi:

 

چند شب ها خواب را گشتی اسير

يك شبی بيدارشو دولت ببين.

 

اين دهان بستی دهانی باز شد

كاو خورنده ی لقمه ها ی راز شد.

 

چند خوردی چرب و شيرين از طعام

امتحان كن چند روزی در صيام [ix] .

 

Al-Shaykh Muslih ud-Din Sa ʿdī Shirāzī (r.a.), another famous Iranian ʿIrfānic poet, who is fully inspired by the Glorious Qur ān and the aḥādith, also has an important message:

 

اندرون ازطعام خالی دار

تا در او نور معرفت بینی [x]

 

Today, many physicians recommend fasting as a preventative measure, rather than the curing one; and also for putting the patient back to the normal human life, by eating less.

 

From the following aḥādith in this section (Section 18), we observe that sleeping of a fasting person is an act of worship, that his silence is glorification, that his prayers are answered, that he is protected from the fire (of hell), that he will be among people of the heavens, and can ultimately lead to the Absolute Certainty.  We also observe that the desired fasting is not just limited to abstaining from food and drink.  However, we also read we may fast a full month, but gain nothing except hunger, thirst, weariness and lack of sleep! 

 

The true and sincere fasting requires abstaining from selfish desires, closing the mouth to all forbidden words, foods [xi] , and acts, particularly the backbiting, and illegitimate verbal involvements.  It also includes fasting of the ears, eyes, sexual and other organs of the body against sinful acts; even the mind and the heart are supposed to be free from ill thoughts and ill wishes.  This way, we may be earning great spiritual rewards.

 

The holy Messenger of Allāh once declared:

 

O’ people!  The month of Allāh (Ramaḍān) has come to you with blessing, mercy, and forgiveness, the month which is the best of months with Allāh .  Its days are the best of days, its nights are the best of nights, and its hours are the best of hours... [xii] .

 

This is truly so.  There is a certain purity, tenderness, serenity, and pleasantness in the atmosphere during this blessed month.  Statistics in Muslim communities indicate that crimes, divorce cases, and accidents are at minimum during each and every blessed month of Ramaḍān.  It is a delightful experience to respond to Allāh s command and control our worldly pleasures of food, drink, sex, selfish desires, ill thoughts and wishes, and share whatever possible with others.  This one-month control is very constructive for gradual habit of automatic self-control throughout our life.  This is the sacred month in which you replace your own desires and pleasures, with the satisfaction of your Lord.  When Allāh is satisfied with the good conduct of His obedient, then He certainly responds favourably.

 

The ṣawm (fasting) was prescribed and practiced before Islam.  But it is now perfected by Allāh in His perfected prescription for living (the dīn of Islam).  Its main purpose is to build up a righteous community.  Allāh does not need our ṣawm, but we need it, as the following āyah reveals:

 

يَأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا كُتِب عَلَيْكمُ الصيَامُ كَمَا كُتِب عَلى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ(183)

O’ you who believe!  Fasting is decreed for you, as it was decreed for those before you, so that you may become righteous.

Sūrah al-Baqarah (2), āyah 183.

In connection with eating habits, it might be interesting to see how Bohlul [xiii] , the amazing marble of the 20th Century, breaks his fast.  He was invited to a friend for fast-breaking.  He was asked what you mean by selfish eating.  He did not answer but continued eating.  He once stopped eating and said “up to this point my intention was to eat to gain energy for the cause of Allāh.  I need this food to be able to serve him the best I can.”  He continued eating a bit more, and stopped again saying, “There is no harm eating these few bites.”  But from now on, if I eat more, then it will be for satisfaction of my selfish desires (my nafs), and not the satisfaction of Allāh.  He then stopped eating.

 

The ṣalāt (prayer) and ṣawm (fasting) are the most important rituals of a pious person.  But the ṣalāt has the priority, as it is not allowed to be ignored at all; whereas fasting is conditional.  He, who performs these two acts of worship diligently, will be free from all forbidden deeds automatically.  Staying away from the illegitimate acts is a pre-requisite for the ṣalāt and the ṣawm, in order that they may be acceptable by Allāh.  The ṣalāt is considered as the most effective means of approaching nearness to Allāh, as shown in the first ḥadith of this section (Section 18, Part 2 , Aḥādith (traditions)) .  

 

The aim of all acts of worship, particularly the ṣalāt and ṣawm, is to satisfy Allāh.  This will causes our satisfaction, righteousness (taqwā تقوی ), and prosperity:

 

يَأَيهَا النَّاس اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِى خَلَقَكُمْ وَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ(21)

O people!  Worship your Lord, Who created you and those before you, that you may become Righteous.

Sūrah Baqarah (2) , āyah 21.

Hence, the ʿid [xiv] becomes meaningful, and celebration gets its right meaning.  Unithetically, festivity resembles fasting.  Fasting fills you up with a variety of heavenly rewards.  Therefore, you feel that your hands (fists) are full, physically and/or spiritually.  When your fists are full, then you can throw festivity, give and grant generously, and assist the underprivileged.  And, this is exactly what happens in Islamic communities.  The blessed Ramaḍān fasting ends with the major festivity in Islām ( ʿid ul-Fiṭr ).  Muslims impatiently rush for the communal ṣalāt to rejoice the ʿid .  But before the prayer, everyone pays willingly and generously his/her share of zakāt ul-Fiṭrah.  Lexically, therefore, ʿid reflects ʿawāid (rewards).  And, similarly in English, reward is a reflection of warding (off).  It is quite interesting to observe in the part 2 of this Section, that All ā h says, “I, myself, am the reward of your fasting (ḥadithNo. 18-21)”.

 

Please continue to Part 2, the related Aḥā dith .



[i] - al ā t ( al ā h ).  Unithetically, ṣalāt resembles salute, salutary, salutation, salvation, solvate, and supplicate, while ṣalah and salām resemble ṣulḥ ( صلح ) , solve, so-long, [divine] song, and singing.

[ii] - Please refer to Zakāt in the Glossary.

[iii] - Please refer to the first paragraph of Bibliography.

[iv] - Remembrance of Allāh (J.J.) , by words or by thoughts.  Generally, it consists of heartfelt glorification, exaltation, praising, thanking, invocation, whispering, etc.

[v] - Ḥikmah ( حکمة ) .

[vi] - ʿIlm Laduni ( علم لدنی ) .   T his is different from the knowledge that we acquire externally, by the physical media.  It is a blessing granted by All ā h to the prophets, infallible imāms (Wilāyah), and His awliyā’ (Friends) in different proportions.  The noble prophet of Islam (ph&hp) received the full scope of All ā h ’s knowledge in his miʿrāj to the 7th heaven.  Therefore, he is known to be the City of Knowledge ( مدينة العلم ) and a rat ʿAli is known to be the Gate of this City ( وَ عليٌ بابها ).

[vii] - There are three stages of certainty (yaq ī n ( يَقين , namely ʿ ilm ul-yaq ī n ( عِلمُ اليقين ), ʿ ayn ul-yaqīn ( عَينُ اليقين ), and ḥaqq ul-yaq ī n ( حقُّ اليقين ).  This subject will be fully discussed later, inshāallāh.

[viii] - Fasting

[ix] - Meaning:  Many nights you have been slaved by the sleep.  Get up one night and observe the great riches of "Knowledge and Certainty.”  If you closed this [physical] mouth, then another mouth [spiritual one] opens, swallowing mouthfuls of mysteries and secrets.  You have eaten a lot of rich and delicious food.  Examine a few days in ṣiyām (fasting).

[x] -  Meaning:  Keep the inside free from foodstuff, so that you see the light of internal Knowledge and Certainty.

[xi] - Please refer to Section 17, The Permitted And The Forbidden

[xii] - Book No. 18, p. 93, h. 4.

[xiii] - Al-Shaykh Alḥaj MuḥammadTaqī Buhlūl, the great personality of inner knowledge and certainty (r.a.).

[xiv] - Festival, feast, festivity, celebration, holiday

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