Friday Sermon: The Virtues of Congregational Salat

 Today's Friday sermon was delivered by Khalifatul-Masih V (May Allah be his Helper) from Baitul-Futuh mosque, London. After Tashahhud and Surah Fātiḥah Huzoor said, who amongst us doesn't know that offering Salat is obligatory on Muslims. The Holy Quran has drawn our attention towards it by describing its importance at various places. According to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) Salat is the essence of prayers. He even said that abandoning Salat makes a man closer to disbelief and idolatry. Then, explaining the importance of Salat, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "On the day of Judgement, a person will be held accountable for Salat before everything else. If the measure (of Salat) is correct, then it means the person is successful and has been salvaged otherwise he will fail."

Likewise, to make children habitual in prayers, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that children must be advised to offer Salat when they reach the age of 7. And at the age of 10, some strictness could also be applied to make them consistent in Salat. However, if parents themselves are not punctual in Salat then how can they expect their children to do so. Or if they learn about this saying of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in some Jama'at meetings but at home they do not find their fathers to be punctual in offering Salat, how will this effect those children? Such fathers' children will think that this commandment doesn't bear much importance. As a consequence, by ignoring the importance of one commandment, the effect of all other Islamic commandments will be nullified in the child's heart. Such people, according to the sayings of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) not only are not only losers themselves but are responsible for entering their progeny among the losers as well. Parents show their concern to fulfil their own and their children's worldly desires and successes, but they do not pay heed to the matter of real concern.

For a real believer, offering Salat is the only way to remove spiritual corrosion. As Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) explained with an example, "if there was a river at a person's door and he took a bath in it five times a day, can you believe that any dirt would be left on his body." His companions replied, "O Prophet of God, not a trace of dirt would be left." At this, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "That is the parable of the five prayers by which Allah removes sins and eliminates weaknesses." It means that not a trace of dirt is left on the soul of a person who offers five daily prayers. Thus, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) explained the importance of prayers with such a beautiful parable. But as I already said, that the commandment is not merely about offering Salat. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) further stated that a person who performed ablution at home, and then he set off heading to the mosque so that he could offer obligatory prayers he would be rewarded according to the number of steps he has to take to reach the mosque. One step will remove one of his sins, the next will elevate his (spiritual) status. This means that every step will gain him rewards.

On another occasion, while explaining the importance of congregational prayers, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "shall I not tell you something with which Allah Almighty removes sins and elevates (spiritual) status." The companions (may Allah be pleased with them) who were ever ready to finding ways to please Allah, and to achieve His nearness and be detached from their sins, implored, "O Prophet of God, do tell." The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "by performing ablution properly despite not feeling up for it, and by setting off for the mosque from afar and by waiting for the next Salat after offering one." This keeps a person detached from sins. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Not only that, but this is kind of a frontier." Just like countries establish frontiers on their borders with other countries and appoint armed forces upon them. Why are such frontiers established? So that the country can be protected from others. And that the country's forces are momentarily available in case of confrontation. Thus the biggest threat to a believer is from Satan from which safety and frontier are required. The threat is from worldly desires that Satan generates. This is where Satan attacks from. In order to be protected from such attacks, the congregational prayers serve as a frontier. It is a battalion of guardians that will protect from such attacks. Congregational prayers will save believers from sins and will be incline them towards performing good deeds.

Similarly, according to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) congregational prayers rewards a believer 27 times more than a prayer offered alone.

The Promised Messiah (peace be on him) while explaining the importance of congregational prayers to the Jama'at says: "The rationale behind putting more reward in congregational prayers is that it creates unity. The instructions to practically implement unity are so particular that even the feet are required to be aligned." This means that while offering prayers in rows, feet should also be brought into line, for which heels must be aligned. He further says, "and the rows must be straight, and (worshippers) should be standing connected to each other. It means that they must act like one being." By standing in rows, they will turn into one being, meaning there will be a dynamism in them. "So that one's illuminations can permeate into others. The disparity that gives birth to ego and selfishness, does not last (in such setting)." It means regardless of being rich or poor, everyone will be standing in one row. Some people are egocentric or have selfishness in their hearts which is rooted out with congregational prayers. He said, "bear this in mind that human being have the capacity to absorb another person's illuminations." One may be influenced more by good deeds and achieve a higher status (of spirituality), through congregational prayers. Therefore, to accept the influence of piety, congregational prayers are essential. Thus with congregational prayers, on one hand, the unity is expressed that Allah wishes to create among His Community and on the other hand people get influenced by each other's good deeds. When in one row more pious and spiritually advanced people will be standing, they will have an effect on the weak ones. Consequently, the weak ones will also excel in performing good deeds and will advance spiritually. When this unity is emerged and when spirituality advances, then the satanic forces are weakened and diminished

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