Ali (PBUH) was born in the Ka’ba, the place where Muslims turn to for their daily prayers. He is the first follower of Islam, and the first1 to pray behind the last Prophet (PBUH). He thus knows the importance and value of prayer, the first obligatory act set by Allah2 (SWT), more than all other Muslims.
It has been narrated that when Ali (PBUH) stood for Salat, he was such that in one of the wars, when an arrow hit the foot of Imam Ali (PBUH), removing it was so difficult. His men waited until Ali (PBUH) stood for Salat, and only then were then able to remove the arrow. In prayer, he was so flooded in supplication with his Lord that he was not aware of the removal of the arrow3, and only when his Salat was complete did he feel the pain.
Likewise in another example, one of the dreadful nights of the Seffein War4, arrows flooded in from all directions. People saw Amir al Mu’minin (PBUH), facing the qibla performing Salat. After his Salat, they asked him, “O Amir al Mu’minin! Why the Salat now?”
Imam Ali (PBUH) responded, “What is this war for anyway? Is it other than the fact that we want to remove oppression and corruption so Salat and the divine laws taken place as they should?”5
Indeed, Amir al Mu’minin has spoken about Salat in many of his speeches, emphasizing the importance of this divine command as an act that matches no other in importance:
1. In one of his sermons to his companions the Imam tells them, “You should conduct Salat (with such importance), and work towards protecting and observing it. (You should) act upon it more and more, and attain proximity to Allah (SWT) through it, for Allah (SWT) has said in the Holy Quran, ‘Salat is an act that has become obligatory on the pious in the specified time’6. Have you not heard of the response of those (residing) in Hellfire, to whom which according to the saying of Allah (SWT), they are asked, ‘What has brought you to the Hellfire? They say, [We were not among the performers of Salat].’7”
Salat clears our sins as leaves fall off trees, and frees humans as four legged creatures are freed. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HP) compared Salat to a warm spring at the house of a person that washes him five times daily, for which no further filth is left on the body.
The importance of prayer is only known to the believers who do not get occupied with the worldly things, wealth and children as Allah (SWT) has clearly said in the Holy Quran: “Men whom neither merchandise nor selling diverts from the remembrance of Allah (SWT)and the keeping up of prayer and the paying of the poor-rate…”8
Even though Allah (SWT) had promised the paradise to His Great Prophet, the Prophet (PBUH&HP) always continued to perform prayers so much that it had caused difficulty for him. He considered the verse: “And enjoin prayer on Your family, and, steadily adhere to it…”9
Then the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) used to enjoin his family to prayer and exert himself for it.
2. Instruction given to Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, when Amir al-mu’minin (PBUH) appointed him as the Governor of Egypt, he wrote: “Say prayers at the appointed time. Do not say it earlier for the sake of (available) leisure nor delay it on account of pre-occupation. Remember that every act of yours is dependent on your prayer.”11, 12
3. Even more interesting is that on the eve of twenty first of the holy month of Ramadhan, hours before his departure from this world, while delivering his historical Will to his honored children, Imam Hassan and Imam Hossein (PBUT) he said: “(Fear) Allah (and) keep Allah in view in the matter of prayer, because it is the pillar of your religion.”
Indeed Amir al-Mo’menin (PBUH) was the first performer of prayer in Islam, his beginning in this world was in the house of Allah and his ending was also in the house of Allah. Thus, he became the first martyr of Islam in Mihrab (Sanctuary).
(The above is a selection taken from the article “Secrets of Prayer in Peak of Eloquence” by Late Hujatul Islam Ali Dourani)
The Roshd Website offers condolences to all Muslims, especially you dear friend, upon 21st of the Month of Ramadan, the anniversary of the martyrdom of the symbol of justice and courage, the father of the nation and the commander of the believers,
Amir al-Mu’minin, Ali ibn Abi Talib (PBUH), and commemorates the Nights of Qadr.
1. This note is addressed in the sermon number 131.
2. Such that the angel Gabriel was descent for a second time to the Prophet a few days after his selection as the Messenger of Allah (SWT) and brought a water from the sky and taught the way to perform Ablution and prayer.
3. Irshad, Vol. 2, pg. 217
4. Laylatu al-harir
5. Wasa’il al-shi’a, Vol. 4, pg. 246
6. Holy Qur’an, 4:103
7. Holy Qur’an, 74:42-43
8. Holy Qur’an, 24:37
9. Holy Qur’an, 20:132
10. Peak of Eloquence – excerpt of Sermon 199
11. This command of Imam Ali (PBUH) is rooted in the narration by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) where he said: “Prayers is a pillar the religion; should it be accepted (in the Day of Judgment), all other following actions will also be accepted and if it is not accepted then all other deeds will be rejected.” (Man La Yahzurh alFaqih, Vol. 1, pg. 208)
12. Peak of Eloquence – excerpt of Letter 27
13. Peak of Eloquence – excerpt of Letter 47