Worshiping Allah Almighty with specific words and actions; beginning with saying “Allahu Akbar” and ending with saying “As-Salaamu ‘Alaikum”.
The Position and Pillars of As-Salah
1- As-Salah is the second pillar of the five pillars of Islam
The Prophet ﷺ, said: “Islam is built upon five pillars: Witnessing that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger, and establishing the prayer…” [ Agreed upon.]
2- As-Salah is the best of actions
The Prophet ﷺsaid: “The best of actions is the prayer early in its time.” [ Source: At-Tirmidhi.]
3- As-Salah is the line between Islam and Kufr (disbelief).
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Indeed between a man, and shirk and Kufr, is abandoning the prayer.” [ Source: Muslim.]
4- The foundation of Islam is built on As-Salat and At-Tawheed (worshipping only Allah, alone).
The Prophet ﷺ said: “The head of this affair is Islam and its support is Salah .” [ Source: Ahmad.]
The Virtues of As-Salah in Islam
1- As-Salah is a source of light (means of guidance) for the one who performs it. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Salah is light.” [ Source: Muslim]
2- As-Salah is a means of expiating sins. Allah, the Magnificent and Majestic, says: “And establish As-Salah at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night (i.e. the five compulsory prayers). Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds. That is a reminder for the mindful.” (Hud: 114)
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Don’t you see that if there was a river at the door of any of you, and from this river, one bathes five times daily, will there remain any daranihi[ dirt.] on him?” They (the Companions) (may Allah be pleased with them) replied, “There won’t remain any dirt on him.” He ﷺ said: “And that is the similitude of the five daily prayers, with them Allah expiates sins.” [ Agreed upon.]
3- As-Salah is a reason for entering Paradise. The Prophet ﷺ said to Rabee’ah Ibn Ka’b t, when he asked to be able to accompany the Messenger of Allah ﷺ in paradise: “Then, aid me in that by making many prostrations.” [ Source: Muslim.]
The Ruling of As-Salah in Islam
The five daily prayers are obligatory, as stated in the Qur’an, the Sunnah, and the consensus of the scholars of Islam.
The Qur’an: Allah says: “And perform Salah and give As-Zakah and bow down along with those who bow down.” (Baqarah: 43).
The Sunnah: The Prophet ﷺ said “Islam is built upon five: Testifying that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad ﷺ is His servant and messenger; establishing As-Salah; giving Az- Zakah; observing pilgrimage to the (holy) house and fasting Ramadhan.” [ Agreed upon.]
On the authority of Talhah ibn Ubaydullah, a man asked the Prophet ﷺ about Islam. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Five salawat (prayers) in the day and night.” The man asked, “Is there anything upon me apart from these?” The Prophet ﷺ said: “No, except if you wish to offer non-obligatory prayers (nawafil).” [ Agreed upon.]
The Consensus: The scholars of Islam, past and present, agree, based on evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah, that the five daily prayers are obligatory.
Upon Whom is As-Salah Obligatory?
Salat is an obligation on every sane mature Muslim; male or female.
Making up Prayers
When a person accepts Islam he or she is not commanded to make up the prayers they missed before becoming a Muslim. This is because a person’s previous sins are forgiven when he or she accepts Islam.
The Ruling of the One who Stops Performing Prayer
1- The one who stops performing As-Salah due to denying its obligation:
If he is ignorant about the issue, then he should be informed. Subsequently if he persists on rejecting its obligation, he becomes a disbeliever, as he belies Allah Almighty, His Messenger ﷺ and the consensus of the Muslims.
2- The one who stops performing prayer out of laziness:
Whosoever stops performing As-Salah intentionally out of laziness, has disbelieved. It is upon the ruler to order him to perform As-Salah and also advise him, for three days, to repent for abandoning it. Subsequently, if he repents and returns to making the As-Salah, he is spared. But if he does not start praying again, he is killed for apostasy. This is in accordance with the Prophet’s ﷺ statement: “The covenant which is between us and them (the disbelievers) is the prayer; so whosoever leaves it has disbelieved.” [ Source: At-Tirmidhi.] Also his saying: “Indeed between a man, and shirk and kufr, is abandoning As-Salah.” [ Source: Muslim.]
The Prayer of the Young
The young are commanded to make As-Salah when they reach seven years of age; so that they may become accustomed to making it. They are beaten – but not severely - for non-compliance at the age of ten. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Command your children to perform As-Salah at seven years of age, and beat them for (not offering) it at the age of ten.” [ Source: Abu Dawud.]