Prayer is the Root of Every Good: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In surah al-Ma’aarij, Allah mentions a series of qualities of the believers wherein He begins with al-salaah [prayer] by saying:

 إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ خُلِقَ هَلُوعًا * إِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ جَزُوعًا * وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الْخَيْرُ مَنُوعًا * إِلَّا الْمُصَلِّينَ * الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ دَائِمُونَ

Indeed, man was created haloo’a * when harm touches him, he is impatient * and when good touches him, he is withholding * Except for those who pray * who are constant in the performance of their prayer … [70:19-23]

and He concludes the list with al-salaah by saying:

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ يُحَافِظُونَ * أُولَـٰئِكَ فِي جَنَّاتٍ مُّكْرَ‌مُونَ

And those who are careful maintainers of their prayers – They will be in gardens, honored. [7:34-35]

In his commentary of this surah, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee addressed this by writing:

وصف الله تعالى من استثناهم من الإنسان الهلوع بتسع صفات : [ ص: 269 ] اثنتان منها تختص بالصلاة ، وهما الأولى والأخيرة ; مما يدل على أهمية الصلاة ، ووجوب شدة الاهتمام بها . وهذا من المسلمات في الدين ; لمكانتها من الإسلام ، وفي وصفهم هنا بأنهم : ( على صلاتهم دائمون ) ، وفي الأخير : ( على صلاتهم يحافظون ) [ 70 \ 34 ] . ـ

Allah describes those people who are excluded from being characterized as haloo’a [anxious for gains, impatient with losses] with nine qualities – two of which are connected to the salaah, those being the first and the last of them.

These are among the evidences which show the great importance of salaah and the requirement to give great attention to it. This is something well-known about the religion due to the place that prayer has in Islam. So here Allah describes them as:

عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ دَائِمُونَ

those who are constant in their prayers

and at the end of the list as:

عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ يُحَافِظُونَ

they are careful maintainers of their prayers

قال في الكشاف : الدوام عليها المواظبة على أدائها لا يخلون بها ، ولا يشتغلون عنها بشيء من الشواغل . وذكر حديث عائشة مرفوعا : ” أحب الأعمال إلى الله أدومها ولو قل ” . ـ

The author of al-Khashshaaf [i.e. al-Zamakhshari] said, “Being constant in their prayers means that they are diligent in performing them without omitting any part of them and without allowing any kind of distraction to preoccupy them from fulfilling them.”

And he also mentioned the hadith of ‘A’ishah that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The most beloved actions to Allah are those which are most consistent, even if they are small.”

ويشهد لهذا الذي قاله قوله تعالى : في بيوت أذن الله أن ترفع ويذكر فيها اسمه يسبح له فيها بالغدو والآصال رجال لا تلهيهم تجارة ولا بيع عن ذكر الله وإقام الصلاة وإيتاء الزكاة يخافون يوما [ 24 \ 36 – 37 ] ، وقوله : ياأيها الذين آمنوا إذا نودي للصلاة من يوم الجمعة فاسعوا إلى ذكر الله وذروا البيع [ 62 \ 9 ] . ـ

And this is supported by what Allah has said:

فِي بُيُوتٍ أَذِنَ اللَّـهُ أَن تُرْفَعَ وَيُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ فِيهَا بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ * رِجَالٌ لَّا تُلْهِيهِمْ تِجَارَةٌ وَلَا بَيْعٌ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ وَإِقَامِ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ ۙ يَخَافُونَ يَوْمًا تَتَقَلَّبُ فِيهِ الْقُلُوبُ وَالْأَبْصَارُ

In houses which Allah has allowed to be raised and that His name be mentioned therein; exalting Him in them in the morning and the evenings * Men whom neither commerce nor sale distracts from the remembrance of Allah and performance of prayer and giving of zakah. They fear a Day in which the hearts and eyes will turn about [24:36-37]

and His statement:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نُودِيَ لِلصَّلَاةِ مِن يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ فَاسْعَوْا إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ وَذَرُوا الْبَيْعَ

O you who have eemaan, when you are called to the salaah on the day of Jumu’ah, proceed to the remembrance of Allah and leave off commerce … [62:9]

قال : والمحافظة عليها أن يراعوا إسباغ الوضوء لها ومواقيتها ، ويقيموا أركانها ويكملوها بسننها وآدابها ، وهذا يشهد له قوله تعالى : قد أفلح المؤمنون الذين هم في صلاتهم خاشعون [ 23 \ 1 – 2 ] . ـ

And he [al-Zamakhshari] also said, “Carefully maintaining their prayers means that they perform wudhoo’ for them and observe them in their proper times, they fulfill their necessary parts, execute their optional parts, and perform them with excellent etiquette.”

This is supported by Allah’s statement:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ * الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ

The believers have certainly succeeded * those who have khushoo’ in their prayers [23:1-2]

وحديث المسيء صلاته ، حيث قال له – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : ” ارجع فصل ; فإنك لم تصل ” ، فنفى عنه أنه صلى مع إيقاعه الصلاة أمامه ; وذلك لعدم الحفاظ عليها بتوفيتها حقها . ـ

This is also supported by the hadith about the man who performed his prayer poorly, and so the Prophet (ﷺ) said to him, “Go back and prayer, for you have not prayed.” So he negated him having prayed despite the prayer having occurred right in front of him. That was because of a lack of careful guarding to ensure that the prayer was given its due rights..

وقد بدأ الله أولئك المستثنين وختمهم بالصلاة ، مما يفيد أن الصلاة أصل لكل خير ، ومبدأ لهذا المذكور كله ; لقوله تعالى : واستعينوا بالصبر والصلاة وإنها لكبيرة إلا على الخاشعين [ 2 \ 45 ] ، فهي عون على كل خير . ـ

So Allah began and concluded this list with the prayer. One of the benefits that can be taken from this is that al-salaah is the root of every good and the foundation of all the other qualities mentioned. This is in line with Allah’s statement:

وَاسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ وَإِنَّهَا لَكَبِيرَةٌ إِلَّا عَلَى الْخَاشِعِينَ

And seek help through sabr and salaah. Indeed, it is difficult except for the humble ones [2:45]

so the salaah is something which assists one in every kind of good.

ولقوله تعالى : إن الصلاة تنهى عن الفحشاء والمنكر [ 29 \ 45 ] ، فهي سياج من كل منكر ، فجمعت طرفي المقصد شرعا ، وهما العون على الخير والحفاظ من الشر ، أي : جلب المصالح ودرء المفاسد ; ولذا فقد عني بها النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – كل عنايتها ، كما هو معلوم ، إلى الحد الذي جعلها الفارق والفيصل بين الإسلام والكفر في قوله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : ” العهد الذي بيننا [ ص: 270 ] وبينهم الصلاة ، من ترك الصلاة فقد كفر ” . واتفق الأئمة – رحمهم الله – على قتل تاركها . ـ

And according to Allah’s statement:

إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ

Indeed, the prayer prohibits against immorality and wrongdoing [29:45]

prayer also acts as a shield again every evil. So the prayer accomplishes both sides of the objective of the sharee’ah – to assistance in good and to guard against evil, i.e. to bring about benefits and to ward off harms.

It is for this reason that the Prophet (ﷺ) gave the prayer the utmost attention and importance, as is well-known, so much so that he made it the criterion and arbitrator between Islam and kufr according to his statement, “The covenant between us and them is the prayer. Whoever abandons the prayer, then he has disbelieved.”

And the major scholars (may Allah have mercy on them) are in agreement regarding the capital punishment for the one who abandons the prayer.

 وكلام العلماء على أثر الصلاة على قلب المؤمن وروحه وشعوره ، وما تكسبه من طمأنينة وارتياح ، كلام كثير جدا توحي به كله معاني سورة ( الفاتحة ) . ـ

The statements of the scholars regarding the effects of salaah on the believer’s heart, soul and senses, and what it grants one of peace and tranquility. Indeed, there is a lot of material on this subject and all of these meanings are reflected in the meanings of surah al-Fatihah.

[Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan 8/268-270]

See also: Performing the Prayers in their Proper Times: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Those who neglect the prayers and pursue desires: Tafsir al-Shawkaani

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4 thoughts on “Prayer is the Root of Every Good: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

  1. Pingback: “Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing”: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Qualities of the Successful Believers – Part 1/7: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

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