Neglected Prayers

First published in DAWN, 06, June, 2014

THE mosque is full, and not an inch of space is available to set one’s foot inside. The main hall, the courtyard, the lawns, even the entrance and the footpaths are all occupied, making it difficult to squeeze in. This is a common scene a little after noon every Friday.

To the observer it may seem that people are certainly not neglectful of their prayers, but in reality there is more to it than meets the eye. Stop anyone leaving the mosque and ask a few questions about what he just did, and all will be revealed.

Just inquire as to the message of the khutba (sermon) he heard delivered in Arabic, and you will receive an excuse. Ask what instructions were given in the melodic recitation of the Quran by the imam, and you will receive an apology.Probe further and you are likely to hear an honest confession of complete ignorance.

For many people prayer has become a mechanical routine of sorts — one which must be performed irrespective of whether one understands it. In the minds of many, the mere performance of the physical act results in some sort of an increase in spiritual score. But the language employed and the practical change are matters that remain largely unknown.

If our worship is devoid of any intellectual stimulation, why then do we expect a miracle of transformation? Knowledge of the Quranic message is of great importance. For many, religion is not an intellectual choice, but what has been inherited from parents and retained for social conformance.

To follow the crowd, than to be the odd man out, is therefore the tendency. The buck is also passed on to certain ‘experts’, thereby absolving oneself of individual responsibility to acquire knowledge. With the erroneous belief that religion is the purport of the religious and the world of the worldly, duality pervades the conscious through and through. Worship is restricted to the performance of religious rituals, while life is governed elsewhere by one’s own rules. Visits to the mosque thus become a religious duty, but places of work have nothing to do with revealed morality, it is thought.

Such a mindset, though prevalent within many today, is condemned by the Quran. It clearly stipulates that believers should not divide life into two separate religious and non-religious compartments but should “…Enter into Islam completely. …” (2:208). It clarifies that performing one’s prayers is an act of worship, but so is trade and commerce when conducted in line with God’s guidance (4:29). That salat is not the performance of a mindless ritual involving the utterance of mystical mantras but that an act of physical as well as psychological submission to God is manifest in the Quranic order to not approach prayers with a mind befogged (4:43).

Therefore it is vital that believers also make efforts to understand the meaning of Quranic instructions rehearsed during prayers for only then can such instructions be carried out in life. Merely being in the row of those who pray does not grant one any special privilege, for even the munafiqeen (hypocrites) may be standing in the same row (4:142), yet are promised the deepest depths of hell (4:145).

Genuine believers stand in prayer for the purpose of receiving Quranic guidance, and their full presence of mind is needed to understand and feel the instructions. They should be fully conscious of the divine directive to ‘give ear to the Quran and pay heed to obtain mercy’, so that their feelings are also touched by the messages they hear because they fully understand them, and “…whenever the Signs of (Allah) Most Gracious were recited to them, they would fall down in prostration [in] adoration and in tears” (19:58).

On the other hand, during prayer, those who do not take revealed religion seriously are distracted in mind even in the midst of it. The Quran makes it abundantly clear to us that the comprehension of salat is what matters, along with the change it is supposed to bring about in our inner self.

Real neglect of prayers is not restricted to missing their physical performance, but also to remaining ignorant of their meaning and thus to be devoid of the character change. This problem can only be resolved if Muslims make an effort to study the Quran as it ought to be studied, with a view to seek its guidance. For it is the Quran which is recited in the prayer. Sadly, many of us remain ceremoniously associated with the Holy Book to convey blessings to the deceased rather than receive practical instructions for the living, ignoring that it is meant “to warn whoever is alive. …” (36:70).

Can one become a Nabi by his own efforts as per 4:69?

Q. Deniers of finality of Prophet-hood cite verse 4:69 “whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, then he is among the company of the Prophets..” to justify the claim of Prophet-hood of their group’s founder. They maintain that their leader obeyed Allah and His Messenger to such an extent and devotion that he too became a Nabi (Prophet) and this was, according to them, in line with what is stated in the verse. Is their claim and understanding consistent with the Qur’an? Does the Qur’an really state that one can become a Nabi merely by obedience to Allah and His Messenger?

A. No. Such beliefs are not justified by the Qur’an, rather refuted by the Book of Allah. The ayah in question is:


“All who obey Allah and the Messenger are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah of the Prophets (who teach) the sincere (lovers of truth) the witnesses (who testify) and the righteous (who do good): ah! what a beautiful fellowship!” (4:69 Yusuf Ali)

If we ponder over the verse we observe that it does not suggest that anyone who obeys Allah and His Messenger becomes a Nabi (Prophet), but rather that such a person enters in to the companionship of Nabiyeen (Prophets). The Arabic words MA’AL LAZINA an’amalla_hu ‘alaihim lit.“ the company of those on whom is the favour of Allah..” clearly point to this fact. We further read in Sura 48 that:


“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and those with him are strong against the unbelievers while compassionate with each other.” (48:29)

Here wal lazina maahu “those with him” i.e. those who were with Muhammad (PBUH) are identified separately. Those with Muhammad were those who obeyed him, and all of them did not become Prophets by doing so. Sura 4:69 states that those who obey the messenger, do not become Prophets but they simply come in their companionship.The Arabic words of 4:69 WA HASUNA ULA_’IKA RAFIQA lit. “And what a beautiful FELLOWSHIP”, also confirm this fact.

If one were to claim that being in the company of another makes him the same person, then in many places of the Quran we also find: Annalla_ha MA’AL muttaqin lit. “Surely God is WITH THOSE who are Righteous” (2:194) and innalla_ha ma’as sa_birin lit. “Surely God is WITH THOSE those who are patient” (2:153). If maa an nabiyeen” lit. “with the Prophets” makes someone a Prophet, then that would erroneously imply that maa_Allah would make one same as Allah! Such a belief being absolutely contradictory to Qur’an. It can be observed in the Quran that Nabuwah (Prophecy) is not acquired by personal efforts but is bestowed by God of His own will. The recipient of God’s message has no idea at all that it will be bestowed on him a moment prior to its revelation, as the following verses declare:



“And thus have We inspired in thee (Muhammad) a Spirit of Our command. Thou knewest not what the Book was, nor belief. But We have made it a light whereby We guide whom We will of Our bondmen. And lo! thou verily dost guide unto a right path.” (42:52)



“And thou hadst not expected that the Book would be sent to thee except as a Mercy from thy Lord: therefore lend not thou support in any way to those who reject (Allah’s Message).” (28:86)

“..Thou knewest not what the Book was, nor belief..” and “…”And thou hadst not expected that the Book would be sent to thee except as a Mercy from thy Lord..” clearly show that one on whom God’s revelation is bestowed does not work towards receiving that Message and does not make efforts to become a Prophet or Messenger. Rather Prophecy is a gift of God, and given as per the will of God. As the verse 4:69 clearly says that obedience to Allah and His Rasul results in attaining the fellowship of God’s Prophets and not Prophet-hood, therefore the view that one can become a Prophet by his own efforts is false and contrary to the Qur’an.

Is temporary marriage allowed by the Qur’an?

Q. What is the Quranic view on permission of Nikah Mut’a which is a temporary marriage entered for a fixed period of time for the purpose of physical pleasure and in which the partners do not inherit from each other? I have heard there are narrations regarding its permissiblity  What is the answer to the question of “temporary marriage” according to the Quran?

A. The Qur’an does not permit that sexual urges should be fulfilled by temporary means. It says that people who do not posses the means to get married should remain chaste, as indicated by the following verse:


“And let those who do not find the means to marry keep chaste until Allah makes them free from want out of His grace.” (24:33)

Sex is a controllable urge as it is triggered off through our thoughts. This is the reason that believers are enjoined to remain celibate at certain times, e.g. while fasting and during the days of the Hajj or while in state of Ihraam (pilgrim garb). If sex were not controllable, then Allah, who created us, and who knows man’s nature would never demand of us to remain celibate at specific times. Unlike food which no matter how less you try to think about, will over come you as it is a vital need, but sex on the other hand is not like food that if we do not have it we may then acquire a physical deficiency.

People are ordered to keep themselves chaste until marriage. There is no other temporary means to fulfill this urge, says the Quran, while on the other hand we see that in case of food, when the situation is of a grievous nature and there is no access to Halaal (permissible) food, then the Quran says in such a situation, even Haraam (prohibited) food can be consumed:


“..But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], then indeed, your Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.” 6:145

But in the case of sex, we do not find any recommendation for its gratification by a means other than Nikah (marriage), and those who cannot marry are ordered to keep chaste until their circumstances change. The purpose of sex according to Quran is not fulfillment of lust or satisfaction of desires only but it goes far beyond that. Like food, sex is not an end in itself, but it is a means to an end, i.e. procreation of the human species. Just like food is not consumed only for the sake of taste but acquisition of energy is the principle aim for its consumption, similarly sex is not an end in itself but is a means for another higher purpose. The Qur’an enjoins that believers who posses resources to support a family, should establish a permanent relationship of marriage, and assigns numerous rights related to such a bond. No passage of the Qur’an gives the slightest indication of the legitimacy of a temporary bond between couples entered into solely for physical pleasure.


“And how could you take it (back) while you have gone in unto each other, and they (your wives) have taken from you a firm and strong covenant?” 4:21

In above, the words Meethaqan ghaleeza lit. “strong covenant” rule out the notion of a marriage being a temporary bond but indicate it to be one entered into for a permanent basis. Moreover according to Qur’an, both husband and wife are to inherit from each other, thereby indicating that Nikah is a lifetime commitment and not a temporary affair:


“And for you is half of what your wives leave if they have no child. But if they have a child, for you is one fourth of what they leave, after any bequest they [may have] made or debt. And for the wives is one fourth if you leave no child. But if you leave a child, then for them is an eighth of what you leave, after any bequest you [may have] made or debt. And if a man or woman leaves neither ascendants nor descendants but has a brother or a sister, then for each one of them is a sixth. But if they are more than two, they share a third, after any bequest which was made or debt, as long as there is no detriment [caused]. [This is] an ordinance from Allah , and Allah is Knowing and Forbearing.” 4:12

As the Qur’an clearly commands those not having the means to get married to keep chaste, and has indicated that marriage is a strong bond between a husband and wife which results in the creation of rights of inheritance  therefore the notion of a temporary marriage for a fixed period of time solely for sexual gratification in which partners do not inherit from each is against Qur’anic guidelines. In view of this, Nikah Mut’a is not permissible for a believer in Qur’an.

Graves of Messengers of Allah

Is there evidence in the Qur’an to prove that Messengers of Allah were buried in graves upon their demise?

Though the Qur’an does not mention the exact location or time of death of any Messenger, we can infer from its ayat that Messengers were assigned burials by Allah at the time of their death. The following should be analysed to this effect:

The Qur’an terms Messengers of Allah as Bashar (human)


“Their messengers said to them: “True, we are human like yourselves, but Allah doth grant His grace to such of his servants as He pleases. It is not for us to bring you an authority except as Allah permits. And on Allah let all men of faith put their trust.” 14:11 Yusuf Ali

Messengers are Bashar or human. Muhammad (peace be upon him) is also made to say that he was a Bashar



“Or you have a house of gold or you ascend into the sky. And [even then], we will not believe in your ascension until you bring down to us a book we may read.” Say, “Exalted is my Lord! Was I ever but a human messenger?” 17:94 Saheeh International

Every Bashar has to die, therefore as Messengers are “Bashar”, they too, die

Muhammad (p) was informed by Allah that as a Bashar he would one day die as no Bashar has been granted permanent life:



“We granted not to any man before thee permanent life (here): if then thou shouldst die, would they live permanently?” 21:34 Yusuf Ali

Thus like all messengers Muhammad (p) was also to die one day.

The Qur’an declares that Messengers are “Insaan”, and that “Insaan” is given a “Qabar” or grave by Allah

Messengers are from Naas (plural of Insaan, i.e. man, human) in Surat Al Hajj 22:75



“Allah chooses from the angels messengers and from the people. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Seeing.” 22:75 Sahih International

A messenger has been identified in the Qur’an as Insaan or man, and about Insaan it is clearly stated:



“Then He causes his death and provides a grave for him.” 80:21 Saheeh International

Thus as Muhammad (p) and messengers before him were Bashar who were not granted immortality but had a limited life span and were to die one day, and as messengers are identified to be from Naas (plural form of Insaan) category, and the law of Allah for Insaan is that He causes his death and provides a grave for him, therefore all Messengers of Allah, including Muhammad (p) were provided graves for their burial at the time of their death.

Though the Qur’an is silent about the location of graves of Prophets/Messengers, this silence in no way suggests a negation of the existence of their graves. It can be inferred from the above Qur’anic ayat that Messengers were “Insaan” and by virtue of being “Insaan” they were granted graves by Allah at the time of their death. 

The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) as a human being

Is there any evidence in Al-Qur’an to prove that Muhammad (p) was a human being?

The Qur’an classifies messengers in two categories, messengers from humans and messengers from angels


“Allah chooses from the angels messengers and from the people. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Seeing.” 22:75 Sahih International

It can be seen from above that Allah has selected two kinds of messengers.

(a) From Malaika (Angels)

(b) From Naas (People, human beings)

Malaika are not human beings but Allah’s creation assigned to perform tasks in the realm of Al Ghayb or the unseen.

In the case of Malaika, they are assigned by Allah to perform various tasks, such as taking the soul of a person at the time of his death etc.


“And He is the subjugator over His servants, and He sends over you guardian-angels until, when death comes to one of you, Our messengers take him, and they do not fail [in their duties].” 6:61 Sahih International

In above ayah, it is Rusul or messengers who give Waffat or completion of death to a person, whereas in Surat An Nahl, the same task is mentioned to be done by Malaika:


“The ones whom the angels take in death, [being] good and pure; [the angels] will say, “Peace be upon you. Enter Paradise for what you used to do.” 16:34 Saheeh International  

Malaika are beings sent as messengers that belong in the realm of Al Ghayb (the unseen) who perform these tasks, whereas in the case of Naas or human beings, for their guidance Allah has selected a bashar or human to be a recipient of His revelation.

That Muhammad (peace be upon him was such a human being, who was subject to the laws of nature that were applicable for all other humans is evident from numerous Qur’anic ayaat:


“Muhammad is not but a messenger. [Other] messengers have passed on before him. So if he was to die or be killed, would you turn back on your heels [to unbelief]? And he who turns back on his heels will never harm Allah at all; but Allah will reward the grateful.” 3:144 Saheeh International

The words “So if he was to die or be killed.” indicate that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was also subject to death like messengers who had passed away before him. One who is subject to the law of death is neither immortal, nor an angelical being, but a human being. Muhammad (peace be upon him) is himself made to declare through numerous Quranic ayat that he was a human being with the proviso that he received Wahi or inspiration from Allah.


Say, “I am only a man like you, to whom has been revealed that your god is one God. So whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord – let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone.” 18:110 Saheeh International

In above ayat, the words “I am only a man like you..” issued through Muhammad (peace be upon him) prove that he was a Bashar or human being, like other human beings, who was subject to all the natural laws that human beings are subject to.

As Qur’an identifies that messengers are of two types, angels and human beings (22:75), and as Muhammad (p) is shown to be prone to death (3:144), and as Angels are not prone to death but are the agents to cause death (6:61, 16:34), and as he is himself made to say that he was a human being, therefore it can be concluded from Qur’an that Muhammad (p) was a human being who was selected by Allah as His messenger for other human beings and not from the other category of angelic messengers.