بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the Name of Allah The most Gracious The Most Merciful
The importance of prayer cannot be emphasized enough. After tawheed there is no great act of worship or belief more important than the prayer. Without the prayer a muslim’s deeds and life will be lost and in ruins. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) told us that the first thing we will be asked about is the prayer. The sad thing is we have people who claim to be muslim and deny that salah is even obligatory or necessary in order to be a Muslim. They take the attitude of the murji`ah and claim that faith is in the heart and that Allah knows what is in their heart. Allah knows what is in the hearts but Allah has also told us to obey Him and the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and came with commands for us to obey and the strictest of commands is to worship Allah alone, to pray and to give from our wealth to the needy. You will not find anyone from the salaf who said they were a believer but did not pray and that Allah knows what is in their heart. When the prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) sent mu’adh to preach to the people of Yemen he told him to teach them tawheed and then salah and then the zakat and the rest of the pillars.
Importance of prayer in the Qur`an:
“Verily, As-Salaah (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours” (Surah An-Nisa` 4:103).
“So woe unto those performers of Salaah (prayers) (hypocrites), Those who delay their Salaah (prayer from their stated fixed times)” (Surah Al-Maa’oon 107:4-5).
Then, there has succeeded them a posterity who have given up As-Salât (the prayers) [i.e. made their Salât (prayers) to be lost, either by not offering them or by not offering them perfectly or by not offering them in their proper fixed times, etc.] and have followed lusts. So they will be thrown in Hell. (Surah Maryam 19:59).
Guard strictly (five obligatory) As-Salawat (the prayers) especially the middle salat (i.e. the best prayer,’Asr ). And stand before Allah with obedience (and do not speak to others during the salat (prayers). (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:238).
Truly those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and perform As-salat (Iqamat-as-salat), and give Zakat they will have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:277).
Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): “Verily, my salat (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists). (Surah Al-An’am 6:162).
Importance of Salah in the Sunnah:
It is narrated on the authority of Jabir (رضي الله عنه) that he heard the Apostle (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saying. “Between a person and kufr (disbelief) and shirk (associating partners with Allaah) is the abandonment of the prayer.” (Sahih Muslim, The Book of Faith, Hadith no. 0146).
Narrated that Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) say: “The first deed for which a person will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayer. If it is good then he will have prospered and succeeded, but if it is bad then he will be doomed and have lost. If anything is lacking from his obligatory prayers, the Lord will say, ‘Look and see whether My slave did any voluntary prayers, and make up the shortfall in his obligatory prayers from that.’ Then all his deeds will be dealt with likewise.” (Narrated by an-Nasaa’i 465, al-Tirmidhi, 413. Classed as saheeh by al-Albani in Sahih al-Jaami’, Hadith 2573).
Narrated Abu Huraira (رضي الله عنه): I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “If there was a river at the door of anyone of you and he took a bath in it five times a day would you notice any dirt on him?” They said, “Not a trace of dirt would be left.” The Prophet added, “That is the example of the five prayers with which Allah blots out (annuls) evil deeds.” (Sahih al-bukhari, Book: Times of Prayers, Hadith no. 506).
Once a man asked the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) about the most virtuous deed. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) stated that the most virtuous deed is the prayer. The man asked again and again. The first three times, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) again answered, “The prayer,” then on the fourth occasion he stated, “Jihad in the way of Allah.” (Recorded by Ahmad and ibn Hibban. According to shiekh al-Albani, the hadith is hasan, Sahih al-Targheeb wa al-Tarheeb).
The conditions, pilars, and voluntaries are taken from excerpts from various scholars and their works such as abdul-aziz ibn baz, muqbil bin hadi al waad’i and muhammad ibn abdul-wahhab.