The performance of the five daily prayers is one of the most important rituals in Islamic tradition. The Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) states, “Surely prayer [salah] is the pillar of the religion.”1 The purpose of prayer is to bring ourselves close to our Creator and to intensify our relationship with Him. It is also a way to be grateful for all His blessings and to remind ourselves of His authority over us. In the same way that our body has physical needs such as food and water, the soul has spiritual needs fulfilled by the obligatory prayers. It is vital to continue making strides to improve our prayers. Among the best ways to do this is to pray at the optimal time that God has allotted for each prayer (during awwal al-waqt, or the start of its time).

The Objective of Prayers

Every action prescribed for us in the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet and his family (pbut) has a purpose and objective that brings benefit to the believer. For instance, among the objectives of fasting is to attain piety,2 and among the purposes of prayer is that it “keeps one away from indecency and sins.”3 While we may not necessarily be able to see the difference that our prayers have on our spiritual well-being, through increasing our focus and understanding during the course of our prayers, we will naturally reach the stage that God has intended for us. Narrations report that a youth from the Ansar, who used to offer his prayers with the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp), used to indulge in sinful and corrupt deeds. When the Messenger of God (pbuh&hp) learned this, he said, “A day shall come when his prayers shall refrain him from committing sins.”4 Before long, the young man repented for his sins.

The Importance of the Time of Prayer

The start of the time of prayer (or awwal al-waqt) is most sacred. Often, we find ourselves postponing our prayers because we tell ourselves that we have a lot of time to pray. However, the best time to offer our obligatory prayers is exactly at their time, as there are many benefits.

Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (p) states, “As soon as the time for an obligatory prayer sets in, the door of the heavens are opened so that the [accepted] deeds of the servants can ascend [to the heavens].”5 Through the mercy of God, He has kept these windows for us to connect with Him and receive His blessings.

Furthermore, in a letter to Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, Imam Ali (p) advises to “Observe the timing of the prayer, and perform it at its prescribed time, neither hastening to pray it earlier in order to be free of it, nor delaying it because of some work.”6 This shows that if we do not have a valid reason, we must always prioritize the time of prayer over everything else.

The Imams’ Portrayals of the Significance of the Time of Prayer

An illustration of the importance of the time of prayer occurred on the Day of Ashura when one of Imam Hussain’s companions, Abu Thumama al-Saidi, noticed that it was the time of dhuhr (noon) prayers. He approached the Imam and said, “I [would] love to return to God after having performed the prayers whose time has approached.” Imam Hussain (p) raised his head to the heavens and said, “You have remembered the prayers, may God count you among those who uphold the prayers and who remember Him often. Yes, this is the beginning of its time. Ask them [the aggressors] to leave us alone so that we may perform the prayers.”7 Imam Hussain (p) then led congregational prayers, even though the onslaught continued against him and his companions, so that they did not neglect the timing of prayers.

Furthermore, Ibrahim ibn Musa al-Qazzaz reported that Imam al-Rida (p) left to meet [some of his cousins]. On the way, the time of prayer approached, so the Imam came closer to one of the castles and stood beside a tree. The Imam asked al-Qazzaz to recite the call for prayer [adhan], as he was the only one with him and there was no third person. Al-Qazzaz approached the Imam and said, “We should wait for our companions to join us.” The Imam replied, “May God forgive you. You do not delay the performance of prayer from the beginning of its time [prime time] without a valid reason. Begin [the prayer] when its time first comes [in].”8

Bits of advice:

1. Offer obligatory prayers in their prime time (awwal al-waqt): Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (p) states, “The merit of [choosing to pray at] the beginning of the time of prayer is like the merit of [choosing] the Hereafter over this world’s life.”9

2. Beautify prayers with recommended acts: Imam al-Sadiq (p) has said: “One who offers his prayers along with adhan [call to prayer] and iqamah [second call to prayer], two rows of angels pray behind him, while one who offers his prayers with only the iqamah without the adhan, one row of angels pray behind him.” The Imam (p) was asked: “And how long is each row?” The Imam (p) replied, “At the very minimum, its length is the distance between East and West, while at the maximum, its length is the distance between the earth and the heavens.”10 Taking a few minutes to offer these recommended actions greatly increases the reward of our prayers.

3. Utilize prayer times to supplicate God: Imam al-Sadiq (p) has said: “Verily, God has made obligatory upon you the five prayers at timings that are the best of times, so it is important that you supplicate to Him at the end of these prayers.”11 God has blessed us with these times to not only get closer to Him but to also answer our prayers for all that we desire.

4- Train our children to pray: Narrations tell us that Imam al-Sadiq (p) quoted his father [Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (p)] saying, “We [encourage] our children to offer prayers when they are five years old, so you should [encourage] your children to offer prayers at age seven.”12  Training our children to pray at a young age will increase the likelihood of their holding onto their prayers in adulthood.

1. Al-Hurr al-Amili, Wasail al-Shia, vol. 4, p. 35.
2. Quran 2:183.
3. Quran 29:45, Muhammad Sarwar translation.
4. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol. 79, p. 198.
5. Al-Hurr al-Amili, Wasail al-Shia, vol. 4, p. 119.
6. Al-Hurr al-Amili, Wasail al-Shia, vol. 4, p. 161.
7. Abu Makhaf al-Azdi, Maqtal al-Hussain, 142.
8. Al-Rawindi, Al-kharayij, vol. 1, p. 337.
9. Thawab al-amal, 36.
10. Al-Hurr al-Amili, Wasail al-Shia, vol. 4, p. 620.
11. Al-Saduq, Al-khisal, 278.
12. Al-Hurr al-Amili, Wasail al-Shia, vol. 3, p. 12.

1. روي عن النبي صلى الله عليه وآلة “إن عمود الدين الصلاة”
2. قال تعالى في كتابه المجيد ((يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ))
3. قال تعالى في كتابه المجيد ((إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ))
4. روي أن فتى من الأنصار كان يصلي الصلاة مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله ويرتكب الفواحش، فوصف ذلك لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله فقال “إن صلاته تنهاه يوما ما، فلم يلبث أن تاب”
5. عن محمد بن مسلم قال: سمعت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام يقول” إذا دخل وقت صلاة فتحت أبواب السماء لصعود الاعمال”
6. روي عن الإمام علي عليه السلام أنه كتب الى محمد ابن أبي بكر “…ثم ارتقب وقت الصلاة فصلها لوقتها، ولا تعجل بها قبله لفراغ، ولا تؤخرها عنه لشغل”
7. روى أبو مخنف الأزدي في مقتل الحسين عليه السلام أنّ أبا ثمامة عمرو بن عبد الله الصائدي قال للحسين “يا أبا عبد الله نفسي لك الفداء اني أرى هؤلاء قد اقتربوا منك ولا والله لا تقتل حتى اقتل دونك إن شاء الله، وأحب ان ألقى ربي وقد صليت هذه الصلاة التي قددنا وقتها”، قال: فرفع الحسين رأسه ثم قال “ذكرت الصلاة جعلك الله من المصلين الذاكرين، نعم هذا أول وقتها، ثم قال: سلوهم ان يكفوا عنا حتى نصلى”
8. روى الراوندي عن إبراهيم بن موسى القزاز قال: خرج ]الإمام الرضا عليه السلام[ستقبل بعض الطالبيين، وجاء وقت الصلاة، فمال إلى قصر هناك، فنزل تحت شجرة بقرب القصر وأنا معه، وليس معنا ثالث، فقال: أذن. فقلت: ننتظر يلحق بنا أصحابنا؟ فقال “غفر الله لك، لا تؤخرن صلاة عن أول وقتها إلى آخر وقتها من غير علة عليك، ابدأ بأول الوقت”
9. فضل الوقت الأول على الأخير كفضل الآخرة على الدنيا”. روي عن الإمام الصادق عليه السلام”
10. عن المفضل بن عمر قال, قال أبو عبد الله عليه السلام “من صلى بأذان وإقامة صلى خلفه صفان من الملائكة ومن صلى بإقامة بغير أذان صلى خلفه صف واحد من الملائكة قلت له: وكم مقدار كل صف؟ فقال أقله ما بين المشرق والمغرب وأكثره ما بين السماء والأرض”
11. روي عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام “إن الله عز وجل فرض عليكم الصلوات الخمس في أفضل الساعات، فعليكم بالدعاء في أدبار الصلوات”
12. روي عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام، عن أبيه قال “إنا نأمر صبياننا بالصلاة إذا كانوا بني خمس سنين، فمروا صبيانكم بالصلاة إذا كانوا بني سبع سنين”

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