The Importance of Asr Salaah
Every Muslim knows that Salaah is the most important pillar of Islam after Imaan. Salaah has in fact been ordained as the corner stone of success of the People of Imaan. This is why the Shari'ah has emphasized that it should be performed correctly and punctually. Allah Ta'ala says in the Qur'aan: Safeguard your Salaah and (especially) the middle Salaah (i.e. Asr Salaah) and stand before Allah with humility. (Surah al-Baqarah)
To 'safeguard' our Salaah means 'to perform it at its prescribed time and to be steadfast in it so as not to miss a single Salaah '. When this aayah (verse) was revealed, Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallaam) warned the Sahaabah (Radiyallahu anhum} against staying away from the Masjid, and even threatened to burn the homes of the men that performed their Salaah at home. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer) In the above aayah, the Asr Salaah has been emphasized since it occurs when people are generally preoccupied in worldly activities.
A Sign of True Imaan
Invariably the hours of Salaah will be encountered during the times of business and work - and this is the real test of Imaan. It is really a sign of true Imaan when a Muslim businessman suspends his business dealings and leaves his workplace to answer the call of Allah even during peak hours when customers surround him on all sides. Once Hadrat Abdullah bin Umar (Radiyallahu anhu} was in the shopping centre. It was time for Salaah and people stood up, closed their shops and proceeded to the Masjid. Hadrat Ibn Umar (Radiyallahu anhu} was delighted at seeing this and remarked, 'These are the people regarding whom this a ayah (in Surah an-Noor) was revealed: (Real) men whom neither trade nor merchandise distracts from the remembrance of Allah.
Virtues of Asr Salaah
Regarding the virtue and excellence of Asr Salaah, Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallaam) has said, 'Whoever performs
the two 'cold' salaahs (i.e. Fajr and Asr) shall enter Jannah. ' (al-Bukhaari and Muslim) He has also said, 'The person who performs Salaah before the sun rises and before it sets (i.e. Fajr and Asr) shall never enter the Fire (of Jahannam). (SahihMuslim)
In fact, very special virtues have been attached even to the four raka 'aat Sunnah Salaah before Asr. Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallaam) has said: 'May Allah grant mercy and blessings to the person who performs four raka 'aat (Sunnah) before Asr. ' (Abu Daawood) Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallaam) has also said: 'The person who regularly performs four raka'aat (Sunnah) before Asr, Allah will forbid his body from the Fire (of Jahannam). ' (at- Tabarani)
Delaying Asr till before Sunset
Unfortunately very few people are able to resist the love of wealth and go to the Masjid only because of their love for Salaah. As a result, they either delay their Zuhr and Asr Salaah or discard them altogether. Let alone missing the Asr Salaah completely, serious warnings have been given against delaying it till just before sunset. Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallaam) has said, This is the Salaah of the hypocrite: He sits waiting for the sun until it is between the two horns of the shaytaan (i.e. just before sunset). Then ( very hastily) he goes and strikes his head four times on the ground (and) he does not remember Allah therein, but a little. (Sahih Muslim)
Missing Asr completely
However, regarding to those people who miss their Asr Salaah completely Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallaam) has said: 'He who misses his Asr Salaah (i.e. reads it after its specified time) is as if he has lost his wife, children and all his wealth. (Sahih Muslim)
In other words, Salaah is so precious that missing one Salaah should make us grieve and mourn its loss like the pain suffered by a man who has lost his wife, his children and all his belongings. May Allah protect us from missing our Salaah because of the very grave consequences in the Hereafter. Another Hadith warns that for a person who totally neglects or misses his Asr Salaah, all his actions are rendered worthless. (Mishkaat p.60)
This is why the Qur'aan specifically emphasizes the importance of the Asr Salaah. Yet, it is sad and shocking that so many businessmen and workers remain busy in their shops and offices, and read their Asr Salaah during sunset or make it qadha afterwards. Those who are guilty of this should reflect upon the above Ahaadith. Allah Ta'ala also says:
Verily Salaah is compulsory on the Muslims at its prescribed time. (Surah an-Nisaa: 103)
Therefore, to read a Salaah other than at its prescribed time without a valid Shari' excuse, makes a person deserving of severe punishment. In Surah al-Maa-oon, referring specifically to the hypocrites, Allah warns them with destruction for neglecting their Salaah and not performing it on time. Yet, these examples are found in abundance amongst Muslims today.
The Successful Believers
Describing the successful Believers, Allah Ta'ala declares:
They are those who are punctual in the performance of their Salaah. (Surah al-Mu'minoon: 9)
We engage in business as a means of gaining sustenance. Allah Ta'ala, our Sustainer, has promised sustenance with ease and barakah (blessings) if we perform our Salaah on time and with jama'ah (for males) by observing all its etiquette. But, if our business becomes an obstacle to establishing Salaah, it is actually an obstacle to gaining rizq from Allah Ta' ala. This will deprive our earnings of any barakah and instead of bringing us happiness and enjoyment it will becomes a means of torment and grief.
May Allah guide us to adopt the ways of our Pious Predecessors and those who have earned His pleasure, and may He help us to realise that our success lies truly in submitting to His orders in the manner demonstrated by our Master, Nabi Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wasallaam). Aameen
Prepared by: IDARAH IHYAA-UDDEEN