Ramadan is the month of devotional prayers and more and more optional prayers to seek God’s forgiveness because the rewards Allah has promised for Ramadan prayers are far higher than those of other months.
Fasting without obligatory prayers takes away the soul of fasting and, in fact, amounts to starvation.Prayer is one of the fundamentals of Islam. It was the first duty enjoined on the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), that, though prayer and ‘zakat’ (charity) are often mentioned together in the Quran, prayer always takes precedence and that offering prayer is the most frequently repeated injunction of the Quran. It has also been generally recognised as the first and foremost duty of a Muslim.
There are several reasons why prayer has been given importance in Islam. It is really the first step in the onward progress of man, and yet it is also his highest spiritual ascent.Prayer keeps man away from evil; it helps him to realise the divine in him, and that realisation not only urges him to do disinterested service to humanity but also helps him attain the highest degree of moral and spiritual perfection. Prayer is also the means of levelling all differences of rank, colour and nationality, and the means of bringing about a cohesion and unity among men which is the necessary basis of a living civilisation.
The place of prayer in the self-development of man is given such prominence in Islam that in the call of prayer the words “come to prayer” are immediately followed by the words “come to falah” (falah carries the idea of the complete development of the inner faculties of man and the achievement of both material and moral greatness), thus showing that self-development is attained through prayer.
It can easily be seen that love, concord and a true union of humanity — one objective of prayer —cannot be achieved without a regularly instituted form of prayer, so that all men should gather together at the stated times and should stand up reverentially, bow down and prostrate themselves before their great Maker as one. But even apart from that consideration, it was necessary that permanence should be given to the institution of prayer by requiring its observance at stated times and in a particular manner.
The truth is that the grand idea of holding communion with God or realising the Divine within man, which is so essential to the moral elevation of man, could not have been kept unless there was an outward form to which all people should try to conform.In the first place no idea can live unless there is an institution to keep it alive. Secondly, the masses in any community, even though it may be educated, can be awakened to the recognition of a truth only through some outward form, which reminds them of the underlying idea. And thirdly, there can be no uniformity without a form, and without uniformity the community or nation, as a whole, cannot make any progress, the end in view being the moral elevation of the community as a whole and not the elevation of particular individuals.
It is a fact that Muslims as a nation have a more vital faith in God than the followers of any other religion. The Islamic institution of prayer, which keeps the spirit of the Muslim in touch with the Divine spirit, is without doubt the basis on which this strong faith in God rests, and the value of prayer in the formation of this noble trait in the Muslim national character is incalculable. It appears from the Prophet’s traditions that prayer should be offered in congregation if one wants to derive full benefit from it. The Prophet was so very particular about it that once while condemning the conduct of those who avoided coming to the mosque to say their prayers in congregation, due to laziness or indifference, he observed angrily that he felt like burning down their homes.
The real joy and beauty of prayer is experienced only when it is offered with an understanding of its contents. It is not at all difficult to learn the meaning of the Quranic verses that are generally recited in prayer. The devotion of the heart and the sentiments of awe and humility, indeed, are the very soul of prayer. The outward form of prayer is not, however, the end; it is only a help, a means to gain the end which is the maintaining of a true relationship with the Divine Spirit and purification of all evil inclinations. – Khaleejnews