SHAFAQNA – This January Ayatollah Khamenei addressed an important message to participants of the 24th Annual Prayer Conference, in which he highlighted the role of daily prayers as a positive actor for social cohesion, solidarity and stability – not just in Iran but the Islamic world in general.
Ayatollah Khamenei pointed: “In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
I am thankful to God the Omniscient and the Omnipotent because the endeavors of you honorable officials of this important conference – more than all, the endeavors of the honorable and mujahid scholar, Hujjat-ul Islam Qira’ati – which have proved to be fruitful in fundamental and significant areas and because valuable tasks have been carried out in promoting the great and irreplaceable obligation of daily prayers.
Nonetheless, capacities, potentials and our Islamic society’s need and desire for reaching the ideal point are much more than the present realities in this regard. In last year’s message, a small part of this empty and demanding space was described.
Today, the point that I want to raise is an emphasis on a public sense of responsibility.
I expect that everyone – particularly, government officials and owners of worldly, otherworldly and managerial resources and amenities – correctly understand the greatness of this matter and the steps on the path of action.
Everyone should know that one of the most efficient ways for reducing social detriments is promoting daily prayers. You should act in a way that not even one youth and teenager of the country shows negligence in the area of daily prayers. This is one of the best ways for the spiritual and psychological health of our people and our society.
You should make efforts to help everyone learn and get used to saying prayers with humility and with presence of heart.
All these are possible tasks that will be accomplished with the firm determination and continuous efforts of you officials, God willing.
Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy
Sayyid Ali Khamenei”
Prayer is one of the central elements of Islamic practice and worship. Indeed, it is the second of the Five Pillars of Islam and, along with the testimony of faith, the pilgrimage to Mecca, fasting the month of Ramadan and paying the poor tax, forms the essential framework of religious life for Muslims. More than that, the observance of the ritual prayer forms the framework of each Muslim’s day, from the pre-dawn morning prayer to the night prayer that precedes sleep.
Prayer’s Importance in Islam
Prayer, in the ritual sense, is an obligation of the faith, to be performed five times a day by adult Muslims. According to Islamic law, prayers have a variety of obligations and conditions of observance. However, beyond the level of practice, there are spiritual conditions and aspects of prayer which represent its essence.
In the Holy Qur’ān, Allah says:
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me.
Thus, prayer first and foremost, is the response to this Divine directive to worship the Creator. Prayer represents the individual’s affirmation of servanthood before the Lord of Creation and submission to His Omnipotent Will. It also represents a willing acknowledgment of our weakness and neediness by seeking Divine Grace, Mercy, Abundance and Forgiveness. Prayer, then, is a willful, directed action by the believer, seeking direct, unmediated communication with Allah, for Muslims believe that every human being is of interest to the Divine. It also represents a concrete manifestation of the Islamic conception of freewill, in that the decision to pray is one that must be made by each individual. In this way, prayer is a uniquely “human” form of worship, for all other creatures submit without question to Allah’s Will and are engaged in His praise, glorification and remembrance, as the Holy Qur’ān asserts:
تُسَبِّحُ لَهُ السَّمَاوَاتُ السَّبْعُ وَالأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهِنَّ وَإِن مِّن شَيْءٍ إِلاَّ يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدَهِ وَلَـكِن لاَّ تَفْقَهُونَ تَسْبِيحَهُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ حَلِيمًا غَفُورًا
and there is not a thing but hymneth His praise; but ye understand not their praise.
Prayer, by its very nature, is a form of request or entreaty, and thus requires the full conscious participation of the one praying, with will, intellect, body and soul. The one engaged in prayer is in direct connection with the Creator Who hears everything the supplicant says and responds – though not necessarily in the affirmative – to each request. This is the concrete manifestation of Allah’s role as The Hearer, The Aware and The Responsive, which represent three of the ninety-nine Holy Names and Attributes of Allah that form the basis of the Islamic conception of the Divine.