O brother! You ask me about the wisdom behind the designation of prayer to these particular five times. We point to only one out of so many of its wisdoms.
Indeed since just as the time for each prayer is an essential turning point, [and] since it is a mirror of mighty divine action and a reflection of a divine universal benevolence within that action; it is commanded to pray – which means a greater tasbeeh and tadhim, and thanks and gratitude for the whole of the boundless blessings gathered between two [prayer] times – during those times to The Powerful One of Glory. To understand to some extent this subtle and deep meaning, it is necessary to listen to “five subtle points” together with me.
First Subtle Point
The meaning of prayer is the purification and glorification and thanks to The Almighty Truth. that is,
- It is purification by saying Subhanallah in words and action before His magesty (Jalal)
- And glorification by saying Allahuakbar in words and action before His perfection (Kamaal)
- And saying Alhamdulillah and thanking [God] by one’s heart and tongue and body before His Beauty (Jamaal).
That is to say, purification and glorification and thanks are in the form of seeds of prayer. That is why these three things are found everywhere in a prayer’s movements and dhikrs.
And it is because of this that after prayer these sacred words are repeated thirty three times for affirming and strengthening the meaning of prayer; the meaning of prayer is affirmed by these concise conclusions.
Second Subtle Point
The meaning of worship is this: for a slave to see his flaws and weakness and poverty at the door to God’s mercy and prostrate before the perfection of Divine Godhead and the power of Divine Self-Sufficiency and Godly Mercy in awe and love.
That is, just as the sovereignty of Godhead wants worship and obedience, the flawlessness [and] purity of Godhead wants the slave to see his flaws [and] declare it through repentance and through purification (tasbeeh) and subhanallah [to declare] that His Lord is clear and distant from all flaws and pure and superior to the false ideas of those who are astray and holy and clear from all the universe’s flaws.
Also, the perfection of Godhead’s power wants the slave to say Allahu Akbar in amazement and awe before the greatness of the work of [divine] Self-Sufficiency’s (Samadaniyyah) power by seeing his own impotence and the weakness of creatures [and] to bow down in submission and seek refuge and trust in Him.
Also , the endless treasure of Godhead’s mercy wants the slave to express his own need and the poverty and needs of all the creatures through the tongue of request and prayer and to proclaim the kindness and favors of his Lord with thanks and praise and [saying] alhamdulillah [All thanks be to Allah]. That is, the actions and sayings of prayer encompasses these meanings and for these has been set into place by Allah.
Third Subtle Point:
Just as the human being is a small sample of this vast world and the Noble Fatiha is a luminous symbol of this Qur’an of great significance; prayer is an encompassing luminous index of all types of worship and a holy map pointing to the colors of worship of all kinds of creatures.
Fourth Subtle Point:
Just as, in a weekly clock, the hands counting the seconds, minutes, hours, and days look to each other, are samples of one another, and take the form of one another; similarly, the rotation of night and day which are in the form of seconds, and years counting the minutes, and layers of the human life counting the hours, and eras of the world’s life counting the days of this earthly world which is a giant clock of The Almighty Truth, look to each other, are samples of one another, and are in the form of one another, and remind [one] of one another. For example:
The time for Fajr – until sunrise – resembles and reminds [one] of the beginning of spring, and the time a human enters the womb, and the first day of the six days of creation of the heavens and the earth, and points to the Divine acts (shu’un ilahiyyah) in them.
As for the time of Dhuhr, it resembles and points to the middle of the summer season, and the perfection of youth, and to the period of the human being’s creation in the world’s life and reminds [one of] the manifestations of divine mercy and the abundance of favors in them.
As for the time off asr, it resembles the season of fall, and the time of old age, and the era of happiness of the prophet (as) of end times and points to the Divine acts and favors of divine mercy in them.
As for the time of Maghrib, by pointing to the departure of many creatures at the end of the fall season, and the death of the human being, and the destruction of the earth at the beginning of the resurrection; it leads to the understanding of manifestations of divine loftiness and awakens people from the sleep of heedlessness, [and] warns them.
As for the time of isha’, it proclaims the glorious acts of The Glorious One Who Subdues by pointing to the world of darkness covering all traces of the world of day with its black shroud, and the white shroud of winter covering the dead surface of the earth, and for the rest of the dead person’s traces perishing and entering behind the curtain of oblivion, and the ultimate termination of the zone of examination which is earthly life.
As for the time of night, it reminds the human being to what degree the human soul is in need of The Merciful One’s mercy by allowing one to perceive the winter, and the grave, and the world of barzakh [i.e. life in the grave]. And as for the night prayer (tahajjud) at night, it informs and reminds [one of] how essential of a light it is in the night of grave and the darkness of barzakh [i.e. life in the grave] and proclaims to what degree The Almighty True Bestower is deserving of praise and honor by reminding [His] endless favors within all these transformations.
As for the second morning, it notifies [one] of the morning of resurrection. Indeed, the spring of barzakh [i.e. life in the grave] is as definite as how reasonable and essential and definite this night’s morning and this winter’s spring are.
Thus, just as each of these five [prayer] times is at the start of a significant transformation and reminds [one] of great transformations; It reminds [one] of the miracles of divine power and gifts of divine mercy during every year, every century, and every era by the mark of daily substantial actions by the power of Divine Self-Sufficiency and Besoughtness (al-Samad). Thus, the obligatory prayers which are a principal duty of nature and the base of worship and a definite debt are fitting and appropriate to these times.
Fifth Subtle Point:
The human being by nature is very impotent. Yet everything bothers him, affects him, and pains him. Also, he is very weak. Yet his calamities and enemies are so many. Also, he is very poor. Yet his needs are too abundant. Also, he is lazy and powerless. Yet the burdens of life are quite heavy. Also, humanity has made him connected to the universe. Yet the disappearance and separation of the things he loves and is familiar with pains him continuously. Also the mind shows him high goals and eternal fruits. Yet his hand is short, life is short, capability is short, and patience is short.
Hence, it is clearly understood that for a soul in this condition, how necessary is to appeal and plea, to ask for success and assistance at the time of Fajr at the door of a Powerful One of Glory, a Compassionate One of Beauty through supplication and through prayer (salat) and to ask for success and help and how essential of a point of support it is to endure tasks and obligations that he will undergo and be obliged to do in the world of day ahead of him.
And in the time of Dhuhr – that time is the peak of day and an inclination to decline and the peak of time for daily tasks and a temporary time of relief from the stress of work and a necessary time of recess for the soul from the heedlessness and light-headedness coming from the passing and burdensome works of the transient world and a moment when divine favors become apparent. A human being is not human who does not comprehend how beautiful, how pleasant, how necessary and appropriate it is to perform the Dhuhr prayer which means for a human soul to escape that stress, to elude that heedlessness, to come off those meaningless and transient things and by going to the door of The True Benefactor Who is The Eternal Sustainer and Self-Subsisting One (al-Qayyum al-Baqi) and binding one’s hands, to thank and praise [Him] for the totality of His favors and to take refuge in Him and to express one’s weakness through bowing down (ruku’) before His glory and majesty, to declare one’s wonder and love and fear through prostrating (sajda) before His eternal perfection and incomparable beauty…
As for the time of Asr, that time resembles and calls to mind the melancholy season of fall and the saddening condition of old age and the painful season of the end times. And the time when daily tasks eventuate and the time when divine favors like health and well-being and good service, which he is a recipient of during that day, constitutes a great abundance, and is a time of declaration that a human being is a guest officer and everything is temporary and indecisive, which is hinted to by the time of the sun’s setting. Now, one who is human will understand how lofty of a duty, how appropriate of a service, how fit of a payment for the debt of nature, perhaps an achievement of a great happiness it is for the human soul – who desires eternity, was created for eternity, and reveres benevolence, and is pained by separation – to get up, take ablutions (wudu) and in this time of asr to perform one’s supplication to The Old and Everlasting One (al-Qadeem al-Baqi) and The Self-Existent Eternal One (al-Qayyum as-Sarmadiy) at the door of Divine Self-Subsistence (as-Samad) and to perform the asr prayer, to turn to His permanent and endless kindness of His mercy, to thank and praise Him before His countless favors, to bow down (ruku’) in humility before the greatness of His lordship (rububiyah), to prostrate in fear before His everlasting (sarmadiy) divinity, and (as a result), finding a true consolation of the heart, a peace for the soul, and binding one’s hands to worship, in the presence of His greatness, which is the meaning of performing the asr prayer.
As for the time of Maghrib, that is the time which resembles the time of disappearance within a sorrowful farewell of the delicate and beautiful creatures of the summer and fall seasons with the beginning of winter. Also, it recalls to mind the time of a painful separation from all loved ones and entering the grave through the death of a human being. Also, it resembles and calls to mind the time when all of [the earth’s] dwellers migrate to other worlds and this light of the examination area is extinguished by the earth’s death within quakes of agony, and is a time that fiercely warns those who worship the loved ones who disappear at the sun’s setting. Thus at such a time for the Maghrib prayer, how could one be a human being if one does not understand how graceful and pure of a duty, how great and delightful of a service, how pleasant and beautiful of a worship, how serious of a truth and an external conversation in this passing guesthouse, and a lasting happiness it is to perform the Maghrib prayer which means that a human soul – who by nature is a desirous mirror for an Eternal Beauty – to turn one’s face towards the throne of greatness of The Eternal Undying One and The Enduring Everlasting One Who performs these great tasks and runs and changes these massive worlds, to say [Allah is the greatest] (الله أكبر) over these transient [beings], to withdraw from them and to bind hands for the service of The Master, to stand in the presence of The Enduring Eternal One, by saying (الحمد لله) [All praise be to Allah] to praise and glorify before His flawless perfection, [His] incomparable beauty, endless mercy, by saying (إياك نعبد و إياك نستعين) [It is You we worship; it is You we ask for help] To present one’s worship and seek assistance before His unassisted Lordship (Rububiyyah), His unpartnered Godhead (uluhiyyah), His sovereignty without a vizier and to say (سبحان ربي العظيم) [Glory be to my Lord, The Greatest] glorifying one’s Mighty Lord (ar-Rab al-Adheem) by bowing before His endless glory (kibriya’), boundless power and mightiness without weakness, expressing one’s impotence and weakness, poverty and humility together with all the universe; and to sanctify one’s Most High Lord Who is free from decline and pure of flaws by saying (سبحان ربي الأعلى) [Glory be to my Lord Most High], prostrating before His everlasting beauty, His unchangeable holy attributes, and His unchanging perfection of eternity, declaring one’s love and worship through abandoning everything besides [God] in awe and fear, and finding an Everlasting Beautiful One, an Eternal Compassionate One in the place all transient things and then to sit in prayer, to sit down and offers as a gift to The Undying all-Beautiful One and The Enduring all-Glorious One the blessed greetings and good prayers of all creatures on one’s own behalf and by greeting His most noble messenger to renew one’s allegiance and declare one’s obedience to his commands and in order to illuminate one’s faith with renewal to observe the wise order of this castle of this universe and bear witness to the unity (Wahdaniyyah) of The Glorious Maker and to bear witness to the message of The Arab Muhammad (عليه الصلاة و السلام) who is the inviter to the sovereignty of Divine Lordship and informer of what pleases Him and translator of the verses of the book of this universe.
As for the time of Isha’, that is when even the remaining traces of day left on the horizon are lost and the world of night covers the universe. It recalls to mind, through the acts of Lordship of The all-Glorious Powerful One Who is Transformer of night and day (مقلب اليل و النهار) in turning that white page to this black page, the divine procedures of The Perfect Wise One Who is The Subjugator of the sun and the moon(مسخر الشمس و القمر) in turning the green decorated page of summer to the white cold page of winter. And with even the remaining traces of the people of the grave being cut off from this earthly life with the passage of time, they are entirely transferred to another world, recalling to mind the divine qualities of The Creator of death and life. And it is a time which resembles and recalls to mind the actions of glory (jalal) and manifestations of beauty (Jamal) of The Creator of the earth and the heavens in the complete destruction of the narrow and transitory worthless earthly life and its death with great agonies and the emergence of the vast and eternal and glorious world of the hereafter. Also, this universe’s True Owner and Administrator, its True Worshiped and Loved One can only be The One Who turns, writes, erases, and changes night and day, winter and summer, earthly life and the hereafter as easily as the pages of a book. This It is a situation which proves that He is The Ultimate Powerful One Who dominates all of these.
Thus you certainly understood how pleasant, how beautiful, how sweet, how exalted, how glorious and delightful, how reasonable and appropriate of a duty, a service, a worship, a serious truth it is for an endlessly weak and impotent and endlessly poor and needy human soul submerged into an endless darkness of the future and tossed around amidst endless situations to turn with prayer to the door of The Eternal Worshiped One and Everlasting Loved One for the isha’ prayer, saying “I do not like things that set” (لا أحب الافلين) like Ibraheem (as) which is the meaning of The Isha’ [prayer] and in this transient world and transient life and dark earthly life and dark future, to supplicate to an Enduring Everlasting One (al-Baqi al-Sarmadi) and to see and ask The Merciful Compassionate One’s – Who will sprinkle light on one’s earthly life within a fragment of an eternal conversation and a few minutes of eternal life, and illuminate one’s future, and salve one’s wounds emerging from the separation and disappearance of beings and loved ones – mercy and the light of His guidance and to forget the earthly life which temporarily forgets him and hides, pouring his grievances through the crying of one’s heart at the door of divine mercy and to just in case perform one’s final duty of worship before entering sleep, which resembles death, to stand in prayer in order to end one’s daily notebook of deeds with a good conclusion, that is to enter the presence of an Eternal Worshiped and Beloved One in the place of one’s transient loved ones and a Benevolent all-Powerful One (al-Qadeer al-Kareem) in the place of all the weak ones whom one begs and a Compassionate Gaurdian in order to be saved from the evil of all the harmful beings whom one trembles from and to begin with The Fatiha, that is the place of praising and being thankful to poor creatures, who are not worth anything and are not suitable for that; to praise and glorify The Lord of the Worlds Who is an Ultimately Perfect One (al-Kamil al-Mutlaq), an Ultimately Wealthy One (al-Ghani al-Mutlaq), and a Compassionate Generous One and to rise to the address of “It is You we worship” (إياك نعبد), meaning through entering the authority of The Master of the day of judgment Who is The Pre-Eternal and Post-Eternal Sultan with one’s smallness, nothingness, and loneliness, to enter the position of an indulged guest and an important employee in this universe and to and to say “It is You we worship; it is You we ask for help” (إياك نعبد و إياك نستعين), presenting to Him the worship and prayer of the large community of the great assembly of the universe in the name of all creatures. Also, to ask for guidance to the straight path which is a luminous path going to eternal happiness within darkness of the future by saying “Guide us to the straight path” (اهدنا الصراط المستقيم). And to say (الله أكبر) going to ruku’ (bowing) thinking about the greatness of The One of Glory Whom the hidden suns and alert stars -like the current sleeping plants and animals – are each like a soldier subjected to His command and are each His lamp and servant in this world which is a guesthouse. Also, to ponder the great prostration of all creatures – that is just as all kinds of beings in every year and every era even the face of the earth even the world – resembling the creatures sleeping during this night – are each an orderly army perhaps each like an obedient soldier who, upon his release from the duty of worship in this world with the command “Be and it is” (كن فيكون) – meaning when one is sent to the world of the unknown – to prostrate saying “Allah is the Greatest” (الله أكبر) at the dissolution of day on the prayer mat of nightfall in perfect order; also to once again be resurrected with a calling coming from the command “Be and it is” (كن فيكون) for resurrection and warning in part the same and in part a similar way in the spring and to stand in prayer prepared for the service of The Master (Mawla) – and for this human being, in following them, to prostrate saying “Allah is the Greatest” (الله أكبر) in love mixed with awe, eternity-tinged fear and humility mixed with honor in the presence of The Merciful One of perfection, That Compassionate One of Beauty; that is to perform the Isha’ prayer which sort of means to ascend to a Mi’raj (ascension).
That is, since each of these five times are marks of a great transformation and signs of the massive works of Lordship and symbols universal divine favors, the designation of mandatory prayers which are a debt and an obligation to those times is an ultimate wisdom.
ﺳُﺒْﺤَﺎﻧَﻚَ ﻟﺎَ ﻋِﻠْﻢَ ﻟَﻨَٓﺎ ﺍِﻟﺎَّ ﻣَﺎ ﻋَﻠَّﻤْﺘَﻨَٓﺎ ﺍِﻧَّﻚَ ﺍَﻧْﺖَ ﺍﻟْﻌَﻠِﻴﻢُ ﺍﻟْﺤَﻜِﻴﻢُ
Glory be to You thee is no knowledge to us besides what you have taught us verily You are The all-knowing all-Wise.
ﺍَﻟﻠّٰﻬُﻢَّ ﺻَﻞِّ ﻭَ ﺳَﻠِّﻢْ ﻋَﻠٰﻰ ﻣَﻦْ ﺍَﺭْﺳَﻠْﺘَﻪُ ﻣُﻌَﻠِّﻤًﺎ ﻟِﻌِﺒَﺎﺩِﻙَ ﻟِﻴُﻌَﻠِّﻤَﻬُﻢْ ﻛَﻴْﻔِﻴَّﺔَ ﻣَﻌْﺮِﻓَﺘِﻚَ ﻭَ ﺍﻟْﻌُﺒُﻮﺩِﻳَّﺔَ ﻟَﻚَ ﻭَ ﻣُﻌَﺮِّﻓًﺎ ﻟِﻜُﻨُﻮﺯِ ﺍَﺳْﻤَٓﺎﺋِﻚَ ﻭَ ﺗَﺮْﺟُﻤَﺎﻧًﺎ ﻟِﺎٰﻳَﺎﺕِ ﻛِﺘَﺎﺏِ ﻛَٓﺎﺋِﻨَﺎﺗِﻚَ ﻭَ ﻣِﺮْﺍٰﺗًﺎ ﺑِﻌُﺒُﻮﺩِﻳَّﺘِﻪِ ﻟِﺠَﻤَﺎﻝِ ﺭُﺑُﻮﺑِﻴَّﺘِﻚَ ﻭَ ﻋَﻠٰٓﻰ ﺍٰﻟِﻪِ ﻭَ ﺻَﺤْﺒِﻪِ ﺍَﺟْﻤَﻌِﻴﻦَ ﻭَ ﺍﺭْﺣَﻤْﻨَﺎ ﻭَ ﺍﺭْﺣَﻢِ ﺍﻟْﻤُﺆْﻣِﻨِﻴﻦَ ﻭَ ﺍﻟْﻤُﺆْﻣِﻨَﺎﺕِ ﺍٰﻣِﻴﻦَ ﺑِﺮَﺣْﻤَﺘِﻚَ ﻳَٓﺎ ﺍَﺭْﺣَﻢَ ﺍﻟﺮَّﺍﺣِﻤِﻴﻦَ
O Allah send prayers and blessings to the one You have sent as a teacher to Your slaves so he can teach them the nature of knowing You and worshipping You and the one who makes known the treasures of Your names and a translator to the verses of the book of Your universe and a mirror with his worship to the beauty of Your lordship and to his all his family and companions and have mercy on us and have mercy on the believing men and believing women, Ameen with Your mercy O Most Merciful of the Merciful.