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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TIMES FOR SALAAH

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Have you ever heard the phrase: “I know you as if I made you”? Mostly it is said by parents. Often we get very irritated at this, and this causes us to rebel just to prove that they do not in fact know us.  Parents impose rules and regulations which they feel is for our good, and most times we cannot see the wisdom of these rules.
However, there are certain rules and guidelines imposed upon us which we disobey at our peril. These are the commandments of Allah, and when we are conscious we realise that since Allah in fact made us, or created us, Allah indeed knows what is best for us. The five daily Salaah is one case in point. We know that it is compulsory, but very often we become neglectful and do not perform it at all. Or, when we do, we make our own rules, mistakenly believing that we know better.  The truth is that we do not know better. For instance, we have to perform Salaah at specific times. , Nabi Muhammad (SAW) did not bring the message that we must perform the five Salaah at our own discretion, and at times which we feel we should do it. The time of the five waqts has been specified for us, and we have to obey.  There are many of us who obey this injunction, but there are those who ignore it.
One often hears the excuse: “oh well, I can make Thur salaah up to the time of Asr,”, or even: “I will make Qadar when I get home”. The truth is that everything we are commanded to do by Allah has a purpose. Even the ritual movements of the Salaah were not chosen randomly so that we may move “up and down and kiss the ground”. Allah, with infinite mercy, created every part of our body, and knows exactly what is most beneficial for us mentally, physically and spirituality. Knowledge is beneficial, and when we know and understand why we have to do certain things, we feel grateful. With gratitude to Allah, compulsory acts are done willingly. Above all, our gratitude enables us to perform our Salaah by conscious choice. This enables us to tap into the spiritual aspect of connecting with our Creator.
Modern scientific research has proven that our prayer times correspond with the physiological activities of the body. Thus Allah has given us the five prayers, to be performed at certain times to orchestrate the rhythm of the body. The dawn prayer comes after a night of stillness, in sleep. Getting up at this time decreases the chance of diseases like arthritis, osteoporosis and anaemia. It also stops you from getting too much sleep. It has been scientifically proven that too much sleep increases the chances of getting diabetes and heart disease. In his book: “Seeking cure from prayers”, Dr. Zaheer Rabeh indicates that cortisone is the active hormone that increases acutely in the human body with the approach of dawn time, and is associated with the rise in blood pressure. This means that we are far more active after the Fajr Salaah and this period between 6.00 and 9.00 is considered to be the best period for hard work. Also, ozone, which has an invigorating effect on the nervous system, muscular and mental activity, reaches its highest levels in the air at this time.


The Prophet (SAW) said:
“O Allah, give benediction to my Ummah at the early morning time”.
As we work during the hours leading to midday, the secretion of cortisone decreases, causing exhaustion. Research has found that at this time the body secretes a chemical substance which has a tranquilizing effect.

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We are at the lowest levels of concentration seven hours after waking up. Here comes the time of noon (Zuhr) prayer, which provides quietness to the exhausted heart and body, and following which man seeks to get an hour of sleep to rest and reinvigorate himself, in what is termed as qaylula (nap) before ('Asr), afternoon prayer. Such a short sleep was mentioned in the Prophet's saying; "Get help with Suhoor (the meal before dawn) for fasting, and with qaylula for Qiyam (night) prayer." He also said; "Have qaylula, as Satan do not have it." It has been proved that the human body at this period generally encounters a hard time, where an increase occurs in an anaesthetic chemical substance secreted by the body that has the effect of tranquilizing, and incites man to sleep. The body, seven hours after waking up, is at its lowest levels of concentration and activity. So if man ignores sleeping at that time, much of his neuromuscular compatibility decreases all day long.
A period of rest at this time prevents a decrease of neuromuscular compatibility. Perhaps this is why the world over we have the lunch hour. The noon prayer is like an oasis which serves to provide quietness to the exhausted heart and body. Concentrating on connecting with Allah brings coolness and calm to the body and brain after the activity of the morning. As the time for the prayer of Asr approaches, adrenaline is raised in the blood, causing activity in bodily functions.  The sudden transfer of the heart from an inert to an active state can cause serous trouble to cardiac patients. Consider Allah’s wisdom in commanding us to perform Salaah at this time. Prayer at this time prepares the heart and body to accept this sudden state of activity.  The Asr prayer re-invigorates the heart gradually so that it functions more effectively after an inert state. The rest of the bodily organs and senses are in deep concentration in prayer, making it easy for the heart and the hormones to adjust the normal rhythm of the body which reaches the climax at that time.  Allah says:
“Guard strictly your prayers, especially the middle prayer,
And stand before Allah in a devout frame of mind”
(Quran 2:238).
Most Quran commentators agreed that the middle prayer is 'Asr prayer. With the discovery of the increase of adrenalin hormone at this time, the reason behind this Quran command of the keeping up 'Asr prayer becomes crystal clear.
As the working day reaches an end, cortisone levels decrease and the activity of the body starts to slow down as the sun sets. As daylight fades into darkness, melatonin increases, encouraging relaxation and sleep.
It is at this time that we perform the Maghrib Salaah; we are now in a state of relaxation and can devote all our energies to connecting with our Creator. This is the time we sit the longest, making duah, making extra thikrullah or reciting the Quran.  The secretion of melatonin is closely related to emotional and mental stability, and this allows us to move from the possible frenzy of the day into a calm which will aid a peaceful sleep.
The Esha prayer is the last station of the day, wherein the body is transferred from a state of activity and mobility to a state of seeking sleep as darkness spreads. It is commendable to delay the Esha prayer to just before going to bed so that all man’s preoccupations are finalized and sleep ensues.
We are so blessed that practically every shopping mall has facilities for Salaah, so hopefully, Insha’Allah, next time we will not mention the length of the waqt as an excuse. When we are out on the beach or picnicking outdoors, let us remember that the entire earth can be used to perform Salaah. There is no reason to go home to perform Taraweeg, as most people say when they have missed one or more waqts. When we use any appliance we strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions in order to get the full benefit. Similarly we have to follow the instructions of the One who created us, for no one can know better.
As we celebrate the birth of the Prophet (SAW), let us remember what he said:
“What Allah loves most is when His people pray Salaah on time”
Performing prayers on time guarantees optimum compatibility with daily activities and leads to the highly efficient functioning of the human body. This enables us to be in a state of consciousness and facilitates awareness of the spiritual connotations of the prayer. This, after all, is what we all long for, and strive for, Insha’Allah.
Ref: “Seeking cure from Prayer” Dr. Zaheer Naik.
www.islamicmedicine.org/medical miracles of the Quran
©Jasmine Khan
Published Muslim Views January, 2012

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