Salat (prayers) is the link between man and Allah. It is a source for attaining a state of tranquility for the soul, cleansing of the heart, a deterrent against sins and a general uplift for the spirit of piety.
Out of the religious acts prayers is of the most paramount importance. As per the narrations, if it is accepted by the Almighty Allah, other acts of worship are also accepted and, if prayers are not accepted, other acts are also not accepted. Also, according to the narrations, one who offers the five daily prayers is purified of sins in the same manner as bathing five times during day and night makes his body clean of all filth and dirt. For this reason, in the Holy Qur’an, Islamic narrations, the recommendations and sayings of the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) and the Infallible Imams (a.s.), prayers is considered to be one of the most important acts of worship. Therefore, abandoning the prayers is considered as one of the major sins.
It is befitting that one should offer prayers on time and attach great importance to it. He should avoid offering his prayers hurriedly which might cause the prayers to become void.
It has been narrated that one day while the holy Prophet was present in the Mosque (i.e. Masjid Nabi), a man entered and began offering prayers but did not perform the Ruku’ (bowing) and Sajdahs (prostrations) properly. The holy Prophet said: “If this man dies and his prayers continue to be this way, he will not depart on my religion”.
The soul of the prayers is the “presence of the heart” (i.e. concentration) and it is befitting that one should avoid things which causes detraction, and should understand the meaning of the words of the prayers and while praying he should be attentive and offer the prayers humbly and with all solemnity. He should keep in mind the Greatness of Almighty Allah with whom he communes while offering prayers and should consider himself to be very humble and insignificant before His Grandeur and Glory.
It has been said about the Infallibles (A.S.) that when they were offering prayers they were absorbed in the remembrance of God so much so that they became unmindful and oblivious of their own selves. For example, an arrow was pulled out of the foot of the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (A.S.) while he was offering prayers but he did not become aware of it.
In order for the prayers to be accepted and its virtues to be gained, in addition to the obligatory conditions, one should observe the following:
Before offering prayers, one should be repentant and seek divine forgiveness, and should refrain from all sins and especially those which are an impediment in the way of acceptance of one’s prayers (e.g. jealousy, pride, backbiting, eating Haraam things, drinking intoxicating beverages, non-payment of Khums and Zakat). In fact, he should refrain from all sins.
Similarly, it is better not to perform acts which diminish the spiritual recompense of prayers like praying when one is drowsy or restless because of an urge to urinate, or offering prayers where there is a lot of noise or in front of scenes which detract one’s attention. On the contrary, one should perform such acts which increase the reward like wearing clean clothes, combing the hair, brushing the teeth and using perfumes and wearing an agate ring.