How valuable and important is doing the daily prescribed prayer
necessary for the human spirit?
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
The prescribed prayers are the pillar of the religion.
A parable to understand the value and importance of the daily prescribed
If you would really like to understand, with the certainty that two plus
two makes four, how valuable and important prescribed prayers (salat) are, and
with what slight effort is their reward gained, then listen attentively to this parable:
Once upon a time an important ruler sends two of his servants to a beautiful
farm, giving each twenty-four gold coins. The farm is two months’ away. He gives
them these orders: ‘Use this money for the ticket and other necessities for
the journey and after arrival. There is a station one day away where trains,
ships, cars and planes are available, any of which you may take according to
The two leave after receiving these instructions. One is so fortunate that
he spends only a little of his money before he arrives at the station. He makes
such profitable use of his capital that his lord likes him. So his property
is increased a thousand-fold. The other man, being unfortunate and stupid, spends
twenty-three of his twenty-four coins in gambling and the like before he arrives
at the station. He has only one coin left.
His friend says to him, ‘Spend this coin on the ticket. If you don’t, you’ll
have to go on foot and suffer hunger. Our lord is generous; maybe he will pity
and forgive you. They may let you take the plane, so we can reach our farm in
a day. If not, you’ll have to go on foot and endure two months of hunger while
crossing the desert.’
If that unfortunate one doesn’t listen to his friend and spend his last coin
on the valuable ticket, if he chooses, instead, to spend it on vice for passing
pleasure, even the most unintelligent person will agree what great folly and
loss that man stands in.
Now, O man who does not pray, and O soul of mine, which doesn’t incline to
prayer, listen to the explanation!
That important ruler is our Lord, our Creator. Of the two travelers, one
is religious and performs his prayers with fervor. The other, unmindful, represents
the people who don’t like praying. The twenty-four coins stand for the twenty-four
hours of a day. The farm is Heaven, while the station so near is the grave.
The journey is from the grave to the eternal life. People cover that long journey
at different times according to their deeds and conduct. Some of the truly devout
pass the span of a thousand years in a day like lightning, some fifty years
in an hour with the speed of imagination. The Qur’an alludes to this truth in
two of its verses (al-Hajj, 22.47; al-Sajda, 32.5).
The ticket is salat, the prescribed prayer. An hour is enough for the prayers
in a day. If you spend twenty-three hours a day on the affairs of this world
and don’t reserve the remaining hour for the important prayers necessary for
the other world, it shows your foolishness, and stands you in a condition of
grave loss. You may be tempted to pay over a half of your money to a lottery
in which one thousand people are participating although the possibility of winning
is one in a thousand. Whereas, if you pray, the possibility of winning is ninety-nine
percent. If, then, you do not use one of your twenty-four coins to obtain this
chance, to gain an inexhaustible treasure, wouldn’t any sensible person understand
how contrary to reason and wisdom such a conduct is?
Moreover, in prayer, there is comfort for the soul and mind. Nor is it difficult
for the body. Furthermore, with the right intention, all the deeds and conduct
of one who prays become like worship. In this way, his little lifetime is spent
for the sake of the eternal life in the other world. And his transient life
gains a kind of permanence.