The timings stipulated for the Prayer
are most appropriate for worship as well as for the acceptance of supplications.
They are soothing for the psyche, in accordance with the timings of prayer of
the celestial bodies and other elements of nature. If we ponder over the timings
of Fajr, Chāsht, Zuhr, ‘Asr, Maghrib, ‘Ishā and Tahajjud, it becomes evident
that each one has special importance with regard to the above mentioned factors.
Fajr, in particular, is the time of
peace, tranquillity and mental relaxation. After a night long rest, when a
person wakes up, he is fresh and contended. Prayer marks the start of a new
beginning. Life demands a new vigour and this determination requires Divine
guidance and providence.
At the Zuhr time, to a person of sharp
intellect and a keen eye, a profound reality reveals itself and invites him to
bow down: the sun, which was elevated to the level of the Divine in the past by
fools, itself begins to bow down before the Lord and thus speaks through this
celestial event that it is not the Creator but a creation and that it is not to
be worshipped; it is but a worshipper itself.
The time of ‘Asr heralds a new reality:
every high has a low. Nothing in the universe is above this law. Perpetuity is
only for God – The Eternal –. Just like the day dawned, completed half of its
cycle and came at the verge of dusk, similarly this world was created, would
reach its zenith and one day would come to an end. This silent reminder at the
time of ‘Asr presses a person to take heed to the Hereafter and bow down before
the Lord for penance.
The door opens to a new world at the
time of Maghrib. This transition is identical to the one that takes place at the
time of death and man enters into a new world – The Hereafter. The Creator
brings the sign of night after day and of the moon-light after the sun rays. The
day declines and stars throng the sky. The noise subsides and the heat of the
day cools down; a tired person feels anew in the still of the night. A moron and
an unemotional person may not feel this great change, but a person of sharp
intellect and discerning mind can feel this celestial change in the universe. It
is not possible for such a person as realises this event to remain indifferent
to the omnipotence of the Creator Who brings this change in the heavens. If he
has even a few sparks of life in his heart, he will take heed and bow down
before his Creator and Lord – the Creator whose power and strength enabled Him
to enshroud the world with the blanket of the night in the flash of an eye.
Ishā’s time is the time of
accountability. The darkness of the night swallows the last remains of movements
and motion. Man seeks rest, abandoning everything else so as to revitalise
himself for the next endeavour. This marks the most appropriate moment for a
person that before going to bed he should prostrate himself before his Lord. For
this may become his last resting period and he may never wake up in this world.
Tahajjud is the time of whispers and
supplications. No other time of the day can be compared with this one because of
its peaceful nature. In peace are the heaven and the earth at this time.
Everyone sleeps. Probably Satan also slips into slumber. Only the Merciful Lord
remains awake – the One Who never sleeps, or the most fortunate of people. If a
person gets up and stands in the silvery shadow of stars, he will actually feel
that the doors of heavens are open and the near sky is resounding with calls for
peace and penance. The serene and sedate nature of this time are known to the
worldly and the wise alike. Sleepers consider it to be the best of times for
sleep, while the ones who remain awake think it to be the most desirable time to
be awake. Both of them are right in their thinking, for the time which is best
for sleep can be best for staying awake, as only the best of sacrifices is
worthy in the eyes of the Lord. That is why the Almighty has specifically fixed
this time for the prayer of the righteous. They get up from bed at this time to
forsake sleep to beseech and invoke the blessings of Allah. Allah Himself
descends to the lowest heaven to shower His mercy and to forgive all those who
seek His mercy and forgiveness at this time.
These are the timings of the prayer. How
evident it is that each of them is so meaningful and apt for worship and casts
immense influence on a person.
“Tadhkiya i Nafs” by Amar Ellahi Lone)