The Five Degrees of Prayer
In the following extract taken from his monograph explaining the virtues and merits of dhikr – God’s remembrance and invocation, Imam Ibn al-Qayyim (d.751H/1350CE) takes us through the ascending degrees of prayer (salat):
‘With respect to prayer (salat), people are of five levels:
The first [degree] is of he who wrongs his own soul [35:32]; who is negligent [concerning it], and who falls short in his ablution as well as in the times, limits and essential pillars of the prayer.
The second is he who safeguards the times, limits, outward pillars and ablution, but is taken away by the devil’s whisperings and by stray thoughts, which he lacks the inner strength to resist.
The third is he who keeps the limits and essential pillars, and inwardly strives to repel the whisperings and stray thoughts. This person is occupied with striving against his Foe [the Devil], lest he rob him of his prayer. In prayer, he is engaged in jihad.
The fourth is he who stands in prayer, perfecting its rights, limits and pillars. His heart is engrossed in safeguarding its limits and rules, lest he miss any of them. Indeed, his entire focus is on performing the prayer as it ought to be performed; completely and perfectly. By this, concern for the prayer and devotion to his Lord absorb his heart.
The fifth degree is he who stands in prayer and establishes it as the fourth does, but along with this places his heart before his Lord. With this, he beholds his Lord (naziran bi qalbihi ilayhi), is vigilant before Him, and is filled with His love and glory; as if he sees and witnesses Him. Thus all whisperings and stray thoughts vanish, as the veil is lifted between him and his Lord. The difference between this person in his prayer and everyone else is as vast as the distance between heaven and earth. For he is occupied solely with his Lord, in which he finds his source of sheer delight.
[Of the five], the first kind of person is punished; the second admonished; the third redeemed; the fourth rewarded; and the fifth drawn close to his Lord, for his source of delight has been placed in prayer. Whoever is delighted by the prayer in this world, will be delighted by nearness to his Lord in this world and the next. And he who finds delight in God, delights and gladdens others. Whoever does not, leaves this world a loser.’1
1. Al-Wabil al-Sayyib (Damascus: Maktabah Dar al-Bayan, 2006), 55-6.
Jazakum Allahu khayra for this article. I found it beneficial and well translated.
However, I think the last word should be “loser” and not “looser”.
Barakallahu fikum, and thank you for the correction too.
May Allah make us of those of the fifth degree! JazakaAllah for sharing
Amin. May Allah make the prayer the dearest expression of tawhid to us all.
A beautiful reminder of what we should be aspiring for. Jazakum Allahu khairan.
May Allah lend us grace to reach the degrees of witnessing. Amin.
I’m afraid for myself and my loved ones too,
We can all self evaluate what we need to do
Only Allah can guide us to achieve this for ourselves
To save us from His punishment and to save us from Hell
Allah I fear You
Make my prayer true
So I can stand before You
And give You Your due
For I am just a humble servant
Seeking Your Presence
And Your Acceptance
Subhanallah! The poet’s heart speaks for us all. Acceptance and Presence: for this, let competitors compete.
Bismillah, I drew this information out, in case anyone wants a visual: http://www.zaufishan.co.uk/2012/05/salah-prayer-ibn-qayyim-jawziyyah.html
Thank you for sharing Zaufishan. It is a useful visual summary, mashallah.
Allah o Akbar Kareem
Jazakomullah Khair… May Allah guide and protect us.
Barakallahu fikum, Syed Abdul Basit, and amin to your du’a.