The Book of Prayer (Iḥya`Ulumiddin)

Know that a man is not a complete man except through possessing inner faculties (spirit etc.) and physical organs. Some of these organs like the heart, brain and liver are essential to life without which life is not possible. Others like the eyes, hands and feet are secondary needs of life which are required to realise the objectives of life and their absence do not cause death. Other features and organs of man are neither essential for life nor its objectives but are just embellishments like the eyebrow, lashes and beautiful skin tone. If these are missing, the beuaty will be impaired.
Some of these features if they are missing will impair not the beauty but the perfection like for instance details such as arched brows, jet-black hair, symmetrical, well-proportioned figure etc.

Similar to this is the worship of the servant. Its inner faculty or spirit is sincerity and khusyu’. The integrals (arkan) of the prayer like the ruku’, sujud etc. for instance are like the essential organs (heart, liver and brain). The prayer is invalid without them just as man is as good as dead without them.

The sunnahs like doa istiftah, tashahhud awal etc. are like the secondary organs (eyes, feet and hands). Their absence do not affect the prayers validity just like how life is not dependant on these organs but their absence impair the prayer and the person. As for the “haiat” or presentation which comes after the sunnah like the manner of standing and raising of hands etc. they are part of the embellishments like the eyebrows and eyelashes. Finally, the subtleties of comportment or adab in prayer which make perfect the embellishments.

If our ṣolat is a gift given to draw near to the Ultimate Sovereign, in what form are we presenting it to Him?

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