Why do Muslims have to pray 5 times a day?
Islam is based on five pillars which the Messenger sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam has explained for us, when he said: “Islam is built upon five [pillars]: the testimony that there is no god worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah; establishing 5 times daily prayer (salaah); paying the zakaah; Hajj (pilgrimage) and fasting Ramadhan.” (Agreed upon; narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 8)
Islam is both belief and laws, in which Allaah and His Messenger have told us what is halaal and what is haraam, morals and good manners, acts of worship and how to interact with people, rights and duties, and scenes of the resurrection. When Allaah completed this religion, He chose it to be the way of life for all of mankind until the Hour begins: “This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion [al-Maa’idah 5:3]
The second pillar: salaah (prayer)
The Muslim believes that Allaah has enjoined upon every sane adult Muslim five prayers each day and night, which he does in a state of purity, standing before his Lord, every day in a state of purity and humility, thanking his Lord for His blessings, asking Him of His bounty, seeking His forgiveness for his sins, asking Him for Paradise and seeking refuge in Him from Hell. The five obligatory prayers which are required day and night are Fajr (early morning, before dawn), Zuhr (mid-day, just after noon), ‘Asr (mid afternoon), Maghrib (just after sunset) and ‘Ishaa’ (at night, after dark has fallen). There are also Sunnah prayers such as Qiyaam al-Layl (prayer at night), Taraweeh prayers, two rak’ahs of Duha prayer, etc.
Prayer, whether it is fard or naafil, represents a sincere turning towards Allaah alone in all one’s affairs. Allaah has commanded all the believers to guard strictly the observance of the prayers, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): “Guard strictly (five obligatory) As‑Salawaat (the prayers) especially the middle Salaah (i.e. the best prayer ‑ ‘Asr). And stand before Allaah with obedience [and do not speak to others during the Salaah (prayers)]”[al-Baqarah 2:238]
The five daily prayers are obligatory upon every Muslim man and woman, night and day: “Verily, As‑Salaah (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours”[al-Nisaa’ 4:103 – interpretation of the meaning]
The one who abandons prayer has no share in Islam. Whoever neglects it deliberately is a kaafir, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “(And remain always) turning in repentance to Him (only), and be afraid and dutiful to Him; and perform As‑Salaah (Iqaamat‑as‑Salaah) and be not of Al‑Mushrikoon (the polytheists, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allaah)[al-Room 30:31]
Islam is based on co-operation, brotherhood and love, and Allaah has prescribed coming together for these prayers and others, in order to attain these virtues. The Prophet sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam said: “Prayer in congregation is twenty-seven times better than prayer offered alone.” (Narrated by Muslim, no. 650)
Prayer helps the believer at times of hardship and calamity. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And seek help in patience and As-Salaah (the prayer) and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khaashi‘oon [i.e. the true believers in Allaah — those who obey Allaah with full submission, fear much from His punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise) and in His Warnings (Hell)].[al-Baqarah 2:45]
The five daily prayers wipe out sins, as the Prophet sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam said: “Do you not think that if there was a river at the door of any one of you, and he were to bathe in it five times each day, would there by any dirt left on him?” They said, “No dirt would be left on him at all.” He said, “That is the likeness of the five daily prayers, by means of which Allaah erases sin.”
Prayer in the mosque is a means of entering Paradise. The Prophet sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam said: “Whoever comes and goes to the mosque, Allaah will prepare for him a house in Paradise for each time he comes and goes.” (Narrated by Muslim, no. 669)
Prayer brings the slave and his Creator together. It was the delight of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Whenever any matter grieved him, he would turn to prayer and converse with his Lord and call upon Him, seeking His forgiveness and asking Him of His bounty. Prayer done with proper humility and fear of Allaah brings the Muslim closer to his Lord, and keeps him from doing evil, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Recite (O Muhammad) what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur’aan), and perform As‑Salaah (Iqaamat‑as‑Salaah). Verily, As‑Salaah (the prayer) prevents from Al‑Fahsha’ (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse) and Al‑Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed)”[al-‘Ankaboot 29:45]