Iqamatus Salat — The Observance of Prayer in Islam

Mubarak Mosque Brampton
17 min readJun 13, 2021


The topic of Iqamatus Salat, the observance of Prayer, is based on just two words, yet its subject matter entails a diverse ocean of wisdom and understanding. These two words encompass a fundamental commandment of Allah the Exalted; in fact, they entail the purpose for mankind’s creation and the means of acquiring this purpose. The first injunction for mankind mentioned in the Holy Qur’an is to worship Allah. Islam has made it compulsory for Muslims to observe a specified form of worship, called Salat, one of the five pillars of Islam and a fundamental requirement of faith. The topic of Iqamatus Salat possesses a major significance in the life of a Muslim. It has been made the responsibility of every Muslim that he firmly acts upon this commandment, enlightening himself with its true understanding and fulfilling this purpose of his life, when he hears the call,

And thou, O soul at peace! Return to thy Lord well pleased with Him and He well pleased with thee. So enter thou among my chosen servants, and enter thou My garden. (The Holy Qur’an, Ch.89:Vs.28–31)

Significance of Prayer

The entire Holy Qur’an is full of the emphatic mention of prayer. Prayer possesses central significance in the prophetic Traditions, the Sunnah, and there is abundant mention of prayer in the Hadith of the Holy Prophet(saw) as well. Benefitting from all three of these means of guidance, and becoming saturated by that fountain of knowledge and understanding, the beautiful manner in which the Promised Messiah(as), the Imam of the Age, has mentioned prayer is a faith-inspiring exposition and one that should be pondered.

The Promised Messiah(as) has stated:

‘In reality, Salat is but a name for plunging into a fire, and after plunging into a fire of Divine love and fear of Allah, to burn one’s being and burn everything except Allah; and it is but a name for such a state wherein God, and only God remains in sight; and man progresses to such a state wherein he speaks when God wishes, and walks when God wishes; the whole of his moving or remaining still, his performing an action or abandoning an action begins to conform to Allah’s will; and the ego is annihilated.’1

‘Prayer does not imply that prayer which is observed by the common people as a mere tradition, rather, prayer is that by which the heart of man is tendered, and falls before the Divine threshold becoming so immersed that it begins to melt.’2

Then he states:

‘What is prayer? It is a supplication, which is humbly implored with Tasbih [glorifying Allah], Tahmid [praising Allah], Taqdis [proclaiming His Holiness], Istighfar [seeking His forgiveness] and Durud [invoking blessings on the Holy Prophet(saw)].’3

Furthermore, the Promised Messiah(as) writes:

‘What is prayer? It is to present one’s humility and supplications and weaknesses before God and to desire the fulfilment of needs from Him; at times, to stand before Him respectfully, to pay homage to His magnificence and fulfil his commandments; at times, to fall before him in prostration with complete humility and modesty, to implore one’s needs from Him — this is Prayer. Just like a beggar, to praise Allah saying, ‘You are like so and you are like such and such’. To express His magnificence and majesty and inducing His mercy, then imploring of Him.’4

He states:

‘A prayer in which there is no humility, no attraction towards God the Exalted, no weeping supplication before God the Exalted, is in itself a deficient prayer. Prayer is that in which one feels pleasure in supplication. Stand before God the Exalted with such attention that a state of emotion over-comes you, as if an individual is detained in a dreadful lawsuit and a verdict of imprisonment or hanging is to be announced. What is his state before the judge? Similarly, one should stand before Allah with a fearful heart. A prayer in which the heart is at one place, while the thoughts are somewhere else, and the mouth says something, is a curse, which is thrown back in the face of man, and is not accepted…True prayer is that which feels pleasurable. It is this very prayer, in the description of which, it has been said that prayer is the spiritual apex — Mi‘raj — of a believer. Prayer is the means of spiritual progress for a believer.’ 5

Significance of Observing Prayer

The observance of prayer is a fundamental pillar of Islam, the fulfilment of which is obligatory upon every true Muslim. In the beginning of the Holy Qur’an, Allah says that true believing and virtuous people are those who possess the attribute of Yuqimunas-Salat, who observe Prayer (Ch2:V.4). Later on in the Qur’an, Allah emphatically states:

… observe Prayer, and be not of those who associate partners with God.6

On the day of resurrection, when the wrongdoers will be asked what led them to Hell, their answer shall be:

‘We were not of those who offered Prayers,’7

In the sight of Allah the Exalted, beloved and accepted worshippers are those:

…who are constant in their Prayer8

Who are humble in their Prayers,9

And those who are strict in their observance of Prayer.10

Consistency in prayer, humility in prayer, and the safeguarding of prayers are the fundamental pillars of Iqamatus Salat. Similarly, the offering of prayer in congregation and its timely observance, and the fulfilment of all the conditions with firm assiduousness are essential for the fulfilment of Iqamatus Salat. Regarding the consideration of time, the Qur’an states:

… verily prayer is enjoined on the believers to be performed at fixed hours.11

With regards to the safeguarding of prayer, Allah the Almighty’s commandment is:

Watch over Prayers, and the middle Prayer, and stand before Allah submissively.12

In other words, the more engagements to which one is tied, the greater the significance becomes of observing prayers on time. Abandoning all other engagements, granting precedence to the prayer and assembling for its observance on time is in actuality the true meaning of Iqamatus Salat. This shall be the apparent expression of the oath which every Ahmadi Muslim, by the grace of God, undertakes, namely that ‘I shall give precedence to my faith over all worldly affairs.’

It is mentioned in Hadith: “One who does not offer his prayers intentionally has committed infidelity.” And in another Hadith: “On the day of resurrection, the first thing one shall be called to account for is the prayer”13. Elsewhere in the Hadith it is mentioned that the thing which separates a believer from an infidel is the observance of prayer. Furthermore, it is stated: “Salat is the pillar of religion”

In other words Salat is the foundation of Islam, without which the edifice of faith cannot remain erect.

The books of the Promised Messiah(as) are replete with resounding instructions pertinent to the observance of prayer. For entrance into the Community, in the ten conditions of Bai‘at (Initiation), formulated by the Promised Messiah(as), the third condition states that every individual who does Bai‘at:

‘Shall regularly offer the five daily Prayers in accordance with the commandments of God and the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw)’

Then the Promised Messiah(as) writes:

‘One who does not assiduously offer the five daily prayers is not from my community.’14

Then he states:

‘Prayer is the right of Allah; fulfil it well…Even if the entire house is destroyed, let it be, but do not discard the prayer. The Holy Qur’an speaks of two paradises, one of which is the paradise of this world, which is the Prayer.’15

True Meaning of Iqamatus Salat

The idiom used in the Holy Qur’an for the observance of prayer is Iqamatus Salat. This phraseology has not been used in the Holy Qur’an merely once or twice; rather, it has been used forty seven times, by which one can fathom its significance and greatness. The word ‘Iqamah’ is a complete and eloquent word that houses a world of meanings. In Tafsir-e-Kabir, Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad(ra), Second Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, has mentioned various meanings of Iqamatus Salah:

1. Regular Observance of Prayer

‘The meaning of Iqamatus Salat is to observe prayer regularly because the meaning of Qama ‘alal amri means to remain constant in something. Therefore, the meaning of Yuqimunas-Salat would be that ‘they do not intermit in offering their prayers’. A prayer wherein there is an intermittence is not considered true prayer in Islam, because prayer is not of temporary deeds, rather, it is considered a complete deed if there is no intermittence from the first prayer after repentance or after reaching an age of maturity, until the last prayer before one’s demise. All the prayers of those people who tend to miss their prayers in between are rejected. Therefore, it is the obligation of every Muslim that when he reaches an age of maturity, or when Allah enables him to do so, from that time until his demise, he should not miss a single prayer, because prayer is equivalent to meeting Allah, and he who refrains from meeting his beloved, passes a judgement contrary to his so-called claim of love by himself.’16

2. Observance Along with the Fulfilment of all Requirements

‘The second meaning of Iqamah is of equilibrium and rectitude, i.e., the virtuous offer their prayers according to its apparent conditions, and do not break the rules set for it. For example, in a state of health or in the availability of water, they offer their prayers after performing Wudhu’ (ablution), and even then, they perform their Wudhu’ properly according to the conditions set by the Shari‘ah. Similarly, they offer their prayers at the appointed time, and perform the actions of Qiyam, Ruku‘, Sajdah and Qa‘dah correctly. They recite the appointed passages and prayers upon their proper place properly and correctly. Therefore, they pay consideration to all the apparent conditions and fulfil them properly.

At this place, it should be remembered that although the Shari‘ah states that the prayer should be offered with its set conditions, this does not mean that when the fulfilment of these conditions is not possible in extreme circumstances, one should abandon the prayer altogether. The prayer itself is in any case precedent to the conditions. If someone does not have clean clothes, he may offer his prayers in dirty clothes, and especially, to abandon the prayer on the basis of suspicion is completely illogical…Until the fulfilment of the conditions is possible, to disregard them is sin. However, when it is impossible to fulfil the conditions, to abandon prayer due to their unavailability is a sin, and such a man shall not be considered excused, rather, one who abandons the prayer.’17

3. To Erect a Falling Prayer

‘The third meaning of Iqamah is to erect something, i.e., the worshipper does not let his prayer fall. They remain forever adamant in offering their prayer correctly and as per the stipulated conditions. If in his prayer someone…is assailed by thoughts of difficulty, he should not be dismayed, and should not consider his prayers useless, because Allah the Exalted only expects sacrifice from his servant to the extent of his capacity. Therefore, those worshippers, whose thoughts remain dispersed, if they continue to try and beautify their prayers and remain attentive, they will be striving to erect their prayer whenever it is falling. Allah the Exalted shall not waste their prayers, rather, He shall accept them, and shall include one who endeavours to erect his prayer among the virtuous.’18

4. To Encourage and Motivate others for Prayer

‘Another meaning of Yuqimunas-Salat is that the virtuous encourage others to pray, because one manner in which to erect something is to make it common and to encourage others to it. Therefore, the virtuous who act upon Yuqimunas-Salat are those who in addition to praying themselves, keep instructing others to pray as well, and make those who are negligent prompt and vigilant.’

5. Prayer in Congregation

‘Wherever the Holy Qur’an has enjoined prayer, it has instructed for prayer to be offered in congregation. Nowhere is it ordered that one simply offers prayers alone. It is evident therefore that prayer in congregation is a significant principle of faith, rather, the Holy Qur’an…states that prayer is only observed correctly if offered in congregation, unless there is an uncontrollable restraint. As such, an individual who abandons prayer in congregation, except in the case that he is ill, out of town, or other Muslims are not present, even if he offers his prayer at home, it shall not be accepted, and he shall be considered as one who abandons the prayer.’

In the Holy Qur’an…the actual instruction is that the compulsory prayers be offered in congregation, and prayer in solitude is permitted only under extreme circumstances. If one cannot offer the prayers standing, he is permitted to do so whilst sitting. However, just as if someone who possesses the ability to stand and pray but does so whilst sitting, he shall be considered a sinner, similarly, one who can offer the prayer in congregation, but does not offer his prayer in congregation, he too shall be considered a sinner.’19

6. To offer Prayer with Complete Attention, Togetherness, and Vigilance

‘Another meaning of Yuqimunas-Salat is also that the prayer be offered in a lively manner and with vigilance, because thoughts are dispersed as a result of laziness and negligence, and the essence of prayer is lost.’20

An Important Matter

With regards to Iqamatus Salat, it should be remembered that for a Muslim to observe prayer on his own is not sufficient, rather, prayer must be established as a communal worship, and this system should continue generation after generation. This issue is so important that Allah the Exalted especially instructed his beloved Holy Messenger(saw):

And enjoin Prayer on thy people, and be constant therein…21

It should be remembered that every individual who attributes himself to the Holy Prophet(saw) and makes a claim of love and devotion to him, is included in this injunction. To continually instruct members of the household to offer prayer is a responsibility and a quality which is greatly liked by Allah the Exalted. Whilst alluding to Hadhrat Abraham(as), Allah the Almighty states:

He used to enjoin Prayer and almsgiving on his people, and he was well-pleasing to his Lord.22

It is necessary to keep this aspect of Iqamatus Salat in consideration, for it is the means of securing a good family and good children.

A Beautiful Prayer

Iqamatus Salat is such an excellent quality and so very necessary for a true Muslim, that the prayer which Hadhrat Abraham(as) offered for this purpose, was so liked by Allah the Blessed and Exalted, that He made it a part of the Holy Qur’an, thus preserving it for all eternity. In this manner a message has been given to every individual of the Muslim Ummah (Community) that if you wish to acquire the Muqam-e-Ibrahim (the lofty status of Abraham) in your worship, if you wish to attain the Muqam-e-Mahmud (the highly commended status) , then it is incumbent that you fasten this Abrahamic prayer to your soul. Moreover, not only should a Muslim adopt Iqamatus Salat in his own life, but wish and pray for the same in the lives of one’s future generations as well. What a beautiful prayer it is, which has been taught to us:

My Lord make me observe Prayer, and my children too. Our Lord! Do accept my prayer. Our Lord, grant forgiveness to me and to my parents and the believers on the day when the reckoning will take place.’23

A Few Points of Wisdom

I present two points of profound wisdom from the Promised Messiah(as) that shed further light on the topic under discussion. Firstly, in order for a Muslim to establish his prayer, sacrifice is necessary. The strictness and discipline inflicted upon the soul also becomes a means of reward and blessings. The Promised Messiah(as) states:

‘Opposing the self is also a form of worship. When man is sleeping, he desires to sleep more, but he opposes the self, and goes to the Mosque. This opposition is also worthy of reward.”24

Secondly, in a youthful age when one’s health is good and the body is strong, one should especially pay attention to worship. The Promised Messiah(as) states:

‘If he spent this period (i.e., the period of his youth) in the worship of Allah, the reformation of the self, and obedience to God, the fruit which he shall reap is that in his old age, when he shall be unable to perform any worship, and inactivity and tardiness shall overcome him, the angels shall continue to record the same prayer, fasting, Tahajjud (pre-dawn Prayer), etc., which he used to offer in his youth. And this is the grace of Allah, that despite the fact that he is unable to perform deeds, God considers him exempt, and the same deeds are recorded in his account.”25

Seven Stages in the Spiritual Journey of the Observance of Prayer

There are seven stages in the spiritual journey of the observance of prayer. The right of the establishment of prayer can fully be offered only after one passes through these stages. Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad(ra) has elaborated upon this exquisite topic in a remarkable manner. He states:

‘The first stage, below which there is no stage whatsoever, is that man offers his five daily prayers regularly. A Muslim who offers his five daily prayers and does not break in between, acquires the lowest level of faith.

The second stage in prayer is that all five prayers are offered at the stipulated time. When one offers his five daily prayers on time, he steps to the second ladder of faith.

The third stage is that the prayer be offered in congregation. By the congregational observance of prayer, man steps to the third ladder of faith.

The fourth stage is that man observes the prayer whilst understanding its meaning. An individual who does not know the translation of prayer, should learn the translation and observe prayers. Moreover, one who does know the translation, should offer the prayer slowly, until he understands that he has done justice to the prayer.

Then, the fifth stage is that man becomes fully engrossed in the prayer. Just as one plunges into water, man should plunge into his prayer, until he acquires one of the two ranks: either that he is seeing God, or if not, he firmly believes that God the Exalted is seeing him.

After this, the sixth stage of belief is that an individual offers the Nawafil (Voluntary Prayers). One who offers the Nawafil expresses to God the Exalted, that he has offered his obligation, but he has not yet become satisfied by them, and he says, ‘O God, it is my desire to remain in Your royal court beyond the times of obligation.’

The seventh stage of belief is that man not only offers his five daily prayers and observes the Nawafil, but also prays Tahajjud (Late night/pre-dawn prayer) during the night. These are the seven stages by which prayer is deemed complete.

Hence, it is necessary for an individual to attain these seven stages. It is the responsibility of every individual that he observes prayer on time. It is the responsibility of every individual that he observes the prayer in congregation. It is the responsibility of every individual that he observes the prayer whilst understanding it, and after learning its translation. It is the responsibility of every individual that in addition to the obligatory prayer timings, he offers the Nawafil during the night and day……Then every individual should offer his obligatory and supereroga-tory (Nawafil) prayers with such assiduousness that even his nights become days. Similarly, one should try to acquire the greatest possible advantage from the supplications of Tahajjud. Until and unless one does not safeguard his prayers in this manner, for one to think that one can please God is nothing more than a fallacy.’26

Curing Insipidity in Prayer

When alluding to the topic of Iqamatus Salat, the question can arise that if one finds no pleasure in offering the prayers, how can one habituate oneself to it? The answer has been provided most beautifully by the Promised Messiah(as):

‘Whenever such a state persists that the love and pleasure which was once felt in prayer no longer remains, one should not tire, and should not be dismayed and lose strength but should be concerned as to how this lost wealth can be reacquired, and the cure is Taubah, Istighfar (repentance) and supplication. One should not abandon prayer due to insipidity, rather, should increase prayer even further. Just as when an alcoholic is not intoxicated, he does not abandon drinking, but drinks more and more, until finally, he experiences pleasure and satisfaction; likewise, someone who feels insipidity in prayer, should offer prayer in further abundance, and it is not appropriate to tire. Ultimately a state of pleasure shall come about through that very insipidity.

Look at how deep one must dig into the earth to acquire water; those who tire are left deprived, while those who do not, ultimately acquire it. Therefore, in order to attain that pleasure Istighfar, an abundance of prayer and supplication, readiness, and steadfastness are necessary.’27

The Promised Messiah(as) has not only prescribed supplication in order to acquire pleasure and attention in prayer, but has also taught the specified words which are to be prayed:

‘One should supplicate before Allah the Exalted in extreme emotion and passion, saying that just as You have endowed us with the various pleasures of fruits and other things, let me once taste the pleasure of prayer and worship as well.’ 28

In other words, one should supplicate in the following words:

‘O God, I receive the pleasures of this world everyday; grant me the pleasurable taste of worship once as well.’

Then he states that one should stand in every Rak‘ah of the prayer and supplicate in the following words:

‘O Allah the Exalted, the Omnipotent, the Possessor of Majesty, I am a sinner, and the poison of sin has affected my veins to such an extent that I am devoid of emotion and attention in prayer. Forgive me my sins with Thy blessing and grace, and forgive me my lapses, and soften my heart, and place Your greatness and Your fear, and Your love in my heart, so that my hard-heartedness may be dispelled, and I am granted attention in my prayer.’29

Then the Promised Messiah(as) states that one should pray in the following words:

‘O Allah, you see how blind and lacking of sight I am, and at this time I am in a complete state of death. I am aware that soon hereafter, I shall receive my calling, and will return to you. At that time, there shall be none who will be able to stop me. My heart is blind and ignorant. Send down such a flame of light upon it, as your love and attraction are developed in it. Bless me such as I am not raised without sight, and do not become amongst the blind.

He said: When a man supplicates in such a way with continuity, he shall see that such a time will come when something of heaven will descend upon his insipid prayer, which shall produce emotion.’30

Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) on the subject of Iqamatus Salat

Ever since the initial stages of his appointment to the exalted status of Khilafat, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Khalifatul Masih V, Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, has repeatedly laid stress on supplication, worship and especially Iqamatus Salat. I present two of these instructions as a reminder:

“Worship Allah the Exalted, and worship him as is His right. Do not associate anyone with Him. During the timings of prayer, as is His instruction, keep your full attention towards the prayers. Your engagements or other excuses should not become a hindrance in your offering prayers. Do not leave your prayers because of your work, rather, leave your work for the prayers. This is also a form of hidden Shirk (associating partners with God), because if you leave your prayers because of your work this means that your worldly engagements are more dear to you than the worship of your God.”

Then he states:

“Every individual who wishes to become a worshipping servant of Allah the Exalted — wishes to acquire His nearness, wishes to purify himself and his future generations, wishes to save himself from the onslaughts of Satan — there is only one method, and that is, pay attention to worship, and the most important aspect of this is the congregational prayer.”31

Originally published in The Review of Religions on 12th April 2010


1 Malfuzat, Vol.10, pp.314

2. Malfuzat, Vol.5, pp.402–403

3. Kishti-e-Nuh, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol.19, pp.65

4. Tafsir Masih-e-Mau‘ud, Vol.3, pp.612, published in Rabwah, new edition

5. Malfuzat, Vol.5, pp.44–45

6. Holy Qur’an, Ch 30:V.32

7. Holy Qur’an, Ch 74:V.44

8. Holy Qur’an, Ch 70:V.24

9. Holy Qur’an, Ch 23:V. 3

10. Holy Qur’an, Ch 70:V.35

11. Holy Qur’an, Ch 4:V. 104

12. Holy Qur’an, Ch 2:V.239

13. Al-Nisa’i

14. Kishti-e-Nuh, pp.19, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol.19

15. Malfuzat, Vol.2, pp.370

16. Tafsir Kabir, Vol.1, pp.104

17 Tafsir Kabir, Vol.1, pp.104

18 Tafsir Kabir, Vol.1, pp.105

19. Tafsir Kabir, Vol.1, pp.105–106

20. Tafsir Kabir, Vol.1, pp.106

21. Ch 19:V.56

22 Ch 19:V.56

23. Ch 14: Vs.41–42

24. Malfuzat, Vol.2, pp.552, new edition

25. Malfuzat, Vol.4, pp.199 — footnote, new edition

26. Tafsir Kabir, Vol.2, pp.135–136

27. Malfuzat, Vol.5, p.432

28. Malfuzat, Vol.1, pp.163

29. Fatawa Hadhrat Masih Mau‘ud, pp.37, published in 1935

30. Malfuzat, Vol.2, pp.616, new edition

31. Al-Fazl International London, 28 January 2005