December 22, 2011

Footsteps in Heaven

It is related by Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (s) once said to Bilal at the time of fajr: "Tell me about your act from which you expect the most in your Islam, for I have heard the sound of your footsteps in heaven."

"I have done nothing," replied Bilal, "which could give me hope, except that when I perform the wudu' in any part of the day or night I try to offer as much of salah with it as I can." (al-Bukhari)
-- from The Four Pillars of Islam by Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi

1 comment:

JDsg said...

I was asked (on Facebook) to explain the terms "wudu" and "salah."

Most non-Muslims know that Muslims are required to pray five times a day. Before these prayers, however, the Muslim must do an obligatory ablution. There are two forms of ablution, wudu and ghusl. Ghusl is a full-body ablution and is normally required only upon special occasions; for example, after a woman completes her menses or a man ejaculates. Wudu, on the other hand, is done more often; for example, after going to the bathroom, after farting, or after sleeping. So the state of wudu (or ghusl) does not last forever, and Muslims will normally do wudu several times a day (whereas ghusl may not be done for several weeks at a time, depending upon circumstances).

Salah (pl. salat) is the formal prayer Muslims do. There are the five required prayers that Muslims must do, but there are also other, non-obligatory prayers that Muslims may also perform during the day. It is not uncommon for Muslims to pray these sunnah (recommended) prayers before and/or after the fard (obligatory) prayers. And so what Bilal was saying in the hadith is that he was trying to do as many prayers, both fard and sunnah, before something happened to cause his state of wudu to lapse. The question to ask at this point is, "Why?" Why should he try to pray as often as possible?

There is a special type of hadith (called a hadith qudsi) in which Allah says that the first thing that will be accounted for on the Day of Resurrection is the number and quality of fard prayers a person has done in his or her lifetime. If that person is lacking in the number of fard prayers (or some of the fard prayers are "defective"), the sunnah prayers will then be added in. So, from a Muslim perspective, it behooves us all to make as great an effort to do as many prayers as possible, but also to do these prayers well.

And Allah (swt) knows best.