In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
To all my loved ones, who include:
- My parents and siblings,
- My significant other,
- My extended family (especially my cousins, they hold a special place in my heart), including the family of my wife,
- Citizens of Baa Maalhos, in general,
- My classmates of grade 8, 9 and 10,
- My classmates and schoolmates from Baa Atoll Education Centre (BAEC) and Baa Maalhohu Madharusaa (BMM),
- Citizens of Baa Eydhafushi, in general,
- My classmates from grade 11 and 12,
- My schoolmates from Centre for Higher Secondary Education (CHSE) and Villa international High School (VIHS),
- My friends on social networks, or through direct interaction,
- People who love me for the sake of Allah, and
- People whom I love for the sake of Allah.
Before moving on to the core of this letter, I would like to briefly—that means as brief as I can—mention the reasons for writing this letter.
As most of you would know, I am currently studying in the blessed city of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. As one might expect, what I am studying here is mostly related to what his Lord and He himself said, upon which the great religion of Islam is based upon. Certain responsibilities and duties are imposed on those who study Islam and its teachings, and one of those is conveying what they learn to others. From here emerges the first reason for writing this letter. Hence I ask Allah to reward me and absolve me of some of the burdens I carry on my shoulders through this letter.
The second reason is to properly thank Allah and appreciate one of His greatest blessings upon me. Let me elaborate.
All through the last two decades of my life, Allah has showered me with innumerable blessings. He says in the Qur’aan [interpretation of the meaning]: And if you count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them [14:34].
Owing to the fact that all of these blessings come from Allah, they are all momentous and quite significant to me, praise be to Him. And one of these blessings is the group of the people that are dear to me—namely you, the recipients of this letter.
You guys are one of the greatest ways by which Allah has blessed me. I cannot wish for a better set of individuals to lighten up my life.
Because of its great significance, I wanted to prolong this blessing, to prolong the bond between me and you, both in this world and the next, and to thank Allah for it in the best way possible.
And the best way to do that—according to what I found—is to call them to the true religion, correct them, strengthen them through what is beneficial for them, get them to perform good actions, and protect and warn them from what harms them.
Allah says [interpretation of the meaning]: And those who believed and whose descendants followed them in faith. We will join them their descendants [52:21].
He also says [interpretation of the meaning]: And warn, [O Muhammad], your closest kindred [26:214].
He also says [interpretation of the meaning]: Save yourself and your family from Hellfire [66:6].
The third reason for writing this letter originates from a hadeeth (saying) of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ which says: None of you [truly] believes until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself [Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim].
I love for myself a lot of things. A great desire to enter Paradise and an equally—if not more—deep wish to save myself from the Hellfire are among them. I didn’t want to limit it to just loving for every one of you to enter Paradise and be safe from the Hellfire, rather I wanted to do something—everything!—that will incite, persuade, encourage and compel you to do whatever you have to do to achieve that.
To sum up, the reasons for writing this letter are: (1) to fulfil some of the heavy responsibilities that I carry on my shoulders, (2) to thank Allah properly for the blessing of family and friends, and (3) to persuade and encourage to start working towards saving yourself from the Hellfire.
To move on to the pith of this letter:
The most important thing to call somebody to is Tawheed, Oneness of Allah, may He be Exalted. Since you all are—by the Grace of Allah—Muslims, I thought I’d move on to the second one in priority, which would be the obligatory prayers.
Allah says in the Qur’aan [interpretation of the meaning]: Order your family to pray [20:132].
If I have learned anything after the last couple of years of study in Madhinah, it is the significance of the five daily prayers.
We all know that the five daily prayers are considered the pillar of Islam, as the Prophet ﷺ said: “The head of the matter is Islam, its pillar is prayer and its top is jihad.” But most of us are unable to grasp the significance of what this means. Just like a building cannot stand without its pillars to support it, Islam cannot—and I cannot stress this enough—be established without the prayers.
But why am I not persuading or inciting you to give Zakaath or Fast or perform Hajj? Or to cover yourself properly and grow your beard? Why just prayers? Well, there are a number of reasons why it is important to give preference to prayers over other types of worship. For instance, Allah raised His Messenger to Himself and spoke directly to him to ordain the prayers, as opposed to sending Jibreel (peace be upon him) with revelation.
There are many other reasons, but the most important reason for specifying and restricting this letter to prayers is something I have seen among us, among the Muslim community that our Maldives is: people are so careless about establishing the five daily prayers these days, to a level that is unmatched by their carelessness towards any other type of worship, especially given their significance.
And their significance! We have greatly underestimated the true value and significance of the five daily prayers. Some of us pray only a few of those five, while others do not pray at all. Only a handful are diligent about praying five times on a regular basis.
The matter is very serious in Islam, so much so that some scholars are of the opinion that the one who neglects prayers becomes a kaafir, who is beyond the fold of Islam. This would mean very harsh consequences for such a person. If we assume that this is correct, then such a person will be treated how an apostate is to be treated in Islam. Firstly, he will be asked to repent and to start praying, and he will be executed if he doesn’t. Secondly, he will not be buried in a Muslim graveyard. Thirdly, he will be denied access to Makkah and al-Madhinah, because disbelievers are not allowed entry to these two blessed cities. Fourthly, his marriage will be nullified and he will be divorced from his wife. Fifthly, no Muslim will inherit from his wealth when he dies (rather his wealth will be taken by the authorities (i.e. to the Muslim treasury)), nor will he inherit from his Muslim family. All this is just to name a few.
The seriousness of this issue is indicated by various verses and ahaadeeth, some of which are mentioned below:
- The verse of the Qur’aan [interpretation of the meaning]: “What has caused you to enter Hell?” They will say: “We were not of those who offered the Salaat (the prayers)” [74:42-43].
- The verse of the Qur’aan [interpretation of the meaning]: But there came after them successors who have given up the prayers and have followed lusts. So they will be thrown in Hell [19:59].
- The hadeeth of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ: “Between a man and disbelief and kufr [disbelief] is the abandonment of Salaat (prayer)” [Narrated by Imam Muslim].
- The hadeeth of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ: “The covenant that stands between us and them is the Salah; whoever abandons it, he has committed disbelief.” [Narrated by Imam Ahmed, at-Tirmizi, an-Nasaai’ and Ibn Maajah. Classed as Saheeh by al-Albaani in “Saheeh-ul-Jaami’].
I agree that there is a difference in opinion among the scholars about the ruling of the one who neglects prayers, but that just goes on to demonstrate the exact point I am trying to make. The mere fact that there is a difference of opinion (about whether the one who leaves prayers is a Muslim or not) is enough to make anyone realize the seriousness of this issue. Missing a prayer or two seems such a trivial and easy matter, but the consequences of that—according to this view—is of the most severe nature.
All aspects of Islam are serious, not just the prayers. That is why it is said that there are no trivial matters in Islam. Islam distinguishes what is right from what is wrong, and it is not a thing for amusement and joking (cf. the Holy Qur’aan, 86:13). Many people in this age do not take the matters of their religion seriously enough and the excuses they offer are feeble and lame. Perhaps this is an attempt to avoid both the feelings of guilt and advice of sincere people.
Bottom line is, be careful about the five daily prayers, it is not difficult (except to whom Allah make it difficult—may He make it easy upon all of us). If you couldn’t get up for Fajr, just pray it when you get up, before you leave for work or school, and try to get up in time next time. Even if you miss the congregation in the mosque, don’t let that be a reason for leaving that prayer altogether. Pray, even at home (although men attending the congregation at the mosque is required), as it is better than abandoning prayer. If you have to travel far to go to university and the schedule is tight, ask around and see if there is a possibility of joining two prayers or similar conveniences. Nothing—nothing!—can be an excuse for leaving a prayer (except, of course, menstruation and the like). Heck, Muslims are not excused from the prayer even during the most heated moments of battle. The two excuses that we all think are excuses—namely forgetting to pray and sleeping—are actually excuses for delaying the prayer until its time has passed, not for leaving it altogether. When one remembers or wakes up from his sleep, he has to make it up.
Many of you—especially those who used to be my classmates and schoolmates—are now studying abroad, in societies unlike the Muslim community in our Maldives, hence there might be a higher need to remind you of our duties towards our Creator. Reminding will benefit the believers, because our Lord said so and His Words are the truth.
Pick yourself up if you fall down, and I will—in sha Allah—keep reminding you.
I ask Allah to guide me and you to the way that leads to Paradise and away from the Hellfire.
وَمَا عَلَيَّ إِلَّا البَلَاغ
وَصَلَّى اللّهُ عَلَى نَبِيِّنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ وَسَلَّمَ
Your Brother in Faith,
Mohamed Allam Naeem