[107:4] فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُصَلِّينَ
So woe to those who pray! [Qur’an, 107:4]
What? Woe be to those who pray? The Musaleen?
The word وَيْلٌ , meaning ‘ a terrible calamity’, is used in Arabic for the WORST possible thing that can happen to someone! So why did Allah SWT curse those who pray?
And which people does Allah SWT refer to here when He is cursing them THIS badly in the Qur’an of all places?
Some say it refers to the Mushrikun (hypocrites) of Makkah; those who used to whistle and clap hands in prayer, perform Tawaf naked etc etc.
Their Salah did not benefit them.
Any form of worship, must make us more humble, more respectful, more attentive etc. But these ‘performers of prayer’ are heedless and their Salah (prayer) does not benefit them.
In the very next verse He says:
الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَن صَلَاتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ
Those who are heedless of their prayer [107:5]
This is a HUGE lesson for us to NOT look at verses alone, or separately. The verses in the Qur’an are connected. Not just this, all the other verses as well. An islamophobic by now would have misquoted me for just using ‘woe be to the ones who pray’ saying ‘Oh! Allah said so in the Qur’an!!’ etc etc. Yet Allah SWT, Al Hakeem with His immense wisdom teaches us this very lesson of NOT quoting out of context, Alhamdulillah by revealing this verse separately, following it with the accompanying verses; hence connecting them.
So الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَن صَلَاتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ ;
سَاهُونَ derived from ‘Sahw’ means neglectful, being absent minded and inattentive towards something.
When we sometime loose our focus in prayer unintentionally, we make Sajdah ‘Sahw’ (coming from the same root word). And this is fine and normal, since Allah SWT is the Most Forgiving. Which is why He doesn’t say الذين هم ‘ في’ صلاتهم ساهون but says الذين هم عن صلاتهم ساهون. If He said في, we would ALLL be in trouble. It’d mean ‘those who are inattentive IN their prayers’ However, He uses عن, meaning to say ‘Those who are inattentive ABOUT their prayers’ And this classifies to a specific group of people (may Allah save us from being among them).
When you are inattentive IN prayer and it happens unintentionally that you suddenly forget if you were in the third or fourth Rakah or you forget if you recited the tashahhud etc, Allah SWT gives us the ease of asking forgiveness by making Sajdah Sahw.
But when one is inattentive ABOUT prayer:
- They don’t care about the timing of Salah.
- They don’t give importance to the proper performance of Salah; quick Sujood and Rukooh that give no time to think one is talking to Allah
- Doesn’t worry about the pre-requisites of Salah; Hijab isn’t proper, wudhu is taken in a hurry or improperly due to unacceptable excuses, dressing isn’t neat or proper even.
- Prays sometimes and at other times doesn’t pray at all.
- Pray to show off (this is expressed exquisitely in the next verse)
- Delays until the last moment and then hurries in Salah without being able to focus on anything except ‘to finish’ within time.
In other words, they do not give importance to prayer at all. Because one who gives importance to it will perform it at the right time, in the right way, fulfilling all the pre-requisites, all the arkaan etc.
Linking this verse to the first verse in this same Surah :
أَرَأَيْتَ الَّذِي يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ
‘Have you seen the one who denies the Recompense?’ [107:1]
Despite many words that could be used for The Day of Judgement, Allah SWT uses الدِّينِ, because Deen means ‘recompense’; That whatever we do, we are recompensed for it on that day!
Who really cares and pays attention to their Salah? The one who CARES about their akhirah. That every single step of Salah is important.That every Salah is important! Knowing that how much ever we invest in prayer, that is how much I get out of it!
Moving on to the next verse after those who are heedless of their prayer, Allah swt says :
الَّذِينَ هُمْ يُرَاءُونَ
‘Those who make show [of their deeds]’ [107:6]
يُرَاءُونَ means to show off but here it doesn’t only mean ‘showing off self-righteousness’ but also means just praying for the sake of fitting in (meaning- everyone in the group is praying so I have to pray or my mother wants me to pray so if she sees I prayed she will be happy etc). It means one who prays to satisfy the eyes of the people. Outwardly they are doing good, inwardly they mean nothing.
Allah SWT makes it SO CERTAIN that false pretense and hypocrisy are mere characteristics of the one who doesn’t have any concern for his akhirah. Otherwise how can anyone leave the beautiful rewards of Allah swt and pay attention to the mere pleasure of the people?
SubhanAllah, How strong are the words of Allah SWT.