Basic duties have been declared to the Prophet (pbuh) through the Archangel Gabriel. However, the five compulsory daily prayers were directly presented to the Prophet (pbuh) on the night of Mir'aj, the miraculous journey of the Prophet (pbuh) to the heavens. At first, it was fifty daily prayers, but when Prophet Moses (pbuh) told Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that:
" – O Messenger of Allah! I unsuccessfully tried this on the Sons of Israel before you. Your people cannot bear that responsibility either!"
The Prophet (pbuh), that night, appealed to Allah five times to reduce it to five daily prayers.
Prophet Moses (pbuh), again, told Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):
" – They cannot bear the five daily ones either!"
The Prophet answered:
" – I have no face to appeal to Allah any more!"
And it was, then, determined to be five times a day.
However, Allah showed Mercy due to the appeal of the Prophet (pbuh), and also announced good news to the Prophet (pbuh) as well as reducing it to five daily ones:
"O the Prophet! Allah (pbuh) abides by His word. You will get reward of fifty for the five." (Ibn Maja, Ikametu's-Salah, 194).
The Prophet tells his people about the five daily prayers:
"Allah said: 'I enjoined the five daily prayers on your people. There is a pledge by Me. I will surely place those who perform the five daily prayers in time into the paradise. And there is no pledge by Me to those who do not keep these prayers.'" (Ibn Maja, Ikametu's-Salah, 194).
It is stated in another saying of the Prophet (pbuh):
"Allah enjoined the five daily prayers on His servants. Allah assures those who faithfully do these prayers of paradise on the Day of Judgment. Yet, Allah does not assure those who do these prayers lightly, without care and have defects in the manner of its performance; Allah deals with them as He wishes, either punishes them, or forgives them." (Ibn Maja, Ikametu's-Salah, 194).
The Prophet (pbuh) asked the following question to the companions to explain to them the importance of the five daily prayers:
" – If one of you has a river next to his door, and he washed himself five times a day in this river, do you think that person can have a scrap of dirt on his body?"
The Companions answered:
" – No dirt will remain on that person."
The Prophet went on:
"Five daily prayers function in the same way. Allah deletes sins through five daily prayers." (Bukhari, Mawaqit, 6).
The Prophet (pbuh) announced the following good news in several sayings as well:
"If deadly sins are avoided, the five daily prayers and the Friday congregational prayers are considered to be redemptions for minor sins committed between them. And this is valid for all times." (Muslim, Taharat, 14).
"If a Muslim makes ablution when the time for prayer is due, and does the prayer in pious reverence, this prayer redeems his previous sins. And this is valid for all times." (Muslim, Taharat, 7).
It must be stated here that the five daily prayers are all-important. There is a wisdom behind their being at different times of the day. The way they are divided is good for humans both bodily and spiritually. Therefore, one should be serious about performing each one of them with sincerity. Allah says in the Qur'an:
"So (give) glory to Allah, when you reach eventide and when you rise in the morning; To him be praise, in the heavens and on earth; and in the late-afternoon and when the day begins to decline." (Ar-Rum 30: 17-18).
Abdullah ibn Abbas regards these verses as covering the five daily prayers and says:
"The words 'when you rise in the morning' refers to the morning prayer;
The words 'in the late afternoon' refers to the noon-prayer;
The words 'the day begins to decline' refers to the late-noon prayer;
The words 'when you reach eventide' refers to the evening and late-night prayer."
There are other verses in the Qur'an referring to the obligatory prayers.
Saphiri attachs great importance to the five daily prayers and describes the condition of those who do not offer them as follows:
"The angels call to those who give up the morning prayer as 'O the great sinner!';
'those who give up the noon-prayer as 'O deprived one!'
'Those who give up the late-noon prayer as 'O rebel'
'Those who give up the evening prayer as 'O ungrateful one!'
'Those who give up the late-evening prayer as 'O loser!'..."
On the other hand, the ways and regulations of prayer, and also the additional prayers (sunnah ) that the Prophet (pbuh) always performed or the ones he usually did, should be attentively observed. These are essential parts of the five daily prayers besides the optional ones throughout the day.There are many narratives attributed to the Prophet (pbuh) in this regard:
"The two units of sunnah of morning prayer is more beneficial than the world and also all the creation in the world." (Muslim, Salat al-Musafirin, 96).
"The Prophet used to pray four units before the obligatory units of the noon-prayer, and he also used to pray two units after that." (Tirmizi, Cuma, 66).
"May Allah show mercy to those who pray four units before the obligatory units of the late-afternoon prayer." (Tirmizi, Salat, 201).
"Hurry up to pray the two units of sunnah prayer after the three obligatory units of evening prayer as it is uplifted together with the obligatory units." (Rezin).
The following narrative is said to refer to the four extra units before the late-night prayer:
"There is a prayer between the call to prayer(adhan) and the call for the beginning of the obligatory units(iqamat)." (Bukhari, Azan, 16).
And the two extra units after the obligatory units of the late evening prayer is known to have been done by the Prophet routinely.
One of the most important aspects of prayer is to do it in time. Whenever the Prophet (pbuh) was asked:
"What is the most virtuous worship?"
"The prayer that is performed in time." (Bukhari, Mawakitu's-Salah, 5).
So it is preferable to offer prayers as soon as their time is due. The Prophet (pbuh) says in this regard:
"Allah is pleased with those who offer prayers in their due time, but He forgives those who do them towards the end of the time." (Cam'u'l-Fawaid, I, 163).
Apart from the five daily prayers there is also the obligatory Friday (Jumu'ah) prayer. It is offered in congregation with a sermon on Fridays in place of the noon prayer. All adult male Muslims must take part except for travellers. It is not a must for women, but they can join. It is said in the Qur'an about the importance of Friday prayer:
O you who believe! When the call is proclaimed to prayer on Friday (the Day of Assembly), hasten earnestly to the Remembrance of Allah, and leave off business (and traffic): that is best for you if you but knew!" (Al-Jumu'ah 62: 9).