The quantity of prayer elements & their tremendous opportunity for reward

Back around 2006 I made a very short audio commentary for The Ultimate Conspectus that aimed to introduce the book to absolute beginners. This last weekend I finished up transcribing the recordings. Since then I have been editing them into something that I could give to my own kids to read as a quick introduction to Shāfiʿī fiqh before moving on to a classic text. Here is one of the sections I was working on today. Text from The Ultimate Conspectus is in bold.

2.3.7 Quantity of Prayer Elements

The five obligatory daily prayers are opportunities for major rewards. Within those five obligatory prayers there are 17 obligatory prayer cycles, which contain 34 prostrations, 94 occurrences of “Allāhu akbar,” 9 tashahhuds, 10 sayings of “al-salāmu ‘alaykum,” and 153 sayings of “subḥāna rabbī al-‘aẓīm” or “subḥāna rabbī al-a‘lā.”

There is a total number of 126 integrals during these prayers: 30 during the Dawn Prayer, 42 during the Sunset Prayer, and 54 during the four-rak‘āt prayers the Noon, Midafternoon, and Night Prayers. The numbers that are given here are for someone who is not traveling (and therefore not shortening prayers), and for days other than Friday (since on Friday the number of prayer-cycles is reduced by two).

The main takeaway from this quantitative beak down is that it shows us the tremendous reward we get just for performing the obligatory prayers. The five prayers that are obligatory to pray each day include 17 prayer cycle. In each of those prayer cycles we read Al-Fātiḥah. In some prayer cycles we read additional verses. Each letter we read is a cause for reward. Each letter is the cause for one reward, with there being a possibility of up to ten rewards. Readers who struggle or or experience difficulty receive double the reward of those who do not.

The prayer is full of litanies (adhkār), each of which is a cause for additional rewards. In the five daily prayers there are 17 bowings and 34 prostrations, and a litany is said in each one; and there also also 94 sayings of “Allāhu akbar.” These are just a few examples of common litanies. There are other litanies, as well as opening supplication, Qunūt supplication, and the various supplications said during prostration.

While this numerical breakdown is not emphasized books of fiqh, it is still beneficial to include since it encourages people to worship Allah through prayer. And how can one expect to receive these rewards or claim to be worshiping Allah as He prescribed unless one knows and performs the prerequisites to prayer and its obligatory actions, and knows and avoids its invalidators?

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