Congregational prayer is a feature of Islamic worship to which much importance is attached. In addition to the fulfillment of the duty God requires all Muslims to fulfill, it has a social role, cementing the feelings of unity within the Muslim community. It brings people into the local mosque where they join in a simple exercise of devotion, addressing God directly, reading His revealed words, declaring their submission to Him alone, acknowledging Him as the Master, Creator, Owner and Controller of the universe and everything in it. They realize that He sees them at every moment and listens to their prayers and supplication. He grants them all that they pray Him for. Thus, their unity is established on the basis of a bond of faith that is far stronger than any other tie.
The Arabic term denoting prayers, salat, is derived from the same root as silah, which means â€˜tie, bond, or means of communicationâ€™. Hence, scholars often describe Islamic prayer as a bond between man and God. We feel this tie as we address God, appeal for His forgiveness of our sins, and request His mercy and help. We expect His reward, feeling that it comes as we go about, conducting our life affairs and seeking His guidance.
Yet there is more to prayer than this, as the following Hadith suggests. Abu Hurayrah quotes the Prophet as saying: â€œDifferent angels come and join you during the night and during the day. They congregate at Fajr and Asr prayers. Then those who were with you during the night ascend to heaven where God, who knows best, asks them: â€˜In what condition you have left My servants?â€™ They answer: â€˜We have left them praying, and we had arrived among them as they were praying.â€™â€ [Related by al-Bukhari].