By: Fatema Makki
Allah says in His Glorious Book: “Attend constantly to prayers and to the middle prayer and stand up truly obedient to Allah," (02:238), and: “Successful indeed are the believers,who are humble in their prayers," (23: 01- 02), and: “Surely the hypocrites strive to deceive Allah, and He shall requite their deceit to them, and when they stand up to prayer they stand up sluggishly; they do it only to be seen of men and do not remember Allah save a little.” (04: 142).
His Eminence, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra), had described prayer as an act that abolishes sins, a manifestation of the best deed, and a representation of the fortress against Satan. He continues to explain, in the religious sermon of one of the Friday prayers, that the prayer is the means that enables us to feel His kindness, compassion, love and mercy towards His servants, for the prayer is a call to communicate with Him, not because He is in need for us, for He can do without His servants, but rather, He aims to make us sense our importance and significance in this vast universe. Actually, the one who recites the Azan says: “Make haste towards the prayer, make haste towards the worship, make haste towards the best of the deeds…” Through this linkage and meeting with Allah we would receive His blessings, care and grace, for the prayer brings about mercy, for it is narrated: “When the Muslim servant performs prayers, his sins to fall off of him, just as the leaves fall from a tree in autumn.”
It was also narrated that the Messenger of Allah (p.) took a branch from a tree under which he had gathered with other Muslims, and once he shook it, its leaves fell off, so he told them: “When a Muslim prays seeking the pleasure of Allah, his sins would fall off from him just as the tree leaves would fall.” It was also narrated that if the one performing prayers knew how much the grace of Allah encompasses him, he would never lift his head up from prostration, and: “When a person stands up for prayers, Satan approaches him and looks at him with envy and jealousy, as he sees the Mercy of Allah encompassing the person.”
As one prepares himself to stand between the hands of Allah, he must make sure that he must commit himself to a certain dress code that would represent the reverence that one feels towards His creator. There are several requirements concerning what one should wear:
First: clothes must cover one’s private parts
1) It is obligatory on both men and women to cover their private parts during prayer. Private parts are genitals and the anus in the man and the whole of the body except the face, hands, and feet in the women.
2) All things that can cover the private parts may be used, even if they are not made of textile or sewn; however, this excludes things such as tree leaves or mud, except when other suitable materials are not available.
3) The minimum requirement for the cover is that the material should not be so thin that the skin beneath is clearly visible.
4) If the private part is uncovered during prayer, from the beginning of the prayer, or if the person praying knows this but forgets to cover up, then is he becomes aware of this or remembers it after finishing the prayer, their prayer is valid; and if he becomes aware of this or remember it during the prayer, he must hasten to cover up and their prayer is valid, it is not obligatory on others to inform the person praying regarding this.
Second: clothing must be pure
1) Dress for prayer must be pure and free from any impurity, as explained in the chapter on purity. This only applies to any form of dress that is suitable, in terms of its size, for covering the private part, and includes the actual covering area of the clothing or whatever is joined or attached to it; however, purity, is not a condition for things that are not suitable as a cover, such as head caps or socks, as will be explained.
2) If only two sets of clothing are available as a cover but it is not known which one is pure and which is impure, the prayer must be repeated, wearing the first for one and the second when repeating the prayer.
3) If any impurity fell on the dress and the person prayed without knowing this, and if he remained ignorant until he finished his prayer, his prayer is valid, but if he comes to know about it during prayer, and if there is time, it is an obligatory precaution to stop the prayer, purify the dress or change it, then start prayer again. However, if there is no time even to offering one prostration, the person must hasten to take it off and change it or purify it in a way that is not considered to invalidate the prayer, then continue his prayer. But if changing or purifying is not possible, then he should continue his prayer with the impurity on his dress and his prayer is valid.
4) If a person prayer with an impurity due to forgetfulness, his prayer is void and he must repeat it within the time or after it; the same applies if he remembers this during the prayer.
Third: the clothes must be free to use
1) It is a condition that the clothing covering the private part must be free to use as an obligatory precaution.
2) Praying while wearing misappropriated clothing occurs in many instances:
a) the person knows and is intentionally wearing such cloning; in this case the prayer becomes void. The same applies if he forgot, and is he was the one who misappropriated the clothing.
b) The person is ignorant and has not made the necessary effort to know about it; it is better to render the prayer void, and to act accordingly.
c) The person is ignorant but has an excuse, or does not know that the things has actually been misappropriated, or forgot, but he is not the one who misappropriated the clothing; in all these cases the prayer is valid.
3) The prayer wearing misappropriated clothing is accepted when there is a compelling reason that remains in force for the whole of the time allocated for the given prayer; otherwise is it precautionary to delay performing the prayer until it is possible to find clothing that is free.