The meaning of worship.
The foundation of worship is humility and submission. In Islam it has many definitions, but their meaning is the same. Amongst them:
Worship is submission to Allah with utmost humility and love of Him.
Worship is obedience to Allah by complying to that which Allah has commanded upon the tongues of His Messengers.
As seen from the above verse of Glorious Qur'an, the purpose of creation is to Worship Allah (swt) and the best form of worship and remembrance of Allah (swt) is Salaah (prayers). It is a favor bestowed upon Muslim ummah from Allah (swt), the exalted, a solution to various difficulties one is to face en-route his life and a recipe for success in this life as well as the life of hereafter. Muslims are invited to earn this favor five times a day through , Adhaan(call for prayer). The Importance of Salaah is recalled to Muslims five times a day whenever Adhaan is pronounced,
Hayya 'alas-Salaah (Come to Prayers), Hayya 'alal-Falaah (Come to Success)
Indeed successful are those believers who are humble in their Salaah (prayers) The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 23, Verses 1-2
Success comes from proper composition of well-defined purpose and sincere efforts. Thus Salaah should be performed in full submissiveness and obedience. Allah (swt) thus asks believers to guard prayers strictly and offer Salaah in the best form.
Lo! the hypocrites seek to beguile Allah, but it is Allah who beguileth them. When they stand up to worship they perform it languidly and to be seen of men, and are mindful of Allah but little. The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 4, Verse 142
The above verse from Surah Al-Nisa of Glorious Qur'an stresses the disliked way of praying, which reflects the deception in purpose, lack of vigor and thus a deficiency in love and fear towards Allah (swt). The true purpose of Salaah is remembrance of Allah (swt) and to seek pleasure of Allah (swt) by glorifying and praising him for his uncountable favors towards his creations. Allah (swt) affirms,
It is Me, Allah; there is none worthy of worship except Me, so worship Me and establish Salaah for My remembrance. The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 20, Verse 14
Now that we have elaborated the correct purpose the methodology should also be perfected i.e observing Salaah at appointed times,
Narrated Abdullah bin Masud:
I asked Allah's Apostle, "O Allah's Apostle! What is the best deed?" He replied, "To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times." I asked, "What is next in goodness?" He replied, "To be good and dutiful to your parents." I further asked, what is next in goodness?" He replied, "To participate in Jihad in Allah's Cause." I did not ask Allah's Apostle anymore and if I had asked him more, he would have told me more. (Sahih Bukhari, Book 4, Volume 52, Hadith 41)
Qur'an bears the testimony of the consequences one would face for being neglectful of Salaah by abandoning it,
But the generations who succeeded them abandoned the Salaah and started following their lusts; so they will soon face the consequences of their deviation. The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 19, Verse 59
It is narrated on the authority of Abu Hurrayrah that the Prophet said "The first thing about which the people will be called to account out of their actions on the Day of Judgment is prayer. Our Lord, the Exalted, will say to the angels - though He knows better: Look into the prayer of My servant and see whether he has offered it perfectly or imperfectly." (Dawud, Book 3, Hadith 863)
In Surah Al-Ma'arij verses 19-23, Allah (swt) uses the word halu'an to describe the restless and impatient nature of man. Whenever he is afflicted with some trouble he lacks the patience (Arabic: Sabr) and trembles in despair. This arises due to shortcomings in trust towards Allah (swt). On the other hand, when he is given in abundance he turns ungrateful towards the Sustainer Allah (swt). He is encompassed with arrogance and uncaring attitude towards the less fortunate ones. Thus Allah (swt) assures the observance of Salaah as way to preserve hope in times of grievance and humbleness & humility in periods of bountiful life. Salaah has the power to erase the roots of the evil deeds (Arabic: al-munkar) causing barrier amidst society and giving birth to wrong attitude of racial as well as financial discrimination and sinful intentions. Allah (swt) confirms the merit of Salaah.
Observe the Salaah (Contact Prayers) for it prohibits evil and vice." The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 29, Verse 45
Muhammad (pbuh) draws an excellent parable in the Hadith below concerning the fruits of Salaah
Narrated Abu Huraira:
I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "If there was a river at the door of anyone of you and he took a bath in it five times a day would you notice any dirt on him?" They said, "Not a trace of dirt would be left." The Prophet added, "That is the example of the five prayers with which Allah blots out (annuls) evil deeds." (Sahih Bukhari, Book 1, Volume 10, Hadith 505)
Glory be to Allah (swt) who has given us such an opportunity to seek his pleasure and attain salvation.
Seek Allah's help with patience and Salaah: it is indeed hard to be patient and to be punctual in offering Salaah except for those who fear Allah. The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 2, Verse 45
"Good Things come at a Price" The price (remembrance of Allah (swt) through Salaah) we ought to pay is very miniscule compared to the wonderful reward we are to achieve i.e Paradise. May Allah (swt) give us the courage to establish constancy in Salaah!