Performing salah on time, every time, is incumbent upon every Muslim, except for those who are exempt like children who haven't reached puberty and women on their periods. If we find ourselves ever being lazy with our salah, Astagfirullah, we should endeavour to return to consistency immediately and make up any we may have missed as soon as possible.
Quran verses about salah
In the Quran, Allah not only tells us to maintain our salah, He warns us of what makes us stray from it, the benefits of salah, and that if you seek forgiveness for being neglectful you will be rewarded.
But those who hold fast to the Book and establish prayer, We will not allow to be lost the reward of the reformers.
With intoxicants and gambling, Satan seeks only to incite enmity and hatred among you, and to stop you remembering God and prayer. Will you not give them up?
[Prophet] keep up the prayer at both ends of the day, and during parts of the night, for good things drive bad away- this is a reminder for those who are aware.
The believers, both men and women, support each other; they order what is right and forbid what is wrong; they keep up the prayer and pay the prescribed alms; they obey God and His Messenger. God will give His mercy to such people: God is almighty and wise.
[Prophet], recite what has been revealed to you of the scripture; keep up the prayer: prayer restrains outrageous and unacceptable behaviour. Remembering God is greater: God knows everything you are doing.
but there came after them generations who neglected prayer and were driven by their own desires. These will come face to face with their evil, but those who repent, who believe, who do righteous deeds, will enter Paradise. They will not be wronged in the least: they will enter the Gardens of Lasting Bliss, promised by the Lord of Mercy to His servants- it is not yet seen but truly His promise will be fulfilled.
Translations: Abdel Haleem/Sahih International
Making up prayers
According to Hanafi fiqh (and others), if you miss up to five salah then they should be made up in order before the next salah time. Any and all other missed salah must be made up but maintaining the order is not necessary, and you do not have to pray Asr in Asr time, Maghrib in Maghrib time etc- just pray at any time it is permissible to pray.
It is necessary to make up missed prayers according to all the four madhabs. Imam Ahmad's Hanbali madhab has a ruling where it is not necessary not make up missed prayers, but this ruling comes with the position that a person was not Muslim at the time when they did not pray, which has many serious implications. Do not apply this decision lightly and without being properly informed. You should check with a teacher from the school you follow to what the conditions of making qada are- in some schools it is not advised to pray any nafl salah until your qada has been completed, for example.
How can I start to make up missed prayers (qada)?
If you have missed salah for any reason, note it down, and make it up as soon as possible. If you have missed a lot in the past then do your best to work out how many of each it was and start making them up, and in sha Allah the intention to make them up will be recognised by Allah even if you do not complete them. Most importantly, sincerely repent to your Lord.
Allah wants to accept your repentance, but those who follow [their] passions want you to digress [into] a great deviation.
Our Prophet salallahu alayhi wa sallam told us, narrated by Abu Huraira: "Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the afternoons, and during the last hours of the nights." (Sahih Bukhari)
This is a reminder that maintaining our salah makes fulfilling our other obligations easier. We must obey Allah and He has not placed any hardship in our religion.
And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties]; and mankind was created weak.
Tips to make sure you pray salah on time
1. Be mindful of where you'll be when it's time to pray and make sure you'll have time and space to make salah. This is particularly important for maghrib when there's only a short window to pray it on time.
2. Leave home with wudhu and aim to keep it when possible. Bring water with you if you think you'll need to make wudhu again and might not be near a water source.
3. Bring a prayer mat to pray on so you can pray almost anywhere- you can never know what impurities may have been there before you. Buy travel prayer mats online (affiliate link).
4. Aim to pray near the start of the salah time and avoid delaying it until near the very end, in case you become distracted and forget or an emergency occurs.
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