Ibn al-Qayyim (Rahimahullaah) said in his book “al-Waabil as-Sayyib”:
“The people with regard to their performance of prayer are of five ranks:
The first: The rank of the one who is negligent and wrongs his self: He is the one who falls short in performing Wudu’ (ablution) properly, performing the Salaat (prayer) in its stated time and within its specified limits, and in fulfilling its essential pillars.
The second: The one who guards offering his prayers in their proper times and within their specified limits, fulfills their essential pillars and performs his Wudu’ with care. However, his striving (in achieving the above) is wasted due to whisperings in his prayer so he is taken away (i.e., his mind is elsewhere) by thoughts and ideas (throughout his prayer).
The third: The one who guards his prayers by offering them in their stated times, within the specified limits, fulfilling their pillars and striving with himself to repel the whispers, thoughts and ideas. He is busy in struggling against his enemy (Shaytaan) so that he does not steal from his prayer. On account of this he is engaged in (both) prayer and Jihaad (self-strife).
The fourth: The one who stands for the prayer, completes and perfects its due rights, its pillars, performs it within its specified limits and his heart becomes engrossed in safeguarding its rights and specified limits, so that nothing is wasted of it. His whole concern is directed towards its establishment, its completion and its perfection, as it should be. His heart is absorbed in the prayer and in servitude to his Lord the Exalted.
The fifth: The one who stands for the prayer like the one mentioned above. However, in addition to this, he has taken and placed his heart in front of his Lord (Azza wa Jall), looking towards Him with his heart filled with anticipation, (his heart) filled with His love and His might, as if he sees and witnesses Allaah. The whisperings, thoughts and ideas have vanished and the coverings which are between him and his Lord are raised. What is between this person and others with respect to the prayer is superior and greater than what is between the heavens and the earth. This person is busy with his Lord (Azza wa Jall) and delighted with Him.
The first type will be punished, the second type will be held to account, the third will have his sins and shortcomings expiated, the fourth will be rewarded and the fifth will be close to his Lord because he will receive the portion of the one who makes his prayer the delight and pleasure of his eye. Whoever makes his prayer the delight and pleasure of his eye will have the nearness to his Lord (Azza wa Jall) made the delight and pleasure of his eye in the Hereafter. He will also be made a pleasure to every eye in this world since whoever makes Allaah the pleasure of his eye in this world, every other eye will become delighted and pleased with him. And whoever Allaah is not the delight of his eye, then his self will be cut to pieces with sorrow and regrets over the Dunya.” [End quote]
It is reported by at-Tirmidhi and al-Haakim, that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “When you pray, do not look here and there, for Allaah sets His Face for (on) the face of His slave in his prayer as long as he does not look away.” [Authenticated by Al-Albaani in Saheeh at-Targheeb no. 353]
The turning of the heart is due to the Shaytaan (devil) who reminds him and presents to him the worldly matters. The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “It is a snatching away which the devil steals from the slave during prayer.” [Al-Bukhaari]. If the slave does not turn to these whispers and approaches Allaah with his heart, the Shaytaan will flee from him.
The difference between the fourth and fifth ranks is the attentiveness of the heart to the fact that he is in secret counsel with his Lord and witnesses Him in his Qiblah; as if he sees Him and His watchfulness of him. This is why he will be close to his Lord.
O servant of Allaah! After knowing these ranks of people, categorize yourself! Of which rank are you?
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