Criterion for Acceptance of Prayers

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It is an established fact as per Prophetic traditions that prayer (salaah) is the pillar of religion. There are innumerable traditions regarding its importance, significance and reward. Traditions also very clearly state that a person who omits and neglects prayers intentionally is a disbeliever and will receive divine punishment for it. However, a question which often crops up in our minds is regarding the acceptance of the prayers. How can we be sure that our prayers which we recite are accepted by Allah the Almighty? Here is an interesting tradition which talks about various facets of a believer’s prayers.

Abu Haazim narrates that a man asked Imam Zain al-Aabideen (peace be upon him): “Do you know about prayers (salaah)?” I got angry at him. So Imam (peace be upon him) told me, “Calm down O Aba Haazim! Surely the scholars are forbearing and merciful.” Then he (peace be upon him) turned towards the questioner and replied: “Yes, I’m aware of it.” So that person asked about its actions, its relinquishments, its obligations and its supererogatory acts until he reached a point wherein he asked,

مَا افْتِتَاحُهَا قَالَ التَّكْبِيرُ

“What is its beginning?” Imam (peace be upon him) replied: Takbeer (saying Allah-o-Akbar)

قَالَ مَا بُرْهَانُهَا قَالَ الْقِرَاءَةُ

He asked: “What is its proof?” Imam (peace be upon him) replied: Qiraa’ah (recitation of the two Surahs)

قَالَ مَا خُشُوعُهَا قَالَ النَّظَرُ إِلَى مَوْضِعِ السُّجُودِ

He asked: “What is its humility?” Imam (peace be upon him) replied: Looking at the place of prostration.

قَالَ مَا تَحْرِيمُهَا قَالَ التَّكْبِيرُ

He asked: “What is its prohibition?” Imam (peace be upon him) replied: Takbeer (saying Allah-o-Akbar after which many things are forbidden for the person performing the prayers)

قَالَ مَا تَحْلِيلُهَا قَالَ التَّسْلِيمُ

He asked: “What is its permissibility?” Imam (peace be upon him) replied: Tasleem (reciting Salaam at the end after which the prohibitions for a praying person become permissible)

قَالَ مَا جَوْهَرُهَا قَالَ التَّسْبِيحُ

He asked: “What is its essence?” Imam (peace be upon him) replied: Glorification (reciting Tasbeeh)

قَالَ مَا شِعَارُهَا قَالَ التَّعْقِيبُ

He asked: “What are its symbols?” Imam (peace be upon him) replied: Ta’qeebaat (the recommended invocations to be recited after prayers).

قَالَ مَا تَمَامُهَا قَالَ الصَّلَاةُ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ

He asked: “What is its completion?” Imam (peace be upon him) replied: Sending salutations upon Muhammad and the progeny of Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

قَالَ مَا سَبَبُ قَبُولِهَا قَالَ وَلَايَتُنَا وَ الْبَرَاءَةُ مِنْ أَعْدَائِنَا

He asked: “What is the cause of its acceptance?” Imam (peace be upon him) replied: Our mastership (Wilaayah) and dissociation from our enemies (Baraa’ah).

The man replied: “You have not left any argument for anyone.” Then he got up saying

اللهُ أَعْلَمُ حَيْثُ يَجْعَلُ رِسَالَتَهُ

“Allah knows best where to place His message.” [Surah An’aam (6): Verse 124] and disappeared.

[Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 81, pp. 244-245, H. 35 narrating from Al-Manaaqeb by Ibn Shahr Aashob (may Allah have mercy upon him), vol. 4, p. 130]


  • Who better to explain about prayers than the Imam known as the Adornment of the Worshippers (Zain al-Aabideen) (peace be upon him)
  • Imam Zain al-Aabideen (peace be upon him) has explained about various facets of prayers
  • No prayers are complete without sending salutations upon the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and his Ahle Bait (peace be upon them)
  • There are other traditions which highlight the fact that if prayers are accepted, then all other acts of worship will be accepted
  • Acceptance of prayers depends on Mastership (Wilaayah) and Dissociation (Baraa’ah)
  • The more a person loves the holy Ahle Bait (peace be upon them) and bears grudge against their enemies, the more will be the chances of his prayers’ acceptance.
  • Allah will not accept the prayers of anyone if he does not have the Mastership of the Ahle Bait (peace be upon them) and does not do dissociate against their enemies
  • May Allah increase the love of Ahle Bait (peace be upon them) and the enmity against their enemies in our hearts so that the most important act of worship viz. prayers is accepted by Allah
  • Allamah Majlisi (may Allah have mercy upon him) states in the explanation of this tradition that the man who asked the question to Imam Zain al-Aabideen (peace be upon him) was Hazrat Khizr (peace be upon him)

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