Why is Salaat (five times obligatory prayer) so important for a Muslim?

In Surah Maryam Ayahs 58 & 59 Allah Subhanuhu wa Taala says that He selected prophets and messengers among the children of Adam and among the generations of Noah, Abraham and Israel and blessed them; and when these Apostles received the revelations of Allah they bowed down in prostration to Him and cried in submission to their Lord. But after them, came more generations of people who stopped praying completely or did not observe the timings of their prayers, nor were they regular in their prayers, or when they prayed they did so half-heartedly and paid no attention to it, and continued to follow their own carnal desires. For such people there is a bad outcome awaiting them in the Hereafter, unless they repent and establish Salat and follow the right path.

أُوْلَئِكَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِم مِّنَ النَّبِيِّينَ مِن ذُرِّيَّةِ آدَمَ وَمِمَّنْ حَمَلْنَا مَعَ نُوحٍ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّةِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْرَائِيلَ وَمِمَّنْ هَدَيْنَا وَاجْتَبَيْنَا إِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُ الرَّحْمَن oخَرُّوا سُجَّدًا وَبُكِيًّا
oفَخَلَفَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ أَضَاعُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَاتَّبَعُوا الشَّهَوَاتِ فَسَوْفَ يَلْقَوْنَ غَيًّا
oإِلَّا مَن تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَأُوْلَئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَا يُظْلَمُونَ شَيْئًا
[19:58-60]

In Surah Al-Ankaboot, Ayah 45 Allah has also given a criterion to see if our Salat is right. Allah says Salat keeps the worshipper away from immoral acts and evil deeds. So by applying this measure we can see for ourselves if our Salat is Alhamdulillah correct. If not, then we need to make improvement in the performance of our Salat to avoid the outcome predicted in Surah Maryam inshaAllah.

اتْلُ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاء وَالْمُنكَرِ وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ
[29:45]

The essentials of Islam consist of the following sources of Islam in the order of priority as listed below where each is not equal to the other but flows from its preceding point. In this matrix, Salat forms part of elements 1 and 2:

1) Teachings of the Holy Quran which reinforce the fundamental principles of nature and humanity;
2) Demonstration of major obligations and prohibitions and human relationships to reinforce the fundamental principles, as personified in the Seerah of Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless and preserve him;
3) Additional enhancement such as nawafils and good deeds to reinforce the fundamental principles established through the Sunnah;
4) Agreement of majority of scholars on additional enhancement;
5) Agreement of the scholars of the Ummah on additional enhancement.

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