The Five Categories of People who Pray by Ibnul Qayyim
The Five Categories of People who Pray. Which one are You from?
The first: The category of the oppressor to himself, the negligent one, one who is deficient in performing ablution for it, negligent with its appointed time periods, its boundaries and its pillars.
The second: One who preserves it appointed time periods, its boundaries, its outward pillars and ablution for it. However, he forsakes striving against his own self from whisperings and thinking to himself, and so is preoccupied with whisperings and thoughts.
The third: One who preserves its appointed time periods, its pillars as well as strives against himself in repelling whisperings and distracting thoughts that overcome him, he is busy in striving against his enemy in order to prevent him from stealing his prayer, he is in prayer as well as Jihaad.
The fourth: One whom when he stands for prayer perfects its rights, its pillars and its boundaries. His heart is occupied with preserving its boundaries and preventing anything of it being lost, rather all his attention is directed to performing it as it should be, in its most complete and perfect form, his heart is occupied with the prayer and worshiping his Lord the Elevated with it.
The fifth: One who performs the prayer like the previous person, but in addition to this, he has taken his heart and presented it to his Lord. He looks at his Lord with his heart, fully concerned with Him, in utmost obedience out of love and reverence for Him, it is as if he sees and witnesses his Lord. All distracting thoughts and whisperings fade away and the veil between him and his Lord is removed. The difference between this person in his prayer and others, is greater and better than all that is between the heavens and earth, he is fully occupied and overjoyed with his Lord in his prayer.
The first category is punished, the second is held accountable, the third is pardoned, the fourth is rewardedand the fifth is brought close to his Lord, because he gains a portion of what made the prayer a delight to him. For whoever is delighted with his prayer in the life of this world, will be delighted by being close to his Lord in the afterlife as well as being delighted with his Lord in this life, and whoever is delighted with Allaah, everything would be delighted with him, and whoever is not delighted with Allaah the Elevated, his soul will be torn apart for the life of this world in loss.
It is narrated that when a servant stands for prayer, Allaah the Glorified says; “Remove the veil.”, and if the servant turns away He says: “Replace it.”
This ‘turning away’ has been explained as the turning of the heart away from Allaah the Mighty to other than Him. So if he turns away, the veil is replaced between him and his Lord and Shaytaan enters and presents worldly affairs to him, he shows them to him in the image of a woman. But if he turns with his heart to Allaah and does not turn away, Shaytaan would not be able to come between Allaah and that heart, he only enters if the veil is replaced. If he returns to Allaah the Elevated with his heart, the Shaytaan would escape, and if he turns away, the Shaytaan would return, such is his state with his enemy in prayer.
May Allah make us from the last and most virtuous group (i.e. the fifth). Aameen