Five Levels of Prayer by Ibn Qayyim

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Ibn-Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah
(rahimahullaah) said:
And mankind, with regard to their
performance of prayer are in five
levels:
The First: The level of the one who is
negligent and wrongs his soul: He is the
one who falls short in performing
wudhoo (ablution) properly, performing
the prayer upon its time and within its
specified limits, and in fulfilling its
essential pillars.
The Second: The one who guards his
prayers upon their proper times and
within their specified limits, fulfils their
essential pillars and performs his
wudhoo with care. However, his striving
(in achieving the above) is wasted due
whisperings in his prayer so he is taken
away by thoughts and ideas.
The Third: The one who guards his
prayers within the specified limits,
fulfils their essential pillars and strives
with himself to repel the whisperings,
thoughts and ideas. He is busy
struggling against his enemy (Shaytaan)
so that he does not steal from the
prayer. On account of this he is engaged
in (both) prayer and jihaad.
The Fourth: The one who stands for the
prayer, completes and perfects its due
rights, its essential pillars, performs it
within its specified limits and his heart
becomes engrossed in safeguarding its
rights and specified limits, so that
nothing is wasted from it. His whole
concern is directed towards its
establishment, its completion and its
perfection, as it should be. His heart is
immersed in the prayer and in
enslavement to his Lord the Exalted.
The Fifth: The one who stands for the
prayer like the one mentioned above.
However, on top of this, he has taken
and placed his heart in front of his
Lord Azzawajall, looking towards Him
with his heart 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 Azzawajall,
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 Azzawajall made the delight and
pleasure of his eye in the hereafter. He
will also be made a pleasure to the 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.

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