The Story of Abdullah ibn Unays and the Salah
In the 5th of Muharram of the 4th year after tbe hijrah of the prophet(salaAllahu alayhi wassalam), the prophet(sws) sent a sahabi by the name of Abdullah ibn Unays on an operation to assassinate a man by the name of Khalid ibn Sufyan al Hudhali. The prophet(sws) said about him,
"I have been informed that Khalid is gathering a force of men to attack me. He is at 'Urana. Go to him and kill him."
Khalid ibn Sufyan was a leader of his people and a huge figure. He was was from al Hudhail tribe and they were beduins who lived in Al Hijaaz, the outskirts of Makkah. The Banu Hudhail were known as the "Poets of the Arabs" for their eloquence in poetry and Arabic.
The prophet(sws) ordered this operation to assassinate this man because he was the leader of his people and he showed hatred for Islam and the prophet (sws). He went to the extent of mobilizing his people to fight Islam. So the prophet (sws) wanted to avoid greater bloodshed by getting rid of this one man.
However, what is really interesting is that Abdullah had never seen Khalid ibn Sufyan so how on earth would he recognize him?!
The prophet(pbuh) told him, "when you see him,you will shiver." We don't know if this was because of the great presence of Khalid or a special sign for Abdullah.
The prophet sent Abdullah himself(as an army made up of himself alone!) This shows us the courage of the companions. So he traveled deep into enemy territory and discovered their camp. Abdullah saw Khalid and shivered. Abdullah said he never shivered from anyone in his life.
The time for Asr prayer had arrived but Abdullah was worried he would not be able to complete the operation on time.
Did he say to himself,"this is more important...prayer can wait... this a life and death situation...I have an excuse to not pray."
What did the companion do? He performed his Asr prayer while walking towards his target.
"and I would make ruku' and sujud with movements with my head." So he walked up to Khalid and greeted him and Khalid said to him "who are you?" and Abdullah said, "I am a man from amongst the Arabs who heard about you and your gathering a force for this man(Muhammad-sws-). Khalid replied, "Thats what I am doing." Abdullah said, "I came to follow you." Khalid believed the words of Abdullah and was convinced.
When Khalid got comfortable with Abdullah and he saw that the moment had come. Abdullah struck him and killed him. He walked away and left him with his women crouched over him. The prophet (sws) greeted Abdullah when he returned by saying, "May your face be successful." Abdullah replied, "may your face be successful, O Messenger of Allah."
The thing that concerned Abdullah when he was walking towards Khalid ibn Sufyan was the Salah and the thing that concerned the sahaba when the prophet(salaAllahu alayhi wassalam) was talking to them about The Dajjaal was none other than the great matter of Salah. The prophet mentioned to them that one day in the 40 days of ad-Dajjaal would be equal to a year. The next will be equal to a month, and so on. They asked, " O Messenger of Allah, will it be enough for us to pray the 5 daily prayers on that day(which is equal to a year)?" Just look at how salah was their first concern and nothing else! Their level of faith was truly amazing!
Abdullah ibn Unays in that life and death situation was worried more about his Salah than anything else. Are we this concerned about our prayers when we go to school, work, or anywhere? Is that the first thing that comes to our mind or is it our paycheck and salary? Think about it. What is worth more to you shows how much you love Allah ta'ala.
There is no excuse in missing the Salah. IF you dont have money you are excused from paying Zakah, if you are ill you are excused from fasting and you can pay fidya instead, if you dont have the financial ability or the road to hajj is not safe, you dont have to make hajj. There is no excuse to not pray. Even when in jihaad we are told to pray and are given the fiqh of it in Salat al Khawf. If this is the case of one who delays the prayer and has no excuse to then imagine the ruling of the one who leaves the Salah all together!
The predecessor, Abdullah ibn Shaqiq said, "The companions of Muhammad did not see the abandonment of any actions as constituting disbelief(kufr) except for the prayer." [reported by Al Tirmidhi and Al Haakim]