The Five Daily Prayers Represent the Five-fold Condition of Man
by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (The Promised Messiah)
The Review of Religions (English), May 1903 Issue (Vol. 2, No. 5, pp. 179–180)
What are the five daily prayers? They are photographs of your changing conditions. The life of man is subject to five different changes which he undergoes in the time of adversity. These five changes are necessary to human nature. First of all, you are informed of the misfortune that is going to befall you, as for instance when a warrant is issued from a court of justice for your arrest. For the first time then your comfort and happiness is suddenly interrupted, and a cloud of melancholy is cast over your sunshine of glory. This stage corresponds to the time for the first prayer immediately after noon. As the sun begins to decline from the zenith after noon, so a man who is at the height of his prosperity and success witnesses the first stage of his declination when he comes to know of an impending misfortune. This stage of the human condition finds its representation in the prayer which is said at the first decline of the sun, that is, the Zuhr prayer. The sun declines further to the West and the troubles increase. In the illustration already stated, the person upon whom the warrant is executed is brought before the magistrate. Difficulties then encompass him all around, and the light of comfort is on the verge of extinction. Corresponding to this state of man is the time of the day when the sun has declined far to the West and his light is turned pale so that the eye can rest upon him. The zenith of glory is left far behind and the setting of the sun after a short time is apparent. The later afternoon prayer, that is, Asr, answers to this spiritual state. A third change then comes over the man. There is no hope left of being delivered from the trouble. To continue the illustration already suggested, evidence being taken against the accused person which shows his guilt, a charge is framed by the magistrate. He is then frightened out of his senses and deems himself already a prisoner. The sun of glory is then set. This state corresponds to the time when the sun is actually set and the light of the day vanishes away. The evening prayer said after sunset represents this condition. The culminating point of adversity is reached when darkness encompasses a man all around, and its force is fully realized. The verdict goes against the person charged and he is thrown into a dungeon. Thus, a night comes over the day of prosperity even as it actually comes after sunset when the last rays of light having disappeared, complete darkness pervades on the face of the earth. The prayer fixed for this time is the night prayer which is thus the fourth representative of a man’s condition in adversity. The night passes away and the rays of light once more beam upon the person who has been surrounded with difficulties. The mercy of God takes the prisoner by the hand and sets him free. The morning comes after the long hours of night and before its light dispels the clouds of darkness. This spiritual state of man is represented by the fifth or morning prayer.
It will be seen from this that the five daily prayers represent five changes in the fortune of a man, and the time of the day at which Almighty God has appointed a particular prayer to be said represents a particular phase of fortune. The prayers are, therefore, for your own benefit. If you wish that the adversities which are in store for you should not befall you, say your prayers at the appointed times, for they are images of the external and internal changes in your conditions. Prayer is a remedy for future adversities. You do not know what tomorrow has in store for you; pray, therefore, to God before the new sun rises that the new day may bring you happiness and blessings.