abu uthman (may allah be pleased with him) says:
"i was once sitting under a tree with salmaan (may allah be pleased with him). he caught hold of a dry branch of the tree and shook it till all its leaves fell off. he then saidto me, "0, abu uthman! will you not ask me why i am doing this?" "do tell me," i entreated.
he said, "the apostle of allah had done exactly like this before me, while i was with him under a tree. he caught a dry branch of it and shook it, till all its leaves fell off".
at this he said: *0, salmaan! will you not ask me why i am doing this?' i replied: 'do tell me why you are doing this?' he remarked:
"verily when a muslim takes wudhu properly and then observes his salaat five times a day, his sins fall off just as these leaves have fallen off. he then recited the following verse of the holy qur'an:
"establish salaat at the two ends of the day, and at the approaches of the night. verily, good deeds annul ill deeds. this is a reminder for the mindful. (11: 114)"
the behaviour of salmaan (may allah be pleased with him) in the above hadith displays the profound love which the sahaabah had for the prophet (pbuh). they would often cherish the sweet memories of the time when the prophet (pbuh) was living among them. they would, while quoting him, enact exactly what they had seen him doing at a particular moment.
it is really very difficult to cover all the traditions of the holy prophet (pbuh), which deal with the importance of salaat and which declare forgiveness for those who guard it. as had already been said before, the theologians restrict this declaration of forgiveness to saghaa'ir (minor sins) only, but in the text of the hadith there is no such restriction.
my learned father gave me two reasons for this. firstly, it does not really become a muslim to commit any of the kabaa'ir (major sins). if perchance any such sins are committed by him, he cannot rest in peace (due to inherent fear of allah in him) until he washes them with his tears of repentance in crying before allah. secondly, the person who performs his salaat with sincerity and thoroughness is very likely to do istighfaar quite a number of times daily. look for instance at the closing prayer of salaat itself:
"0, my lord! i have wronged my soul a great wrong, and none forgives sins except you alone. then forgive me and have mercy on me. verily, you are the forgiving, the merciful.”
in the above hadith, mention is made of wudhu to be done properly. we should, therefore, be sure of the regulations about wudhu and try to observe all of these. for example, take the case of miswaak. it is sunnat of wudhu, but is very often neglected.
it is said in a hadith that the salaat offered after doing miswaak is seventy times superior to the salaat without miswaak. in another hadith, use of miswaak has been enjoined very strongly, and the following benefits are attributed to it:—
"it cleanses and sweetens the mouth and checks its bad smell."
"it is a cause of allah's pleasure and a blow to the devil."
"allah and his angels love the person doing miswaak." "it strengthens the gums and improves eye-sight."
"it is a purge against bile and phlegm."
to crown all, "it is a sunnah i.e. the practice of our beloved prophet (pbuh)."
as many as seventy virtues of the miswaak have been enumerated by the theologians.
it is said that a person in the habit of miswaak dies with the kalimah on his lips. the rewards of taking wudhu properly are very many. it is mentioned in ahaadith that the parts of body washed in wudhu shall glitter on the day of judgment and, by this (distinction), the prophet (pbuh) will at once recognize his followers.