Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then says in ayaat 4 and 5,
فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُصَلِّينَ – الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَن صَلَـتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ
“So woe to those who pray. [But] who are heedless of their prayer.”
Ibn `Abbas and others have said, “This means the hypocrites who pray in public but do not pray in private.”
The Fa in Fa-wail-ul -lil-musalleen signifies that such was the condition of the open deniers of the Hereafter. One may then consider the condition of the hypocrites who are included among the praying ones (i.e. Muslims). Since, despite being Muslims they regard the Hereafter as a falsehood, one may note what path of ruin they are following.
The word “musalleen” here means “the people of Salat”, i.e. of those included among Muslims.
They are those people who pray and adhere to the prayer, yet they are mindless of it. This may either be referring to its act entirely, as Ibn `Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu said or it may be referring to performing it in its stipulated time that has been legislated Islamically. This means that the person prays it completely outside of its time; he lets the right time of prayers pass away while he wastes time in idleness or unnecessary activity.
`Ata’ bin Dinar said, “All praise is due to Allah, the One Who said,
عَن صَلَـتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ
“heedless of their prayer” and He did not say, ‘those who are absent minded in their prayer.'” It could also mean the first time of the prayer, which means they always delay it until the end of its time, or they usually do so. It may also refer to not fulfilling its pillars and conditions, and in the required manner. It could also mean performing it with humility and contemplation of its meanings. The wording of the ayah comprises all of these meanings. However, whoever has any characteristic of this that we have mentioned then a portion of this ayah applies to him. And whoever has all of these characteristics, then he has completed his share of this ayah , and the hypocrisy of actions is fulfilled in him.
This is just as is confirmed in the two Saheehs that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,
تِلْكَ صَلَاةُ الْمُنَافِقِ، تِلْكَ صَلَاةُ الْمُنَافِقِ، تِلْكَ صَلَاةُ الْمُنَافِقِ، يَجْلِسُ يَرْقُبُ الشَّمْسَ، حَتَّى إِذَا كَانَتْ بَيْنَ قَرْنَي الشَّيْطَانِ قَامَ فَنَقَرَ أَرْبَعًا، لَا يَذْكُرُ اللهَ فِيهَا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا
“This is the prayer of the hypocrite, this is the prayer of the hypocrite, this is the prayer of the hypocrite. He sits watching the sun until it is between the two horns of Shaytan. Then he stands and pecks four (Rak`ahs) and he does not remember Allah (in them) except very little.” This hadeeth is describing the end of the time for the `Asr prayer, which is the middle prayer as is confirmed by a text (hadeeth). This is the time in which it is disliked to pray. Then this person stands to pray it, pecking in it like the pecking of a crow. He does not have tranquility or humility in it at all. Thus, the Prophet ﷺ said,
لَا يَذْكُرُ اللهَ فِيهَا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا
“He does not remember Allah (in them) except very little.” He probably only stands to pray it so that the people will see him praying, and not seeking the Face of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. This is just as if he did not pray at all. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in Surah an-Nisa Ayah 142,
إِنَّ الْمُنَـفِقِينَ يُخَـدِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ وَإِذَا قَامُواْ إِلَى الصَّلَوةِ قَامُواْ كُسَالَى يُرَآءُونَ النَّاسَ وَلاَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً
“Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them. And when they stand up with laziness and to be seen of men, and they do not remember Allah but little.”
When Prophet ﷺ was asked about the best deed near Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala he replied offering prayer at its appointed time. Let’s not unnecessarily delay our prayers or offer them with our mind wandering elsewhere.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala bless us with khushu in our Salat and help us run to the Masjid or the prayer mat when the Imam calls out Haya Al-Falah (come to the success). Aameen.