What is Salaat
Salaat is one of the forms of worship (Ibaadah) which commences with Takbiratul Ihraam (saying Allahu Akbar) and ends with Tasleem (Saying Assalaam alaikum warahmatullah)
It is an obligatory worship to all Muslims. It is the second of the five pillars of Islam, a command which was prescribed during the night the Prophet salla Allah alaih wasallam ascended to the heavens (where Allah Ta’la invited him to receive this pillar of Islam), while the commands for the remaining acts of worship were revealed to the Prophet salla Allah alaih wasallam on earth. This indicates the special status and importance of prayer as an act of worship. 
It is the act of worship which separates between a believer and a nonbeliever such that when a Muslim does not pray, he/she becomes a non believer. This is also an indication of it’s highest rank among all forms of worship in Islam.

The Distinguishing Features and Rewards of Salaat

Salaat is a very wide topic which needs not be presented in brief. For that reason, I would like to share with you bit by bit in sha Allah. To begin with, let me point out some distinguishing features of Salaat as the greatest form of worship among Muslims.
  • Salaat is the only pillar of Islam that is repeated five times each day, and is never waived except for the woman during her menstrual period and post-partum bleeding.
  • It is the one, of the most virtuous deeds and most beloved to Allah as the Prophet salla Allah alaih wasallam said: “Know that the best of your deeds are your prayers, and only a true believer maintains the state of ablution.” [Reported by Imaam Ahmad].
  • It is the backbone of one’s religion, and the coolness of the eyes of the righteous. The Prophet salla Allah alaih wasallam said: “The most important of all matters is Islam, its spinal cord is prayer and the highest rank is Jihaad for the sake of Allah.” [Ahmad].
  • It is an indication of Islam and belief, and preserves a person’s blood from being shed, Allah The Almighty says: “But if they repent [by rejecting Shirk (polytheism) and accept Islamic Monotheism], perform Salah and give Zakat, then they are your brethren in religion” [Quran, 9: 11]. Salaat is the mark of Islam, it is the only act of worship which if one leaves, they become a kaafir.
  • It is a sign of honesty and frees a person from hypocrisy. The Prophet salla Allah alaih wasallam said: “Whosoever prays forty days with the congregation, attending the initial (Allahu Akbar) of the prayer, will be free of two things: Hell Fire and hypocrisy.” [Ahmad].
  • It is the best issue to be occupied with, the most profitable dealing, and the most likely among all acts of worship to cause the person to become humble and submissive. The Prophet salla Allah alaih wasallam said: “Prayer is the best thing to be occupied with, so perform as much of it as you can.” [Ahmad]
  • It is a command from Allah The Almighty, who says: “Guard strictly (five obligatory) salawaat (the prayers) especially the middle Salaat (i.e. the best prayer – `Asr). And stand before Allah with obedience [and do not speak to others during the Salaat (prayers)].” [Qur’an, 2: 238].
  • It elevates a person’s ranks and expiates sins, as the Prophet salla Allah alaih wasallam said: “Tell me, if there is an overflowing river in front of the house of one of you in which he baths five times a day, will there remain any dirt on him? They said, ‘No dirt will remain on him’. He then said: “That is the example of the five daily obligatory prayers by which Allah erases sins.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
  • It rescues from Hell, protects against danger, and enables a person to win Paradise. The Prophet salla Allah alaih wasallam said: “The one who prays before sunrise (Fajr prayer) and before sun set (Asr prayer) will not enter Hell Fire.” [Muslim].
  • It is a sign of success and victory, and an indication of being accepted. Allah The Almighty says: “Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their Salah (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness.” [Quran, 23: 1-2] and also “And those who strictly guard their (five compulsory congregational) prayers (at their fixed stated hours). These are indeed the inheritors. Who shall inherit the Firdaws (Paradise). They shall dwell therein forever.” [Quran, 23: 9-11].
  • It is the first thing for which the servant will be held accountable. The Prophet salla Allah alaih wasallam said: “The first thing for which the servant will be held accountable for on the day of Resurrection is his prayer; if it is good (by performing it properly and on time), then all his affairs will be good, and if it is ruined (by neglecting it), then all his affairs will be ruined.” [At-Tabaraani]. 
  • It is the provision on the way, relaxation for the soul, light for the heart, purification for the soul and a sign for salvation. The Prophet salla Allah alaih wasallam said: “O Bilaal! Call the Iqaamah in order for our hearts to relax.” [Ahmad and Abu Daawood].
  • It frustrates Satan and disbelievers. The Prophet salla Allah alaih wasallam said: “When the son of Adam recites a verse which recommends him to prostrate and he does, Satan starts crying, and says, woe to me, the son of Adam was commanded and he did, and he will get Paradise as a reward, while I was commanded to prostrate and refused and will enter Hell.” [Muslim] note: Son of Adam here means both men and women.
  • It is a form of expressing appreciation and gratitude, as well as being a treasure full of the exaltation of Allah The Almighty and glorification and praise to Him. When the Prophet salla Allah alaih wasallam was asked about the reason behind his excessive prayer, he salla Allah alaih wasallam said: “Should I not be a thankful slave?” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
  • It protects against following desires, evil sins and cures from sicknesses, as Allah The Almighty Allah says: “Verily, Salah prevents from Al-Fahshaa’ (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse) and Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed)” [Quran, 29: 45]. The Prophet salla Allah alaih wasallam said: “Pray the optional night prayer, because it is the way of righteous people before you, it brings you close to your Lord, prevents you from committing sins, expiates your sins and cures you from sicknesses.” [At-Tirmithi]