by Hiba Khan
I am easily distracted. This trait was a hindrance throughout my academic studies, but no doubt the area in which it is most detrimental is my worship. My daily prayers are plagued by thoughts that creep into my consciousness and silently grip my mind and heart, steering them away from Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). Be it the pattern on my prayer mat or a task I have to do, there is always something diverting me from the most important moments of my day.
I write this as a reminder to myself, on attempting to rescue my salah (ritual prayers), a most exquisite and sublime gift from Allah (swt). A nourishment, rejuvenation and refocusing for our souls, and the first thing we will be asked about on the Day of Judgement. These windows of tranquillity have the potential to adorn our days and sustain, protect and fill our hearts amidst the transient whirlwind that is this world. We hear of people finishing one salah only to look forward to the next one, so why does prayer feel so heavy, ritualised and burdensome for so many of us? With each rising sun we witness comes a new God-given opportunity to reform our existence, to attain that contentment that every soul in this world is yearning. Don’t let another golden moment slip by. I pray He allows us to rescue our salah and fall in love with it until we enter Jannah (eternal Paradise).
The first step to take is to correct our mindset. A simple realignment of perspective is all it takes. You are not in control of anything. Your job, your happiness, your health, your family, your movements—you are not even in control of the simplest of bodily functions. He is. The beating of your heart, how people behave towards you, what you achieve—everything is from Him. He knows what is in your past and what is in your future. All honour, respect and sustenance are from Him. You are deaf, dumb and blind without Him and His provision and guidance. Everything around you is temporary, flawed and changing, but your soul is eternal, and does not belong here. One day it will all crumble and perish; only He will remain. Turn yourself away from the world and towards Him, close your eyes to the creation and open your heart to the Creator. He has ordered us to prostrate to Him as a mercy only to us; each prayer is an opportunity to be forgiven.
Abu Dharr radi Allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet ﷺ
said: “Allah faces the slave while he is in the salah and keeps facing him as long as he does not turn. If [the slave] turns, [Allah] turns away from him.” – Abu Dawud [Saheeh Hadith]
Reflect on the sheer weight of this hadith. The Lord of the Worlds, who is aware of and sustaining every cell in every human, animal and bacteria, from the beginning of time to the end, is facing YOU. Listening to you, waiting for you to call, looking to forgive and to grant you more. You have His full attention until YOU lose focus.
The light in your life is proportional to the light that Allah (swt) bestows on you. You will only be content and at peace if He illuminates your existence. Your circumstances may appear perfect, but you will be restless and unhappy if He withholds His light. Once we truly comprehend this principle and realise we are nothing, while He is everything, insha’Allah (God willing) we can worship like we were made to.
Doing the following may help increase khushu` (a state of humility and reverence):
- Remember death. Imagine the angel of death ready to take your soul. Pray like it is your last.
- Picture yourself standing before Allah (swt), and know that He is facing you, hearing and seeing you.
- Understand what you are saying by understand the Arabic and studying the tafseer (exegesis) of whatever you recite.
- Speak and move at a measured pace. Try to recite melodiously.
- Pray on time, and make the sincere intention to never miss a prayer.
- Minimise internal distractions by building your connection with Him throughout the day and taking a few moments before each prayer to regain perspective.
- Minimise external distractions by finding a suitable setting when possible.
- Make du`a’ (supplication) in your own language while in sujood (prostration) and after each salah. What better time to beg Allah (swt) for what you are in need of?
Make the intention right now to rescue your salah and unlock the treasures of tranquillity, nearness and purpose. Embellish your path with prayer, and know that you will thank yourself on the Last Day, when there will be no doubt that a mere two rak`ahs (units) of prayer are worth more than the entire world and all it contains.
The Lord of the Heavens and the Earth awaits you.
“Come to prayer; come to success.” – Adhan (call to prayer)