The Salah Series
Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | Part XXIV | Part XXV | Part XXVI | Part XXVII | Part XXVIII
The previous articles have been heart softeners – emphasizing a little more about Allah and our relationship with Him so that we can come to the prayer (salah) knowing Whom it is we are facing. We must remind ourselves of everything we learned before we come to the prayer, so that our lethargy ceases to be as it was before and so the prayer takes on new meaning.
Yet, for most of us something plagues us. Yes, we love Allah and fear Him, we have hope in His mercy, but we just can’t seem to concentrate. Random thoughts pop into our mind: we remember where we put the key we lost, we start daydreaming about saving the world or what to have for dinner. All of this happens as soon as we raise our hands saying “Allahu Akbar (God is Great)” to commence our prayer. And these thoughts come to an end when we end our prayer. Why?
Perhaps one thing that could encourage us to drown out these distractions is knowing that we only get rewarded for when our hearts are present. Is our prayer invalid when we get distracted? No, it is not invalid. But in terms of rewards for your prayer, it does make a difference. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“A servant may pray and only be credited for one tenth of the prayer, or one ninth, or one eighth, or one seventh, or one sixth, or one fifth, or one fourth, or one third, or half” (Abu Dawud, Ahmad).
This is because:
“A man is rewarded only for that part of his prayer of which he is conscious” (Abu Dawud).
We shouldn’t let this make us feel down and think “Well, I might as well not even pray” or “I’ll never be able to do it.” Imagine a person walking through the blazing desert and one of his sandals tears, so he is only walking with one sandal. And then he says, “Well, one foot is already burning, I might as well burn the other!” and he removes the other sandal voluntarily, instead of trying to mend the torn sandal. We’d say this person is silly, even stupid; yet we would be like this person if we choose to give up on our prayer.
A secret key
Finally it is time to reveal a secret key. It is not a difficult one, but can drastically change the way we pray. Before we reveal it, let’s ask a question: what time of year do we generally have most khushoo’ (devotion)? The answer is easy: Ramadan. And when during Ramadan? It’s probably during qiyaam prayer (night prayer). And when do we find people’s eyes overflowing with tears? It’s mostly during the du`a’ of salat al-witr (witr prayer) when everyone prays behind the imam. Guess what? This is when everyone applies the secret key.
How? At that point, we feel as though we are talking to someone and we are waiting for a response. This brings our heart and mind to the prayer, and this is when we taste the sweetness of prayer.
The secret key? Three simple statements:
- Talk to your Lord
- Address your Lord
- Converse with your Lord
The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“When performing the prayer, one is conversing intimately with one’s Lord” (Bukhari, Muslim).
It is reported that the scholar Ibn Uthaymeen said that when one enters the prayer, he should feel as though he has entered into the realm of His Lord and is having a conversation with Him.
The problem is that we don’t feel that our prayer is a connection to God; it becomes as though it is a monologue. Rather, when we say “Alhamdulilahi Rabb Al-`Alameen” we should truly feel that we are telling Allah that all praise and thanks are unto Him. In the sujood (prostration), say things like “don’t leave me oh Allah, I have no one but You, I remain at Your door,” to really feel that you are telling Allah what is in your heart. We should not just repeat the words we are required to say, but rather say them with feeling to Allah – in this way, all of our prayers will be like that witr prayer with the imam in Ramadan.
When we are in prostration, many of us say what we have to and maybe even add a small du`a’ which we have memorized. But one of the righteous predecessors knew the value of this position, and he would make du`a’ and say “O Allah, this servant of yours [meaning himself], in heaven or in hell?” Look at the intimacy- he knew that he was at that point the closest to Allah and he felt that he was talking to Allah in his prostration.
Not just an article
It is very easy to read these articles and just nod, perhaps learning a thing or two and think, “I already know this.” Let’s get past the point of simply knowing – let’s start living what we learn. Let’s all help each other to succeed with the following steps:
- Find a partner you are comfortable with. Before every prayer, remind each other that you are now going to talk to Allah. Remind each other of Allah’s attributes or things you are grateful for, or the fact that you need forgiveness.
- As soon as you step on your prayer mat, raise your hands to say “Allahu Akbar,” do so with conviction. Imagine that you are leaving this world, and that your soul is being taken to Allah and that you will now begin your intimate conversation. Nothing else in this realm matters.
May Allah make our prayers like that of the Prophet (ﷺ), the companions (radi Allahu `anhum – may Allah be pleased with them) and the righteous. Ameen.