Author: Ms. Seen Noon
A constant battle in my head, day and night, my mind keeps putting thoughts in my heart about the mundane worldly matters concerning me, which might not highlight themselves otherwise but ONLY while I pray salah!?! Why is it that whenever I stand in front of Almighty, offering my prayers, only then the routine queries start popping in my head? And I clearly know that this is not the way it’s meant to be, but still, happens and appears to me that I have no control over that. This lack of concentration in my ibadah while on the other hand attending to the rituals of this dunya with utmost concentration leaves me clueless.
The ‘not in a rush to pray’ right after the call to prayer (adhaan) but ‘rushing through salah’ to wind up my chores has become a norm with me, and kicks my conscience from time to time. I ask myself why I never feel the urgency to do ablution and stand on the prayer mat even before the adhaan is called, to show my Lord that how deeply I love Him and fearfully ask for His forgiveness while doing dhikr so I can stand with the momineen at the day of judgement. I desire to submit myself fully, giving it all in, my mind, heart, and soul, along with my body parts to praise the Almighty, to glorify Him, to seek forgiveness for my sins. For sure the desire is there, but something comes over, and I stand empty, praying salah but just to get done with my responsibility.
Allah mentions in His Holy Book in Surah Al Mu’minun, Verse 1 and 2
“It is the believers who are successful: those who are humble in their prayer” (23,1-2)
This humility in us has certainly vanished from our offerings. The eyes, ears, arms, legs etc., everything should be in humility in front of its Lord while doing salah. We pray while thinking of things that are unimportant, while turning faces left to right, or scratching here and there, reciting robotically and banging our heads on the floor in sujud, just to quickly get done with the responsibility of salah. Alas, what if, unfortunately, the salah is rejected on account of lack of khushu or humility, leaving us empty-handed in front of our Lord on the day of judgement? This humility is the soul of our salah, the very essence of this ibadah, then how can such an important duty of a momin be accepted if it’s hollow from inside, deprived of submissiveness, humility, fear of Almighty and praise of the greatness of our Lord?
Hear me, my Lord, hear me,
Forgive, bless and remember me,
For I repent for my actions, sins,
For time spent on wasteful things,
Clear my thoughts, to regain my focus,
For I seem to be lost, in things so bogus,
Satan overcomes, I lose control,
Taking over me, for how do I console,
This life is mortal, I understand,
Your displeasure, nobody can withstand,
Fix my salah, I beg for aid,
For you, all worldly things I’ve laid,
Fear, humility, submission, my Allah,
Grant me these for acceptance of my salah,
O creator of universe, I accept, I plead,
Salah can be my saviour at that hour of need.
A momin, when at salah, tries his best to gain an eternal connection with his Supreme Creator. This bonding of the creator and His creation is a desired state longed by a believer, for maintaining a sense of acceptance that he fears Allah and also accepts that He, undoubtedly is the most magnificent, the caretaker of us all. A sense of humility and calmness covers you while you stand in front of your Allah, conversing with him, bonding with him, establishing the soul of your prayers, reminding yourself of your insignificance and His magnificence.
Uthman ibn Affan (RA) narrates: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say:
“When the time for a prescribed prayer comes, if any Muslim performs ablution well and offers his prayer with humility and bowing, it will be an expiation for his past sins, so long as he has not committed a major sin; and this applies for all times.” (Sahih Muslim).
Who am I? I am a human being, a muslim, an example of my Lord’s creation, proof that He indeed is the most wise and knowing, thus He revealed in the Holy Quran about how we should offer our prayers, the do’s, the don’ts, the true essence of it, the accepted and the rejected ones, you think of a question and the answer would be there in the Quran! Now, when He knows us so deeply well, He laid down the principles plain and simple for our easy understanding, so it shouldn’t be that we ignorantly avoid picking up the Holy Book, and understanding these important guidelines.
Allah has put a soul in our body, it’s the presence of that very soul, enabling us to function and carry out with the daily routine activities. Now, imagine, we become lifeless when our souls are taken away, and we proceed to our final destination, our grave. Similarly, a salah with no soul is empty, nada, zero, it’s like I am doing something just because I have to, to oblige with my responsibilities, to take a burden off of my shoulders that I completed something that I had to do. Think of a building under construction, the strongest materials used would result in a long lasting protection for the inhabitants. Now, I’d say that Salah is also like that, you have to activate and connect your mind, heart and soul to establish that strong binding effect ultimately blessing it’s offerers with protection and security in the hereafter, in sha Allah.
Just imagine, we spend day and night on periodic deadlines, giving it our best shots to excel in them, thinking about the different aspects to explore or improve in them, sacrificing our health just to gain another milestone in our professional lives. This would indeed be proudly displayed in our resumes in hopes of higher positions and opportunities. Now, Allah subhana ta’aala instructed mankind to live in this dunya and strike a balance in deen and this life. We are not required to just engross ourselves in prayers, being confined in a room, ignoring our friends and families, limiting worldly contacts, rather to search for our livelihoods, to work for a better life, to strive for a blessed future, and also to submit ourselves fully in our prayers and other religious duties alongside these responsibilities.
It is mentioned in Surah Al Baqarah, Verse 45
‘And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive (to Allah)’ (2:45)
This ‘humble submission’ to Allah can be achieved if only we shift our primary, secondary, tertiary responsibilities in life, clearing our hearts and minds, and reallocating our priorities. At times, life throws at us the most difficult situations, leaving us devastated, clueless of escape, and being clouded by negative vibrations all around us. In those extreme times, we need to not let our guards down so Satan can turn us away from the Almighty, thinking why would Allah do this to us in the first place, when He claims to love us greatly? On the other hand, we need to remember that only Allah knows what’s best for us, and maybe it was a blessing in disguise that we are faced with such a calamity, shifting our focus from worldly affections to goals of the hereafter.
Abu Dharr al-Ghifari (RA) relates that the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Allah remains paying attention to the slave in his Salah as long as the slave does not divert his attention. But when he diverts his attention, Allah too diverts His attention from him.” (SunanNasai)
How simply it has been put by our Holy Prophet (SAW), to make us understand the importance of submission in prayers with our hearts and souls. Allah, the Almighty allowed to pray just five times a day, reducing from fifty, on the sweet request of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and as it was such a huge favour on us, it is our duty to stand in front of our creator with a heart which is fearful, a body which is attentive, a mind which is alert and a soul filled with humility and calmness. There is no point in reducing the value of our salah by rushing through it so we can fulfil our responsibilities in dunya, while letting go of the blessings in the hereafter for the lack of submissively bowing down to the supreme Creator.
Abu Darda (RA) is reported to have said: “The first thing to disappear from the people will be Khushu’. Soon, many people will come to the mosque, but you will not find any of them having Khushu” (Sunan Al-Tirmidhi).
The love of this dunya and the worldly affiliations will push us away from the humility expected from us muslims, nudging us towards a life of materialistic desires, and dunya-focused goals. Satan is trying each and every scheme to keep us from bowing our heads down in prayer, and if we do, then he will try to rob us of the soul of our prayers. It is our utmost goal as a momin to keep our love of Almighty and fear of the hereafter intact in our religious duties, so as to win over the love of our Creator, and His blessings in sha Allah. For this will ease out matters for us in dunya and akhirah.