Prayers: A Special Connection with God

Prayers: A Special Connection with God

Prayers: A Special Connection with God

The important aspect of a believer’s faith is his or her relationship with God.

 

Islam signifies the subjection of all activities in all walks of life to the Law of God Almighty, and leaving nothing to the whims and fancies of anyone else. God has commanded the believers to declare:

Truly, my prayer, my service of sacrifice, my life, and my death, are (all) for Allah (God), the Cherisher of the Worlds (Al-An`am 6:162)

This means that a Muslim is a person who has submitted his or her whole self and whole life to God, so that the first duty of a Muslim is to lead a life of obedience to God alone.

And the above quoted commandment also implies that it is wrong to consider our lives to consist of water-tight compartments, saying that “this is the part of my life within the bounds of religion where I am bound to obey God, and these are the secular areas of life where God’s laws are irrelevant.”

The twin sources of Islam — the Qur’an and the Sunnah — teach  that when God Almighty is accepted as the Creator, Sustainer, and Lawgiver, we cannot go after “other gods”.

Islam is a complete way of life that asks its followers to mold their entire lives in accordance with its principles laid down in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. This in fact is not an unrealistic idea; it only means a change of perspective or approach.

Of course, such a change is bound to have its impact on our life, both internal and external; but for those who wish to lead a good life here, Islam is the way.

The important point to note here is that Islam does not impose on its adherents rituals for the sake of rituals, as they are likely to be performed mechanically without understanding their meaning in life.

God says in the Qur’an, which Muslims believe is His word, what means:

It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and give zakah (regular charity); to fulfill the contracts which you have made; and to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing. (Al-Baqarah 2:177)

That is to say, if our rituals do not have any impact on our day-to-day life, they are of little value. Similarly, if we do our daily duties that are considered to be outside the generally recognized borders of religious ritual with sincerity and faith expecting reward from God, they too become acts of worship.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) once told his Companions that they will be rewarded even for having sexual intercourse with their wives. The Companions were astonished. They asked: “How are we going to be rewarded for doing something we enjoy very much?”

The Prophet asked them: “Suppose you satisfy your desires illegally, don’t you think that you will be punished for that?”

They replied, “Yes”. “So” he said, “by satisfying it legally with your wives, you are rewarded for it.” (Muslim)

This all-inclusive approach to worship encourages people to purify and spiritualize their whole lives. But this is not to disparage ritualistic worship. In fact, rituals, if performed with a full understanding of their inner significance, equip the worshippers with a moral and spiritual power that help them to carry out their daily activities in the various spheres of life informed by the guidance of God.
Thus in Islam, the term “worship” (in Arabic, `ibadah) does not signify merely the “pillars of Islam” such as Prayer, fasting, charity or pilgrimage. It includes all the activities of a believer; in fact, it stands for everything a Muslim believes, says, or does. When believers perform all the activities of their lives seeking the pleasure of God, then all their deeds become worship. Naturally, this also includes the rituals they perform, such as prayer.

We can see that the worship of God as visualized in Islam — whether it is ritual or non-ritual — prevents evil thoughts and actions, thereby purifying life. Indeed, sincere Islamic worship trains the individual to lead a life of complete obedience and submission to God.

Prayers

Of all the forms of ritual worship in Islam, Prayer (in Arabic, salah) is unique. It is typical of Islam and is entirely different from the usual kind of Prayer familiar in other religions.
The prostration in Prayer symbolizes the worshipper’s total and unconditional submission to God Almighty. Of course, certain supplications are recited in Prayer, following the Prophetic teaching.
But the objective of Prayer is not this-worldly. Muslims can pray to God for the solution of the immediate problems they confront any time, in any language. But they are not authorized to change the language of the utterances in Prayer, nor can they change its form or content. Muslims have to strictly adhere to its form as taught to by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Muslims believe that God has made Prayer compulsory for all His prophets as well as their followers, as it is evident from the Qur’an. To Moses, God said what means,

Verily I am Allah: There is no god but Me: so worship Me only and establish regular prayer for My remembrance( Ta-Ha 20:14)

The important aspect of a believer’s faith is his or her relationship with God; and nowhere is this relationship exemplified as in Prayer. Prayer lifts a person spiritually towards his or her Creator and if it is done with devotion and sincerity, his or her heart will be filled with the love of God and the hope of Paradise.
Praying five times a day helps Muslims to constantly remember God and seek His forgiveness and pleasure. Besides, it offers an occasion for repentance, so that they earnestly ask Allah for forgiveness of the sins they committed. Prophet Muhammad said: “Imagine a stream outside a person’s door and imagine that he bathes in it five times a day; do you think he would have any dirt on him?” The people said, “Not at all.” The Prophet then said, “The five daily prayers are like that: Allah wipes away the sins by them.” (Al-Bukhari)
The most important aspect of a person’s relationship with God, is his or her strong faith and sincerity. This relationship with God is clearly borne out and strengthened by Prayer. If the Prayer is performed with true devotion to God and with a sincere heart, it will have a lasting effect on the person.
God says in the Qur’an what means:

Establish regular prayer: for prayer restrains from shameful and evil deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that you dd. (Al-`Ankabut 29:45)

Certainly a person’s God-consciousness awakened by Prayer strengthens him or her against temptations arising from the weakness of the flesh.
Again God says in the Qur’an what means:

Truly man was created very impatient; fretful, when evil touches him; and niggardly, when good reaches him; not so those devoted to Prayer and those who remain steadfast to their prayer(Al-Ma`arij 70:19-23)

Thus, it is the Prayer that enables believers to keep in constant touch with their Creator and to keep steady in the face of the temptations and the pressures life.

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Taken with slight modifications from Onislam.net.

 

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Ruku`: The Internal Component

Ruku`

True worship comes through humility of the soul.

When we recite the Qur’an, we know we should have khushu` (devotion) because we are reciting the words of Allah. When we go into sujud (prostration), we know that God answers our du`a’ (supplication), so we try hard to concentrate. Yet what do we feel when we go into ruku` (bowing)?

Fulfilling the Needs of the Soul

We all have certain daily needs. A parent cannot wait to get home from work to embrace their children, and even if the children are asleep, the parent will give them a kiss just to fill that space. When we feel hunger, we sometimes become tired and cranky until we eat.

Just like we have emotional and physical needs, we also have spiritual needs. The soul thirsts for the worship of God. Many people feel an emptiness, and try to fill it with other things. But just like a hungry person cannot satisfy his hunger by running—we would find that absurd—this spiritual thirst cannot be fulfilled except through the true worship of God.

Humility through Ruku`

True worship comes through humility of the soul, and ruku` represents a part of that. One of the Arabs, Hakim bin Hizam, when accepting Islam, told the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that he would fulfill all of the commandments except ruku` during Prayer because of the humility it involved.

Thus when we go into ruku`, we should make a conscious effort to make the straightening of our backs, the lowering of our heads, and the uttering of “subhan rabbiya al-`azheem” (Perfect is my Lord, the Supreme) a reflection of our internal state.

When we say “subhaan rabbiya al-`azheem,” we are disassociating Almighty Allah from anything. “Rabb,” as with many other words, does not just have one meaning—rabb means the Lord, the Sustainer, and the Cherisher. When we think of what we have—the clothes we wear, our wealth, our health, our loved ones—who has provided them? So, how can we not humble ourselves to our Lord? And how can we not feel a special closeness to Him—that He is my Lord?

Glorifying Allah, the Supreme

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:  “In the ruku`, therefore, glorify the Supremity of the Lord, Mighty and Sublime.” (Muslim)

When you recognize the supremity of Almighty Allah, and the words are reflected in your heart, you should then have reverence for everything associated with Him. Almighty Allah has said in the Qur’an:

And whoever honors the symbols of Allah—indeed, it is from the piety of hearts. (Al-Hajj 22:32)

Thus, reverence during ruku` is from piety of the heart and we should all strive to perfect it. Ibn Al-Qayyim, a medieval Muslim scholar, stated that the ruku` is almost an introduction to sujud, when we take one form of humility before Almighty Allah to a deeper level. This effort that goes into feeling humility in ruku` can only increase our love for Him, and is one way of manifesting the meanings in the famous hadith qudsi:

“If my servant comes closer to Me a hand span, I come closer to him or her an arms-length; and if he or she comes to Me walking, I come to him or her at speed.” (Muslim)

As we increase in good deeds to grow closer to Almighty Allah, He loves us, and what more could we want than Allah’s love? This is why the Prophet would lengthen his ruku`, such that his ruku`, his standing after ruku`, his sujud, and his sitting in between the two prostrations, were nearly equal in length (Al-Bukhari & Muslim).

Bear in mind that his ruku` was also almost as long as his standing before ruku`, where he would sometimes recite five sections (ajza’). (Muslim)

Muslim bin Makki once described `Abdullah bin Al-Zubair  (may Allah be pleased with him) as he was praying. He said that he saw him go into ruku`, and in that time, Muslim read chapters Al-Baqarah, Aal `Imran, An-Nisaa’ and Al-Ma’idah, and `Abdullah bin Al-Zubair was still in ruku`.

Some of us may be inspired by this, but others of us may think, “I can never reach this level,” and not even try. However, let us remember the hadith above about servants who try to move closer to Almighty Allah by as little as a hand span—as long as we are trying to change the state of our Prayers, we have fulfilled this part of the hadith.

May Allah allow us to taste the sweetness of ruku`.

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This article first appeared at suhaibwebb.com. It is republished with slight editorial modifications.

 

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Prayer: The Key to Good Life

By Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiq

The benefits of prayer are numerous, both in this world and the Hereafter.

Performing the prayer is a command of Allah. It is the most important pillar of Islam. It distinguishes between the believers and non-believers. Prayer is not an option; it is obligatory. It is not once or few times a week. But, it must be performed five times a day. All the Prophets of Almighty Allah merely told their people to pray; Islam, however, made it a very essential part of religion.

Attend constantly to prayers and to the middle prayer, and stand up truly obedient to Allah. (Al-Baqarah 2:238)

Keep up prayer from the declining of the sun till the darkness of the night and the morning recitation; surely, the morning recitation is witnessed. And during a part of the night, pray Tahajjud beyond what is incumbent on you; maybe your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory. (Al-Israa’ 17:78-80)

Perform the regular prayer at both ends of the day, and during parts of the night, for good things drive bad away; this is a reminder for those who are aware. (Hud 11:114)

The sincere and devoted prayer helps a person to enter the Paradise, and it is the key to everything good. In fact, the benefits of prayer are numerous, both in this world and the Hereafter; its benefits are spiritual, moral, physical, individual, and social. Prayer is our link, our bond, and our communication with Allah. If you love Allah and want Him to love you, know that the prayer is the means to that. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The source of my delight is the prayer” (authenticated by Al-Albani). He used to ask Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) to give the Adhan for the prayer thus: “Give us comfort by it, O Bilal.” He used to spend a long time in his nightly prayers. Sometimes, he used to offer prayer for one-third of the night and sometimes for half of the night, or even more than that. He used to find great comfort and joy in this heart-refining act of worship. Performing prayer is rewarded both in this world and beyond.

The whole structure of prayer is so beautiful and so remarkable that there is nothing comparable to it in any religion. Prayer is not just recitation or physical movements. Yet, mind, soul and body, all three are involved together in a most harmonious way during this obligatory act of worship.

Prayer is done both individually and collectively; it is done both in public and in privacy. If we observe our prayer as it should be observed, everything in our lives will change for the better. Our relationship with Allah will be good because we shall be living fully conscious of Him all the time. Our relations with our families, our co-workers, our neighbors, and everyone and everything will be very good. By means of prayer along with the ablution, we shall be clean from sins as much as a person who takes a bath five times a day will be clean from every kind of dirt. Almighty Allah tells us in the Qur’an that the prayer precludes all kinds of evils, vulgarities, and indecencies,

Recite that which has been revealed to you of the Book and keep up prayer; surely prayer keeps (one) away from indecency and evil, and certainly the remembrance of Allah is the greatest, and Allah knows what you do. . (Al-`Ankabut 29:45)

Moreover, we are told in the Qur’an that those who establish prayer regularly do not experience fears or anxieties when afflicted with hardships. Allah, the Most-High, says:

Surely man is created of a hasty temperament, being greatly grieved when evil afflicts him, And niggardly when good befalls him, except those who pray,those who are constant at their prayer. (Al-Ma`arij 70:19-23)

More importantly, prayer brings about the true success in this life and in the life to come, as Almighty Allah tells us in the Qur’an,

Successful indeed are the believers. Those who pray humbly … and who keep up their prayers, they shall be the heirs who shall inherit the Paradise and they shall be there forever. (Al-Mu’minun 23:1-11)

Everyday Benefits

Prayer requires taharah (Arabic for: cleanliness of one’s body and clothes, and of the place of prayer). So, those who perform the prayer enjoy clean bodies, clean clothes, and a clean environment. In addition, prayer is to be performed on appointed times. Consequently, the regular performers of prayer learn punctuality in all their affairs and get a sense of how valuable time is.

In prayer, Muslims stand together without any distinction of race, color, financial status, or political position. Those who perform prayer in congregation regularly do learn the concepts of equality, solidarity, and brotherhood. Prayer in congregation is performed behind an imam whom everyone has to follow. This teaches them discipline, order, and organization. Moreover, if the imam makes any mistake, any person can correct him. Indeed, this is a clear sign of democracy. Let us pray regularly and pray in the best way, so that the benefits and beauty of prayer may reflect in our lives. Mu`adh ibn Jabal, one of the Prophet’s Companions, reported,

“One day the Prophet took my hand and said, ‘By Allah, I love you.’ And said, ‘I advise you, O Mu`adh, not to fail to say after every prayer the following: O Allah, help me to remember You, to thank You, and to worship You in the best way’.”(An-Nawawi)

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This article first appeared on Pakistanlink.com. Here taken from Onislam.net.

Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiq is Islamic scholar of North America; Director, Orange County Islamic Center, California.

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Prayer in the Qur’anic Sense

Do you recall when was the last time you prayed?… Readers’ answers may vary, but what is common to all is that most people pray, at one time or another. Indeed, people can pray to Allah, our Lord, at any time and in any place they like, for anything they wish. Allah calls attention to the fact that people can pray and remember Him anywhere they wish:

Those who remember Allah, standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying]: “Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire. Our Lord, those You cast into the Fire, You have indeed disgraced. The wrongdoers will have no helpers. Our Lord, we heard a caller calling us to faith: “Have faith in your Lord!’ and we had faith. Our Lord, forgive us our wrong actions, erase our bad actions from us and take us back to You with those who are truly good. Our Lord, give us what You promised us through Your Messengers, and do not disgrace us on the Day of Rising. You do not break Your promise.” Their Lord responds to them: “I will not let the deeds of any doer among you go to waste, male or female…” (Aal `Imran 3:191-195)

In the Qur’an, Allah describes the kind of prayer He most likes, which we will explain in this series of articles.

1- Praying Humbly, Without Loudness of Voice

When you are in distress or feel desperate and thus feel the need to pray to Allah, where would you like to pray? Surely, the solitude of one’s own room at night or a very tranquil place that will give you the sense of Allah’s nearness would be the place you are looking for.

While worshipping, spiritual integrity can best be attained in a time and place that offers secure undivided attention. A person who feels the need to pray to Allah for the correction of his or her mistakes prefers to be alone and pray in secret. The Prophet Zakariyya’s prayers, through which he asked for a descendant, is an example of secret prayer:

When he called on his Lord in secret and said, “My Lord, my bones have lost their strength and my head is crowned with white, but in calling on You, My Lord, I have never been disappointed.” (Maryam 19:3-4)

As stated above, prayer is “accepting one’s weaknesses and limited power before Allah’s infinite might and asking for help from Him.” For this reason, prayer demands absolute consciousness and acceptance of one’s weaknesses and destitution before Allah. In this sense, there is no doubt that one will fail to attain such consciousness if one is insincere. In the Qur’an, Allah recommends believers to pray humbly and secretly:

Call on your Lord humbly and secretly. He does not love those who overstep the limits. (Al- A`raf 7:55)

Remember your Lord in yourself humbly and with awe, without loudness of voice, morning and evening. Do not be one of the unaware. Those who are in the presence of your Lord do not consider themselves too great to worship Him. They glorify His praise and they prostrate to Him… (Al-A`raf 7:205-206)

In the Qur’an, Allah calls our attention to solitary prayer that is performed with a deep feeling of dire need. In this sense, the place, the sophistication of the outward performance, the number of participants, or the supplicants’ loud voice can by no means be the criteria for a successful prayer.

One must be aware that a loud voice in prayer is not an element that makes it heard by Allah. As already mentioned, Allah, the All-Knowing, knows even our inner thoughts and He is closer to us than our jugular vein. In this sense, it is needless to raise our voice so as to be heard by our Lord Who is close to us. One can either pray secretly or in a tone of voice audible only to oneself.

From the verses below we understand that both while praying or going about our daily business, a person needs to use his or her voice at a moderate level:

Be moderate in your tread and lower your voice. The most hateful of voices is the donkey’s bray. (Luqman 31:19)

Say: “Call on Allah or call on the All-Merciful, whichever you call upon, the Most Beautiful Names are His.” Do not be too loud in your prayer or too quiet in it, but try to find a way between the two. (Al-Israa’ 17:110)

As the verses reveal, the form of worship described in the Qur’an is far from ostentation. It is not performed to impress people: the sole purpose is the due fulfillment of one’s duty towards the Creator. The Qur’an emphasizes this point strongly. In verses related to prayer, there are strong references to “calling on Allah, making one’s religion sincerely His,” which means, performing one’s prayer to earn Allah’s good pleasure alone and not seeking any other purpose. We can see this from verses such as the following:

He is the Living—there is no god but Him—so call on Him, making your religion sincerely His. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. (Ghafir 40:65)

So call upon Allah, making your religion sincerely His, even though the disbelievers detest it. (Ghafir 40:14)

Say: “My Lord has commanded justice. Stand and face Him in every mosque and call on Him, making your religion sincerely His. As He originated you, so you will return.” (Al-A`raf: 29)

The religion belongs to Allah alone. All forms of worship are performed to earn Allah’s good pleasure. The only way to attain this goal is to perform our worship in the form Allah describes.

Those who do not make their prayers or any other form of worship sincerely Allah’s, that is, those who seek “ostentation,” are in great delusion. As Allah says:

So woe to the praying ones, Who are unmindful of their prayers, Who do [good] to be seen. (Al-Ma`un 107:4-6)

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The article was first published in Harun Yahya’s book: Prayer in the Qur’an. Here taken with kind permission from www.harunyahya.com

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Introduction to Prayer

It was here in Makkah where our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was visited by the Archangel Gabriel. Muhammad was flown from his house in Makkah to Jerusalem mounted on Al-Buraq, which travelled at the speed of light.

When he arrived in Jerusalem Prophet Muhammad led the previous Prophets in prayer at AL-Masjid Al-Aqsa.  After he was descending to the heavens it was there that the prayer was established and made compulsory.

It’s till today that the nation of Muhammad (peace be upon him) answer the call to prayer in order to thank, praise and remember Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (Exalted is He).

As the sound of the Adhan (call to Prayer) is heard throughout the world, Muslims stop and turn to the Lord, thanking Him, remembering Him, bowing down to him in prayer.

Salah is the most important Pillar of Islam after the two Shahadah (testimony of faith): ‘Ash hadu an la ilaha illa Allah, wa ash hadu anna Mohammadan rasoolu Allah’ (I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His Messenger).

The aim of the project is to introduce salah to those who don’t know how to pray at all, for beginners or for those who have some idea or for those who want to perfect their prayer.

 

 

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Strength and Nobility in Prayer

The importance of the second pillar of Islam is discussed by first exploring its place in the lives and teachings of all the prophets of God. Dr. Badawi then proceeds to emphasize the fact that prayer in Islam is not a mere ritual but rather a practical way of remembering and worshipping the Creator and doing good. Other areas covered are the significance and virtues of prayer which include preparation, form, and congregation.
httpv://youtu.be/jWRlLiliUjM
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Source: IslamOnDemand.com.

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The Beauty of My Prayer

 

He stays like this for several minutes with only Allah knowing what he is saying.

He stays like this for several minutes with only Allah knowing what he is saying.

He awakes in the middle of the night with a purpose. Slowly, he gets out of bed and quietly slips off to the bathroom so not to awaken the others. Inside he feels refreshed as the cool water splashes on his face, arms and feet. Revived, he heads out with a purpose to his prayer room.

He has had a very difficult day with a lot of questions echoing in his head, but he did not complain to anybody, as he knows there is only One who can assist him; the One who ordered him to seek assistance through prayer and patience. So, here he is, seeking assistance through prayer, while many others sleep.

He raises his hands above his shoulders and proclaims the greatness of his Creator Allahu Akbar! (Allah is Greatest), then folds them on his chest. Quietly, he seeks protection from the accursed Satan, and begins in the name of his Lord. He recites Al-Fatihah (the opening chapter of the Qur’an) in beautiful rhythmic tones. He takes his time, knowing that after every verse, his Lord replies. ‘All praise is for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds’, he begins. He can feel the response within him, ‘My slave has praised me!’

‘Most Gracious, Most Merciful’, he continues. ‘My slave has glorified me!’ is the response. ‘Master of the Day of Judgment’, he affirms. ‘My slave has related all matters to me’, Allah responds. ‘You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help’, he attests. Allah’s reply fills his heart with hope and joy, ‘This is between me and my servant and my servant will have whatever he asks for!’

At this point, he breaks down into tears as he asks Allah for the most important thing in his life, ‘Guide us to the straight path, the path of those who have earned your favor, not of those who have earned your anger or have gone astray!’ He feels peace as he internalizes Allah’s response, ’This is for my slave and my slave will have what he asked for’.

He then recites further and feels Allah’s guidance in every verse he recites. For whichever chapter of the Qur’an he chooses to recite from, he is assured that he will find guidance as Allah has testified, ‘this is the book in which there is no doubt, it is a guidance for those who are conscious of Allah’. After completing his emotional recitation in which he pondered over Allah’s wise and reassuring words, he bows in rukū’ and glorifies his Lord for His guidance and mercy.

He then stands up straight and praises Allah as he prepares for his favorite part of the prayer: the sajdah (prostration)! He proclaims the greatness of Allah and goes straight down into prostration, indicating his full submission to his Creator. It is a position which signifies complete obedience and humility and it is the position in which a person is closest to their Lord.

He stays in sajdah for a long time with no intention of getting up soon. He glorifies his Lord, The Most High, multiple times then breaks down into tears and begins to ask for everything he needs. He stays like this for several minutes with only Allah knowing what he is saying. He is praying; praying for everything he needs, praying for everyone he knows, praying for people he doesn’t know, praying for people who might even hate or harm him. He prays and prays, in complete submission to his Lord.

He then sits up to take a short break and seeks forgiveness for any shortcomings in his prayer, then goes back into prostration to glorify His Lord more and ask Him again for His endless bounties. After a few minutes, he stands up and repeats the entire cycle again.

Several minutes later, the humble slave returns to his bed at peace with his Lord, and at peace with creation. He recites his du`aa’ before sleeping and closes his eyes for a short nap, ready to tackle the challenges of life in the morning with full faith in his Lord.

This is salah (prayer), true salah; salah based upon understanding, concentration, sincerity and submission. It was never meant to be a ritual, but rather a means of communication with our Creator and spiritual revival. May Allah grant us all the ability, guidance and commitment to pray like this every day in all our prayers.

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Source: muslimmatters.org

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