Salah (prayer) is one of the five pillars of Islam and a ritual that most Muslims are accustomed to. Whilst we might be praying five times a day, how many of us truly experience it as it should be experienced and gain the benefit that Allah wants us to gain? In our busy lives, it’s easy to see Salah purely as an obligation that we ‘have’ to fulfill and sometimes this can lead to us to rushing our prayers.
Below is the ‘Three C’s of Prayer’ framework that has been helping me to put Salah in its rightful place in my life.
Salah as a Call to Success
When we think of the word ‘success’, a lot of associations immediately come to mind. You might think about awards, fame, personal accomplishments or being a good human being. The definition of success varies with different individuals. But how often do we associate Salah with success?
Think about it, when you are right in the middle of your day working or studying and it’s time for Zuhr or Asr, do you associate prayer time as a call to success or do you see it as an inconvenience? Something that you have to do quickly so you can get back to your day.
The next time you’re about to pray, reflect on the lines below from the adhan (the invitation to prayer);
Hayya ‘ala as-salah Hayya ala as-salah (come to prayer, come to prayer)
Hayya ala al-fallah Hayya ala al-fallah (come to success, come to success)
Prayer is an invitation to success not only in this world but in the Hereafter. In addition, the first thing we will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgement is the state of our Salah. It is the hallmark of success. Pay attention to it. Spend time on improving and perfecting it as you would anything else that you care about and you want to succeed in.
Salah as Connection
Understanding the life of The Prophet Peace Be Upon Him is an important context for the next C, which is that Salah is a means of connecting to Allah. The Prophet Peace Be Upon Him is the greatest example for us as human beings. He was not exempted from difficulties and stories from the Seerah attest to this.
In what is known as the year of sorrow, the Prophet Peace Be Upon Him lost two of his greatest supporters, his wife Khadijah May Allah Be Pleased With Her and his uncle, Abu Talib who protected him during the early years of his prophethood in Mecca. Imagine the toll that these losses had on the Prophet SAW for it to have been named the year of sorrow. The Prophet not only lost his wife, but he also lost his supporter, nurturer and beloved.
It is in this context, a year or two after that the Prophet Peace Be Upon Him goes on a journey known as Isra Al Miraj, (The Night Journey and Ascension) where the five obligatory prayers are revealed to Him. Salah is the only revelation that happens in the heavens and the meaning of its root word is connection.
I mentioned the story of the Prophet Peace Be Upon Him earlier to illustrate the special place that Salah should have in our lives. The Prophet Peace Be Upon Him found solace in Salah because it was a source of connection to Allah. Connecting to Allah was his refuge from the hardships and difficulties of this world, and this should be the same for us too. We should learn to see that our times to pray are a period to establish a divine connection with our Lord.
Prayer as Conversation
When we stand to pray it is essential that we remember that we are having a conversation with Allah.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah Be Pleased With Him) said: I have heard the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) say: Allah (the Mighty and Sublime) has said: I have divided prayer between Myself and My servant into two halves, and My servant shall have what he has asked for. When the servant says:
الْحَمْدُ للَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَـلَمِينَ All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of existence.
Allah says, `My servant has praised Me.’ When the servant says,
الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Allah says, `My servant has glorified Me.’ When he says,
مَـلِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ The Owner of the Day of Recompense
Allah says, `My servant has glorified Me,’ or `My servant has related all matters to Me.’ When he says,
إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help.
Allah says, `This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he sought.’ When he says,
اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ – صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّآلِّينَ Guide us to the straight path. The way of those on whom You have granted Your grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your anger, nor of those who went astray,
Allah says, `This is for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.’
Surah Fatiha which we often rush through is supposed to be a conversation between us and our Lord. Be mindful of this the next time that you pray and work on having presence of mind and heart before Him.
Lastly, it’s important to look at Salah from an understanding of Allah’s attributes. Allah is Al-Samad, the one that is free of all needs. Allah does not benefit from our prayers and he does not need us to pray to him. Hence we are the only ones who benefit from our prayers. Allah is also Al-Shakur, which means that He is the most Appreciative and The Rewarder of Good Deeds. When we struggle to stand in front of him and still do it regardless, he sees that struggle and he rewards us for our efforts in ways that we cannot imagine.
So the next opportunity that you have to pray, remember that Allah is calling you to success, He is calling you to connect with Him and He is calling you to have a conversation with Him.
Join the conversation below by sharing the words or phrases that you associate with prayer.