By Nizami Suleman Kasmani
Here are practical ways we can improve and enjoy our Salat as it was meant to be! Today we have indeed come to treat the Prayer (Salah) as something insignificant in our lives. Very often we hear our elders say, “I will start praying when the time comes.” Others, especially the younger Muslims, do not find much comfort, and joy in their Prayers. Due to our treatment of Prayer as a burden, our love and passion for the Prayer has vanished.
Our hearts have become hardened, and we have become a depressed and defeated people. As a result, many are searching for ‘cures and remedies’ to the distress in our lives, through any means available, but are unable to find any because they have ignored the greatest medicine - Salah!
If we look deep into our daily lives and diagnose the causes of our spiritual, social and psychological illnesses, we will realise that probably something as uplifting, as evolutionary, and empowering as Salah is missing.. If we, the youth, realize the potential role of Prayer in changing our lives and as a constant source of hope, we would regret missing even a single Salah.
The Role of Salah in Changing our Lives
The whole purpose of Salah is to be ever conscious of Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Salah is indeed, one of the most comprehensive forms of Dhikr (Remembrance). No wonder, Allah states in a Hadith qudsi: “Out of all the ways through which my servant gets closer to Me, Salah is the dearest to Me.” (Bukhari)
It is unfortunate, therefore, that we do not always take full advantage of this gift. We may compare the obligatory Salah to bathing five times a day. If after such frequent bathing, your body still remains dirty, then we may question the usefulness and efficacy of such bathing. Similarly, if after regular observance of Prayer your heart remains unmoved and your morals remain corrupt, we may question the usefulness of your Prayer. If you enter into Salah and come out of it the same person, then you have missed something great. How can you improve the quality of your Salah?
Remember, first and foremost, that as soon as you commence your Salah, Shaytan makes it his duty to fill your mind with anything and everything, but thoughts of Allah. He tries ceaselessly to disengage your mind and heart from such remembrance. It is this state of absentmindedness that destroys the quality of your Prayer.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once said: “Allah does not accept the Prayers of an individual until his heart achieves in it what his body has achieved.” [Al- Ghazali in Ihya-Uloom ad-Deen] The ability to concentrate in Prayer may be improved by undertaking adequate psychological, mental and physical preparation before the prayer and by utilizing certain techniques during the Prayer.
Ways to Improve Salat
Avoid praying in a state in which you are mentally and physically fatigued. Keep your mind free of worldly worries, evil thoughts, and ideas.
Plan what verses/duas you are going to recite.
If you do not understand Arabic, learn the meaning of what you recite in your Prayer.
Remind yourself that engaging in Prayer offers you an opportunity to release yourself from the tensions of this world. The Prophet (Pbuh) has said that in Prayer was placed the comfort of his eyes. Therefore cherish the opportunity to remove the burdens of this world from your shoulders.
Use your Prayer to remain focused on your mission in life, which is to bring your entire being to serve only Allah.
Use your Prayer as a source of strength, inspiration and enthusiasm for your life and activities.
Fulfill all your personal needs before you commence your Prayer, for e.g.,thirst, hunger and calls of nature.
Pray in a pure physical state. Perform your wudu with care and perfection. Although the whole earth is a masjid or a place of worship, choose a place that is clean.
Pray in an environment free of noise and one where there is no distraction. Adorn yourself with clean and respectable clothes.
Assess your mental readiness for Prayer before its commencement, during the various postures, after each raka and ultimately at the end.
Pray with humility both in your mental state and in your physical manner.
Pray with hope and awe.
Remind yourself continually that you are talking to the most important ‘One’ in your life - your Creator and Sustainer. He is in front of you. You are facing Him and you are involved in a dialogue with Him.
Commence your Prayer by seeking Allah’s help and protection from the influences of Shaytan.
Lower your gaze while praying and do not allow the physical environment to distract you.
On each occasion that you recite the Sifat or attributes of Allah in Ruku and Sajda, consider how indebted you are and how grateful you should be to Allah and express your true emotions.
Utilise the occasion of Sajda to make additional dua to Allah. The Prophet said: “A servant is nearest to his Lord when he is in Sajda, so increase your supplication when in Sajda.” (Muslim.)
Pray as if it is your last Prayer. The Messenger of Allah said: When you stand up to pray, perform your prayer as if it were your last...’ (Ahmad)
“In The Early Hours”