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Islam and Spiritualism ( 28 May 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Islam as A Charter of Life: The Observance of Salah Must Not Acquire the Status of Completing A Ritual - Part IV

By Sirajuddin Aziz

May 11, 2019

I have on numerous occasions of my life; felt that the Salah I offer lacks quality. The observance of Salah must not acquire the status of completing a ritual. In a recent visit to Makkah, I found a book by Mohammad Salih Al-Munajidd, on the subject of Khushoo in Salah. I then researched a bit more on the subject, which is now being shared with the readers. Salah (Namaz) is the fundamental pillar of Islam after Shahadah, and Islamic law demands absolute Khushoo in prayers. The enemy of Allah SWT, i.e. Satan (Iblees), as mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, vowed to mislead and tempt the children of Adam: “Then I will come to them, before them and behind them, from their right and from their left….” (7:17). Satan committed to diverting people from Salah by all possible means during their prayers. Satan insinuates and whispers to us during prayers to deprive us the joy of worship and to lose its reward. Those who observe Salah with humility, for them the Holy Qur’an says, “Successful indeed are the believers, those who offer their prayers with all solemnity and full submissiveness (23:12).

Someone has beautifully remarked, “as the wings of the bird demands air and the fin of the fish demands water, so is the instinct of prayer that demands Allah Subhanahu Taala”. The idea is that as the bird and the fish cannot function naturally without air and water, respectively, so also man cannot function faithfully to his true nature without establishing spiritual contact with Allah SWT through prayer. Since prayer is instinctive in nature, we find that besides man, all other things animate and in-animate indulge in prayer. In the Glorious Qur’an, Surah Bani Israel, verse 44 says, “The Seven Heavens and the earth and all things therein, declare His glory; there is not a thing but celebrates His praise and yet ye understand not, how they declare His glory…” and again in Surah Ankabut, verse 41 says, Hast thou not seen that Allah, He it is whom all who are in the heavens and the earth praise and the birds in their flight? Of each He knoweth verily the worship and the praise; and Allah is aware of what they do”.

Now, when Allah, indisputably knows, the quality of our Salah, does it not make it incumbent upon us, to bring qualitative change in the manner, in which we observe Salah. Salah, must exhibit our fear of Allah, in a calm manner... It should be conducted with serenity, tranquility, dignity and humility. Our hearts must tremble with the thought that we are standing before Lord, in humility, devotion and submission. Prayer (Salah) is that format of worship where man establishes contact with his Creator, with no intermediary. And Allah (SWT) through His beloved Prophet (PBUH) gave us Muslims the gift of Salah. Abu Huraira heard Allah’s Messenger say’ “If there was a river at the door of (the house of) one of you, and he bathed in it every day five times, would you say that any dirt would be left on him?” They said: “No dirt at all would be left on him”. He said “that is the example of five prayers by which Allah washes away the sins. (Bukhari) Khushoo (humility) in prayers is felt, when the heart feels awe of being in the presence of the Lord and it is filled with fear and shyness. Khushoo must come from within, manifesting itself physically and spiritually. If the physical self shows humility but the heart is arrogant, then such Khushoo is only hypocritical. According to Ibn Katheer, Khushoo in prayer happens when a person empties his heart for it (Salah), and focus on it to the exclusion of all else, and prefers it to anything else. Only then he finds comfort and joy in it, as the Prophet (PBUH) said “… my joy has been made in Salah”. Humility and devotion are qualities of the chosen one. It is reported in Sahih Bukhari that Abdullah said, that he asked the Holy Prophet (PBUH) which deed was most loved by Allah, the Exalted. He said, “Prayers which is performed at its time”.

Alluring again to the virtues of Khushoo and as a warning to the one who neglects it, the Prophet (PBUH) said “Allah has made five prayers obligatory, whoever does abolition properly for them, prays them on time, does one’s bowing properly and has perfect humility and devotion, it is a promise from Allah that he will be forgiven, but whoever does not do this, has no such promise – if Allah wishes, He will forgive him, and if He wishes, He will punish him”. For bringing quality in Salah, the following may be heeded upon; thoroughly preparing for prayer, moving at a measured pace during prayer, remembering death while praying, pondering over the meaning of what is being recited, pausing at the end of each Verse, reciting in slow, rhythmic tones, having faith that Allah responds to prayers, looking at the place of prostration and raising the index finger, etc.

Salah, is remembering Allah. Before teaching others about the importance of remembering Allah, the Prophet (PBUH) first set a good example himself, remembering Allah at all times, and on all occasions. And when he would remember Allah, he would do so with a fearful, attentive and observant heart – a heart that was filled with emotions of fear, love and hope; a heart that only yearned to seek the good pleasure of Allah.

Hazrat Ayesha said that the Prophet’s dress would be drenched with tears that flowed down his glorious cheeks, whilst he used to remain in prayer, in the middle or the whole night. I end, by supplicating that May Allah guide me and the Ummah, in bringing quality to our Salah; so that we may draw joy and true solace from it – our condition, as a community would undergo a radical change, with Khushoo in our prayers. (Ameen)

Sirajuddin Aziz is Chief Executive Officer of a financial institution.