Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch
I’m confused about my faith. I genuinely want to pray with awe and fear of Allah.
I don’t sincerely fear Allah because I can’t discipline myself to conduct salah on time and regularly. I want to know Allah for Who He is and worship Him for Who He is, not for what I want to think of Him, which I believe is the same as being reckless and following my desires.
I feel like I’ve lost all of my Iman, and I really want to reconnect with Him. I want to live my life in total submission to Him, but I can’t seem to find my path. Please advise me on the role of salah in my life as a Muslim and why missing it is punishable.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.
The problem you find yourself in is common; believe it or not, it is a good sign. It is a sign that Allah Most High loves you and that Allah Most High is with you.
Love of Allah (Most High)
Being concerned with one’s relationship and standing with Allah Most High is of the most profound signs that Allah Most High cares for you. In this vein, the following verse has been understood by the scholars and commentators of the Quran:
Allah Most High says, “When My servants ask you (O Prophet) about Me: I am truly near. I respond to one’s prayer when they call upon Me. So let them respond (with obedience) to Me and believe in Me, perhaps they will be guided (to the Right Way).” [Quran, 2:186]
Understanding This Verse
Note that Allah Most High says that when “My” servants ask about Me. This term “My” servants is the first indication of Allah’s care for you.
Secondly, in most of the other verses of the Quran that have this statement, “they ask you (…)”, Allah Most High always responds by saying, “Tell them (this answer).” However, here Allah Most High doesn’t say, “tell them I am near.” He says, “I am truly near.” Only one who was distant would need someone to convey this message. Allah is near.
The third thing we can take from this verse is that Allah Most High is near to those who ask about Him, i.e., they are concerned about Him. And you, in this question submission, have asked regarding Allah Most High, so I say, “He is truly near to you in His care and concern for you.”
Had Allah Most High not cared for you, He would not have made it a concern in your heart to ask regarding Him.
Allah Is With Who?
A sign that Allah Most High is with you in His Divine care and nurturing of you is the broken state you seem to be in from your question.
The Prophet Musa (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “‘O My Lord, where do I seek You?’ Allah Most High replied, ‘Seek Me with those whose hearts are broken for My sake.’” [Ahmad, Kitab al-Zuhd]
Ibn ‘Ata’illah al-Iskandari (Allah have mercy on him), in his al-Hikam, says, “A sin that yields humility and brokenness is better than a good deed that yields exaltedness and arrogance.”
Allah Most High says, “Say, (O Prophet, that Allah says,) ‘O My servants who have exceeded the limits against their souls! Do not lose hope in Allah’s mercy, for Allah certainly forgives all sins. He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Turn to your Lord (in repentance), and (fully) submit to Him before the punishment reaches you, (for) then you will not be helped. Follow (the Quran,) the best of what has been revealed to you from your Lord, before the punishment takes you by surprise while you are unaware, (…)’” [Quran, 39:53-5]
From these blessed verses, we see the following:
Never Losing Hope:
Allah Most High, out of His sheer grace and bounty, has prohibited us from losing hope in His mercy. We must remain positive regarding our relationship with Allah Most High and always hope in His mercy.
Turning Back to Allah:
After that, we must always turn back to Allah (Most High) in all our states. If we are struggling, we turn to Allah (Most High) sincerely, seeking His assistance. If we are doing well, we turn sincerely to Allah (Most High), seeking His acceptance.
Love: The Greatest Quality
From your question, you put a lot of emphasis on worshipping Allah Most High out of fear. Although fear is one of the praiseworthy qualities and from the stations of certainty in Allah Most High, it is not the highest quality for one to base their worship on.
In fact, those who worship Allah Most High out of love are the best of the worshippers.
Sayyiduna ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with him) mentioned that worshippers of Allah Most High are of three categories:
- The worship of the slaves: These are those who worship Allah Most High out of fear of punishment
- The worship of the merchants: These are those who worship Allah Most High for the sake of reward.
- The worship of the lovers (‘Aashiqin): These are those whose worship is entirely selfless, not due to fear of punishment, not motivated by reward, but solely due to one’s gnosis of the greatness, majesty, and beauty of Allah Most High. [Ghazali, Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din]
Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Yusuf Weltch teaches Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he completed four years at the Darul Uloom Seminary in New York, where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences.
He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he studied for three years in Dar al-Mustafa under some of the most outstanding scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib.
In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Quran and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Quranic exegesis, Islamic history, and several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.