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The Masjid and Its Etiquettes

Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar offers a detailed explanation of the etiquettes of attending the masjid, entering and interacting in the masjid, common mistakes and an in-depth discussion on masjid life.

 

Where Did The Sweetness of Prayer Go? – Shaykh Hamdi Ben Aissa


How many of us want to experience the sweetness of our first ever salah, all the time? Allah Most High gives us that in the beginning and then He conceals it from us – he doesn’t take it away, he conceals it. Why?

Shaykh Hamdi Ben Aissa explains at this McGill University Muslim Students Association program.

Parenting: Planting the seeds of prayer in our young ones

Teaching our children and teenagers to perform obligatory prayers, and enforcing it, is a delicate and often stressful matter for families. What is the prophetic guidance on the matter? When and how is it best done? Parenting expert Hina Khan-Mukhtar sheds some light.

I was driving a girlfriend to her house when my son Shaan called me from high school on my cell phone. I had him on speaker, so his anxious voice reverberated around the inside of the vehicle for us both to hear: “Mama, can you please be sure to pick me up exactly at three? I need to make it home in time to pray my Dhuhr (afternoon prayer) and I don’t want to risk missing it.”

After I assured him more than once that I wouldn’t be late, I hung up and found my friend staring at me with a quizzical look on her face.

“What?” I asked.

“Explain that to me,” she said.

“Explain what to you?”

“How the heck do you get a teenage boy in public high school to actually care about not missing his prayer?”

It is a question that I’ve been asked more than once, and there has never been a simple, easy answer to give. The quickest and most honest one is to frankly admit that all guidance is a blessing and a mercy from God and none of us are in any real control of what our children choose to take — and not take — from our teachings.

But let’s face it — we all know that’s not what parents want to hear (even if they know it’s the truth). Parents are looking for tips and advice, some kind of handbook to follow, a checklist of do’s and don’ts. The fact of the matter is that saying “Tell me what else to do besides pray about/for it” is a false premise to begin with — every success is dependent first and foremost upon prayer for that very success. After hoping I’ve made that clear, I will say that for the purposes of this article, I did sit down and reflect on what has brought us to where we are now after almost 18 years of raising sons, alhamdulillah (praise be to God). I write this article with the full knowledge that we are no experts; we are no authority figures; we are no success stories (if for no other reason except the fact that the “story” simply isn’t over yet). We just happen to be parents who for whatever reason are blessed with children who choose to pray…for now (may the desire always remain with them and only grow in conviction — amen). I asked my kids what they think has helped make prayer a priority for them in their lives, and I informally interviewed some friends to get their insights as well. Here’s what has worked for our families so far, and we hope that our experiences may help others in turn, insha’Allah (God willing)…

1) For God’s sake (literally), leave those kids alone for the first 7 years!

We’re not contending that you shouldn’t teach your kids about their religion or that you shouldn’t encourage them to stand with you in prayer, but we are saying that you shouldn’t have any real expectations of them until after they are 7 years old. I still remember how I cringed when I once saw a well-meaning father pretty much forcing his 6-year-old daughter to join the congregational prayer. She kept running off, and he kept bringing her back, insisting that she fold her hands and stand silently by his side as he recited the Quranic verses aloud. His intentions were noble and sincere, no doubt, but the execution left much to be desired. It was painful to watch, and I remember hoping that his plans weren’t going to backfire on him one day. Another time, I heard a mother tell her son that “Allah will be mad at you if you don’t pray; the angels are writing down that you’re being a bad boy”, and it took all my willpower not to cry out loud, “Stop! Please don’t say that to your 5-year-old!”

There is a reason God has not made prayer incumbent upon children — what baffles most adults is trying to figure out how they are supposed to take the spiritual souls that have been placed under their care and then successfully prepare them for the lifelong duty of praying five times a day once their physical bodies have attained puberty. The responsibility on parents is no joke, and some of them can crack under the pressure.

In the early years, children should be allowed to join and leave the prayer at will, letting themselves get acclimated to the motions and the sensations of the ritual prayer at their own pace. Praying with the family should be an enjoyable experience — one that kids can partake in (or not) as much as they desire. Their association with prayer should be one of sweetness. I know one father who has all of his children share their duas (supplications) aloud one by one after the prayer is over so that everyone can join together in asking Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) to grant their siblings’ wishes. Once the duas are over, the kids often dissolve into tickling and wrestling matches while the father finishes up his supererogatory prayers on his own. Kids can be taught the basic adab (etiquettes) of prayer from an early age — i.e. being mindful of not walking in front of people while they are praying and resisting the urge to make loud, obnoxious noises while others are engaged in worship — but these guidelines about the prayer are all related to respectful consideration towards our fellow Muslims; as far as these little Muslims themselves are concerned, no one should be demanding any personal obligations of them just yet!

2) When the time to begin formally praying finally does come, go all out and make the initiation into prayer a celebration to remember! Treat it like an exciting honor, a real rite of passage.

When each of my boys turned 7 years old, I bought them beautiful journals which I gave to my friends and family to fill with inspiring messages about prayer. A few of my more “crafty” friends went all out and used their art supplies to create elaborate 3-D cards complete with embossed ink and sequined beads. My parents and my in-laws each wrote messages to their grandsons, sharing their hopes and wishes for their futures with them. Older cousins wrote about how prayer helps them in good times and in bad; aunties and uncles gave advice on what helps them get through “prayer slumps” which — if we are truly honest — are bound to come in one’s life at some point or another. I remember my husband Zeeshan getting teary-eyed as he read his message aloud to our middle son Ameen. The general theme was one of encouragement and excitement. It’s been almost 10 years since I put together those gifts for my older two sons, and even now, I will sometimes catch them perusing their Prayer Books with smiles on their faces as they read the heartfelt messages to themselves.

A friend recently organized an elaborate “Salah (Prayer) Party” for her daughter who had turned 7 years old earlier this year. There was a delicious cake and a colorful piñata and many goody bags, but there was also a “Prayer Mat Making Station”, a “Misbaha (Prayer Beads) Making Station”, and a “Pin the Moon Over the Mosque” Game for the kids to enjoy. Along with yummy treats, each little girl also left the party with a “Prayer Chart” where she will now be able to track how many prayers in a day she is able to complete. I overheard the birthday girl excitedly bragging to her guests, “Guess what? I get to wake up for Fajr (dawn) prayer now!”

Zeeshan and I have found that slow and steady wins the race. When each of our sons turned 7 years old, we allowed them to choose one prayer that they wanted to take on as their daily commitment. Every single one of them chose the Maghrib (evening) prayer — probably because that was a time their father was usually home from work, they could pray in congregation behind him, and worship at that particular time of day seemed to fit seamlessly into our hectic schedules. The understanding was that — no matter what — Maghrib would never be neglected from that day (i.e. their 7th birthday) forward. If the boys wanted to pray any of the other prayers, that was all well and good (and highly praiseworthy), but it was their choice and we made it clear that we would not be monitoring them or holding them accountable. Maghrib, however, was non-negotiable. Whether they were at a play date or in the middle of a shopping mall or at a swimming lesson, if the time for Maghrib came in, they made sure to take a few minutes to complete it. (One note: we didn’t expect more than the fard/obligatory of Maghrib from them at this age.)

We continued this routine for twelve months. When a year of praying Maghrib on time had finally passed by successfully, we told the boys that they were now “qualified” to take on a second prayer. We treated it like an honor that only the most responsible could be trusted to handle! Once six months of praying two prayers had passed, we announced that it was time for them to commit to a third prayer. We tracked the completion of their prayers with star stickers on calendars that we had made at home out of cardstock. Using this method, all three of our boys were praying all five of their daily prayers by the time they were 9 1/2 years old, alhamdulillah. By age 10, prayer was an established routine. After the age of 10, the boys eventually began adding on the sunnah (supererogatory) prayers as well.

It is important to note that during this period (i.e. before the age of 10), we did clearly explain to the children that we were not requiring them to stick with their prayers because we considered it sinful for them to leave them (we didn’t) but because we were trying to train them for the time when fard prayers would eventually be required. We told them that we were trying to teach them how to honor commitments, we knew that it took practice and discipline to do so, and we accepted that it was our job to slowly but surely teach them those tools for success.

During the course of writing this article, I asked my almost-16-year-old son Ameen why he prays all of his prayers on time, and he responded, “I don’t remember ever not praying, so I can’t imagine not doing it now. It’s a part of who I am.”

My most fervent prayer is that he always feels that way. I am no fool; I know prayer is a gift and, if not treated with gratitude and humility, it can be lost at any moment. May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) protect us from ever experiencing such a devastating void in our lives. Aameen. (Amen.)

3) “If it was good enough for the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam), it’s good enough for me.”

When I asked Shaan why he is committed to his prayers, he said, “It was the last thing the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) told us to hold onto; he was talking about it right up until the point he passed away. How can we ignore that? How important must prayer be if he (peace be upon him) was reminding us about it even with his last breaths?”

If children are taught the seerah (biography of the Prophet Muhammad) and Islamic history, they will learn that our pious predecessors performed their prayers even in the middle of a battlefield, even when they were ill and dying, even when they were being harassed and humiliated. They learn that missing a prayer just isn’t an option for anyone who has taqwa (God-consciousness).

4) Teach them what they’re saying, what they’re doing, and why.

Prayer should not be allowed to become a series of robotic yoga-like motions devoid of meaning or purpose. Zeeshan and I have been forthright with our kids and confessed to them that there will be times when prayer might feel like an inconvenient, rote duty that just needs to be discharged — and they may find themselves feeling disillusioned and disheartened when those thoughts come to them — but, nevertheless, the canonical prayer is never to be abandoned, no matter how ambivalent one might be feeling towards it in that moment.

“We worship Allah with our minds, bodies, and souls,” I remind my children. “If our minds and souls aren’t ‘into’ prayer for some reason, we can at least force our bodies to obey Him. And then we pray that He will eventually lead our minds and souls to follow our bodies in joy and submission as well. Allah is the One Who is in charge of our hearts. He can turn us to Him at any time He wills. We just have to make sure that we’re not the ones who’re turning away first.”

One of the ayahs (verses) of the Quran that I often quote to my kids is 51:56: “And I have not created jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me.”

“That’s the purpose of life right there,” I tell them. “If you want to know why we were created and what we’re supposed to be doing while we’re here, you have your answer in that one line. Look no further.”

When we discuss the creation of man and the time when Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) commanded Iblis (Satan) to bow down to Adam, we point out how it was nothing but arrogance that made Iblis rebel. “With every prostration, you are choosing to obey God and humble yourself before Him in a way that Satan refused to,” Zeeshan tells them.

We have made sure to make it clear to the kids, however, that God is not in any need of our prayers or our praise or our prostrations; on the contrary, it is we who are in need of Him.

We have also emphasized that none of us should ever feel self-righteous or holier-than-thou about the fact that we are choosing to pray when others are not. “We need prayer; it’s like taking medicine that the Doctor prescribes,” I tell the boys. “Would any of us go around bragging about taking meds or look down on others because they aren’t taking the prescription that we’ve chosen to take for our own health?”

At the same time, we have encouraged friendships with those families and children where prayer is a taken-for-granted part of the daily routine. We all know that you are only as good as the company you keep, and being in an environment where prayer is as natural as eating or drinking just helps create a new type of “normal” for the kids. My boys have grown up seeing not only their parents and their friends praying in congregation but seeing their parents’ friends and friends’ parents giving significance to the five daily prayers as well.

Teaching our children about the Isra and Mi’raj (Night Journey and Ascension) has been instrumental in getting them to understand how the prayer was revealed and what the different parts of the prayer mean to us on a spiritual level. The position of ruku (bowing) is compared to the way one would bow in front of a king. In the humbling position of sajdah (prostration), we point out how that is the only position in which the human heart is elevated over the human brain. “At a certain level, yes, we can recognize Allah by using our thinking minds,” we tell our kids, “but — ultimately — we come to Him via our hearts. It is the heart that truly knows God; it is the heart that truly recognizes Him.”

Once the kids are taught that the same “attahiyat” that we recite while we are sitting in prayer is in fact the actual repetition of the conversation between Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) and the Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) and the angels, they will not be so prone to mindlessly speed through it, insha’Allah. The prayer will suddenly have relevance for them. When we sit and recite our dhikr (litanies) after prayer, we tell the kids that each whisper on our tongues is a polishing of the heart. “We want to have hearts that shine like mirrors and only reflect Him on the Day of Judgement,” we tell them. Making sure that we teach them what the Arabic words that they are reciting actually mean helps in bringing about some consciousness in the prayer, insha’Allah.

Finally, it’s really important to talk to the kids about intention. One of my favorite quotes by Imam Ali (radiAllahu anhu) that I like to share with the boys is his comparison of worshippers to three types — the first is the worshipper who worships out of desire for Heaven (he is like the businessman looking only for a profit); the second is the worshipper who worships out of fear of the Hellfire (he is like the slave who wants only to avoid punishment); and the third is the worshipper who worships out of gratitude because he recognizes that Allah is worthy of worship (he is the truly free man).

“Which one are you?” we ask our sons…and then we leave them to reflect.

And we reflect on ourselves as well.

5) Set them up for success.

We make sure to equip each of our cars with what I like to call “a prayer pack” — a small knapsack that contains a clean prayer mat, a bottle of water for wudu (ablutions), a squeeze bottle for istinja (ritual washing of the private parts after using the toilet), a compass for ascertaining the Qibla (direction of the Ka’aba in Makkah for prayer), and a prayer garment that will cover any woman who is in need of one. Before smart phones arrived on the scene, I used to keep a print-out of the month’s prayer timings in the pack as well. This prayer pack ensured that I didn’t need to worry about whether I had the ability to fulfill my prayers properly and on time or not.

Once Shaan started high school, I helped him create his own “prayer pack”. In his backpack, we placed a zip-up prayer mat made out of parachute material; it was light and compact and easily folded up and unfolded on a moment’s notice. I also included a digital timer that snapped around his thumb and could be discreetly clicked for dhikr while accurately keeping track of how many litanies had been completed. And I bought him a really cool compass that he uses regularly to figure out the direction for prayer. We recently invested quite a bit of money in some high quality khuffs (waterproof socks) for him so that he wouldn’t have to deal with the inconvenience of having to stick his foot in the sink while making wudu in the boys’ restroom at his high school. He can just wipe over his khuffs during school hours now. On Shaan’s first day as a freshman, his father and I helped him come up with talking points so that he could approach the principal with confidence when he requested a private space for prayer; we promised to have his back if he ran into any resistance. Our “support” turned out to be unnecessary however. It’s been three years now, alhamdulillah, and the high school front office staff knows Shaan really well — he’s the kid who comes in every day during lunch to go to the conference room to pray.

While all of these gadgets and gizmos may be great to have around for convenience’s sake, the kids understand that they will have to make do for prayer — one way or the other — whether they have their prayer packs on hand or not. “Guard your prayer” is the mantra in our home.

6) “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” – Rumi

For some kids, positive sensory associations are very important in creating an attachment to prayer. From a young age, my boys have taken great pride in dressing up for Jumah (Friday) prayers in their best clothes, wearing their best perfume and their best kufis (prayer hats). We always set out their most special clothes for the most special of days, and they feel noble and dignified as they wash and dress for going to the mosque on Friday afternoons. I know of one mom who created a magical “prayer corner” in her daughter’s bedroom, complete with a lace canopy that cascaded down over an intricately embroidered prayer mat and an ornate table that held a beautifully designed Quran and crystal prayer beads. Other parents regularly light sweetly scented incense or candles during prayer time in the home. One mother used to wear a silk prayer gown stamped with gold and silver block print for her night prayers; her children sometimes have compared her to a princess, other times to an angel. Another parent told me that she always baked the kids’ favorite treats to share after the congregational prayers on Fridays and also played nasheeds (devotional hymns) in the house after Surah Kahf had been recited for the week. These are all examples of kids who saw, heard, smelled, and tasted nothing but beauty and elegance when it came to prayer in their homes.

7) Aspire to be what you want them to be.

No one recognizes hypocrisy quicker than a child. The truth of the matter is that you can encourage and teach a child to pray all you want, but if you’re not going to pray, the chances are highly likely that he/she’s not going to pray either. And letting a child witness that you pray isn’t always enough either. What about how you pray? Are you rushed and distracted? Do you drag your feet when the prayer time comes in? Are you nonchalant if you miss a prayer? I know of an adult who remembers his own father weeping when he once missed a prayer, and that reaction made more of an impression on him about the importance of prayer than all the lectures in the world ever could.

In conclusion, I feel it’s important to confess how emotionally difficult it was for me to actually write this article. I’ve been analyzing what my hesitation was, and I realize that it was rooted in the fear that my words will come across as preachy and imbued with a sense of self-satisfaction when nothing could be farther from the truth. Another part of me worries that I will somehow jinx my family by admitting to the world that my husband and kids are regular with their prayers (for now). After a lot of back and forth debate with myself, I finally decided to pray to Allah to purify my intentions and asked Him to allow me to write just one thing that will benefit even one parent out there. I remember when I had my first son in 1997, how desperate I was to find any kind of reading material that would help motivate and guide me in teaching him the fundamentals of this beautiful religion. I didn’t need proofs for why I needed to teach the prayer; I was already more than convinced. But I did desperately crave real-life examples of how Muslim parents got down in the trenches and actually did the hard work of passing on this most important pillar of the faith to the next generation. I have been fortunate in that I have been surrounded by many inspirational parents and have had the opportunity to learn from them all, alhamdulillah. I am hoping that their techniques can now help a new generation of parents, insha’Allah.

A year ago, one of my girlfriends who has a son in college somberly told me that he had recently confessed to her that he was no longer praying because he “just wasn’t feeling it anymore”. This was a mother who had “done everything right”; she was a mentor to many of us when it came to raising children to be practicing and believing Muslims. I tried to comprehend what she was telling me and then thoughtlessly blurted out, “Why aren’t you panicking?” I didn’t understand how she could tell me such devastating news in such a calm and matter-of-fact manner.

“Because I have faith in my Lord” was her forthright response. “From Day One, I have been praying for my children’s imaan (faith), and I don’t think those prayers just disappeared into thin air. They have been heard and they will be answered, insha’Allah…but in His time and not mine. I’ve done my part; I’ve done what was commanded of me. Now I leave my children’s fate to Allah while I continue to pray for their guidance and His Mercy.”

As of this writing, her son is praying all five prayers once again.

 

Resources for Seekers:

Traditional Methods of Raising Children
Raising a Muslim with Manners

Raising Your Children with Deen & Dunya – Radio Interview with Hina Khan-Mukhtar
Raising Children with Deen and Dunya
Ibn Khaldun on the instruction of children and its different methods
Islamic Parenting: Ten Keys to Raising Righteous Children
The Prophet Muhammad’s Love, Concern, & Kindness for Children
On Parents Showing Righteousness to Children

Beautiful advice on focusing on your prayer, from Imam Siraj Wahhaj

Muslim-Prayer1Imam Siraj Wahhaj relates a beautiful hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) where he tells a companion in his masjid to “pray again” three times. Imam Siraj tells us why, and how we can avoid being in this situation.

Resources for Seekers:
Presence of Heart in Prayer: A Reader

SeekersNotes: The Prayer of The Prophet ﷺ – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Salaah comes from Seerah and is the essential connection to our Lord.

Notes taken by Seeker Aashif Sacha

  • Imam Al-Junaid said “Ultimately life is praying 5 prayers and waiting to die”
    • This is the essential trait of the believer.
  • If you think about the implications and the greatness of this, every single opportunity that we have to pray and stand before our Lord is an opportunity for us to reestablish this connection..

As human beings we have an element that is the physical aspect of our bodies which is like clay and is moving downwards.

Another element in our bodies is the spiritual element which is the ‘Ruh’ which is always wanting to rise.

  • You constantly see the human being fluctuating between these two states that are:
    • Human Nature or Earthy Nature
    • Spiritual Nature

Ultimately the Prayer is the Miraj of the believer

  • It is the ascent of the believer.
  • Renewing the believer of connection to the heavenly realms.

If we look back at the source of prayer we find in it a very deep indication about the nature of prayer itself.

  • When our Prophet ﷺ went on Isra’ wal Miraj and was taken to Jerusalem by night and ascended and went past the 7 seven heavens into the Divine Presence, this is where he ﷺ received the prayer.
    • This is the highest degree of Revelation that our Prophet ﷺ received from our Lord.
  • Every traveller when they come home they have a gift
    • When the Prophet ﷺ returned from Isra’ wal Miraj the gift that he brought back to the Ummah was the Prayer.

We should see the prayer as a deep and intimate gift and we have to move beyond merely the very base levels of the Nafs where we find it difficult and heavy to stand before our Lord and pray to where we reach a state and do it naturally.

  • Reach a state where this is the most exciting moment of our day is the moments where we stand before our Lord.
  • This was the state of our dearly beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
    • When he bothered or troubled by an affair he used to hasten to prayer ﷺ.

This goes on to the beautiful statement of his “Pray as you see me Pray”

  • This is indication that this is our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ it is the means for us to know how to worship our Lord.
  • This is one of the miracles of Islam that every single one of our forms of Ibaa’dah are completely intact.
    • That after 1400years we know exactly how our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ prayed.
    • We have very detailed descriptions of things that he used to do in his prayer ﷺ.
  • This statement also helps us understand the state of the Prophet ﷺ before his Lord and the way he was.
    • Not only did he do this element outward but what was his internal state?
    • When he ﷺ was submitting before his Lord, the prayer is unique and gathers all of these different forms of worship.
  • When you see the true inheritors of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ which reflecting to you the way that our Prophet ﷺ used to pray himself.
    • When you sit before these rightly guided scholars that you start to tap into the way our Prophet ﷺ used to pray.

Included in this meaning of the hadith “Pray as you see me Pray”

  • There is not only an Outward element but an Inward element.
  • There is a spirit and a soul which both are important and inseparable.
  • We come from a Deen that a complete balance, between having the Latter of the Law and the Spirit of the Law.

Through the inner aspect of the prayer we concentrate on the meanings of what we are saying and take the opportunity to be humble before our Lord.

  • The pinnacle of the prayer is in the position of prostration.
  • The Prophet ﷺ said “The closest that a servant is to the Lord is when he is in prostration”
    • We find that the intellect is lower than the heart

The heart is higher than the intellect.

The heart is the tool which we come to have Ma’rifah – our gnosis and knowledge of our Lord.

  • The prayer is the greatest Wirid of all
  • The greatest opportunity to draw near to our Lord in this Life.
  • This is something we should take seriously.

As soon as the Prayer time enters we should be longing to stand before our Lord.

  • The more longing we have to stand before our Lord, it would directly translate into the next world into our degree of closeness to Him.

When the prayer is intact and in shape then everything else will be intact and in shape as well.

A’isha (may God be pleased with her) was from the greatest of those who got to see the Prophet ﷺ pray.

  • She prayed as she saw him pray.

When asked what was the most amazing thing that she saw about the Messenger of Allah ﷺ

She started to weed and say “What was not amazing of the Messenger of Allah, his entire affair was amazing. But when everyone went to sleep at night, and everyone went to lay with their beloved, the Prophet ﷺ used to stand before his Lord at night – this was the most amazing affair about him, the way he used to stand in night before his Lord in prayer.”

There is no better way to expose yourself to the Mercy and sweet breezes of Mercy of Allah than through the prayer and in particular praying as our Prophet ﷺ prayed, inwardly and outwardly.

  • We must be effort and strive to learn then it will be one of the most enjoyable and pleasurable experiences and will attain a portion of Prophetic inheritances.

SeekersNotes: The Virtues of Salaah – Imam Tahir Anwar

SeekersNotes: The Virtues of Salaah – Imam Tahir Anwar

Notes taken by Seeker Aashif Sacha

Allah reminds us of our obligation of Salaah – the prayer in various places in the Quran.

  • Recite from the Quran in your Salaah
  • Our recitation should increase in our Salaah

When we speak of the virtues of Salaah

  • We are fulfilling an obligation from Allah
  • The evil that every individual is inclined to do, a human is protected from that evil through their Salaah

·      This protection comes from Salaah performed in a manner and method it should be performed

There are many obligations of our Salaah we are not fulfilling

  • Among them is that we fulfill our Salaah in a manner and method in which the Prophet ﷺ taught us.
  • Once we have fulfilled that, any evil a human being is inclined towards an individual is protected when they pray their Salaah.

“All kinds of evil, Inward and Outward an individual is protected”

The Prophet ﷺ says “An individual who performs their Salaah correctly, Allah will forgive an individual’s sins until the next prayer”

The Prophet ﷺ goes out during autumn and shakes a tree and there’s so many leaves that fall down. The Prophet ﷺ says that “an individual who prays their Salaah their sins shed from that individual as trees shed their leaves in autumn.”

  • When we shake a tree outside, we see the leaves falling
  • When we see an individual praying you don’t see any sins falling
    • We should know that when are fulfilling this obligation to Allah, Allah is rewarding us.
    • In addition to the reward we are getting we should know and realise that our sins are being forgiven by Allah
    • Slowly and surely
    • As we go from one prayer to another prayer, Allah is forgiving our sins.

The Prophet ﷺ mentioned to the Sahabah’s “If there is a pool in front of someone’s house and they jumped into that pool 5 times a day, would any dirt remain on that individual?”

The Sahabah replied “Ya Rasool Allah, no dirt, no filth would remain on that individual”

The Prophet ﷺ replied “That’s the case with an individual who performs their Salaah.”

  • Allah is doing us a favor by forgiving our sins
  • Allah is doing us a favor by purifying us

We need to realise that when the Adhaan is called the time enters for a prayer, it is time for me to pray.

  • As soon as a person fulfills and completes this obligation we come to realise that we are being cleansed spiritually.
  • We are being elevated spiritually.

When the Prophet ﷺ had any difficulty he would resort to Salaah

  • These are extra prayers

On the Day of Judgment when an individual meets Allah the first thing they will be asked about is their Fard Salaah.

If there is any deficiency in their Fard Salaah then the extra prayer associated with each Salaah, they will be looked at.

  • We need to do our Sunnah and Nafl prayers in order to make up for any deficiency that may have taken place in our Salaah.
    • This is a great act of worship!

In Salaah we are talking directly to Allah, the Creator of ALL the creation.

  • Allah is the Creator of creation.
  • In our faith we are able to directly communicate to Allah.
  • We Bow and mention the Praises of Allah

“Subhana Rabbi Al-Adhim”

“Glorified be my Lord”

  • When an individual is in prostration, we happen to be at the lowest point on the face of this earth – the ground, the individual is highest in status while that individual is in prostration with Allah.
  • You are the king of all kings when you are in prostration because you are prostrating to the King of Kings.
  • You are in service to Allah – The Mighty, The Majestic.

We begin by Praising Allah “Allah is the Greatest”

We begin with Al-Fatiha by Praising Allah.

  • Then with our hearts and minds present we say

“O Allah, Guide us to the straight path” Ameen

  • There is no way that Allah can not guide a sincere individual who is asking Allah to guide him or her to the straight path in the form of Salaah.

Our mind and hearts need to be present then Allah will grant us all the rewards of Salaah and all the benefits of Salaah.

  • That begins with understanding all the magnitude of Salaah.

SeekersNotes: Nine Keys to Presence of Heart in Prayer – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

SeekersNotes: Nine Keys to Presence of Heart in Prayer – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

9 Keys to Prayer – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani from SeekersGuidance on Vimeo.

Notes taken by Seeker Aashif Sacha

Allah has never commanded merely to pray rather the Quranic command to pray has come in specific ways

Allah says “Establish the prayer for My Remembrance”

  • When you pray heedlessly of God you have done the form of what your Lord has commanded you but you have not fulfilled its purpose.
  • Establishing the Prayer is also known as iq’aamah – it is to make something upright without any crookedness or deficiency Uprightness has two aspects inward and outward
    • Outward: You fulfill the integrals and Sunnah’s during the prayer. You pray according to the Divine command and the Prophetic example
    • Inward: Praying with presence of heart. Your heart is directed to Allah because the prayer is the root meaning is Dua (supplication). You are calling on Allah.

Pray sincerely seeking the pleasure of Allah, with a heart that is mindful, a heart that is turning to Allah, a heart that is conscious of Allah during the prayer.

1. Who are you praying to?

The most significant reality is that you are praying to Allah.

The prayer is not an act you perform rather it is your turning to Allah.

The purpose is Allah and you must bring that to mind before you begin and in the prayer itself and after the prayer.

  • I am praying Allah
  • To my Lord
  • My Creator
  • My Sustainer
  • My Bestower
  • The One who has granted me all that I have
  • The One who has given me the gift of life
    • my health
    • my wealth
    • my knowledge
    • my guidance
    • my faith
    • everything that I have.

§  “You have no blessing Except that it is from Allah.”

So you pray to Allah and bring that mind.

This is why we begin prayer saying “Allah hu Akbar – Allah is Greatest”

This consciousness is helped by upholding the Inward Virtues related to your prayer. Thankfulness, Yearning, Love, Awe, Beholding & Bliss

You are supposed to be praying out of Thankfulness to Allah,

You are supposed to be praying with a deep sense of Yearning for Allah,

You are supposed to be praying with a deep sense of Love for the Divine,

You are supposed to be praying with sense of Awe of Allah

And when these become true with Beholding Allah with the eye of our heart, the eye of faith and a sense of absolute Bliss in that state of Beholding and intimacy with Allah.

  • The Prophet ﷺ said, “Spiritual excellence, the perfection of faith is that you worship Allah as though you behold Him.”
  • When you behold Allah, you are with Allah

You are in a sense of Awareness, Consciousness and Active Remembrance

Then you experience absolute Serenity, Contentment and Joy.

To get these you should stir your heart with these meanings:

  • The meanings of Thankfulness
  • The meanings of Yearning
  • The meanings of Love
  • The meanings of deep Awe of the Divine
  • The meanings of Fear of Allah.

The prayer is for Allah, and we may reach a day when these meanings are there in our hearts already and in our prayer we are nourishing and nurturing that which is already within us.

  • Until then we have to stir these meanings within us.
  • The Prophet ﷺ said:

“Cry when you pray, and if you don’t cry then make yourself cry for the sake of Allah”

“Knowledge is only through learning and Forbearance (Hilm) is only through making oneself act Forbearantly”.

 

2. Your neediness

You have to realise your neediness to Allah, your slavehood and indigence.

  • He is Free of all need
  • Worthy of All Praise
  • Possessor of All Majesty
  • Magnificence and Beauty.

Allah says in the Quran “O People you are the ones who are in absolute need of Allah, and Allah is Free of all need, Worthy of All Praise”

When Aisha (May God be pleased with her) asked the Prophet ﷺ why he prayed so long his reply was that  “Should I not be a slave that is Thankful?”

The state of the slave is neediness to their Lord and their Master.

  • That’s what made the Prophet’s prayer so beautiful because he ﷺ prayed it with a complete neediness to his Lord.
  • The Prophetic supplication “O Lord, I am in desperate need for any good that you may send me.”
    • This is pure Tauheed, Pure awareness of Divine Oneness.
    • Tauheed is to affirm That there is none free of need than any other worthy of all praise Except Allah.
    • There is none free of any other whom all are absolute need of Except Allah.

Allah defines Himself for us in the Quran in Surah Ikhlaas:

“Say He is Allah the Unique,

Allah the Absolutely Independent whom all depend upon”

  • Allah is Al Qayyum – The Sustainer.
    • At every moment your life is only yours because Allah is granting it to you at every moment.
    • All that you have is not only given by Allah but is being kept for you at every moment by Allah.

Your state should be like the one whose hands are out begging their Lord in neediness, and you bring to mind the Majesty of Allah

  • That He is the Possessor of absolute existence
  • All else besides Him is fleeting and waning
  • Its only there because He affirmed it
  • He is the One who is possessed by absolute transcendence
  • He is the One who is Beginningless and Endless
  • He is the One who is absolutely distinct from Creation
  • He is the One who is absolutely Independent in no need of any other
  • He is the One who has the attributes of Perfection
  • He has Absolute Life, Knowledge, Will, Power
  • He has the attributes of Speech, Hearing and Seeing all things
    • Think of the Majesty of Allah in prayer,

§  This is how you engage your heart in the prayer.

Even when you are standing silently in prayer i.e. in Taraweh prayer

  • Busy your heart with a sense of your Lord.

Keep in mind your neediness and His Majesty.

3. Enter With Purpose

Start your prayer in the right way by entering the prayer with a purpose

  • Pause for a moment
  • Gather your resolve
  • Bring to mind whom you’re praying to
  • Fill your heart with the sense of yearning, loving, thankfulness
  • Intend to pray for the sake of Allah
    • Then you begin.

The most important prayer is the obligatory prayer

  • The wisdom of having the Sunnah prayer before the obligatory prayer is for you to strengthen your sense of purpose in the obligatory prayer.
  • The Sunnah prayer is like a training ground for the training ground for the obligatory prayer because that is worth 80 times the Sunnah prayer.
    • It is praiseworthy to sit for a few moments to gather your thoughts, and do some Dhikr before you begin praying

§  When you do this – your prayer will be completely different.

Allah is your beloved, and those who believe are more intense in their love of Allah.

  • This is your moment of your direct encounter with Allah.
  • When you are waiting for the one you love, how do you wait for them?
  • That is why you prepare yourself
  • That is why it is recommended to renew your Wudu because it creates a sense of break of what you were doing before and what you’re about to enter into right now.
  • Enter the prayer with purpose
  • Gather your intention
  • Your resolve
  • Your focus
  • Get rid of distractions
    • The Prophet ﷺ said “A person only has from their prayer that which they were conscious of”.

4. What you say. What you do.

Within they prayer focus on two meaning What you say and What you do.

In every position. When you’re standing focus not only on what you are saying but the meaning of what you are saying.

  • Do you know what ‘Allah hu Akbar’ means?
  • Do you know what ‘Audhu billahi min al-shaitanir-rajim’ means?
  • Do you know the meaning of the opening supplication?
    • These are High meanings!

Don’t say anything that you say in the prayer in a hurried way,

Say it in a calm manner.

  • Pronounce it properly without emphasis without exacting
  • Your prayer is not a tajweed class
  • Say it properly with the tongue as it helps stir the heart
  • Don’t make your pronunciation the focus rather say it in a way that is comfortable and move your heart with it
  • Don’t say anything in prayer without bringing to heart what it means
  • Recite without haste
  • Say it with your tongue and with your heart
  • Move your heart
  • Review the meanings
  • Bring to mind the position that you are in
    • When you are standing, you are standing towards Allah
    • When you bow, you are bowing toward the tremendous Majesty of Allah

§  You say “Subhana rabbi al-atheem

“Glory be to my Lord, the Most Tremendous”

o   When you prostrate yourself

§  “Subhana rabbi al-a’laa”

“Glory be to my Lord, The Exhalted”

This is the highness on Majesty.

He is closer to you than your jugular vein and He is with you wherever you may be. It is we who are heedless of our Lord.

5. Fight distractions – Flee to Allah

You have to fight distractions, and anytime you find distracted Renew your sense that your prayer is for Allah.

  • Refocus on what you are saying and what you are doing.

 

6. After the prayer

After the prayer is finished, don’t just get up and leave

  • Adhere to the Sunnah’s after the prayer
  • Learn the Sunnah’s
  • Make a routine and don’t leave it – even if you are in a rush
    • Right after Salaah say:

Astagfirullah” 3 times

“I seek Allah’s forgiveness from my sin and shortcomings”

  • Say it sincerely for it is the tongue that guides the heart
    • Learn the post prayer supplication:
    • “Allāhumma Antas-Salām, wa minkas-salām, tabārakta yā Dhal-jalāli wal-ikrām.”

“O Allah, You are Peace, and Peace is from You, Exalted are You, O Possessor of Majesty and Grace”

o   “Allahumma a’inni ‘ala dhikrika wa shukrika wa husni’ibadatika”

“O Allah assist me in worshipping You, O Allah assist me in remembering You, and to be thankful of You, and to worship You beautifully”.

7. Keep to turning to Allah – Knowledge. Action. State

You need three things to keep turning to Allah

  • You need Knowledge: to know what Allah seeks from you at the level of obligation and that the level of what He’s encouraged you to do in order for you to draw closer to Him
  • Acting upon that knowledge sincerely
  • Result in State of becoming a true servant of Allah
    • Someone whose on the footsteps of Al-Mustafa ﷺ
    • Someone who draws ever closer to that state in which you worship Allah as though you behold Him and you’re granted true experience of the state of remembering Allah which is the state of true joy

§  It is only by the remembrance of Allah that hearts find rest.

8. Law as Love

If you’re with Allah in life, you’ll be with Allah in prayer

If you struggle to be conscious of Allah in life, you’re going struggle in prayer and you’re going miss out

  • Everything that you do remaining within the limits of the sacred law
  • Do it not as a burden but do it as a declaration of Love for Allah.
  • Do it seeking the pleasure of Allah

9. Knowledge is the path to God

In order to succeed in seeking the pleasure of Allah in life, in order to succeed in having a meaningful prayer you have to seek knowledge.

  • Knowledge is the path to Allah
  • Make a commitment to seek knowledge
    • You should know how the Prophet ﷺ prayed
    • You need to know how to purify your conduct and your character
    • You need to know how to be in a state of submission to Allah
    • You need to instill in yourself the Islamic manners
    • You need to know how to recite the Quran properly
    • You do all these things for Allah.

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whomever Allah wishes well for He grants deep understanding of religion”

  • Knowledge is a light that shows the way to Allah
  • Knowledge that is beneficial and inspired your heart helps you tread that path to the pleasure of your Lord

Commit to learn

  • The Prophet ﷺ said “Whoever travels the path seeking knowledge therein, Allah facilitates for them through that the path to paradise”
    • It’s a sustained seeking in an orderly fashion
    • A path is a way that has been trodden by those before you that leads your desired goal and destination which is closeness to Allah
    • Seeking knowledge therein, the knowledge is on the path but it is not the purpose of the path, its purpose is your Lord

Remember your prayer must be established

Strive to learn the Prophetic way of prayer Outwardly to gain the Inward sense of turning to Allah in your prayer out of remembrance of Allah

“Verily it is only by the remembrance of Allah that hearts find rest”

PrayerKit: iPhone App for Salah Prayer Management

PrayerKit: iPhone App for Salah

image

PrayerKit is a concise prayer application containing all a Muslim needs to know in order to perform their daily obligations.

  • a Qibla Compass,
  • Prayer Times with Alerts,
  • a Distance calculator for Traveling,
  • A Qadaa Counter
  • Quick Lists detailing the legal rulings of the various aspects of prayer complete with Audio Assistance.

The rulings relating to Prayer and Ablution have been produced by Sheikh Haroon Hanif in accordance with the Hanafi School of Thought. If you have any questions with regard to this application please contact us directly at [email protected]

Videos from Perfecting Prayer Webinar – Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, and Others

As-salamu alaikum,

May this reach you in the best state of health and iman. Ameen.

imamzaid

In case you weren’t able to attend the Perfecting Prayer Webinar that was conducted on March 13th and rebroadcast on May 13th, we’ve uploaded the videos. The webinar featured inspirational advice and practical guidance from Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Imam Tahir Anwar, and Ustadha Zaynab Ansari on how to attain presence in prayer.

The Virtues of Prayer – Imam Tahir Anwar from SeekersGuidance on Vimeo.

The Transformative Effect of Prayer – Ustadha Zaynab Ansari from SeekersGuidance on Vimeo.

The Prayer of the Prophet – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus from SeekersGuidance on Vimeo.

9 Keys to Prayer – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani from SeekersGuidance on Vimeo.

The Power of Prayer – Imam Zaid Shakir from SeekersGuidance on Vimeo.