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Experiencing Salah Seriesfull course
In the previous post, we talked about what a real prayer should be and now we want to begin the journey of attaining khushu in our prayers.
But, when exactly should your feelings of khushu start? When should you begin to attune yourself to the prayer?
Well if you knew you had an important meeting with a wise and powerful king coming up how early would you prepare? What if, during this meeting you would be asked about certain past events that you’ve done or you’d be given time to make the case for a special request? I would reckon you would begin to prepare the exact moment you heard you were being granted this meeting.
That’s how we need to think about our upcoming meetings with our Lord.
Salah isn’t a strange ritualistic exercise, but it’s actually a practice that is meant to be an extension of our entire lifestyle. That’s why experiencing salah actually begins outside of the prayer. Attune yourself to the following:
1. Allah’s Mercy and Love
Allah has divided His mercy into 100 portions, only one portion has been sent down to earth, and the rest He saved for the hereafter. Allah’s mercy is all around us. The breath you take, the water you drink, the warmth of your skin, these are all manifestations of Allah’s mercy. Your being from among the Muslims is a form of mercy from Allah. If He is so merciful, He gave us all this, and that’s just a part of 1% of the mercy He divided, then I cannot even imagine the 99 percent of His Mercy that we may experience in the hereafter! All of this should be filling your heart with Allah’s love.
If you love someone, you always race to do what they love. So, when you hear that our dear Prophet ﷺ mentioned praying on time as the best deed in Allah’s eyes, you should be running to prayer. Allah loves to meet us, so we in turn, as lowly as we are, should yearn and revel in the honor it is to meet Him.
Pro Tip: Keep a gratitude journal, so you’re always reminded of Allah’s countless blessings on you. Let your gratitude move you outside of salah so it can move you in it.
2. Allah’s Wrath and Punishment
While Allah’s mercy and love are so encompassing, Allah is also Just. Think of the Day of Judgement. Think about the hellfire: a fire that is emboldened with every body it is given. The anger of Allah is so severe that the skins of the wicked will constantly be replaced so that their experience of punishment never fades. Allah describes the punishment extensively in the Quran so that we never forget.
All the transgressions of this earth must be taken to account and neither you nor I want to stand in front of Allah and have our deeds audited. Don’t let this life delude you.
Pro Tip: Take time to make a special duaa or supplication of Allah specifically focused on the hellfire. Cry and plead that Allah saves you from His punishment.
3. Your Own Shortcomings and Aspirations
Every time you sin, a black dot is put on your heart, until it becomes hard like a rock. How do you expect to be humble in front of Allah and feel the overwhelm of standing in His presence if you’re constantly sinning without repenting? Humble yourself before Allah, wherever you are. Think about how Allah has covered your sins and is still happy to see you whenever you come to prayer.
Allah’s mercy accepts you, regardless of your sinfulness, so let that be the truth that guides you to a better version of yourself. Allah loves you enough to call you to Him 5 times daily. Pour your heart out to Him. Ask Allah. Make lots of duaa to receive the gifts of cleansing and presence from Him.
Pro Tip: Repent as many times as you can on a daily basis. Begin with simply adding a daily practice of istighfar - repentance - as the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used to do1As mentioned here. As you recite the simple phrase ‘astaghfirullah’ - I seek forgiveness in you Allah - over and over, think about the small sins you have been doing up until then. This will help you become more aware of your sins and give you the motivation to stop.
4. Allah’s Message to You
Sometimes we forget that the Quran is for us. Yes, it’s guidance for humanity, Allah’s final message, an everlasting miracle, and so much more, but it’s also a personal message to each and every person’s heart! Open your heart to it. The first step to experiencing the guiding message of the Quran is to open yourself to it. Yes, maybe it’s difficult, especially if you are struggling with the language or with finding time to be present, but if you give the Quran your heart, it will only bless it.
Pro Tip: Make a new commitment with the Quran. Whether it’s memorizing, learning the Arabic language, or studying the meanings of verses, think about how you can grow your relationship with Allah’s word, and go for it.
A great experience in salah starts when we awake each morning and grows with each breath we take. The inverse, though, is also true. A life wasted in frivolity and forgetfulness cannot beget intense presence and longing even for just some moments. Our vows for better prayer must be sincere and reverberate beyond the 5 minutes we devote in the prayer room. Our day to day actions are what prove how much we want that real salah. May Allah grant us lives filled with His remembrance, both in and out of our salah. Until next time, may Allah bless.