Connection in Prayer

Author: Admin

Around the Web: Night Prayer

Perhaps the most demanding and yet rewarding practice of the believer is night prayer. The night prayer, initially ordained on every person entering Islam, has become for us, the mark of a true committed. Not for the faint-hearted, consistency in waking through the night to meet Allah means a person is giving their all. That’s why, though it may feel out of reach for so many, we thought it important to include an ‘Around the Web’ edition specifically dedicated to cultivating this essential practice. 

What’s What

You may hear a lot about the virtues of praying ‘qiyam al-layl’ or ‘tahajud’, but what’s the difference and how does it affect your practice? There are actually a lot of different terms referring to night prayers and this article here gives a good general overview of what’s what and how to perform it. Basically though, any prayer performed between sunset and sunrise, excluding the obligatory prayers, is considered night prayer. If you’re looking for something more technical and that gives an overview of many different types of night prayers, as well as some others performed during the day, check out the detailed list on this site. 

Our First Focus Group!

Alhamdulillah we were blessed this past Jamad Althanee (February 2021) to complete Sillah’s first ever focus group! We are so grateful to all those who signed up and made a commitment to work on their prayers. May Allah bless their faith and grant them closeness to Him in all of their prayers and actions. If you want to skip all the minor minutia of how the focus group ran, feel free to scroll down. We’ve put together a simple infographic to share some of the results we got. If you like knowing the nitty gritty details read on!

Our focus group was survey based. We reached out to a personal network of friends and family and 20 people signed up. In the entrance survey, responders were asked to choose a focus area that they would most like to see improvement in with regards to their prayer experience: timeliness, concentration, connection, or stress relief. They were then prompted to consider what daily action would best help them target their focus area. They also had the option of choosing from a provided list. Daily action items included things like making duaa, praying within 15 minutes of the athaan’s call, daily intention journaling, and so on.  Participants committed to this action item for one month. 

Around the Web: (re)Start Edition

While salah is the most fundamental practice of the believer, many Muslims struggle to pray or to pray consistently. You may be such a Muslim. You may have maintained prayer many years ago but somehow, along the way, fallen out of practice. You may have never really gotten the hang of praying. No matter. If you are feeling motivated to start praying then take comfort. Allah ﷻ tells us that no slave of His takes a step towards him except that He, Allah, comes toward him even more quickly1https://abuaminaelias.com/dailyhadithonline/2017/06/01/if-he-comes-walking-i-come-running/. Your desire to return to salah is an indication of Allah calling you to Him. Don’t let negativity stop you. Respond to Allah’s call and begin. 

Get Inspired

A simple reason to take heart in the beginning of this journey back to meeting Allah is knowing that others have tried and succeeded. Muslims all over the world are on a journey to meet their Creator. Some are in the same exact place as you, and some were and have moved forward. This personal story gives a lot of inspiration for anyone struggling to build a consistent practice of prayer. Another personal reflection shares how it’s possible to be lost, find your way, and then get lost again; but not to lose heart. And finally, if you need inspiration in the form of more tough love, check out this convert’s reflections on salah. 

Where to Start

The idea of building or rebuilding a complete prayer practice is overwhelming. It is key however, to override emotions of pessimism with those of longing and hope. Before even beginning to look into how to schedule your prayers, reach out and reconnect emotionally to Allah. What will propel you through this period of building salah into your life is a growing attachment to being with your Lord. Check out this article for further discussion of why this is so important. It’s the first step in your journey back to Allah but it’s also encased in every step you will take forward.  

Ramadan 1441 Workshop: From Routine to Ritual

Ramadan is fast approaching and many of us are starting to focus our attention on what we want to get out of it. Given the worldwide pandemic and quarantine protocols, this Ramadan will probably be like no other. We have a truly unique opportunity to zero in on the practices that may have eluded us for many years. We likely won’t be distracted by social events and gatherings and we will also be forced to contend with our spiritual practice and stamina without much outside support. This Ramadan you may get to know just how strong and developed your spirituality is. All that in consideration, this will be an excellent time to revisit the routines we take for granted, and always on the top of our list here at Sillah, is your salah.

Salah is the ultimate routine of the Muslim. Day in and day out, you are praying and no matter the strains, you have to make it work. This design of salah is meant to facilitate constant connection with Allah. For many though, the routine of salah has become just that, a mindless nuisance to fit in somewhere and move on. It’s really meant to be more than that; it’s meant to be a ritual. That’s why this year we have decided to spotlight the routineness of salah and some ideas on how we can push it to become an uplifting ritual. We hope that if you spend thirty days of Ramadan working on reshaping your prayer routine, you will walk out with a renewed salah experience. 

Specifically, we’ve suggested practices with regards to three aspects of your routine with salah: building or creating a routine, shaking up or varying your routine, and deepening or extending your routine. Below is a list of different options with regards to these three areas. Additionally, we’ve tried to include practices that can be useful to people of all levels. Even if you haven’t been able to commit to praying consistently, check out the options below! Whether you’re someone who doesn’t pray or someone who consistently prays extra, we hope the suggestions below can grow your connectedness to your Lord.

Around the Web – Parenting Edition

One of the most important responsibilities Muslim parents may feel is ensuring that their children hold fast to their practice of salah. There are so many components to this! Making sure your kids remember to pray, pray on time, have wudu, pray even if it’s embarrassing, pray mindfully, pray in the mosque, be willing to stick their feet in a public sink to make wudu. The list goes on. The more you think about it, the more daunting it can be. We took a look at some of the resources available on the internet right now on kids and salah. Honestly the quality resources available aren’t much but we did a round up of what’s there and put the following together. We hope these can give you a little support.

Putting the Parent Back in Parenting

Though for many parents, the urgency of wanting to find a solution for a kid who won’t pray feels imminent, the best place to start with addressing it is actually in oneself. It can be easy to forget, but for children, parents are a huge influence on their religious worldview1This concept is discussed at length in this great article by Yaqeen Institute. Actions, more than words, tell your children about what salah means and value it should hold in their lives. Check  this article and this one for some ways to revive your own perspective on prayer life. For more practical tips look here and here, and for new mothers especially, check out this article. All of these links can help address some issues that may unintentionally translate into one’s children. 

If you’re only going to read one thing …

3 Tips to Improve Your Salah Right Now

We’re always looking for simple hacks to help with everything from finishing the dishes quicker to writing the best term papers. Why not apply this towards your salah experience?! A simple tip isn’t going to fix any deep issues with your prayers, but it might add just a little life to something that has become one more to do list item. 

1: Call the Iqama

A lot of the times when we have to pray, we just jump into it. We’re rushed. We have things to do. We pray and move on to the next task. You may have heard that it’s best to pray some nafl, or supergatory, prayers before getting into the main obligatory prayer. That would definitely help you get more into the zone. If however, you don’t feel ready to commit to adding another couple of rakas, or units, consider saying the Iqama to yourself before beginning. The Iqama1The words/meanings of the Iqama are as follows: Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar (Allah is greater, Allah is greater) /Ash-hadu alla ilaha illallah (I witness that there is no deity (worthy of worship) but Allah) /Ashhadu anna Muhammadar-rasoolullah (I witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah)/Hayya ‘ala-ssalah (Come to the prayer)/Hayya ‘alal-falah (Come to prosperity)/Qad qamati-ssalah, Qad qamati-ssalah (Prayer is to begin, prayer is to begin)/Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar (Allah is greater, Allah is greater)/La ilaha illallah (There is no deity (worthy of worship) but Allah) is the shorter call to prayer you usually hear when praying in a group right before prayer starts. It is a declaration of your intention to put Allah before all else and to turn to Him in prayer.  Calling it aloud will give you a few moments to focus on the prayer (not on whatever task you were just doing), and you’ll gain more reward2That’s based on the hadith that Allah is pleased when He sees a single person making the call to prayer found here.

Bonus: Have a few extra minutes? Call the Athaan too! 

2: Say Your Prayers Out Loud

For Fajr, Maghrib, and Isha prayers, there is a strongly encouraged option to recite Quran during the first two rakas out loud3Based on the scholarly opinion sited here here. Unfortunately though, and especially when praying alone, this is often passed up. Praying out loud though, can really enhance your experience. It will allow you to contemplate the verses you are reading more easily and to better recall them. Have you ever recited the same verses in both the first and second rakas of prayer because you weren’t paying attention? That’s a lot harder to do if you’re reciting out loud. 

Around the Web – Jumpstart Your Prayer

In the process of searching for the best resources on salah available right now, we’ve come across some great pieces that could jumpstart your journey to a richer prayer life. We’ve organized the links we’ve found to help you zoom in on the area of salah you want to start with.

(Re)Starting your Salah Habit.

People fall out of the habit of praying all five prayers commonly. If you’ve completely stopped praying or never have before, we recommend you regain your spiritual footing here and look for inspiration on why this is a worthwhile endeavor here and here. Even a non-Muslim can vouch for the benefits of salah!

Ready to get back on the wagon?

Establishing a habit of praying 5 times a day everyday is hard! Some have been lucky enough to have family who helped instill in them the habit, others have had to struggle as adults to figure out a way to build the habit. For some general tips on how to start building the habit of prayer from scratch check out this link as well as this one. If you need advice on how to push past more emotional blocks to salah, read this.

I pray … but I’m always running late.

Even if you’ve successfully established a habit of prayer, that doesn’t mean you’re performing at the optimum level you could be. If you find yourself always missing fajr prayer, or constantly procrastinating salah once the time comes in you need to examine more closely how committed you are to meeting Allah and how strong your faith in Him is. Looking to make sure you catch every fajr salah? Here’s one man’s method of making sure to get it in every morning, plus extra! Have an overarching procrastination problem? Check this link out. 

Salah isn’t really about clocking in though …

Even though there’s a lot of importance in establishing and maintaining a habit of salah, that really isn’t the goal of prayer. You may be performing all the actions of prayer and in the right way, but still gain no spiritual benefit from praying. Is your mind constantly buzzing while praying? Do you jump after prayer to finish that task you were thinking about all through sujud? If you’re looking to develop your mindfulness and really focus on the meanings behind the motions of prayer consider taking this or this online class, or listening to a podcast here

Do you walk out of your salah eager to come meet Allah in the next one?

You may have thought that mindfulness and focus were the optimum signs of a successful salah experience. But mindfulness is just the means. The goal is to connect to Allah swt; to feel yourself in the presence of your Maker. Being able to focus in your salah is one thing, tasting and enjoying your prayer so much that you can’t wait to meet Allah again, is another. There’s a great article series that hopes to convey the many layers of enjoyment that can be grasped in salah. If you can’t read the whole series, we recommend at least read this article.

And hopefully we can offer something too.

Honestly though, there is a lot more than can be offered to help improve the Muslim’s prayer experience. That’s the goal of this site: to create content, develop resources, and provide support in helping you transition from one level of prayer experience to another until prayer becomes a transformative addicting experience for you. May Allah bless us and allow us to fulfill that goal and May Allah grant us prayer that is a solace to be yearned for. Ameen. 

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