Connection in Prayer

3 Tips to Improve Your Salah Right Now

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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. 

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Salah and Your Period: A Spiritual Pondering

Reading Time: 10 minutes

A (Spiritual) Pondering

What is the spiritual purpose of your period? Have you ever thought about that? What about getting a regular course of abstinence from spiritual daily practice could possibly enhance your spiritual life? I’ve been thinking about this for some time, and I don’t feel like I started to have any ideas about it until I became a mother.

For a lot of my mature life, getting my period felt like a spiritual punishment of sorts. I remember vividly, one Ramadan when I was extremely stressed out studying for final exams, and anticipating their end so I could finally get to participate in the night long prayers everyone else was enjoying. Lo and behold, days prior to its expected arrival, my period arrives. I remember crying to my mother and feeling so much that Allah didn’t want me. He didn’t want me to pray with everyone else because I wasn’t good enough. Because, instead of trying to worship in these past days, I had been wasting time. I kept telling myself, oh later when exams are over I will make time for worship. It felt like Allah was telling me, if I wasn’t prepared to pray when it was hard, I didn’t deserve to pray when it was easy. My tears flowed heavily.

But, as my mother kept consoling me, a punishment is not the only way to see your period. She kept saying things like: you were really stressed, you really needed a break; your body was overwhelmed, this was its way of sorting itself out. She kept trying to assure me that it wasn’t some sort of terrible omen, but rather a planned Mercy from Allah. 

And more recently I’ve heard other voices echoing this same idea. In recent lectures, speakers1Check these video out for a short explanation of how a period doesn’t mean impurity here and here have been trying to combat the idea of menstruation being linked to inherent female impurity. They speak about it as a time when a woman needs rest. Because of that reason, Allah excuses women from their religious obligations and gives them a pass. Further, because the strains on women can be heavy while many juggle responsibilities to so many, having a rest from religious obligations shows that while others might not let up in their requests, Allah, the most Merciful, will always be understanding in what He asks of His female slave. 

These explanations go a long way in debunking the idea that menstruation is a punishment or sign of inherent uncleanliness. It doesn’t however, answer the question posed initially: how does menstruation facilitate a better spiritual life. Allah swt, our Creator, created us in the best fashion. As part of His divine Wisdom, He knew to create in us, women, this cycle. He also tells us that He created us so that we may worship Him2Quran 51:56: ‘And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.’. We show our devotion to Him through these acts of worship and grow our longing to meet Him in the afterlife. Most prominently, He asks to call out to Him and stand in His presence 5 times daily , but then asks us to stop doing so during this menstrual cycle which He created in us. This means, that in addition to menstruation functioning as a sign of Allah’s perfect wisdom in our physical creation, it also should reflect His wisdom in our spiritual creation. 

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Have You Been Practicing?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

It is the impending destiny of each person to stand before Allah and answer for the actions of his life. This is our fundamental belief as Muslims. You will stand. I will stand. It is inescapable1There are a select number who will be so worthy as to go to Janna directly without questioning. To know more about them, check this out. This judgement will determine the eternal happiness of each of us. The logical extension then, is to prepare diligently for it. 

But worldly life is very distracting. Simply eating, sleeping, working, caretaking, the whole lot of our daily activities, can take over. Actually for most people, these really do take over: life becomes about optimizing material experiences. The Muslim though, must stay focused. We need to keep the end goal in mind and continue preparing for the big moment when we will face Allah with the contents of our whole lives displayed before us. 

There is a hadith of Prophet ﷺ where he tells us that the first thing we will be asked about on the day of judgement is our prayer. If a believer’s salah is found to be in order, the remainder of his judgement will pass smoothly, but if not, then the questioning will be taxing2Hadith in Sunan a-Tirmidhi, find it here. The hadith is usually used to explain the importance of prayer and how fundamental it should be to the believer. Thinking about prayers missed or skipped, prayers with incomplete wudu, prayers made mindlessly, and the fact that these can make or break your eternal peace is daunting. And while all of this is true and scary, there is something more profound to consider.

Allah gave us the prayer as a daily practice for the big moment when we will meet Him. As you reflect on many components of the prayer, you can connect them to the experiences of the hereafter. Salah is literally you standing in front of Allah speaking to him, just like you will be on the Day of Judgement3Hadith in Bukhari and Muslim, find it here. Your sins are piled on top of you as you stand there before Allah4Hadith authenticated by Al-Albani, find it here. You recite Quran; on the Day of Judgement too, you will need to recite to realize your rank in Janna5For more on how the recitation of Quran effects status in Janna check this link. You are ordered to bow on the Day of Judgement and only those who practiced bowing in this life will be able to6For more on bowing in the hereafter, look here. Each component of the prayer is like a preparation for the Big Day. Making sure to complete these components soundly and with mindfulness can help you refocus on the afterlife and consider how ready you are to meet Allah. 

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Around the Web – Jumpstart Your Prayer

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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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