By Osamah Salhia
Allah has blessed the Ummah of Muhammad (s) with a mechanism with which they can regularly cleanse themselves from the unpromising conditions that the twists and turns of life puts them through. Salaah has been legislated for all conditions in which an individual is regarded amongst the living. Even in conditions of chronic illness the believers have not been relieved from the duties of Salaah, contrary to many other acts of worship. Through this divine ordainment, we can understand that Tarbiyah is a never-ending process which starts from the moment of death and lasts to the very last moment in this life. “And Allah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and intellect that perhaps you would be grateful.” (An-Nahl: 78)
Salaah is a medium for Tarbiyah with a divine curriculum! It is the most favored physical act of worship, and its influence on the individual goes much beyond the individual scope. Through Salah, the believer strengthens spiritual links with Allah, the Prophet (saw) and all believers. If one does not mention his fellow Muslims in every prayer, then his prayer would be regarded invalid by many scholars. Reason one must recite the Fatihah in every prayer, and one of its verses is:“It is You we worship and You we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path“. Also, one must supplicate in Tashahhud “Peace be on us and on the true pious slaves of Allah” (Tashahhud)
The prime objective of Salaah is to renew our commitment with Allah! It is comprised of exclusive mandatory and recommended prayers, and many actions have exclusively been prohibited whilst performing it. The Prophet (s) said, “Indeed, no verbal communication suits this prayer. It is only tasbeeh, takbeer and the recitation of Qur’an.” (Sahih Muslim) Why has it been given such exceptional status?! Allah wanted us to be completely focused and have the least amount of distractions possible when renewing this divine commitment!
“The Prophet prayed in a Khamisa (a garment) having marks. During the prayer, he looked at its marks. So when he finished the prayer he said, “Take this Khamisa of mine to Abu Jahm and get me his Inbijaniya (a woolen garment without marks) as it (the Khamisa) has diverted my attention from the prayer.” (Bukhari)
Allah, Glorified and Exalted, has generously made this Tarbiyah process several times a day so we don’t forget our agreement! “Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise.” (At-Taubah: 111)
Knowing the fine details of our flaws and weaknesses, He accommodated us by making these prayers at various stations in the day in which we will naturally have different moods! Allah wants us to remember this commitment in all situations. Ultimately, Allah has chosen Salaah as a primary medium of maintaining and developing our relationships with Him!
The Prophet (s) said: “If there was a river at the door of anyone of you and he took a bath in it five times a day would you notice any dirt on him?” They said, “Not a trace of dirt would be left.” The Prophet added, “That is the example of the five prayers with which Allah blots out (annuls) evil deeds.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
All acts of worship besides Salah might not be ineffective on the individual with the absence of his/her concentration. Reason being the trials that are presented through these acts occur even if the individual is not heart-conscious. For example, Hajj consists of physically difficult tasks. In Zakah, wealth that is dear to the believer is distributed. Similarly, the desires of the soul are left in Fasting regardless of heart-consciousness.
As for Salah, it consists of thikr, supplications and movements. Without heart-consciousness the purpose behind Thikr and supplication can not be achieved. Without heart-consciousness the purpose behind Thikr and supplication can not be achieved. If the standing position in prayer is symbolic of being at the service of the commands of our Creator, and Rukoo’ and prostration are symbolic of subservience and Glorification of Allah, then those concepts will not be actualized by one who is heedless while performing them. When an act loses purpose, it becomes merely a shallow formality unworthy of mention.
May Allah allow us to truly absorb the objectives of Salaah, and may He grant us the serenity of living life in the shade of subservience to Him.