Sunday, September 17, 2006
The Power of Prayer, PART II
This post is in response to a recent request I had by one of our brothers or sisters in Islam, who desired to know what my personal thoughts about prayer are... What goes through my mind as I perform the 5 obligatory prayers of the day.
I wish that I could say that nothing went through my mind except full submission to Allah (SWT) and that I had such intense focus and dedication that there was nothing I focused on except humbling myself before Allah (SWT). Unfortunately, it takes a conscious effort for me to submit at every position in my prayer. Even at the times I feel most connected during my salaat (prayers) I still question at times if I performed everything in its entirety as the Prophet (SAW) told us to. Alhamdulillah many days that agony, the agony of knowing how inadequate my prayers are in comparison to that of the Prophets (SAW) and his companions (RA) are what help me to submit. Some days I focus on that, that I fall short and am undeserving. In sujood I cry out to Allah (SWT) that He would accept my prayers and forgive me for my inadequacies. Everyday that I feel my mind wander in prayer or I have to motivate myself to get up and pray when I should be running to place my forehead on the ground in submission to our one true God, I am reminded of Allah's constant mercy... a mercy that I pray He will bestow upon me when my time comes. When I come to prayer, I am reminded about how inadequate I am in that even with something I perform 5 times a day regularly, I still don't do it as it should be done... in full submission and concentration.
But what do I try to focus on and think of when I pray? It is a different question for sure. Every day, at every time of salaat I try to remember that if not for the grace of Allah, I wouldn't even be reciting His precious words, and then bowing myself towards Him. I remember how only just over four short months ago, I didn't know the full beauty of Islam. I start there and try to make my prayers devoted worship to the one true God who saved me. That every position. Every bow and prostration would be lowering myself in thanks and humility to devote all that I am to the one who showed me His truth and Glory.
I recently read a Khutbah online by M. Waleed Kadous that discussed some of the main ideas that were highlighted in the comment that was just posted by "_._" (re:The Power of Prayer)
It begins with talking about understanding each of the postures we take while praying. Knowing what each position symbolizes, what each word means. That when I say Allahu Akbar as I start my prayer, I am stating that Allah is greater than anything and because He is so great I am going to solely devote that time to His greatness. Then when I recite Al-Fatihah I am asking Allah to keep me on the right path and save me from going astray.
When I bow I try to consciously think that "I will only bow to you Allah", that during my prayer it would be the only time I would EVER take a bowing position, because only Allah is worth that position, and on the day that I am standing before Allah (SWT) I pray that I will be flat on the ground as low as I can be before His glory and power.
When I prostrate and am in the lowest of the postures we are in when we pray I imagine Allah (SWT) being in the room with me. If I were to be successful in this thought I am sure I would never want to end my prayer.
There are times that I question my sincerity in my prayer and wonder if it is one that would be accepted by Allah (SWT) and if that thought is one that passes through my mind, then I know I am doing something wrong.
Alhamdulillah maybe that is part of the Takwah that we as Muslims are all seeking. That living with the respect and fear of Allah that we imagine He is physically present witnessing all that we do. I need to ask myself more often, "if I could see Allah here in the room with me would I have prayed the same way? Would I have done something different?" That is the kind of prayer I know I should be praying. One that I would feel would be worthy of being prayed in the presence of God. Why is it that I have the constant struggle to get to that point? Alhamdulillah Allah is merciful and we have Ramadaan, Umrah, Hajj and so many other things to give us the chance to redeem ourselves.
How do I feel about my prayer? That it will never suffice, but I constantly pray for Allah's help to make them better, more sincere, and that my concentration would be so intense I would be like the Sahabi who was struck with an arrow and knew if he was praying he would be focused enough it could be removed. Upon completion of his prayer he didn't even know it had been taken out... that is what I pray for.
May Allah (SWT) have mercy on us all and may He help those who want their prayers to be more dedicated and sincere to become that way. May He make us among the pious and constantly remind us that "Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their prayer with full solemnity and full submissiveness" 23:1-2.