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.


Tufayl said...

When Hatim al Asamm was asked about his prayer, he said,

"When it is near the time of prayer, I perform a perfect Wudu and go to where I am going to pray and sit down there until I become fully attentive to what I am about to do.
I then stand up and pray, imagining that the Ka`bah is in front of my eyes, Paradise to my right, Hellfire to my left and the Angel of Death behind me.

I imagine that it is the last prayer I am about to perform, stand up in hope (in Allah, His Paradise and rewards) and fear (from Allah's torment in Hellfire) and recite the Takbir while having full attention.

I recite the Qur'an calmly, make Ruku` humbly, go into Sujud with Khushu' and then sit on my left leg, with the left food laid on the floor and the right food raised up, all the while praying with sincerity. Afterwards, I do not know (nor feel certain) if that prayer was accepted from me!"

[Al Ihya 1/179]

tbear said...

Benedict XVI -- On God and the prophet
By Patrick J. Buchanan
Tuesday, September 19, 2006

To bank the firestorm ignited by his address in Regensburg, Germany, Pope Benedict XVI declared himself "deeply sorry" for the effect his remarks have had on the Muslim world. The words of the Byzantine emperor he quoted, Benedict explained, were "from a Medieval text which do not in any way express my personal thoughts."

The pope's subject was the "profound harmony" of Biblical truth and Greek thought. No conflict exists, he argued, between true faith and right reason. Contending violence is the antithesis of reason, he cited the "erudite Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus," during a siege of Constantinople, between A.D. 1394 and 1402.

Benedict's words merit being put into context.

"I would like to discuss one point -- itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole -- which ... can serve as the starting point for my reflections on this issue.

"In the seventh conversation ... the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 (of the Quran) reads, 'There is no compulsion in religion.'

"According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Muhammad was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions developed later and recorded in the Quran concerning holy war. ...

"(The emperor) addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence ... saying, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The explosion followed. For it was reported that Pope Benedict had endorsed the view that the only innovations the Prophet made to the monotheistic faiths were "evil and inhuman." The pope did not say this, and has denied that he believes this.

Yet the issues he raised, that true faith and right reason are never in conflict, that force is intolerable in advancing God's word, merit discussion in light of history, and the present.

How did the Christians conquer the Roman Empire, after 300 years of persecution? By living the Gospel, preaching the Word and dying for the faith -- martyrdom. But Islam came out of the desert to conquer the Holy Land, North Africa and Spain in a single century, by the sword. Islam is a fighting faith. Wrote J.M. Roberts in "The History of Europe," "Islam from the start has been a religion of conquest."

In 1095, Urban II preached the First Crusade to end the abuse of Christian pilgrims and recapture the Holy City and Holy Sepulcher. Moslems view these Crusades as Christian wars of aggression. Yet the martial means the Crusaders used to recapture Jerusalem were the same as those the Caliph Umar had used to conquer the Holy City.

Until our time, Western man did not apologize for the Crusades. Gen. Eisenhower even titled his war memoir "Crusade in Europe."

For centuries, European Christians fought the Islamic world. In 1492, Muslims were forcibly expelled from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella. In the early 16th century, Suleiman the Magnificent invaded the Balkans, defeated the Hungarians at Bohacs and besieged Vienna. The Balkan wars of Suleiman bear little resemblance to the Christian crusades of Dr. Billy Graham. In 1571, the fleets of the Ottoman Turks were destroyed at Lepanto by a fleet organized by Pius V.

In the 19th century, the Ottoman Turks began their long retreat from the Balkans. At the end of the First World War, Kemal Ataturk abolished the caliphate, put the caliph on the Orient Express, severed the ties between mosque and state, and made Turkey a secular state.

In our own time, however, the issues Pope Benedict addressed -- the harmony between faith and reason, and the disharmony between force and faith -- have re-arisen.

In Afghanistan this year, a Christian convert was threatened with beheading for apostasy. Most imams and Afghans seemed to approve. In Indonesia, Nigeria and Sudan, Muslims are at war with Christians, in the Middle East with Israelis, in Chechnya with Russians, in India with Hindus, in Thailand with Buddhists. Other issues are involved, but faith seems ever present as a prime motivator of violence.

In the West, men and women convert to Islam and imams preach and proselytize. In Islamic nations, conversion to Christianity can mean death, as can preaching and proselytizing. Do Muslim faithful believe it is legitimate to use state power to impose sharia or maintain religious orthodoxy, as Henry VIII and Isabella believed?

In the West, a militant secularism has seized state power and the de-Christianization of America is well advanced. In the East, we had best recognize that the rage, militancy and intolerance so often on display are the unmistakable marks of a rising, not a dying, faith.

Copyright © 2006 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

tbear said...

Religion of peace has some violent proponents... please join me in pacifying those who would spread violence. Recent actions by Muslims throughout the world have shown the face of a violent people... Can you denounce those who are spreading hatred against the Pope?

_._ said...

Thank you sister for sharing your thoughts. Your words carry the fragrance of sincerity and devotion. May Allmighty Allah increase your emaan hundred folds and even more.

It'll be your first Ramadhan InshAllah, and you'll get to taste the blessings of this great month, especially the Quran recitations and standing in the night prayers. Your sincerity in your prayers InshAllah will make you truly enjoy the blessed days and especially the nights. I hope you'll be attending a mosque for the taraweeh (night prayers).
Thank you for such inspirational thoughts. You have definitely helped me a lot in so many ways. May Allah reward you for it my dear sister.

p.s. thank you for posting my comment on your blog, and you are most welcome to share.

p.s.s Just something i wanted to share , maybe it'll be of help. There is this TV channel called Huda TV ( programmes are in english and are an excellent source on our religion, without any deviation, ditectly following Quran and Sunnah.
Its free to air and also reaches canada.
Satelite: Nilesat
Frequency: 11747
Polarization: Vertical
Symbol Rate: 27500
FEC: 3/4

p.s.s. Please remember me in your prayers.

may14muslima said...

I really am so blessed to have the opportunity to write this blog. I truly mean it when I say that the gift it is to me is more because of the comments I get from the readers above having the chance to share my thoughts... Alhamdulillah.

To Tafayl-- Thank you so much for sharing a piece of Islam that I had never read before. How humbling to know that even those so devoted in their faith and so close to the Prophet (SAW) also questioned their prayer. What an amazing reminder it becomes to encourage us in ours though... If those with such devotion have reason to worry, how much more do I need to try and achieve perfection in my prayers... Never become complaicent and assuming we are doing the best we can be doing. Alhamdulillah.

I am reluctant to say much as I try to avoid any "current affair" type issues in the blog as they seem to only breed controversy and further hurt feelings, as has been seen often no resolution is made... unfortunate as that is.

I will say that (applicable to both sides) it is unfortunate that there needs to be attack or statements made about other religions. Although I am not saying the reactions of the Muslims was the most effective way to respond to the comments made by the Pope, any comment made publicly by a person of such power at a time when so many people are persecuting Muslims is devastating to the community.

To- _._
Insha'Allah I will remember you in my Du'a. As usual thank you for your input. Unfortunately I have neither cable tv or a satellite radio to view the station you mentioned. I will try and check it out online.

Jazak Allah Khair to you all.