Amidst chow downs, midterms, and movies, finding time to pray for youth has become somewhat of a difficult task. Many of us spend countless hours engrossed in the latest songs and tabloids, immersed in worldly matters or even grueling over a school assignment. Those have become our priorities in this life. But, what is about our priorities for the Hereafter?
Nowadays, some of us find it a chore to spend scarcely 5 minutes out of the 1440 minutes in a day prostrating to our Lord in repentance for our sins and seeking refuge from our worries. We have stopped giving salah (prayer) the importance it holds.
Prayer is an obligation, not a choice, as many Muslims these days make it out to be. Salah is one of the things that Allah (glorified is He) has Himself prescribed. I say prescribed, because it is the one true remedy to our worldly worries.
Guard strictly the Salah, especially the middle Salah. And stand before Allah with obedience. (Al-Baqarah 2:238)
Salah reminds you of Allah, when you get up in the morning, it reminds you three more times when you are busy during the day, and once again before you go to bed.
There is no fulfillment for anyone but us via this act.
Success requires fulfillment, which requires nourishment by the purest means. What better nourishment for yourself than the mercy, guidance, and rewards from the Almighty? Allah lures us to worship with lavish descriptions of Jannah (Paradise), whilst simultaneously warning us of repercussions of disobedience—the wretchedness of hellfire.
And their recompense shall be Paradise, and silken garments, because they were patient. Reclining on raised thrones, they will see there neither the excessive heat of the sun, nor the excessive bitter cold, (as in Paradise there is no sun and no moon). The shade will be close … (Al-Insan 76:12-15)
The earliest known story of the universe begins with the concept of prayer—the story of the residents of Paradise. When Allah Almighty created Adam, all beings were asked to prostrate to him, not as a form of worship, but to recognize the beauty fashioned by the Creator. Satan refused and the outcome was eternity in hellfire.
As life on Earth progressed, Allah brought forth Prophets (peace be upon them) to deliver a message, a message of worship. Performing prayer can be traced to the earliest of generations beginning with the blessed Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him).
Allah, the Almighty says:
My Lord, make me an establisher of prayer, and [many] from my descendants. Our Lord, and accept my supplication. (Ibrahim 14:40)
As we go deeper into the Qur’an, we encounter many instances where prayer is made mandatory upon the Prophets and their people.
In another verse, we read:
Indeed, I am Allah. There is no deity except Me, so worship Me and establish prayer for My remembrance. (Ta-Ha 20:14)
Allah also says in the Qur’an:
And establish prayer and give zakat and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience]. (Al-Baqarah 2:43)
As I sit among peers and the clock winds down for prayer, I slyly wander off to an empty room to fulfill my duty to my Creator, careful not to offend those who choose to ignore this obligation. The reasoning is ridiculous. The act of worship is a form of da`wah (invitation). This should not be something I am afraid to do and have to hide or feel uncomfortable sharing. Rather, it should be something enjoined together and encouraged, a journey to purification in tandem. But why is it that as I leave the room to go pray, I find myself feeling guilty, or awkward, for telling my Muslim friends that I am performing salah while they choose to sit idly? This taboo of praying is something that needs to be rectified.
As a convert, this seems bewildering. To have a Muslim choose not to pray seems oxymoronic and unconventional. Islam conveys the consequences of not, and the benefits of praying very clearly. Every salah prayed counts towards good deeds on the Day of Judgment. We have been told there will be instances when those whose good deeds do not outweigh the bad ones will wind up in hellfire. Once, their term is served, they will be granted Paradise.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) describes the Hereafter saying: “…When Allah has finished judging mankind, and wants to bring whomever He wills out of Hell by His Mercy, He will order angels to bring forth those upon whom He wishes to bestow His Mercy upon of the people who never associated anything in worship with Allah, and who said: “La ilaha ill Allah (no one worthy of worship except Allah”. The angels will recognize them in Hell, and will know them by the marks of sujud (prostration) on their foreheads. The Fire will consume all of a man except the mark of sujud which Allah has forbidden the Fire to consume. They will be brought forth, having been burned in the Fire, the water of life will be poured on them, and they will grow like seeds left by still after a flood.” (Muslim)
Let’s try to fathom this concept. Salah will distinguish the devout from the non-believer in hellfire.
Rarely, we glimpse a follower of another religion who devotes his entire being to the worship of his Lord prior to, or in addition to, supplication. Prayer in Islam envelopes both mind and body to the sole worship of Allah, that is glorifying Him, praising Him and exalting the Benevolent. This form of worship differs from other religions in the sense that other religions use supplication as the sole act of worship, whereas for Muslims, they serve two completely different purposes.
In modern day society, the pressures facing the Ummah (Muslim community) are great; however, the remedy can be just as simple by keeping steadfast in the daily prayers and having tawakkul (reliance on Allah), as we make ourselves vulnerable to Allah’s Help and Mercy. We all have an inherent thirst, a thirst for feeling accepted. The Creator can give and He can take. The more we rely on Him, the easier our lives become. The further we go from Him, the further He goes from us, too.
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “The nearest a servant comes to his Lord is when he is prostrating himself, so make supplication (in this state).” (Al-Bukhari)
For our iman (faith) to grow, we need the proper infrastructure. Buildings use pillars to support their structure. Growth is weak without a solid foundation. Salah is the second pillar in Islam, the foundation of the religion. There are five pillars in Islam which a Muslim considers the basis of faith: Testimony of Faith, salah, zakah (obligatory alms), fasting, and Hajj (pilgrimage).
If a person is ill, he is excused from fasting. If a person is poor, he is excused from paying zakah or performing Hajj. However, there is no excuse for salah (aside from the monthly impurities women face). If a person is sick, he may pray sitting down. If he cannot do so, then he may pray lying down. If that is impossible, then he may pray with his eyes. Case in point, no excuses.
Allah, the Almighty, has commanded us to indulge in the purification of our souls. The modern day focus lies on perfecting the physical appearance; whereas, the Islamic perspective is rooted in perfecting the inward appearance. In sha’Allah (God willing), we take a few minutes out of our day to hurry to success and thank the Almighty, to ask from the Almighty, and to worship the Almighty.
May we uphold His Decree to the best of our abilities and be rewarded with Jannah!