I have always struggled to engage in Salaah in just the way I believe it should be prayed. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The coolness of my eyes is in prayer” (Ahmad and An-Nasa 'i). There have been times when I have felt deeply moved during Salah and times when it has given me a deep peace. Yet nothing close to the description above. I am terrified of the times when I follow the actions and the prayer is over and I get up without feeling I have made any true connection with my Rabb. There are times when my mind is on manic overload, thinking about things to do, to write, to read; distracted by the children, the kitchen, my stomach, work, thoughts. And then there are the times when my mind just wanders aimlessly and I struggle to return to Allah and focus on him and be conscious of his presence.
Things came to a head a few days ago when I stopped and asked myself, what is the state of my salah? Where is the khushoo or concentration? If it isn’t there, then what is the point? At that moment it felt so difficult, waking up at dawn when sleeping through felt better, stopping everything to pray, making ablution and finding a place to pray at work. I didn’t think I was losing my imaan – I love Allah, his Prophet, his deen and his beautiful word, I know I don’t have any doubts – then why this despondency?
I decided to take a breath, get up, make ablution and just pray the next prayer. During that late afternoon prayer a peace descended on me. All of those thoughts and things to do left my head and I felt free for those moments. I felt I existed in that moment in the presence of Al-Wadood (Allah, The Loving) and forgot about the next moment. I got up from the prayer mat refreshed, renewed and ready to deal with all that I had to do.
It was a timely reminder for me. That prayer was not a challenge from Allah (SWT). Not something that He needed from us, but something we need immensely. Five opportunities in the day to wash away our sins, to re-focus on why we are here and to rise above the petty little things. A preparation for life at the start of our day. An oasis of peace in the middle of the working day. A chance to give thanks at the end of the day when the kids are in bed and the trials of the day are over and peace has descended.
"And I have chosen you, so listen to that which is inspired to you. Verily, I am Allah! There is none worthy of worship but I, so worship Me and offer prayer perfectly for My remembrance." ([Taha 13-14)
“Verily, the prayer keeps one from the great sins and evil deeds" (al Ankabut 45)