The mercy of Allah Almighty is unparalleled and it is said that He loves every person tenfold more than his own mother. Every day we go on with our lives not noticing that one day the entire universe will be shattered into a million pieces and we will have to stand in front of our Lord to answer for our actions. We will have to answer for every unnecessary word uttered and every sin ever committed.

There will be no escape at that moment but before then our merciful creator has blessed us with time and ability, so why not pray and ask for forgiveness before age overcomes us? If we wish to save ourselves from the burning black flames of hellfire, then we must pray our salaah.

Salaah is one of the five pillars of Islam. It bears great significance and virtue. The Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) said, “As salaatul miftahul jannah.” Not only is salaah the key to paradise, but it is also the ladder via which one can reach the nearness of Almighty Allah.

Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) taught us, “Salaah is the mi’raaj of the believer.” If we simply contemplate on this hadith, one can appreciate the beauty and benefit of talking to our Lord five times a day with pure concentration and love.

Hazrat Abu Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “I was once sitting under a tree with Hazrat Salmaan (may Allah be pleased with him). He caught hold of a dry branch of the tree and shook it until all its leaves fell off. He then said to me, ‘O, Abu Uthman! Will you not ask me why I am doing this?’ ‘Do tell me,’ I entreated. He said, ‘The Apostle of Allah (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) had done exactly like this before me, while I was with him under a tree. He caught a dry branch of it and shook it, until all its leaves fell off. At this he (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘O, Salmaan! Will you not ask me why I am doing this?’ to which I replied, ‘Do tell me why you are doing this?’ He (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) remarked, ‘Verily when a Muslim takes wudhu (ablution) properly and then observes his salaah five times a day, his sins fall off just as these leaves have fallen off.’ He then recited the following verse of the Holy Qur’an, ‘Establish salaah at the two ends of the day, and at the approaches of the night. Verily, good deeds annul ill deeds. This is a reminder for the mindful.’”

(Surah Hud 11: 114) (Ahmad, Tabrani, Nasa’i)

The behaviour of Hazrat Salmaan (may Allah be pleased with him) in the aforementioned hadith displays the profound love which the Sahabah had for the Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wasallam). They would often cherish the sweet memories of the time when the Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) was living among them. They would, while quoting him, enact exactly what they had seen him doing at a particular moment.

Hazrat Nawfil bin Muawigah narrates that he heard the Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) saying, “A person who has missed one Salaah is like the one who has lost all his family and wealth.”

We find in today’s society that salaah is often seen as a burden whereas in reality it is far from it. We must ask ourselves, how will we be able to cope with the terrifying tests of the hereafter without our prayer? Less priority is given to our salaah even after knowing its importance.

In another Hadith, the Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) was reported as saying, “A person neglecting his Salaah (even though he makes it up later) shall remain in Hell for a period of one Huqb.” A ‘Huqb’ is equal to eight years of three hundred and sixty days each, and one day in the hereafter shall equal to one thousand years of this world.

Salaah was the first thing ordered by Allah, and it shall be the first thing to be reckoned for on the Day of Judgment. Not only is it a fundamental pillar of Islam, but it also abases the Devil. It is the light of a Muslim and the best Jihad. Moreover, salaah is the key to Paradise.

Additionally, salaah promotes health, drives out diseases, strengthens the heart, brings light and beauty on the face, pleases the soul, refreshes the body, cures indolence, revives the mind, feeds the soul, and illuminates the heart. It grants protection from the punishment of Allah Almighty by keeping the devil away and ultimately brings ones closer to Allah.

Simply reading and praying salaah are different things. It is said Allah Almighty does not like that salaah that is rushed but He loves that person who reads it slowly with concentration and a complete mind.

According to a Hadith, a companion of Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) came to them one day and asked, “What is the thing that Allah Almighty loves most?” The Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) replied, “The thing that Allah Almighty loves the most is when his people pray salaah on time.”

Salaah is a practical sign of obedience to the commands of Allah. Its importance has been emphasised about five hundred times in the Noble Qur’an so ponder, if something this important is emphasised so much, why do we still exercise laziness in it?

Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) once asked his companions “Tell me if there was a river at the door step of one of you in which you washed five times a day would any of your dirt remain?” When he (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) received the reply that none of it would remain, he commented, “That is like the five times salaah, with which Allah Almighty wipes out sin.”

The final thing that he (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) emphasised on his deathbed was salaah and also taught us that the first thing we will have to answer about on the day of judgement is salaah.

Our beloved Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) said, “Almighty Allah has set the light of my eyes in salaah and made it the most desirable thing for me, like the food for the hungry and the water for the thirsty. The hungry is contented after the meal and the thirsty is satisfied after drinking water. But my thirst for salaah is never quenched.”

He (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) was also reported as saying, “Everything has a face and the face of your religion is salaah; none of you should stain the face of his religion.”

Read from Ihya ulum id deen vol.1 from bottom of page 143-145

Allah Almighty states in Surah Ankaboot (29:45), “Indeed the prayer stops from indecency and evil.” Many people often question why the salaah that they have been praying for an entire lifetime does not stop them from committing bad deeds, and does not give them hatred towards sins. There is no doubt that it is that power which not only stops an individual from sinning, but also gives immense success in both this world and the next. The following narration of the Messenger of Allah (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) emphasises that salaah is not salaah if it does not stop him from indecency, evil and sins. Salaah itself is a combination of two things:

  1. Physical form – this encompasses the physical acts that we do throughout prayer such as standing in salaah, recitation, going into rukoo, prostration and the sitting we do
  2. Soul – to maintain concentration throughout salaah

Sayidunna Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) said, “Those who pray their salaah on time, do their wudu properly, have full concentration, who stand in the correct manner and then in the same way do Rukoo and sujood, then that salaah is illuminated and is sent to Allah Almighty and that salaah then sends duas for that reader. And what is that dua? Oh Allah give the same attention to this reader of salaah as he has given attention to your salaah.”

There are twenty necessary points to remember in order to maintain concentration during salaah. These points are divided into four categories which are then broken down into five further sub-categories.1. Waiting for it to start2. Etiquettes of wudhu3. Adab during adhan4. Things to envisage during salaah

Category 1: Waiting for salaah to start

1. To consider oneself to be in the constant state of salaah even whilst being outside of it. We must remember that Almighty Allah is aware of all our actions. We must realise that our Lord, Almighty Allah is constantly observing our state whether we are in college, university or at work. Whenever Satan does distance us from Almighty Allah, we must immediately repent with the four conditions of tauba. Whilst out of salaah we must endeavour to attain the same state of mind and sense of fear which we try to achieve whilst praying. When we accomplish this state of constant remembrance and humility outside of salaah, attainment of full concentration within salaah will become much easier.

2. When we are silent we should establish zikr paas-e-anfaas. This is an established zikr in the Naqshbandiyah, Chishtiyah, Qadriyah and Soharwardiyah tariqa. This zikr supports us and helps us purify our hearts. The practical method of this is to say “Allah Hu” whilst we breathe (when we breathe in we say ‘Allah’ and when we breathe out we say ‘Hu’). This is something which a person will never get tired of doing; as breathing requires minimal effort. Just imagine the amount of reward we would receive if with every breath we recite the name of Almighty Allah!

3. When we do speak, it should either be durood upon the beloved Messenger Muhammad (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) or beneficial talk. What is beneficial talk? Before saying anything one should ask themselves the following question, “Will this statement benefit me in this world or the hereafter?” If the answer is yes then we can say it and if the answer is no then we should remain silent. To help us in sending blessings upon the Beloved Messenger (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) we should try to carry a tasbeeh with us, as the tasbeeh will serve as a reminder for us to invoke blessings upon him (sallalahu alayhi wasallam).

4. When we are performing our voluntary prayers we must force ourselves to achieve concentration. Imam al-Ghazali states that in order to do this we must begin with four rakahs of nafl prayer. We should start by trying to achieve concentration in the first rakah, when this has been achieved we can move onto trying to establish concentration in successive rakah’s. This may take a few weeks to achieve but we must remain steadfast. This is because Imam al-Ghazali states, “the one who achieves complete concentration forcibly in four rakahs of nafl, they will automatically achieve complete concentration without forcing themselves in the obligatory prayers.” From there onwards the moment we say “Allahu Akbar”, Satan will not be able to divert our attention to anything other than Allah Almighty.

5. To try to remain in the state of wudu constantly.

Category 2: Etiquette of wudu

1. While performing wudu, we should persuade ourselves that this is the last opportunity that we have to perform this virtuous act. We should endeavour to imagine that when we are washing our hands, all of the minor sins of the hands are being washed away, when we wash our face all of the minor sins of our eyes are being washed away and when we wash our feet all of the minor sins of the feet are being washed away. Sheikh Shihabbudin Sohawardi (may Allah have mercy on him) states, “People that complain about not achieving concentration in their salaah should work to achieving concentration in their wudu because if you can concentrate in your wudu then you will automatically achieve concentration in your salaah.”

2. To begin wudu with “Bismillahi Walhamdullilah.” The benefit of this is that when we perform our wudu and remain in this state the angels will constantly be writing good deeds in our account.

3. To create the fear of Almighty Allah in our hearts whilst performing wudu, imagining that all our sins are being washed away. We must imagine that the greater our concentration whilst performing wudu, the greater our Noor (light) will be in the hereafter. The Messenger of Allah (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) states, “these organs of the body will be illuminated in the hereafter.”

4. To recite the duas of wudu after performing wudu.

5. To perform tahayatul wudu after completing wudu and to perform two rakah nawafil and repent from all of the sins of the past using PRAN.

Category 3: Adab of Azaan

1. When the muezzin calls the Azaan, the words of the Azaan should create happiness within our hearts. The Azaan should please us; if it does not then we should strive to achieve this happiness.

2. We should create the fear of Allah Almighty within us by saying, “Oh Allah I am blessed with such a great opportunity that I am offering your prayer, Oh Allah I may not be able to do justice with your ibaadah! So for that Allah I fear you!” We should thank Almighty Allah that we are fortunate to offer our salaah and that Allah Almighty has chosen us to worship him.

3. To respond to the Azaan and Iqaamah with the appropriate reply and then to recite the dua of waseela.

4. After the Azaan, we should again repent from all of the sins of the past using PRAN. For example, if the Azaan for Asr takes place then we should repent from the sins we may have committed from Zuhr to Asr and then a generic tauba from all sins of the past. Imam Qushayri, Imam Shihabbudin Soharwardi and Khwaja Sulaimaan Taunsvi (may Allah have mercy on them) teach us to also repeat this repentance after the four sunnah muakkadah before the fardh of Zuhr.

5. We should try to persuade ourselves that this is going to be the last prayer of our life. Imagine that we have been told that this is our last prayer, this is the last opportunity to persuade our Lord to forgive all our sins. Consider that this may be our last communication with Allah Almighty in this dunya and that we may not be blessed with another opportunity like this. This will insha’Allah create a state of fear within our hearts helping us to fully submit to Allah in our Salah.

Category 4: Things to imagine during salaah

1. To strengthen the physical form of salaah. To pronounce the words in accordance with the principles of Tajweed, to do justice to every act in the prayer and to perform the qiyaam, rukoo, sujood etc in accordance to shariah.

2. The responsibility of the Imam to straighten the sufoof (rows) during salaah. This is extremely important as straightening the rows in essence straightens the hearts.

3. The general things to think about during salaah:

a. During salaah we should remind ourselves that this is our last prayer.

b. Imagine that we are on Pul Siraat. Pul Siraat is that bridge which we all have to cross in order to enter into Jannah. It is thinner than a hair and sharper than a sword. We must visualise ourselves standing upon this bridge. Then imagine on our right-hand side is Jannah, on our left-hand side is Jahannum, behind us is the Angel of Death and ahead of us is the Ka’bah and the doors to the ma’rifa (spiritual closeness) of Allah Almighty. When we say that the angel of death is behind us, we must envisage that the moment we finish our salaah, the Angel of Death will take our soul and so this is our final opportunity to please Almighty Allah.

c. To imagine the Angels of Allah Almighty are surrounding us from our feet to the heavens. Also, picture that the blessings of Allah Almighty are being showered upon us.

d. To imagine the name of Allah Almighty being imprinted on our hearts.

4. Aim to memorise the translation of salaah. Once this has been done, we will be aware of the beautiful conversation that is established between us and Allah.

5. When we raise our hands we surrender to Allah and we must throw the thoughts of dunya behind us and focus only on the ma’rifa of Allah Almighty.

6. Adab of the completion of salaah:
a. Once the four fardh of salah are completed, do the zikr of “La illaha illallah”.
b. Before the dua, recite the fourth kalima.
c. Tasbeehaate Fatima – 33x “Subhanallah”, 33x “Alhamdullilah” and 34x “Allahu Akbar”.
d. Dua – during the dua we must thank Allah Almighty for everything He has bestowed upon us.

Virtues of salaah

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