Salaah: Our Prescription for Success

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

We thank and praise Allah SWT for his abundance of generosity and goodness to us. We bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah — the One to whom we submit totally and unconditionally in our Salaah.

We bear witness that the Holy Prophet Muhammad SAWS is the true Messenger of Allah, who invited us to perform our salaah, thereby thanking Allah SWT and sharing in the success it brings to mankind. O Allah, shower Thy choicest blessings on him, his friends and relatives — all those who strengthened their belief and purified their hearts through performing their salaah. Allah enjoins all Muslim in the Holy Qur’an:

“Guard strictly your (habit of) prayers, especially the Middle Prayer; and stand before Allah in a devout (frame of mind).”

(Qur’an: II, 238)

In this ayah Allah commands us to be steadfast in our daily prayers; perform our salaah at the exact, prescribed times and do so with a devout frame of mind. In other words, prayer should be a sincere, intimate communication with our Maker and we must think of Allah and only Allah in our salaah.

My dear Sisters and Brothers

In our materialistic/capitalistic world where the value of every action is assessed in terms of material benefits, we are bound to be asked: “Of what benefit is salaah to me?” Will I become richer, healthier, more popular if I perform my salaah? The very question sends blood boiling in the veins of the pious ones….can we ever thank Allah sufficiently for the bounties He bestows on us even when we are asleep? But we are tolerant: all of us do not have the same level of understanding or spirituality. One thing is certain, our salaah does not benefit Allah!

We eat, we sleep, we cover our bodies, we breathe in the fresh air around us. WHY? We have no choice. We realise that these “favours of Allah” are necessary to LIVE a healthy life. You and I know that eating can only be good for the body if done in moderation, and at prescribed times. Remember the prophetic saying: “You are what you eat.” Similarly, sleep, like food or fresh air is a tonic for living effectively.. But surely we have other needs to function effectively !

How often do we not need moral strength when we are afraid to undertake something new ? We need true knowledge of our direction in life; we need to feel that we are not alone; we need to love and feel loved; we need to feel part of a greater humanity or an even greater creation; we need to feel inspired and acknowledged for the good we do; we need to talk to Someone who really CARES, Who accepts us as we are, Who knows our intimate secrets, our strengths as well as our weaknesses and the way we function; we need to communicate with the Source of all Power, of all Knowledge so that we can strengthen these qualities in ourselves. Allah SWT in His infinite wisdom and mercy has provided us with the means to gain such spiritual strength — our acts of ‘Ibadah: our SALAAH, our SAUM (FASTING), our ZAKAAH and our HAJJ are channels of piety, of self-fulfilment. Through these we can fulfil our spiritual needs to develop a balanced personality and a balanced attitude in life. Salaah, like the Ghadj, is a spiritual experience in which the entire body, physical, intellectual and emotional participate and harmonize: if we feel upset or over-excited to the extent that our health suffers or we cannot think rationally, then salaah acts as regulator — a regmaker. It reduces the tensions, the emotions, and strengthens and increases the intellectual and physical components of our personality: we can think clearly and feel physically strong again. The cold intellectual or the emotional fanatic each has an attitude problem and needs to regulate his unbalanced personality with salaah. Thus Allah SWT reminds humanity in the Holy Qur’an:

“Seek Allah’s help with patience and Salaah.”

No wonder our Nabi Muhammad SAWS advised us to precede any new or unknown venture with salaah. When we decide to go on Ghadj or to get married or when we suffer a misfortune, sight the new moon, and so on. In short, salaah forms an integral part of our existence as Muslims. In our salaah, particularly, we have the means to success and victory. This Allah guarantees us in the Holy Qur’an:

“The Believers must eventually win through:

those who are steadfast in their prayers.”

Rasoolullah SAW confirms this injunction and emphasizes the need to perform it properly:

“He whosoever guards, protects and observes his five daily prayers, its rukoos, sujoods and its prescribed times, and verily, believes and knows that indeed it is truly from Allah, shall enter the Jannah.”

It stands to reason that we need to approach salaah with sincerity, humility and purity of body and heart in addition to understanding how to perform it. Allah prescribed it and made it incumbent upon us. But, like our sleeping and eating habits, He commanded us to perform it at its prescribed times and in a particular manner. For only then does it become a tonic, only then does it become effective, only then can it transform us and only then can we attain victory not only over our insecurity, our fears and anxieties, but also over our oppressors.

Rasoolullah SAW prayed with such sincerity, serenity and humility that his personality overflowed with these characteristics. Thus he taught by precept and example. He reminded the noble Companions (the as-haab):

“Perform your salaah in the manner you saw me perform it.”

On another occasion he advised someone who did not complete his rukoo and sujood properly: “Go back, and repeat your salaah.” Three times Rasoolullah sent him back. The man replied: “I swear upon the one who sent you with the truth. I do not know and cannot do better, so please teach me.” The Prophet SAW obliged:

“When you stand for salaah, then takbir (Allahu Akbar), then read from the Qur’an what is easy for you, then rukoo (bow down) , then rise from the rukoo until you stand up straight (pausing), then sujood (prostrate) until you rest in the sitting, then sujood again until you rest in the sujood, repeat the entire procedure in your salaah.”

The Prophet taught him how to perform the salaah correctly. It is only then that he could find peace of mind, and reminded him that salaah which is not performed peacefully and respectfully is not correct and permissible, as he admonished him: “Go back and repeat the salaah, for you have definitely not performed salaah.”

It is only if we understand the purpose and potential effects of Salaah on the human personality that we can realise why we must first meet with the basic requirements before we can perform salaah. Allah SWT enjoins the one who intends to perform the Salaah as follows:

“O ye who believe! When ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; rub your heads (with water); and was your feet to the ankles. If you are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body. But if ye are ill or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands. Allah doth not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete His favour to you, that ye may be grateful.”

(Qur’an: S.V, 7)

We need to have Wudoo and purity of the whole body. Our clothes and the very ground on which we hope to perform our salaah should be clean. Allah is Pure and how else can we get access to Him but through personal purity. It is sad to note, brothers, that some of us leave bits of skin or nails behind where they had been sitting and another musallee is left to salaah in this filth. Is this fair? Do we think only of ourselves and the acceptance of our own salaah ? Salaah has a social as well as a personal value. And our Nabi Muhammad SAWS placed so much emphasis on the jamaa’ah (salaah in congregation) rather than alone. Let us through our salaah, enhance not only ourselves, but the entire Ummah, Insha-allah. Allah SWT further reminds us in the Holy Qur’an:

“O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer…..”

(Qur’an: S.vii, 31)

We cannot be pure unless our clothes are clean. Allah goes beyond this and advises that we wear “beautiful apparel”. Why not ? As long as we are dressed properly. The commentator comments on the word Zeenat as referring not only to clothes but personal grooming. How pleasant is it not to salaah next to a person with a fragrant, fresh smell (e.g. using atar )! And how odious the stench of a heavy smoker’s breath! Salaah requires concentration. Through uttering our Niyyah (intention) and facing the Qiblah (in Makkah) we direct our minds and our hearts to Allah SWT. When we salaah alone, we recite with our hearts and not merely with our tongues. When we salaah in Jamaa’ah we follow the Imam and let the words of the Qur’an sink into our hearts. And let us remember the teachings of Rasoolullah SAWS:

“The Imaam has been chosen to be followed, so when he takbirs, you takbir; when he recites, you listen attentively and when he takbirs and rukoos, then you takbir and rukoo.”

Salaah in Jamaa’ah emphasizes social discipline: the Ummah pray together as one and the Imaam directs them to a united action. Our Nabi Muhammad SAWS comments on the dissenting Musallee as follows:

“Does he not fear, who raises his head before that of the Imaam, that Allah SWT will change his head into that of an ass.”

My Brothers and Sisters,

Fear Allah, and be constant in your prayers and attend Jumu’ah as our Nabi Muhammad SAWS commanded us. He stressed this and did not absolve even a blind man who had no guide and requested that he be excused from attending Jamaa’ah. Rasoolullah asked: “Do you hear the Call (Athaan)?” “Yes”, replied the blind man. Rasoolullah SAWS said: “I do not find any excuse for you.”

Let us, Insha-Allah be steadfast in our prayers and perform them in the prescribed times. Let us submit ourselves in all humility and let not the weather or business or work lead us to negligence. And those of us, who through weakness of will or understanding, had neglected salaah, now is as good a time to start. Let those of us who are strong help them, teach them and show them the way. Remember Allah and surely, HE shall remember you.

Ameen! Aqeemus salaah!