Imam Dr Zijad’s Corner: ARKAN OF SALAH – PILLARS OF PRAYER

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As believers’ our aim is to achieve success in both worlds: Duniya and Akhirah. Salat (Prayer) is one of the means which can help us in this regard a lot. If we like our Salat to have an effect on us, we must achieve Khushu’ (humility). In order to achieve Khushu’, we need to strive to pray with humility of heart and body. Merely having a calm outward appearance is not good enough. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) once told the Sahabah: “Seek refuge with Allah from the humility of hypocrisy.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah! What is the humility of hypocrisy?” He said: “Tranquility of the body and hypocrisy of the heart.”    {Tirmizi, Al Hakim, Bayhaqi}

Another very important point, when we talk about achievement of Khushu’ in Salat, is that we must learn the proper way of praying. We can recall the example of the Messenger (S) and the Bedouin who rushed through Salat, not giving its parts their rights, on what the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) told him: “Go and pray again, for you have not prayed.{Bukhari}

The knowledge of the Fiqh of Salat and other acts of ‘Ibadah is very important, despite the fact that some people neglect it. Performance of each part of Salat properly is essential, for it adds to the excellence of Salat. What are the component parts of Salat?

1. Iftitahi Takbir – opening Takbir (Allahu Akbar – Allah alone is Great). After we have prepared ourselves for Salat (Shurutus Salat), we are ready to start the Mi’raj of the believer. That is the beginning of the open communication between ‘abd and his/her Rabb. Once when we make intention and bring the first Takbir, our communication with Almighty Allah has started. With this Takbir, we acknowledge the greatness of Allah and His Might and we accept that only worth of the worship and submission is He, Almighty, Great Allah, Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.  This glorification and praise of our Rabb fills our hearts with respect and humility. This sentence remind us of the real Sovereign and His great power which is above all worldly powers, as well as all human desires. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) said: “The key to prayer is purity. What puts one into its inviolable state is the Takbir (Allahu Akbar), and Taslim (As Salamu ‘Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah) releases one from it.”                               {Bukhari}

2. Qiyam (Standing during Salat). One must stand during Salat, if at all possible. Almighty Allah informs us in the Qur’an: “And stand before Allah with obedience.”          {Al Baqarah 238]     It was reported from ‘Umar ibn Hussain that he said: “I had some physical problem, so I asked the Prophet (S) about the prayer, and he said: ‘Pray standing; if you are not able to; pray sitting, if you are not able to; pray (while lying) on your side.”                      {Bukhari}

 If one cannot stand while praying due to his/her sickness or traveling (i.e. in a plane), he/she may pray according to what he/she is capable of doing, as Allah does not burden a soul beyond its ability. Such person would get a complete reward for the prayer. While praying, one should not look from side to side but should keep his/her gaze in front of himself/herself, the place on which Sajdah is made. ‘Aishah (radiyalllahu ‘anha) said: “I asked the Messenger of Allah about looking around in Salat, and he said, ‘It is a part of Salat which Shaytan steals from the ‘Abd{Sahih} One is not allowed turning his/her face or body aside while praying but must attain full calmness in that position.

3. Qira’ah – Recitation from the Qur’an. After Takbir we recite prayers and invocations and then Suratil Fatihah and portion from the Qur’an. Suratil Fatihah is a condition for the validity of Salah. The recitation of Al Fatihah is not a dull monologue by the believer, but Allah promises that it is a conversation between Him and the ‘Abd. The Messenger of Allah reported that Almighty Allah says: “When My servant says in prayer: ‘All praise is for Allah, the Lord of the worlds, I say: ‘My servant has praised Me.’ When he says: ‘The Merciful, the Compassionate, Master of the Day of Judgment’, I say: ‘My servant has praised and glorified Me’. When he says: ‘You alone we worship, and Your help we seek’, I say: ‘This is between My servant and Myself.’ When he says: ‘Show us Straight Path, the path of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not of those who earned Your  anger nor those who went astray.’ I say: ‘This is for My servant, and I give My servant what he wants.”                                                {Hadith ul Qudsi}

4. Ruku’ (Bowing from the waist). Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an: “O you who believe! Bow down and prostrate yourselves…” Abu Qatada reported Allah’s Messenger, Muhammad (S) saying: “The one who commits the worst theft is he/she who steals from his/her Salat.”When asked how one could steal from Salat, he replied: “By not performing his/her bowing (ruku’) and his/her prostration (sujud) properly.”      (Ahmad)

The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) said: “Then bow until you are calm in bowing.” {Bukhari} After recitation (Qira ah, one goes from standing (Qiyam) position to bowing – ruku’. He/she straightens one’s back, remains calm and motionless in that position reciting a few times ‘Subhana Rabbiyal ‘Azim – Glory to my Lord, the Great.” The servant has acknowledged his/her humbleness by bowing his/her head before the Lord and is begging for His favors and mercy. After this, one goes again to the standing position (Qiyam) saying: “Semi’allahu limen hamidah, Rabbana lakal Hamd – Allah has heard the prayer of the one who has praised Him. Our Lord, all praise is for You.” Thus through ruku’ one comes a bit nearer to his/her Lord, feeling His presence, and is ready to put his/her personal requests before Him, Almighty Allah, Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.

5. Sajdah – Prostration. Now one is accepted as a faithful servant and can be admitted into full audience with his/her Rabb to the Sujud. Almighty Allah informs us about that closeness at the end of Sura Al ‘Alaq: “Wasjud, waqtarib – Prostrate yourselves before Allah that you can be closer to Him.”                                                             {Al ‘Alaq 19} 

One goes down on his/her knees and into full prostration before Almighty Allah, saying: “Subhana Rabbiyal A’ala – Glory be to my Lord, the Most High.” He/she repeats this statement several times while his/her forehead on Sajdah before Almighty Allah. This gradual bowing and leaning down in prostration completely destroys the pride and arrogance in a person and brings him/her within the spiritual climate of reverence and humility.

Two successive prostration (Sujud) with a short interval of sitting (Jalsah) is the end of a person’s pride, as said previously, and the fulfillment of his/her submission and repentance on the other hand. Now the servant is nearest to Almighty Allah, with his/her head on the ground (Sajdah) completely surrendering all his/her worldly honors and dignities. In this state of humility, the servant is in full communication with his/her Creator. He/she can ask  from Allah, and Allah will respond on the call of His servants. He says in the Qur’an: “I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he/she calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor).” {Al Baqarah 186} The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) said: “The servant is nearest to his/her Lord in Sajdah.”                                                                                {Muslim}

The prostration should be offered on seven bones, what some neglect,  as the Messenger of Allah informed us: “I have been ordered to prostrate on seven bones: the forehead (the nose as well), two hands, two knees, and the (toes of) both feet.         ”{Bukhari, Muslim}

6. Qada Al Akhira – The final sitting position. After completing the Takbir, Qiyam, Qira’at, Ruku’, and Sujud, the ‘Abd recites the Kalimah of affirmation (Tashahud) and invokes the blessings of Almighty Allah on the Last Messenger, Muhammad (S), his household, makes du’a, and concludes with Taslim (invoking Selam – Peace on the people on our right and then on our left side: As Salama ‘Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah).

Although Khashi’ah is a condition of the heart, it automatically reflects on the body. There are certain manners of Salat in Islam, which, on the one hand, assist Khashi’ah of the heart, and, on the other, keep the performance of prayer at the proper level, at least in the physical sense. To conclude, here are some of the important manners of Salat: Establish your Salat in Jama’at. Prayer must be performed with ease, comfort, and calmness. There must not be unnecessary movements of hands, head, eyes, or legs while performing Ruku’ or Sujud. Every part of Prayer must be performed properly and with quietness. Until one part of Prayer is completed, the other part must not be initiated. Unrelated thoughts should be avoided while praying. Do not walk in front of those who pray, etc.

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