One of the most frequent reasons that relationships break down is that the couple stop talking to one another.
Maybe after so long a time together they haven’t got much left to say.
Maybe, because they have become so comfortable with the way things are that they begin to take one another for granted and no longer make the effort they used to.
The result, however, is always the same. When a couples stop talking, they drift apart.
Exactly the same thing is true of our dealings with Allah and the grasp we have on our faith.
At its most basic, prayer can be described as “talking to God.” When that talking stops, it is little wonder that our Islam very soon begins to weaken. The almost inevitable result of not praying is that we lose our faith altogether.
Perhaps this is why Allah Almighty has required of all Muslims that they pray five times a day. Within Islam there is a built in safeguard to stop us drifting away.
Just as in a relationship, when we stop talking to our partner, we open ourselves up to start talking and being intimate with others outside the relationship, so with prayer.
When we stop talking to God, Allah, we begin to look elsewhere for that sustenance and intimacy we once had. Isn’t that the story of idol worship? Instead of worshipping the One God in heaven, men and women worship things other than Allah.
But as Muslims we mustn’t become complacent and fall into the trap where our prayers are just a matter of habit, with little thought or preparation given to them. We might be praying five times a day in the mosque, but our prayer becomes arid because our heart just isn’t in it. Just like new Muslims, we need to approach our prayers as if it were the first time we were saying them.
Can’t Live Without It
Prayer, then, is essential to keep us on the straight path.
For a Muslim, prayer should be like the air he or she breathes, and it is not possible to live without it. If the five pillars of Islam are the supports that keep our faith alive, then taking away those supports will cause the building to fall down. Without prayer, we cannot live as Muslims.
So how, then, do we keep our prayers alive and fresh?
How do we remain faithful to our prayers as Muslims, without them becoming something we just take for granted?
Prayers should make a difference in our lives. After prayer, we should be better people.
Apart from the five prayers we say daily as Muslims, then, what form should this prayer take? How can we take our prayer and worship to a higher level and become better Muslims, better people?
In fact, as Muslims, we could become better men and women simply by reciting the Quran, by remembering Allah frequently during the day and by sending blessings on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). These things, done with the right intention, will lead us to Allah.
Reciting the Quran is a form of worship. Whilst we should try to recite the Quran in the best possible manner, we should not be put off from reciting because our Arabic pronunciation or our reciting voices are not good. Prophet Muhammad tells us:
“Verily the one who recites the Quran beautifully, smoothly and precisely, he will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. And as for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through the verses, then he will have twice that reward.” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)
If we are seeking to deepen our faith, we should set aside at least some time during the day to recite the Quran. This will please Allah and will help us to be more aware of Him.
Prophet Muhammad told us:
“Pray as you have seen me praying.” (Al-Bukhari)
We know that the prayers already said by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are pleasing to Allah, so one of the things we can do is to say those very prayers ourselves, knowing that Allah will be pleased with us. We can learn some of the Prophet’s own prayers and say them at different times in the day.
We can also send down blessings on the Prophet himself. The Arabic words are easily found and just as easy to learn. In sending blessings on the Prophet we are saying this prayer:
“O Allah, send your grace, honor and mercy upon Muhammad and upon his wives and offspring, as You sent them upon Ibrahim, and send your blessings upon Muhammad and upon his wives and offspring, as You sent Your blessings upon the family of Ibrahim. You are indeed Praiseworthy, Most Glorious.”
Doing this will not only please Allah, but will bring us to love Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) more and more.
Finally, in seeking ways to remember Allah, we don’t just need to look for rehearsed words. Find a quiet place and just pray there. Talk there to Allah. This might be the mosque, where we go to pray some or all of the five daily prayers, or it might be another place where we feel comfortable and alone.
Talk to Allah
And then, just talk to Allah!
Talk to Allah. Pour out your troubles to Him. Tell Him of your cares and your worries. Tell Him of your successes and failures.
Of course, He knows all of these things before we even say them, but in saying them we are placing everything in our lives before Him. Isn’t this true submission as a Muslim?
What could be more pleasing to Allah than for each of us to confide totally in Him, knowing that He wills what is best for us at all times.
Most of us make a mess of things quite a lot of the time. Our intention is to be good Muslims but somehow we don’t quite make the mark. Somehow, our little selfishness and jealousies manage to take us off the straight path. What better way to get back on that straight path than to trust in Allah!
And by following these simple steps, of reciting the Quran, of sending blessings on the Prophet (peace be upon him) and in remembering Allah during the course of our day, we will surely become better Muslims, Insha’Allah.
Read Part 4