Before the Prayer Begins:
When you hear the call to the Prayer, let that remind you of the horrors of the Summons to come on the Day of Resurrection. Spare no time in fully preparing yourself to respond.
For those who hasten to answer this call are the ones who will receive gentle summoning on the Day of the Great Review.
So review your hearts now; if you find it elated and eager to respond, you can expect the Summons to bring you glad tidings on the Day of Judgment. That is why the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to address his muezzin, Bilal, saying:
“Delight us by the Prayer, O Bilal!”
When you perform ritual ablutions (wudu or ghusl), make sure to also tend to the cleanliness of your inner being, which lies at the heart of all these.
In cleaning your inner being use—in the place of water—repentance and remorse for your excesses, and a resolve not to perpetrate them in the future.
Thus you should cleanse your inner being, for that is the place where your Lord will be looking.
Covering Private Parts
When in Prayer, make sure that certain parts of your body are covered from the eyes of other humans.
But you should also mind your internal shameful spots, those unworthy secrets of your soul that are beheld only by Allah. Beware of these faults and realize that nothing will escape the sight of Allah.
At the Beginning of the Prayer:
Facing the Qibla
In this you turn your face away from all other directions and set it toward the Ka’bah.
More important than that, however, is to turn your heart away from everything else other than Allah, directing it towards Allah Almighty. This is the whole point of the practice of facing the Qibla!
This means holding oneself erect – in body and in spirit – in the presence of Allah. Your head which is the highest part of your body should be bowed down as a reminder of the need to keep the heart meek and humble, free of arrogance and pride.
When forming the intention to perform the Prayer, resolve to be responsive to Allah by performing the Prayer in full conformity with His requirements:
- by doing the sequence of acts properly
- by avoiding things that invalidate or detract from its wholeness
- by doing all this for the sake of Allah alone:
- hoping for His reward and fearing His punishment,
- seeking His grace and favor for His leave.
Within the Prayer:
When making takbir (pronouncing the phrase Allahu Akbar to begin the Prayer), your heart must be inundated with the meaning of the takbir. You should feel in your heart that nothing whatsoever is greater than Allah.
Reciting the Quran in the Prayer
People fall into three categories when it comes to Quran recitation:
(a) those who move their tongues unconsciously
(b) those who are conscious of the movement of tongue, understand the meaning while listening as if to a person outside themselves; this is the degree of ‘those on the right’
(c) those who start from awareness of the meaning, then use the tongue to give expression to this inner consciousness.
Bowing (ruku’) indicates a renewed affirmation of your awareness of the supreme greatness of Allah. In bowing you confirm your submissiveness and humility, striving to refine your inner feelings through a fresh awareness of your own impotence and insignificance before the might and grandeur of your Lord.
To confirm this, you seek the aid of your tongue, glorifying Allah and testifying repeatedly to His Supreme Majesty.
Then you rise from bowing, hopeful that He will be merciful towards you. To emphasize this hope within you, you say: “Allah hears those who give thanks to Him.”
Acknowledging the need to express gratitude, you immediately add: “Grateful praise to You our Lord!”
Then you go down into prostration. This is the utmost point of submission, for when you prostrate, you bring the noblest part of your body–your face–down to meet the lowliest of all things, the dust of the earth.
When you place yourself in this position of lowliness, be mindful of the fact that you belong there, from dust you were created and to dust you shall return.
At the same time you should renew your inner awareness of Allah’s majesty, repeating: “Glory to my Lord Most High!”
Sitting and Testifying
When you sit to make the testimony (tashahhud), sit decorously.
Declare that all the Prayers and good deeds you perform are for the sake of Allah, and everything belongs to Him. Such is the meaning of al-tahiyyat.
Be inwardly aware of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and of his noble person, as you say: “Peace be upon you, O Prophet, as well as Allah’s mercy and blessing.” Be sure that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) will return an even more perfect greeting to you.
Then salute yourself and all of Allah’s righteous servants.
Then testify to the Unity of Allah, and to the mission of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
End of Supplication:
Make sure to supplicate at the end of your ritual Prayer and before taslim, imploring and entreating with meekness and humility, confidently hoping to be answered. Let your supplication include your parents and the other believers.
Finally, and with the intention of concluding your Prayer, address your taslim to the angels and the others present.
After the Prayer:
Feel a sense of gratitude to Allah for having enabled you to complete this act of worship. Imagine that you are saying farewell to this period of Prayer of yours—with the possibility that you may not live to perform another one.