Praying is our food, as we have to consistently be feeding our heart.
The Salah is like given. It’s basic and not praying is actually among the kaba’ir (major sins), and even not praying on time is also among the major sins.
Something that I want to remind yourself and me is that nothing is more important than prayer.
You’re in class, you’re not in class, you’re at the mall or watching a game, whatever you’re doing, nothing is more important than your Salah, because your Salah is your purpose for creation.
Let’s Get Our Priorities Right!
Imagine denying or ignoring your purpose of creation in order to watch a basketball game! Or in order to go to the mall! This is our purpose. This is why we were created. Everything else we do is kind of like motions. It fills in the space. This is our purpose, and we can’t ignore our purpose for the sake of other things.
One of the examples to get this point across is to think about the needs of our body. What is the need our body has that we never deny? It may be eating. But there’s another one: using the bathroom. As you are sitting here having a lecture, you probably wouldn’t want to get up and leave during the lecture, maybe as you wouldn’t want to get up during the lecture and pray, right?
But when you need want to go to the bathroom during the lecture, you really need it, are you going to sit there? No. You just won’t. It’s not an option, you feel me?
Similarly, if you are sleeping and fajr time comes around and you need to use the bathroom, you’ll get up and use the bathroom, but we won’t pray. In fact we might get up to use the bathroom and then go back to sleep. It sounds funny, right? But it is so true. Because what we do is we will comply with the demands of our body but not the demands of our heart; not the demands of our soul.
For some reason we think taking care of our body is more important than taking care of our soul. And the reason why that’s tragic is because your body is actually wasting away. Every single day your body is dying. But your soul is the same soul you are taking to eternity. You realize that?
The truth is your body is just a shelf. It’s a container. And what really is there; what’s really lasting is your soul. But that soul is what we neglect, and the body is what we take care of. It’s ironic and it’s tragic. This body is passing away and after forty, fifty, sixty years it’s going to be no longer. And all that’s going to be left is the soul and how you took care of it. That’s all that’s going to matter. And that’s will going to be forever in Jannah (paradise) or Jahannam (hell); your soul.
So we need to take care of our soul. And if you are taking a final exam, and need to use the bathroom, you don’t care, you’re going to use the bathroom. You are going to do what you need to do. But when it comes to Salah, Allah, exalted is He, is very merciful. He gives us an interval of time. It’s not just five or ten minutes, it’s a good couple hours usually. Even Maghrib (sunset) prayer, fajr prayer, which are the shortest; they are more than an hour. So God gives us an interval of time, then if you can’t make it then we have our priorities upside down. That’s what it means.
So, there’s no way we can succeed in this path to Allah (SWT) if we neglect our Salah. It’s absolutely the first thing in that path, and also it is the first thing you are asked about on the Day of Judgment. The Prophet, peace be upon him, told us that the first thing that anyone is going to be asked about is their Salah; is their prayers, and if their prayers are OK then everything else Insha’Allah will be OK. And if their prayers are not, nothing else is going to matter. Your Salah is first.
A Divine Letter
Then there are other forms of remembering Allah, exalted is He; we have the Qur’an. So regularly feeding the heart with the recitation of Qur’an; reading it and listening to it and also pondering on its meanings because this is a letter from Allah (SWT). And if you imagine getting a letter from a king, imagine for example, getting a letter from Obama. So, Obama addresses a letter directly to you. Are you going like not even bother reading it? You are going to read it. It’s going to be very important for you to read it. And if it is in a language that you don’t understand, are you going to get it translated? Yes, you are. Of course you are going to translate it. This is the president of the United States, he is writing to me. I have to see what he’s saying, what he wants from me.
Now think about this now, this is the Lord of the universe, and He is addressing you. Do you not want to know what He has to say to you? Do you not want to know what He wants from you? This is what the Qur’an is; it is addressing you and it from the Lord of the universe. So staying connected to that is essential also.
The other thing that I really recommend is having a regular weekly study circle. This is extremely important also to keeping the heart alive that to have a circle even you don’t need to have a sheikh. You just need to get together and remember Allah. Get together with the Qur’an, discuss the verses, discuss Hadith, discuss a book -whatever it is, if you are sitting there, coming together for the sake of remembering Allah the angels will come and sit with you. We are told in the Hadith that the angels will come and fill up the area between the heaven and the earth sitting with you.
And these gatherings are so blessed by Allah that in this Hadith it says that if there is a person passing through, and that person had a lot of sins, and though sat with this group, Allah says even that person is forgiven because a person who sits with such people will not suffer. So, those gatherings are so blessed. This is so important. I mean really if you are taking any home advice it would be this: hold on to your Salah, hold on the regular remembrance of Allah, through the Qur’an and dhikr, and also these circles. So, set up these study circles, and keep it consistent. It is so important to stay consistent.
And if you can do that you are feeding your heart. And make sure that you know that this dip, this crash that happens after the spiritual height, it will not happen so much. Of course we will still go up and down. Don’t expect that you will ever be perfect, always be high. Everyone goes up and down. Even the companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, complained about this to the Prophet.
So, the point here is that that’s natural but when you do these things you keep it from crashing, you keep it pretty good.
Guard Yourself from Satan
If you don’t recognize that you have an enemy you cannot protect yourself from him. Satan is your enemy; an open enemy to you and to me. Allah is warning us of this in the Qur’an so many times: Satan is your enemy, guard yourself from him. But how can you protect yourself from Satan?
First and foremost: action your Salah. Your Salah is one of your major protections from Satan. Allah says in general the one who removes the Salah and turns away from the remembrance of Allah, Allah says that He appoints for that person the Satan and that Satan becomes an intimate companion for him.
That’s very scary. Imagine your closest companion is the Satan. When you stop remembering Allah, when you forget about Allah: you stop praying or stop being in the company of those who remember Allah then Satan is tied to you, chained to you, and he becomes your intimate companion. So protection from Satan is remembrance of Allah. If we remove the Salah we have opened ourselves to the Satan like unprotected. It’s like entering a battlefield with no armor. We have a battlefield here. We have to realize that. And if we are entering it with no armor we are going to get hit.
Also Qur’an is a protection from Satan, and any other form of remembrance; supplication Salah, dhikr. These supplications we say in the morning and in the evening also are protection from Satan.