How to Pray Five Times a Day


http://www.flickr.com/photos/jrodmanjr/4379237921/in/photostream/Question:

I want to pray the five daily prayers on time, but I have trouble doing them on time and regularly. How can I get into it?

Answer:

Dear Questioner,

The fact that you even care about your prayers is an incredible sign of God’s love for you and His desire to keep you close to Him! How many Muslims do you know personally who have not prayed in years and who have no desire to do so? God has honored you by placing in your heart the desire to fulfill this part of your relationship with Him. The question is: will you accept being chosen and show Him that you really care?

Praying the five daily prayers on time, everyday, is a good habit that just needs to be built. You’ve been building habits since you were a child and this is just another habit you need to develop and strengthen.

How do I know you’ve been habit building? Without knowing you, I’m going to give you a simple example.

Consider the call of hunger. When you were an infant and you were hungry, you’d likely call out for someone to quell the pain of your hunger. Someone in your life most likely came to help you take care of this need; they fed and nourished you, and your body, in turn, responded and began to grow.

As you developed and learned how to eat for yourself, you most likely recognized the call to hunger and developed a habitual response (i.e. eating). The type and proportions of food you ate began to impact your body; the healthy foods for your body helped nourish you and strengthened your physical and mental development.

The overindulgence of food or consistent consumption of unhealthy and junky foods likely began to deteriorate your body. Eventually, your time will pass and your soul will depart. Your body will no longer feel the need for, nor be able to respond to, the call of hunger.

The habit of eating when feeling hungry is one you developed; even if it was time consuming, you realized it was something you had to do to survive.

Let’s now consider salah (prayer). Everyday, five times a day, your body, your heart and your soul, are begging you to respond to the call to prayer. For those who choose to respond to the call to prayer, you satiate your body, heart, and soul. However, just as with food, this satiation comes in different ways. Those who come to prayer with presence of heart and mind, with focus and desire to nourish and cleanse themselves spiritually, often begin to see the positive impact of their prayers on the rest of their lives.

Some others may answer the call to prayer more neglectfully, perhaps offering them on time or late, all of them or just some of them, but rushing through them mindlessly or negligently. These individuals are still nobly choosing to answer the call, yet like the junk food that can cause a body to be sick and stunt its healthy development and maintenance, this type of prayer could stunt a person’s spiritual growth, perhaps making them weak against succumbing to desires or fighting diseases of the heart and soul.

Finally, just as a dead body does not experience hunger, a spiritually dead person does not feel the need or have interest in responding to the call of prayer. The difference, however, is that while the dead body no longer has a chance to experience revitalization through food, the spiritually dead heart can be revived through prayer.

Prayer alone is not the key to a completely sound spiritual state or understanding, just as food alone is not the only component to maintain a healthy body. However, through developing a focused, centered, and meaningful habit of maintaining the five daily prayers, a person will, God willing, experience incredible benefits in this life and undoubtedly the next.

So, once we’ve recognized that salah is a healthy survival habit which one has the capability to work on maintaining throughout one’s life, the question then becomes: How?

Here are a few suggestions to perhaps get you started. Two are geared to convince and encourage your mind and heart to pray while three are specific tasks to help you begin and maintain the action of prayer.

  1. Recognize the benefits.

Simply consider the following as a start: “The five obligatory daily prayers, the Friday prayer followed by another Friday prayer, Ramadan followed by another Ramadan, expiate sins committed in between them as long as major sins are avoided,” (Muslim).

And, “The first thing the people will be accountable for on the Day of Judgment is prayer. Allah will say to His angels (even though He already knows), “Look at my servant’s prayers. Were they complete or not?” If they were complete, it will be written as complete. If they were not fully complete Allah will say, “See if my servant has voluntary prayers.” If he has them, Allah will say, “Complete his obligatory prayers shortage with his voluntary prayers.” Then the rest of his deeds will be dealt with in the same manner,” (Ahmad).

  1. Understand prayer as an investment and a refuge:

Make a list of everything God has given you for which you should be grateful. Also make a list of all the hardships you or loved ones are currently facing. Then, for each of the five daily prayers, take one item off one of those lists and take it to salah.

For an item of gratitude, allow yourself to understand that each and every prayer is an investment in what and whom you love in life being maintained and increased. As He tells us, “…If you are grateful, I will surely increase you…” (Qur’an 14:7).

For an item of difficulty from your list, allow the heaviness of your heart and soul to pour out in every word you utter in prayer. Permit your tears of anger and anguish to release in prostration. Be certain that through this action God will undoubtedly respond to your distress. As He confirms, “Is He [not best] who responds to the desperate one when he calls upon Him and removes evil…” (Qur’an, 27:62).

  1. Make a chart to keep track of prayers and set daily and weekly goals.

Compensate yourself based on your performance. The below is an example:

Week 1: Daily Goal—Pray two prayers on time. If mess up, make up the prayer as soon as I can. Reward if meet my goal by end of the day = favorite chocolate bar. Punishment if do not reach goal = clean roommate’s bathroom. Reward if met goal everyday of the week: Movie night with best friend. Punishment if not met by end of the week: No Facebook all weekend.

Week 2: Daily Goal—Pray three prayers on time…

Continue until you’re habitually praying your five a day, on time.

  1. Tag-Team and use technology:

Building a habit often needs support. Find someone who you can text or who will text you to check in for prayers. Consider also using current technology via an app on your phone to remind you of your prayers (if you’ve used an app successfully, please share recommendations!).

  1. Keep going.

There may be times where you feel spiritual exhilaration through prayer; your heart may feel like it’s flying, your eyes may tear up because of a closeness you experience with your Creator. Then there may be times where you feel absolutely nothing; this can make you feel like you’re doing something horribly wrong or that it’s not worth continuing because it doesn’t make you feel any different.

However, be careful not to get addicted to the “feeling” by choosing only to continue praying as long as it “feels” good and despairing in Allah and leaving prayer once you no longer “feel” it.  Praying is an obligation. Remember that you are doing this action to the best of your ability for the sake of God, not just because it makes you feel good.

While going through this journey, remember that even overindulging in healthy foods can hurt your body. In the same way, taking prayer, or any aspect of religion, to an extreme can hurt your spiritual state. Praying is not always easy. God Almighty Himself tells us, “And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive. [The humbly submissive are those] Who are certain that they will meet their Lord and that they will return to Him,” (Qur’an, 2:45-46).

When the going gets tough with your prayers, always remember that God has been, is, and always will be there for you:

I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.”

Take that step through maintaining your five daily prayers with sincerity, focus and presence of heart. God willing, as you take a few steps, you’ll find Allah already waiting for you.

Lookout for Part 2 – “How can I  ‘feel’ my prayer?”

Print Friendly

50 Comments

  1. Farah says:

    SubhanAllah…All I can say is SubhanAllah. :)

    • Kelsey says:

      Hello I’m new to Islam and was wondering if you could help me

      • Maryam says:

        Hi Kelsey! I just saw your comment. What kind of help are you looking for?

      • cori says:

        Me too but I’m twelve. My mother changed to islam along time ago so I’m changing with her. I’m also trying to learn Arabic. If you wondering how I got here, I looked up what do pray about when you pray five times a day. The Quran is understandable for my age. My mom gets me little kid books so I can understand somethings that I might not understand.

  2. Khadija L. says:

    Welcome back, Sister Maryam. I’ve missed your articles. Great to have you back! :)

  3. Fatimah Taib says:

    subhanAllah. (Praying is not always easy. God Almighty Himself tells us, “And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive. [The humbly submissive are those] Who are certain that they will meet their Lord and that they will return to Him,” (Qur’an, 2:45-46).)

  4. ubah says:

    One of THE BEST articles I have EVER read! Mashaa Allah la quwwata illah billah. Jazakillahu khairan dear Sister!!!

    The points that really touched me:

    “The fact that you even care about your prayers is an incredible sign of God’s love for you and His desire to keep you close to Him! How many Muslims do you know personally who have not prayed in years and who have no desire to do so? God has honored you by placing in your heart the desire to fulfill this part of your relationship with Him. The question is: will you accept being chosen and show Him that you really care?”

    “Finally, just as a dead body does not experience hunger, a spiritually dead person does not feel the need or have interest in responding to the call of prayer. The difference, however, is that while the dead body no longer has a chance to experience revitalization through food, the spiritually dead heart can be revived through prayer.”

    “However, be careful not to get addicted to the “feeling” by choosing only to continue praying as long as it “feels” good and despairing in Allah and leaving prayer once you no longer “feel” it. Praying is an obligation. Remember that you are doing this action to the best of your ability for the sake of God, not just because it makes you feel good.”

  5. sarah iman says:

    MasyaAllah. A really wonderful article :)

  6. Umm Yasmine says:

    MashaAllah!!! Excellent article, So many people are struggling with this issue and feel ashamed to ask the question. So to both of you, the questioner and Sr Maryam, Jazakoum Allah Kheir

  7. Gibran says:

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    Not praying makes one a kaffir…

    • blisss says:

      …unless the person is trying and god can see that

    • Ahmed says:

      Incorrect. Not being Muslim makes one a kafir.

      1) Someone has to explain Islam to you and 2) Make sure you’ve understood it correctly. If you deny Islam after that, THEN you are a kafir.

      I see you gave no reference, mine is Dr. Bilal Philips.

  8. Faseeh says:

    JazakAllahu Qair

  9. R says:

    The Athan app by islamicfinder.org is really awesome prayer reminder application for apple devices! I definitely recommend it to anyone trying to stay on top of your prayers. I have afternoon classes, so it’s very helpful.

    It even has nice reminders throughout the day. I can’t remember exactly what it says, but for dhuhr prayer, it says things like, “Hungry? Feed your body and your soul with prayer.” Definitely recommend it!

  10. Shaheena says:

    What a simple and beautiful way to stress the importance of salah for Musims! Wishing that we All benefit from it. Jazak Allah o Khair!

  11. Sarah Mohamed says:

    There’s this really good app that’s called Habit Streak. You tick of a habit every time you’ve completed it! (I know this works on Android phones, not sure about other phones)

  12. salsabil says:

    I learned through life that salah is like breathing. Without it, your heart will not get the spiritual benefits it craves for.There is an app on the smartphone called “MuslimPro” for those on the go. It has automatic adhan for fixed times of prayer (You can adjust setting: Hanafi, Maliki,etc.)It also has a Qiblah compass which I find very useful if I’m somewhere else other than at home.There’s much more to it,so check it out!And JazzakAllah Khair Sister.

  13. Shazia Ahmad says:

    May Allah bless you Ust. Maryam for this article and reminder. May Allah bless us with devotion and to worship Him in the best and most beautiful of ways.

  14. Nael Badr says:

    This really an amazing article and its in the perfect time ..Jazaky Allah kol Khair

  15. Zafirah says:

    Thank you. you do not know how timely this article is for me. May He continue to bless u always :)

  16. Mustafa says:

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    It seems my comments are not getting posted.

    There is an overabundance of evidence that one who does not pray is a kaffir.

    Abandoning Prayer (Salaat)

    A Major sin in Islam

    Allaah Most High says (which means): Then there has succeeded them a generation which has given up prayers (i.e, made their praycrs to be lost, either by not offering them at all or by not offering them perfectly or by not offering them in their proper fixed times, etc.) and have followed lusts. So they will be thrown in Hell. Except those who repent and believe in the Oneness of Allaah and His Messenger (), and act righteously. [Maryam, 19:59-60]

    And He (T) said (which means): Woe unto those performers of prayers (hypocrites) who are unmindful of their prayers (i.e., delay their prayer from its stated fixed time). [Al-Maa’oon, 107:4-5]

    And He (T) said (which means): O you who believe! Let not your properties or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allaah. And whosoever does that, then they are the losers. [Al-Munaafiqoon, 63:9]

    The commentators of the Qur’aan say: “The ‘remembrance of Allaah’ mentioned in these Aayaat means the five daily prayers. If anyone is so busy in buying and selling, or with his daily work of earning a livelihood, or with his children, that he cannot perform prayers on time, he will be among the losers.”

    The first thing which will be judged among a man’s deeds on the Day of Resurrection is the Prayer. If this is in good order then he will succeed and prosper but if it is defective then he will fail and will be a loser. [Nasaa’ee, Tirmidhee, Ibn Maajah]

    Informing us about the inhabitants of Hell, Allaah Most High says (which means): (The people in Hell will be asked:) What has caused you to enter Hell? They will say: We were not among those who used to pray. Nor did we feed the poor. And we used to talk falsehood (all that which Allaah hated) with vain-talkers. And we used to belie thc Day of Recompense. Until there came to us that which is certain (i.e., death). So no Intercession of intercessors will benefit them [Al-Muddaththir, 74:42-48]

    The Prophet said (which means): The covenant between us and them is prayer, so if anyone abandons it he has become a disbeliever. [Ahmad, Tirmidhee, Nasaa’ee]

    And he also said (which means): What lies between a man and disbelief is the abandonment of prayer. [Muslim, Aboo Dawood, Nasaa’ee]

    And he said (which means): If anyone abandons prayer deliberately then he has no claim upon Allaah. [Ibn Maajah, ADAB-AL-MUFRAD of Bukhaari, Tabaraani]

    And he said (which means): I have been ordered to fight against the people until they testify that there is no one worthy of worship but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah and until they perform the Prayers and pay the Zakaah, and if they do so they will have gained protection from me for their lives and property, unless [they do acts that are punishable] in accordance with Islaam, and their reckoning will be with Allaah Most High. [Bukhaari, Muslim]

    And he , mentioning the prayer, said (which means): If anyone keeps to it, it will be light, evidence and salvation for him on the Day of Resurrection. But if anyone does not keep to it, it will not be light, evidence and salvation for him on the Day of Resurrection, and on that Day he will be associated with Qaroon, Pharaoh, Namaan and Ubayy bin Khalaf (an enemy of Islaam from among the Quraysh). [Ahmad, Tabaraanee, Ibn Hibbaan]

    Ibn Al-Qayyim explained: The person who abandons prayer will be raised with such a foursome because his neglect of player may be due to his involvement with his property, his country, his administrative work or his trade. Therefore, if he was involved with his property he will be ressurected with Qaroon; if with his country, then with Pharaoh; if with his administrative work, then with Hamaan; and if with his trade then with Ubayy bin Khalaf, the trader among the disbelievers of Makkah.

    `Abdullaah bin Shaqeeq Al-`Aqeelee Tabi`ee (Tabi`ee: a successor to the companions of the Prophet ] said: “The Companions of the Prophet did not consider the abandonment of any good deed to be disbelief except the abandonment of the Prayer.” [Tirmidhee, Haakim]

    When `Alee was asked about a women who did not pray, he said: “The one who does not pray is a disbeliever.” [Tirmidhee, Haakim]

    Ibn Mas`ood (R) said: “The one who abandons the prayer has no religion.” [Muhammad bin Nasr Al Mirwazee]

    Ibn `Abbaas (R) said: “The one who leaves off a single prayer deliberately will find, when he meets Allaah Most High, that He (T) is angry with him.” [Muhammad bin Nasr Al-Mirwazee, Ibn Abdul-Barr]

    Ibn Hazm said: “There is no greater sin after polytheism than delaying a prayer until its time has passed and killing a believer without a just cause.”

    Ibraheem Al-Nakha`ee said: “The one who has abandoned the prayer has become a disbeliever.” Aboo Ayyoob Al-Sakhtiyanee said something similar to this.
    Ibn Hazm writes conclusively: “It has come from `Umar, `Abdur-Rahmaan bin `Awf, Mu`aadh bin Jabal, Aboo Hurayrah and other companions that anyone who skips one obligatory prayer until its time has finished becomes an apostate. We find no difference of opinion among them on this point.”

    This was mentioned by Al Mundhiree in AT-TARGHEEB WA AT-TARHEEB. Then he comments: A group of Companions and those who came after them believed that an intentional decision to skip one prayer until its time is completely finished makes one an unbeliever. The people of this opinion include `Umar bin Al-Khattaab, `Abdullaah bin Mas`ood, `Abdullaah bin `Abbaas, Mu`aadh bin Jabal, Jaabir bin `Abdullaah and Aboo Ad-Dardaa’. Among the non-companions who shared this view were: Ibn Hanbal, Ishaaq bin Rahwayh, `Abdullaah bin Mubaarak, An-Nakha`ee, Al-Hakam bin `Utaibah, Aboo Ayyoob As-Sakhtiyaanee, Aboo Dawood At-Tiyaalisee, Aboo Bakr bin Aboo Shaybah, Zuhayr in Harb, and others.

    REFERENCES:

    Al-Haythamee, Ibn Hajr, AZ-ZAWAAJIR `AN IQTIRAAF AL KABAA’IR, Vol. I, (corrected by) Ahmad Abdush-Shaafee, Daar Al-Kutub Al-`Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, 1987

    Dhahabee, Imaam Muhammad bin `Uthmaan, KITAAB AL-KABAA’IR, (Engl. tr.) Mohammed Moinuddin Siddiqui, Dar El-Fiker, Beirut, Lebanon, 1993.

    Sabiq, As-Sayyid, FIQH-US SUNNAH, Vol. I, (Engl. tr.) Muhammad Sa`eed Dabas and Jamal al-Din Zarabozo, Maktabat al-Khadamat-e Al-Hadithah, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 1987.

    So “Muslims who don’t pray” is a complete inaccuracy.

    • Jordan says:

      Really dude?! Did you forget the part of this Deen that demands we be compassionate, especially to our fellow Muslims? Our world is much different than it used to be and we are not even close in piety and excellence to the early generations.

      I would strongly encourage you to check yourself. Would you want to be the one who was reponsible for driving peopld away from Islam? Let’s say a brother or sister who hopes to pray all of the Fard prayers after going astray for some time, reads your post? Which is fraught with hadith taken out of context. Are you a scholar, are you qualified to interpret hadith?

      It is comments like the one you posted that drives our young people away! Yes, it is not good that we have people who have abandoned the prayer, but in the eyes of Allah they may be much more beautiful and righteous than you or I. We dont know the situations people live in, or the struggles they have, and when they decide to come back, they have to read someone calling them a kaffir?

      May Allah guide us to His pleasure, and may He make us vessels of His Mercy. Ameen

      • Mustafa says:

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        Hadith taken out of context? Can you explain that?

        If the Sahaba agreed on it, and Rasulullah(S) himself stated it and I simply reiterated it, I don’t see any room for criticism unless you were criticizing my presentation of it.

        And this is from An-Nabi sallahualayhiwasalam. He made clear the sever punishments for disobedience.

        And if someone actually turns away from obeying Allah due to the hard punishments, this is their own fault. Punishments are a motivation, not a means to drive people away UNLESS it is given in a rude and disgusting manner. Allah and His Messenger (S) did not only motivate by rewards and showing mercy but also by warnings of severe punishment.

        Warnings are a mercy.

        • Janet says:

          Assalamu alekoum rahmulillahi wa barakatuh,

          Even Prophet Muhammad, salla’allahu alehi wa salam, was known to have missed a prayer at least once that I know of because Bilal, radiallahu anhu, did not wake them all up to pray. In response to that event: Anas Ibn Malek, radiallahu anhu, narrated that the prophet, salallahu alehi wa salam, said, “Whoever forgets a prayer, let him pray (it) when he remembers it, there is no atonement for it but that. And perform prayers for my remembrance.” Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari. Would you say that in that moment Prophet Muhammad, salallahu alehi wa salem, or any of the companions, was a kaffir? Ayouthu billah!

          I remind myself first that it is dangerous to call names. Perhaps there is no faster way to leave Islam than by calling other Muslims “kafir” or “mushrik” without discrimination. Even if one does have the title of “Shaykh” in front of one’s name

          About calling other Muslims “kaffir,” please read the following hadith: It is reported on the authority of Ibn `Umar that the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) said: Any person who calls his brother: O Unbeliever! (then the truth of this label) would return to one of them. If it is true, (then it is) as he asserted, (but if it is not true), then it returns to him (and thus the person who made the accusation is an Unbeliever). [Muslim]

          Therefore, if we call other Muslims “kafir” or “mushrik” without discrimination, we could find that we have left Islam, according to the words of the Prophet (s.a.w.), in less than a second.

          May Allah make us of those who make excuses for our fellow Muslims understanding that we all have faults, and guide them and hand-hold with them on the straightest path toward love, understanding, mercy, compassion, and righteousness and do not divide amongst ourselves, or push away through use of fear and scare tactics.

          Come to prayer, come to felicity! And when you do come, enjoy. :)

        • Mustafa says:

          Wa alaykumusalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

          You misunderstood the hadith. I already know of when the Prophet (S) did not pray on time because of Bilal (RA).

          Go on Islam QA and you’ll find Ibn Uthaymeen is on the same opinion as myself.

          Besides, it’s not me saying abandoning salah makes them kaffir it is hadith from an Nabi (S) and the sahaba that I am quoting.

          “I remind myself first that it is dangerous to call names. Perhaps there is no faster way to leave Islam than by calling other Muslims “kafir” or “mushrik” without discrimination. Even if one does have the title of “Shaykh” in front of one’s name”

          It’s also dangerous not to call takfir when it is clear. What about the people who justify making dua to other than Allah? There are even people who think they are Muslims and believe that Jews and Christians today can go to Jannah. Obviously takfir is warranted whenever the kufr of a person is clear.

          “Would you say that in that moment Prophet Muhammad, salallahu alehi wa salem, or any of the companions, was a kaffir? Ayouthu billah!”

          No of course not, you are totally misunderstanding the hadith….go to Islam QA for a better explanation perhaps.

        • Haq says:

          Mustafa calm down. This issue is well known to any elementary student of knowledge, and has been differed over for centuries, and you nor I can solve it. There are evidences for both sides, it is a dhanni issue, and so we cannot say definitely this is haqq and this is baatil as Imam Ibn al-Qayyim says (see I’lam)but save it to say that 3 of the madhabs out of the 4 do not hold a person who does not pray a Kafir.

          It’s a disputed issue, lets not pretend otherwise.

          Wassalam,

          Haq.

        • Mustafa says:

          Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh all

          Salama Haq

          Most of the hypocrites of this ummah are the qurra. Some mushrik scholars allowed making dua to other than Allah! Definitely the munafis and the mushriks of this ummah are in Jahannam. It’s up to each individual Muslim to seek guidance from Allah. I’ll leave it with this hadith inshaa Allah and it should suffice for whoever wants to listen.

          Imam Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Jarir At-Tabari recorded a Hadith via several chains of narration, from `Adi bin Hatim, may Allah be pleased with him, who became Christian during the time of Jahiliyyah. When the call of the Messenger of Allah reached his area, `Adi ran away to Ash-Sham, and his sister and several of his people were captured. The Messenger of Allah freed his sister and gave her gifts. So she went to her brother and encouraged him to become Muslim and to go to the Messenger of Allah . `Adi, who was one of the chiefs of his people (the tribe of Tai’) and whose father, Hatim At-Ta’i, was known for his generosity, went to Al-Madinah. When the people announced his arrival, `Adi went to the Messenger of Allah wearing a silver cross around his neck. The Messenger of Allah recited this Ayah;

          ﴿اتَّخَذُواْ أَحْبَـرَهُمْ وَرُهْبَـنَهُمْ أَرْبَاباً مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ﴾

          (They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah). `Adi commented, “I said, `They did not worship them.”’ The Prophet said,

          «بَلَى إِنَّهُمْ حَرَّمُوا عَلَيْهِمُ الْحَلَالَ وَأَحَلُّوا لَهُمُ الْحَرَامَ فَاتَّبَعُوهُمْ فَذَلِكَ عِبَادَتُهُمْ إِيَّاهُم»

          (Yes they did. They (rabbis and monks) prohibited the allowed for them (Christians and Jews) and allowed the prohibited, and they obeyed them. This is how they worshipped them.)

        • Janet says:

          I think the key thing to remember is that only ALLAH can judge what constitutes “abandonment” of prayer “deliberately” in the heart of a Muslim or (who we believe, as mere fellow humans) a “former Muslim.” I know I don’t have the vision and power of the unseen into hearts of so-called (in some people’s estimation) apostates and kafirs.

          I can’t help but remember the hadith about the prostitute who gave water to a dog by a well whom Prophet Mohammed, salallahu alehi wa salem, said would enter Jannah on account of her good deed (I wonder if she was a praying prostitute??) The point is: NO ONE, I repeat, NO ONE will enter Jannah except by the grace of Allah, azza wa jal, and I think it is important to focus on ourselves, more, and others, less, and especially not be so sure to point fingers when we all are struggling in some capacity! We must strive to give our brothers and sisters a hand up to a higher station through loving encouragement and NOT name-calling and chastisement. Since when has shame ever worked in positive way?

          We can only use our humility and love to draw others into the way of prayer stretching ourselves to the best of our abilities and not push them away through through oversimplification of the issue.

          Our beloved Prophet, salallahu alehi wa salem said: “None of you is a believer until he loves for his brother (his fellow Muslims) what he loves for himself.” (Sahih Muslim) Which includes, in my estimation, not wanting our OWN habits and actions being peer judged without understanding and compassion. In theory the prayer stipulation appears sound, but again I stress pondering what the meaning of “deliberate abandonment” means, with regards to EVERYONE who has been, and perhaps NOT been accurately exposed to Islam. I am especially proud of those who have even begun to take the initiative to even THINK ABOUT praying their salat on time, and regularly. May Allah help and guide us ALL.

          And again I urge us to not make taqfir on anyone, unless we see them taking up arms against the Muslims to kill us purely because of our faith.

          With all the rest of humanity we need to re-learn how to guide them with love and understanding back to the habits and practices that will bring them the most benefit, instead of writing them off as “lost.”

          For those of us who ARE struggling with our prayers, or for those who have, alhamdulillah mastered the physical motions it’s performance, I think we can all agree that there is always room for improvement, and may ALLAH help us move up in stations with His grace and blessings, either to the point that we learn and understand the blessing that salat is, or become better at keeping our focus/humility (kushoo) in salat, etc.

          I think until any of us can be assured that we could have our a limb amputated while in prayer like the sahaba and have it not break our concentration we have much work to do so far as salat is concerned. And what makes a salat valid anyways? is it the motions, or the intention? Is prayer valid if it is based on hope of reward or fear of punishment, or is it only true worship if it is for His Sake, alone, out of total and complete humility and submission, and with no ego-gratification in mind…. Something to think about… :)

          Also I wan to address that maybe for some people the threat of punishments works, and for others the promise of benefit or reward works as well, AS A START. Please see my seemingly argumentative comments in this spirit and I try to encourage those brothers and sisters who are not currently praying to give it a try in a POSITIVE and reassuring way. Remind them to keep pushing through the hard parts, as they adjust their schedules (as it IS an adjustment, that is only made easy by Allah’s leave) and see if they find a change in their life, a real change.

          If the goal of all of this discussion and comments is to encourage regular prayer, and not just argument, fo rthe sake of argument, or to have the last word, or WIN in some way then let me say this:

          To my dear brothers and sisters in Islam: All is not lost, you are NOT a disbeliever. If you believe the Shahada of “There are no Gods but [The One True God] Allah, and Mohammed is a Prophet of God” You are a believer! The very fact that you are reading this means that you know that you want to get closer to Allah and make some changes in your life. Either you felt it before, and feel you have lost that relationship you had, or you just want to strengthen the bond. I am here to tell you You CAN do it, as I am doing it. I am one of you, and we are all in this together! It might be rough and frustrating at times, but keep trying. Allah knows your struggle and He will reward you and help you in it is you ask His help. Only Allah can judge you and we know that while He is fair and just and strict, He is also The Most Merciful, and loves to see his servants return to him more than a herdsman whose lost camel returns to him!

          I want for all of you what I am also struggling to do for myself. Protect my daily prayers, and cultivate that relationship with Him, our creator.

          My heart goes out to those who DO recognize they are in fact, not where they want to be. Not everyone is so blessed to have that insight.

          I want to leave us all with Surat Ađ-Đuĥaá:

          By the morning brightness
          And the night when it covers with darkness,
          Your Lord has not taken leave of you, nor has He detested.
          And the Hereafter is better for you than the first.
          And your Lord is going to give you, and you will be satisfied.
          Did He not find you an orphan and give refuge?
          And He found you lost and guided,
          And He found you poor and made self-sufficient.
          So as for the orphan, do not oppress.
          And as for the petitioner, do not repel.
          But as for the favor of your Lord, report.

          May Allah help and guide is all to a merciful approach to our selves and each other. Ameen. :D

  17. Imran Sayed says:

    salaamu alaykum, I had a question about salat so I apologize in advance for posting this question in the wrong section, Nevertheless, I was brought up in madressa where we were told what the deen was and how to worship ( usually by a moulana from the state of gujurat in India) and if questions were asked then we were given the stick, if we made a mistake in the recitation we were given the stick, if we didn’t were a topi or if our pants approached our ankles or if we left the mushaf open then we were given the stick. I fact we got very well acquainted with the stick and I feel bad about saying this but we developed a very negative attitude about the deen and the quran and we associated ( at least subconsciously ) learning about the deen to pain and violence. But Alhamdulillah Allah guides whom he wills and we remain in the struggle of learning our deen. This brings me to the point: I heard a hadith that rasoolAllah (saw) said ‘pray as you have seen me pray’ . I found this statement very interesting. so I began an investigation as to how did the prophet pray according to the authentic sources. I came across books like fiqh us sunnah which showed the way of prayer according to the most authentic sources and I watched a very interesting series on al huda channel about the prayer of the prophet by Dr. Muhammed Salah. I would love to implement this in my daily prayers. So , I asked my local imam if I could do this and he said that if you taught the hanafi way then you should pray the hanafi way way because we have strong evidences of praying the way we do. So I didnt argue. But there a war raging in my conscience, on the one hand imam abu hanifa is one of the greatest scholars ever to walk on the earth but he did not have the luxury of having geniuses like imam bukhari and imam muslim at his time in order to benefit from an amazing resourse bank of hadith. But we have that ability today. Caan we not perfect our salat by looking at authentic sources and after all all the four imams said that if you find a sahih hadith then that is my madhhab. I wish to make it clear, I am not a scolar , in fact I am quite ignorant but I do love the Prophet of Allah and if he said pray as you have seen me pray then I wish to pray that way. Please give me advice so that I may attain clarity on this matter. Jazak Allahu Khayr.

    • Mustafa says:

      Wa alaykumusalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      Yes Abu Hanfi may Allah have mercy on him was a great scholar but are you going to follow him in his errors?

    • Haq says:

      Salam Br. Imran,

      I’m sorry to hear of your negative encounter with religious teachers/preachers. I completely understand the culture you describe, and it is undoubtedly an Unislamic one. However, it is important to not conflate those that claim to adhere to a school of law, i.e. the Hanafi school, and the school itself. Though the adherents may claim to represent the school, they often misrepresent it, and seek to inject it with their own biases and prejudices.

      Nonetheless, to answer your question, the hadith of the Prophet “Pray as you see me pray” whilst authentic, its interpretation is differed upon. This is something imperative to understand. All the ways we have of praying today, disregarding which school it belongs to, is in fact an interpretation.

      Of course, every interpretation claims to be the more correct way of praying, and for the average Muslim, there is no way of ascertaining this for themselves, as sifting through the evidences is a very technical process which requires dedicated study of Islamic law. I believe you are in this situation, so now you are looking to scholars for persuasion as to which is the correct way.

      You have been told of the evidences for praying in a way different to method the Hanafi’s adopt. I would suggest you first study the evidences of the Hanafi school, and then you would be in a position to choose which you find more convincing. Without this, you are not really choosing, simply adopting a way because its evidences have been provided to you.

      As for ‘perfecting’ the prayer, and praying in a ‘more authentic’ way, then this is again disputed by the scholars. Each scholar had a different criteria by which he decided how the Prophet prayed. And it was not simply a matter of a hadith being authentic or not, as this suggests that by virtue of a hadith being authentic, it rules out any possibility of a difference of opinion. This of course is wholly untrue, as many authentic hadith are interpreted differently. For example, Imam Malik (ra) did not hold his hands in prayer, based upon the fact that the people of Medina did not do this. Thousands of the students of the Sahaba lived there, and for Imam Malik this was a stronger proof, than one Hadith that goes to Prophet, as he said it is unthinkable that the Prophet would have done something, and the people of Medina, despite their close proximity to the Prophet, would do otherwise. The Maliki school is aware of the other Hadith, but took this evidence to be stronger. (btw. Ibn Taymiyya supports the Maliki proof of the actions of the people of Medina) So this is his proof, whereas the others were more content with solitary hadith narrations.

      I think it is unfortunate, that today, we seek certainty in areas that never had this. It is a somewhat modern trend, and frankly quite bold to claim “this is THE WAY the prophet prayed” when we have evidences to suggest the Prophet prayed in many ways.

      So to summarise, all four schools (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i Hanbali) are praying how the Prophet prayed. Which is more authentic? I’ll leave that to you to decide ONLY after going through the evidences of the four school, until then, you are simply accepting the word of one scholar over another, and hence cannot deem the others ‘weak’.

      I pray this answers your questions,

      Wassalam,

  18. Paul Bartlett says:

    Salaam to all. One issue that comes up in my mind is compassion toward those who have been weak in faith from the beginning, who receive(d) little instruction in the faith and even how to pray, who are very isolated from like minded and like acting believers (i.e., other Muslims), who receive no appreciable meaningful support from any real community of believers. Many of these people will be converts, but by no means all.

    There are a lot of people, converts and “born” Muslims alike, who never really have had much strong and clear faith and who were never well instructed to begin with. They never developed healthy “spiritual” (for lack of a better term) habits, because no one taught them well. (Or, as one person wrote above, they may have become alienated because some misguided “teachers” mistakenly thought that violence is the best instruction.) Believe me, it happens.

    Then along come the zealous who are so quick to declare others infidels that instead of assisting and guiding weak and unformed people to develop healthy habits, in practice they just inculcate discouragement and risk actually driving people away. Do we not read over and over in the Noble Qur’an that Allah (swt) is compassionate and merciful? Are Muslims compassionate and merciful toward those needing strength, support, nurturance, and guidance — because those people never received them adequately in the first place — or are they more ready to loudly declare others out of the fold? If I beat my pet every time she tries to stand up, eventually she will just cower in terror and give up trying. If instead I help her, stroke her, praise her, give her wholesome food and water, train her, assist her in every way needful, she will become strong, faithful, and loving. It is no different from people and their path through life.

    • Maryam says:

      Completely agree with you. That’s why comments such as Mustapha’s really irk me. I sure hope he reads this and understands that his approach is really doing a whole lot of turning off instead of turning on.

      We need to have wisdom in the way we approach people. Even the companions themselves shared that they would not have been on Islam if rules and regulations were the first things they started with. Instead, Allah revealed verses focusing on their relationship with Him, on certainty of the Hereafter, of building this complete, heart-engulfing awareness of Him and once allll of that happened, after many years, slowly more prohibitions and obligations were given to us.

      And then, we today, in our zealous love for Islam, cut and paste a bunch of ahadith or ayaat, or speak harshly to others in person because we simply can’t understand why they wouldn’t want to please Allah the same way we do or how they could possibly disobey Him in “our” eyes, and then we’re left with people leaving Islam, afraid of “religious looking” Muslims, or simply unmotivated to worship Allah through practice because of a lack of knowing how to build a strong relationship with Him and a lack of strong, positive support when they’re already going through life difficulties.

      May Allah guide our ummah. We have some of the harshest, most rigid people who think they’re doing the right things and really turning off people who truly want to live the message, but instead are averted because of some random caller to Islam who seriously needs wisdom in the way they give the call.

      Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhe rajeoon.

      • Paul Bartlett says:

        Salaam. Tell us about it. Many years ago, late one afternoon, I recited the Two Testifications of Faith with a Caller (da’ee). He told me to go home, take a shower, and come back in the evening. I did so, and after the Night Prayer (I got there just as it was ending), I repeated the Testifications. Loud takbirs. Next morning I went in to speak with the Caller. We greeted each other with salaams, shook hands, and sat down. The very first words out of his mouth — I remember them clearly — were that I should cut my fingernails.

        My experience with Islam (or, perhaps I should say, with Muslims) kind of went downhill from there (in less than twenty-four hours). At the time, at that mosque (which was the only one then I could get to with any frequency), he seemed to be the primary individual “calling” to Islam and instructing new Muslims. Before I drifted away myself, I noticed that there were other converts who seemed not to come around much any more. Rules, rules, rules. Any kind of intimate, personal relationship with Allah (swt) seemed rather irrelevant. Is it any wonder that I have come across estimates that half to three-quarters of converts to Islam in the USA eventually leave?

      • Gibran says:

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        First of all, what is apparently the ijma of the Sahaba is something serious.

        Secondly, we actually agree a lot. All Muslims should be invited with warmth and compassion and we should all genuinely behave as brothers.

        The fact is however, these hadith

        1) Do exist. Thus, they have a purpose. And we cannot be simply like Christians and forget punishments and focus only on positive encouragement ALTHOUGH, positive encouragement is what we use more often and this is the right approach inshaa Allah.

        2) Remember the first thing the Sahaba taught a convert was salah. It comes right after the Shahadah.

        3) I happen to think those hadith which warn about abandoning salah are some of the biggest motivations to get a person to perform the daily five prayers. Perhaps if they were more well known, more people would pray. The consequences for not praying are severe.

        In fact, I even propose giving converts the absolute easiest version of everything(i.e, tell them how to do salah, just get them to say Al-Fatiha in it). Not rules and regulations which will harden their hearts towards Allah, His Messenger, and to believers. Rules and regulations come later.

        Before that, we discuss Allah, His Messenger, Last Day, and stuff on how to increase in taqwa and excel in akhlkaq-like this.

        Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Merciful; be merciful to the people of the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you.”

        Source: Sunan Abu Dawud 4941

        عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو يَبْلُغُ بِهِ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الرَّاحِمُونَ يَرْحَمُهُمْ الرَّحْمَنُ ارْحَمُوا أَهْلَ الْأَرْضِ يَرْحَمْكُمْ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاءِ

        4941 سنن أبي داود كِتَاب الْأَدَبِ الراحمون يرحمهم الرحمن

        المحدث الترمذي خلاصة حكم المحدث حسن صحيح

        Uqbah ibn Amir رضى الله عنه reported: We met the Messenger of Allah and I began speaking, saying, “O Messenger of Allah, tell me about virtuous deeds.” He صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

        يَا عُقْبَةُ صِلْ مَنْ قَطَعَكَ وَأَعْطِ مَنْ حَرَمَكَ وَأَعْرِضْ عَمَّنْ ظَلَمَكَ

        O Uqbah, reconcile with whoever cuts you off, give to whoever deprives you, and ignore whoever wrongs you.

        [Musnad Ahmad, Number 16883]

        Yes, Islam is far more than just rules. It is a deen-the only deen with Allah. It is how we enslave ourselves to Allah which was the only reason we were created.

        As for those who leave-Allah subhana wa ta’ala can bring them back. There was mass apostacy right after the Messenger of Allah sallahualayhiwasalam died. Allah aza wa jal brought them back. These recent apostates are in a far worse situation than the apostate tribes back then. Allah subhana wa ta’ala can bring them back.
        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        • Paul Bartlett says:

          “Remember the first thing the Sahaba taught a convert was salah. It comes right after the Shahadah.

          In fact, I even propose giving converts the absolute easiest version of everything(i.e, tell them how to do salah, just get them to say Al-Fatiha in it). Not rules and regulations which will harden their hearts towards Allah, His Messenger, and to believers. Rules and regulations come later.”

          However, precisely as I mentioned, for some people that is exactly what does happen. I was not joking when I wrote that the first thing I was told after I made Shahada was to cut my fingernails! The first time I went in to join the community for prayer, I had to ask someone to show me how to perform the ablution (wudu). Instruction was not offered to me ahead of time. In fact, I had only learned on my own that it was even to be done! No one told me.

          At the same time, I know that I was not the only new Muslim in that mosque who was burdened first with rules rather than the inculcation of an Islamic frame of mind. For some time I went to some Sunday lectures. After a while, a woman called out, “Rules! Dr. X, all you are giving us is rules!” Minuscule things like which sock to put on first, but no real matters like the value of prayer, why it is performed, how it is performed, and how it concerns one’s relationship to Allah (swt).

          And certainly nothing for those who find mumbling incomprehensible, meaningless syllables in a foreign tongue not to be “prayer” at all. (I will be blunt: I personally was never able to get over the hurdle of supposedly “praying” in Arabic, which is meaningless to me. I was not able to hold the meanings in mind at the same time I was mumbling those syllables. That was a significant factor why I gave up on salaat years ago.)

          Add the lack of acceptance in some (many?) mosques, and is it any wonder why so many converts eventually just leave?

        • Gibran says:

          Ok Paul Bartlett,lets start with Tawheed.

          Allah our lord, demands we enslave ourselves to him alone and no one else. Ilah in Arabic language is something that people enslave themselves to. We say “la ilaha illallah”. No one has the right to be worshiped except Allah and all other worship is false. That is because Allah is our ONLY Lord. Rabb(I translate as Lord,is the one who raises you, cares for you, nurtures you, etc.)
          That is the purpose of your creation in a nutshell. You are a slave, Allah is your caring master.

          You should know Surah Al Fatiha.
          By far, the best thing I have found as an introduction to the greatest surah in the Quran, and the only required surah in the salah is this video by Nouman Ali Khan(have you heard of him?)

          Check it out here
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4i-8XwCK_w

          Also, check this out: Tafsir Ibnu Kathir
          http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=101&Itemid=35

          Also, this site, although I do not like everything here, has some pretty amazing articles on our relationship with Allah.
          Check out these for example:
          http://www.suhaibwebb.com/relationships/withthedivine/the-need-for-allah/
          http://www.suhaibwebb.com/relationships/withthedivine/ra%E1%B8%A9mah-not-just-mercy/

          The earliest Muslims were tortured for Islam. Tortured. They hardly had brotherly comfort that early on. But they struggled through it. And we all have to struggle in one way or another. In the end, it all works out.
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7iYV90Qd5I&list=UUV7aA2UxRf3SHyxRoeYb9TQ&index=6

          In any case-Allah put it in you to come back here. As you can see, he is causing this problem to be addressed. Just look at all the converts who come here mention the same things. These problems exist for are reason. It’s not like we will just say “we believe” and not be tested.You didn’t find what you should have in the past and now you happen to find it here. Just think Allah could have put it in your heart at a different time and you would have approached the Muslim community and found the same old problems. So lets move on brother and look to a brighter future. Our time is running out anyways and there is too little time to complain.

          Anyways, if you have any more questions, this is the place to be brother!

          Welcome to Islam.

  19. Nisa says:

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullah.

    This is indeed an excellent article from an excellent writer mashaAllah! The message needs to go out more. A lot of Muslims, esp young people, neglect their prayers by sheer ignorance of its gravity, and they need to be guided with lots of patience & mercy, not reproached.

    I confess that my prayers have not been perfect although I try really hard to perform them on time – may Allah have mercy on me and guide me. A single wise article such as this is worth a thousand reprehensive, judgmental ones. MashaAllah may Allah reward the author with the best of rewards.

  20. KOLAWOLE TIRMIDHI MUKHTAR says:

    ALLAHU AKBAR!

  21. basil says:

    thanks that was very helpful

  22. nasiim says:

    Masha Allah, Jazaki Allah sister, this is really amazing. I am going to pray on time from now on in shaa Allah.

  23. bdsm Store says:

    A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment. There’s no doubt that
    that you need to publish more on this subject matter, it might not be a
    taboo subject but generally folks don’t speak about such subjects.
    To the next! Best wishes!!

  24. i'm looking path to jannah says:

    assalamualaikum…thank you so much for your sharing.it such a good answers from you..and i’m mostly like on how you teach to make a chart to keep track of prayers.i guess i can try them.may allah bless you always :-)

  25. kemi says:

    im a muslim and (god forgive me) I have a really hard time praying. I at the end of the day do pray but by the time I get up to pray I have to pray all five prayers. I have an adan alarm that calls the adan anytime its time to pray but ( again god forgive me) I ignore and continue doing what im doing its really sad, ive tried charts moral support and alarms I just need a new method to get me to pray ON TIME!

  26. Sher says:

    Hey! What do you think about reading Salah in my mother-language. I am from Pakistan, and i have heard that you can read Namaz in Urdu? What to you guys think about that?

  27. Mohammed says:

    Allahu

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

More in Belief & Worship, Prayer (55 of 164 articles)