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How to be earnest in salat – Part 1

What salat actually is

Surah an Nahl v48 – ‘Have they not seen how every object that Allah
has created, how its shadow is cast to the left and right, prostrating
itself to Allah, whilst they are humble.

And to Allah prostrates all that is in the heavens and the earth of living
creatures…and the angels, and they are not arrogant’ – Allah swt
creates a visual image through this verse.

Example of picture of tree circulated on the internet – almost in state

of ruku, similarly animals
Insects – position similar to state of sajda

All of creation bows down to Allah swt.

References in Qur’an to protecting your prayer. Image of protecting –

something very precious. Something vulnerable – something which can
become tarnished or spoiled.

The way mother protects her children from evil influences, going to
places or eating certain things. Salat is something precious and
something vulnerable so we have to protect it from distractions, we
have to protect it from insincerity, we have to protect it from being
abused or just neglected completely.

If we look at the imagery Allah swt uses in relation to salat in the

Qur’an, begin to understand what it is all about.

Salat protects from evil.

Argument – some people who are evil pray, people who lie and cheat
and hurt people – isn’t it ok to be a good person, what is the point of
salat (if you are so cruel and nasty)- argument which is used against
salat. But answer to that objection - something wrong with their salat,
rather than salat itself.

Significance of the adhaan recited in the baby’s ear – so the seed of

iman in every baby’s heart is given a chance to flourish

Salat as a shield

Salat supposed to be like a shield, like our conscience – every time we

get up from the prayer mat, should be a reminder. If after getting up
from the prayer mat and actions are the same words are the same, its
made no difference – need to do some serious soul-searching.

Allah swt decribes it as a shield which protects us from the traps of


Salat as a weapon

Ayat in Surah Bakarah ‘O you who believe, seek help in sabr and salat’.
Salat described as a tool, as a weapon, as a means of acquiring sabr,
as a means of acquiring constancy

Concept of salat – dynamic - something that is controlling you,

something that is cleansing you, and something that is changing the
way you live.

If you have ever prayed salat in moments of anguish, will understand

how sabr and salat are linked.

How does salat give you sabr. The fear that you had ebbs away.

When you cry before Allah, you know He cares. You know He is not
going to fob you off with words of empty sympathy, you know He is
going to do something for you. When cry before Allah – it become a
release for your pain, and your pain becomes a source of strength.
When we cry before people – come out feeling much worse than

Image of salat as a weapon, so in times of distress and time of anguish

seek recourse to the prayer mat.

Salat as a tranquiliser

Once one of the companions had a terrible headache and was told to
go and pray. We often say can’t pray because we have a headache,
whereas Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wa Aalihi wa sallam said ‘the
coolness of my eyes has been made in salat’. Something restoring your
inner tranquillity and grace and giving you the answers that you

Salat has the potential to energise you. American convert said when I
am exhausted or upset or have a lot to do, I get on the prayer mat and
read 2 rakah nafls. Our favourite excuse is ‘I’m too busy to read salat
today’, or ‘let me just read the fard but skip the Sunnah and nafl as I
have to be leaving.’ How many of us get on a prayer mat and read a
long prayer on a very busy and hectic day?
Salat is like you’ve read it and you’re over and done with it, thank
goodness, now you can focus on the dunya and that’s why salat
doesn’t give us strength it doesn’t relax us, it makes us more tense.

If you want your salat to help you, you have to work hard at your salat.

Salat as a cleanser

Most powerful cleansing agent there is – compared to water. Water

purifying agent – gives life - without water there would be no life.

Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wa Aalihi wa sallam said that there is an

angel who at every prayer says ‘O Children of Adam, stand up to the
fire which you have ignited and extinguish it’. The fire of lies, of gossip,
of cruelty, of wasting your time, being angry with Allah, of bitterness,
of rancour, jealousy, hatred – everything negative we have done, said
or thought during the day.

Can destroy our souls - have to do something about it – the way to

extinguish it, is through salat.

Hadith narrated through Abu Hurairah – Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi

wa Aalihi wa sallam said ‘Do you think if there was a river at the door
of one of you, and he bathed in it five times a day, would any dirt
remain on him. They said no dirt would remain on him. He said that is
how it is with the five daily prayers. Through them Allah swt washes
away the sins.

Essence of salat – salat is like a direct hotline with Allah swt – verse in
the Qur’an - ‘Establish salat so you can remember me’, so you can get
to know me, so you can become close to me.’

Sign of the hypocrites salat that when they rise, they rise languidly,
lazily. And they remember Allah very little. Scary – not that they don’t
remember Allah, just remember Allah very rarely – maybe once in the
first rakah and then in sajda that this is Allah I am praying to, and then
his mind is distracted, wandering elsewhere.

Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wa Aalihi wa sallam said ‘He will only have
as much salat as he understood’. Salat not about muttering words
without understanding. Its about a conscious bonding with Allah.

What salat consists of

Comprises actions and words – both important.

First action is the stillness required for us to start salat – for 10-15
mins, binding oneself to one place, not talking, eating, moving (beyond
movements of salat), staying in one place for Allah and Allah alone-
expression of love for Allah which is why Allah loves salat

First posture – Qiyam – standing before Allah. Salat in a way represents

our ultimate meeting with Allah. Just as on that day we will stand
empty handed, defenceless, vulnerable in the same way 5 days we
stand before Allah focused, absolutely obeying him.

Ruku – symbol of humility that you are bowing. Humility is a key

element in all relationships in Islam. Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wa
Aalihi wa sallam said ‘Whoever humbles himself for Allah’s sake, Allah
will exalt him’. This is the attitude we see in the Sunnah. This is the
way the Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wa Aalihi wa sallam lived his life.
If he met someone, he would be the first to extend his hand (and the
last to withdraw) and the first to give salam. If someone called his
name he would turn around completely. Sign of his softness and his
humility – something that Allah loves.

Sajda – peak/ supreme moment of salat. Gesture of total submission.

Like saying ‘I give up everything before You – I am helpless, I am
nobody and you are my creator, you are my master’ because when we
place the centre of our intellect before Allah, that’s like saying Allah I
have surrendered my intellect to you, my desires to you. My life and
my death all belong to you.

The Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wa Aalihi wa sallam said the greatest

thief amongst the people is the one who steals from his prayer, not
completing its ruku or sajda – a sign of hypocrisy. No matter how much
of a rush you are in, make sure ruku and sajda are calm and

Salam – turn to the right and left with a message of peace.

Lessons – obedience, humility, submission and finally peace. All

concepts we find in Islam

Why do we have to do this in a physical form? Could he not just have

given us a copy of these concepts? Why do we have to act them out?
Beautiful saying
I hear, I forget
I see, I remember,
I do, I understand
Act of sajda worth a hundred lectures on humility. Have to prove your
words. Sajda physical expression of La ila ha illallah.