Recite what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish salat. Salat precludes indecency and wrongdoing. And remembrance of Allah is greater still. Allah knows what you do.” (Quran 29:45)
As we all know, Muslims are obligated to pray five times a day and there are very few exceptions to this obligation. To not perform all prayers during their prescribed time is a grave sin that you will have to answer for on the Day of Judgement. Along with our five mandatory prayers, the Prophet(SAW) was known to also pray extra prayers which we have come to know as "Sunnah salah" these prayers are in addition to the five that we already have to do and more blessings are earned for praying them.
Whenever I'm engaging in a conversation with someone about the importance of prayer a common question is "why is the prayer so formatted? Why can't someone just sit down and pray to God?" I think this questions stems mainly from our understanding of what prayer is. In Islam, the prayers that we engage in five times a day are called "salah" which are referred to as ritualistic prayers. These prayers come with their prescribed sayings and movements and must be done in the proper manner. In Islam, we also have the concept of "dua" which is most often referred to as "supplications". This is when we simply sit down and ask/tell Allah what we want.
Salah has been ordained upon us for numerous reasons. This first and foremost reason is that it is a sort of test, a way to gauge our obedience and submission to our creator. Allah(SWT) is asking us to wake up from our sleep, pause whatever work we're doing, turn off our favorite tv show to worship him. He's testing us by seeing if we will truly disengage from our worldly affairs and worship him. Salah also gives us a chance to connect with Him and His word. During our busy day, He is giving us an opportunity to stop at least five times to just remember Him, to talk to Him, to connect with Him. The Prophet(SAW) tells us that “When any one of you stands to pray, he is communicating with his Lord, so let him pay attention to how he speaks to Him.” as well as that “The closest a person is to His Lord is when he is in prostration” Observing our salah helps to build a closer and better relationship with our creator.
By enjoining the act of salah upon us, Allah(SWT) is also giving us the opportunity to remember him and remember his guidance and mercy. Seventeen times a day(the amount of rakat total in the 5 prayers) we recite Surah Al-Fatiha. That means that 17 times every day, we remember through our recitations that Allah is merciful, that He is The Master of the Day of Judgement, that He is The most compassionate. Seventeen times a day we make dua to Him to help us stay on the straight path. Simply by stopping what we are doing five times a day for no more than 10-15 minutes, we are able to engage in such a rewarding practice.
Salah is also important because it guards us from evil and helps us stay away from sins. When we make salah we are seeking Allah’s help and protection. We are asking him to protect us from the temptations of Shaytan and assist us in remaining steadfast. Observing salah protects us from committing sins because if one is sincere in their salah, they will most likely not finish their salah and then go engage in haraam activities. Alongside this, if one is engaging in haraam behaviour and still values their salah, stopping to pray removes them from sinful situations.
There are many Muslims in the world who find it hard to pray salah, some of them don't see the importance of it and some simply don't try hard enough to make it a part of their day. There are also some who despite constantly trying, just don’t seem to be able to wake up for fajr or take a ten minute break from work to pray. May Almighty Allah make it easy for us and keep us on His path.
It is very important to make sure that you are observing your salah at the appropriate times. Include it in your daily routine the same way you include doing an assignment or going to work. It’s not only important to observe salah regularly and timely, as Muslims we must also make sure that we are completely focused in salah and are dedicated to it. If the entire time that you are praying, your mind is contemplating all of the work that you still need to do or the party you went to last night, you are not completely focused and are in essence just engaging in movements. Don’t treat salah as if it is an annoying chore but instead treat it as AN IMPORTANT APPOINTMENT THAT YOU HAVE WITH YOUR CREATOR. Treat it as an appointment that cannot be missed, an appointment that you’ve been waiting for since the last time that you “met”. When praying salah, focus on the words you are saying, the meaning of them and remember, “Allahu Akbar”(God is Great). We repeat that statement constantly in the course of our salah, this assists in reminding us that regardless of what is going through our mind, regardless of all of the worldly affairs that we need to attend to, God is greater and he deserves our full and undivided attention during salah. Pray your salah earnestly, as if its your last because in all actuality, it could be your last.
Growing up, I always prayed salah when it suited me. I never really focused on the prescribed times and was told that you could just combine your prayers if you were busy with school or work or just in the midst of a conversation with friends. In actuality though, that is not true. In regards to praying salah on time and regularly, we should remember that there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from praying fajr(early morning prayer) and isha(evening/last prayer of the day) because for those two prayers you are most likely at home and therefore your only distraction is YOU. In regards to zuhr, asr and maghrib, most of us are at work or school during these times but that shouldn’t stop us from praying salah either. For those who are in school, it is possible for you step into an empty classroom during lunch time to pray salah, just kindly ask a teacher and if there are other Muslims in your school, collectively speak with your principal so that they know it’s something that you need to do. For those who work, it’s also just as simple to pray in a quiet corner during lunch time or any break time that you have. If you can spare the time to text or call your friend, you can definitely spare the time to worship your creator. If you’ve been struggling with salah, make sure you’re refraining from engaging in haram and negative things because such things affect your iman and affect your willingness to pray. Also, surround yourself by those who make salah a priority. This is definitely something that helped me make my salah regularly, having friends who regardless of what we’re doing or where we are, will still say, “lets find a corner and go make salah”.
At the end of the day, if you don’t make salah important in your life, you won’t value it and you won’t take the time to make sure that you are properly observing it. You don’t want to be one of the ones who die and are wishing that they could back and make salah one more time.
Always remember “I am Allah. There is no god but Me, so worship Me and establish salat to remember Me.” (Qur'an 20:14)
How do you make sure that you pray your salah on time? Do you have suggestions for individuals who find it hard to pray regularly.
As humans in this dunya we are inundated by many distractions, misguidance, and falsehoods therefore making life much more confusing and difficult. What are we thinking, saying, observing, and experiencing in our lives? Are we truly living by Islamic ideals? This is where we can choose to actively “Strive For Clarity.”