Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Making your Salat more meningful with the correct intention


Most Muslims do their Salat or daily prayers today strictly as a ritual and in so doing they missed to understand the essence of the Salat. Judging from the content of the Salat and the action of most Muslims it is not wrong to deduce that they do not know the purposes of their commitment as most of them do not even understand what they are saying in their Salat. God admonishes those who do their Salat without understanding as of those being intoxicated:     

O ye who believe! Approach not prayers (Salat) with a mind befogged, until ye can understand all that ye say….(Surah 4:43)

To understand what one has to say in the Salat it is proper to understand the purposes of Salat so as one can opt with the right recitation from the Quran
to establish one own Salat. Below is a list of the various purposes of establishing the daily obligatory prayers from the Quran

To acknowledge God’s presence by Remembrance

In the Quran there are many verses regarding establishing the Salat but more than not the Salat will normally be accompanied by the command to pay the zakat or alms. In Islam this goes hand in hand because if one pays only the alms and do not establish the Salat he will not enter the kingdom of heaven as he does not acknowledge the existence and the presence of God Al Mighty.

There is no denial that some of the atheists do good deeds in this world by giving charity to the poor, caring for the old aged, they feed them a good meal and clean their toilet but since they refused to acknowledge the presence or the existence of God, they are actually a people arrogance who thought that they can exist in this world without the help and grace of God Almighty and thus it is only fair that they will not be rewarded of paradise for their arrogance.

Similarly if one establish the Salat and do not pay the zakat he will also not be rewarded to the kingdom of heaven as he does not acknowledge the presence of the poor and the needy to be helped. God who provided them with good provision and good health expects them to return by serving Him in helping others who are in need. Both duties must be done as a duty to God to help others who is in need and at the same time to worship God as He had ordained in His guidance.

But as Muslims we believe in the Unseen God, He has His Book the Quran inspired to His Apostle by inspiration and He said in various parts of the Quran the following messages to establish the Salat and pay the dues of the harvest as stated below:

“Verily I am God: there is no god but I; so worship Me and establish Salat for My remembrance.” (Surah 20:14)

And this is a Book which We have revealed as a blessing: so follow it and be righteous, that ye may receive mercy: (Surah 6:155)
It is He Who produce gardens, with trellises and without, and dates, and tilth with produce of all kinds, and olives and pomegranates, similar (in kind) and different (in variety): eat of their fruit in their season, but render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered. But waste not by excess: for Allah love not the wasters. (Surah 6:141-142)

O men! Call to mind the grace of God unto you! Is there a Creator, other than Allah, to give you sustenance from heaven or earth? There is no god but He: how then are you deluded from the truth? (Surah 35:3)                                       

Therefore remember Me, so that I may remember you and be grateful to Me and reject not faith. (Surah 2:152)

Thus as servants of God He wants us to remember Him far greater than our remembrance of our fathers who provides for us as we grow up but God is the best Provider and to show our gratitude He teaches the prophets and those who believe in His Message to perform a special ritual only for His dedication and remembrance, to His praise and glory which is a duty we have to fulfill by establishing the daily obligatory Salat. We are committed to cherish and serve Him as much as we are committed to seek His bounty for our sustenance. 

Make humility by calling on God

As a servant it is a duty one has to do to call on the Master as we are not independence of Him and He reminds us to call on Him and implore the good things in this world for our sustenance and show our humility to Him and in return He will give His response as He said to the Prophet Muhammad (AS) to make his followers be reassured:

And when My servants ask you concerning Me, I am indeed close to them: I listen to the call of prayer of every suppliant when he called on Me: let them also with a will, listen to My call and believe in Me: that they may walk in the right way. (Surah 2:186)
Call on your Lord with humility and in private: for God love not those who trespass beyond bounds. (Surah 7:55)
And your Lord says: “Call on Me and I shall answer you. Surely those who arrogantly disdain to worship Me shall enter hell utterly disgraced”
(Surah 40:60)  

And who is better in speech than the one who calls to God and does righteous deeds and says: “I am a Muslim.”? (Surah 41:33)

So call not on any other god with Allah lest you will be one of those chastised. (Surah 26:213)

The humility is not only in action of standing in Salat to bow and prostrate but also in appropriate words of humility when we surrender to Him in our prayers.

Glorify him with His good names and celebrate his Praises

The Names of God in the Quran have special meaning and in essence give the attributes of God. And His good Names are to be called upon and He is to be glorified by celebrating His Praise when performing the Salat. “AllahuAkbar” Allah is greater is not His good name as it is an invention but “Allah AlKabir” is as stated in Surah 13:9. None others can invent His names and His praise is to be celebrated as He has appropriated in the Quran. Below are commands to call by His names and to praise Him:

Prosperous is he who purifies himself, and glorify the Name of his Lord and then perform Salat (Surah 87:14-15)                                                                    

And during the night celebrate His praise and after the posture of prostration. (Surah 50:40)                                                                     

Blessed be the name of thy Lord, full of Majesty, Bounty and Honor.
(Surah 55:78)

O you who believe remember God often; and glorify Him morning and evening. (Surah 33:41-42)

Enjoin Salat on thy family (O Muhammad), and be constant therein. We ask thee not to provide sustenance: We provide it for thee. But the (fruit of) the Hereafter is for righteousness. (Surah 20:132)

From the above we are to mention His beautiful Names and do recitations of praising Him in our Salat. All the relevant verses of what to say to praise Him and all of His beautiful Names are to be found in the Quran.

To magnify God

The other purpose in the Salat is to magnify God is to extol by expressing His attribute as the Greatest and making sure that what we say and the action we take will indicate and prove that He shares with no others besides Him and to magnify Him at the highest esteem. The command in the Quran to call His names is stated below and the Prophet obeyed the way he was commanded by making the following recitation in his Salat - The command from God is to call Him by His beautiful names and praise Him in the Salat in moderated tones:

"Call upon Allah, or call upon Rahman: by whatever name ye call upon Him, (it is well): for to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Neither speaks thy Salat aloud, nor speaks it in a low tone, but seek a middle course between."

"Praise be to Allah, who begets no son, and has no partner in (His) dominion: Nor needs He any to protect Him from humiliation”; yea, magnify Him for His greatness and glory!" (Surah 17:110-111)

There are many of His Beautiful Names in the Quran and only from this Book are names which have His authority and that which He has authenticated and all His names are marked with the definite article “Al” or “The” to show that He is the only One God in the universe and none is the like unto Him. Human as a man can be merciful but God is The Merciful or Al Rahim. He is to be called by those Names with the definite article “The” and we are to shun men as those who use profanity in His Names or by inventing names without His authority. Below are some of His names mentioned with the definite article “Al” or “The” and that is the one to be extolled:    

Then celebrate with praises the name of your Lord, The Supreme! (Al Azim)
(Surah 56:74)

Whatever is in the heavens and the earth let it declare the Praises and Glory of God: for He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise. To Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: it is He Who gives life and death; and He has power over all things. He is the First and the Last, the Evident and the Immanent: and He has full knowledge of all things. (Surah 57:1-3)

Allah is He, Whom there is no other god; the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace, the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of Safety, the Exalted in Might, the Irresistible, the Supreme: Glory to God High is He above the partner they attribute to Him. He is God, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestowed of Forms. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names: whatever is in the heavens and on earth does declare His Praises and Glory: and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise. (Surah 59:23-24)

Those are the examples of the Names He mentioned in the Quran and He has given His warning not to invent any name and which are attributed to Him without His authority, those who disobeyed are the transgressors and they will be dealt with accordingly in the Day of Judgment as illustrated by the verse below:

The most beautiful names belong to God, so call on Him by them, but shun such men as use profanity in His Names: for what they do, they will soon be requited. (Surah 7:180)

Make repentance in the Salat on our wrongdoings 

God created mankind to worship Him but by characteristic we are a weak creature and are exposed not only to the influence of the Devil but also to whisper of our own soul that can suggest evil action against what have been taught in the Book of guidance the Quran. Even the Prophets were not free from sin and none of them were free from making repentance to God and even the Prophet Muhammad (AS) during his life time also made his mistake to God as proven by these verses in the Quran:

O Prophet! Why do you prohibit what God has made lawful to you? You seek to please your consorts. But God is All forgiving, (Surah 66:1)

(Muhammad) frowned and turned away, because there came to him the blind man. But what could tell thee but that perchance he might grow in spiritual understanding; or that he might receive admonition and the teaching might profit him? As to one who regards himself self-sufficient, to him did thou attend; though it is no blame to thee if he grows not in spiritual understanding but as to him who came to thee striving earnestly, and with fear in his heart, of him was thou unmindful. (Surah 80:1-10) 
As a prophet the test was greater and he had many experiences because of many events happening during his times, the Prophet was all the time constantly seeking forgiveness and make repentance to God.

The following verses show the attributes of God who is ever forgiving and some of the examples the prophet did to seek the grace of God:

We have sent down to thee (Muhammad) the Book in truth, that thou might judge between men as guided by God: so be not used as an advocate by those who betrayed their trust; but seek the forgiveness of God; for God is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah 4:105-106)
Patiently, then persevere: for the promise of God is true: and ask forgiveness for thy fault and celebrate the praises of thy Lord in the evening and in the morning. (Surah 40:55)

Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah. (Surah 33:21)

Those that turn (to Allah) in repentance; that serve Him, and praise Him; that wander in devotion to the cause of Allah,: that bow down and prostrate themselves in prayer; that enjoin good and forbid evil; and observe the limit set by Allah;- (These do rejoice). So proclaim the glad tidings to the Believers.
(Surah 9:112)

Only to Him is true Prayer (Salat)

True prayer is only for God, the reference must also mean it is our responsibility to do the prayers constantly irrespective whether the situation of our live is well and happy or arduous. By keeping constantly in touch with Him as in good times we express words of gratitude and at more difficult times we seek with words asking His solace and His mercy. He will certainly not forsake to answer our prayer if it is done with the right intention in actions and words and be constantly in contact with Him. However most of us engage in prayers only when we are in trouble. The following are examples:

And when We bestow a blessing on mankind, he turns away and withdraws himself aside, but when evil afflicts him he is full of prolonged prayers.
(Surah 41:51)

And when mankind is afflicted, he calls upon Us, laying on his side, or sitting or standing, but when We remove his affliction from him, he passes on as if he had never called upon Us when affliction beset him. Thus do the deeds of the transgressors seem fair in their eyes? (Surah 10:12)

For Him alone is prayer in Truth: any others that they call upon besides Him hear them no more than if they were to stretch forth their hands for water to reach their mouth but it reaches them not: for the prayer of those without faith is nothing but futile wandering in the mind. (Surah 13:14)

Celebrate the praises of your Lord, and pray for His forgiveness, for He is ever relenting. (Surah 110:3).

So one has to be steadfast in the prayer and surrender to Him and be thankful all the time irrespective of our situation. Thus the Salat is the time to offer words of gratitude and words of adjuration to God.

Seeking help against Satan and our own dark Souls

Our souls are not only exposed to the influence and evil suggestions of the Devil but we are also exposed to the suggestions of our own soul to do evil. The Devil sworn to God he will entice mankind to deviate from the right path. He was subjugated by his dark soul when he became arrogant to obey God’s command to prostrate to Adam. He failed the test and disobeyed God’s command not because of anyone’s influence but only because of his ego and he was never repentance but instead continue to pledge to divert mankind to follow his evil path and to become astray from the guidance of the Quran:

Iblis said: “O my Lord! Because you have me astray, I shall make evil alluring to them and I shall lead them all astray; except Your devoted servants among them. (Surah 15:39)  

Likewise without the influence of the Devil and anyone else, men still have the freedom of choice to follow the suggestions of their good soul to take the guidance indicated in God’s Book or to follow the ego of their souls which is prone to evil. Pharaoh is an example of an arrogance soul claiming his self to be God in defiance of the True God as shown in the following verses:

And Pharaoh said: “O Chiefs, I do not know of any god for you other than myself, burn for me bricks of clay, O Haman, and build for me a tower, that I may climb up to the God of Moses, for I consider him to be a liar.” And Pharaoh and his soldiers were unjustly arrogant and proud in the land, and they deemed that they should never return to Us. (Surah 28:38-39)

Apart from Pharaoh, there is the example of Samiri during the time of Moses, he made idol in the shape of a calf diverting his people from worshipping the true God. The same error is the example shown by one of the two sons of Adam who was deluded not by the Devil but by his own selfish interest that killed his brother. Both verses described the character respectively: 

Moses said: “And what have you to say O Samiri? He replied: “I saw what the people did not see, and I grasped a handful of dust from the footprint of the apostle and cast it into it, thus my soul prompted me.” (Surah 20:95-96)

Then his soul prompted him to kill his brother and he killed him, and became among the losers. (Surah 5:30)

These are some of the examples that without the influence of the Devil mankind can also be diverted from the right path as man is given the free choice for him to make his own decision to be good by taking the way of the right path or to be bad either he take the path of the Evil One or he is helpless against his own ego of being arrogance and follow his own whims and fancies. As such God inspired the Prophet Muhammad what to utter in such a situation when he feel there is disturbing suggestion to his soul which tend him to incline to divert from the right path. He will implore God and recite the following in his Salat:

“O my Lord! I seek refuge with thee from the suggestions of the Evil Ones. And I seek refuge with thee my Lord from their presence. (Surah 23:97-98)

Verily God will not deal unjustly with men in aught: It is man that wrongs his own soul. (Surah 10:44)

“Our Lord, we have wronged our own souls, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy on us, we shall certainly be among the losers. (Surah 7:23)

We were command to pray for provision in this world and paradise in the next World

One of the purposes to perform the Salat is to ask provision from God of this world and paradise in the hereafter. Although we are created to toil to earn our living for provision to sustain and maintain our families, there is no guaranty that we will surely achieve what we aimed for. But through prayer there is hope, and hope is a strong tool in expecting patiently and waiting for His mercy: The following verses bid us to beg for His bounties:

And in no wise covet those things in which God has bestowed His gift more freely on some of you than on others: to men is allotted  what they earn and to women what they earn: But ask God of His bounty; for God has full knowledge of all things. (Surah 4:32).
Enjoin Salat on your family and be constant therein. We ask you not for provision, but We provide you. And the hereafter is for the piety.
(Surah 20:132). 

God is the Provider for our sustenance, it is He that feed us and He is not fed.
It is not only the provision of this world we are to beg on Him but even for the good of the hereafter. For those who pray for the good of this world only, he will not have the good portion of the hereafter but it is the hereafter which is for eternity:

Say: “Is this better, or the Eternal Gardens, promised to the pious, and that is their reward and destiny“; for they shall have what they please and dwell there forever; it is a promise to be prayed for from your Lord.” (Surah 25:15-16)

And Abraham prayed for the Garden saying “Make me one of the inheritors of the Garden of Bliss. (Surah 26:85).
Our Lord, I have settled some of my off springs in a valley where there is no cultivation, by Your Sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish Salat, so make the hearts of people yearn towards them, and provide them with sustenance, that they may be grateful.(Surah 14:37)
And be steadfast in Salat and regular in charity: And whatever good ye send forth for your souls before you, ye shall find it with Allah: for Allah sees well all that ye do. (Surah 2:110)

Verily We have created man into toil and struggle. (Surah 90:4)

Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere, who say, when afflicted with calamity: "To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return" (Surah 2:155-156)


It is now time to make our own exposition whether the content of our Salat express our true intention in term of actions and words as depicted in the Quran. We have the right of choice to put the appropriate words that reflect our current situation in humble supplication and put forward for God in our Salat the words of praise and glorification.