We do it every day. Five times in a day -day in, day out. To the extent that it has become a huge part of our lives, that we just do it on autopilot.
Depending on when we started praying salaah constantly, it usually comes to a point in our lives when it becomes so natural that we don’t even think so much about it anymore. We unconsciously unfold the mat, wear our hijab, and say ‘Allahu Akbar’. It becomes merely a flurry of activity -bending this way, and that way -that it is nothing more than a physical form of exercise.
Because of that, we don’t remember to improve our salaah. We don’t realize that we have to upgrade our worship from the 1.0 version that we learnt from our parents -or when we first converted, to the 2.0 version that shows that we’ve grown. The improved version that shows we’ve gained more knowledge.
If we don’t improve our salaah, how can it do its job? How can it do its job of bringing us closer to Allah? How can it do its job of protecting us from sins? How can it do its job of reminding us of our purpose in this world? How can it do its job, to remind us, from prayer to prayer, to strive to be better Muslims?
We are going to be discussing five major mistakes that we make in our salaah, and ways that we can correct them.
MISTAKE 1: RUSHING OVER
I know. We are busy. We have appointments to catch, things to do, work to complete, and so on. But is it fair for us to rush the prayers of the Owner of Time? Is it okay to do the wordly work that we are supposed to do -diligently and carefully, and roughly complete the Salah of Our Rabb (Lord)?
Abdullah ibn Mughafal reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, the worst thieves among people are those who steal from their prayers.” It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, how do they steal from their prayers?” The Prophet said, “They do not complete its bowing or its prostration. The most miserly of people are those who are miserly with the greeting of peace.”
Source: al-Mu’jam al-Awsat 3503
Grade: Hasan (fair) according to Al-Mundhiri
We should do our takbeers, sadjah (prostration), rukoo’(bowing), etc., with such accuracy and slowness, that our minds and heart become at peace, and only focus on worshipping Allah. Before we start to pray, we have to be calm, and trust in Allah that He wouldn’t make us late to wherever we are going, or what we need to do. Realize that we are charging our spiritual batteries. Let’s take a break from our lives, by relaxing in prayer.
The Prophet (S.A.W) said: “A man’s prayer is not good enough until his back is straight in rukoo’ (bowing) and sujood (prostration).”
(Reported by Abu Dawud, 1/533; see also Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7224).
This is Allah Azawajal we are praying to. The One that can answer all our prayers, and grant our wishes. So lets take our time to thank Him and ask Him for whatever we might need.
MISTAKE 2: NOT DRESSING PROPERLY
Another aspect that we usually ignore, and not take seriously, is how we dress to pray. We forget that we are going to stand in front of the One Whom we are meant to be extremely shy and modest in front of.
The Prophet (S.A.W) said: “Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who menstruates (i.e. an adult woman) unless with a khimaar (covering)” Narrated by Aaishah and collected in Abu Dawood, 641; al-Tirmidhi, 377; Ibn Maajah, 655; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7747
Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) was asked about what clothes a woman should pray in. She said: “She should pray in a khimaar (head cover) and a long chemise that covers the tops of her feet.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 639). This hadeeth was also narrated in a marfoo’ report (i.e. attributed to the Prophet (S.A.W)
Allah says in Surah Al-A’raf, ayah 31
“O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes), while praying and going round (the Tawaf of) the Ka’abah, and eat and drink but not waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance)”
How we dress in prayer is essential, hence even if we are not opportune to wear the proper hijab, we should always endeavor to keep a khimar, if possible (long enough to cover the tops of our feet) in our bags when we go out -in order to fulfill the obligation of covering ourselves properly in prayer.
MISTAKE 3: LACK OF CONCENTRATION
Allah says in Surah Al-Mu’minoon, verse 23, ayah 1-2;
“Successful indeed are the believers. –Those who offer their salah (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness”
And in Surah Al Baqarah, ayah 238;
“Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah, devoutly obedient.”
Our lack of concentration usually stems from the fact that we don’t know the meaning of the words that we recite. Hence we should endeavor to learn the meanings of the words we use, in order to help our concentration in salaah.
MISTAKE 4: NOT FOLLOWING THE IMAM
Al-Baraa’ ibn ‘Aazib (may Allah be pleased with him) said that they used to pray behind the Prophet (S.A.W): “When he raised his head from rukoo’ (bowing), I would never see anyone bending his back in sujood(prostration) until the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) had placed his forehead on the ground, then everyone would go down in sujood behind him.”
(Reported by Muslim, no. 474, ‘Abd al-Baaqi edition)
We unconsciously or consciously move faster than the imam in congregational prayer. We are going down in rukoo’ before him, standing up from sujood while he is still down, and so on. It is always advisable to wait till the imam completes the statement and does the action, before following in suit.
MISTAKE 5: FIDGETING
I asked the Prophet (S.A.W) about one’s looking here and there during the prayer. He replied, “It is what Satan steals from the prayer of any one of you.”
Sahih al-Bukhari 3291. In Book 59, Hadith 100 USC
Moving excessively during prayer -adjusting the hijab, checking the time, looking here and there –is disliked. We should always try to comport ourselves as much as possible, and avoid distractions.
Salaah is one of the most important act of worship. The Prophet (S.A. W) said:
“The first thing for which a person would be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer; if it is good, then he has succeeded and he has prospered. But if it is lacking, he has lost and failed.”
Sunan At-Thirmidhi, 413
Let us all try to improve on our prayers constantly, and read books pertaining to that. May Allah accept our salaah. Ameen