Perfecting Your Solāt
By Khurram Murad
In the Name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks are due to Allāh, The Lord of the al-ā’lamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger.
Solāt is the first pillar of Islām, and that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) mentioned after mentioning the testimony of faith, by which one becomes a Muslim. Allāh has declared it’s obligatory upon all the believers’ status with majestic circumstances.
Allāh spoke directly to Moses (`Alaihis-Salam), and said:
Allāh spoke directly to Moses (`Alaihis-Salam), and said:
"And I have chosen you, so listen to that which is inspired to you. Verily, I am Allāh! There is none worthy of worship but Me, so worship Me and offer solat perfectly for My remembrance."
The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said:
"The first matter that the servant will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the solāt. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad."
[Recorded by al-Tabarani: it is sahih; Al-Albāni, Sahīh al-Jami, vol.1, p. 503]
There are several discipline and manner that enables you to perfect your solat:
- Set Paradise the ultimate goal. Allāh’s forgiveness and pleasure is closely related to the solāh. The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "Allāh has obligated five solāh. Whoever excellently performs their ablutions, Solāh them in their proper times, completes their bows, prostrations and Kyushu’ has a promise from Allāh that He will forgive him. And whoever does not do that has no promise from Allāh. He may either forgive him or punish him."[Mālik, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Nasā’ie and others. According to al-Albāni, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 1, p. 616]
- Kyushu` in the Solāh is where the person’s heart is attuned to the Solāh. This feeling in the heart is then reflected on the body. The person remains still and calm. His gaze is also lowered. Even his voice is affected by this feeling in the heart. For more details on this concept (as well as the difference between it and khudhu’). [See Muhammad al-Shaayi, al-Furūq al-Laughawiyyah wa Atharahā fi Tafīr al-Quran al-Karīm (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ubaikān, 1993), pp. 249-254.]
- Assess your mental readiness for Solāh before its commencement, during the various postures with its attendant recitations, after each rak’ah (unit of prayer) and ultimately, at the end. Try to make improvements at each stage.
- Performed Solāt with humility both in your mental state and in your physical manner. Performed the Solāt with hope and awe, asking Allāh Subhanahu wa Ta’ala for His mercy and forgiveness.
- Remind yourself continually that you are talking to the most important 'Being' in your life: your Creator and Sustainer. Allāh Almighty is in front of you. You are facing Him and you are involved in a dialogue with Him.
- Commence your Solāt by seeking Allāh's help and protection from the influences of Satan.
- Lower your gaze while praying and do not allow the physical environment to distract you. Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said to his Companion, Anas Ibn Mālik (radiallahu’anhu), "My dear son, be sure to avoid being distracted during Prayer, for, to become distracted while praying is a disaster." [At-Tabarāni]
- Use a variety of Qurānic verses and duā’ in your Solāt to achieve greater concentration and awareness.
- Adopt a whispering technique in your recitation. This will increase your ability to remain focused on what you are saying. As you recite the Qurān, translate it in your mind into your own language so that your attention is held. As you concentrate upon the meaning and implications of the words, all thoughts of worldly ideas will disappear.
- On each occasion that you recite the attributes of Allāh in bowing and prostration, consider how indebted you are and how grateful you should be to Allāh and express your true emotions.
- Utilize the occasion of prostration to make additional dua’ to Allāh. Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, “A servant is nearest to his Lord when he is prostrating, so increase your supplication when in prostration." [Muslim]
- Make your Solāh of moderate duration, so that you do not become physically and mentally tired. But be aware that while in Solāh, you must take your time Solāt.
- Give due regard to the proper performance of all the physical postures.
- Solāt as if it is your last Prayer. Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, “When you stand up to pray, perform your Solāt as if it were your last, do not say anything you will have to make excuses for tomorrow, and resolve to place no hope in what is in the hands of men.” [Ahmad]
- Performing your Solāh (Prayer) in a satisfactory manner should lead to a radical change in the way you lead your daily life. Allāh says in the Qurān what means, “Surely, Solāh prevents indecency and evil " [Al-`Ankabut 29:45]
- Your improved and more disciplined life will, in turn, help the quality of your Solat to increase even more. The two should feed one another and continuously reinforce each other.
- That there is punishment for a Solāt not performed satisfactorily. It will be a witness against you rather than a witness for you on the Day of Judgment.
- The reward for a Solāh well performed is immeasurable. Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "If a man performs two units of Solāh without the distraction of any worldly thought, all his previous sins will be forgiven." [Al-Bukhari]
- Late Night Prayers, even though it is not obligatory, try to establish late night prayers as part of your nightly activities. Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "The best Solāh after the obligatory Solat is the Qiyam al-Layl (Night Prayer)." [Muslim].
- One of the characteristics of servants of the Most Merciful is that they get up at night and perform late Qiyām al-Layl (Night Prayers). Night vigil is a source of great spiritual energy. Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) has said, “Keep up your Night Prayers. It was the way of the virtuous who came before you, it draws you nearer to your Lord, atones for your sins, forbids you from evil and protects the body from sickness.” [At-Tirmidzi].
- The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) also said, "When a man wakes up his wife at night and they pray two rak’at (units) together, they are written down among the men and women who remember Allah." [Abu Dawud]
- The Qurān also commends the one, who utilizes the early hours of each day to engage in remembrance of Allāh, “Is one who worships devoutly during the hours of the night prostrating himself or standing [in adoration] and who places his hope in the mercy of His Lord [like one who does not]? Say are those equal: those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endowed with understanding that receive admonition.” [Az-Zumar 39:9]
Allāh Knows Best
(This article is excerpted from the author's book, entitled ‘In the Early Hours’, first published by Islamic Foundation. Khurram Murad (1932-1996) studied civil engineering at the universities of Karachi, Pakistan and Minnesota, USA, and was actively involved in the Islamic movement and in the training of Islamic workers. Many of his books, both in English and in Urdu, are being published posthumously.)
[Via Islam Online dated Wednesday, 18 March 2009]