Hello there reader and Ramadhan Mubarak!
A few weeks ago, I gave a talk to approximately 100 people at the institute where I study. I spoke about the importance and reward of salah and the consquences for not performing salah. Often this is a topic we think we know so much about and it can get a bit yawn-worthy because we've heard it all before.
I wanted to give my audience something to take back with them and something which they could adopt and put into practice. I gave them some tips on how to overcome laziness towards salah, how we can prepare ourselves for salah and how we can enhance our concentration in salah. I thought it would be worth sharing with you too.
1. Spend your day in the state of wudhu.
From today onwards, let's try to stay in wudhu at all times. When you wake up and go to the bathroom, make wudhu even if you're not going to perform salah at the moment and if you break your wudhu, then renew it soon after. In this way, you won't feel so lazy towards performing salah when the time enters as you're already in the state of wudhu.
2. Making a firm intention.
Personally, I find waking up for Fajr one of the hardest things to do. I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say that a bed is one of the cosiest places to be. Getting out of a warm bed to pray Fajr can sometimes feel like a chore! So, every night before going to sleep make a firm intention that you will wake up in the early hours of the morning if Allah wills, do wudhu and pray Fajr on time. Say it aloud to yourself and say it with conviction with no doubt left in your heart.
3. Be a walking, talking alarm clock.
Pair up with a family member or a dear friend of yours and when the time for Fajr begins, go to your sisters room and wake her up and if you’ve paired up with a friend then send her a wake up message and continue sending reminders until you can be sure that they’ve woken up and prayed.
Using an alarm is fine if it works for you but it’s so tempting to press the snooze button and before you know it, the time for Fajr has lapsed and it’s already sunrise. Sometimes it’s hard to do things alone and we need the support of others to encourage us and give us those much needed reminders. Then once your body is scheduled for waking up for Fajr, you’ll be able to do it all by yourself.
If you’d rather conquer waking up for Fajr on your own, which by all means, you can - then I suggest putting on an alarm thrice with 10 minute intervals. If you’re using your phone then put your phone on the other side of the room so you have no choice but to get out of bed, switch the alarm off, make wudhu and pray.
4. “Get in the zone” - get yourself focused.
When we are going to do something important whether that’s completing a university assignment or a project at work or anything like that then what we do we do? We make sure that we’re not distracted. We make sure that we isolate ourselves and go to a quiet place where we can be as productive as possible. In the same way, we should do the same for salah. We need to identify the things which are going to distract us in salah and eliminate them.
For example our phones. Put your phone on silent or switch it off altogether and put it in another room if you must. That way we won’t feel the need to hurry up and reply to messages or return any missed calls. Anything which allows us to focus, concentrate and block out the world during salah can only benefit us. So if you want, maybe you can sit on your prayer mat for a while and do dhikr or read Durood so that you can get into the zone for salah.
5. Complete your needs before offering salah.
If you have quite a bit of time for salah and you’re hungry and thirsty then go and eat some food or drink some water and then pray salah. In that way, you won’t need to think about hunger or thirst whilst you’re praying and it’ll help to focus in salah. The same goes with needing the toilet. If you need the toilet, just go and use the bathroom first and then make wudhu and pray with concentration.
6. Increase the importance and significance of the salah you're going to pray.
Try to think of it as your last opportunity of worship. Think of it as the one Allah is going to question you about on the Day of Qiyaamah and maybe by doing this, we’ll be able to perform salah with the devotion and concentration we’re looking for. The truth is, it might very well be the last one because there is no guarantee that we’ll live to perform another prayer.
Imam Ghazali in his book Bidaayatul Hidaayah says: “Worship Allah in your salah as though you can see Him. If you cannot perceive Him then indeed He can see you. If your heart is not present and your limbs are not in tranquility, then this is your inability to recognise the glory of Allah”.
He also says in his book that imagine a pious person in our family was sitting nearby and watching our every move to see how we perform salah. During that time when that pious person is watching, our hearts will become present.
We’ll perfect every posture and if we’re doing this for our family member, then what about Allah, who is our Magnificent Lord? What about our Creator and our Sustainer? What about the Most Merciful and the Most Forgiving? Allah created this pious member of our family too just as he created us. We should be perfecting our salah for the sake of Allah alone!
7. Ask for help through dua.
After each salah, sit on your prayer mats for as long as you wish, whether it’s for two minutes or more and use that time to make dua. Without the help of Allah, we won’t be able to perform salah how it’s required from us. We need to ask Allah to remove any laziness towards salah, to make it a meaningful part of our daily lives and keep us steadfast with our routine. Even if you do feel like you possess some sort of devotion, care and quality during salah, it is still extremely important to make continuos dua to Allah. He is listening and He’ll do what’s best for us. We need to thank Allah for all His bounties and for giving us the ability to perform salah and pray to Him despite our many many faults.
These tips are a reminder for myself first and foremost. If you have any others which you think might benefit other people, then feel free to write them in the comments below! May Allah give all of us the ability to perform salah like it ought to be performed and ultimately gain Allah’s pleasure.