How prayer benefits a believer’s soul

Updated 31 July 2014
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How prayer benefits a believer’s soul

Hundreds of thousands of people are born every day. They all start a new life with a magnificent creation of eyes, hands, ears, hearts, brains and all their other organs. Allah causes a person to grow in the mother’s womb from a tiny cell; nerves and veins soon cover the entire body. The heart starts beating, the liver and kidneys gradually form. The bones form in a most glorious manner. Allah expects just one thing from the person created with such great care through a combination of hundreds of thousands of details over the course of nine months: Sincerity.
Sincerity is a powerful key that opens all doors. People are only valuable in the sight of Allah when they are sincere and pure, when their hearts burn with love of Him alone. The totally sincere believer lives for Allah and breathes his last breath for Him. The brief life of this world is simply a transit point for him. He never forgets for a moment that his true home is in the hereafter, and he is never distracted for a moment by this world.
“Say: ‘My salat and my rites, my living and my dying, are for Allah alone, the Lord of all the worlds’,” (Qur’an, 6:162)
The heart of a sincere servant is always with Allah. Allah comes to his mind as soon as he rises in the morning, and all the blessings during the course of the day are by Allah’s leave alone. A believer knows that he is always in need of Allah’s mercy, and he shows this by giving thanks.
Prayer is a fine observance by which believers can express their gratitude while avoiding showiness. It is very important for a Muslim to prostrate himself before Allah five times a day in the full knowledge of his helplessness before Him, in the most punctilious manner because by fulfilling his religious observances, constantly remembering Allah and obeying the Qur’an, a believer can show that he never forgets our Lord. In prostrating himself and bowing, he praises Allah in the finest words.
“Recite what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Prayer precludes indecency and wrongdoing. And remembrance of Allah is greater still. Allah knows what you do.” (Qur’an, 45)
“This is a Book We have sent down and blessed, confirming what came before it, so that you can warn the Mother of Cities and the people around it. Those who have faith in the Hereafter believe in it and safeguard their prayer.” (Qur’an, 6:92)
As with all his observances, a devout believer shows his deep love of Allah in prayer. He rises for the morning prayer with great enthusiasm. During the day, he stops what he is doing and prays again with great zeal. Prayer is a fine observance that the human soul is created to love. In the same way that a believer enjoys a fine view, looking at a beautiful face or hearing loving compliments, so he feels the same delight in discharging his religious obligations. Prayer leads to self-confidence. It produces a deep and unshakeable bond between him and Allah. Five times a day, the believers bow to their best friend and confidant. This is a powerful and special friendship that never abandons the believer. Our Lord is alongside him in good days and in bad, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in want. The believer turns to his Lord, his friend and creator, with great enthusiasm and passion, and prostrates himself before Him. Praising Him with His finest names bestows an ineffable beauty and peace on the soul.
It is this kind of powerful sincerity that becomes the believer. There are people who say they believe but who regard praying as a burden, who rise unwillingly to pray and who neglect it or put it off yet when it comes to their own interests, these people leap out of bed first thing in the morning and would climb the highest mountains if necessary; when it comes to their own interests, they never forget, neglect or postpone anything. Yet despite all these things they neglect, Allah witnesses their insincerity at every moment. He sees what they do, even if they do not realize it. He knows what is in their hearts, and distinguishes between the sincere and insincere in the finest manner in the hereafter.
“The hypocrites think they deceive Allah, but He is deceiving them. When they get up to pray, they get up lazily, showing off to people, and only remembering Allah a very little.” (Qur’an, 4:142)
One must pray with the same joy and zeal as our Prophet (peace be upon him). Allah adorns the life of Muslims with prayer. This simple observance allows them to earn endless merit. Our Lord certainly does not need our worship; the whole universe already prostrates itself to Him and remembers Him with the finest names but we need to give thanks to our Lord and show him our deep love and respect.
There are also people in the End Times who say they believe but turn their backs on prayer. They deprive themselves of the beauty that prayer bestows on the soul of the believer, of the honor of bearing the mark of prostration on their foreheads. However, there are also believers in the End Times who pray with passion and zeal and who ignore all condemnation. They never cease to pray, no matter what. Prayer is an essential part of their lives; they live for prayer and they discharge that obligation with the utmost sincerity until their last breaths, in the hope of being among those who will enjoy Allah’s approval in the Hereafter.
When asked why they are there, the first thing the residents of hell will say is, “Because we did not pray.” Believers must not therefore fall into this trap of the satan; they must see the potential terrible consequences of ignoring this duty. They must devoutly show their gratitude to Allah and love of Him by praying five times a day. Even if there is no one else around them who prays, and even if no one sees them do it, they must make not the slightest concession on prostrating themselves. They must seek shelter in the infinite and matchless forgiveness and love of Allah.
“Everything in the heavens and everything in the earth belongs to Allah. He forgives whoever He wills and punishes whoever He wills. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an, 3:129)

The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.