Honourable Nature, Inborn Good, Prep for Prayer
Issue 466 » February 29, 2008 - Safar 22, 1429
Chapter 31: Verse 32
"Whenever the waves, like giant shadows, engulf them, they pray to God in all sincerity and devotion. But no sooner does He bring them safe to land, some of them hold back their belief. None will deny our revelations except the treacherous and the ungrateful."
Human beings are overwhelmed by God's grace and generosity. We live off the earth He has created; we breathe the air He has made available; we eat the nutritious food He has provided. Many, of course, forget all this and behave towards God as if He does not exist at all. Nevertheless, these very people would run to God in times of hardship, but as soon as they are out of danger, they revert to their disgraceful attitudes.
Gratitude is a sign of common sense and an honourable nature. When God praised Noah, He described him as "a thankful servant" (al-Isra: 3), and He praised Abraham as "grateful for his Lord's favours." (al-Nahl: 121).
When Prophet Muhammad was asked why he devoted so much time to prayer and dedication to God, he replied: "Should I not be grateful servant of my Lord?" We must be made aware of these facts and exhorted not to abuse the favours God has bestowed upon us.
"Thematic Commentary on The Quran" - Muhammad Al-Ghazali, pp. 504, 505
Seek the Good in Everyone
We must recognise that every person who believes in Allah and in His Messenger cannot be devoid of some inborn good, however evil his practice may be. Involvement in major transgressions does not uproot a person's iman unless the transgressor deliberately defies Allah and scorns His commands. We have to heed the Sunnah of the Prophet who used to treat wrongdoers as a physician would treat a patient, not as a policeman would treat a criminal. He was very kind to them and always listened to their problems.
The following example illustrates this point: a Qurayshi adolescent once came upon the Prophet and asked permission to fornicate. The Prophet's Companions were so outraged by the young man's request that they rushed to punish him, but the Prophet's attitude was totally different. Calm and compose, he asked the young man to come closer to him and asked: 'Would you approve of it [fornication] for your mother?' The young man replied: 'No'. The Propohet said: '[Other] people also would not approve of it for their mothers'. Then the Prophet repeatedly asked the young man whether he would approve of it for his daughter, sister, or aunt? Each time the young man answered 'No,' and each time the Prophet added that '[Other] people would not approve of it for theirs'. He then held the young man's hand and said: 'May Allah forgive his [the young man's] sins, purify his heart, and fortify him [against such desires]' (Ahmad and Tabarani).
The Prophet's sympathetic attitude clearly indicates a gesture of goodwill, a conviction that inborn goodness of the human self outweighs the elements of evil which could only be transient.
Islam: The Way of Revival, "The Ethics of Dawa and Dialogue" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 224, 225
Mental Preparation before the Prayer
- The planning of your daily activities should revolve around the five daily
Salah. Do not plan everything else and then try to fit Prayer into your
busy schedule. Allah deserves a greater place in our lives than that!
- Ensure that you are conversant with all the rules and regulations
governing your Prayer. Research in depth the Quranic verses and
ahadith relating to the virtues of Salah. Uncertainty in how to perform
one's prayer perfectly is a major cause of distraction.
- Be punctual with your Prayer. Get into the habit of praying at the
earliest hour. Do not procrastinate. The Prophet said, "The deed most
loved by Allah is Prayer performed on time." (Muslim) and "only the
hypocrites intentionally delay their prayers"!
- Pray as much of your obligatory Salah in congregation as is possible. This is not 'just a good thing' but an obligation on every Muslim male. According to the Prophet, if we knew the good in praying in jama'ah we
would not miss it even if we had to crawl to the masjid!
- Avoid praying in a state in which you are mentally and physically
- Keep your mind free of worldly worries, evil thoughts, and ideas.
- Plan what verses/duas you are going to recite.
- If you do not understand Arabic learn the meaning of what you recite in your Prayer.
- Remind yourself that engaging in Prayer offers you an opportunity to
release yourself from the tensions of this world. The Prophet has said
that in Prayer was placed the comfort of his eyes. Therefore cherish the
opportunity to remove the burdens of this world from your shoulders.
- Use your Prayer to remain focused on your mission in life, which is to bring your entire being to serve only Allah.
- Use your Prayer as a source of strength, inspiration and enthusiasm for your life and activities.