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In the Name of God بسم الله

Salat: The Best Form Of Worship

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As believers, we strive to be mindful of Allah as much as possible during the course of an ordinary day. This remembrance can come mentally, through appreciation of His divine favors. It can come from the tongue, through the repetition of dhikr, or recital of supplications and Qur’an. But, Allah in His infinite Wisdom has made something more than this obligatory on us. Every 7 hours, during sunrise (fajr), midday (zuhr and asr), and sunset (maghrib and isha), He calls us to the door of His mercy with the call to prayer. Between these periods, we remain drowning in our negligence and worldly concerns. With each adhan, we are given the opportunity to return to Him.

Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) writes in “Lantern of the Path,” that “Allah summons you by His favor to show you mercy, to put you far from His punishment, to spread some of the blessings of His kindness over you, to guide you to the path of His pleasure, and to open to you the door of His forgiveness.” In the adhan, we recite, “Hayya ‘ala-l-Falah,” translated to “come to success (or salvation).” The call to prayer calls us to become recipients of divine blessings and mercy and is a call to purify and elevate ourselves.

Salat puts the “practice” into being a practicing Muslim. With it, we unite our physical bodies with our minds and souls. Each station of the prayer prepares the worshipper for the next station. First we cleanse ourselves. Then we stand in front of Allah and declare that our worship is for His sake alone. Then we bow. Finally, we reach the prayer’s apex through the physically lowest station of the prayer – in the sujud (prostrations). Imam Ali (as), who we are remembering these days, likens the sujud as the code to the four stages of human life. The Imam (as) says: ”The first sujud means that I was mud clay in the beginning, and as I raise my head from sujud, it means that I came to the world from the soil. The second sujud means that I will again return to the soil, and as I raise my head from sujud, it means that on the Day of Resurrection I will rise up from the grave and be summoned.” [Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 82, p. 139]

If we are struggling with praying 5 times a day, let’s remember this one short act of worship is the greatest act to draw closer to Allah. If we find ourselves praying late or delaying prayers, let’s strive to remember we don’t pray because Allah needs our prayer, we pray because we need Him. If we had an appointment with someone important to us – our significant other, a scholar, the President of a country – wouldn’t we be on time? Why then aren’t we on time with Allah?

If we find our minds wandering during our prayer, let’s strive to recall in whose Presence we are standing. Can we struggle to discipline our minds and quiet the noise for 5 minutes?

During these days we remember how Imam Ali (as) appeared to onlookers as though he was in a coma when he was in his sujud. We remember he became so unaware of the world around him that his companions would use the opportunity to remove arrows from his foot, or remedy his wounds. This same individual attained martyrdom on the night of the 19th of this month when his killer struck him during his sujud, and he would leave the world the same way he spent his time on it, in submission to Allah.

When we remember his death these days, let’s also strive to remember how he lived and the importance he attached to prayer. Let’s remember and ponder on the place where he attained martyrdom. Let’s make our salat count. Let’s remember that in sujud, the moment we are lowest, when our eyes are shut to the world around us, and we whisper to Allah with no barrier, is the moment of our greatest humility and simultaneously, greatest worship. It is perhaps for this reason that the Imam (as) said, “If the worshipper knew to what extent His (Allah’s) Mercy surrounded him during Prayer, he would never raise his head from the state of prostration.”

Although the steps of prayer seem repetitive, they function the way a ladder does. The steps of a ladder are also repetitive but each step can take you higher and higher. Done properly, with the correct presence of heart, the prayer can also take us higher and higher. Within this one prayer, the human being can learn submission, discipline, purity, and humility, and can slowly break down the ego. If we learn to take joy from our prayer and pay attention to it, each sujud can become a step higher in reaching closer to Allah.

Sister Nasrin Shakib, the Elhaam (Inspiration) Magazine

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