There was something described to me a couple of weeks ago called the 5 minute rule. It means that if you were thinking of something other than Allah(swt) for about 5 minutes before the prayer, then it is pretty much a guarantee that you’ll be thinking about that thing during the prayer.
So basically if you watch a movie and try to jump up and pray you’ll definitely think about that movie. If you are listening to akon or jay-z before prayer it will disturb it.
There’s a hadith of the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace.) that Aisha narrated about the Prophet at home. I don’t know the hadith by heart or exactly what it is but the basic gist of it is that the Prophet was extremely playful and kind at home but when the time for prayer came “it was as if he didn’t know us. Do we ever think about what this means in relation to our own prayer? What does this mean?
The Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace) was getting into the zone before he spoke to his Lord.
And we llike dance around to hip-hop or Arabic music and pause it and say “Allahu akbar” one second later and expect to be in the zone? We expect to be to completely focused in our prayer?
Did you ever see someone right before they interview for a really big job or for university or med school or grad school?
They are really nervous, if not really nervous, they are studying for their interview with index cards.
They are dressed nicely, they probably have showered and smell good, and they are definitely not dancing or watching a movie 10 minutes before their interview. (I hope not haha) That is because they are getting ready to talk to an important person and they need to be ready.
(These examples are really arbitrary by the way.)
You know what I’m getting at here.
When we pray, we are getting ready to talk to the Lord of the Worlds and we don’t prepare that much at all. We try to keep our wudu all day so we don’t have to repeat it even though wudu id good. If we do have to do wudu, we huff and puff through it or we do it in 10 seconds barely wetting ourselves. We might not be in our best clothes… and you know the rest.
Now let’s quickly go through some parts of the Prayer. We need to interact with our prayer more.
There is a parallel that Shaykh Hamza Yusuf made with the prayer. I have no clue if it’s true or whatnot but I do think it’s beneficial so I’ll say it.
He said that the qiyam (the part of prayer when you are standing and you recite fatiha and whatnot) represents Islam. It represents the prayer.
The ruku (hands on your knees) represents iman, you are praising your Lord during that time.
The sujood (prostration with the head on the ground) represents Ihsan. This is the time when you are closest to your heart.
Also during the qiyaam, your mind is above your heart. In ruku, they are perfectly level and in sujood your heart is above your mind.
On Allahu Akbar:
Translation: God is the Greatest or God is Greater?
Both are true. However the latter is the better translation.
Think about it in terms of the prayer. Maybe you’re not completely concentrated. But you have to say “God is greater.”
God s greater than everything that is happening in your life at the moment.
If you’ve just gone through a crisis and you find it hard to concentrate in prayer, think about the fact that God is greater than all that.
After the ruku
Think about sujood. You are putting your face to the ground. This is worship. Islam really puts an emphasis on how your face really represents your dignity. Muslims are not allowed to strike the face of the opponent in war. No Muslim is allowed to ever strike face of another. Ever. Without exceptions.
So sujood really signifies how much we are humbling ourselves before our creator. We are nothing in comparison. We put our faces to the ground and we say “Glory be to God the highest of the high.”
The tashahud: It’s really nice to know the context of the tashahud.
During Israa and Miraj, we believe that the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace) ascended to the heavens. He was walking through wondering how to adress Allah. We address each other as aslamu alaikom but Allah is al Salam. That is one of his names. So he said “Attahiyatu lilah Azzakiyatu lilah Attayibatus salawatu lilah”
Greetings to God, Righteous offerings to God. Best of Prayers to God.
Then Allah ta3ala responded back to the Prophet:
Assalamu alaika Ayyuha annabi. Peace be upon you O Prophet.
Then the Prophet(May Allah bless him and give him peace) said:assalamu alaina wa ala ilah asaliheen
Peace be upon us and upon God’s righteous slaves.
Of course our beloved (May Allah bless him and give him peace) didn’t forget his umma and included us.
The angels were watching this and then after seeing it said the shahada: “Asshadu inna la ilhaha ila Allah wahdahu la sharika lahu waashaddu anna muhamaddan abu wa rasoolu”
I testify that there is no God but God and that Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger.
Some tips to apply the Rule and help to concentrate in prayer:
- Wudu-Use wudhu time to reflect on Allah swt. Don’t have conversations during wudu. The act of wudu has to do with cleanliness but that’s not all we use it for. It’s supposed to cleanse you to put you in a state of mind for the act of prayer. We all know that if there is no water available we can use earth so there is definitely more to wudu than cleanliness.
- Know what you’re reciting! If you don’t know Arabic, quickly read through a translation of fatiha before you pray. This is the part of the quran where Allah teaches us how to make dua to him so know what you’re saying!
- For people that do and don’t know Arabic- listen to a really good tafsir of surah fatiha or read a good tafsir. Knowing the translation is not really enough. Read the commentary if your translation of the Qu’ran has one. Even if you’ve already read one or taken a class on one, read it regularly to keep yourself refreshed. Sunnipath had a really good special with Shaykh Sohail Hanif on Surah Fatiha It is available on their website. I’ll post my notes from it shortly
Finally, I know that all of us might not have the time to prep for our prayer. In university, we have to rush to pray between classes etc. But you can remember Allah while running to the campus musalla. We should just try our best to get in the zone before we pray, so that our prayer benefits us.
This post is wayy longer than I intended it to be, so back to work.