Assalamu 'Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa barakatu, hope all is well with you :) I have this problem with praying and I don't seem to know why. I wake up every morning with the intention to pray all five salaats, yet when it comes to dhuhr for example, I rush my wudu - or even worse don't make wudu at all, and then when I stand to pray, I just can't seem to do it. I feel like there's something missing, or just not there y'know. I can't concentrate, I can't seem to read the Qu'ran properly -
[cont.]- in a nutshell, it’s all going wrong. Trust me, I really, really don’t want to be like this. I am well aware that not praying equals getting out of the fold of Islam. Why would a person who knows and believes that still not pray? I don’t understand what is wrong with me, I really don’t. It’s not like I grew up around a family who neglects their prayers, yet I do it all the time and for a couple of years now. Whenever I try to read the Qu’ran too, or listen to it being recited it’s as if it has no effect on. Like my heart has been turned stone cold to its beauty and wisdom. I’m sorry that this was so long, but please, if you have any advice for me, let me know insha’Allah.
Wa `alykum asalaam wa Rahmatullaah wa Barakaatu! Alhamdulilaah all is swell on my end and I pray you are in the best of health & eeman. Do forgive me for the delayed answer and I hope that it is of benefit to you in any way.
I came across something a while back regarding how to improve one’s Salaah and one of the means was to concentrate on the Wudu. I think often times we regard Wudu as just an act of purification to prepare for Salaah, but it is an act of purification to prepare for Salaah, for our conversation and relationship with Allaah. After pondering over that piece of advice, I began to be more cautious of my Wudu, I slowed down, I focused on each part being purified because I was preparing it for my time with Allaah. I pass on that naseeha to you, reawaken the concept of Wudu by taking your time, focusing on what it is you’re doing, and who you are doing it for. It may seem like Wudu is separate from Salaah, but it does affect how you pray. The purification of ablution is preparing you for Salah, and being precise with that, will help you in being precise in your prayer (inshaa’Allaah).
Allaah, The Almighty states in the Qur’aan,
“O you who believe! When you intend to offer As-Salat (the prayer), wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, wipe (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. If you are in a state of Janaba (i.e., after a sexual discharge), purify yourselves (bathe your whole body). But if you are ill or on a journey, or any of you comes from responding to the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women (i.e., sexual intercourse) and you find no water, then perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands. Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favour to you that you may be thankful.” (5:6)
`Uthman bin `Affan (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said,
“He who performs the Wudu’ perfectly (i.e., according to Sunnah), his sins will depart from his body, even from under his nails.”
The Merits of Ablution (Wudu)
Another piece of advice I was given that significantly changed my entire way of thinking and praying, is to go to each prayer and imagine it to be your last. Each prayer, even if your nafs (wrongly) reassures you that you will make it to the next one. This fear increases Hope in Allaah so that as you are praying your last prayer, you will die upon pleasing Him. It also increases the love one should have for their Creator and reignite the passion in one’s prayer. Truly, if we all prayed each prayer as if it was our last, our prayers would certainly improve.
The following links are regarding how to improve (or create) Khushoo’ in one’s prayer:
- [Uno] Developing Humility in Prayer.
- [Dos] Khushoo’ in Salah.
- [Tres] Duaa for the one affected by whispers of Shaytaan.
- [Quatro] How to Maintain Khushoo’ in Prayer.
- [Cinco] The Reward for Khushoo’ & Beautification of the Prayer.
- [Seis] Obstacles to Khushoo’
That feeling you have of something missing and is not there, is that connection you want (and need) in order for you to properly pray and show gratitude to Allaah. & as you are aware, it is you who must fill that gap in your chest by striving to draw near to Him. Turn to Him in moments of ease and moments of hardship, increase in reading the Words of Allaah, ponder over their meaning, and implement what it is you read. Implement the Sunnah and strive to improve your relationship to Allaah by drawing near to Him.
In a hadeeth Qudsi, Allaah, The All Mighty states,
‘I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.”
Bukhaaree, Muslim, Tirmidhee and Ibn Majah. On the Authority of Abu Huraira (radi’Allaahu anhu) who narrated it from the Prophet Muhammad (sallah Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam).
Furthermore, I understand you don’t want to be in this state and this is a beautiful indication that you are striving to improve. May Allaah ease your affairs and reward you for your efforts. To answer your question as to why a person with knowledge about the prohibition of leaving Salah is still leaving it, Allaah knows best.
All I can tell you is that the servants of Allaah at times have low eeman and at times have high eeman. When we are at our lowest eeman, Shaytaan finds an open window, comes in, and whispers sweet nothings into our hearts. These sweet nothings can either be forgotten, or they can sprout seeds of doubt and further decrease our eeman. Nonetheless, whenever one realizes they have low eeman, one must seek refuge in Allaah and strive strive strive to work towards ending the cycle.
When the nafs becomes accustomed to something for a period of time, it becomes the norm and all else becomes almost a crime against society. So perhaps your nafs has become so used to being in this state, that it wants to remain in that state. But you must discipline your nafs and take control over it, rather than have it take control over you. Perhaps the issue here is just that, your nafs has taken control and you are struggling to gain back the control.
It was narrated by Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-‘Aas (radi’Allaahu anhu) that the Prophet Muhammad (sallah Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam) used to say,
يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِى عَلَى دِينِكَ
Yaa Muqallibal Quloob Thabbit Qalbee ‘alaa Deenik.
“Oh turner of the hearts (Allah, the Most High), keep our hearts firm on your religion“
[Authenticated by al-Albanee in al-Jaam’i as-Sagheer 1323/7988]
Full hadeeth & details.
If I may add (and this is very important), when seeking to improve one’s prayer, one of the most vital means is to ponder over the verses you are reciting. What I do that helps, is that whenever my prayer is not up to par, I continue the Salah with a Surah reminding me of the Last Day; like Az-Zalzalah. Surahs that inflict fear in my heart; like Suratul Ma’uun, and so on. As you read, ponder over the Words of Allaah. Here is a link that breaks down the Secrets of Al-Faatihah & what it contains. Most times, understanding what you are saying, improves your state overall and increases focus and attentiveness.
Another personal suggestion is to get ready for Salah. Make sure your attire is presentable and not just something you took out to cover yourself. Remind yourself that this is a meeting between you and the King, should you not present yourself in a beautiful way? This may also improve your Salah, because putting care in preparing for it might put care in doing it.
Other suggestions is to prolong your Sajdah (sujood) and as the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said:
The closest that a person comes to his Lord is when he is in sujood [so say a great deal of du’aa in sujood].
Narrated by Abu Hurayrah (radiallaahu ‘anhu); Saheeh Muslim
We always have to improve our Prayers, because this is not an act that one should be heedless of. Alhamdulilaah you understand the prohibition of leaving Salah, but the reminders help the Believers and I just want to remind you (and all of us):
May Allaah, the Turner of Hearts, keep our hearts firm on His religion and may He increase our eeman and make us of those who righteously obey Him and earn His pleasure. May Allaah forgive us of our sins and grant us His Mercy. Ameen.