Salam dear readers,
How’s it going?
I’m very sheepish and embarrassed as I write because of my surprise hiatus. I didn’t mean to abandon my blog for this long .I was overwhelmed with life to the point I felt paralyzed. I’m sorry.
I’ve been doing so much apologizing lately.
Apologizing for skipping out on social events, text messages and emails that I respond to after weeks. Missed phone calls that slip my mind. I don’t know what’s going on with me. It’s as if my days have shrunk and the hours have been reduced to 8 instead of twenty four. I know that’s a sign that spiritually I must be lacking because my time has no barakah.
I did what most people do when they are overwhelmed and the To Do list grows exponentially- start scaling back and focusing on the bare minimum in order to be able to at least complete all of the tasks.
The problem with this coping strategy is that it cannot be applied to salah and worship.
I had been praying (the minimum) but skipping my sunnahs because they are not fard (compulsory). As I rushed off the prayer mat to complete the next task, I justified skipping sunnahs and lacking proper concentration because at least I did what I had to do.
Clearly something wasn’t working and I was only sinking further in the quick sand of being overwhelmed.
Drowning in our To Do lists (Image from leadershiptraq.com)
I felt like my life was spiraling out of control and everywhere I turned I realized there were a billion unfinished tasks festering into bigger issues by the second and just thinking about what to do next tightened my throat to the point that it was hard to breathe let alone do anything.
Overwhelmed is an understatement.
But alas every dark cloud has a silver lining and my silver lining was this eureka moment that changed my life.
Salah is the solution to being overwhelmed.
Salah is not just an obligation, it’s the answer to everything.
Some of you may snicker like ‘duhhh, haven’t you read the verse:
O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.
I have, I just figured it was referring to making heartfelt dua at times of extreme hardship and war. Only now am I realizing that Allah is referring to the salah we pray five times, every single day.
This got me thinking that the reason I was quick to minimize my salah was because I didn’t truly understand it’s purpose.
I was praying for all the wrong reasons.
They say the way you pray or the state of your salah is a mirror image of the state of your life.
If you hurriedly pray pecking like a chicken in sujood, you are probably running around like a headless chicken in life too. If you pray like this, you are likely praying for the wrong reasons.
People pray for many reasons. Now, more than ever, I’ve realized that not just how you pray but why you pray is the key to understanding the state of your life.
Some people pray because they have to, others because they want to.
I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum and in between. To be perfectly honest I could bounce between all the reasons in the same week!
I prayed because I had to The fear of hell fire or my moms chappal/slippers used to be good enough reason to get up and pray. Later I prayed because Allah was watching me and only hypocrites didn’t pray.
happy to cross prayer off checklist (image from pinterest.com)
I prayed because I should. It felt good to complete my obligations. I felt like I was being good. It was a relief not to feel guilty. As a kid, Salah was like accumulating points in a video game. The number of times you read Subhana Rabiyy al Aallah translated into X number of good deeds etc. As an adult, I cherished the feeling of accomplishment for reading all 5 prayers on time especially while working retail, travelling, or being in high school.
I prayed because I needed to. These prayers are some of the most humbling and pivotal moments of my life. No matter how many times I think about it, the intense emotions come rushing back like it was yesterday.
I made duah the same way I read about how the Prophet PBUH would pray in times of distress. I raised my empty, trembling hands towards the All Powerful and begged Allah while uncontrollably sobbing the entire time. Those have been the darkest times of my life but Alhamdulillah relief was around the corner.
If-you-knew-how-powerful-the-sujood-(image from thetrueknowledge.org)
I prayed because it is good for me. If you don’t know the translation of salah, you are only reaping 30% of the benefits of it. Only then will you learn that Surah Fatiha is an actual dialogue between you and Allah. You will pray calmly and purposefully when you understand the significance of ruku and sujood. Trying to stop your mind from wandering will not be an issue when you ponder the specific words Allah chose for us to recite over and over again. That is when you will realize that Salaah is not a ‘prayer’, it is a spiritual programming, set at specific times throughout the 24 hours of your day. The meaning humbles, reminds, comforts, warns, promises and guides us. Please, learn the meanings; it will transform your life!
I prayed because I wanted to. This is called sweetness of faith. I can’t fully explain the feeling. It’s joy, it’s sheer comfort, it’s being so happy you could cry. Allah is like your BFF, and you look forward to the giddy and cathartic feeling you get every time you ‘meet’.
You feel light as a feather and your heart beats freely because it’s no longer cluttered with all sorts of problems, anxieties, guilt and confusion.
I’m sure many of you have felt overwhelmed at one time or another. The number one advice I can give you is do not rush your salah and skip your adkhar.
Don’t make the mistake I made. The busier I got, the less time I spent ‘talking’ to Allah.
Rushing through it or treating it like an obligation instead of a solution is like quickly scanning over the prescription the doctor gave you instead of starting the treatment plan.
In times of stress and never ending to do lists, increase your Salah. When you pray purposefully and with understanding you feel relieved because you handed your burdens over to He who is capable of fixing everything.It gives you perspective, reminds you of your purpose in life and gives you true peace.Talk to Allah more; with Him lies the solution to your problems. Not enough time? Guess what? He controls time too. He can make the impossible possible. Just ask.