It’s 4:30 in the afternoon and the adhan on your phone goes off. Collecting your books and laptop you make your way to the washroom where you will perform a quick absent-minded wudu, forgetting mid-way if you washed your arm 3 times or was it twice? You pull your sleeves over your damp arms, and re pin your hijab, sighing as you watch the wetness of your hair begin to seep through your chiffon headscarf. Momentarily forgetting that these same spots, which are a cause of annoyance to you, will be illuminated on yawmul Qiyama.
“They (my followers) will come with bright faces and white limbs because of Wudu and I will arrive at the Haud (Al-Kauthar) ahead of them.”
You stand and raise hands to ears professing God’s greatness and recite the opening chapter as you slip into another world. Isn’t it funny that the Prophet ﷺ did not receive the legislation for salah with the angels around him, but rather when he was alone with his Lord. What can we learn from this?
Al Isra’ wal Miraj, illustrates that when you and I are in prayer, this is a time to enjoy seclusion with Allah. A slave is closest to her Lord when she is in sujuud. While the person beside you, can barely make out your muffled dua in prostration, Allah above the seven heavens hears you clearly.
One of Allah’s name is Al Hayy the living One, our prayer is not to some abstract concept, but rather to One who is Alive, Hearing and Seeing. The Prophet ﷺ tells us that “ you will be able to see your Lord as you see the full moon on a clear night.” A full moon has no clouds in front of it. It’s fully visible and shines lustrously against the darkness. So when we pray we should know that Allah is no less real than our surroundings, no less real than your hands, the carpet on which you rest your forehead on, no less real than the person whose feet you align with as you straighten the rows.
One of the reasons that the soundness and quality of our prayers will be examined, is because the ability of an individual to train his soul for khushu is a testament of painstaking devotion by a slave yearning to be connected to a Lord he does not see. The supreme challenge of our lives is obtaining khushu, which like every skill, is something acquired through apprenticeship, and eventually graced to us by Allah. The mastery of khushu in salah is delicate and difficult, as it demands that we train ourselves to hush the inner critic and re-root ourselves to see each moment as a chance to start anew.
If there was a river at the door of anyone of you and he took a bath in it five times a day would you notice any dirt on him?” They said, “Not a trace of dirt would be left.” The Prophet (ﷺ) added, “That is the example of the five prayers with which Allah obliterates evil deeds.”
Riyad as-Salihin 1029
Sahih al-Bukhari 7434
Sahih al-Bukhari 528