What Prayer Means to Me
The morning hurried by like a strong wind turning the pages of an open book. Before I knew it, several emails were sent, I had swallowed a cup of Milo or two (not a coffee-drinker), and the clock now showed 2:15PM. “O dunya, thou art so tiring,” I shook my head as I finally took a break and went to take my wudu’.
I did it slowly. After a mad morning, I wanted to completely submit myself – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – to prayer, and its pre-requisite, the ablution. As I took off my hijab, I looked at myself in the mirror & remembered how I had contemplated this morning on the colour of my hijab. Such measly decisions, such trivial matters I’m still embroiled in daily. Again, I am reminded of just how far my journey is in renouncing the love of this temporal world.
As I turned on the tap and the cool water touched my skin, I begged Allah at every turn to save me. “Ya Allah, forgive the sins that my hands have wrought. Ya Allah, forgive the sins that this tongue has participated in. Ya Allah, let me smell Paradise please. Ya Allah, let my hair never be singed by the fire of Hell. Ya Allah, let these feet remain steadfast on the hair-wide bridge in the Hereafter.” Please, please, please, my heart begged.
Allaahummuj’alnee minat-tuwwaabeen waj’alnee minal-mutatahhireen.
O Allah, make me among those who turn to You in repentance, and make me among those who are purified.
Finally, I took my praying garb, put it over my head as it covered me in white from head to toe. No more colours to think about, no more prints, no dunya. Just white. And clean. And pure, inshaAllah.
As I started my prayer, I felt a deep sense of relief and gratitude. Somewhere in my heart, a whisper was heard “Thank you for solah, ya Allah. Thank you for making me pray. Thank you for the obligation of praying.” In all its varied forms and permutations, I was suddenly feeling extremely grateful for being made to pray, to stand there on the prayer mat that is disintegrating at the sides, performing 4 cycles of zuhr prayer, reading Arabic words that were once alien to me.
I was glad to not have to sit and face my laptop. I was glad to not have to read another long email and come up with an equally eloquent reply. I was glad that I was standing there, and truly feeling like I had come to my Lord, tired and wasted and seeking His Comfort and Pleasure and Company. I was glad that it was just us two. It was as if my soul finally reached Home.
For that short few minutes, I was in complete and utter contentment – something I did not enjoy each time I prayed, mind you, but oh how I wished it was that way! And yet I knew it was too much to ask for now. Gifting me that few minutes of solace where my heart complained without words to my Lord would suffice for my hungry soul, at least for a few more months of presence-less prayer.
As soon as prayer ended, I actually felt like my soul was disappointed and for a rare moment, I actually wanted to go right back into prayer. SubhanAllah. Such sweetness of prayer that I had never tasted before! And to think I did nothing to deserve this. I had been heedless all morning, completely enveloped in my work, save for the “inshaAllah” and “astaghfirullah” that peppered my words occasionally, possibly devoid of contemplation and reflection on Whose Name was in those words.
How many cycles of prayer had I prayed without absence of worldly thoughts and measly worries. How many prayers were rushed through just to get to another engagement, forgetting that my date with the One is the noblest and highest of engagements. How many times I had wondered if this was the 3rd of 4th rakaah, and then having to perform sujud sahwi because I truly had no recollection. Astaghfirullah.
And how Generous is He to still give me a glimpse of how sweet prayer could be. How Generous and Kind truly is the One who delays punishment and is quick to encourage and motivate and remind and keep His servants close. Alhamdulillah!
What would I be without prayer? Grumpy, tired and busy all day. If not for the obligation of zuhr and asr, I might just go right on working and slaving and expending all my efforts towards my work. And I know that to be true. Once a month, when a woman is relieved from several religious duties, that is exactly what I become: a working robot. Without the obligation to pray, sometimes I forget to take a break.
Dunya is indeed a deception. All these busy-ness that we find ourselves in might just be self-imposed (as suggested by this great article in the New York Times) and totally meaningless.
I look forward to the day when I pray because I do sincerely want to meet my Lord, and not because I want to escape from this dunya. May Allah help us.[divider]
Ameera is the Editor of Muzlimbuzz.sg, a chronic reader and a news junkie.