Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Spiritual Aspects of Salaat

Salaat has two parts, one is physical and the other is spiritual. The physical part consists of establishing the rituals of Salaat according to the Fiqh one follows. The spiritual part consists of the inner state of devotion and humility that a person should feel during his prayers. This is the very essence of Salaat without which Salaat is like a body without a soul.
Salaat is a means of attaining nearness to Allah, a prerequisite for receiving guidance from the Quran, a source of strength and patience and also a means of self-purification. These objects of Salaat can be achieved not by mere rituals of bowing and prostration, but by observing these spiritual aspects of Salaat. It is this very state that the Quran refers to in the following verses.
 Successful indeed are the Believers, those who humble themselves in their Salaat. (A1 Muminun 23: 1-2)
And truly it (Salaat) is hard except to those who are humble minded. (A/ Baqarah 2:45)
The physical state of Khushu demands that each part of body and its action during Salaat should express extreme humility and reverence towards Allah. The body should be at ease, the head should be slightly bowed down, the voice should be low, the eyes should be cast down, the sight should stay towards the place of Sajdah and all the actions of Salaat should be performed with perfect ease, calm and reverence.
The Khushu or the internal state of mind and heart is the very essence of Salaat. A Salaat without Khushu is like a body without soul. One should try his best to achieve it in as high degree as possible. Following are some helpful recommendations

1. Preparation for Salaat
Before a person begins his Salaat he should pause for a few moments and realize that by saying AIIaho Akbar (Takbeer) he would enter into a personal dialogue with his Almighty Lord. He should think of the Grandeur, Majesty and the Supreme Power of his Lord. At the same time he should think also of his humble and low position before his Lord. This would, hopefully, inculcate the desired internal state of Khushu required in the Salaat.
2. Beginning of Salaat
The very act of saying Allaho Akbar should make a person realize that he is physically standing before the Lord of the whole universe. He should then assume a posture and attitude worthy of standing before such a Supreme Lord. The Quran states: 0 Prophet! Remember your Lord morning and evening deep in your heart with humility and fear and also in low voice with your tongue; and do not be of those who are heedless. (AI ~'araf7:205)
3. Realization of Allah's Supreme Power!
One should realize that the Lord before whom he is standing is not only the Mightiest of all, but also has the power of knowing what goes through one's mind and heart. He should therefore try to control his thoughts and feelings and develop an attitude of total submission and devotion to his Almighty Lord. The Quran states:
... And 0 Prophet! Give good news to those who adopt an attitude of humility and submissiveness; whose hearts tremble when they hear Allah being mentioned and show fortitude in affection and establish Salaat ..... (A1 Hajj 22:34-35)
4. Remembrance of Allah
Salaat is the most comprehensive means of remembering Allah. The Quran states:
And establish Salaat for My remembrance. (Ta Ha 2o:l4)
The Quran states: Woe unto worshipers who are heedless of their Salaat. (A1 Maun 107:4-5)
5. Bowing and Prostration
Ruku and Sajdah are the two acts of bowing before Allah. The Quran says:
Fall prostrate and seek nearness (to Allah). (A/ Alaq 96:19)
Prophet PBUH said: Man is nearest to Allah when he prostrates before him. (Muslim)
One should therefore try to develop the feeling of being near to Allah, especially during the act of Sajdah. This should make Sajdah the real act of showing physical and internal meekness and humility towards Allah.
6. Recitation of Chapter Al Fatiha
Chapter A Fatiha has to be recited in each Rak 'at of every Salaat. This is the supplication which Allah Himself has taught us. He has told us what we should ask him and has also told us how we should ask.
7. Recitation of the Quran
The subject matter of the Quran is very comprehensive. One should try to memorize those verses that inspire him spiritually and recite them in Salaat reflecting upon their meaning and tone.
The Quran states: Allah has purchased of the Believers their persons and their belongings; For them(in return) is the Garden (of Paradise). (A1 Tawbah 9:111)
If a person constantly transgresses the limits of Allah lives only for his worldly gains, then such a person cannot achieve much Khushu in Salaat. On the contrary if a person lives virtuous life and struggles for the propagation of Allah's Deen, then such a person will have the sweet taste of Khushu in his Salaat.
An effective means to improve our Salaat is to have a few models of Salaat that we should follow in our lives. Needless to state the best model for us in every matter of life is the conduct of Prophet ( PBUH) should therefore have some knowledge of his Salaat
'Aishah Razi Allah Unha narrated : Once during Tahajjud salaat, Rasulullah Peace Be Upon Himrecited the following verse : If You punish them, they are Your servants; If You forgive them, You are the Exalted in Power, the Wise. (5: 1 18). He was so moved by this verse that he kept on repeating this verse in his Salaat all night. (Tirmidhi)
Mughirah ibn Sh'ubah narrated: Rasulullah Peace Be Upon Him would stand in Tahajjud Salaat so long that his feet would swell up. ( B u k i , Muslim)
It is reported that once when 'Umar Farooq, leading a Salaat, read the following verse in the Salaat: I complain of my distress and anguish only to Allah (12:86) he started crying so loudly that even those who were praying in the last row of the congregation could hear him crying.
On another occasion he recited the following verse: And when they are cast, bound together, into a constricted place therein (in Hell), they will plead for (their death and) destruction there once then(25: 13). This verse moved him so much that he went into a trance. He appeared so shook up and terrified that had the people not known the effect of such verses on.’Umar, they would have thought that he had died.
Imam Ghazali has reported in Ihya Al 'Ulum that when Ali ibn Abi Talib would get ready for his Salaat, his face would often turn pale. Someone questioned him about this. He referred to the following verse: We did indeed offer the trust to the Heavens and the earth and the mountain, but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof; but the men undertook it (33:72). He then said that Salaat reminded him the responsibility of undertaking this trust and that he was scared to meet this responsibility.  Anas was one of the Sahaba who spent all of his life in the service of RasulullahPeace Be Upon Him. Bukhari reported that he would often stand up from the position of Ruku and stay in this position so long and so motionless that others would think that he had forgotten to go down for Sajdah. He is known for his love of Salaat. Often he would stand so long in Salaat that his feet would swell and their skin would crack.
Abu Hurairah is also known for his love for Salaat . Imam Bukhari reported that he had divided the night into three portions. He, his wife, and his servant would perform Salaat by taking turn in such a way that someone in his home was engaged in Salaat during the whole night.
Abdullah ibn Zubair, another Sahabi, is also known for his love and devotion in Salaat. It is reported that when he stood up for Salaat, he was as motionless as the trunk of a tree. His Ruku was so prolonged that others during this time could recite the whole chapter of Al Baqara. Similarly his Sajdah was so prolonged and motionless that birds would often sit on his body.
Imam Tirmidhi reported the following incident.
Bahz ibn Hakirn namted that Zarrarah ibn Aufi was the Qadhi of Basrah. Once during the Fajr Salaat he recited the following verse: Finally when the trumpet is sounded; that will be the Day; A Day of distress, far from easy for those without Faith.(74:8-10). This verse scared him so much that he went into shock and died.
The Quran states: 0 You who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly and follow not the footsteps of the devil (2:208). Entering into the fold of Islam does not mean just following the commandments of Islam in our personal lives. It also calls for, striving and struggling for the cause of Islam. A Believer is supposed to practice Islam and also to propagate its message to others. The righteousness in life can be achieved only by doing justice to both these aspects of Islam. Almighty Allah has made a very special promise to those who struggle for the cause of Allah: And those who strive in our (cause). We will certainly guide them to our Path; for verily Allah is with those who do right (29:69). The more we shall struggle for His cause, the more Allah will make our Path easy. This would be a very effective means for achieving righteousness in our lives and thus improve the state of our Salaat

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