Before we embark on the next stage of this journey, I want to mention two things. First, much of what you read here will not be radically new. The reason for that is that Allah (swt) has equipped us with ways to achieve tranquility of the heart, yet we seldom use them in that way. Therefore, these articles will be reminders of tools that we already have. As Allah (swt) says:

“And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers.” [Qur’an, 51:55]

Secondly, what is different, however, is that this article should be read in light of the things we need to know. The past couple of articles were meant for us to see our relationship with Allah (swt) in a different light. Thus, when we perform certain acts such as prayer, dhikr, reciting Qur’an etc., they should be done with a heart that knows the amazing attributes of Allah (swt).

Prayer – the Support of Faith

How many of us seek refuge in prayer? Not only when things are bad, but also in every prayer of every day. Subhan’Allah, doctors recommend eating five fruits a day to keep healthy, yet we have forgotten that Allah (swt) has given us these five prayers as a refuge, a cleansing, and a way for our hearts to find peace in the midst of all the distractions we find ourselves surrounded by.

If we are serious about wanting to achieve tranquility of the heart, we need to start with prayer. A righteous man called Hatim Al-Asamm recognized how crucial prayer is to the state of our hearts. He said, “When the time for prayer is at hand, I make a proper ablution, go to the spot where I intend to pray, sit there until all my limbs and organs are in a collected state. Then I stand up to perform my prayer, placing the Kabah between my brows, the Bridge over Hell (sirat) beneath my feet, Paradise to my right and Hell to my left, and the Angel of Death behind me, thinking all the while that this is my last prayer. Then I stand between hope and fear. I carefully pronounce ‘Allahu Akbar!’ Then I recite the Qur’an harmoniously, bow in humility, and prostrate myself submissively. I then sit back on my left haunch, spreading out the top of my left foot and raising my right foot on the toes. I follow this with sincerity. Then I wonder whether or not my prayer has been accepted.”

Subhan’Allah, can we imagine the state of the heart of a person who prays like this?

Al-Qareeb (the Near One)

Sometimes we feel far from Allah (swt), and our prayers are nothing more than chores. Yet think of the difference in our prayer if we recognized that when we start the prayer, we are actually going to al-Qareeb – the Near One.

Allah’s Name al-Qareeb comes in three formats in the Qur’an:

  1. Alone: “And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am Qareeb [near].” [Qur’an, 2:186]
  2. With as-Samee’ (the All-Hearing): “Indeed, He is Hearing and near.” [Qur’an, 34:50]
  3. With al-Mujeeb (the One who responds): “Indeed, my Lord is near and responsive.” [Qur’an, 11:61]

This teaches us something: Allah is close to us, He hears us, and He responds to our du`a’ (supplication). He hears our inner thoughts even when we do not articulate them, and He hears our silent du`a’. Imagine that Allah (swt) knows everything about you and all the things you reflect on; that is how near He is to you. Sometimes even your best friend won’t understand the turmoil you are going through, but al-Qareeb does.

Now imagine when you are going to the prayer, you are going to the One who understands everything you are going through. You may have just had the worst day of your life: seek refuge in your prayer, tell Allah (swt) you need His help. Perhaps you had an amazing day: use your prayer for recognition that the good was from Allah (swt) and for thanks. Perhaps it was a day like any other: use your prayer as a reminder of purpose.

When we say that we find being devoted in prayer (having khushoo‘) is difficult, it is because we have not yet realized the meaning of Allah’s Name al-Qareeb. When we live our lives with the knowledge that Allah is indeed close to us, closer than our jugular vein, our prayer will reflect that. After all, the prayer is our intimate conversation with Allah.

An Intimate Conversation

The Prophet said, “When anyone of you is engaged in the Prayer, he is holding an intimate conversation with his Lord.” [Muslim]

Imagine, as soon as we say “Allahu Akbar” to commence the prayer, the barrier between us and Allah is lifted. He remains looking at you, facing you, and responding to you when you recite al-Fatiha as long as you are not distracted. When you say Allahu Akbar, you are throwing away the worries of the world and fleeing to Allah (swt) who is greater than it all, and is the only One who can remove your distress. When you go into ruku’, you are demonstrating your humility before Him. And when we go into sujood, it is the closest that we are to Allah (swt). How many of us, myself included, fail to realize this?

In order to have better khushoo‘, the Prophet advised “When you pray, pray like a person who is saying farewell.” [Ibn Majah, Hakim, Bayhaqi] If we knew that this was our last prayer before the Angel of Death seizes us, would it be the same?

Remember that the Prophet saw his prayer as a source of tranquility. When telling Bilal (ra) to pronounce the adhan (call to prayer), he said, “O Bilal, give us rest with it.” [Abu Dawud]

May Allah (swt) enable us to find tranquility in our salah.

by Jinan Yousef