Channel: Yasmin Mogahed
The Importance of Prayer
By: Yasmin Mogahed
Yasmin gets to the root of why prayer is of utmost importance.
Presented on August 17, 2011
Assalamu Aleikum you're listening to serenity streaming live on one legacy radio, and I miss Mujahid. I wanted to talk today with everyone about a topic which is very relevant to our everyday life. In fact, it's, it's it's something that's so relevant, that it's one of the most important obligations we have as believers and actually as human beings, because this issue goes back to our purpose of existence, our purpose of why we were brought into existence, why we were created to begin with, and that that is the the question of our prayers, Salah. And now, I want to sort of begin the discussion by talking about how it was that we were commanded to pray. And to begin that
discussion, I want to talk about a journey that was taken by only one human being ever in all of time. And that was the journey of Alyssa Dodge, the prophet muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, he was taken up, as we know from when he first he was taken from, you know, Mecca to Jerusalem, and in he prayed in Jerusalem with the prophets, and then from Jerusalem, he was taken up to the heavens, and this is the journey of LSR will Mirage, or the Night Journey, it's sometimes translated as, and when he was taken up to the heavens, he got, you know, he got to a point where, you know, even even gibreel Allah, his Salaam could not go further. And yet the prophets I send them was able to go
further. And the reason why this is important, and why I'm talking about this journey, is because it was in this time it was in this journey, that the commandment of Salah was given. And the reason why that's very important to note is that every other commandment that was given to us was given by jabril, where jabril Ali Salim came down to the prophet SAW the light of send them to give that commandment. And yet there was one commandment, which was so important. And it's it's so crucial that that Allah subhanaw taala had the prophets I sent him come up to him in order to give him that commandment. And so that alone gives us an idea how heavy and how, wait, you know how much weight
this particular commandment has and should have in our lives. And that is the commandment of the five daily prayers. Now, the way that it goes is that when Allah subhanaw taala first made the you know, told the prophets I send them, he he made the commandment for Salah, it was first it was given to be 50 times a day five, zero times a day. And what happened then was the prophets I send them went down. And he saw Musa alayhis salam and masala Sallam who had dealt with, you know, Benny Israel. And he knew and he told him, you know, from his experience that he asked your Lord to reduce it, because they're never going to be able to pray 50 times if they're not going to do it. And so
the the prophets I send them went up to to Allah subhanaw taala and asked, you know, permission to have it reduced, because the people would be it would be very difficult on on us to do that. And then he, you know, he reduced it, he came down until musala. Semi asked him to reduce and, and this, and this happened a few times, until finally it was reduced to five times a day. And at this point, most Allison said, they're still not going to do it, they're not going to do five even. And so, at this point, the prophets I said them was, you know, he, he, he didn't feel that he he wanted to go back again and reduce it more. But this, you know, the scholars basically reflect on this issue, why
is it that Allah subhanaw taala began with 50 and there's a lot of different, you know, reflections that we could make about this, obviously, Allah subhanaw taala knew that, ultimately, it would be five, but he began with with 50. So there's, you know, there's some, some wisdom, obviously, to that. So when you reflect on this, I think one of the reflections that that that really struck me that I heard from some of the scholars is that if you think about a scenario, if we really were praying 50 times a day, the initial the initial obligation 50 times a day, would we have time to do anything else? And and and when you really sit and reflect on that what you learn is that it's
almost to say that this is actually what you should be doing in your life is worshiping God, that this is actually all that matters. Because if you really think about it, and we really, if we really did pray 50 times a day, we literally would do nothing else. It would just be Salah, it would just be the worship of Allah Subhan Allah
Tyler, and I think that what was the message, you know, the deep message that that you can get from this is that really all that matters in our life is Salah. And, and everything else is just, you know something that you fill in the space with, and what really should be our focus is Salah. And if you really I mean, imagine us living a life where we prayed 50 times a day, that's all we would do. And so here it's it's I feel that the messages and this what what the scholars say is that the message here is that this is actually our focus. And this is actually what our life is about. It's about Salah, it's about focusing on God, it's about worshiping God, that that in fact, Allah
subhanaw taala tells us that the very purpose of our creation, Allah subhanaw taala says will match up to genuine allele agudo so this statement makes very clear that there's no other purpose for our creation for our existence, except to fulfill or Buddha to Allah subhanaw taala to fulfill this proper worship of to worship our Creator to worship our Lord. And and if you think about it in that way, it completely turns things around, because our life should revolve around Salah. But instead what we do is we make Salah revolve around our life. And so what we've actually done is we've we've flipped it, we've made it so that, Okay, I'm gonna go to the mall, and then I'm going to go to work,
and then I'm going to, you know, and then I have this appointment. And then you know, when I have time in between, I'm going to pray. And so what we've done is our focus has completely shifted, we have it backwards, we have Yeah, I'll fit in Salah where I have time, but my my life is all these other things I'm doing and Salah fits in, if it even fits in, in you know, in the cracks. And and yet upon Allah, it's supposed to be the complete opposite, that my life is about Salah that my focus is about how is about Allah subhanaw taala and that everything else that I'm doing my appointment, my job, my school, you know, my shopping, whatever it is, that is supposed to be fit in the cracks.
So I have my salon, and then Okay, after salon, then I'm going to do this or in between where our focus is completely different in that case. And, and when you do that, it really, it really completely changes how you you go about your life and how you how you see your priorities. And that brings us to sort of an attitude, unfortunately, that a lot of us fall into, which is the idea that, yeah, I'll pray later. Or, for example, if we're involved with, you know, for in a class or we're in a meeting, or we're at work, the idea is I don't have time for Salah right now, right? I, I have I mean I'm in a meeting or I'm in a class or I'm taking a test or our our focus is completely off
where we say we don't have time for the purpose of our creation. And that's really what we're saying we're saying, No, I'm I'm busy doing these things, which ultimately do not matter. And this is this is something really to reflect about, ultimately, do not matter. Because anything that I'm doing for any purpose other than Allah subhanaw taala is eventually wasting away is is limited is something temporary. So if I'm striving, for example, to get a particular degree, that degree isn't going to go with me to my grave, right? If I'm striving to make money because I want, you know, a nice house, a nice car, and it's fine to have all of these things. But we have to realize that ultimately, these
things are temporary. And so what I've done when I think in this way is I'm saying that I'm going to put aside what is eternal and what is actually my purpose of life. I'm going to put that aside for the sake of what is temporary for the sake of what is not my purpose. And and and, and Subhanallah This is what we do we we put everything else first so if we're tired, we're too tired to wake up refriger so what we're doing is we're putting our sleep first we're sitting you know, we're putting that before Salah. And and and you know if you think about this example inshallah, when we get when we return I'll take a short break right now and when we return, we'll talk about an example which is
it's a little bit comical, but I think it really brings home the point of how we have our priorities mixed up.
Salam aleikum. I'm Yasmin moja heads and you're listening to serenity streaming live on one legacy radio. We're speaking today about the topic of Salah, but the topic of our prayers and, and this is something which is extremely relevant because it is something which is, you know, right now, for example, we are fasting, and you know, fasting unless we are doing extra fast, which is debt highly recommended is something that comes once a year for a month, but Salah is something which is so needs to be so consistent. And so it's really, really important to understand the importance of Salah, or the inner dimension of Scylla, which we'll talk about inshallah. But I wanted to give this
example and it speaks to the idea that we have where, where we say that, you know, we don't have time to pray when we're at work, or we don't have, you know, time to pray, because we're in class, or we're studying or we're at the mall, or we're watching a basketball game, or whatever reason it is that we we delay our prayers, or we don't pray at all. And it's interesting, because we can come up with a lot of excuses. You know, we're tired, we sleep through fidget, we can come up with a lot of excuses for why we don't have time to pray. But if I asked you this, if I said, Do you have time to go to the bathroom? Most people I hope would say, Well, I have to make time to go to the
bathroom. Because if you don't make time to go to the bathroom, the consequences of that are pretty high. And so you don't want to you know, that's that's too high of a price to pay. So say you're in a meeting. And you you know, it's it's just it really is not the best time to use the bathroom, but you need to use the bathroom, guess what, you're going to use the bathroom. If you're sleeping, you're sleeping, and it's federa time, right? And you need to use the bathroom. Most people are not going to say I'm too tired. I've just rather wet my bed. No, no one's gonna say that homeless, they're like five, right. And once you once you get you know, beyond that age, you don't think that
way. You say yeah, I'm tired, but I need to go to the bathroom. Right? And, and even though it is potentially an option to just lay there, right. So the idea here is when I'm sleeping, and it's federa time and I need to use the bathroom, I'm going to get up, and I'm going to use the bathroom. But I can go right back to sleep and not even pray. And so that, you know, the idea here is that the needs of my body of my physical body, which is completely temporary, which is passing away, every moment that we live, the needs of my physical body is a priority for me over the needs of my spiritual self, of my spiritual needs. My physical needs are more important than my spiritual needs.
And, and and here, when we think about this example, it you know, it applies again, same, same thing, if you're in class, even if you're taking the most important test of your life, okay? And you know, you and you need to use the bathroom, chances are, you're not going to sit there and just, you know, go to the bathroom in your seat, because that's not an option for you.
The idea here is that you're going to say no, I have, you know, this is a need of my body and I'm going to, I'm going to, you know, peace out, I'm going to go to the bathroom, and I'll come back, and I'm going to finish my test. And yet when the time for solo comes, we say no, I'm taking a test. So the idea here is my you know, in my mind, I have I have put certain priorities. And what I've done is I've put the priority of my physical body over my spiritual, my spiritual needs. And and what's interesting about this, too, is there could be another option, right? is okay, I don't, I don't feel like going and leaving the meeting or leaving my class, or waking up in the morning to
use the bathroom. So I'll just wear like, you know, depends or something like that. Right. So that also doesn't happen. I mean, I hope the point is, it's funny, but I hope the point is, is, is getting across that we we don't we don't consider those things an option. I mean, nobody just says I'm too lazy to go to the bathroom, or I really don't want to interrupt my class to go to the bathroom. So I'm gonna, you know, I'm going to wear the adult diapers. And so the idea here is that, you know, we we really when you make something, an absolute must when you make something a priority, there is no compromise. And there is no compromise in in using the bathroom when you need to use the
bathroom. And the same thing you know more than that should apply with the obligations and the needs of our spiritual self. And the reason for that is this, my body and the physical needs that I have of my body. My body is something which is temporary My body is actually you know, we every moment, every moment that I live, every day that I live, my body is getting closer and closer to disappearing. And this is a fact Which nobody can deny. You can be an atheist, you can be an agnostic, but you cannot deny this fact that your body with every moment that you live with every day that passes is getting closer and closer to us.
Basically annihilation, it's, it's going to pass away, and in our graves. And so the idea is, it is it is foolish to take care of something which is temporary, and to neglect something which is eternal. And this is something we really have to reflect about, because my soul and my heart, which I'm neglecting when I'm not praying, in fact, I'm allowing it to die is something which is which is eternal, because this is what's going to go to the hereafter and never die. It's that's the, that's the part that I take to forever, it's my soul and my heart. And if I'm not feeding that, and I'm not take care of taking care of that. I'm neglecting what's what's eternal, for the sake of what's
temporary. And this is, so this is a really important, you know, idea that we have to really internalize. And you know, one other example that you can think about, is, we we, as human beings, we know that we have to eat, right, we have to eat in order to live. And, and no one, no one says, you know, I'm not I don't need to eat today, because I ate a week ago. And the reason we don't say that is we know that if we don't go, you know, if we go I'm sorry, for for a week without food or water, our body dies. But what we forget is if we go without praying, our soul dies. And this is really truly the truth type of death. Because again, our soul is dying, our body is dying anyways,
but our soul, if our soul is dead, then that's what really matters. This is what we're going to take to the hereafter forever. And if that isn't taken care of, then we've lost everything. It's not it's not a limited loss. This is an eternal and it and an infinite type of loss is so important that we really have to readjust our priorities, and put Silla back where it belongs at the center of our priorities. And we have to remember that spatola on the Day of Judgment, the very first thing that were asked about is our Salah, and the prophets, I send them tells us that if the first thing that you will be asked about is your Salah, and if your Salah is an order, everything else will be an
order. And if it's not, nothing else will be met will matter. The idea that our salon is what, you know, the prophets I send them also says that our Salah is what distinguishes us from a disbeliever it's our Salah that makes our Islam that makes us a Muslim. And so to neglect this is to neglect, you know that, that, that which makes you unique as a Muslim, but also ultimately at a deeper level, you're neglecting the very purpose for which you were created, which is to worship Allah subhanaw taala. So you know, some of the things too, when you when you get into the purpose of salah and the you know, the benefits of Salah one of the things that the prophets I send them taught his
companions is that Salah is a purifier, and he gave the example that Imagine if there was a river outside of your home and that and you bathed in that river five times a day, would there be any dirt left on you. And you know, the companion said no, there would be no dirt and and this is the idea of of Salah is that five times a day you are purifying yourself of the you know the the inevitable sins that we accumulate. And by doing that work cleaning ourselves off. Now imagine someone who doesn't take a shower for weeks, or even days, what happens to them, you know that that dirt builds up on them, and they start to smell that. And that's exactly what happens to our heart. If we aren't
praying and we're not cleaning that heart, it's building up this dirt. And when that dirt builds on the heart, something really scary happens to that heart, the heart then becomes sick. And a sick heart is a heart that can no longer really distinguish right from wrong. A sick heart is a heart that that will see something and think it's beautiful when really it's repulsive, it will see an action for example, and act as as something attractive and alluring, when really it's something very, very ugly. And similarly, something which it sees as as ugly and something that it's repulsed from is actually a very beautiful action. And this is one of the consequences of having a heart
which is sick or covered up by the you know the stain of sin and, and the neglect of that heart, the neglect by being distant from Allah subhanaw taala in that in that the nearness that comes through Salah. And so that heart then you know you have the sick heart and then even even more frightening is when the heart becomes dead. And this is a heart which nothing, you know, nothing moves it. It is it's completely dead and Allah subhanaw taala described some hearts as being more more heart more hardened than rocks. Because even he says even rocks can be can be you know, they can be cracked. And yet this type of heart cannot be cannot be opened in any way and so
We really really we have to fear you know this happening to our hearts and we ask Allah subhanaw taala to protect our hearts and to keep our hearts you know, soft and to keep our hearts close to him and cleansed from the the stains that we inevitably are accumulating throughout our lives. So love is our cleansing so LA is our bait or is our bath it's our it's us it's we're bathing in insula, when we you know, when we stand in front of Allah subhanaw taala so that we can take off that stain of our sins. The other aspect about Salah that Allah subhanaw taala talks about in the Quran is that Salah is a protection. So one thing that you'll find is that when you neglect your
Salah, when you put your Salah aside, or you start to sort of become lazy or lacks in your Salaam, there's something else that happens as a consequence of that. And that is that you start to distance herself from Allah and then you start to commit more and more sins. And the sins become not only more and more, but they become more and more, they become larger and larger sins, they become worse and worse. And now as the more that you neglect to the salon, the easier it becomes to sin. And this is something that we can see experientially in our own lives and in the lives of the people around us that when somebody starts to go off, you know, in a starts to go on the wrong track, suppose
somebody was on the straight path and they started to sort of get off what happens is there's something happening alongside that, that you know, getting off the right track and that is the neglect of salah and it will happen every time that the salon starts to that's the first step that the salon starts you know, it starts by neglecting I'm sorry, delaying the prayer so then now instead of praying on time, at the appointed time you pray you know you combine prayers at the end of the day Oh when I get home I'll pray and and then you start praying you know all of them right before you sleep or you start then then it becomes you just miss them all together. And then it
becomes you're not praying at all and and this progression is happening alongside the the debt the you know the, the lowering of your Eman And then your your sins are starting to increase and increase and you're getting farther and farther from Allah subhanaw taala. The reason why this happens is Allah subhanaw taala says that in the salata, tenha and fascia, he will Mancha that the prayer the Salah is a protection for us Allah subhanaw taala says that the protection that the Salah it prevents shamelessness and evil deeds. So if you think about the Salah, like a shield, it's a shield which is which is our protection, from shamelessness and from evil deeds. So what happens
when you take off that protection what happens when you're in a battlefield and you take off your armor, now you're completely susceptible. And this is why shaitan now has a much easier target. And now your neffs is you know is is is living large basically because you have removed the the protection of the salaah and now it's upon Allah you are working against your own self. Because now Allah is protection that he gave to you and he gave you as a gift from him, you have thrown it away. And and and and you have decided that you know there's you know you're not in need of that protection anymore and now you're on your own and Subhanallah that is the scariest thought to be on
your own without the protection of Allah subhanaw taala because Subhanallah you know our enemies are unseen, the enemy of the self enemy of the neffs is unseen, the enemy of shaitan is unseen and if we do not have the protection of Allah subhanaw taala there is no other protection. And so we ask Allah subhanaw taala that we stay close to the Salah, and we understand that the Salah is why we are here why we are created, it is to worship and focus our life and our heart and our devotion on Allah subhanaw taala and everything else can fit in where it fits in everything else is secondary. Our purpose needs to be clear that we are here to worship Allah subhanaw taala and everything else of
the dunya inshallah will fall into place, according Callie Heather was stuffed rhodiola come in Naga funan Rahim subhanak below the hem darkness shadow under Allah Allah and as Dr. Khurana tubo Lake wa salam alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh