You know that feeling you get when you’ve just finished your salah, but still feel as if you haven’t prayed? After all this talk on the auspicious occasion of Isra and Miraj, it got me thinking as to whether or not the prayers I offer actually ascend. The fact is while I hope and pray that they do, I sometimes cannot shake a nagging feeling after my salah. It haunts me as if I have cheated myself. I know I rush sometimes–I have a one year old who gets in all sorts of trouble sometimes while I pray. I know sometimes I cannot concentrate as well and may very well forget which surah I have recited by the end of the prayer or which rakat I’m on, authubillah. But can I blame my mommy brain or child for everything? The answer is honestly, no.
To correct myself on different occasions I’ve resolved on repeating the prayer, but still find that I am dissatisfied with myself. Even when I’ve prayed the same maghrib prayer three times in a row, I find myself faced with the same problem of not feeling like my prayer has ascended. Then, I get angry, frustrated, and flustered at my inability to correct my mistakes and perfect my prayer. I get mad at not being able to be perfect (BTW: I’m one of those perfectionists on the brink of being OCD. I’m just waiting to be diagnosed at this point). But I haven’t reached perfection and know that I won’t. I can’t. I’m human!!! But I know for sure that I don’t want to be of those who pray five times a day but whose prayers don’t ever count. I don’t want to be of those who leave their prayer with more sin than they entered it. I don’t want to be of “[…] those who lose most in respect of their deeds?–those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works” (Surah Al Kahf 18:103-104).
So, right on time before I could get any more frustrated with my state of being, my husband recited a hadith last night which is like a beacon of white light for me. The light bulb has clicked and I thought I’d pass that light along…
Narrated Abu Huraira: A man entered the mosque while Allah’s Apostle was sitting in one side of the mosque. The man prayed, came, and greeted the Prophet. Allah’s Apostle said to him, “Wa ‘Alaikas Salam (returned his greeting). Go back and pray as you have not prayed (properly).” The man returned, repeated his prayer, came back and greeted the Prophet. The Prophet said, “Wa alaika-s-Salam (returned his greeting). Go back and pray again as you have not prayed (properly).” The man said at the second or third time, “O Allah’s Apostle! Kindly teach me how to pray”. The Prophet said, “When you stand for prayer, perform ablution properly and then face the Qibla and say Takbir (Allahu-Akbar), and then recite what you know from the Qur’an, and then bow with calmness till you feel at ease then rise from bowing, till you stand straight, and then prostrate calmly (and remain in prostration) till you feel at ease, and then raise (your head) and sit with calmness till you feel at ease and then prostrate with calmness (and remain in prostration) till you feel at ease, and then raise (your head) and sit with calmness till you feel at ease in the sitting position, and do likewise in whole of your prayer.” And Abu Usama added, “Till you stand straight.” (See Hadith No. 759, Vol.1)(Volume:8, Book: Asking Permission, Hadith No: 268 of Sahih Bukhari)
Well, I tried it. I took my time, tried to still my mind and practiced being at ease at every position. Alhamdulillah, it’s a completely different feeling. I do feel like I’m praying. I feel like I’m ascending. Though my ascension is a work in progress, I’d like to think that spiritually I have made it off the ground while still completely being on the ground. And I pray without any hastiness or lack of concentration that my struggles in perfecting my prayer will in turn benefit you in your ascension. Amin.