Once in a khutba (sermon) before the Friday prayer, we were reminded that salat (namaz) is composed of both a body and a soul. The body of salat is the outward acts of standing, bowing and prostrating etc. Whereas, the soul is the appropriate internal and mental state of a worshipper without which salat is like a dead body that is incapable of reforming individuals and societies. In this article, the focus is on the soul of salat: the internal aspect.
At the beginning of salat, we must keep in mind that we are about to express our highest devotion, love and gratitude to our Creator, and we are doing so for His pleasure only. During salat, we should be aware of the fact that we are conversing with The Absolute King and Governor of all that exists. Hence, we endeavor our best to summon the deepest concentration, humility and reverence in our salat. There must be consistency between the heart and the tongue. We should try to feel in our hearts what we say with our tongue. By praying in congregation, the necessary mental states are easier to bring about if we understand the meaning of the words we say in our salat. For example, when the imam recites, “Alhamdulillah…” we must feel gratitude and appreciation in our hearts for all the favours that our Loving and Generous master bestows upon us and all of creation.During salat, our concentration can waver and our thoughts may stray into our family and work etc. However, the periodic proclamations of ‘Allah-u-akbar’ (God is greater) should remind us that Allah is infinitely greater than whatever we may be thinking, worrying or day-dreaming about. This should facilitate our concentration back to our salat.
During sajdah (prostration), we must remember that we are the closest to our Loving and Generous Master. The sajdah has to be made with adoration, humility and gratitude. Meditating on the innumerable blessings that our Loving Lord bestows on us every moment can bring about genuine gratitude. Similarly, meditating on natural phenomena such as rain, the resulting growth of plants and fruits can help foster awe and reverence for our Creator. During sajdah, we recite ‘subhaana rabbi al ala’ which means you are absolutely perfect (free from all flaws and imperfection) my Lord - The Highest.
Of all our daily activities, salat should be our number one priority – the action we want to perfect. Along with personal striving, the help of The Almighty has to be sought in this lifelong endeavour. Hence, our beloved Prophet (PBUH) taught us to say after every salat, “O Allah, I seek your help to remember you, to be grateful to you and to worship you in a beautiful manner.”
The writer is a Lecturer, School of Business and Economics, North South University