Dear brothers and sisters, the Salah is the first thing we will be asked about on the day of Judgement. The Prophet SAWS has said the most important reality is Islam, and its spine is Salah.

The prayer itself is a worship of Allah SWT and its benefits in this life also are many as is mentioned by Allah SWT in the Glorious Quran.

The imam mentioned Sura An Nisa, ayat 103 which says:

And when you have completed the prayer, remember Allah standing, sitting, or [lying] on your sides. But when you become secure, re-establish [regular] prayer. Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times.

Dear brothers and sisters, this ayat is telling us that Salah is the absolute bare minmimum task you commit to in the day. We can abstain from food, drink, relations, interactions with others, work, school etc but prayer is something we cannot miss out.

The Imam also spoke of the following hadith in which the Prophet SAWS is reported to have said:

“The first thing for which the Muslim will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be the prescribed prayers. If they are complete, all well and good, otherwise it will be said: ‘Look and see whether he has any voluntary prayers.’ If he has any voluntary prayers, his prescribed prayers will be completed from his voluntary prayers. Then the same will be done with regard to all his obligatory deeds.”

Dear brothers and sisters, we live in a time and a place where it is becoming increasingly difficult to carry out Salat. The temptations are ever present and they tempt us to spend our time away from this important act. How many of us say to one another that there simply isn’t enough hours in the day. And yet, it is a question of priority and this is to be placed at the top.

We ought to remind one anther that the first step to rehabilitation from the temptations of this life comes from returning to the Salah. This is the SOS that our souls are giving out being answered, it is the mechanism that our Creator has given us to keep steadfast on the right path and to both avoid evil and leave evil if we have fallen foul to it.

Dear brothers and sisters, the prayer is vital to our success and happiness in this life and the next.

However, there is another part of salah that needs to be addressed in this reminder as it is something that people, especially those born in the west, are part of and that is the quality of prayer.

For a lot of people who pray the act of prayer is a tick in the box and it is a cardio exercise but it lacks a secret ingredient and that is the “khushoo” in Arabic which is humbleness in prayer.

And for those unsure whether they have khushoo or not in prayer, it’s one of those things that if you don’t have it, when you are in salat, your mind does not switch off and your worldly thoughts still continue as you pray. This causes us to lack focus in our prayer and thus risking it’s validity.

This reminder concludes with 4 practical tips we can all take away to help us gain focus in prayer.

Preparation. Give yourself 60-90 seconds before the start of each prayer to flush all your thoughts out of your head. Whether this is about work, wife, kids or something else, your brain is one of those things which betrays you in prayer so get into the habit of leaving no thought outstanding before prayer begins.

Visualisation. Always try to remind yourself that you are standing in front of Allah SWT. Another way to look at this is, if you are standing in front of your boss or your teacher then you don’t fidget, yawn or mindlessly think of anything else but the meeting you are having. You give that person the respect because they are a position of authority over you. The same applies here. You are stood in front of your Creator, the Creator of everything you know and He can see you at that very moment and is aware of your Salah. Use that knowledge to maintain etiquette and focus as you recite in front of Him.

Persistence. During the salat, you are in a constant battle with your mind to remain focused on what you are doing. It is the role of Shaitaan to distract you away from this focus so counteract this by doing things that keep your focus. One example is staring on the ground in the same square inch roughly where your head touches when you are in sujood. Don’t close the eyes or let them wander onto what coloured socks the brother next to you is wearing. Another is learning the word-for-word meaning of Sura Fatihah and at a minimum the couple of ayats you read after Sura Fatihah so that when you read each and every word, you can hear it’s meaning in your head and again visualise what you are saying to your Lord.

And lastly, you should pace your recitation, it’s not a race to the finish and by the way the difference between the fastest recitation of salat and the normal-paced, pleasant and focused recitation is only a minute or two, surely your time isn’t that precious outside of your meeting with Allah SWT that you can’t spare that extra minute to recite with a good pace and focus? The imam mentioned a hadith in reference to this which is translated to say:

A man entered the mosque and started praying while Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) was sitting somewhere in the mosque. Then (after finishing the prayer) the man came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and greeted him. The Prophet (ﷺ) said to him, “Go back and pray, for you have not prayed. The man went back, and having prayed, he came and greeted the Prophet. The Prophet (ﷺ) after returning his greetings said, “Go back and pray, for you did not pray.” On the third time the man said, “(O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)!) teach me (how to pray).” The Prophet said, “When you get up for the prayer, perform the ablution properly and then face the Qibla and say Takbir (Allahu Akbar), and then recite of what you know of the Qur’an, and then bow, and remain in this state till you feel at rest in bowing, and then raise your head and stand straight; and then prostrate till you feel at rest in prostration, and then sit up till you feel at rest while sitting; and then prostrate again till you feel at rest in prostration; and then get up and stand straight, and do all this in all your prayers.”

Dear brothers and sisters, Salah is the mechanism through which we connect with connect to Allah SWT. By perfecting this correctly we can impact the rest of our lives and be a testimony to the call to prayer which testifies “come to prayer” and “come to success” insh’Allah.

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Situations that create Determination

Dear brothers and sisters, we have all experienced feats of great achievements in life. Whether it is ourselves or people around us or even from what we see on the television, we have witnessed great accomplishments in life.

These accomplishments such as climbing a mountain or memorizing the Quran all have one thing in common and that is the self-determination of the person to achieve.

Everyone has it within themselves to achieve. This is something that Allah SWT tells us of in the Quran and one example of this is in reference to the story of the Pharoah and his persecution of his people at the time. Allah SWT mentions in Sura Al-Qasas, ayat 5:

And We wanted to confer favor upon those who were oppressed in the land and make them leaders and make them inheritors

Dear brothers and sisters, if we analyse this ayat we see that Allah SWT is telling us that despite the hopelessness of the situation they were in, with the will of Allah SWT they could overthrow the greatest of tyrants.

The point being made in the khutba is that there are essentially two types of people in the world when it comes to determination:

There is the first type who cannot do anything productive and is often found complaining about this and everything else that is going wrong with them. Not only is this negativity found in their actions and words, but they are also quick to pass it on to any plans or ambitions others have to.

The second type is the one who may also face obstacles and tests but instead took each and every setback as a blessing and as a lesson in the path to success.

Dear brothers and sisters, we spoke last week on optimism and how it inspires one to be motivated but this khutba goes further and speaks of how that optimism and motivation inspires one to be productive through determination.

So, what are the obstacles that get in the way of being productive? Well, the khutba mentions this and we hinted at it last week.

Our motivation, through our mood and our level of Optimism determines how motivated we are to achieve.

And who can blame us for having a bad mood these days? With all the bad news being shown, one may think ‘what’s the point?’. It all looks like it’s coming to a head with the Hour being almost upon us.

Dear brothers and sisters, this is not how we are to think as Muslims. First of all, only Allah SWT has knowledge of the Hour.

And secondly, as narrated in a Hadith, the Prophet SAWS has told us to carry on regardless even if that time is here. The hadith is translated as saying:

When the Hour comes, and if someone has a plant and he could plant it before the Hour then he should plant it.

Dear brothers and sisters, this is telling us that our mind is our most precious gift. We must protect it from negativity and pessimism and we must keep it active, productive and positive regardless of what is happening around us.

So, in conclusion to the khutba we outline the practical steps to Productivity that can be applied by all. There are 3 powerful elements of Productivity and without which one cannot achieve it.

  1. Knowledge

It all starts with knowledge. Understand what you need to do and how to do it. One of the main reasons people put things off is because they don’t know how to do it. Some ideas on acquiring knowledge are asking an expert, researching offline or on the net and of course, making dua to acquire knowledge.

  1. Action

The value of knowledge without action is zero. In fact, Allah SWT warns us in the Quran to not be one of those people who had knowledge but did little action. For example, a 60 minute task is only 10 minutes old and you start drifting away towards Facebook, TV or some other distraction. If this happens, split the task into only 10 minutes and give yourself 5 minutes break and then repeat.

The truth is our inner self is like a small child. We need to therefore treat it that way. A bit of encouragement, a bit of scolding, a reward here and there and it will co-operate eventually.

  1. Consistency

So one can get the knowledge, perform the action but after a few days quit. 90% of productivity failures are down to consistency. So how does one overcome this? Start slowly. Grow slowly. This is the key and Allah SWT has told us through the Prophet SAWS that the small but consistent actions are those which He loves the most. Alongside that, remind yourself why you are doing the action, what your reward is for completing it. Visualise the end and you will keep motivated to reach it. And above all else, consistently ask Allah SWT for help in achieving it.

Dear brothers and sisters, motivation and productivity is a battle of the mind. Once we understand this and take practical steps in nurturing our mind to becoming positive, we will find that we can achieve success in what we do and please Allah SWT in doing it.

May Allah SWT enable us to be productive through determination. May Allah SWT enable us to be positive in our thinking. And may Allah SWT reward us for our efforts in doing this.

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