This week’s reminder is about Mistakes in Prayer
Dear brothers and sisters, we are carrying on from last week’s reminder about praying Salah in a correct manner. Obviously the number of mistakes that can possibly be made are too great to list. So as part of today’s reminder, we are sticking to the most common in the hope that this benefits us all today.
The Imam reminded us about the following hadith in which the Messenger of Allah SAWS said:
‘Adhere to righteousness even though you will not be able to do all acts of virtue. Know that among the best of your deeds is prayer and that no one maintains his ablution except a believer.'”
So lets remind ourselves with the 10 most common mistakes in both prayer and ablution or wudu as some know it.
Firstly, changing the way ablution is done, such as washing 4 times thinking is better, is wrong.
The imam mentioned a hadith which says:
“A Bedouin came to the Prophet (ﷺ) to ask him about Wudu’, so he showed him how to perform Wudu’, washing each part three times, then he said: ‘This is Wudu’. Whoever does more than that has done badly, done to extremes and done wrong.”
Another mistake of ablution is not washing all parts. The imam mentioned a hadith which says:
Once the Prophet (ﷺ) remained behind us in a journey. He joined us while we were performing ablution for the prayer which was over-due. We were just passing wet hands over our feet (and not washing them properly) so the Prophet (ﷺ) addressed us in a loud voice and said twice or thrice: “Save your heels from the fire.”
Also a common mistake is of wiping the head. Many people do it more than once, however, the scholars have agreed that the wiping should be once, and no benefit in doing it more than once.
Another mistake is not pouring water in between the fingers and toes. This is especially true when we are in a hurry sometimes.
Regarding the prayer, there is a mistake of running to the masjid to join prayer. We often think that this is better for us. However, imagine it for the people in congregation and you run up behind them to make prayer. At the very least they are going to break focus. This point is mentioned in the hadith said by the imam which says:
I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying, “When the Iqamah are pronounced, do not come to it running, you should walk calmly with tranquillity to join the congregation. Then join in what you catch for and complete what you miss.”
Another mistake is doing extra prayers when the Iqama has started. We may think that we are benefiting by making our Sunnah prayers and can join the prescribed or fardh prayers before it ends but this is a mistake. This point was illustrated by the imam in the hadith which says:
“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) aid: ‘When the Iqamah for prayer is said, there is no prayer except the prescribed prayer.”‘
A common problem also, which is addressed by most imams before prayer begins, is not keeping a straight line. This is also illustrated in today’s reminder in a hadith which says:
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Straighten your rows (during Salat) or Allah would create dissension amongst you”.
The next one is something that I have seen growing up but is less of an issue now. It is the mistake of sitting down when you can stand up to pray. And there is a wisdom to this also. Unless you are physically unable, you should not sit on the floor to pray or on a chair. The prayer contains moves that benefit the body, it’s muscles bones and nerves so it is both beneficial for our health and our soul.
Another mistake is moving ahead of the Imam. This is not much of a problem here but it can be in some places where the place of worship is a building that was not designed as so. For example, a building is bought like a church and so there may be a side room that is filled during busy times but it overlaps the Imams position. Be wary of this as it invalidates the prayer. This is why today we only open one side room as the other could potentially have people ahead of the imam.
And finally it is the mistake of leaving the masjid quickly after prayer, leading to congestion and going past others that praying. Dear brothers and sisters, myself along with most of you are often here as part of a lunch break. Often we are working alongside others who only know of our faith through the media. The last thing we want to do is to shine a light on ourselves by being late back from our lunch breaks and be subject to awkwardness in the office.
This point ought to be tackled on two fronts. Firstly, the masjid has a responsibility to keep track of time during the khutba which the imam and I attempt to do each week. Secondly, when leaving, use it as reminder that it is with the blessing of Allah SWT that you made it to the masjid this week, that you are able to pray, that you are a Muslim and that you are in a place of work that allows for this during a lunch break. Use that sentiment to continue to pray to Allah SWT that he makes your journey back to work a pleasant one, that he makes it easy for you and that if you are late by a few minutes that it is because you are doing it for His pleasure, His commandment and that He is in control of all things including the traffic back to your work and your colleagues at work.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is under your control as that is the whole point of Jumma. A reminder that all that you have experienced over the past week and the week to come is by Allah SWT and all that you do is for the sake of Allah SWT. With this in our minds, we can leave with tranquillity and sabr in our hearts as well as avoiding infringing on other people’s prayers by walking in front of them.
And practically, aim to walk to the back and past the side of anyone praying and then leave from the back of the prayer hall. Those wishing to stay should wait a few minutes to allow others to get past.
Dear brothers and sisters, our Lord is full of Mercy and we should ultimately be praying that any mistakes are forgiven by Allah SWT. However, we ought to do our bit and constantly learn and with that perfect our worship of Allah SWT.Read More
Dear brothers and sisters, after discussing in last weeks reminder about the concentration and tranquillity in prayers, we will discuss some of the dos and don’ts in prayers, and the mistakes that many Muslims make who do not know or pretend not to know.
It is important that recognise that we are always students of learning, regardless of our age and experience. We should aim never to fall into the trap of assuming that we have learnt and mastered our faith as this is arrogance and our path should instead be one of progression and growth.
We ought to recognize that any mistakes that we are making in regards to our faith cannot be taken lightly. It is said that ignorance is no excuse and that is also true of us Muslims. We must know that these mistakes carry weight and be serious in fixing them.
Alongside that, many Muslims choose to leave many of the Sunnahs that have been prescribed which means a lot of good deeds are wasted, and great rewards missed out on.
In fact, on occasions our actions which we think are part of the Sunnah could fall into the impermissible and therefore the sins of not doing a certain act.
We spoke last week of the need to focus in our prayers. The need to disconnect with this outside world, this matrix, this illusion and reconnect with the reality of our existence and that is the preparation for the actual existence in the next life.
This week, we focus on the practicals and so with the remainder of this weeks reminder, we conclude with 10 practical acts that we should be mindful of.
- The item of clothing we wear for salat. Whether it is wearing figure-hugging clothes, or those that can be seen through. We need to be mindful that what we wear is permissible generally or practical during the salat.
Obviously clothes for brothers that do not protect the navel to knee area is out of bounds but alongside that we need to be mindful of the practicality of the clothes we wear. For example, if you are wearing a t-shirt and jeans in the warmer months then this is OK but have you considered what happens when you go into Ruku or Sajda? Remember the back of your top rides up in these positions and if it exposes your body in this positions then you are at a danger of invalidating your prayer.
- It is obligatory to perform sajda or prostration with 7 parts of the body touching the ground. The imam mentioned a hadith in which the Prophet SAWS commanded others to perform this action correctly. It says:
I was commanded to prostrate myself on seven bones and not to fold back clothing or hair.
The 7 parts are your forehead including your nose, your two hands and not your forearms, your two knees and your toes.
- Do not pray in clothes that has picture on it. The imam spoke of a hadith in which Aisha (may Allah SWT be pleased with her) reported:
The Messenger of Allah SAWS stood for prayer with a garment which had designs over it. He looked at these designs and after completing the prayer said: Take this garment and bring me a blanket for it has distracted me just now.
Dear brothers and sisters, current fashion has pictures as being the norm. We also have phrases and quotes written on our clothes and this is also considered OK. However, as mentioned last week, if we are fighting to keep focus then surely we should help one another by covering anything that can distract others around us?
- To protect our prayer from being invalidated by someone walking in front of us. Some scholars argue that it is even compulsory to put something in front to protect such as a chair or a bag. In the masjid we have wooden poles which are at the windowsill to put in front of us when praying but alongside that we can help by picking a row that does not block others wishing to walk past.
Instead of praying in the back row and blocking it for others, move towards the front of a room so that it is easier for people to move past you by going behind you.
- Read at the correct volume. Reading prayer loudly so it distracts others is impermissable as is reading in the heart. Not moving the lips is a mistake and so the correct method is a whisper so that your ears strain to hear it but nothing more.
- Read as early as you can in the time permitted. Unless you are going to congregation, you should read asap when the time permits for a prayer. This is because life will always distract you. Even when you think that you could pray now or pray later too, choose the now because something will most likely come up and cause you to miss the prayer later.
- Understand that prayer is a two-way conversation with Allah SWT. It is not simply about zooming through the prayer, doing the salaam and running back to the world. The prayer should be your 5 times a day, reconnection back to Allah SWT in which you speak of anything that has worried you, upset you, caused you to commit a sin, caused you to want for something or anything to that effect. It’s your opportunity to speak in a one-to-one with Allah SWT so cherish your prayers for this reason and make the most of it.
Dear brothers and sisters, prayer is a key part of our day. A common misconception is that we do it because it is something that is asked of us. However, if we perform with focus and perform it correctly, we will find that it isn’t something that is asked of us, it is something that is given to us as a gift and a blessing from our Creator. Once that fact is realised, our prayers will be cherished and a highlight for our day.Read More
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.Read More