He awakes in the middle of the night with a purpose. Slowly, he gets out of bed and quietly slips off to the bathroom so not to awaken the others. Inside he feels refreshed as the cool water splashes on his face, arms and feet. Revived, he heads out with a purpose to his prayer room.
He has had a very difficult day with a lot of questions echoing in his head, but he did not complain to anybody, as he knows there is only One who can assist him. The One who ordered him to seek assistance through prayer and patience, so here he is, seeking assistance through prayer, while many others sleep.
He raises his hands above his shoulders and proclaims the greatness of his Creator “Allāhu Akbar!”, then folds them on his chest. Quietly, he seeks protection from the accursed Satan, and begins in the name of his Lord. He recites The Opening Chapter in beautiful rhythmic tones. He takes his time, knowing that after every verse, his Lord replies. “All praise is for Allāh, the Lord of the Worlds,” he begins. He can feel the response within him, “My slave has praised me!”
“Most Gracious, Most Merciful,” he continues. “My slave has glorified me!” is the response. “Master of the Day of Judgment,” he affirms. “My slave has related all matters to me,” Allāh responds. “You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help,” he attests. Allāh’s reply fills his heart with hope and joy, “This is between me and my servant and my servant will have whatever he asks for!”
At this point, he breaks down into tears as he asks Allāh for the most important thing in his life, “Guide us to the straight path, the path of those who have earned your favor, not of those who have earned your anger or have gone astray!” He feels peace as he internalizes Allāh’s response, “This is for my slave and my slave will have what he asked for.”
He then recites further and feels Allāh’s guidance in every verse he recites. For whichever chapter of the Qurʾān he chooses to recite from, he is assured that he will find guidance as Allāh has testified, “this is the book in which there is no doubt, it is a guidance for those who are conscious of Allāh.” After completing his emotional recitation in which he pondered over Allāh’s wise and reassuring words, he bows in rukū‘ and glorifies his Lord for His guidance and mercy.
He then stands up straight and praises Allāh as he prepares for his favorite part of the prayer: the sajdah! He proclaims the greatness of Allāh and goes straight down into prostration, indicating his full submission to his Creator. It is a position which signifies complete obedience and humility and it is the position in which a person is closest to their Lord.
He stays in sajdah for a long time with no intention of getting up soon. He glorifies his Lord, The Most High, multiple times then breaks down into tears and begins to ask for everything he needs. He stays like this for several minutes with only Allāh knowing what he is saying. He is praying; praying for everything he needs, praying for everyone he knows, praying for people he doesn’t know, praying for people who might even hate or harm him. He prays and prays, in complete submission to his Lord.
He then sits up to take a short break and seeks forgiveness for any shortcomings in his prayer, then goes back into prostration to glorify His Lord more and ask Him again for His endless bounties. After a few minutes, he stands up and repeats the entire cycle again.
Several minutes later, the humble slave returns to his bed at peace with his Lord, and at peace with creation. He recites his dua before sleeping and closes his eyes for a short nap, ready to tackle the challenges of life in the morning with full faith in his Lord.
This is ṣalāh, true ṣalāh. Ṣalāh based upon understanding, concentration, sincerity and submission. It was never meant to be a ritual, but rather a means of communication with our Creator and spiritual revival. May Allāh grant us all the ability, guidance and commitment to pray like this every day in all our prayers.