Ramadan Prep | Day 2 – Farhan Abdul Azeez | Salah: The Greatest Gift

Lecture by Farhan Abdul Azeez | Hosted by Br. Abdullah Syed | Transcribed by Sameera

[The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity.]
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[Br. Abdullah Syed]:  Al-salāmu ‘alaykum wa raḥmatullāh and welcome to another day at Ramadan Prep.  Today we have with us a very special guest:  brother Farhan Abdul Azeez.  We’re really honored to have him here.  Before we get started, just go ahead and FB and text people and let them know we are about to get started so that we can all share in this barakah together.  Today’s topic is about ṣalāh, but from a very different angle:  ṣalāh as a gift from Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Br. Farhan is a very active dā ‘iyah and an awesome khaṭīb.  He is also a product of the Dream program at Bayyinah Institute and a student of AlMaghrib Institute.  He has studied many other places and is also a doctor in training, alḥamdulillāh, and a medical resident.  Without any further ado, we’ll get started.

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[Dr. Farhan]:  Al-salāmu ‘alaykum, everyone watching today.  Welcome to the program – it’s a great initiative and I’m happy to have a chance to be a part of it.  As br. ‘Abdullāh mentioned, the topic for today is ṣalāh – looking at it from the perspective of a gift for the ummah.  Before we get into the topic, I want to give a quick background.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says in a ḥadīth in Tirmidhi, which is authenticated by al-Albāni raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) and ṣaḥīḥ, “I have indeed been threatened in the way of Allāh in a way that no one has been threatened before.  I have suffered in the way of Allāh like no one else has suffered before.  Thirty days and nights came upon me.  Bilāl raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and I didn’t have any food that any creature could eat [not even the smallest morsel], except for what Bilāl was able to hide under his armpit.”

We can talk about the tests of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and all that he went through, but I thought that this narration will give you a fair idea of what the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) suffered and went through.

The Most Difficult Day

‘Ā’ishah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) in a ḥadīth in Bukhāri asked the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), “Ya Rasūlullāh, has there come upon you a day that was more difficult than the day of Uhud?”  This was the day in which the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) tooth was broken and his cheek was gashed and his shoulder was injured and he lost many of his companions and loved ones, including his uncle Hamza raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him).  He lost so much on that day and suffered so much.  In fact, a rumor even went out that he died.  ‘Ā’ishah, knowing how difficult a day that was, asked the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) if there was a day more difficult than that.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says, “Yes, the day that was more difficult than that day was Yawm’l-‘Aqabah [also known as Yawm’l-Ṭā’if – the day the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) went to Ṭā’if].”

Before we briefly talk about Ṭā’if, let me just give you a few events that happened before Ṭā’if.  When the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) went to Ṭā’if, he saw that the doors of da‘wah in Makkah were completely closed – no one was listening.  This happened after the death of Abu Ṭālib, his uncle who was giving him protection.  When Abu Ṭālib died, the protection was gone.  It got so bad to the point that people in the streets of Makkah would come with dirt and dump it on his head.  They were threatening him.  Abu Ṭālib died in what is known as ‘ām’l-ḥuzn (the Year of Sorrow), which is the last year of a three-year embargo against the Muslims.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) suffered a lot when this embargo happened because the Quraysh told Abu Ṭālib to hand over the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to be killed, and he refused.  When he refused, they said they would boycott him until he handed him over. They were trying to kill the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  Allāh says, “The people of disbelief were planning to imprison you or kill you or drive you out of your home.  They plan and Allāh plans, and Allāh is the best of planners.”

Abu Ṭālib died.  The punishment and attempts on the life of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) increased.  The people refused to accept da‘wah.  Most narrations say that two months after the death of Abu Ṭālib, Khadījah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), the wife of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the one who supported him through thick and thin, died.   The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said about her, “She believed in me when others disbelieved in me.  She supported me when others rejected me.  She shared with me her wealth when other people deprived me of their wealth.”  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) loved her so much.  Imagine all that he went through with the difficulties and torture.

He sees his ṣaḥābah going through what they are going through.  Not only that, he lost some of his children at a young age.  By the time the death of Khadījah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) came, two of his children had already died:  Qasim and ‘Abdullāh, as babies.

When he comes home after suffering all that he suffered and sees the face of his wife Khadijah, it is as if all of the sorrows go away.  She was the comfort and pillar supporting the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) emotionally, psychologically, financially.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) lost Abu Ṭālib and Khadījah.

Then he goes to Ṭā’if.  The Quraysh refused da‘wah.  What is interesting is the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) couldn’t leave openly and let the Quraysh know that he was leaving, so he walked away with Zayd b. Harithah, his adopted son.  When the people see the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) walking with his adopted son, they don’t think anything.  They think everything is normal.  He didn’t take a camel, horse, mule or donkey.  He walked with Zayd and his staff.  Ṭā’if is over 60 miles away from Makkah, and the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) walked it without food and water.  He walked it having suffered what he suffered from the Quraysh and he walked it with his heart full of hope that perhaps the people of Ṭā’if will accept the message of Islam.

He reaches Ṭā’if, and by the way, when he leaves, he leaves behind four daughters at home.  He has four daughters and his wife Khadijah has passed away, and he is leaving them behind.  Imagine how the Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is feeling as a father.  Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as the prophet is feeling sad because the people rejected the call of Allāh.  Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as the father has his heart torn because he is leaving his children behind – four children without someone to take care of them.

Ṭā’if didn’t last one day.  The narrations say it lasted between ten to fifteen days (most narrations say ten).  For at least ten days, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) left Makkah to go to the people of Ṭā’if.  He presented himself to the three leaders and tells the first one that he is the Messenger of Allāh.  The first leader says, “I am going to tear the cloth of the Ka’bah if Allāh sent you as a prophet.”  He went to the second person who says, “Did Allāh not find anyone other than you to send as a prophet?  He sent you of all people?”  Again, mockery.  The third person says, “If you are a prophet, then it is not befitting for me to talk to you because you are too holy.  If you are not a prophet, then you are a liar, and it is not befitting for me to talk to a liar.”

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) spent ten to fifteen days in Ṭā’if.  There was no one he presented the message to except that he rejected the message.  To hasten his exit from Ṭā’if, they sent the ignorant, children, and slaves to chase away the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  Zayd b. Harithah and the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) are being chased by groups of people.  The narrations say that they were stoning the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and Zayd was trying to protect the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  Imagine dozens and dozens of people chasing the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and yelling at him and stoning him.  Zayd was struck in the head, and some narrations say he even suffered a fracture – Allāhu a‘lam.  He definitely suffered a head injury.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said he never rose his foot to walk except that it was struck with a stone.  From the shins down, he was bleeding until the noble blood of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was spilled on the ground of Ṭā’if.  They even said his shoes were sticking to his feet from the blood.  In the same ḥadīth where ‘Ā’ishah asked the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), “Has there come a day upon you harder than Uhud?” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “When I left Ṭā’if, I was so overwhelmed with emotion and sadness and grief and confusion that I wasn’t aware of my surroundings until I reached [a place more than 20 miles from Ṭā’if].”  Imagine that.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is running away from the people and says he was so overwhelmed that he wasn’t even aware of his surroundings for 20 miles.

These ignorant people are chasing him ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  Do you know how long that lasted for?  Was it just until the border of the town?  He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was chased and being stoned and cursed and yelled at until he reached a garden which is more than two miles away from Ṭā’if.  He is being stoned for two miles.  This garden was owned by two of the biggest enemies of Islam in Makkah.  The group’s finally left him.  There, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) made the famous du‘ā’, which is a weak ḥadīth but without question the meaning of the ḥadīth is full of the spirit of prophethood, “O Allāh, to You only I complain my sorrows and the weakening of my strength and the scarcity of my resources and my humiliation in front of the people.”

After all this happened, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) finally gets back to Makkah. Because Abu Ṭālib had died, he doesn’t have protection.  He can’t even get back into his own city.  He can’t enter his own home.  He had to stay outside of Makkah.  Ibn al-Qayyim raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) says, “The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) went to the cave of Hira and stayed there for a few nights, sending messages to different people [to find out] who will offer him protection.”  He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) understood the situation, so he sent it to people who were able to and would be willing to give him protection.  They kept refusing until finally Mu‘ṭim b. Adi gave the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) protection and he ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was able to come back.

The Night Journey

After all this – imagine the sorrows and grief of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) – Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) sent Jibrīl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him).  I’m going to share with you the narrations from Bukhāri and Muslim because each has different components of the story.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says he was sitting next to the House of Allāh and the angel Jibrīl came to him and opened up his abdomen and washed the inside of his abdomen with zamzam and had a golden platter full of iman and wisdom.  His heart was put in this golden platter and filled with īmān and wisdom.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said he was presented with an animal that was white and smaller than a mule and larger than a donkey known as Buraq. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) rode on this animal.  The narration says that when Buraq would take one step, it was as far as the horizon and as far as the eye can see.  He went to Masjidl-Aqṣa in Filistine.  He tied Buraq to the same ring that the prophets before would tie their rides, and he went into Masjidl-Aqṣa and prayed two rakʿahs.  Other narrations (not Bukhāri and Muslim) say he led the prophets in prayer – Allāhu a‘lam.

After that, he ascended with Jibrīl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to the heavens.  When he got to the first heaven, the angels of the gate asked who they were.  Jibrīl said, “Jibrīl.”  They said, “Who is with you?”  He said, “Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).”  They said, “Has he been sent?”  Some ‘ulemā’ say that they asked this question out of astonishment:  has a human being while still alive been sent to come up to the heavens?  What an honor!

Angel Jibrīl said, “Yes.”  They said, “Welcome to him, and what a great coming this is!”  He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) went to the first heaven and saw Ādam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him).  Ādam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) said salām to him and welcomed him.  He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) sees different prophets as he ascends up the heavens.  Every time he gets to a heaven, the same conversation happens:  “Who are you?  Who is with you?”  Finally he gets to the seventh heaven and sees baytl-ma‘mūrBaytl-ma‘mūr is the equivalent of what the Ka’bah is on earth.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “70,000 angels go to baytl-ma‘mūr every day to worship Allāh and they never return again.”  Every day there is a unique set of 70,000 angels worshipping Allāh.  This is the vastness of the creation of Allāh.

After this, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said he saw a tree which is the last part of the samawāt (skies) after which is the ‘Arsh of Allāh after which is Paradise.  The narrations say there were four rivers flowing next to this tree.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “What are these rivers?”  Jibrīl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) said, “Two are open and two are hidden.  The two that are hidden are from Paradise.”  The two from this world the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) are equivalent to the Nile River and the Euphrates, meaning that these rivers give so much blessing to the people that these rivers are the equivalent in the samawāt.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “I looked at it and its leaves are like the ears of elephants.  Its fruits are like the large vessels.  Allāh commanded it to change.  There is no one created who is able to describe the beauty of that tree.”  Imagine the beauty of the trees inside Jannah!

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is seeing all of this and is told to go forward.  He tells Jibrīl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), “You are telling me to go forward by myself?  Are you going to leave me at this point?”  Jibrīl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), the one who brings the waḥy to all the prophets, says, “Ya Rasūlullāh, we each have a known position.  I can’t go where you are about to go.”  Keep in mind the sadness and the grief that he just went through.  He goes past this place where no one has gone before and talks to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) directly.  Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gives him the prescription for 50 prayers a day.  Imagine that!

When you give a gift to someone, even just dropping flowers on the table for your wife, she’ll appreciate it without question, but you didn’t do it with style.  If you want to really make it worthwhile, then you wrap it up beautifully and maybe hide it in your jacket as you come in.  You do all these nice things and make dinner for her and light some candles.  Depending on the presentation and the way the gift is given, it means more to the person.

Brothers and sisters, no command from Allāh was ever revealed in the heavens except for prayer.  Everything – jihād fisabilillāh, fasting, Ḥajj, ḥijāb – has come down when the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was on the earth and Jibrīl was sent as a messenger.  For this special gift, Allāh doesn’t want to send it down through Jibrīl.  Allāh wants to bring the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to Himself and have a direct conversation and give the gift to the Prophet for him and for his ummah.

Reflect on the Prayers

When we think about our prayers, do we think of it as a gift from Allāh that we cherish and honor and love, or do we think of it as a task?  How do we look at it?  If we understood that it is a gift from Allāh, then we will love this gift.  If we love Allāh, we will love to worship Allāh by the gift which He gave us.  It is a gift from Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

It was said about the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), “If he ever got worried about something or was concerned, he would rush to the prayer and find comfort in the prayer.”  He would tell Bilāl, “Make the iqāmah, O Bilāl, so that we can have comfort in prayer.”

Does our prayer give us comfort, brothers and sisters?  Or do we think of it as a burden? For those of you who play sports, you can play basketball for two hours straight and may be sore and take a few elbows and will be sweating, but you keep playing and keep enjoying it.  When your mom tells you, “Can you wash the dishes after dinner?,” you say, “Ya Allāh.”  It is heavier than a mountain to just wash three plates in the sink.  It is like torture for those two minutes.  Why?  When you are washing the dishes, you are still inside in the AC and are still comfortable and have cool water and are not sweating, not hot, not tired, not sore, but it is difficult.  Two hours of basketball when you are tired and sweaty and sore is not enough and you want to keep playing.  Why?  Because of the difference in perspective in how we look at our prayer.

Because we hate washing dishes, two minutes is two much.  Because we love playing basketball – or whatever you love to do – two hours is too little.  If we love ṣalāh and if we understood it as a gift, then when the imam starts reciting anything longer than Sūrat’l-Ikhlāṣ, we think “Alḥamdulillāh.”   Nowadays, if it is not Ikhlāṣ, then we want the shaykh to speed it up and make quicker prayers with shorter sūrahs.  If we enjoy our prayer, then we would wish the imam would go on and on and we wouldn’t feel it.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) loved his prayer and the ummah understood this as a gift.  The ṣaḥābah were fighting against the tribe of Juhaynah and they stopped in the middle of the battle to pray ṣalāt’l-ẓuhr.  The enemies of Allāh saw the Muslims praying ẓuhr and thought, “If we attack them at this point, we could have defeated them.”  They didn’t leave their prayer in the middle of battle.  Even if you are on your deathbed and have to pray, you pray.  If you don’t have the strength to stand up, you pray sitting, and if you can’t pray sitting, you lie down, and if you can’t even do that, then with your eyes you have to pray.

I remember one time I was in the operating room as a student and an emergency case came in and they needed an extra pair of hands to help the doctor.  I was in the anesthesia rotation, and they told me I had to scrub in and help on the case.  I hadn’t prayed ẓuhr yet, and the surgery was going to go on until aṣr.  I literally had to pray ṣalāt’l-ẓuhr standing in the OR while I’m helping the doctor operate on someone.  You have to pray!  If I didn’t pray ẓuhr, I don’t have an excuse in front of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).  No matter what your condition, you have to pray.

When the tribe of Juhaynah said, “If we attacked them at ẓuhr…”, they said, “Ṣalāt’l-aṣr is going to come next that is more loved to them than their own children.”  This is how much they loved ṣalāh.  There is perhaps no greater love than the love of a mother for her daughter or her son or the love of a father for his child, but they loved ṣalāh more.

Ṣalāh is a Gift

I want to share with you, brothers and sisters, some points on ṣalāh and how can we view it as a gift.  Before I get into the main part, I want to share with you some things.

If we are born to Muslim parents, the first thing we hear in our ears is the adhān.  It is a sunnah that when the child is born, the adhān is called in their ear.  We hear the adhān, but we don’t pray because we are a one-day old child.  The last thing that is done before you leave this world is ṣalāt’l-janāzah (the funeral prayer).  When that prayer is made, there is no adhān called, but the prayer is made.  It is as if our life is between the adhān (the call to prayer) and prayer.  That is how important ṣalāh is in our lives.  There was a reason why ṣalāh went down from fifty to five.  If it was fifty, then we would be praying every twenty minutes a day.  We wouldn’t be able to do anything else.  It is as if Allāh is teaching us that the most important thing in your life is prayer.  The people of Jannah will be talking about the people of Hellfire, and Allāh says, “The people of the right hand will be asking about the sinners and criminals.  They will ask, ‘What caused you to get into Hellfire?’”  The first reason they give why they are now in Hellfire is, “We didn’t used to pray.”  The people in Hellfire are in Hellfire because they didn’t pray.  Prayer is the most important thing in our lives, brothers and sisters.

Let me share with you some gems on how this is a gift from Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

1.  Know that you are talking to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in your prayer.  Let me give you a simple example.  If I say that whoever you look up to the most calls you on your personal cell phone to see how you are doing and talks to you, you would be so happy and tweeting and Facebooking it.  Two minutes later, you would call the same friend again and say, “Just in case you forgot, Kobe Bryant called me.”  What about if you talked to Allāh and Allāh talks to you in prayer?  How should that make you feel?  The Creator of the heavens and the earth is talking to you directly even if you are a sinner.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in a ṣaḥīḥ ḥadīth, “When one of you stands to pray, you are talking to Allāh and confiding in Allāh, so let everyone look to what manner in which he talks to Allāh.”

In Sūrah Ṭā Ha , Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) asks Mūsa, “O Mūsa, what is that in your right hand?”  Mūsa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) said, “It is a staff.”  Did he stop there?  Did he say anything else?  Mūsa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) doesn’t stop there and says, “I lean upon it.  I use it with my cattle.  I have a lot of other uses for it too.”  Why is he going on and on about the staff?  Does he care about the staff that much?

Let me give you another example.  When somebody gets newly engaged or newlywed, the guy will be staring off into space because he is in love, especially in the opening stages of marriage.  In the beginning of the marriage, they’ll look for any excuse to talk.  The sister may see her fiancé wearing a nice shirt and say, “Your shirt looks really pretty.”  The guy will say, “This shirt is actually 100% cotton and it was on sale.”  He goes on and on about the shirt.  Do guys care about shirts?  No.  He cares about the one he is talking to.  Because he cares about his fiancée, he can go on and on about the most random things.

Mūsa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) is asked by Allāh, “What is in your hand?”  He says, “It’s my staff,” but he doesn’t stop because he loves talking to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

When we stand to pray to Allāh, we talk to Allāh directly.  Sūrat’l-Fātiḥah is actually a conversation between us and Allāh.  We say, “alḥamdulillāhi rabbi’l ʿālamīn,” and Allāh responds to us (ḥadīth in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim).  Allāh talks to us and we talk to Allāh.

2.  Not only are you talking to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), but Allāh mentions you when you pray.  Allāh says in the Qurʾān in Sūrat’l-‘Ankabūt, “Recite from what We have revealed to you from the Book (the Qurʾān) and establish the prayer for certainly prayer prevents you from evil and wicked deeds.”  Then Allāh says, “The remembrance of Allāh is greater, and Allāh knows what you do.”  The question is:  what does “the remembrance of Allāh is greater” mean?  Allāh says, “Establish the prayer for my remembrance,” so does this part of the verse mean that important part of prayer is remembering Allāh?

‘Abdullāh b. ‘Abbās asked this question to ‘Abdullāh b. Rabi‘ah, another ṣaḥābi, and he says, “What does ‘the remembrance of Allāh is greater’ mean?”  The ṣaḥābi says, “When we remember Allāh saying ‘subḥānAllāh, la ilāha illa Allāh, alḥamdulillāh,’ then that is what is more important in prayer.”  Ibn ‘Abbās tells him, “No, what this means is that Allāh’s remembrance of you is greater than your remembrance of Allāh.” He recited the verse in Sūrat’l-Baqarah, “Remember Me, I will remember you.”

When you are standing to pray to Allāh and remembering Allāh, Allāh remembers you.

Just to make you understand it better, imagine you are walking into a convention with twenty or thirty thousand people there and your favorite speaker is up on the stage in front of this huge crowd, and he sees you walking and says, “Al-salāmu ‘alaykum.”  In the middle of the speech, he interrupts the speech and calls you by your name.  It makes you feel good, right?

Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions your name in a gathering better than any gathering we can have in this world.  The angels are in the presence of Allāh.  Allāh mentions your name.  Think about that!

Not only that, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says to Ubayy b. Ka’b in a ḥadīth ṣaḥīḥ in Bukhāri and Muslim, “Allāh has commanded me to recite to you Sūrat’l-Bayyinah.”  Imagine if the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) came and told you this.  Ubayy’s question was, “Did Allāh mention my name?”  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Yes, he told me to recite to Ubayy and mentioned your name.”  Ubayy began crying saying, “Allāh mentioned my name!”  Can you understand what that means when every time you pray Allāh remembers you?  It is amazing if we understood that, and it changes our perspective on ṣalāh.

3. Not only does Allāh talk to you and you talk to Allāh, and not only does Allāh mention you by name, Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) looks at you when you pray.  Allāh gives you personal time.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in a ṣaḥīḥ ḥadīth, “Allāh commands you to pray, so when you pray, don’t turn away.”  The ‘ulemā’ say that it doesn’t mean with your eyes, which is of course a given, but the original meaning is with the heart, meaning that when you pray to Allāh, don’t start thinking about other things.  Focus on Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Don’t turn away with your heart or your eyes.  Allāh faces His slave when he prays as long as the slave doesn’t turn away.”  Can you imagine that?  Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) faces us and gives us one-on-one time – every Muslim who prays!  Do you understand why ṣalāh is a gift from Allāh now?

Through Prayer, Allāh Forgives Sins

All what I said is just one aspect of how ṣalāh is a gift for the ummah.  In conclusion, I want to share with you that ṣalāh is a gift from Allāh for us, and ṣalāh (prayer) is a means of forgiveness for our sins.  I’m going to just walk you through the steps of prayer and how in the different steps of prayer Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) forgives our sins based on this prayer.  Once we get to the end, you will see ṣalāh truly is a gift.  If you understand these things, it will completely change your perspective on prayer.

1.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhāri as recorded by Abu Hurayrah:  “The five daily prayers and Jumu‘ah to Jumu‘ah is an expiation of the sins committed between those times so long as one is not guilty of major sins.”  When you pray ṣalāt’l-fajr and then you pray ṣalāt’l-ẓuhr, whatever small sins you have committed between those two times are forgiven by Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).  Between Jumu‘ah to Jumu‘ah – the whole week long – whatever sins you have committed are wiped away by virtue of praying ṣalāt’l-jumu‘ah.  Prayer in and of itself is an expiation of all minor sins.

2.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in a ḥadīth in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, “When one makes wuḍū’ and does it properly, then his sins are washed away to the extent that they come out from beneath your fingernails.”  Everything is washing away.  In another ḥadīth in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “When the Muslim or the mu’min (believer) makes wuḍū’, when he washes his face, every sin that his eyes has committed (whatever ḥarām we may have looked at, if we didn’t lower our gaze when we were supposed to, if we spied on someone we shouldn’t have) wash away with the water or with the last drop of water.  When he washes his hands, every sin his hand has committed is washed away.  When he washes his feet, every sin that his feet walked towards is washed away with the last drop of water until he comes out of making wuḍū’ free of sin.”

Can you imagine that you make wuḍū’ and your sins are washed away?  This whole process of prayer is a cleansing of our sins.  Before you even begin prayer, your sins are washed away.  Brothers and sisters, even if you have wuḍū’, make wuḍū’ again before prayer.  Think when you are making wuḍū’ and have khushū‘ and humility and concentration as you are washing away the sins of your hands and when you wash your mouth, you are washing away the sins of the tongue, and when you wash your face, you are washing away the sins of the eyes.  It makes you humble to Allāh.

In Ḥajj, before we go to the House of Allāh to make ṭawāf, we go to ‘Arafāh.  ‘Arafāh happens on the 9th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah and ṭawāf’l-ifāah happens on the 10th, 11th, or 12th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah.  Before going to the House of Allāh, you must first cleanse your sins in Arafah.  All of your sins are wiped away.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “There is no day on which people are free from Hellfire more than the day of ‘Arafāh.”  The people’s sins are wiped away in ‘Arafāh and then they go to the House of Allāh.  When we make wuḍū’, it is a preparatory step before we stand before Allāh and before Allāh looks at us and before we talk to Allāh and He talks to us.  We must cleanse ourselves of sin before we stand before Allāh.  Wuḍū’ is a cleansing of sins.

3.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in an authentic ḥadīth in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, “Whoever makes wuḍū’ at home and then walks to the House of Allāh to perform one of the five prayers, every step he takes wipes away a sin and the next step raises his status with Allāh.”  When we walk from our doorstep to the car and from the parking lot to the masjid.  Every step we take and Allāhu a‘lam, we’ll leave the generosity to Allāh and won’t try to figure out as we are driving to the masjid and every step to the masjid is a sin forgiven and the next step is a rank raised.  When you are walking to prayer, not only have you made wuḍū’ and cleansed yourself of sin, but the mercy doesn’t end there.

4.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, “The angels pray for you before prayer.”  When you get to the masjid and sit down and are waiting for the prayer to begin, he ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says that you get the reward as if you are in prayer while you are waiting for prayer.  He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says, “As you are sitting there, there are angels appointed to make du‘ā’ for you, ‘O Allāh forgive him.  O Allāh have mercy on him.’”

5.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in an authentic ḥadīth that has been narrated in the books of Imam al-Bayhaqi and Imam al-Ṭabarāni, and authenticated by al-Albāni raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him), “When you begin to pray and say ‘Allāhu akbar’, your sins are brought to you and placed on top of your head and your shoulders.  Every time you make rukū‘ or sujūd, your sins fall off of you.”  Can you imagine?  Brothers and sisters, when the believer prays, the believer looks at the smallest sin as a mountain on top of his head that is about to fall on him and crush him.  Sufyān al-Thawri said, “Because of just one mistake I made, I was prevented from praying in the night (qiyām’l-layl) for six months.”  We are worried so much about the smallest bad deed that we do and wonder if Allāh will take us to account for that bad deed.

The scholars say, “Don’t look at how small of a bad deed that you have done, rather look to the greatness of the One you have sinned against.”  How can we sin against Allāh using the blessings that Allāh has given us?  Eyesight is a gift from Allāh to us and we use it to look at ḥarām?  To the believer, even the smallest of sins is a big deal.  To the hypocrite, he looks at a bad deed he does (he doesn’t pray, he disrespects his mother, doesn’t wear ḥijāb) like a fly – no big deal, just shoo it away.  When the believer stands before Allāh in prayer, he realizes all his sins are on top of his heads and shoulders.  He prays with so much concentration, hoping Allāh forgives his sins, so when he goes into rukū‘, he goes with humility and submission to Allāh.  “O Allāh, I submit myself to You.  O Allāh, I turn my life away from the life of sin and I commit myself to You!”  With this humility, the sins fall off of your shoulders and head every time you go into rukū‘ and sujūd.

6.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in authentic ḥadīth in the books of al-Nasa’i that one of the du‘ā’s that you can say when you begin to pray after saying “Allāhu akbar” is to make this du‘ā’ to Allāh to [make the] distance [between] you and your sins as great as the distance between the east and the west.  “O Allāh, cleanse me of my sins as a white garment is cleansed from filth.  O Allāh, wash away my sins with water and snow and ice.”  You ask Allāh to forgive all your sins as you begin your prayer, and [this is] one of the three du‘ā’ you can mention.

7.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in an authentic ḥadīth in Bukhāri and Muslim and other books of ḥadīth, “When the imam says āmīn (after Sūrat’l-Fātiḥah), say ‘āmīn’ because if you say ‘āmīn’ at the same time the angels say ‘āmīn,’ then all of your sins you have committed are wiped away.”  A quick tip on how to say “āmīn” at the same time as the angels:  say it with proper tajwīd.  The “ā” part is two ḥarakahs.  “Mīn” is two, four, or six ḥarakahs, depending on what the imam is reciting.  Sooner or later our “āmīn” will be at the same time as the angels.  All your sins are forgiven.

8.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, “Make a lot of sajdah (i.e. make a lot of prayer) because for every time you make a prostration to Allāh, your rank is raised and your sin is forgiven.”  Every sajdah you make, your sins are being forgiven.

9.  In the sitting between the two sajdahs, we say, “Rabbi’ghfirli.”  “O my Lord, forgive me.”  You can also say, “O Allāh, forgive me and have mercy on me and guide me and enrich me and give me health and grant me sustenance and raise my rank.”  The important point we are focusing on is that we are saying, “O my Lord, forgive me.”

10.  When you are done with prayer, just like angels pray for you before prayer, as long as you stay in the same position of the prayer and don’t lose wuḍū’, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhāri, “The angels will pray for you as long as you are in the same position that you just prayed in and don’t break your wuḍū’.  The angels say, ‘O Allāh forgive him.  O Allāh have mercy on him.’”

11.  After pray, the Sunnah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is to say, “Astaghfirullāh” three times.  We ask Allāh for forgiveness.  Brothers and sisters, khushū‘ in prayer is very important, but khushū‘ when you are making tasbīḥ is also very important.  One time ‘Ali b. Abi Ṭālib saw a man walking around saying “astaghfirullāh” but not paying attention.  Allāh says in the Qurʾān, “Allāh has never given any man two hearts in his chest.”  You can’t do two things at once.  ‘Ali b. Abi Ṭālib saw this man and said, “O the son of my brother, the way you are asking Allāh for forgiveness requires you to ask Allāh for forgiveness.”  When you say “astaghfirullāh” after prayer, say it with humility.  “O Allāh please forgive me.”  Focus on what you are saying.

12.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in a ḥadīth in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, “After every prayer, if you say ‘subḥānAllāh’ 33 times, ‘alḥamdulillāh’ 33 times and ‘Allāhu akbar’ 33 times and then say ‘la ilāha illa Allah waḥdahu la sharīka lah, lahu’l-mulk wa lahu’l-ḥamd wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadīr’ all of his sins are wiped away, even if it is as great and numerous as all of the foam in the sea.”  How long does it take?  Two or three minutes?  But people don’t do it.

13.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in the book of al-Nasa’i and it is classified as ḥasan by most scholars, “There are two things that are so easy to do that will grant a person Jannah if they do it, but people don’t do it.  After every prayer, say ‘subḥānAllāh’ 10 times, ‘alḥamdulillāh’ 10 times and ‘Allāhu akbar’ 10 times, it is only 150 on the tongue, but it counts as 1,500 on the scales.”  Why?  Allāh says in the Qurʾān, if you do one good deed, Allāh will give you ten times the reward.  When you pray five prayers, you get the reward as if you prayed 50 prayers.  “And if before you sleep you say ‘subḥānAllāh’ 33 times, ‘alḥamdulillāh’ 33 times and ‘Allāhu akbar’ 34 times, it is 100 on the tongue and 1,000 on the scales.  Who amongst you commits 2,500 bad deeds a day?”  If you do this every day, you get 2,500 good deeds.  Who does 2,500 bad deeds a day?  Why is he asking this question?  In the beginning of the ḥadīth, he ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that if you do this, then you are guaranteed Jannah.  Allāh says, “Every good deed that you do wipes away a bad deed.”  He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is saying that even if you do 2,500 bad deeds in a day, if you just pray the five prayers and make this adkhār after each prayer and before you sleep say this, then even if you do 2,500 bad deeds, this adkhār wipes it out and now you are free of sin and Jannah is yours.

Conclusion

Do you see, brothers and sisters, that is 13 different ways in which our sins are wiped away by Allāh.  Just wuḍū’ enough is to wipe away your sins.  What a gift from Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)!  Do you see, brothers, and sisters, that if we take care of our prayers with humility and with khushū‘ and pray five times a day and pray on time, your sins are forgiven.  What a gift from Allāh!

Ramadan is a time when we increase in our prayer.  Increase in your prayer and let ṣalāh be a means of cleansing your sins.

I can’t say what I just said without giving this disclaimer:  maybe somebody says, “Wow, 13 different ways in which my sins are forgiven – I can do whatever I want!  Allāh is so Merciful!  All I’ll do is pray five times a day.”

Brothers and sisters, ṣalāh is a gift.  Ṣalāh is a mercy from Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).  One of the things that makes us as humans the most angry is when somebody takes advantage of our kindness.  We give someone a gift, and then they use that gift against us.  Your boss hires his friend and the guy keeps coming in late.  There is a point where it is too much.

How should we feel if we use this gift from Allāh and say “O Allāh, I’m going to play games with your religion and take advantage of your Mercy and find loopholes.”  It doesn’t work like that.  Allāh says about the hypocrites, “The hypocrites try and deceive Allāh, but Allāh deceives them.”  Brothers and sisters, it is as simple as this:  if we try to take advantage of the Mercy of Allāh, then Allāh can simply say that wuḍū’ is not going to wipe away your sins anymore.  All that we mentioned is not going to wipe away your sins anymore.  Then what?  You are not getting the reward.  If you play games with Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), then if Allāh wills, He can stop this Mercy from coming to you.  It is a gift if you use it right.

I’ll end with this.  In one of the most powerful verses in the Qurʾān, Allāh mentions ‘Isa and how the people took him as a son of Allāh.  ‘Īsa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) tells Allāh, “If you punish them, then they are your slaves and you can do with them as You wish.  And if You forgive them, then certainly You are Al-‘Azīz (the Most Powerful) and Al-Ḥakīm (the Most Wise).”  Allāh says, “Today is the Day that those who were truthful with Allāh, their truthfulness will benefit them.”  Allāh knows we are weak and commit sins, but if we take ṣalāh as a gift and with full sincerity to Allāh try to keep coming closer to Allāh, then the ṣalāh will wipe away our sins.  If we are truthful like that, even if we never get to the point where we leave off sin but we keep trying and keep sticking to our prayer, Allāh says, “Today is the day that the one who is sincere and truthful with Allāh, this sincerity and truthfulness will benefit him.  They will be granted Paradise under which rivers flow.  They will stay therein forever.  Allāh is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Allāh.  That is the most supreme success!”

Allāh will appear to the believers in Jannah and call to them.  The greatest reward in Jannah is to see the Face of Allāh.  Imagine that you are in Jannah with the believers, prophets, and messengers.  Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) calls you directly and says, “O people of Jannah!  Are you pleased?”  Imagine Allāh asking us if we are pleased.  The people of Jannah will say, “O Allāh, how can we not be pleased when You have given us things that you have never given anyone else of your creation?  We have whatever we want of food and drink and palaces.”  Allāh says to the people of Jannah, “Should I not give you something greater than all of the delights of Jannah?”  They say, “O Allāh, what is greater than all that you have given us?”  Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells them, “I have granted you My Pleasure!  You have struggled and strove in this path and left off desires for My Sake, so now I have granted you My Pleasure.  That is the greatest blessing.  And I will never be angry with you again.  This is the day in which those who are sincere and truthful to Allāh, this sincerity and truthfulness will benefit them.  They will stay in Jannah with rivers flowing beneath them forever.  Allāh is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Allāh.”

We ask Allāh to make us amongst those who witness Ramadan and allow us to benefit from all of the fruits of Ramadan.  We ask Allāh to make us leave Ramadan with our sins forgiven.  We ask Allāh to gift us with perhaps the greatest gift of Ramadan – the ability to witness laylat’l-qadr, a night which is better than a thousand months.  We ask Allāh to bring us benefit from that which we heard and allow that which we heard to be beneficial to us.

[Br. Abdullah Syed]:  Jazāk Allāh khayr.  Tomorrow on RamadanPrep we have with us Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda.  He is going to be talking to us about du‘ā’.  In Ramadan, all of us are making more and more du‘ā’.  He will talk about some of the du‘ā’s we hear in tarāwīḥ that we may not understand.

 

8 / View Comments

8 responses to “Ramadan Prep | Day 2 – Farhan Abdul Azeez | Salah: The Greatest Gift”

  1. Mariya says:

    Jazak Allah Khair Sameera and MM for posting this immediately after the lecture.

  2. Tarannum says:

    ASA,
    It was so nice to read this post! So refreshing, Alhamdullilah. May Allah preserve the sweetness of Iman in our hearts, Ameen.

  3. Yusuf Bilal says:

    Alhamdullilah, I was very grateful to be able to read this. JazakAllah Khayran

  4. Noushad says:

    SubhanAllah, what an amazing and beneficial talk! It’s an excellent reminder!

    Just a quick comment on the pronunciation of “Aameen”: It may not necessarily be incorrect to extend the beginning of the word beyond 2 harakaat. Alhamdulillah, the Qur’an has been made easy for us to recite, and there are various recitations that we may recite in. In the recitation of Warsh, this type of elongation (Madd Al-Badal) may be 2, 4, or 6 harakaat. Just thought I’d mention that in case someone accidentally misunderstands what was said in the talk.

    May Allah reward our brother for such a beneficial talk! Aameen!

  5. […] Br. Farhan talked about khushū' in ṣalāh as one of the most important things you care about in the month of Ramadan.  When you fast, fast well.  Make sure you don't hurt or harm your fasting by any of the bad deeds.  Also, don't get distracted by the less important things while you are fasting.  Don't get distracted by focusing on tarāwīḥ more than focusing on ṣalāt'l-i'ishā' or ṣalāt'l-fajr. […]

  6. Zhara says:

    lovely read. All thanks to Allah and then those who put it together on the web.

  7. Sahar says:

    JazakAllah kher for such an amazing reminder for this amazing gift that we sometimes don’t appreciate the way we should. May Allah SWT make the prayer more beloved to us than our children, our parents, our spouses, and all that is in this world, ameen summa ameen.

  8. Bibi Nafeeza Roberts says:

    Ramadan Mubarak Assalaam Alaikum to all thank you for sharing this material it is very interesting and important during this time .May allah shower his blessings on all of us you have a great day .

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