That’s Why We Pray..

That’s Why We Pray..

Prayer constitutes one pillar of Islam and is considered the foundation of religion. But why do we pray?

Any Muslim who fails to observe his prayers and has no reasonable excuse is committing a grave offense and a heinous sin. This offense is so grave because it is not only against God, which is bad enough, but is also against the very nature of man.

why we pray

purifies the heart and develops the mind, cultivates the conscience and comforts the soul.

It is an instinct of man to be inclined to adore the great beings, and to aspire to lofty goals.  The greatest being and the loftiest goal of all is God. The best way to cultivate in man a sound personality and actualize his aspirations in a mature course of development is the Islamic prayer.

To neglect prayer is to oppress the good qualities in human nature and unjustifiably deny it the right to adore and love, the right to aspire and ascend, and the right to excel in goodness and achieve noble aims. Such oppression and denial constitute a very serious and destructive offense. Here lies the significance and vitality of prayer in the life of man.

It should always be borne in mind that God does not need man’s prayer, because He is free of all needs. He is only interested in our prosperity and well-being in every sense.

When He emphasizes the necessity of prayer and charges us with any duty, He means to help us; because whatever good we do is for our own benefit, and whatever offence we commit is against our own souls. Here, too, man is the center of gravity, and his common interest is the main concern.

Why We Pray

The benefit which man can derive from the Islamic prayer is immeasurable and the blessing of prayer is beyond imagination. This is not just a ‘theory’ or conventional assumption; it is a fascinating fact and a spiritual experience. Here is an explanation of the effectiveness of the Islamic prayer:

1- It strengthens the belief in the existence and goodness of God and transmits this belief into the innermost recesses of man’ s heart.

2- It enlivens this belief and makes it constructive in the practical course of life.

3- It helps man to realize his natural and instinctive aspirations to greatness and high morality, to excellence and virtuous growth.

4- It purifies the heart and develops the mind, cultivates the conscience and comforts the soul.

5- It fosters the good and decent elements in man and suppresses the evil and indecent inclinations.

When we analyze the Islamic prayer and study its unique nature, it will reveal to us that it is not merely a physical motion or a void recital of the Holy Book; the Qur’an. It is a matchless and unprecedented formula of intellectual meditation and spiritual devotion, of moral elevation and physical exercise, all combined.

Comprehensive Act

It is an exclusively Islamic experience where every muscle of the body joins the soul and the mind in the worship and glory of God. It is difficult for anyone to impart in words the full meaning of the Islamic prayer yet it can be said that it is:

1- A lesson in discipline and willpower;

2- A practice in devotion to God and all worthy objectives;

3- A vigilant reminder of God and constant revelation of His Goodness;

4- A seed of spiritual cultivation and moral soundness;

5- A guide to the most upright way of life;

6- A safeguard against indecency and evil, against wrong deviation and stray;

7- A demonstration of true equality, solid unity, and brotherhood;

8- An expression of thankfulness to God and appreciation of Him;

9- A course of inner peace and stability;

10- An abundant source of patience and courage, of hope and confidence

This is the Islamic prayer, and that is what it can do for man. The best testimony to this statement is to experience the prayer and avail oneself of its spiritual joys. Then one will know what it really means.

 

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A Professor and Islamic Lecturer, Syracuse University

The article is an excerpt from a book by the author titled ‘Islam in Focus’.

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Shirk: Its Meaning and Punishment in Islam?

Shirk: Its Meaning and Punishment in Islam?

By: Muhammad Bin Ibrahim Bin `Abdullah Al-Tuwayjiri

Shirk is to set up a partner with Allah (Exalted be He) in His rububiyyah (Oneness of Allah’s Lordship), or His uluhiyyah (Oneness of worship) or His attributes.

So if a person believes that there is a creator or helper with Allah then he is a mushrik; whoever believes that someone besides Allah is worthy of worship then he is a mushrik; and whoever believes that Allah has an equal in His names and attributes then he is a mushrik.

Danger of Shirk

1- Committing shirk is great injustice because it is a violation of the exclusive right of Allah, which is tawheed (Oneness of Allah). Hence, tawheed is the most fair of justices, and shirk is the most unfair of injustices and the most abominable of offences; because it is defaming the Lord of the worlds, directing what is exclusively His right to other than Him and equating Him with others.

Moreover, due to the great danger of shirk whoever meets Allah as a mushrik Allah will not forgive him, as Allah says:

Indeed, Allah does not forgive setting up partners with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And whoever sets up partners with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin. (An-Nisaa’ 4:48)

2- Committing shirk is the greatest of sins, for whoever worships other than Allah has placed worship in other than its rightful place and directed it to other than who is worthy of it; and that is great injustice and a heinous offence, as Allah says:

Indeed, shirk is great injustice. (Luqman 31:13)

3- Major shirk renders all deeds worthless, necessitates destruction and loss, and is the greatest of major sins:

1– Allah says:

And it was already revealed to you and to those before you: ‘If you set up partners with Allah, your deeds would surely become worthless, and you would surely be among the losers.’ Rather, worship Allah alone and be among the grateful. (Az-Zumar 39:65-66)

2– And Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said thrice, “Shall I not inform you of the greatest of major sins?” They said, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah!” He said, “Committing shirk and disobedience to parents.” He sat up after he had been reclining and added, “And giving false witness.” He continued to repeat it until we said, “We wish he would be quiet.” (AL-Bukhari and Muslim)

Abominable Characteristics of Shirk

Allah has mentioned four abominable characteristics of shirk in four verses. They are:

1 –Allah says:

Indeed, Allah does not forgive setting up partners with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And whoever sets up partners with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin. (An-Nisaa’ 4:48)

2– Allah says:

And whoever sets up partners with Allah has certainly gone far astray. (An-Nisaa’ 4:116)

3– Allah says:

Indeed, whoever sets up partners with Allah – Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his abode is the Fire. And there are no helpers for the wrongdoers. (Al-Ma’idah 5:72)

4– Allah says:

And whoever sets up partners with Allah – it is as though he had fallen from the sky and was snatched by the birds, or the wind had thrown him to a far off place. (Al-Hajj 22:31)

Punishment for Those Who Commit Shirk

1– Allah says:

Indeed, those who disbelieve among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the Fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. They are the worst of creatures. (Al-Bayyinah 98:6)

2– `Abdullah Ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever dies while calling on something besides Allah, as a rival to Him, will enter the Fire.”

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The article is excerpted from the author’s book “Summarized Islam Fiqh (In Light of the Qur’an and Sunnah)”, translated by Kamil Ahmad & Jawad Beg.

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Praying on Time: Between Deep Faith & Fashionable Identity

Praying on Time: Between Deep Faith & Fashionable Identity

The struggle to find a prayer space for praying at work is familiar to many Muslim Americans, but it’s magnified even more in creative fields like fashion….

Praying: Life Example

Muslims praying

Our faith is so deeply intertwined with our identity that we can’t compartmentalize it out of myself at work.

I’m sitting in a cubicle farm. The minutes are ticking away and time is quickly running out. If I don’t do it now, I’ll miss my chance. I could just ask somebody. But I’m new here and barely know anyone.

Shifty-eyed, I assess my surroundings to gauge the possibility of getting caught, contemplating the backlash that potentially awaits me. Finally, internal debate gives way to desperation and I just go for it.

I crawl under my desk and create a makeshift barricade with a trash bin and desk chair to block myself from view as much as possible. I hope to God no one comes by to ask me where we’re at on that brand statement. I pull my scarf over my head, and hastily offer my afternoon prayers.

Mental Break

The requirements for Muslim prayers aren’t burdensome. A clean space and five or ten minutes are all you need. There are five daily prayers and depending on daylight savings, one to three of them fall squarely within the confines of the 9-to-5 work day.

Solitary prayers are a keenly personal act. They require focus, concentration and detachment from the hustle and bustle of life as you silently recite Qur’anic passages to yourself. In this respect, the divine communication is no different from meditating, practicing yoga, or taking a quiet mental break. All are meant to renew your spirit and take your mind off of everyday minutiae.

Muslim prayers also involve certain movements like standing, bowing and prostrating- which is where things get tricky. It’s not exactly something you can do incognito. Nothing is more clumsily awkward than a coworker finding you mid-prayer. The whole experience is akin to having someone unwittingly walk in to a bathroom stall you’re currently using. There’s lots of apologizing on both sides, avoidance of eye contact and pretending afterward that the whole thing never happened.

The struggle to find a prayer space at work is familiar to many Muslim Americans, but it’s magnified even more in creative fields like fashion, where typically few Muslims end up. As a “creative type” who has worked at several fashion brands, I’ve almost always been the lone Muslim employee.

Consequently, I’ve developed the special ability to ferret out secluded nooks and crannies for prayer at work. I’ve found office gyms with changing rooms are usually the best bet for privacy and low risk of intrusion.

Sometimes I’ll pray in my car as a last resort, though it’s tough getting spiritual in a metal can that’s been baking in the Southern California heat, especially when your coworkers are pulling up to the spot next to you, fresh off a Starbucks run.

But that brings in a host of potential complications. Like so many millions of Muslim women around the world, my version of modesty does not include donning the hijab, the headscarf that anyone with a cable news subscription will recognize as a “marker” of Muslim-ness, albeit an arbitrary one. Not visually standing out in this way actually makes it that much more difficult to bring up the “Muslim conversation” and the related “prayer conversation”.

Without the visual reference, I’m simply an ethnic-looking person who seems to have assimilated into modern Western society completely, given my proficiency in non-accented English and ability to discuss the finer points of the Real Housewives franchise. Unless I volunteer that I am, in fact, Muslim, I can pass.

Unfortunately for me, the last thing Muslims are perceived as is arbiters of cool.

Adding to all of this is the fact that I’ve been working in marketing and fashion since I graduated college. These industries thrive on what’s au courant, trending, and viral. Somehow, a 1400-year-old tradition of daily prayer doesn’t fit in with that sort of ethos. Sometimes appearing outwardly religious at work can be a turnoff, like you’re out of touch with the times.

Seeking Wholeness

Sometimes, you’re afraid that asking for allowances for religious reasons might make you appear like a slacker asking for extra breaks. And sometimes you really just don’t want to become the go-to girl for questions on ISIS. Because, honestly? I don’t have any more answers than you do.

This paranoia does not come from nowhere. The worry that you might be seen as someone foreign and weird is one that any second-generation kid born and brought up in America lives with. But for Muslim Americans that fear is compounded by the way Islam is wildly misconstrued in the media as a backward and oppressive religion that needs to be brought into the 21st century.

So I resolve to keep that part of myself out of the office because I’ve found that matters of religion, especially those pertaining to Islam, can make others feel uncomfortable. I don’t want my coworkers to feel they need to handle me with kid gloves for fear of coming off as culturally insensitive. I want to be able to joke, jive and have a rapport with them. Some of the most creative ideas I’ve had were borne from those kinds of team relationships.

I just want them to think I’m normal.

But that afternoon, cowering under my desk to pray, I realize something: My faith is so deeply intertwined with my identity that I can’t compartmentalize it out of myself at work. And pre-emptively judging my new colleagues, assuming they’re too narrow-minded to understand, is unwarranted on my part.

My faith is so deeply intertwined with my identity that I can’t compartmentalize it out of myself at work.

On Balance

The next day, I gather up my courage and walk over to my manager. I imagine her giving me a look of sheer bewilderment as I reveal this deep dark secret about who I really am. I picture her discussing this moment with girlfriends in a hushed tone over drinks. I hesitate for a few seconds, stumbling over how to frame the question, before sputtering out my request.

“Sure, there’s a conference room,” she says without a hint of surprise or shock, before directing me to the holy grail of secret prayer spots: a room, tucked away in a deserted hallway, with no windows and a door that locks. I’m flooded with relief and thank her profusely.

“All you had to do was ask,” she nonchalantly responds, as if it were no big deal.

Because, in fact, it is not a big deal.

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Source: racked.com

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Prayers of the Pious (30): Show Us Guidance and Error

Prayers of the Pious (30): Show Us Guidance and Error

Prayers of the Pious (30): Show Us Guidance and Error

In the final episode of the Prayers of the Pious series, Sheikh Omar Suleiman reflects upon the du`aa’ of Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) and praying for guidance.

“O Allah show me guidance as guidance, and allow me to follow it. And show me error as error, and allow me to avoid it.”

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Prayers of the Pious (28): If You Have Written Me From The Sinful

Prayers of the Pious (28): If You Have Written Me From The Sinful

Prayers of the Pious (28): If You Have Written Me From the Sinful

Can you change what has been decreed? Today’s episode covers `Umar’s (may Allah be pleased with him) prayer to be written amongst those who have been blessed.

“O Allah, if you have written me among the blessed, then affirm it therein. And if you have written me among the sinful and the damned, then wipe it away and affirm me among the blessed. Verily, you wipe away and affirm whatever you will, and with you is the mother of the Book.”

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What’s After Ramadan?

What’s After Ramadan?

What should we do after Ramadan? How should we carry the torch of Ramadan forward?

How should we benefit from the taqwa (God-consciousness) that we gained in the blessed month?

Watch this sermon by Abdur Raheem McCarthy to learn how to keep the blessings of Ramadan and maintain good deeds and habits after Ramadan.

Know the answer to these questions here…

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