True worship comes through humility of the soul.
When we recite the Qur’an, we know we should have khushu` (devotion) because we are reciting the words of Allah. When we go into sujud (prostration), we know that God answers our du`a’ (supplication), so we try hard to concentrate. Yet what do we feel when we go into ruku` (bowing)?
Fulfilling the Needs of the Soul
We all have certain daily needs. A parent cannot wait to get home from work to embrace their children, and even if the children are asleep, the parent will give them a kiss just to fill that space. When we feel hunger, we sometimes become tired and cranky until we eat.
Just like we have emotional and physical needs, we also have spiritual needs. The soul thirsts for the worship of God. Many people feel an emptiness, and try to fill it with other things. But just like a hungry person cannot satisfy his hunger by running—we would find that absurd—this spiritual thirst cannot be fulfilled except through the true worship of God.
Humility through Ruku`
True worship comes through humility of the soul, and ruku` represents a part of that. One of the Arabs, Hakim bin Hizam, when accepting Islam, told the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that he would fulfill all of the commandments except ruku` during Prayer because of the humility it involved.
Thus when we go into ruku`, we should make a conscious effort to make the straightening of our backs, the lowering of our heads, and the uttering of “subhan rabbiya al-`azheem” (Perfect is my Lord, the Supreme) a reflection of our internal state.
When we say “subhaan rabbiya al-`azheem,” we are disassociating Almighty Allah from anything. “Rabb,” as with many other words, does not just have one meaning—rabb means the Lord, the Sustainer, and the Cherisher. When we think of what we have—the clothes we wear, our wealth, our health, our loved ones—who has provided them? So, how can we not humble ourselves to our Lord? And how can we not feel a special closeness to Him—that He is my Lord?
Glorifying Allah, the Supreme
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “In the ruku`, therefore, glorify the Supremity of the Lord, Mighty and Sublime.” (Muslim)
When you recognize the supremity of Almighty Allah, and the words are reflected in your heart, you should then have reverence for everything associated with Him. Almighty Allah has said in the Qur’an:
And whoever honors the symbols of Allah—indeed, it is from the piety of hearts. (Al-Hajj 22:32)
Thus, reverence during ruku` is from piety of the heart and we should all strive to perfect it. Ibn Al-Qayyim, a medieval Muslim scholar, stated that the ruku` is almost an introduction to sujud, when we take one form of humility before Almighty Allah to a deeper level. This effort that goes into feeling humility in ruku` can only increase our love for Him, and is one way of manifesting the meanings in the famous hadith qudsi:
“If my servant comes closer to Me a hand span, I come closer to him or her an arms-length; and if he or she comes to Me walking, I come to him or her at speed.” (Muslim)
As we increase in good deeds to grow closer to Almighty Allah, He loves us, and what more could we want than Allah’s love? This is why the Prophet would lengthen his ruku`, such that his ruku`, his standing after ruku`, his sujud, and his sitting in between the two prostrations, were nearly equal in length (Al-Bukhari & Muslim).
Bear in mind that his ruku` was also almost as long as his standing before ruku`, where he would sometimes recite five sections (ajza’). (Muslim)
Muslim bin Makki once described `Abdullah bin Al-Zubair (may Allah be pleased with him) as he was praying. He said that he saw him go into ruku`, and in that time, Muslim read chapters Al-Baqarah, Aal `Imran, An-Nisaa’ and Al-Ma’idah, and `Abdullah bin Al-Zubair was still in ruku`.
Some of us may be inspired by this, but others of us may think, “I can never reach this level,” and not even try. However, let us remember the hadith above about servants who try to move closer to Almighty Allah by as little as a hand span—as long as we are trying to change the state of our Prayers, we have fulfilled this part of the hadith.
May Allah allow us to taste the sweetness of ruku`.
This article first appeared at suhaibwebb.com. It is republished with slight editorial modifications.
We stand between fear and hope, but the overwhelming emotion is love.
Preparing ourselves for the Prayer means realizing whom we are meeting with—Allah (exalted is He), our Lord, the Most Merciful of those who show mercy. We beautify ourselves externally because we are meeting with Allah, and we humble ourselves internally as we stand before the Most High. We stand between fear and hope, but the overwhelming emotion is love.
When we recite Surat al-Fatihah (the Opener), we pause after every verse to reflect on it, knowing that Allah responds. When we recite a short Surah (chapter) afterward, we recognize that these words are a message to us.
The External Acts of Ruku`
When finish reciting the short Surah after al-Fatihah, we should implement a very short pause just as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did (as related by Abu Dawud), and then raise our hands to say, “Allahu Akbar (God is Greater).”
Remember that between almost every change of position we say, “Allahu Akbar.” This is to remind ourselves and to alert us that Allah is greater than anything—whatever our mind is distracted with and whatever worries plague us. And then we bow down in ruku`. When we bow down, we should emulate the actions of the Prophet who said:
“When you make ruku`, place your palms on your knees, then space your fingers out, then remain (like that) until every limb takes its (proper) place.” (Ibn Khuzaymah) In another narration, he added that we should straighten our backs. (Abu Dawud)
Many of us rush our ruku` and sujud (prostration), but it is very important to give each action its due measure. The Prophet once saw a man not completing the ruku` properly, and rushing his sujud such that he looked like he was pecking, and he said:
“Were this man to die in this state, he would die on a faith other than that of Muhammad—the likeness of one who does not make ruku` completely and pecks in his sujud is like the hungry person who eats one or two dates, which are of no use to him at all.” (At-Tabarani)
Why did the Prophet (peace be upon him) use such an example? Because we come to our Prayer as people who are spiritually hungry and thirsty, looking for a refuge from the worries of the world. It does not make sense for a starving person to eat one or two dates if he has access to more; neither does it make sense for us to rush our ruku` and sujud.
Du`a’ (Supplications) of Ruku`
Just as we discussed previously that there are different opening du`a’s, there are also a variety of du`a’s of ruku`. We should try to memorize them and vary what we say so that we are conscious of them and so they do not become words we simply repeat.
1- We should say three times:
Subhana Rabbiya al-‘Azheem “How Perfect is my Lord, the Supreme.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud) When we say “Subhan Allah” or “Subhana Rabbiy,” we are disassociating Allah from any imperfection or impurity or from anything derogatory. And we say “Rabbiy” meaning “my Lord” in order to feel closeness to Him and love Him.
2- We can also say:
Subbuhun Quddusun, Rabbu al-Mala’ikati wa al-Ruh, “Exalted, Pure, Lord of the Angels and the Spirit.” (Muslim)
Subbuh comes from the same root word of subhan, which is Sa-Ba-Ha, and is an aggrandizement of subhan, meaning the Exalted One who is praised and glorified extensively. It has been debated by scholars as to what the ‘Spirit’ refers; most have said that it refers to Jibreel (peace be upon him), others have said it is another great Angel, and others have said that it is a formidable being that not even the Angels can see. Allah knows best.
3- We can also say:
Subhanak Allahuma wa bihamdik, Allahuma ighfirli, “How Perfect You are, O Allah. Praises are for You. O Allah, forgive me.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim)
Prayer is nothing but submissiveness, humility, and supplication.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said,
“Whenever a Muslim performs a prostration for God’s sake, God raises him one degree and absolves him of one offence.” (Muslim)
“The servant is never closer to God, Exalted is He, than when he is prostrating himself in worship.” (Muslim)
It is related that a man once said to God’s Messenger (peace be upon him): “Pray to God that He may include me among those who enjoy your intercession, and that He may grant me your companionship in Paradise.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “Help me by making frequent prostration.” (Muslim)
This is the meaning of the words of God, Great and Glorious is He,
Prostrate yourself and draw near. (Al-`Alaq 96:19)
God also says in the Qur’an what means:
Their foreheads show the mark left by prostration. (Al-Fath 48:29)
Some say this refers to the dust that sticks to the brow during the act of prostration, while others say it is the light of humility, shining forth from within. The latter view is more correct.
According to yet others, it is the radiance that will shine on their faces on the Day of Resurrection, as a result of their ablution.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
If a human being prostrates himself at an appropriate point in his recitation of the Our’an, the devil withdraws, weeping as he says: “Alas! This man was bidden to prostrate himself and he has obeyed, so Paradise is his. I was also commanded to make prostration, but I disobeyed and so Hell is my lot. (Muslim)
“The servant is nearest to God, Great and Glorious is He, when he prostrates himself in Prayer, so that is the time to make many supplications.” (Muslim)
Humble Adoration in Prayer
God, Exalted is He, said in the Qur’an what means
And perform the Prayer in remembrance of Me. (Ta-Ha 20:14)
Do not be one of those who are neglectful. (Al-A`raf 7:205)
God, Great and Glorious is He, also said:
Do not approach the Prayer when you are intoxicated, until you know what you are saying(An-Nisaa’ 4:43)
Some say that “intoxicated” means inebriated by many anxieties, while others say it means drunk on the love of this world. According to some scholars, the meaning is obviously condemning worldly attachment, since the words “until you know what you are saying” explain the underlying reason.
Many are those who pray without having drunk wine, yet do not know what they are saying in their Prayers.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
“If a man performs two cycles of Prayer without the distraction of any worldly thought, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said,
“Prayer is nothing but submissiveness, humility, supplication, sighing and remorse, holding out your hands and saying: “O God! O God!” Otherwise it is abortive.” ( At-Tirmidhi)
This advice was given to someone by the Prophet (peace be upon him): “When you pray, pray like a person who is saying farewell,” that is, saying farewell to himself, to his passions and to his life, before setting off on the journey to his Lord.
God, Exalted is He, says:
O Man, you labor towards your Lord laboriously, and you shall meet Him. (Al-Inshiqaq 84:6)
This article is excerpted from the Islamic Foundation translation of the author’s book, The Revival of Religious Sciences. Here taken from Onislam.net.
God is accessible at anytime and in any place.
Nowadays the media reports a lot on the religion of Islam and the Muslims; but the majority of this ‘primetime’ is used to mar the image of Islam. Muslims are often depicted as being fanatical or extreme for simply following the basic tenants of Islam.
The media goes a step further in marring the image of Islam by confusing cultures with what Islam really is. Basic practices and pillars of Islam begin to take on strange connotations when the reality is they are acts of worship that denote piety and God consciousness.
Muslims testify with certainty that there is none worthy of worship except God alone. They believe that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is His messenger. They fast, they give in charity, and they try to go to Mecca for pilgrimage. Muslims also pray five times per day.
Five times! When some hear this, they throw their hands up in shock and wonder just how much time this must take and how it can be slotted into a 24 hour period.
Others, who are used to communicating with God in their own form of prayer will often question the rules and regulations that are attached to Prayer in Islam. God, they say, is accessible at any time.
According to the Muslim belief, God is accessible at anytime and in any place. Muslims call on God frequently throughout the day and night. They raise their hands in supplication and ask for His help, mercy, and forgiveness.
This, however, is not the act that Muslims refer to as Prayer. This is called making du`a’ (supplications) wherein one calls unto God asking Him for His help. For Muslims Prayer is a set of ritual movements and words performed at fixed times, five times per day.
God says in Qur’an, “Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specific times.” (An-Nisa’ 4:103) Muslims pray in the early morning before sunrise, in the middle of the day, in the afternoon, at sunset and at night. Muslims pray in obedience to God because they believe God created humankind for no other purpose except to worship Him. We read in the Qur’an: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)
Consequently, for a believer, worship is a way of life. Prayer at fixed times serves as a reminder of why we are here and helps to direct a person’s thoughts and actions away from sin and onto remembrance of God.
Prophet Muhammad emphasized the importance of Prayer when he explained its ability to remove sin. He said, “What would you think if there was a river by the door of any one of you and he bathed in it five times a day, would there be any trace of dirt left on him?” They said, “No trace of dirt would be left on him.” He said, “That is like the five daily prayers, with it God erases sin.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Prayer is just one act amongst many acts of worship; it holds a very special place in Islam because of the way it was enjoined. It was not brought down to earth by an Angel rather it was bestowed upon Prophet Muhammad during his unique ascension into the Heavens.
Fifty prayers were first enjoined upon the believers but this was reduced to five, while the reward for Prayer remains as if it were still fifty. This reduction shows just how great God’s love for humanity is, a few minutes throughout the day are rewarded as if they were continuous worship.
Muslims pray five times per day. If possible men should pray in a mosque or in a congregation of men. Women have the option of praying at home. The believers stand alone, or surrounded by others, they stand in their homes and workplaces, the parks and the mosques. They stand, bow, prostrate, and sit. Their voices are sometimes raised and sometimes silent, but the words remain the same.
When a Muslim prays he or she addresses God in the Arabic language and uses the same words and movements as every other Muslim across the globe. Muslims unite in the ritual and language of Prayer.
For Prayer, Muslims stand facing the direction of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, where the House of God, known as the Ka`bah is situated. If a person is ill or injured it is possible to pray sitting, or even lying down. The leader of the Prayer known as the imam, is not an intermediary between the people and God; rather, he is usually the person able to recite the most Qur’an. Women may also pray with a congregation of women. When Muslims pray together they stand shoulder to shoulder. Their proximity to each other demonstrates unity. No one person is better than another except by his or her piety.
Kings stand next to the poor, the white stand next to the black, Arabs stand beside Europeans. The believers then raise their hands to ear level and proclaim that God is the greatest. This indicates that the Prayer has begun and that all matters related to this world are left far behind. The connection is made and in the few minutes, it takes to pray each person stands before God in full submission. Interestingly the Arabic word for Prayer is Salah and it is derived from a root word that means to connect. Muslims then recite the opening chapter of the Qur’an, al-Fatihah, and sometimes another chapter from Quran. They then go through a set of ritual movements bowing and then prostrating, all the while proclaiming God’s greatness, glory and majesty.
In prostration, when the forehead touches the ground, the believer is closer to God than at any other time. There is now an opportunity to make supplication, asking God for help, mercy or forgiveness (this can be in any language).
Towards the end of the Prayer, Muslims sit to praise and ask God to bless Prophets Muhammad and Abraham (peace and blessings be upon them). The Prayer concludes with the words As-salamu `alaykum wa Rahmatullah (may God’s peace and blessings be upon you) spoken while turning the head towards the right and then the words are repeated while turning towards the left.
The Prayer has now ended and the world comes rushing back. However, for those few minutes the believer was alone with God. Whether he or she was praying alone or within a congregation, the connection was between God and the individual. It was a moment of bliss, peace, and tranquility. Prayer is a reminder and a comfort. Every hour of every day somewhere in the world, a Muslim is praying. The believer is seeking the comfort that comes from feeling close to God and the peace that comes from feeling God’s love and mercy.
Taken with modification from: islamreligion.com.
Do you recall when was the last time you prayed?… Readers’ answers may vary, but what is common to all is that most people pray, at one time or another. Indeed, people can pray to Allah, our Lord, at any time and in any place they like, for anything they wish. Allah calls attention to the fact that people can pray and remember Him anywhere they wish:
Those who remember Allah, standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying]: “Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire. Our Lord, those You cast into the Fire, You have indeed disgraced. The wrongdoers will have no helpers. Our Lord, we heard a caller calling us to faith: “Have faith in your Lord!’ and we had faith. Our Lord, forgive us our wrong actions, erase our bad actions from us and take us back to You with those who are truly good. Our Lord, give us what You promised us through Your Messengers, and do not disgrace us on the Day of Rising. You do not break Your promise.” Their Lord responds to them: “I will not let the deeds of any doer among you go to waste, male or female…” (Aal `Imran 3:191-195)
In the Qur’an, Allah describes the kind of prayer He most likes, which we will explain in this series of articles.
1- Praying Humbly, Without Loudness of Voice
When you are in distress or feel desperate and thus feel the need to pray to Allah, where would you like to pray? Surely, the solitude of one’s own room at night or a very tranquil place that will give you the sense of Allah’s nearness would be the place you are looking for.
While worshipping, spiritual integrity can best be attained in a time and place that offers secure undivided attention. A person who feels the need to pray to Allah for the correction of his or her mistakes prefers to be alone and pray in secret. The Prophet Zakariyya’s prayers, through which he asked for a descendant, is an example of secret prayer:
When he called on his Lord in secret and said, “My Lord, my bones have lost their strength and my head is crowned with white, but in calling on You, My Lord, I have never been disappointed.” (Maryam 19:3-4)
As stated above, prayer is “accepting one’s weaknesses and limited power before Allah’s infinite might and asking for help from Him.” For this reason, prayer demands absolute consciousness and acceptance of one’s weaknesses and destitution before Allah. In this sense, there is no doubt that one will fail to attain such consciousness if one is insincere. In the Qur’an, Allah recommends believers to pray humbly and secretly:
Call on your Lord humbly and secretly. He does not love those who overstep the limits. (Al- A`raf 7:55)
Remember your Lord in yourself humbly and with awe, without loudness of voice, morning and evening. Do not be one of the unaware. Those who are in the presence of your Lord do not consider themselves too great to worship Him. They glorify His praise and they prostrate to Him… (Al-A`raf 7:205-206)
In the Qur’an, Allah calls our attention to solitary prayer that is performed with a deep feeling of dire need. In this sense, the place, the sophistication of the outward performance, the number of participants, or the supplicants’ loud voice can by no means be the criteria for a successful prayer.
One must be aware that a loud voice in prayer is not an element that makes it heard by Allah. As already mentioned, Allah, the All-Knowing, knows even our inner thoughts and He is closer to us than our jugular vein. In this sense, it is needless to raise our voice so as to be heard by our Lord Who is close to us. One can either pray secretly or in a tone of voice audible only to oneself.
From the verses below we understand that both while praying or going about our daily business, a person needs to use his or her voice at a moderate level:
Be moderate in your tread and lower your voice. The most hateful of voices is the donkey’s bray. (Luqman 31:19)
Say: “Call on Allah or call on the All-Merciful, whichever you call upon, the Most Beautiful Names are His.” Do not be too loud in your prayer or too quiet in it, but try to find a way between the two. (Al-Israa’ 17:110)
As the verses reveal, the form of worship described in the Qur’an is far from ostentation. It is not performed to impress people: the sole purpose is the due fulfillment of one’s duty towards the Creator. The Qur’an emphasizes this point strongly. In verses related to prayer, there are strong references to “calling on Allah, making one’s religion sincerely His,” which means, performing one’s prayer to earn Allah’s good pleasure alone and not seeking any other purpose. We can see this from verses such as the following:
He is the Living—there is no god but Him—so call on Him, making your religion sincerely His. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. (Ghafir 40:65)
So call upon Allah, making your religion sincerely His, even though the disbelievers detest it. (Ghafir 40:14)
Say: “My Lord has commanded justice. Stand and face Him in every mosque and call on Him, making your religion sincerely His. As He originated you, so you will return.” (Al-A`raf: 29)
The religion belongs to Allah alone. All forms of worship are performed to earn Allah’s good pleasure. The only way to attain this goal is to perform our worship in the form Allah describes.
Those who do not make their prayers or any other form of worship sincerely Allah’s, that is, those who seek “ostentation,” are in great delusion. As Allah says:
So woe to the praying ones, Who are unmindful of their prayers, Who do [good] to be seen. (Al-Ma`un 107:4-6)
The article was first published in Harun Yahya’s book: Prayer in the Qur’an. Here taken with kind permission from www.harunyahya.com
The importance of the second pillar of Islam is discussed by first exploring its place in the lives and teachings of all the prophets of God. Dr. Badawi then proceeds to emphasize the fact that prayer in Islam is not a mere ritual but rather a practical way of remembering and worshipping the Creator and doing good. Other areas covered are the significance and virtues of prayer which include preparation, form, and congregation.