Purification of the Soul

The Prayer is a sanctified and holy moment (mawqif) for the worshipper in the presence of his Lord and Deity in truth. He fulfils (by its performance) his covenants, obligations and statements of confession which are contained within and are required by the testimony that: "There is nothing which has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that Muhammed is His Messenger" and by whose attestation one becomes a Muslim.

These covenants, obligations and resolutions: among them are those of belief, those of speech and those of action; and the explanation of that is as follows:

Firstly - the Takbir: This is a compulsory acknowledgement for the worshipper, both in belief and speech, that Allah is the greatest, greater than everything in His Essence, Attributes and in the rights (owed to Him). Among His rights are the obeying of His commands and refraining from His prohibitions in regard to beliefs, acts of worship, characteristics and manners; in all moments and situations. This acknowledgement penetrates into the various postures of the worshipper during his prayer, from the qiyam to the ruku', to the sujud, the verbal confessions he makes and after that into the submissiveness in action; so there does not remain any moment of heedlessness or innattentiveness and there does not remain in his heart that which pushes out the (awareness of the responsibility of fulfilling) the rights of Allah upon His servant; whether it is persons, property, money, family or progeny and among His rights are (His) Magnification, Love (for Him greater than for all else), Fear (of His displeasure and punishment), Hope (in His Mercy) and Obedience.

Secondly - the Ruku': This is an obligation in action. The worshipper bends his back and (bows) his head during it out of obedience, lowliness and humility to his Deity. So by this he fulfils his covenants of being constant in his obedience, carrying out the orders of his Deity, refraining from His prohibitions, ruling by His shari'ah in happiness, adversity and every other situation. The worshipper returns (to fulfil) these covenants and obligations every time he performs the ruku' both in the obligatory prayers or the supererogatory. Whoever bends his back in the prayer in obedience to Allah and after that rebels from some of His commands or shows boldness towards some of His prohibitions due to the calling of his desire or whim, then he has contradicted his fulfilment of this obligation to the extent of the evil of his action.

Thirdly - the Tasbih: This is the statement which the worshipper makes during his ruku' "How free from every imperfection is my Lord, the Mighty" (subhana rabbi al-adhim) and in his sujud "How free from every imperfection is my Lord, the Highest" (subhana rabbi al-a'la). This is an obligation in speech by which the worshipper declares his Deity free from every defect and shortcoming in His attributes, actions and His rights (over the creation). Among His rights are the declaration of His mightiness in every situation, the placing of obedience to Him before obedience to ones soul or parents, leaders and others besides them. Whoever declares Allah to be free from all imperfections during his ruku' and sujud and then shows boldness towards His disobedience when he departed from the prayer, he has reduced / diminished his glorification of his Deity to the extent of his disobedience to Him.

Fourthly - the Sujud: This is the extremity in, or the end result of humility; when the worshipper places his noble limbs upon the dust or the earth. The sujud is a covenant in action. It is an obligation due to the absolute obedience owed to the Deity in truth in all situations. There is no exception in this absolute obedience for moments of desire or moments of the whims of the soul (this absolute obedience incorporates all moments and situations). Whoever covers his face with dust (due to the performance of sujud) out of extreme humility, then departs from his prayer and returns to the obedience of the soul in disobedience to Allah, obedience to the creation in disobedience to Allah and the following of whims in disobedience to Allah, then he has been false to himself to the extent of his disobedience (or sin). But whoever does that, then he must repent hastily as the Messenger of Allah has said, "All the progeny of 'Adam (constantly) errs and the best of those who constantly err are those who (constantly) repent." [Reported by at-Tirmidhi, no. 2501 and Ibn Majah, no. 4251 and ad- Darimi, 2/303 and Ahmad 3/198 with a hasan sanad from Anas ibn Malik]

Fifthly - Folding of the hands during the Qiyam: This is a manifestation from among the manifestations of humility and defeat in front of the Deity in Truth. Among its implications are subservience to the divine commandments in that one does not move except when commanded and one is not at ease or quiescence except when commanded. Whoever sought this position of worship for a few moments and after that lets loose the reigns of his soul then he wanders / trespasses (while ignorant of Allah's rulings) into the greatest of matters (i.e. sins) and he has fallen into a type of deception.

Sixthly - Khushu': This is a position of total and extreme submissiveness and humility in front of the Deity in Truth and the quiescence / tranquillity of the heart and the limbs. One does not move except where commanded and is not at ease except where commanded. It is an obligation in action due to the necessity of obedience and the abandonment of disobedience to the Deity in Truth. Whoever discharges this obligation during the prayer then contradicts it (behaves otherwise) upon departing from the prayer he has caused diminution/annulment of (his khushu') to the extent of his disobedience.

Seventhly: Whatever is repeated in every raka'ah from among the obligations and covenants in speech such as the repetition of his praises, requesting of guidance to the straight path, the path of those who have blessings bestowed upon them, not of those upon whom is anger and they are the Jews and whoever is like them, nor of those who are astray and they are the Christians and whoever resembles them, and the likes of what is said in the tashahhud and the meanings of the various verses and supplications that are repeated in the prayer: in summary, every movement, every moment of ease, every statement and every action during the prayer, be it an obligation, covenant, resolution or confession from the worshipper in front of his Master and Deity in Truth, which he repeats in every raka'ah, whether it is in the obligatory or supererogatory, makes free his heart, tongue, limbs and feelings from associating partners with Allah. He is a Muslim, in submission to Him. He gives for His Sake, takes for his Sake, acts for His Sake, abandons for His Sake. He loves for His Sake and hates for His Sake. The proof for this truth is the saying of Allah azzawajall:

"And establish the prayer. Verily the prayer prevents the obscene and evil deeds." [Al-Qur'an 29:45]

And the saying of the Messenger sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, "The example of the five prayers is as the example of an abundant flowing river by the side of the door of one of you. He washes every day from it five times." [Reported by Muslim, no. 667 from Jabir]

Therefore know - brother / sister reader - the position and importance of your prayer and establish as it should be truly established and gain happiness from it as Allah desires for you.

I ask Allah that he assists us all and has mercy upon us, verily He is the All Hearer, the Responder.


Be Mindful O Mankind!

To all who love and revere the Book, And earnestly strive to find in it, Not a reflection of their own fancies, But a clue to Unity, Discipline, And the call to higher matters of the spirit, The Fruit of Life, Thought and Study.
'Abdullah Yusuf Ali (d. 1373H), may Allah have mercy upon him