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Importance of Salat, the Muslim prayer – Part 2

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At the point of washing the right hand, the worshipper is expected to supplicate thus: “Ya Rabb, Atini kitaabi bi yamini” O! my lord, grant unto me my book (book of reckoning) with my right hand”.While washing our left hand, we are expected to supplicate thus: “Ya rabb, la taj’alni ma’a ashab Shimal” – O! lord, don’t gather me together with the people of the left (inmates of the hell fire); while washing our right foot, the Muslim should say: “Ya Rabb, adkhilni al-Janat ma’a Dakhilin – O! My Lord, make me enter paradise with those who would enter it”; while washing the left foot, she should say: “Ya Rabbi, thabit qadami yawma tazuul al-aqdam” – O! My Lord, make my foot firm on the day feet would shake and tremble (out of the fear of punishment). A Muslim who is not apprised of these may not have the complete compliment of the reward in his prayers. He would have the benefit of cleansing his body and deriving the inherent medical benefit; Allah may endow him with the blessings he ordinarily would have missed out of ignorance and negligence.

I was told of a servant of the Almighty who cultivated the habit of saying the words of tawhid after each ablution. It goes thus: I bear witness that there is no god but God; that Muhammad is His apostle and messenger”. Just before Fajr prayer of that fateful day, he performed the ablution as he used to do, faced the qiblah, lifted his head up to the skies and raised his index finger to the heavens and then uttered the statement. It was as if he was seeing the face of the Almighty in the horizon; it felt as if he was communing with the Almighty.

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But alas! He was destined not to observe the fajr prayer that day. The next thing that happened was that he suddenly fell down. He gave up the ghost moments before he could enter the mosque. It was a death the conscious ones in the neighbourhood wished they could experience!
Dear brother, cognizant of our life today in which there are large-scale disruptions of life, a life which is circumscribed in the main by diminishing spiritual fulfilment, it has become urgent and important for we seek pleasure, contentment and sense of purpose not in these material acquisitions anymore. We must strive for that which would last and outlast the ephemerality our daily routine. There hardly no better place where can begin to do this other than in our mosques. But again, we are confronted with yet another irony- our mosques are becoming bigger by the day, while the hearts of the congregations are constricting by the moment. We now have more Huffaz (memorizers) of the Quran, yet our communities continue to face the challenge of Jahiliyah, extremism, poverty etc..

Kindly bear this in mind – that Salat is a fundamental act of worship about which the believer would give account on the day resurrection. Ibn al-Qayyim in Asrar al-Salah says “Salat is the domain of tranquillity for the devote and the coolness of their eyes. It is the garden of the worshipers, and the test of the sincere ones. It is truly a divine Mercy that the Almighty has gifted His believing servants with, honoured and dignified them to seek His nearness through it.

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May I, therefore, enjoin us to treat our acts of worship with more seriousness than we currently do. The Prophet (s.a.w) said the best of the deeds in the eyes of the Almighty (may His name be glorified and exalted) are the prayers (five daily Salat) that are observed at their prime times. The act of worship that is next in importance is goodness to one’ s father and mother and after that, the best act is Jihad (struggle) in the way of the Almighty. The Prophet is equally reported to have said that “One who observes his/her five daily Salat with complete purity and in their prime time, the Salat, on the Day of Judgement, will become a divine light and proof for him; and one who disregards the Salat (does not give the Salat any importance), will be raised up alongside with Fir’awn and Haman.”

We should not forget that what matters is not what we desire to achieve in life; that which matters is what we are doing at each point in our life and where we are when it is time for us to expire!
(08122465111 for texts messages)

Afis Ayinde Oladosu Ph.D
Professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies
Dean, Faculty of Arts,
University of Ibadan,
Ibadan, Nigeria

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