#MiddleGroundPodcast – Salah (Prayer) Is Islamic Spirituality

Do you desire a close(r) relationship with God?

  • What do you imagine that relationship will look like?
  • What do you bring to the relationship?
  • How much time are you willing to invest?

Given that God doesn’t “talk” to anyone directly, how will you have a relationship with Him?

  • The importance of the physical rituals in Islam.
  • Without them, the relationship will not have a routine.
  • While intellectually we may desire that we should read the Quran every day for a certain amount of time, in the physical reality of human life, this desire alone is not sufficient. There is a missing ingredient; we need something to subdue the body to make it come along for the ride, every day.

Salah (Prayer) – the perfect combination of body and spirit.

  • You cannot maintain a daily Qur’an reading, with consistency, without also integrating it with your prayer.

Tahajjud – the great Islamic mystical ritual

  • Tahajjud allows and enables us to always remain close to God. How? Because it’s on His terms, not ours.
  • It is a reliable means to renew our relationship with Him daily.
  • The nature of that relationship is going to primarily rotate around forgiveness of sins, reorienting ourselves away from the worldly life’s pull and stress, and encouraging us to live a far simpler life, living in the blessed realm of walking with God through life.

Tahajjud: An Introduction and How-To

It is well-known, as Muslims, how much the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم extolled the night prayer (Tahajjud) and its many benefits to the Scale and the soul. However, in my years of teaching Islam, it has become increasingly apparent that what many Muslims today lack is not simply knowledge but approaches to practice. We all know Tahajjud is a good thing to do but we may struggle on how to approach it as a regular practice.

What I like about the following video, by brother Alexander Carberry, is how he gives some practical and even “scientific” gleans into how Tahajjud might find its way into our practice as a Muslims. I appreciate the melding of health, medicine and science into a new “behavior”, a means of how to make this beautiful sunnah of the Prophet a lived practice in our lives.

Over the last several years I have come to realize for myself the need to more intimately connect my health and well-being with my practice as a Muslim. That they are indeed intimately related and that perfecting (or trying to!) them brings about a better practice as a Muslim. Sleep, no doubt, is a key factor in that endeavor and is something many Americans (Muslim or otherwise) in today’s stimulant-driven, constant on-the-go culture struggle with. I hope you will enjoy this video and attempt to put into practice some of brother Carberry’s insights into how to live better, pray better and worship better, as a Muslim. May God reward him abundantly for helping us in this task.

Additional Reads

Religious Dispatches – Qualities of a Believer Part 2

How do we progressively move from Islam 101, to 201, and maybe even 301? Start with submission:

كَلَّا لَا تُطِعْهُ وَاسْجُدْ وَاقْتَرِبْ

No indeed! Do not obey him, but prostrate and draw nearer to Allah.

After you make the intention to submit, start to draw closer through what is made obligatory on you, not just through what is optional. Then, know that what will give you assistance in this is good character:

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ

And you Muhammad are of an enormous character.

From here, you must learn to deal with tension, learn to deal with those who disagree or conflict with you and begin to acquire the attributes of belief:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ
الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنِ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِضُونَ
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِلزَّكَاةِ فَاعِلُونَ

For a complete reading, see Surah al-Mu’minun (23), roughly the first 15 ayat.

Islam 201

“If you want to change the people outside during the day, change your relationship with Allah at night.” – thanks to @HamidTS for the Twitter love.

Here are few tips of taking one’s practice to the next level:

  • Operationalize your Islam. Personalize your Islam. Deepen your relationship with Allah.
  • You want to change the world that you see in the daytime? Then change your relationship with God in the Night Time.
  • Distinguishes that not everything is an intellectual effort. Standing for tahajjud is not an intellectual endeavor.

Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُزَّمِّلُ
قُمِ اللَّيْلَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا
نِّصْفَهُ أَوِ انقُصْ مِنْهُ قَلِيلًا
أَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِ وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا

O you wrapped up in your mantle!, Stand vigil through the night, except a little, a half, or reduce a little from that or add to it, and recite the Qurʾān in a measured tone.

And lastly, some encouragement from a hadith related by A’isha, may God be pleased with her, that she heard the Prophet say:

إِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ لَيُدْرِكُ بِحُسْنِ خُلُقِهِ دَرَجَةَ الصَّائِمِ الْقَائِمِ

By his good character a believer may attain the degree of one who prays during the night and fasts during the day.