This week’s khutbah was on Prayer.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Salah is the first thing we will be asked about on the day of Judgement. The Prophet SAWS has said the most important reality is Islam, and its spine is Salah

The prayer itself is a worship of Allah SWT and its benefits in this life also are many as is mentioned by Allah SWT in the Glorious Quran.

The imam mentioned Sura Ankabout, ayat 45 which says:

Recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater.

Dear brothers and sisters, this ayat is telling us that Salah is the protector from all wrongdoing. It is the protector from all immorality. For those of us here who have been blessed to attend today but otherwise may be committing acts of sin outside of the Friday prayer, the salah is not something that we are told to do once we become holy brothers and sisters, if you feel that your imaan is weak or that you engage in acts that are sinful then the remedy is here and it is to pray Salah, regardless of what the sin is.

This is backed up by the next reference by the imam which is ayat 59 of Sura Maryum which says:

But there came after them successors who neglected prayer and pursued desires; so they are going to meet evil

Dear brothers and sisters, this ayat is reminder is telling us that by not praying salah, whatever bad acts we are upto will intensify and will only get worse. We all know the temptations that exist in the world in which we live. Our youth for example have problems relating to drugs, relationships, crime and these aren’t things that we should hide away from.

Instead, we ought to remind one anther that the first step to rehabilitation comes from returning to the Salah. This is the SOS that our souls are giving out being answered, it is the mechanism that our Creator has given us to keep steadfast on the right path and to both avoid evil and leave evil if we have fallen foul to it.

This is further cemented by the following hadith of the Prophet SAWS that was mentioned by the imam today. It says:

Do you think that is there was a river by the door of any one of you, and he bathed in it five times each 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 the likeness of the five daily prayers. By means of them Allah erases sins.”

Dear brothers and sisters, the prayer is vital to our success and happiness in this life and the next.

However, there is another part of salah that needs to be addressed in this reminder as it is something that people, especially those born in the west, are part of and that is the quality of prayer.

For a lot of people who pray the act of prayer is a tick in the box and it is a cardio exercise but it lacks a secret ingredient and that is the “khushoo” in Arabic which is humbleness in prayer.

And for those unsure whether they have khushoo or not in prayer, it’s one of those things that if you don’t have it, when you are in salat, your mind does not switch off and your worldly thoughts still continue as you pray.

This reminder concludes with 3 practical tips we can all take away to help us gain that focus in prayer.

  1. Preparation. Give yourself 60-90 seconds before the start of each prayer to flush all your thoughts out of your head. Whether this is about work, wife, kids or something else, your brain is one of those things which betrays you in prayer so get into the habit of leaving no thought outstanding before prayer begins.
  2. Visualisation. Always try to remind yourself that you are standing in front of Allah SWT. Another way to look at this is, if you are standing in front of your boss or your teacher then you don’t fidget, yawn or mindlessly think of anything else but the meeting you are having. You give that person the respect because they are a position of authority over you. The same applies here. You are stood in front of your Creator, the Creator of everything you know and He can see you at that very moment and is aware of your Salah. Use that knowledge to maintain etiquette and focus as you recite in front of Him.
  3. Persistence. During the salat, you are in a constant battle with your mind to remain focused on what you are doing. It is the role of Shaitaan to distract you away from this focus so counteract this by doing things that keep your focus. One example is staring on the ground in the same square inch roughly where your head touches when you are in sujood. Don’t close the eyes or let them wander onto what coloured socks the brother next to you is wearing. Another is learning the word-for-word meaning of Sura Fatihah and at a minimum the couple of ayats you read after Sura Fatihah so that when you read each and every word, you can hear it’s meaning in your head and again visualise what you are saying to your Lord. And lastly, you should pace your recitation, it’s not a race to the finish and by the way the difference between the fastest recitation of salat and the normal-paced, pleasant and focused recitation is only a minute or two, surely your time isn’t that precious outside of your meeting with Allah SWT that you can’t spare that extra minute to recite with a good pace and focus?

Dear brothers and sisters, Salah is the mechanism through which we connect with the Quran and through which we connect to Allah SWT. By perfecting this mechanism we can impact the rest of our lives and be a testimony to the call to prayer which testifies “come to prayer” and “come to success” insh’Allah.

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