Sunday, December 17, 2006

Wiping the slate clean? Getting back to praying regularly

Wiping the slate clean? Getting back to praying regularly

Answered by Shaykh Gibril F Haddad

If someone I know used to pray regularly 5-times a day, but then over a period of time, started to get less and less motivated about salat to the point where they seldom pray, what practical advice could I give them that would help them pray regularly again? They get discouraged when they actually sit down and write down which salats they have to make up because the list gets so long. So what practical steps could this person take to start praying regularly again?


Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim:

It is good to "count one's blessings" when one feels discouraged. Oftentimes the discouragement is not warranted and is lifted through certain mental habits that shoulder spiritual effects by permission of Allah.

Among these habits is to give thanks to Allah for creating us; to give thanks for creating us as a human being of sound mind and body; to give thanks for creating us as part of the last and best Umma; to give thanks to Him for cherishing and sustaining us at all times, even - or especially - in the depth of distress from which we call to Him.

Then to remember that this Religion is ease and good tidings. In difficulty, make istighfar and in ease give thanks. In other words, remember Allah at all times. The Qur'an calls the Torah and the sun a Diya', while it calls the Qur'an and the moon a Nur. The Ulema said, this is because the Diya' is a light that burns while the Nur is a gentle light. The Torah had harsh rulings while those of Islam are gentle and easy.

Another habit is to remember that a time may come when one's salat and fast will become physically difficult or impossible, through sickness or old age or "man-made" preventions; and that one's salat might be the last one, followed by death. What is the excuse for someone able, young, and strong who is offered millions of opportunities for success and happiness but insists on missing them all? We should strive not to be remiss then remiss then remiss before we face the grave. If we saw someone dear in such a situation we would shake them up by the boot-straps.

It is advisable to make istighfar so as to clear one's mind of worldly ties. 100x Astaghfirullah daily. Give sadaqa to the intention of lifting difficulties. Invoke blessings on the Prophet. These devotions will facilitate the above mental dispositions insha Allah.

We should also examine our daily routines for acts or habits that are unadvisable to someone who is trying to change. We should put those away and try and stay away from the people, places, and/or times associated with them, for example: smoking; staying up late at night; spending hours on the phone chatting; working endless hours; anything vacuous done to mindless excess.

In fact, one should seek excellent spiritual company at all times but at least once every week or month, to remember Allah together with others whom one meets for no other purpose. Such gatherings are an essential part of recharging one's spiritual batteries. The loner is an easy prey but the wolf keeps away from the group...

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