Salaah is the first thing you will be questioned about, don’t make it the last thing on your mind
When he (the Imam) makes takbeer, then you make takbeer [Nasaa’i] meaning that you should wait for the Imam to complet his takbeer before beginning yours and dont precede the Imam when he is leading in anything.
Take due care of all the prayers, and the middle prayer, and stand before Allah in total devotion.[Surah Al Baqarah 2:238]
The beginning of the salaah is to show utmost respect and devotion to Allah(SWT) by standing. Even in this country, when a judge or headteacher enters the room, all are asked to rise. However, Allah(SWT) is most worthy of respect and all Muslims open their salaah standing before Allah in total devotion.
Remember, this life is nothing but a moment so make it a moment of obedience.
Throw out all other matters
And then we stand up in front of Allāh and we raise both our hands up towards our shoulders – raf’ ul yadayn. The scholars have commented on this stating that it is as if we are throwing the world behind you and you are entering a private audience with Allāh, you are throwing the world behind you and everything is forgotten. All of us know the experience of counting down the minutes until the school bell or until work finishes and then racing out at the first opportunity, putting everything else aside.
Similar to a military salute, this act has the equivalent of “ATTENTION”.
Who’s the greatest?
This is accompanied with the opening takeeratul ihram – saying Allāhu akbar, which means, there is nothing which is greater in my heart than Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla), there is nothing that deserves more worship, more humility, more worship than Allāh.
Whenever you say Allahu akbar in your salaah its there to bring you back to attention. So when you say the takbīr and your mind goes towards your business then you are showing that your business has more haybah, more rights over you, than Allāh. When you say “Allāhu akbar” and start thinking of your family problems, or tomorrow’s work then you are saying the takbīr but you are not meaning it, because if you really meant the takbīr then you wouldn’t think about anything other than Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla).
An important point to note is that you should make takbeer after the Imam as explained in the Prophetic tradition in Nasaa’i, meaning that you should wait for the Imam to complete his takbeer before beginning yours and don’t precede the Imam when he is leading in anything.
1-1 with Allah(SWT)
You are now standing in a private audience in front of Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) and that is why in a ḥadīth this is called munājāt (in the hadith munāji rabbahu’ i.e. in a private conversation with your Lord). This is a why its (tahrīm) ‘sacred state’, you are prohibited from doing many things after [during] ṣalāh, such as eating drinking, speaking – you cannot speak in the ṣalāh. Why? Because it is a private audience with Him [Allāh], you have no right to speak to anyone else, and if you do speak with somebody else then your ṣalāh goes null and void, isn’t that correct? Yes, right?
The golden spoon challenge
Most of us are probably aware of this already so what’s going to transform our salaah beyond reflecting on the purpose of these acts? Making them part of our daily vocabulary.
A close friend who delivers a lot of presentations for work keeps himself and colleagues entertained and engaged with a challenge they call the golden spoon challenge. It’s a dare to try to incorporate complicated and unexpected words multiple times into their routine presentation in public, without being noticed as something odd or out of place due to its conversational style. On one occasion one of the presenters within this group presented a golden spoon which he had been gifted with and set the challenges to his colleagues to incorporate the word “golden spoon” at least 3 times into the presentation. My friend took on the challenge not changing his presentation in the slightest but just as he was closing mentioned how he had eaten at a restaurant recently and been served with a golden spoon. He explained his amazement and described the experience in a natural and interesting manner, easily winning the golden spoon prize.
When it comes to our relationship with Allah(SWT), we need to make it part of our daily conversation too so I put to you the golden spoon challenge to be completed within the next 48 hours. Incorporate the words “Allah/God is greater than …” as part of a natural conversation with family, friends, colleagues or others in a face-to-face conversation and see how it brings your mindfulness of Allah so much more to the fore.
I have a Christian acquaintance who recently changed jobs and when I text him to ask him about the change he replied beginning the response “God is good…”. So it is possible and we have many around us who are constantly increasing their mindfulness of football, celebrities, fashion, food through making this part of their daily narrative. Try this challenge – inshaAllah it will transform your relationship with Allah (SWT) and help you achieve taqwa – mindfulness and consciousness of Allah(SWT).