Prayerful people are true to themselves. They pray to seek God’s approval, not the approval of others.
By Sheima Salam Sumer
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. And Allah knows that which you do. (29:45)
I used to wonder what this verse meant by saying that the remembrance of Allah is greater than prayer. Isn’t prayer the same as remembering Allah? What I learned later is that prayer is supposed to train us to remember Allah at all times, to live a God-oriented life. Prayer can be the formal 5 daily prayers that we do as Muslims, or it can be dua, a personal conversation with Allah.
One may ask, what is the difference between praying to God and being a prayerful person?
I think the difference is that for a prayerful person, praying is a habit. It’s part of who they are. Allah teaches in the holy Quran to “establish” prayer (42:38). Prayer should not be an occasional activity. Prayer is established in one’s life. It’s a main life activity.
Prayerful people make dua to Allah frequently. Whether they are facing a problem, or feeling thankful, they turn to Allah and talk to Him.
Prayerful people are true to themselves. They pray to seek God’s approval, not the approval of others. The holy Quran states: “”¦Woe to those who pray, who are heedless of their prayer, those who do good deeds only to be seen (of men).” (107:6)
Prayerful people are humble: “”¦Seek (Allah’s) help with patience and prayer: and most surely it is a hard thing except for the humble ones.” (2:45).
Prayerful people are patient during hard times and generous during good times. “Verily, man was created impatient, irritable when evil touches him, ungenerous when good touches him. Except for those devoted to prayer, those who remain constant in their prayers”¦” (70:19-23)
Prayerful people have “khushoo,” a feeling of humility, yearning, sincerity, and concentration. The famous Islamic scholar Ibn al-Qayyim wrote:
“The khushoo of true faith is when the heart feels aware and humble before the greatness and glory of Allah, and is filled with awe, fear and shyness, so that the heart is utterly humbled before Allah and broken, as it were, with fear, shyness, love and the recognition of the blessings of Allah and its own sins. So no doubt the khushoo’ of the heart is followed by the khushoo’ of the body.”
Prayerful people enjoy prayer. Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) called prayer “the coolness of his eyes.” This means that prayer brought him joy and relaxation.
One may also ask, what is the difference between believing in God and leading a God-oriented life?
One can believe in God without leading a God-oriented life. The main goal of a person leading a God-oriented life is to please God. The “vision board” of a God-oriented person has God in the center, with all other goals related to pleasing God.
A God-oriented person tries his/her best to follow God’s guidance. Every decision made, is considered in the light of God’s teachings. So a God-oriented life requires seeking religious knowledge.
A God-oriented person strives to learn about Allah. He/she learns the meanings of Allah’s divine names and attributes.
A God-oriented person loves God and His Prophet (Pbuh).
Prophet Muhammad made the following prayer about a God-oriented life after each of his five ritual prayers: “O Allah, help me remember You, to be grateful to You, and to worship You in an excellent manner.” (Abu Dawud)
Prayerful and God-oriented people have reached the level of Ihsan, or excellence in worship. Islam, Imaan, and Ihsanare the three levels of faith. In the famous hadith of Jibreel, the Prophet said, “Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should perform salah, pay the Zakah, fast during Ramadan, and perform Hajj to the House, if you are able to do so.” He described Imaan in this way: “It is that you believe in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and in the Last Day, and in qadar(fate), both in its good and in its evil aspects.” And the Prophet described Ihsan as the following: “It is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him, for though you cannot see Him, yet (know that) He sees you.” (Sahih Muslim)
Prayerful, God-oriented people are true reflections of Allah. Everything they do is for Allah’s pleasure. Performing the five daily prayers are a means to reach Ihsan. A famous hadith states: Allah Most High says: “He who is hostile to a friend of Mine I declare war against. My slave approaches Me with nothing more beloved to Me than what I have made obligatory upon him, and My slave keeps drawing nearer to Me with voluntary works until I love him. And when I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he seizes, and his foot with which he walks. If he asks me, I will surely give to him, and if he seeks refuge in Me, I will surely protect him.” (SahihBukhari and others)
(Sheima Salam Sumer is author of How to be a Happy Muslim Insha’Allah and The Basic Values of Islam. See her web:howtobeahappymuslim.