Category Archives: Salaah

Prayer, and all things related to prayer: pillars of prayer, khushoo’, fiqh of prayer, and more!

To Do List After Ramadan

prayer-beads
Image credit: Wikipedia

Ramadan ended. (May Allah accept all our prayer, fasting, du’a, and good deeds during this blessed month — ameen!) How should we, as Muslims, act now?

We graduated from the school of Ramadan; can life simply return to normal?

Our scholars mention a few points about this:

  • Allah says, in surah Baqarah, that Ramadan was prescribed on us in the hope that we gain taqwa. Did we achieve that goal of the school of Ramadan? Or did we simply fast because of our parents, our friends, our spouse, or our culture?
  • The continuation of our deeds shows the acceptance of our deeds (even if we continue them at a smaller scale than during Ramadan).
  • We live life for a purpose, not haphazardly; just like we create dunya goals (get a degree, get a job, get a spouse, get a house, etc.) we must create deen goals, and work towards improving ourselves. Ramadan puts us through an obligatory one-month “boot camp” of self-improvement every year.

Did you pass the test of Ramadan? Did you benefit from Ramadan? The litmus test is: are you better after Ramadan than you were before Ramadan?

You can’t compare to yourself to in-Ramadan, because it’s not sustainable. At the same time, scholars say, if you live your life like you did in Ramadan, the Day of Repayment will be your Eid. That’s what this is all about. That is a goal worthy of setting.

Now, the game plan: the secret sauce of what to do after Ramadan comes from one key hadith of rasulullah (ﷺ):

أَخْبَرَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا اللَّيْثُ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَجْلاَنَ، عَنْ سَعِيدٍ الْمَقْبُرِيِّ، عَنْ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ كَانَ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم حَصِيرَةٌ يَبْسُطُهَا بِالنَّهَارِ وَيَحْتَجِرُهَا بِاللَّيْلِ فَيُصَلِّي فِيهَا فَفَطِنَ لَهُ النَّاسُ فَصَلَّوْا بِصَلاَتِهِ وَبَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهُمُ الْحَصِيرَةُ فَقَالَ ‏ “‏ اكْلَفُوا مِنَ الْعَمَلِ مَا تُطِيقُونَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لاَ يَمَلُّ حَتَّى تَمَلُّوا وَإِنَّ أَحَبَّ الأَعْمَالِ إِلَى اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَدْوَمُهُ وَإِنْ قَلَّ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ ثُمَّ تَرَكَ مُصَلاَّهُ ذَلِكَ فَمَا عَادَ لَهُ حَتَّى قَبَضَهُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَكَانَ إِذَا عَمِلَ عَمَلاً أَثْبَتَهُ ‏.‏
It was narrated that ‘Aishah said: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Do as much of good deeds as you can, for Allah does not get tired (of giving reward) until you get tired. And the most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are continuous, even if they are few.‘ Then he stopped that prayer and did not return to it until Allah took him (in death), and if he started to do something he would persist in it.” (Sunan An-Nasaai, 9/21)

(You can click the link to read the full English translation, instead of just this excerpt.)

In Ramadan, think about the actions we performed. We:

  • Prayed a lot.
  • Prayed in jama’ah/congregation
  • Prayed Qiyaam Al-Layl
  • Fasted. Every day.
  • Gave charity. Lots of it.
  • Reached out to our family.

We can continue all these deeds after Ramadan:

  • Don’t pray 5x a day yet? Start. Improve yourself. Add just one prayer to what you pray now.
  • Don’t pray qiyaam? Start. Pray two short rakahs right after Isha, and gradually make it longer and later and larger in quantity.
  • Don’t fast any extra fasts? Start. Aim for three times a month (the White Days), or every Monday, or every Monday and Thursday.
  • Don’t give sadaqah outside of Ramadan? Start. Give sadaqah, even if only a dollar once a week.
  • Don’t have a good relationship with some of your relatives? Fix it. Talk to your family, especially distant relatives.
  • Don’t read the Qur’an regularly? Start. Read something every day. Start with just one page a day, but read it with tafseer.

And a final warning: aim for slow, steady improvement over time. One trick Shaytaan capitalizes on is to encourage us to do everything and anything, all at once. Just like you can’t quit smoking today and run a marathon tomorrow, you can’t change full-force in a short amount of time.

Don’t even try. This may appear to work — for a day or two, or a week — until you burn out, and give up completely. Don’t fall for it. Start slow, and improve yourself until you become a much better person than you are.

May Allah allow us to seek the true, long-term benefits of Ramadan and better ourselves as people.

Source: Friday Khutbah at ISNA by shaykh Alaa Elsayed, August 7, 2015.

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Pray as if This is your Last Prayer

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You often hear the khatheeb or imam, right before the salah starts, saying “pray as if this is your last prayer.” Sure, but what does it mean, and how do we do it?

As one of the righteous people of the past said:

Pray as if Jannah is on your right side, Hellfire is on your left side, the siraat (bridge over Hellfire) is under you, the angel of death is behind you (waiting to take your soul any minute), your sins are above you (waiting to crush and destroy you), and this is the last deed, the one that decides if you go to Jannah or Jahannam forever.

Imagine that these are the last few moments of your life, of your last salah. Imagine the green, lush gardens on your right. Imagine the heat, the smoke, on your left. Imagine a bridge under you, thinner than a hair and sharper than a sword.

Imagine the angel of death, like the head of a team, waiting behind you; waiting to take your soul at any instant.

Imagine your sins, the ones people know about and the ones they don’t, the ones you make excuses for and the ones you justify, the things you know you should do but don’t, all hovering above you like a giant black mountain, waiting to crush you from their collective weight.

This is it; this is your last chance, your last moment, your last deed, before your books are closed, your story is over. Life is upon the ending; will your ending be good, or evil?

It’s your choice, to decide right now, in these last moments as you pray your final farewell prayer to dunya.

How would you pray in those moments? Nobody knows when they will be; they may very well be right now.

That is the feeling you want to capture in your heart and mind as you pray. Everything else in this life will fade away compared to that.

Try it. You will feel the difference for yourself.


Source: Friday Khutbah at ISNA by shaykh Alaa Elsayed, August 22, 2014.

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New Project Unveiled: Salah Support

Bismillah.

Alhamdulillah, we’ve been working in the background for a while to launch a new project. Jazakumullahu khayran to everybody who helped out, may Allah keep giving you reward for it insha’Allah long after your bones are dust–allahumma ameen!

First, check yourself, and fill out the poll below:

[poll id=”3″]

If you haven’t guessed, our new project is: Salah Support, a forum where you can find resources on salah–everything from videos on how to pray, to ebooks on khushoo’, to creative alarms for Qiaaym-ul-Layl.

We hope, bi idhnillah, that people will benefit–posting questions, and answers (with proofs, of course).

If you’re masha’Allah a regular musalli with your 5x fard salawaat secured, I request that you monitor the forums and help others get up to speed, insha’Allah. After all, the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

Jarir ibn Abdullah and Abu Hurayrah (radiallahu ‘anhumaa) reported that Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) as saying: He who called (people) to righteousness, there would be reward (assured) for him like the rewards of those who adhered to it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And he who called (people) to error, he shall have to carry (the burden) of its sin, like those who committed it, without their sins being diminished in any respect. [Saheeh Muslim: book 34, #6466, #6468, #6469, and #6470]

So you can get the reward of people praying–five times a day, every day! But be careful, because the sin is multiplied, too–hence the importance of quoting sources and trustworthy shuyookh.

And if you need help, tips, support, then drop by–that’s what it’s all about!

May Allah allow us to benefit each other and ourselves from this project, and make it a way for us to extend our deeds until the day of Judgment–Allahumma ameen!

So check it out and see what you think!

And yes, there is a “sawm” folder too, for all things fasting-related; if it’s popular, we’ll keep it, otherwise, we’ll focus insha’Allah on just salah. Please give me some feedback in the comments, too, if there are any changes you need or ideas you have.

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3 Shields of Protection From Supernatural Forces

This is post #22 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

a blinding light emitting from a forest at nightThe protection of Allah is easily earned and very, very powerful.

Muslims love talking about Jinns and black magic. Yet, when it comes to inoculating themselves from supernatural forces, Muslims are often either ignorantly doing most of what they need to do, or proverbially standing on the interstate highway, woefully oblivious of thousands of cars speeding by at near-miss distances. And many of us, or people we know, personally do get hit.

Yet even the newest Muslim is often quickly equipped with powerful shields of protection against these forces. What are they?

Continue reading

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Say: O You Kafiroon …

Note: This is post #20 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

In Surah Kafiroon, Allah says:

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ
لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ
وَلَا أَنتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ
وَلَا أَنَا عَابِدٌ مَّا عَبَدتُّمْ
وَلَا أَنتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ
لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ

Translation: Say, “O disbelievers, I do not worship what you worship. Nor are you worshippers of what I worship. Nor will I be a worshipper of what you worship. Nor will you be worshippers of what I worship. For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.” [Surah Kafiroon]

The mushrikeen (polytheists) of Mecca tried many, many different techniques to get the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) to stop spreading Islam.

Before this ayah was revealed, they decided to make a pact with him. They said, “Look, how about this–you worship our gods for one year, and we’ll worship your God for one year.” And to sweeten the deal: “And, we’ll go first.”

And they applied the Broken Record technique. Whenever the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) would try to speak to them about Islam, they would only repeat this.

And he, salallahu alayhi wa sallam, refused.

Those of you who are wondering why–although it seems on the surface like a fair trade, it’s not. Allah does not forgive shirk, worshipping other than him; not even a single sujood, or a single du’a, none of it is acceptable.

So clearly, this is not a contract the Messenger of Allah could engage with. So he refused.

And he refused.

And he refused.

Then, the Mushrikeen said, “ok, how about this–just speak highly of our gods, and we’ll do the same for you.” A smaller compromise.

And whenever people approached them, they would say, “Well, we’re trying to compromise (like we’re the good ones in this deal–even though we kill our daughters and murder on whims and …), but he’s not agreeing.”

So the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) went to the ka’bah.

The Ka'bah, the House of Allah

Mushrikeen were there. And in front of everybody he said:

Continue reading

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Those Who Show Off in Their Salah

Note: This is post #19 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

In Surah Ma’oon, Allah says:

فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُصَلِّينَ
الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَن صَلَاتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ
الَّذِينَ هُمْ يُرَاءُونَ
وَيَمْنَعُونَ الْمَاعُونَ

Translation: So woe to those who pray; those who are heedless of their prayer, those who make show [of their deeds]; And withhold [simple] assistance (al-ma’oon). [Surah Ma’oon, verses 4-7]

Allah says, “so woe to those who pray.” Don’t stop at this ayah! People who pray are not cursed by Allah! Allah continues: those who show off in their prayer, …

You know what’s interesting about this ayah? What’s really, really interesting about this ayah?

Do you want to know?

Are you sure?

…ok, here goes: Allah says:

إن المنافقين يخادعون الله وهو خادعهم وإذا قاموا إلى الصلاة قاموا كسالى يراؤون الناس ولا يذكرون الله إلا قليل

Translation: Indeed, the hypocrites [think to] deceive Allah , but He is deceiving them. And when they stand for prayer, they stand lazily, showing [themselves to] the people and not remembering Allah except a little … [Surah Nisaa, verse 142]

Here, Allah directly says, “the munafiqeen.” And he says: they show themselves to the people (i.e. showing off) when they pray.

And he says: they pray lazily.

So what about people who don’t pray, at all?

So if you fall into this category–even partially–you should be afraid. Very afraid. This is a very serious matter to Allah, these five-minutes you stand up and pray five times a day.

I’ve discussed this issue in more detail in my post, The Terrible Consequences of Not Praying Salah. If you pray every prayer regularly, alhamdulillah, read it and be reminded about what you’re safe from.

And if you don’t pray, read it insha’Allah; it might help you start, or if you’ve started, it might give you that extra motivational juice to jump farther in your salah.

May Allah protect us all from being those whom He has cursed as a consequence of their actions–ameen ya rabbi!

Allah continues and mentions: those who prevent al-ma’oon. What exactly is al-ma’oon, the thing that caused this surah to get its name?

a big box of crayons

Al-Ma’oon means something small that you do, that wouldn’t even harm you to do it. Muhammad Alshareef describes it as crayons–if you ever see young kids, there might be two kids in a class; one kid has a big box of like 300 crayons with like 15 shades of blue.

So another kid pops by, “can I borrow your blue crayon?”

And the first guy looks over his box of 300 crayons and says … “no!”

That is preventing al-ma’oon. The first kid could give away that crayon, and it wouldn’t even hurt him; but he doesn’t (because kids tend to not return crayons).

And of course, kids are sinless … but we are not.

One example of al-ma’oon I find is, letting people go when it’s heavy traffic and a guy wants to change lanes in front of you. It’s literally bumper-to-bumper, and the guy won’t slow you down; but people tend to speed up and not leave any space, subhanallah.

Action Items:

  • What Is Al-Ma’oon? Insha’Allah see if you can come up with some examples from your own life.
  • Pray More. Hit your five fard salawaat if you haven’t; if you have, fortify it with more sunnah and nawaafil prayers, so you don’t even come close to missing a fard salah.

Wallahu ta’ala ‘alam.

References:

  • Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2009.
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Ask the Readers: Questions about Salah?

Edit: Jazakumullahu khayran to everybody who provided feedback. It seems like there’s a lot of demand for this kind of thing. Insha’Allah we’ll see more posts like this in the future.

man prostrating on his face

Bismillah.

Salah. We cannot emphasize the importance of salah–the dividing line of Islam and Kufr. The first thing asked about on the Day of Judgment. The last thing the Messenger of Allah mentioned before he passed away.

Maybe you’ve been Muslim a day. A year. Maybe 10, 20, 50 years. Everyone has nagging questions about salaah–things they always wanted to know, but never had the chance to find out. Things they “heard,” but never got to verify. Or just things they wanted to ask but didn’t know where to look.

Maybe you want to know things like:

  • What are some other du’as I can recite when sitting, etc.?
  • Can I make du’a in English in my fard salah?
  • What’s the deal with going down hands-first or knees first?
  • Is wiping over socks legit?
  • What are the du’as for rukoo’ and sujood, and how do I pronounce them?
  • What should I do about Fajr if I wake up and the sun has already risen?
  • How do I wake up for Tahajjud?

This is your chance to get your questions answered. What questions do YOU have about salah? Post them in the comments. We’ll do our best insha’Allah to get the answers to as many of them as we can.

Rejoice! And tell us what you want to know! Allah says, if you don’t know, ask the people of knowledge! (We’re not them, but insha’Allah we have connections.) This is a rare opportunity to find out things specific to you!

Wallahu musta’aan. We ask Allah to give us all fiqh (understanding) of our deen. Ameen!

Action Items:

  • Post a question! Click on “Comment on this Post,” and ask a question you have for yourself, and one question that someone you know has.
  • Tell your friends. Ask them to visit Ilm Fruits and post their questions, too.
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What is a Mursal Hadith?

In the sciences of hadith, there’s something called a “mursal” hadith. What exactly is a mursal hadith? What is it’s status? What are the fiqh rulings on mursal ahadith? And why does it matter?

(Ok, for the answer to the last question, read and learn about the science of hadith. In a sentence: Scholars have devised an extremely rigorous process to determine which hadith are authentic, and which are not. You wouldn’t want to spend your whole life following a “hadith,” only to find out it really wasn’t legit, do you?)

A mursal hadith is a hadith where the chain only goes up to a tabi’ee. (So the hadith goes: X narrated, from Y, from Z, … from such-and-such a tabi’een.) Tabi’een are the generation after the companions–they are the sons and daughters and followers of Islam who came after the sahaba. Most hadith continue–the tabi’ee will narrate from a sahaba, who will narrate directly from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

So mursal ahadith are ahadith where the chain cuts off at the tab’iee level; it doesn’t go directly to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

And why is this important? Because a tabi’ee can narrate from another tabi’ee! It doesn’t necessarily mean that they heard it directly from a sahaba, who heard it from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

So the ruling on mursal ahadith? They are considered as da’eef ahadith. All the same rulings apply.

For example, in the issue of “does laughing in salaah break your wudoo?,” imam Abu Hanifa says yes, and cites a mursal hadith as his proof. The majority of scholars disagree, and insha’Allah this is the correct opinion–why?

Because the hadith is mursal (i.e. da’eef), and it contradicts shari’ah principles–why would it break your wudoo inside salaah, but not if you laugh outside salaah? (And these are not the only proofs; only a taste of the discussion.)

Wallahu ‘alam.

References

Abdul-Bary Yahya. Lecture. AlMaghrib. The Purification Act. University of Toronto, Toronto. November 2006.

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Creative Qiyaam-ul-Layl Alarms

Bismillah.

We all know that we should pray tahajjud, aka qiyaam-ul-layl. It’s well established in the deen that this is a very, very rewarding thing to do (but it’s not fard, so don’t sweat it if you’re not doing it). Some motivational factors for this include:

  • The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to pray Qiyaam-ul-Layl until his legs swelled. When asked why–since Allah has forgiven all his past and future sins, he said: Should I not be a grateful slave? [Agreed Upon]
  • Do you have goals you’re trying to achieve? Is there something you really, really want? Are you willing to pray Qiyam and cry in front of Allah for it? Because nothing will turbo-charge your success like Qiyam.
  • On the day of Judgment, Allah will ask about YOUR salah. If it’s not 100% perfect, He will not even LOOK at your other deeds. BUT! If your Fard salaah is not perfect, Allah will patch it up with your nafl and sunnah prayers–including Qiyaam-ul-Layl. [There’s a hadith related to this recorded in the collection of At-Tabari]

So what are some creative, unorthodox, unusual timers you use to wake you up? Share it in the comments! Some of the one’s I’ve seen (that are effective) are:

  1. Crying Babies: If there’s a young child in your family (under two years), chances are they wake up crying in the night. Take advantage of this–get up and pray!
  2. Bad Dreams: In one narration, the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said that if you have a bad dream, you should wake up and pray. Shaytan will get discouraged from sending you more bad dreams–because it’s resulting in you doing MORE good deeds!
  3. Drink Water: Drink lots of water–about a liter. You will FOR SURE have to wake up to use the washroom in the night. Make wudoo’ while you’re at it!

What are some other creative, useful, effective methods you use to wake up for Qiyaam?

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The Reasons Behind Seasons

Bismillah.

Why did Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) create seasons? All of this–snow, leaves changing, hot summer days and freezing winter nights. In some countries–like Canada, and the US–you have places where Isha time starts around 11pm, or 12am (midnight), and Fajr starts arond 2-3am! You also have days where Isha starts at 6pm, and Fajr starts around 7am.

What can we learn from this?

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) gives this away when he narrates: “Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) made the night short so you can pray, and the day short so you can fast.”

Think about it! Have you ever fasted those long, hot summer days–days that are a shadow of the Day of Resurrection? Sure you have! But what about praying Tahajjud, when the night lasts only 3-4 hours? That’s easy! You don’t even have to sleep and wake up, you can even stay up a couple of hours and enter the blessed last third of the night, when Ar-Rahman (سبحانه وتعالى) descends!

But try praying Qiyam the long, cold winter nights. It’s tough–Isha is at 6pm. By the time you get home, eat, relax, etc. it’s already almost 11pm or midnight; try waking up early and you can’t! But how about fasting the short winter days, when the fast lasts only 8-9 hours? Easy! (Getting up a bit earlier to pray Tahajjud before Fajr is easy, too!)

So fast the short winter days, and pray in the long summer days–these are the two extremities where times are short and the deeds are easy.

And it’s not a loophole–Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) designed the universe like this for this exact reason! It’s in the above hadith! So take advantage of it!

May Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) allow us to become people of Tahajjud and Sawm and to get these deeds accepted by Him throughout our lives, ameen!

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