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Journey through Salaah


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1: Wudu: Inner and Outer Purification

 

Performing ṣalāh is one of the most rewarding actions. However, its fruits are not just within ṣalāh itself, but also extend to the preparations carried out beforehand. The principal preparation is wuḍū’.

Wūḍū’ is a compulsory requirement for ṣalāh. Without it, your ṣalāh is invalid.

Wuḍū, however, is not just a physical action. It is deeply spiritual. Like the majority of deeds, wuḍū’ has both an inner and an outer dimension. Whilst its outer dimension is to purify the body’s various parts from physical dirt, its inner dimension is to purify yourself from the ‘dirt’ of your sins. This is why Allah (ʿazza wa jall) says, “Indeed Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves” (2:222).

To transform your wuḍū’ from a mere physical act of cleansing to the great act of devotion that it is, try to keep in mind at least one of the four pointers below during your wuḍū:

1. Visualise your sins being forgiven

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Whoever performs wuḍū’, and does so in an excellent manner, his sins will leave from his body, even coming out from under his nails” (Muslim). In another ḥadīth, the Prophet ﷺ explained in detail how sins leave each part of the body that is washed in wuḍū’ (Muslim).

Once, ʿUthmān b. ʿAffān (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) performed wuḍū’ and then smiled. He then asked, “Do you know what made me smile?” He went on to say, “The Prophet ﷺ performed wuḍū’ like I just did, and then smiled. He then asked, ‘Do you know what made me smile?’… We replied, ‘Allah and His Messenger ﷺ know best.’ He ﷺ said, ‘Indeed when the servant performs wuḍū’, and perfects it; and then enters his prayer, and perfects it – he comes out from his prayer as he came out from his mother’s stomach without any sins’” (Aḥmad).

Whilst performing wuḍū’, imagine your sins are leaving your body. Imagine the sins committed by your hands are being forgiven as you wash them. Imagine all the foul things that you said are being washed away as you gargle. And imagine the sins that you walked towards are leaving you as you wash your feet.

2. Your status raised

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Shall I not inform you of that through which Allah forgives sins and raises ranks by?” They said, “Of course, O Messenger of Allah!” He ﷺ said, “Performing wuḍū’ thoroughly despite the difficulties, walking lots of steps towards the Masājid and waiting for one ṣalāh after the other…” (Muslim).

When it is cold, and you would rather remain warm under your duvet, remember this ḥadīth and know that Allah is elevating your rank as a result of you battling your nafs.

3. Your identity marker

Abū Hurayrah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ once went to the graveyard and said, “Peace be upon you, dwelling of believing people, and we will – if Allah wills – join you soon. I wish I had seen our brothers!” They said, “Are we not your brothers, O Messenger of Allah?” He ﷺ replied, “Of course. You are my Companions. My brothers are those who have not yet come. I will welcome them at the ḥawḍ (pool).” They asked, “How will you recognise those who are still yet to appear amongst your ummah, O Messenger of Allah?” He ﷺ replied, “Do you think that if a man had a horse with a white blaze and hoof along with a completely jet-black horse, will he not recognise his horse?” They said, “Certainly, O Messenger of Allah.” He ﷺ said, “They will come with radiant white faces and marks from the wuḍū’, and I will be there to welcome them at the ḥawḍ (pool)” (Muslim).

Reflect

• The Prophet ﷺ missed you and longed to see you.

• He will be waiting for you in the hereafter.

• How will he ﷺ know who you are? The body parts you regularly washed in wuḍū’ will shine, and that is how he will recognise you.

4. Eight gates of Paradise will be opened for you

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Whoever perfects his wuḍū’ and then says,

أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَّا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللّٰهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيْكَ لَهُ ، وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ ورَسُوْلُهُ ، اَللّٰهُمَّ اجْعَلْنِيْ مِنَ التَّوَّابِيْنَ ، وَاجْعَلْنِيْ مِنَ المُتَطَهِّرِيْنَ

I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah. He is Alone and He has no partner whatsoever. I bear witness that Muḥammad ﷺ is His slave and His Messenger. O Allah make me amongst the repentant, and make me amongst those who purify themselves.

the eight gates of Paradise will be opened for him. He may enter through whichever one he wishes” (Tirmidhī).

Likewise, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Whosoever does wuḍū’ and says,

سُبْحَانَكَ اللّٰهُمَّ وَبِحَمْدِكَ ، أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَّا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ ، أَسْتَغْفِرُكَ وأَتُوْبُ إِلَيْكَ

You are free from imperfection, O Allah, and all praise is to You. I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except You. I seek Your forgiveness and turn to You in repentance.

it will be recorded in a parchment and then sealed with a seal which will not be broken till the Day of Judgement” (Nasā’ī in ʿAmal al-Yawm wa al-Laylah).

Both of these duʿās will purify you from shirk (‘I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah’) and from sins (‘make me amongst the repentant’). This is why wuḍū’ is a comprehensive form of purification – both externally and internally.

In wuḍū’, we only wash those body parts that are easy to wash, which are exposed the most, and we sin with the most.

Now that you have thoroughly purified yourself, you are ready to stand in the court of the All-Powerful Himself.

Remember to say bismillāh before starting your wuḍū’ (Abū Dāwūd).

Reflect

I will ensure my place of prayer is clean, and that my body and clothes are both clean. I will ensure that my heart is purified for meeting my Lord and conversing with Him. I will purify it through repentance. I will regret my past sins and firmly resolve to abandon them in the future.

Taḥiyyat al-Wuḍū’

On completing your wuḍū’, pray two rakʿah of taḥiyyat al-wuḍū’ in the hope that your past sins will be forgiven. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “If anyone performs wuḍū’ like that of mine and offers a two rakʿah prayer during which he does not think of anything else, his past sins will be forgiven” (Bukhārī).

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to Bilāl (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) at the time of the Fajr prayer, “O Bilāl! Inform me of the most hopeful act you have performed in Islam, for I heard your footsteps in front of me in Paradise.” Bilāl (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said, “I have not done anything more hopeful than that whenever I perform wuḍū’, be it in the day or night, I pray as much as has been decreed for me after wuḍū’ (i.e. taḥiyyat al-wuḍū’)” (Bukhārī).

When ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) would finish his wuḍū’ and get ready to start praying, he would start trembling and shaking. When this was mentioned to him, he said, “Woe to you! Do you know who I am going to stand in front of? Who I intend to converse with?”

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2: Facing The Qiblah & Raising The Hands

 

Whilst turning your face in the direction of the Kaʿbah, simultaneously turn your heart towards the Lord of the Kaʿbah, Allah (ʿazza wa jall). Remove everything else other than Him from your heart.

When soldiers or opponents surrender, they will raise their hands, as if to say ‘You’ve got me. I’m all yours!’ Similarly, raising your hands in ṣalāh is a physical manifestation of your surrender to Allah (ʿazza wa jall). However, this differs from surrendering to another human. It is not a surrender of humiliation or weakness. Instead, it represents great honour and strength, for there is no greater honour in this world than being a true servant of Allah. Even before declaring himself the Messenger of Allah, the Prophet ﷺ described himself as the ‘servant of Allah’.

Ibn al-Qayyim (raḥimahullāh) described the raising of the hands as ‘the embellishment of ṣalāh’.

Go to Allah (ʿazza wa jall) and give yourself up to Him. As you raise your hands, throw the world behind you and get ready to converse with your Creator

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3: Takbir: Glorifying Allah

 

What does Allāhu Akbar mean?

Allāhu Akbar is one of the greatest statements any human being can utter. It is the statement through which you enter into your ṣalāh. It is also known as takbīrat al-taḥrīm. Once you enter ṣalāh, what was previously ḥalāl for you (e.g. eating, drinking and talking) has now become ḥarām for you. Similarly, you should make worldly thoughts ḥarām upon yourself.

You are now entering the ḥaram: a sacred space where you prevent others and your thoughts from coming in between you and Allah.

In Arabic, you may say: Zayd is bigger than Maḥmūd (زيد أكبر من محمود). Here we say Allāhu Akbar, hence, Allah (ʿazza wa jall) is greater than … Thus, what He is greater than has not been specified. This lack of specification (also known as ellipsis) indicates that Allah (ʿazza wa jall) is greater than everything.

Allah (ʿazza wa jall) is Greater than anything we can imagine. His greatness encompasses all things: He is Great in His Essence, His Names, His Attributes and His Actions. Allah is Supreme and Transcendent above every limitation and deficiency that is inherent in created beings.

Our limited minds are unable to comprehend the greatness of Allah. However, we can try to appreciate His greatness by pondering over His creation. By pondering over the greatness of the heavens, the earth, Allah’s Kursī and His Majestic Throne, and then realising how we are unable to comprehend them due to their greatness, we arrive at the most important realisation: how Great must their Creator be!

To understand His greatness, it helps to reflect on His greatest creation: His Throne (the ‘Arsh of Allah). The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The seven heavens in comparison to the Kursī is nothing but like a ring thrown in a desert, and the excellence of the Throne of Allah over the Kursī is like the excellence of that desert over that ring” (Bayhaqī).

In other words, imagine the Sahara Desert. The entire desert is the Kursī of Allah (ʿazza wa jall), and the size of the heavens and the earth in proportion is equivalent to a ring thrown in the desert.

Now close your eyes, and let your mind ascend. Wander around this desert, which is now the Throne of Allah (ʿazza wa jall), and remember that the Kursī in proportion is the size of a ring. Can you even imagine the size of the Throne of Allah (ʿazza wa jall)? It is truly mind-boggling.

If we cannot comprehend the above, how can we then comprehend the greatness of Allah (ʿazza wa jall)?

 

Mean what you say!

On uttering the phrase Allāhu Akbar, you say that Allah b is greater than everything in your heart. It is not sufficient to simply say this phrase. You have to also believe it. To be sincere in your utterance, you cannot give greater importance to something or someone other than Allah (ʿazza wa jall) in your heart. Let Him be the One.

Each time you utter the words ‘Allāhu Akbar’, remind yourself of the greatness of Allah and say: Allah is Greater… He is greater than me, greater than my desires, greater than my loved ones, greater than my hobbies, greater than the most powerful armies and empires, greater than everything.

Saying Allāhu Akbar with conviction should make you appreciate the greatness of the One whom you are standing in front of. When you remind yourself of His greatness, your self-importance should disappear as you remember how weak and insignificant you are. Thus, saying Allāhu Akbar also safeguards you from pride as you will no longer think of yourself or what you possess as great.

Saying Allāhu Akbar humbles you in front of Allah (ʿazza wa jall), and frees you from every type of servitude other than His. It gives you the strength and courage to confront falsehood and call to the truth.

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4: Qiyam (Standing)

 

Now that you have uttered the takbīr, remind yourself that you are standing in front of Allah.

Lower your head

Stand in front of Allah (ʿazza wa jall) the way a humble slave stands in front of his master. Remember whom you are standing before. Let your worldly qiyām (standing) remind you of the final qiyām, when you will stand on the Day of Judgement in front of the Compeller of the heavens and the earth. Lower your head and your gaze. Stop your eyes from wandering right or left. Do not glance at your surroundings. Keep your gaze fixed to the ground to help keep your focus.

ʿĀ’ishah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhā) asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ about when one looks here and there in ṣalāh. He ﷺ said, “It is snatching, which Shayṭān steals from the slave’s prayer” (Bukhārī).

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Allah will continue to turn towards the slave whilst he is in his prayer for as long as he does not look away. If he looks away, He will turn away” (Abū Dāwūd).

Ibn al-Qayyim (raḥimahullāh) wrote, “The slave of Allah (ʿazza wa jall) stands in front of his Lord on two occasions: the first is when he stands in his ṣalāh and the second is when he will meet Him on the Day of Judgment. Whoever fulfils the rights of the first standing, the second standing will be made easy for him. And whoever belittles, neglects and does not fulfil the rights of the first standing (i.e. ṣalāh), the second standing will be made very difficult for him.”

Once, ʿAbdullāh b. ʿUmar (radiy Allāhu ʿanhumā) recited Sūrah al-Muṭaffifīn, until he reached the āyah:
يَوْمَ يَقُوْمُ النَّاسُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ.
“The Day when mankind will stand before the Lord of the worlds” (83:6).
He cried until he collapsed and was unable to resume his recitation.

The positioning of the hands

Why do you fold your hands and place them over each other?

Imagine you walk into a palace and see two groups of people: one group have their hands on their hips, eyes roaming around everywhere, whilst the second group have their hands neatly clasped together and are respectfully looking down. Seeing this, you would easily identify those who are royalty and those who are the servants. Similarly, as you are a servant standing in front of Allah, placing one hand on the other respectfully symbolises your humility in front of Him.

Placing one hand over the other also prevents fidgeting and is conducive to attaining khushūʿ.

When you stand in prayer, stand in obedience and humility as Allah (ʿazza wa jall) has ordered you. Beware of negligence and looking here and there. Beware of looking at something else whilst Allah is looking at you. Beware of asking Allah (ʿazza wa jall) for Paradise and seeking His protection from the Hell-fire, yet your heart is heedless, and you do not know what your tongue is saying.” – al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī (raḥimahullāh)

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5: Istiftah (Opening Duʿa’)

 

Now that you are in your ṣalāh, you have entered the court of Allah (ʿazza wa jall). On meeting someone you love and revere, you greet them. Likewise, when meeting Allah (ʿazza wa jall), you will greet Him with words of respect and reverence. You may also choose to enter through the door of forgiveness (see duʿā #2), or you may combine both (see duʿā’ #6).

You may read any of the following duʿās:

.سُبْحَانَكَ اللّٰهُمَّ وَبِحَمْدِكَ ، وَتَبَارَكَ اسْمُكَ ، وَتَعَالَىٰ جَدُّكَ ، وَلَا إِلٰهَ غَيْرُكَ

How Perfect are You O Allah, and all praise is Yours. Your Name is most blessed, Your majesty is exalted and there is no god worthy of worship except You (Muslim).

سُبْحَانَ: Negates all negative attributes from Him. Thus, Allah (ʿazza wa jall) is Perfect; free from any weakness, defect and oppression. Allah (ʿazza wa jall) does not bear resemblance to any of His Creation.

حَمْدِ: Affirms all of His positive attributes. Ḥamd is to describe the praised one with perfection, love and utmost respect.

تَبَارَكَ اسْمُكَ: Your Name is Perfect, Exalted, Holy and is the source of all good in the heavens and the earth.

The Name of Allah (ʿazza wa jall) is full of blessing and good. Uttering His Name before eating prevents Shayṭān from sharing your meal. Similarly, if you slaughter an animal without uttering the Name of Allah, it remains unlawful for you to eat. Thus, all matters which are not preceded by the Name of Allah (ʿazza wa jall) are deficient and defective.

Reflect

If the name of Allah (ʿazza wa jall) is full of blessing and good, then how blessed must the Named One be?

جَدُّكَ: This refers to Allah’s majesty, greatness and grandeur.

وَلَا إِلٰهَ غَيْرُكَ: This is the kalimah (utterance) of tawḥīd (oneness), which all Messengers were sent with. It means there is none worthy of worship except for Allah (ʿazza wa jall).

All of the above naturally guides us to this ultimate word of truth. After affirming and uttering Allah’s absolute unique perfection, it only makes sense that He is the Only One who should be worshipped.

اَللّٰهُمَّ بَاعِدْ بَيْنِـيْ وَبَيْنَ خَطَايَاىَ كَمَا بَاعَدْتَ بَيْنَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ ، اَللّٰهُمَّ نَقِّنِيْ مِنَ الْخَطَايَا كَمَا يُنَقَّى الثَّوْبُ الْأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الدَّنَسِ، اَللّٰهُمَّ اغْسِلْ خَطَايَاىَ بِالْمَاءِ وَالثَّلْجِ وَالْبَرَدِ

O Allah, distance me from my sins as You have distanced the East from the West. O Allah purify me from sins as a white cloth is purified from dirt. O Allah wash away my sins with water, hail and snow (Bukhārī).

.اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّٰهِ حَمْدًا كَثِيْرًا طَيِّبًا مُّبَارَكًا فِيْهِ

All praise is for Allah; an abundant, sincere and blessed praise (Muslim).

Anas (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) narrated that a man came panting and joined the row (of congregants in ṣalāh), and then uttered [the above]. When the Messenger of Allah ﷺ finished his ṣalāh, he said, “…I saw twelve angels competing with each other to ascend with it.” (Muslim).

.اَللّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ كَبِيْرًا ، وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّٰهِ كَثِيْرًا ، وَسُبْحَانَ اللّٰهِ بُكْرَةً وَّأَصِيْلًا

Allah is Greater, the Greatest: abundant praise is for Allah, and how Perfect is Allah, in the morning and the evening (Muslim).

ʿAbdullāh b. ʿUmar (radiy Allāhu ʿanhumā) narrated, “Once we were praying with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ when a man said [the above]. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ (after the ṣalāh) asked, “Who uttered those words?” The man replied, “It was me, O Messenger of Allah.” He ﷺ said, “I was amazed by them – the doors of heaven were opened for them.” Ibn ʿUmar (radiy Allāhu ʿanhumā) said, “I have not stopped saying these words since I heard this statement of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ ” (Muslim).

.اَللّٰهُمَّ رَبَّ جَبْرَائِيْلَ وَمِيْكَائِيْلَ وَإِسْرَافِيْلَ ، فَاطِرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ، عَالِمَ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ ، أَنْتَ تَحْكُمُ بَيْنَ عِبَادِكَ فِيْمَا كَانُوْا فِيْهِ يَخْتَلِفُوْنَ ، اِهْدِنِيْ لِمَا اخْتُلِفَ فِيْهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِكَ ، إِنَّكَ تَهْدِيْ مَنْ تَشَآءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيْمٍ

O Allah, Lord of Jabrā’īl, Mīkā’īl and Isrāfīl; Creator of the heavens and the earth; Knower of the unseen and seen, You will judge between Your servants in what they used to differ. Guide me in what is contentious to the truth, by Your Will. Certainly, You guide whomsoever You will to the straight path (Muslim).

وَجَّهْتُ وَجْهِيَ لِلَّذِيْ فَطَرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ حَنِيْفًا وَّمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِيْنَ ، إِنَّ صَلَاتِيْ وَنُسُكِيْ وَمَحْيَاىَ وَمَمَاتِيْ لِلّٰهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ ، لَا شَرِيْكَ لَهُ وَبِذٰلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَا مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِيْنَ ، اَللّٰهُمَّ أَنْتَ الْمَلِكُ لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ ، ‏أَنْتَ رَبِّيْ وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ ، ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِيْ وَاعْتَرَفْتُ بِذَنْبِيْ فَاغْفِرْ لِيْ ذُنُوْبِيْ جَمِيْعًا ، إِنَّهُ لَا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوْبَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ ، وَاهْدِنِيْ لِأَحْسَنِ الْأَخْلَاقِ لَا يَهْدِيْ لِأَحْسَنِهَا إِلَّا أَنْتَ ، وَاصْرِفْ عَنِّيْ سَيِّئَهَا لَا يَصْرِفُ عَنِّيْ سَيِّئَهَا إِلَّا أَنْتَ ، لَبَّيْكَ وَسَعْدَيْكَ ، وَالْخَيْرُ كُلُّهُ فِيْ يَدَيْكَ ، وَالشَّرُّ لَيْسَ إِلَيْكَ ، أَنَا بِكَ وَإِلَيْكَ ، تَبَارَكْتَ وَتَعَالَيْتَ ، أَسْتَغْفِرُكَ وَأَتُوْبُ إِلَيْكَ

I have turned my face towards the One who created the heavens and the earth, turned away from all that is false having surrendered to Allah, and I am not of the polytheists. My ṣalāh, my sacrifice, my life and my death are all for Allah, Lord of the worlds, who has no partners. I have been commanded of this, and I am of those who submit. O Allah, You are the King, there is no god worthy of being worshipped except You. You are my Lord and I am Your slave. I have wronged myself and I confess my sins. Forgive all of my sins, for no one forgives except You. Guide me to the best of character, for no one guides to the best of it except You; and turn the evil of it away from me, for no one turns it away except You. Here I am, seeking Your pleasure and at Your service. All good is in Your hands and no evil is attributed to You. My (existence, protection and success) is from You and I am returning to You. You are Most Blessed and You are Most Exalted. I seek Your forgiveness and repent to You (Muslim).

By saying this duʿā’, you remind yourself of what Ibrāhīm (ʿalayhis-salām) said (see 6:79). You affirm the Oneness of Allah and disassociate yourself from shirk. The duʿā’ acts as a reminder of your purpose in life and that everything you do is for Him. You seek forgiveness and you ask Allah (ʿazza wa jall) to grant you beautiful character. You praise Him and show your desperate need of Him.

اَللّٰهُمَّ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ ، أَنْتَ نُوْرُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَنْ فِيْهِنَّ ، وَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ أَنْتَ قَيِّمُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَنْ فِيْهِنَّ ، وَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ أَنْتَ الْحَقُّ ، وَوَعْدُكَ حَقٌّ ، وَقَوْلُكَ حَقٌّ ، وَلِقَاؤُكَ حَقٌّ ، وَالْجَنَّةُ حَقٌّ ، وَالنَّارُ حَقٌّ ، وَالسَّاعَةُ حَقٌّ ، وَالنَّبِيُّوْنَ حَقٌّ ، وَمُحَمَّدٌ حَقٌّ ، اَللّٰهُمَّ لَكَ أَسْلَمْتُ وَعَلَيْكَ تَوَكَّلْتُ وَبِكَ آمَنْتُ ، وَإِلَيْكَ أَنَبْتُ وَبِكَ خَاصَمْتُ وَإِلَيْكَ حَاكَمْتُ

O Allah, for You Alone is all praise; You are the Light of the heavens and the earth and whatever is therein. For You Alone is all praise; You are the Maintainer of the heavens and the earth and whatever is therein. And for You Alone is all praise; You are the Truth, Your promise is the truth, and Your speech is the truth. The meeting with You is the truth, Paradise is the truth, and Hell-Fire is the truth. The Final Hour is the truth, the Prophets are the truth and Muhammad ﷺ is the truth. O Allah, I surrender myself to You Alone, I put my trust in You Alone, and I believe in You Alone. I turn to You Alone, I complain of my opponents to You Alone and I refer judgement to You Alone (Bukhārī).

The Messenger ﷺ would recite the above duʿā’ in his tahajjud ṣalāh.

.سُبْحَانَ اللّٰهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ ، سُبْحَانَ اللّٰهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ

Allah is free from imperfection, the Lord of all the worlds. Allah is free from imperfection, and all praise is due to Him (Nasā’ī).

Rabīʿah b. al-Kaʿb (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said, “I used to spend the night by the room of the Prophet ﷺ.

I would hear him stand up at night (for prayer), and he would say سُبْحَانَ اللّٰهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ for a long time. Then he would say سُبْحَانَ اللّٰهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ for a long time.”

.اَللهُ أَكْبَرُ x10, اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّٰهِ x10, سُبْحَانَ اللهِ x10, لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللهُ x10, أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللهَ x10
.اَللّٰهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِيْ وَاهْدِنِيْ وَارْزُقْنِيْ وَعَافِنِيْ ، أَعُوْذُ بِاللهِ مِنْ ضِيْقِ الْمَقَامِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ

Allah is the Greatest (10x). All praise be to Allah (10x). Allah is free from imperfection (10x). There is no god worthy of worship but Allah (10x). I seek Allah’s forgiveness (10x). O Allah, forgive me, guide me, grant me sustenance and wellbeing. I seek Your protection from the anguish of standing on the Day of Judgement (Nasā’ī).

ʿĀsim b. Ḥumayd (raḥimahullāh) said, “I asked ʿĀ’ishah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhā) about what the Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to start his night prayer with. She said, “You have indeed asked me something which no one before you has asked me. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to say [the above]” (Nasā’ī).

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6: Istiʿadhah & Basmalah

 

ollowing the completion of the opening duʿā’, you will proceed on to seeking the protection of Allah from Shayṭān.

أَعُوْذُ بِاللهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيْمِ

I seek protection in Allah from the rejected Shayṭān.

أَعُوْذُ: I take refuge, safeguard myself, take precaution, and I am careful. عَاذَ means to flee from that which you fear will harm you to that which will protect you from it.

Istiʿādhah (seeking protection) is essentially an act of the heart. When seeking protection with Allah, you are: (1) throwing yourself in front of Him, displaying your need of Him, and (2) submitting and humbling yourself in front of Him.

Istiʿādhah also acts as an acknowledgement of Allah’s ultimate power, and the human being’s weakness and inability to combat the unseen enemy, Shayṭān.

Ṣalāh is Shayṭān’s battlefield. No other situation enrages and annoys Shayṭān more than ṣalāh. First, Shayṭān will try to make you miss your ṣalāh. If he fails, he will try to make you delay it as much as possible. Again, if he fails, he will try to dissuade you from your sunnah and nafl prayers. If he still fails to deter you, he will come to you in your ṣalāh and try to ruin it with his constant whispers.

Be vigilant and constantly guard your ṣalāh, for Shayṭān is a thief who wants to ‘steal’ from your ṣalāh until you have nothing left in it. Shayṭān is an evil enemy. His invisibility makes him even more deadly. Because we cannot see him, we forget about him. In an increasingly material world, when we have a problem, we tend to look for physical causes. It would not be considered ‘intellectual’ or ‘scientific’ to blame Shayṭān and his cronies. Although he is not always the culprit, Shayṭan is constantly inflicting his evil on the children of Ādam. He comes and goes. He is described in the Qur’ān as ‘khannās’: the one who retreats and comes back. He always lurks about to inflict maximum damage wherever possible.

Shayṭān will especially try his best to prevent you from reciting Qur’ān with reflection (tadabbur). This is because reflecting on the Qur’ān gives life to the heart, and is the secret of worldly and heavenly bliss.

Shayṭān rages with envy. The angels prostrated to Ādam in obedience to Allah’s command, whilst he refused and was thrown out of Paradise. Up until today, he tries his utmost to prevent the sons of Ādam from prostrating. When you understand his envy and his tenacity in pursuing you, remember that you cannot defeat him by yourself: you need his and your Master, Allah (ʿazza wa jall), on your side.

It is for this reason that Ibn Taymiyyah (raḥimahullāh) once told his student, Ibn al-Qayyim (raḥimahullāh), “If a shepherd-dog attacks you, don’t bother fighting him back. Instead seek the help of the shepherd because he will push the dog away from you and will protect you from him.” Thus, the protection of Allah (ʿazza wa jall) – the All-Powerful (al-Qawiyy), the Guardian (al-Ḥafīẓ) – is our most effective weapon to defeat Shayṭān.

You may also choose to recite the slightly longer form of the istiʿādhah:

أَعُوْذُ بِاللّٰهِ السَّمِيْعِ الْعَلِيْمِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيْمِ ، مِنْ هَمْزِهِ وَنَفْخِهِ وَنَفْثِهِ

I seek protection in Allah, the All-Hearing and All-Knowing from the rejected Shaytān; from his promptings (inciting madness), his blowing (of pride in the hearts) and his obscene poetry. (Aḥmad).

Basmalah

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Very Merciful.

You start by asking for the help of Allah (ʿazza wa jall). Through this, you are expressing your servitude to Him. By uttering His Name, you are also asking Him to bless you in all that you do.

بِسْمِ اللهِ: By stating ‘In the Name of Allah’ you are saying ‘I begin with every Name that belongs to Him.’ This includes all of His Most Beautiful and Perfect Names, and you are asking Him through all of His Names. By saying bismillāh, you are acknowledging His rubūbiyyah and ulūhiyyah (Oneness in His Lordship and sole right to being worshipped).

اللهِ: The only One deserving of being singled out for worship due to His Perfect Godly Attributes. Many scholars have regarded this Name to be ‘the Greatest Name of Allah’. It is a comprehensive name which includes all of His Names. It can only be used for Him.

الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ : (Article coming soon)

 

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7: Reciting Qur’an

 

Once you have recited you opening duʿā’, you will now recite Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, followed on by a sūrah or a selection of āyāt from the Qur’ān.

A summary of how to recite the Qur’an in your salah:

1. Always recall that you are standing in front of Allah (ʿazza wa jall) and that you are conversing with Him.

2. Recite slowly and beautifully.

3. Reflect on the words you are reciting. Fill your heart with love, hope and fear according to the words you are reciting.

4. When you come across an āyah about mercy, stop and ask Allah for His mercy. When you come across an āyah about punishment, stop and ask Allah’s protection. When you come across an āyah where you can make a duʿā’, stop and ask Allah.

5. Whilst reciting, try to visualise and interact with what you are saying.

6. Alternate between what you recite.

“Know that everything that distracts you from understanding the meaning of your recitation is a whispering of doubt from Shayṭān.” – al-Ghazālī (raḥimahullāh)

Read the more detailed article Recite and Reflect on the Qur’an for how you should recite in ṣalāh.

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