"There was for Saba, aforetime, a sign in their homeland [Yemen] two gardens to the right and to the left . . . be grateful to Him[Allah] . . .But they turned away, and We sent against them the flood released from the Dams [Maarib dam]" (Qur'an. Saba:15-16)
Part 1 [Free Friday of Divine Link: Fiqh of Salah with Sh. Yasir Birjas] May 16, 2011
الحمد لله رب العالمين, والصلاة والسلام على سيدنا محمد الصادق الوعد الأمين, اللهم لا علم لنا إلا ما علمتنا إنك أنت العليم الحكيم, اللهم علمنا ما ينفعنا, وانفعنا بما علمتنا, وزدنا علماً, وأرنا الحق حقاً, وارزقنا اتباعه, وأرنا الباطل باطلاً, وارزقنا اجتنابه, واجعلنا ممن يستمعون القول فيتبعون أحسنه, وأدخلنا برحمتك في عبادك الصالحين.
It is five days before the prophet’s death. It’s been 14 days now that he has been suffering the agony of death. One of the companions asked the Prophet (saw), “Why are you suffering so much?” The prophet (saw) responded, “I suffer double of what you do.” The companion asked, “Do you receive double the rewards?” He said, “I hope so.” It was said, that whenever he regained consciousness he would say, ‘La Illah Ila Allah. Indeed for death there is agony.”
Such is the situation of the Prophet (saw). So, what do you think he would say during these final critical moments of his life when the final chapter of his mission is being written. As he struggles to communicate while in and out of consciousness. It was narrated by ibn Majah that Umm Salamah said that five days before the Prophet (saw) death, “As he was suffering the agonies of death, he uttered a few words.” What were these words?
Those who stand around him are in anticipation of the final piece of advice. What would he advise the Ummah of then, of today and eventually tomorrow? Finally, when he regained consciousness the Prophet (saw) said, “As salah, as salah.” [I advise you in regards to your salah. I advise you in regards to your salah, I advise you in regards to your salah.” He was reminding the Ummah of what in reality was the most valuable to them.
How awesomely befitting for the final chapter of the Prophet’s message? Indeed, it is the essence of his mission, the greatest manifestation of his legacy. The Prophet (saw) is advising the Ummah to maintain and strengthen their divine link with their Lord, Allah (SWT), and keeping the lines of communication with our Creator (SWT) open at all times during our lives.
So, why is Salah so important for us Muslim?
Did you know that it is the first thing every servant of Allah will be questioned about? If our prayer is recognized as ‘sound’ everything after it will go easy and smooth. If it is anything but, then it will be a bad start and an indication of a difficult and rocky road ahead. So imagine yourself on the Day of Judgment stopped at the very first station. The sign at the station reads: “Divine Link: Salah” and the angel stops you for questioning.
What are your expectations? Do you expect to be grilled? Or do you expect it to be a breeze? In this world, you knew the criteria for a ‘sound’ salah like the back of your hand. So, why the worry then? Did you fail to maintain the Divine link with your Lord throughout your life? Or did you maintain it, but not as regularly as at least 5 times a day? Or is it that you did not perform it as prescribed by the prophet (saw)?
So, you’re at the Salah station, and angel is looking through your prayer log—while you desperately search its face for any reactions that would calm your nerves. Will the angel find that you are missing a count of prayers? That of 5 yrs, 10 maybe, perhaps 15? Or will it smile and say, “well done” and guide you to the next station?
In earnest, how can you not pass when this exam is every student’s dream. Not only is it open book and the answers are known, but you know the questions ahead of time. All you need to do is sit down and comfortably prepare for this upcoming exam, which you will undoubtedly sit for.
Unfortunately, the reality of the matter is that Salah, for us, is not what it was for our Prophet (saw). The Prophet (saw) sought peace and tranquility in prayer. He (saw) would say to Bilal, “Bring us some comfort O’ Bilal.” Today Salah is viewed as an interruption to our worldly schedules. A bump in an otherwise smooth road. A hurdle that needs to be overcome as quickly as possible, so we can return and tend to the world. So much so that even in prayer we are occupied with the world. Our Salah suffers from lack of interest and motivation. Some of us even wonder why we have to perform Salah. Others perform Salah, but they zip the five prayers in one file , rather than at their appointed times. I am not saying that there isn’t anyone performing the five daily prayers on time, indeed there are and that is commendable. But I bet you, that if we asked them what ayahs they recited in their Salah, 9/10 times they wouldn’t know. Salah is viewed as duty that ought to fit in a busy schedules–a routine among the many other daily routines. It has become mechanic. Let, me ask you a question, do you think that this kind of salah benefits a believer, or promote his/her spiritual growth? The answer is no. We might as well face it, our prayers today are so unlike our Prophet (saw) who viewed it as a spiritual break from the struggles of this word; even an oasis for replenishing his energy for the journey ahead.
Divine Link: Fiqh of Salah by Sheikh Yasir Birjas will, by the will of Allah, help you find answers to many of your question about Salah. But before we start, make a list of what concerns you most about your prayers. Based on past surveys, these are the most common concerns:
1) Lack of concentration [Khushu’u] in Salah
2) How do we fix mistakes we make in salah [is Sujood Sahw enough, or do we have to repeat the raka’a or repeat the whole salah]?
3) What do we do if we don’t understand the recitation of the Qur’an during Salah? [Insha Allah this seminar will offer tips on how to enjoy the recitation of salah even if you do not understand it, such as in Taraweeh for instance in Ramadan]
Why is the seminar on Fiqh of Salah called “Divine Link”?
We are in the age of technology, and fast or slow internet connections are daily necessities. Our choice of gadgets and services are determined by the quality of how fast and effectively it establishes a link to the internet—whether through dial-up, DSL, or wireless. Why such an obsession with internet connection? Because it maintains our lines of communication with others—whether through sending and receiving emails or through social media. This is our need to keep in touch, communicate, and connect with the people of this world. What about seeking, or being obsessed with, maintaining a link with the Creator Himself (SWT). It’s all about the quality of the link in this case as well. You may have a dial-up connection, and your link to Allah (SWT) is slow and downloading received blessings takes forever. Not to mention the dropped connections and interferences while you’re at. But if your divine connection with Allah (SWT) is on a strong wireless connection that is super fast and is never over capacity, then your knee-mails are sent so fast and the message “you’ve got mail” appears and you are ready to download the blessings in the blink of an eye. Furthermore, the quality can be maintained if you install an anti-virus program to create a firewall that shields and repels all spam—such as worldly distractions that prevent you from maintaining and preserving khushu’u. The Shaytaan is like a relentless bandit, waiting to ambush us and cut off our route as we are en route to Allah (SWT) in Salah.This is a divine link, a special connection between you and Allah (SWT), so you can download the blessings from Allah as they pour on you non-stop. They are blessings that are customized, free and advertisement free.
Objective of class
Point out the significance of Salah in a believer’s life. If it is missing in your life, then the value of what you are missing will be clear. And if it is not missing in your life, then it will consolidate the value of it in your life. We want you see Salah in a different light, a positive one of course.
We will learn:
1) secrets of prayer,
2) format of prayers,
3) significance of prayers
Just a note, it is almost impossible to teach Fiqh of Salah without teaching the different views because our communities are very diverse and have a variety of juristic affiliations. So, different schools of thought will be dwelled on but no one school will be favored over another. So, this will, to an extent, be a comparative jurisprudence study In the case when the Sheikh’s opinion is sought, it will expressed. So, let’s start with Bismillah.
Let’s define Salah.
1) In Arabic the word “Salah” is written with a Ta Marbouttah—and whether it is pronounced ‘Salah’ or ‘Salaat” depends on its grammatical position. In Arabic, the profound meaning is within the structure of the word itself. The actual tri-letter root surprisingly does not mean ‘worship’ or anything related to it, but rather it means ‘burning’. As-Sali means to roast something; and also means furnace. Scholars attempted to make the connection, and came to the conclusion that indeed Salah burns ones sins completely. Just as gold is exposed to fire to purify it and get rid of its impurities. Likewise, Salah adds light to your life when you expose yourself to it, as it purifies you of your sins.
Abu Hurayra (raa) narrated, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) saying, ‘Suppose one of you had a river running by his door, and he washed from it five times a day. Would any dirt remain on him?’ They (the companions) said, ‘No dirt will remain on him.’ He [the Prophet] (saw) said, ‘That is the likeness of the five prayers. Allah remits sins with them.’”
Salah is also described as the ‘Silah’ between a servant and his Lord. The word ‘Silah’ in Arabic means ‘connection’—so it’s a divine connection/a divine link. On the authority of Abu Hurayra, the Prophet (saw) said, “The closest a servant is to his Lord is while he is in prostration, so make plenty of du’a.” [Muslim] So prayer is a connection, and is at its peak during sujood [prostration] when you are physically at the lowest point you can possibly be on the face of the earth, yet your prostration raises your supplication to the highest point of the heavens. Your prostration elevates you to a status the prophet calls in this hadith “the closest position [ever] to your Lord”. So increase your supplication during prostration, and savor the elevated position you are in.
2) Salah also means Du’a [supplication / invocation]. Indeed the most common English equivalent to the word ‘Salah’ is ‘prayer’ which in people’s minds is in reference to Du’a. ‘Prayer’ in Arabic has Du’a as one of its components, but is not its only component.
Salah also means Istighfar [ ‘seeking forgiveness’]—and in the Qur’an Allah (SWT): says,
“Of their wealth, take alms, in order to purify and sanctify them; and pray on their behalf. Verily your prayers are a source of security for them: And Allah is the All-Hearer, All-Knower.” [9:103]
3) It also means forgiveness and mercy. Consider the following ayah in surat Al Ahzaab [chapter 33] verse 56:
“Allah and His angels send Salat [ derivatives of “salat” are Graces, Honors, Blessings, Mercy etc] on the Prophet: O you who believe, send you blessings on him, and salute him with all respect.”
4) Salah also means ‘house of worship’. The place where you hold books [ ‘kitab’ in Arabic] is called ‘maktabah.’ Place where you play, [‘li’ib’ in Arabic] is mal’ab. A place where you perform ‘salah’ pray is ‘maslah’ and a place where you do ‘sujood’ [prostrate] is ‘masjed.’
Houses of worship for all faiths, is ‘salawaat’ and refers to monasteries where believers isolate themselves in devotion to Allah (SWT). Such as in ayah 40 Surat Al Hajj:
“(They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right,- (for no cause) except that they say, “our Lord is Allah”. Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid his (cause);- for verily Allah is full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to enforce His Will).” [22:40]
Let’s now look at the technical definition of Salah:
Salah is “A particular act of worship [in other words you cannot mistake it when you see someone performing it. One can tell with certainty that they are ‘praying’] which involves the practice of particular statements and actions performed in a particular manners. It starts with takbeer [saying Allahu Akbar] and ends with Tasleem [saying As-salamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah].
In other words: your salah is not complete if you do not perfect its performance in actions and statement, the sequence of actions and statements, and you cannot add to it, or take away from it. And it has both a beginning and end.
What is the relationship between the linguistic and technical definition of the word Salah?
Salah involves the participation of all your senses. Indeed one of the most important aspect of Salah is khushu’u, meaning the involvement and participation of the mind, heart, hands, and tongue etc. If not, the Salah is considered incomplete. The less you engage those parts—so for instance, if your mind is wandering somewhere else the salah ends up being an exercise for your body. And if your heart and mind are only involved, and not your body, then it’s an Iman rush. A spiritual experience only.
The most important act in Salah is dhikr [remembrance of Allah]—when you praise Allah the most high you are remembering Allah in your busy schedule.
Mercy and forgiveness is most solicited in salat. We are erring human beings, and are hence in dire need for our mistakes to be forgiven. We are offered 5 daily opportunities to be forgiven.
Salat is best done in its most designated area—a house of worship. The ambience is just as important.
Part 2 will discuss the history of Salah Insha Allah.