By: Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali
In an environment with increasing distractions how do we make our prayers more beneficial for our selves? Following is an excerpt from “Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship”, a compilation of Imam Ghazali’s works that can inspire us to develop humility and become closer to God through prayer.
God, says in the Quran:
‘Do not be one of those who are neglectful.’
‘Do not approach the Prayer when you are intoxicated, until you know what you are saying.’
Some say that ‘intoxicated’ means inebriated by many anxieties, while others say it means drunk on the love of this world According to Wahb, the meaning is obviously a caution against worldly attachment, since the words ‘until you know what you are saying’ explain the underlying reason. Many are those who pray without having drunk wine, yet do not know what they are saying in their Prayers!
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
‘Prayer is nothing but submissiveness, humility, supplication, sighing and remorse, holding out your hands and saying: “O God! O God!” Otherwise it is fruitless.’ (al-Tirmidi/al-Nasai)
In the earlier scriptures, we find these words attributed to God, Glorified is He: ‘I do not accept the Prayers of everyone who prays. I accept the Prayers of none but those who are humble before My Majesty, who are not arrogant towards My servants, and who feed the poor and hungry for My sake.’
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) also said:
This advice was given to someone by the Prophet, on him be peace: ‘When you pray, pray like a person who is saying farewell,’ (Ibn Maja/al-Hakim/al-Baihaqi) i.e. saying farewell to himself, to his passions and to his life, before setting off on the journey to his Lord.
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Do we really perceive what faith entails? Ar-Rahman has bestowed upon us endless goodness, therefore a testimony of faith is the binding principle of trust. That whatever happens, good or (seemingly) bad is for our own good. We need to accept that the journey to the top is filled with many pitfalls, falling through cracks, facing different weathering conditions, embracing all the elements that raises us up. If we are not challenged, how will we grow? If we do not grow, then how will we encounter Him? Thereby, not trusting His decisions for us, we become deprived of faith.