A Desperate Email About Faith And Prayer
Not too long ago, I received an email from a young lady with a serious issue. She was a practicing Muslim who really wanted to devote herself to Islam. However, she was still feeling empty. And much of that emptiness revolved around the weakness of her prayers.
Please read her email and my response below. If you have any advice, please add them in the comments section.
Dear Abu Ibrahim Ismail,
I want to take Islam seriously.
I pray five times a day.
I very rarely miss salah…well sometimes I might miss Fajr salah if I don’t wake up in the morning. But then I feel very guilty.
But I feel something isn’t right.
I don’t understand my prayers because I don’t understand Arabic. I have attended a few courses to learn Arabic but it is very hard.
Something is lacking. I want to do a lot more. I keep saying this but years go by and nothing changes because I’m just talking and not taking the effort.
Please help me to follow Islam correctly.
Something is not right. Why do I feel empty when I pray?
Why do I feel the way I do?
As-Salaamu Alaikum Sister *****,
The best thing to do is to learn what you’re saying. But you don’t have to learn how to speak fluent Arabic in order to understand what you say in prayer. Many of these things, you already know!
For instance, when we get up from Ruku’ (bowing), we say: “Rabbanaa wa laka Hamd.”
“Rabb” means “Lord.” Remember, in Surah Al-Fatiha we say “Alhamdulillahi Rabbil Aalameen.” All Praises to Allah LORD or the worlds.
“Rabbanaa” just means “Our Lord.” That’s it! So remember that if a word ends with “naa” it probably means “us” or “our” or “we.”
“Wa” means “and.” I’m sure you knew that already.
“Laka” means “for you.” “La” means “for” and “ka” means “you.” Remember, in Surah Al-Fatihah, we say: “Iyyaka na’budu.”
“Iyyaka” means “To you.” So keep this in mind that anything ending with “ka” usually means “you” or “yours.”
“Hamd” means praise. Once again, we can refer to Surah Al-Fatihah. We say in the first verse: “Al-HAMD-ulillah” which means “All praises to Allah.”
Now, putting it all together, we get:
“Rabbana wa laka hamd.”
“Our Lord, and for You are All Praises.”
I don’t think you’ll every forget that now, Inshallah.
So, now that you know the meaning, keep it in mind while you’re praying. When you raise up from Ruku’ and you say “Rabbana wa laka hamd,” keep in mind that Allah is watching you and that you’re actually praising Him by saying “Our Lord, and for You are all Praises.”
This part is important. You have to know in your heart that Allah is watching you, that He hears you, and that you’re actually speaking to Him and you’re telling Him exactly how you feel.
And now, you’re praying with Khushoo, or sincere fear and focus.
I hope this helps. If anything was unclear, please let me know.
May Allah give you guidance, knowledge, and strength of faith, Ameen.
I have a confession to make. For many years (too many to count) I also had a hard time taking my prayers seriously. I mean, I did them on a regular basis, but my mind would be all over the place.
It wasn’t until after listening to a Bilal Philps recording that I finally, truly understood how important it was to get my Khushoo together. So for the next several years I began to work on improving my focus and concentration in prayer. But I had to do more than just focus more with my mind.
I had to work on understanding what I was saying and doing.
Much of the information I mentioned in my response are techniques that I’ve developed to improve my prayer. Based on that, I believe (and only Allah truly knows) that my concentration in prayer has increased multifold.
May Allah reward Sheikh Bilal Philps for his wonderful advice. That little advice he said in one lecture that may have been recorded years before I ever heard it has helped to improve my prayers. And now, I’m passing that same benefit on to the sister who wrote the email and anyone else who reads this article.
You can partake in this also. Add some comments or tidbits of your own that you use to increase your faith, improve your Islam, and become a better Muslim.
Let’s work on ‘crowdsourcing’ our barakah (blessings), Inshallah.