JUST recently, in casual conversation during Iftar (breaking of fast) with Ethan, my eldest son, I reminded him to perform Salat/Salah during this month of Ramadhan. He replied, “Okay Papa, there are not many things to do now because of the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine). Hopefully, I can pray regularly.” This conversation with him made me reflect on the essence of Salat.
Salat is the obligatory Muslim prayer that we perform five times a day. Like fasting during the month of Ramadhan, it is one of the five pillars of Islam. Prayer is the second most important pillar of Islam and is the most regular compulsory action in a Muslim’s life. The others are dependent on the time of year; we fast just one month a year, during Ramadan. We must give Zakah once a year, and Hajj is only compulsory once in a lifetime. However, prayer is the one act that must be fulfilled at least five times a day, regardless of the circumstance.
Salat is a special word in Islam. It is understood as a deep communication and connection between a Muslim and Allah (SWT), his Creator. It is an Arabic word from the Qur’an and describes a unique act of worship for those who have submitted to the will of Allah.
Allah (SWT) ordered Muslims to pray five times of day, namely: Salat al-fajr (dawn, before sunrise); Salat al-zuhr (midday, after the sun, passes its highest); Salat al-’asr (the late part of the afternoon); Salat al-maghrib (just after sunset); Salat al-’isha (between sunset and midnight).
I always try to remind my family that Salat keeps us all grounded in our faith. It brings us closer to Allah (SWT). We are reminded that, as Muslims, “Bismillaah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem. Be ever mindful of prayers, and of praying in the most excellent way; and stand before God in devout obedience’. (Qur’an 2:238)
For us Muslims, praying five times a day can be a struggle. It can even be harder for young people. We are in the age of the Internet and other technology offers fast-paced distraction, encouraging our youth to want things immediately. Scheduling regular prayers can seem impossible.
During this ECQ, praying five times a day can be a habit that we can start. After Suhoor (before dawn meal during Ramadan), and before we go to sleep, we can pray Salat al-fajr. We can then truly wake up at around 9 in the morning, and then do our work or household chores. Then, by 12:30, we can pray Salat al-zuhr.
Then we can go back to our work, then at around 3:15 in the afternoon, we can pray Salat al-’asr. By that time, it will be less than three hours before Iftar and we can prepare our food. Just after sunset, we can pray Salat al-maghrib, then followed by breaking our fast. After having our Iftar meal, we will prepare to pray Salat al-Isha. Before going to bed to end the day, we can read the Holy Qur’an.
When praying, we keep in mind our intentions – specifically, to be closer to Allah. Let us make that our encouragement to stay consistent in our prayers.
April 30, 2020
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