The moment your eyes open in the morning, that little voice in your head begins to remind you of all the errands you need to run for the day. This voice guides the day, dictating the choices we make. As Muslims, this voice persistently nags us even during prayer, reminding us of the duties we’re supposed to fulfill.
But what about the duty we have towards ourselves and our own soul? The duty bestowed upon us by Allah, our Creator, to take care of ourselves? The overwhelming mercifulness of Allah allows us to fulfill this duty to ourselves through Salah or prayer, giving us an opportunity to be alone with Allah and our thoughts during this allocated time.
As a Muslim, it is common knowledge that praying five times a day is Fard, an obligation in Islam. What we occasionally forget, is that this is not made fard upon us because Allah needs or requires our worship. In fact, it is us who need the prayer.
In this fast-paced world we live in, we often focus on what we need or want to accomplish – looking into the future to optimise our lives to the fullest. We rarely get time to truly be aware and appreciate the present moment we are in. Put differently, some of us forget to practise mindfulness in our everyday lives.
The notion of mindfulness has attracted immense attention, especially during these challenging COVID times. To be mindful is to be aware of the thoughts running through your head and to be intimate with them. It is through this careful consideration and acknowledgement of one’s thoughts, that one is able to control feelings of overwhelmingness, anxiety or anger – feelings we all experience at one point or another.
Mindfulness has been granted merit by many communities as well as scientific literature. Given its benefits, it is impossible to ignore the fact that as Muslims, we are given the opportunity to be mindful five times a day during prayers. When we pray, we isolate ourselves from the world, its duties and its worries. We stand with the firm belief that we are in front of the Creator, the One who has power of all things.
The moment we say those first words ‘Allahu Akbar’ (Allah is the Greatest), all those overwhelming thoughts become miniscule, nothing that we couldn’t handle with the help of Allah. Saying Allahu Akbar and performing prayer alters our perspective on life. It redirects us to what we are truly required to work towards – the pleasure of Allah.
Undoubtedly, thoughts may still linger in your mind during prayer, but making the conscious effort to remind yourself that Allah is far greater than such thoughts, is what truly matters. Not only does this act of mindfulness help create a sense of serenity, it soothes the soul or the Nafs, drawing it closer to Allah, the Most Compassionate and the Most loving.
Prophet Mohammad (s) said: “…Be mindful of Allah and you shall find Him with you.” [Hadith: At-Tirmidhi]