“It was pouring rain at 2:00 O’clock in the morning, in Oshawa Ontario, when I sat on the mat, disappointed, frustrated, and a little helpless. It was one of those nights when I tried to bring to life the stories I had read about how the Prophet (PBUH), his companions and the righteous in the early days of Islam made their sweetest experiences of connecting with Allah. I had enjoyed my first rak’ah and felt a pleasant surge of spirituality permeating my limbs only to see it fade as I proceeded to the second.
And there I was in search of that Paradise-like sweetness of the night prayer but only to experience ephemeral glimpses of it and end up wondering what went wrong that I couldn’t stay there for a while.
Let me have a guess, you probably saw yourself in the lines above. If so, you’re not alone. I personally have received an infinite number of questions about how to develop a steady sense of mindfulness, presence and peace in the prayer. I usually gave the traditional answers about observing the exact physical manner of the Prayer, to throw the world behind, to feel one’s standing before Allah, etc. Don’t get me wrong, these answers are great but they’ve become trite, redundant, and unfortunately meaningless due to overuse and abuse. Many well-intending Imams, scholars and students of knowledge have used such advice in a fast-food, mass-production, pain-killer, quick-fix manner, just to get another question answered and unfortunately without putting so much heart and soul in the process. This soul-less approach to answering sincere questions about khushu’ in the Prayer has lead to a sense of helplessness, and ultimately, indifference towards such a supposedly lively and refreshing part of our relationship with Allah.
Years later as I had been feeling my relationship with Allah was getting a bit dry, I thought to myself it seems if I don’t so something about this, it may just get worse. Subhanallah, soon I came across a small book by Ibm al-Qayyim distilled from one of his big books. Spot on, I knew Allah was answering my du’aa. The book had insightful points. At moment it just seemed to express what’s in my heart and I felt that at some level I had an intuitive knowledge about these points. The book wasn’t really written by Ibn al-Qayyim specifically on the subject; he wrote that material while elaborating on a certain point in his original book. This is why I felt sometimes the book started to take me on a wonderful journey only to drop me off halfway through with an incomplete notion. It felt awkward at times; such a great book but it doesn’t offer a full-experience of what it means to stand in front of Allah in Prayer, heart and soul.
This disappointment grew into an intention to find the missing pieces of the puzzle and offer myself and others a full-range insight into the deeper experience of the Prayer. I set out on my journey researching books that could possibly offer something relevant. It wasn’t an easy journey as most of the books on the Prayer focus on the operational aspect (technical fiqh) of the Prayer: conditions, pillars, nullifiers, etc. a few months later, I had in hand a good deal of material that offered an exceptional view into the inner experience of the Prayer. I was experimenting on myself. I employed everything I’d learned and experimented in my daily prayers, sometimes for days and weeks, to find out for myself what worked and what didn’t work out, and how long it took to start seeing satisfactory results. By the way, certain aspects of the inner experience of the Prayer reveal themselves only after you’ve proved you wanted them badly; good news…never give up; it all pays off in the end.
This experience took my Prayer to the next level. It became more meaningful, I started looking forward to the next Prayer. But still I had my ups and downs. Months later, new meanings started to emerge and my experience of the Prayer became more personal and warm. There was this homely feeling about standing before Allah, expressing yourself fully there, just being yourself: authentic, spontaneous, and feeling cozy. At moments I felt I was in a bubble of care and mercy; I felt sheltered, protected, and valued. At moments I’d catch myself smiling in delight. I felt I trusted Allah more, it was so safe to let go, let Him take care of my life. Nothing else mattered! After all, Allah is in charge; what could be better!…”
Alhamdulillah I’ve documented this experience in my forthcoming book on the inner experience of the Prayer. It’s been an outstanding journey of growth and one of the rare moments were my mind was clearly aware of how Allah guides us to what is best. This is a sneak preview into the book which I pray will help the reader transform their experience with the Prayer. I’m still looking into possible titles for the book and am welcoming any suggestions you may have, so feel free to share them below. And if you have what you believe is an interesting story with the Prayer, I’m keen to hear from you, so please message me on this blog.
I have also put together a course on the experience offering a systemic way to tap into the powerful spirit of the Prayer and experience khuskhu’ at extraordinary levels. Hundreds have attended this course in person and online. If you are interested you can find the course here
Walhamdu lillaahi Rabil Alameen