Do you plan your life around your faith? Or do you plan faith around your life?
Is your salat (daily meditation) done in a last minute frenzy of rak’a (prostration) after rak’a? Or is it a time of khushoo (sincerity & focus) to meditate and recite the words of Allah (swt)?
In the university I attend, we have a “meditation” corner where people can go to meditate. Even though it’s an open space for everyone, the majority of the people in it are muslims at any given time. And as time has progressed, I noticed that there are three types of muslim students that attend this space, and I noticed that their prayer habits revealed a lot about their relationship with the faith.
The first, are the muslims who start out by scheduling their classes around prayer time. They have taken time to consider this before signing up for classes, and if they miss a prayer, it’s not because they didn’t try, it’s because the classes they wanted were either too full or didn’t work out with their schedule.
Generally, these are the people that you will find in the meditation corner, their studies are a priority, but they are mindful of their religion and they don’t let everything up to chance. They think and plan ahead because they value their religion and they understand the importance of the duties Allah (swt) has commanded us to do. Whether they are old and wise enough to be conscious of the the reason as to why it’s important or not is irrelevant, they do their daily prayers and fast the month of ramadan.
The second are the muslims who’s relationship with their religion is convenient. I fall into this category by the way, and I think the majority of people fall into this as well. These people are mindful of their religion when it’s convenient, but fail to deliver when there are obstacles or any hurdles in the way.
Praying is done just so that it can be done for the most part, schedules are not planned around prayer times unless it’s easy to do so, and there is a lot of combining of prayers and late prayers (dhur + asr etc.)
While prayers are done on a daily basis and ramadan is fasted, the rouh, (spirit) or quality of these actions is primarily to get things done and out of the way more so than it is for the value and importance of these actions in their lives. Regardless of intentions, the output is slapdash work where there is a lot of room for improvement.
And there’s also a lot of loss in terms of the “return on investment” in this case. The first group does these actions with intention and focus, like a student who’s been consistently and studiously immersing herself/himself into a subject to understand it. Versus the second group, who is more like the student who crams the night before the exam.
You might both pass the exam, but in the longterm, the one who studied studiously on a consistent basis is the one that truly benefits since they maintain that knowledge as they move on in contrast to the “crammer” who forgets it the next day. One does salat so that they can say they did it, the other does it to connect with their Lord; to lose their ego, to lose their stress, to lose their greed, to gain clarity, peace and feel centered and connected.
Moving on to the third group; this is the group that you don’t see in the meditation corner. Sometimes it’s because they care but not enough to ever show up, sometimes they care but don’t know how to show up, and sometimes simply because they don’t care, and don’t want to know or show up, and their lives are all about just that; their life, this life. This dunya is their only care.
I can’t say anything in regards to this group, because you never know whether it’s because they grew up in a household where salat wasn’t emphasized and prioritized, or because they are going through something on a personal and spiritual level. It’s not my place to judge or say anything other than the fact that I don’t see them there, and each has an individual story as to why that is.
This brings me back to the whole “plan your faith” thing. How do you plan your day? How is your relationship with Allah (swt) lately? Are you knocking off salat just to check a box and be done with it? Or are you showing up fully with focus and sincere intention?
Remember, to do these acts hurriedly to get them out of the way doesn’t serve you any good. I understand that not every salat is going to be “a marvelous healing and engulfment of peace and tranquility experience,” but it should be one where you leave your prayer mat feeling both lighter and fuller at the same time. Lighter in terms of the stresses of this world and daily rat race, and fuller in the heart with purpose and love (cheesy I know) and peace. I hope you keep this in mind the next time the athan (call to prayer) goes off. Don’t settle for less, put in the extra 10% effort to reap the full rewards.
Author’s Note: Did you know I recently made a new blog over at ullascheik.wordpress.com? I mostly post things related to mindset, motivation and success. If you’re into that type of stuff you should head over and check it out 🙂