Part 7 – Zooming out process


The next step is to start the zooming out process with the image of yourself as you stand before Allah in Salah. As you ponder over this image, think first of all of the physiological systems within your own body running in beautiful order to sustain you. Move out now to what’s around you. The marvels of our plant world, the animal world, the seven seas, the insect world, the microbial world.

Further out to what surrounds you. The miraculous precision of the planets and our sun- our solar system, our galaxy. Further out still to the infinite star constellations, nebulas, galaxies. Now what about the world of the unseen? The world of the angels, the jinn and whatever life that lies out there that we have not been able to reach.

This may not be the end of it, but we have reached the limits of our knowledge, so start zooming back down. Back through all of that and back to where you were standing in prayer. Would you say you’re just a speck in Allah’s canvas above? Nowhere even close... You are no longer even visible in relation to the magnificent size of Allah’s universe! And imagine this is just our heaven. The Quran tells us there are 6 more! And Allah presides above all of that! And He is The One and Only, orchestrating the perfect order and function of it all!

How do you feel now as you stand before Him, praising Him and speaking to Him?

How do you feel now being answered by Him with every verse? Do you still have it in you to defy some of His commands? Can you imagine yourself ever daring to commit another wrong against such Majesty and Might? Against such Omnipotence and such Sovereignty?

How about against such *Love*? How much love must He have for us to select us out, given our insignificance in the canvas of His creation, for this beautiful exchange and these beautiful terms of endearment that are in Salah?

After all, He has blessed us with the ability to answer the call to prayer and stand before Him. That’s an honour unlike any other! How can we not give of our best that which is due Our Majesty? Can we ever turn our backs on prayer again knowing we are missing out on such a privilege?

The next time you stand for prayer, view yourself from above and far away, so you can truly taste the meanings behind “Rabbil Aalameen” (Lord of the worlds!)

Zakia Usmani


"How to Tast the True Beauty of Salah" Part 6

The Essence and Heart of Salah

Surah Fatiha, the greatest Surah in the Quran! The segment of Salah without which you cannot have prayed and your prayer would be nullified. The segment where Allah actually answers back to us at every verse! How can we ever drift in this part of the prayer?

But first, let us remind ourselves. Again, what brought us to stand here right now? Oh yes, our endless love and deep longing to be with Allah. And when one meets up with his beloved, what is he first most likely to utter? It is the sweet sound of his Beloved’s name! But this is no ordinary name. This is a name that blesses everything around it! Everything it falls upon! This is a name that lifts away any evil, harm and ache. With it we start, and with it we finish, and with it we taste the sweetness of this life and the sweetness of the next… “Bismillah- Arrahman Arraheem” (In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful). Feel it soothing your heart as it gently rolls off your lips.

And when you love someone, you savor in how perfect they are. Don’t you? No one deserves this more than Allah. For only He, is truly perfect! “Alhamdulillahi- Rabbilalameen!”
(All praise is due to Allah, The Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds!)

In praising Him, we are in essence establishing Allah’s undeniable perfection. The Prophet sallallahu alaihe wassallam told us, “Alhamdulillah fills the scale!” Let gratitude fill our hearts when we utter it, He has blessed us with so much and always keep in mind that when we thank anyone in this world, we are in fact, thanking Allah Himself. He is the ultimate source, isn’t He?

Let’s take it to another depth, when we say “Alhamdulillah”, we are even praising and thanking Allah for blessing us with the ability to praise and thank Him. As even this ability is from Him! So in reality, Allah establishes praise for Himself, through us. Glorified is He.

Feel your dependence and need for Him, feel the healing effects of the gift of remembering and praising Him.

Affirm Allah’s ultimate perfection with “Alhamdulillah”, and thanked Him for all that we are and all that He is.



"How to Tast the True Beauty of Salah" Part 5

Guard Your Salah

As you stand in front of Allah, during such sacred moments, during such a grand encounter, no one is more envious of you now than Shaitan (Satan). So his mission is to steal every sweet moment you might have with The One you love, to steal every reward! So that you will finish your prayer, but only 1/3rd has been accepted, or 1/5th or 1/9th or 1/10th since the sobering reality of the matter is: Only the parts of Salah you are mindful of are accepted by Allah.

It is because of Satan that we begin to drift. Do you not notice that every worldly thought, matter, issue, predicament suddenly makes its way to your thoughts in Salah? Items you have lost for days or months are suddenly remembered and maybe even found! Even the designs on the prayer rug start to tell all sorts of entertaining stories! What do you do? You try to fight him and refocus. But he comes back. You fight him again. He comes back like a fly that will not leave you alone.

What is the solution for we are so weak!? We seek the help of our Beloved from the evils of his creature. With His Name is barakah! With His Name is total protection from all harm. Thus, before we proceed in our prayer any further, we formally express with confidence: “Aoothu billahi mina-shaitan arrajeem” (I seek Allah’s protection from Satan the accursed). Feel its power as you say it!

One of the Sahaabah complained to the Messenger of Allaah sallallahu alaihe wassalam about waswaas during prayer, and he said: “The Shaytaan comes between me and my prayers and my recitation, confusing me therein.” The Messenger of Allaah sallallahu alaihe wassalam said: “That is a devil called Khanzab. If he affects you seek refuge in Allah from him and spit drily to your left three times.” He [the Sahaabi] said, I did that and Allaah took him away from me. (Narrated by Muslim, 2203)

Now we have guarded ourselves from Satan’s ways and ready to enter upon the most sacred part of our Salah…The Fatiha.

Stay tuned for Part 6.


"How to Tast the True Beauty of Salah" Part 4

So what really happens at “Allahu Akbar”?

Have you ever wondered why we start our prayer with “Allahu Akbar”? Why don’t we say Subhanallah”, for instance? “Allahu Akbar” is the key phrase because with it we affirm that Allah, before Whom we are about to stand, is greater than anything occupying us at that moment. He is greater than our job, greater than our business, greater than our sleep, our bills, our family and our children, greater than all that troubles or preoccupies us.

And why do we raise our hands with it? We raise our hands to throw all of that behind us. We raise our hands, as a gesture of complete surrender.

When one stands to pray Allah commands, “Raise the veils from between Me and my servant!” From the instant you proclaim “Allahu Akbar”, Allah now sets His Beautiful Glorious Face to yours ready and engaged, with you. And He doesn’t turn away from you… unless you do- That’s when either you turn away with your head/sight, or drift in heart and mind back to worldly matters. And if you turn or drift, He calls to you: “(you turn) To what is better than I??” and orders for the veils, to draw back down.

Upon “Allahu Akbar” and as we proceed to recite; any bad deeds committed by our faculties suddenly begin to float up… up until they reach our head and shoulders. Subsequently, with every Ruku (bow) and Sujood (prostration) we move to, these sins fall off and away, scattered and gone! (All the more reason for us to hold in those humbling positions longer before our Lord.)

Are you still drifting? This is why we repeat these great words, “Allahu Akbar” as we move to each position. It is a reminder, and a new chance to refocus.

Note: This series is a compilation of the Ramadan 2008 e-mail series, “Taste It!” by Mona Hubbi, which summarized the popular lectures “How to Taste the True Beauty of Salah” presented by Mishari Al Kharraz at the Grand Mosque of Kuwait- Summer 2008.


"How to Tast the True Beauty of Salah" Part 3

Live the dialogue

Do you notice how the flood of thoughts and distractions only comes once you start Salah (it’s not present before)? It is this very Khushu’ that Satan always tries to steal away from you in Salah. A thief would not bother stealing from a king’s palace because it is well guarded, nor from a poor man’s house because it is empty. The house he always aims for is the rich man’s house because it has the wealth, but
without the guards.

This is what you are. You are the rich person. You have the Khushu’ (the wealth), but you don’t have the guards that those who have reached Khushu’s highest levels have (those of the palace). And so Satan will keep trying to distract you to steal away from your prayer’s worth. But as you start applying what you will learn from this series and as you begin to feel that happiness and peace that Salah was prescribed for, you will easily begin to overcome these distractions and the quality of your Salah will improve significantly.

Ask yourself, in which month do you feel you attain the most “khushu’”? It is Ramadan, isn’t it? And during which time in Ramadan, specifically? It is during the Taraweeh or night prayers, right? And in which segment of those prayers, in particular? It is during the duaa at the end where everyone raises their hands.

Why at that moment do we feel the Khushu’? What is different in this segment of the prayer? This is because at this moment, you suddenly feel that you are actually talking to Someone. You realize that you are conversing with Allah directly!

Therefore, to live these precious moments and achieve the needed Khushu’ not just once a year, but in each and every Salah you perform everyday, feel with your total being that you are: Talking to Him- Addressing Him- Conversing with Him. Most people think Salah is a monologue and have forgotten that our Salah is really a dialogue from beginning to end. Live this dialogue- Feel the other side!


Zakia Usmani: Beautify Yourself

Zakia Usmani: Beautify Yourself: "When we die, Salah is the first responsibility we will be judged for, if it is sound (accepted), then all our deeds after it will be sound ..."

Beautify Yourself

When we die, Salah is the first responsibility we will be judged for, if it is sound (accepted), then all our deeds after it will be sound (accepted) and if it is corrupt (unaccepted), then all our deeds after it will be corrupt (unaccepted). The Prophet sallallahu alaihe wassallam said, “whoever abandons it (prayer), has disbelieved!”

It is not only Salah’s obligatory aspect, however, that should compel us to tend to it. This would be an incomplete intention. Go to it because you love it and because you yearn for the pleasure you find in it! Prepare ahead for it. Just as a nice meal starts out with a tasty appetizer before the scrumptious main course, start your preparation for Salah with the sounding of the Adhan. Wash up again even if you still have your wudu’- give yourself more light! Start asking yourself, “What am I about to do now? Who am I about to meet?”, and don’t just cover up your ‘awra with any old clothes, but make extra effort to beautify yourself for The King- change into something beautiful and presentable. Turn off your phone, choose an undecorated prayer rug, face the qibla, straighten your lines if in congregation, and aim to pray in the first row for better concentration. This is Salah the most beautiful way to worship! An act that brings such a satisfying comfort, a true quenching of that spiritual thirst!

Salah is Allah’s greatest gift to us. In it is the peace and true happiness that we all yearn and search for. This life is full of hardship, trials, and aches. We need to rid ourselves of these aches. We need relief from it all and who possesses this ultimate relief? No one but Allah. And this relief we will find in Salah.

“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient” (2:153).


“How to Taste the True Beauty of Salah” - Part 1

It’s time to make a change!

The Prayer is a link between the servant and his Lord. Ask yourself: Why do I pray? Is it just because I have to? Is it just to get this daily duty out of the way and over with? Or maybe it is because everyone just does it so I do it too?

There are 3 reasons which make you love someone:

1. Either because that someone is beautiful!
2. Or because that someone always deals kindly with you.
3. Or because that someone has done many favours for you.

It’s time to make a change. We need to start praying out of sincere Love. Pray out of longing to be with the one you love. Pray for the peace and comfort that comes from being with the one you love.

Allah is all of the above and more. He deserves to be the most worthy of our love over everything and anyone else. To truly love Allah is to truly taste the greatest love in existence! It is to truly taste the beauty of faith.

As to Allah’s kindness and favors upon us, just close your eyes momentarily to appreciate just the gift of sight alone. If we were to count His favors upon us, never will we be able to enumerate them. And sometimes we gripe when a favor has not been granted us. Don’t we then realize in hindsight, that it was much better for us this way? The denial of this favor, we realize later, was a favor in itself. For Allah has nothing but good.

And Imagine. When we dare and sin against Him, we sin using the very gifts and blessings He has given us! But out of His love and mercy for us, He continues to guard over us and protect us, even while we’re in the act! You will not find anyone more kind; you will not find anyone more giving. You will not find anyone more worthy of your love than He.

Remember this: The sweetness of this life lies in remembering Him, the sweetness of the next life lies in seeing Him!

The next time you proceed for prayer, go because you love Him, go because you miss Him and long to be with Him. Feel your heart flutter. Only then, will you be on your way to attaining that inner peace and comfort Salah was prescribed for.

And don’t forget that He sets His Most Beautiful, Glorious Face to yours when you stand in prayer!