Some Muslims today often display an admirable zeal in applying some parts of Islam that may not even be obligatory while they take on a complacent, self-satisfied attitude with respect to the essentials of the Religion. In one particular area, this results in stealing.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The worst thief among men is the one who steals from his prayer.” When his companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah, how does he steal from his prayer?”, he replied, “He does not complete its Ruku’ (bowing) and Sujood (prostration).” (Ahmad and Al-Hakim)

In a related report, the Prophet (peace be upon him), observing a man not completing his Ruku’ properly, and pecking in his Sujood, warned that if the man were to die in that state, he would die on a faith other than Islam.

In any mosque, one can observe Muslims pecking, bobbing down and quickly back up in Ruku’ and Sujood. Some of us move so impatiently through our prostrations that one is left wondering how it was humanly possible for an individual to have said “Subhana Rabbi Al-A’laa” the minimum three times! And even if this was accomplished, what was its significance? Can we really reflect on our relationship with the Creator if we move through our prayer so quickly? Have we understood and pondered about what was said during any part of our Salah?

Allah says, “Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their prayers with humility and attentiveness (khushoo’).” (Qur’an, 23:1-2)

If we rush through our Ruku’ and Sujood but spend long hours in idle talk or even in meetings regarding some activity we usually have, then what have we achieved?

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is defective, then the rest of his deeds will be defective.” (Al-Tabarani, authenticated by Al-Albani)

If our prayer is no more than a no-impact, mildly aerobic workout, is it any wonder that the rest of our deeds, individual and collective, are often ineffective? Ruku’ and Sujood are symptomatic of the problems we have with our Salah as a whole.

The important thing to keep in mind is that each and every one of us, scholar or student, experienced Imam or newcomer to Islam, man or woman, can and should improve our prayer from the day we learn it to the day we die. So the next time we prepare to bow down, let’s make sure we don’t get caught stealing.

– by Adil Salahi