After a long and hectic day at work, how difficult it is for a tired person to go out to the mosque and concentrate on his prayers to Allah, the Almighty. Snuggled up in a warm and cozy bed, how difficult it is to get up at the call of the Mu`ezzin: “Come to prayer! Come to success!”

The famous doctor and philosopher, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), recalls such a moment in his life. One cold and icy night, he and his servant were resting at an inn in a remote part of Khurasan. During the night, he felt thirsty, so he called to his servant to bring him some water. The slave had no desire to leave his warm bed, so he pretended not to hear Ibn Sina’s call. But finally, after repeated calls, he reluctantly got up and went to fetch the water.

A little while later, the melodious sound of the adhan (call to prayer) filled the air. Ibn Sina began to think about the person calling the people to prayer. “My slave, Abdullah,” he mused, “has always respected me and admired me. He seizes any opportunity to lavish praise and affection on me, but tonight he preferred his own comfort to my needs.

“On the other hand, look at this Persian, slave of Allah: He left his warm bed to go out into the chilly night, he made ablution in the icy water of the stream, and then he ascended the high minaret of the mosque to glorify Him Whom he truly serves: ‘I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah. I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’.”

Ibn Sina records: “I learned the essence of true love, that love which results in complete obedience.” The love of Allah demands total and unconditional obedience. Allah, the Almighty says:

Say (O Muhammad, peace be upon, to mankind): “If you (really) love Allah then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an, 3:31)

Cry of the inner soul
Arrogance and pride have often led man to behave as an oppressor and a tyrant. Some men have been carried away by their own self-importance that they have even claimed divinity.

But is man really as strong and great as his ego tells him? The Qur’an tells us the reality of man’s nature: “Allah is He Who created you in (a state of) weakness, then gave you strength after weakness, then after strength gave (you) weakness and grey hair. He creates what He wills. And it is He Who is the All­ Knowing, the All­Powerful.” (Qur’an, 30:54)

Weakness in the beginning and weakness in the end: This is the essence of man. He is so weak and helpless at birth that his entire existence depends on his parents and his family. He needs a gentle and loving hand, not only in his infancy, but also in his childhood and his teenage years. As this child enters the years of youth and independence, he begins to take control of his own life.

He looks with pride at his strong physique, his handsome features and his many talents. He begins to despise those of lesser abilities, even scorning his parents, who exhausted their own health to nurture him. He becomes unjust and cruel, using his strength and vigour to dominate others. He thinks he is master, free to act as he wills. But does this youth, these good looks last forever? In only a few decades, he begins to lose his strength. His youth is replaced by old age.

Weakness in the beginning, weakness in the end. The message is clear: The real Master is Allah. He Alone is Mighty, He Alone is Great. He Alone never gets tired, never needs rest, is never dependent upon anyone. Allahu Akbar!

In our everyday lives, we say a warm ‘thank you’ for the small acts of kindness which others do for us. So what about thanking Allah, Who, in His infinite Mercy, has provided for every single one of our needs. Just observe the beauty and perfection of the earth around you and fall down in gratitude to your Lord.

Ascension for a believer
After the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was commissioned for Prophethood, the first thing he was commanded to do by Allah was pray. The angel Jibril came to him and a spring of water gushed out of the rocks in front of them. Jibril then showed him how to make ablution and how to offer prayers. He then went home and showed his wife Khadeejah what he had learnt from angel Jibril. The Prophet (peace be upon him) began to pray two rak’ahs, twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.

From that time, the Prophet (peace be upon him) never went through a day without praying. Just before his migration to Madinah, he was taken on a night journey to Jerusalem and then to the heavens (Mi’raj). During this journey, Allah ordered him to pray five times a day. This prayer was a gift given to every believer to experience a spiritual ascension five times a day.

It gives every Muslim the chance to communicate with his Lord. Allah has emphasized the need for humility and concentration in prayers.

For instance, when we recite Surah Al-Fatihah, we should remember that it is a conversation with Allah. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) reported that Allah, the Almighty, said: “When my slave says in his prayer: ‘Alhamdulillahi Rabbil-Aalameen (All praise is for Allah, the Lord of the worlds),’ I say: ‘My slave has praised Me’. When he says: ‘Ar-Rahmanir-Raheem, Maaliki Yawmid-Deen (The Merciful, the Compassionate, Master of the Day of Judgement),’ I say: ‘My slave has glorified Me.’ When he says: ‘Iyyaka Na’budu wa Iyyaka Nasta’een (You Alone we worship and your Aid we seek),’ I say: ‘This is between Me and My slave.’ When he says: ‘Ihdinas-Sirat Al-Mustaqeem’ (Show us the Straight Path),’ I say: “This is for My slave, and I give My slave what he wants.”

The prayer is so very important that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Verily, between man and polytheism and disbelief is abandoning prayer.” (Sahih Muslim)

Allah says, concerning the plight of the disbelievers on the Day of Judgement, that they will be asked by the believers:

“What has caused you to enter Hell?” They will say: “We were not of those who prayed.” (Qur’an, 74:42-43).

– Abridged from ‘Why Do We Pray?’ by Dr. Suhaib Hasan