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Praying Regularly: Overcoming My Trials and Tribulations With Salah

by in Culture & Lifestyle on 27th January, 2021

As Muslims, we are taught that prayer is one of our five pillars, and essential for a Muslim lifestyle. Duas are a key part of our entire being as servants to Allah (SWT), and through salah we can channel this. 

What often seems to be missing from the conversation around salah, whether that be on #MuslimTwitter or conversations throughout the Ummah in Britain, is the trials and tribulations that come with salah. Coming from a place of kindness and non-judgement, I am attempting to help those who are finding it difficult to perform salah but would like to take steps in changing that. May we be as merciful and compassionate as our Creator.

As someone whose salah has become more regular Alhamdulillah, a common question I get asked is how I got here. My new sense of calm and sharing of knowledge has become recognisable to those in my life. Though life and our relationship with salah can ebb and flow over time, the way I’ve reached this path has been by being able to face (and keep facing) a blend of factors. These factors may be different for all of us. 

Getting Over Muslim Guilt 

Don’t let anyone project their lack of connection onto you, no matter what you look like and what you do. At face value, I have been told on countless occasions (from those within and outside of Muslim communities) that I don’t “seem Muslim”. That my external sins make me too sinful to step onto the prayer mat. That it’s not enough to recognise and repent from any actions that fall short of “good character.” 

It’s important to remember that Anas ibn Malik reported that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

Allah the Almighty said: O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.”

We may be in the midst of cancel culture but it’s important to recognise that Allah is most-forgiving. However, it’s more important for us to recognise and reevaluate our actions. No-one is too sinful and above anyone else when it comes to prayer. 

Tackling Your Trauma On The Prayer Mat

Sometimes when I’m going through something in life, something I find makes things easier is performing salah. When I am on a journey to overcome my issues (as everything is temporary Alhamdulillah), it can be difficult to go back to the same physical space, pulling out the same prayer mat, where difficult memories may trigger you. 

Change your salah routine up so you’re creating new memories regarding salah. 

This may equate to praying in a different space in your house, or even praying with others in  congregation.  Maybe get a new prayer mat or do different dhikr before you pray, so déjà vu of a worse time in your life doesn’t sit with you as you pray in the same position. 

Also, remember any ease you find on the prayer mat is a sign of how things are changing for the better—and your prayer, even at its simplest, is a thank you to Allah for that. 

Start With A Gratitude List 

Before you approach prayer, write a list of things you’re grateful for. Perform your salah and say this at the end, calling Allah out by His Name in which He provided you for each provision. 

It’s proven that the brain cannot be sad nor anxious when simultaneously being grateful, so approach prayer as a form of simply saying thank you. 

“We’ve Been Told Allah Tests Those He Loves, So I’m Scared To Pray In Case He Tests Me Again”

A story I hear time and time again is that of being tested, of feeling like life is easier when you don’t perform salah because you’re not being tested. Many say Allah tests those He loves the most and those He’s closest to. 

It’s important to remember as Muslims that we believe in the seen and unseen, and that sometimes, just because things seem one way doesn’t mean that’s the reality. 

On another hand, in Surah Al A’Raf, Shaytan says:

“I shall lurk in ambush for them on your straight path. Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful [to You].” [Qur’an 7:16–17]

This surah discloses how when you’re trying your hardest to be close to Allah, is when you will be tested. During your day when you may feel entitled to good tidings because of your consistent prayer, you may instead find yourself dealing with difficult hurdles. Shaytan has pledged to disrupt those on the straight path, not the crooked one, so keep going. The difficult bit is when you’re nearly at your goal, so push through.

It’s also important for us to recognise that as humans, we underestimate how much we can do and how much we can take with our minds and bodies, so even though you may be tested, it’s really a gift in shaping the person you’re going to be inshaAllah. 

Doing Something For Someone Else Is A Step To Feeling Better 

During a CBT course, they consistently mentioned that a way to get out of a rut or feel better is to do something for someone else. Doing your salah, and realising that we’re at our best as humans when we give with no expectation of getting anything back, can be a part of that. Now doing that for the sake of Allah comes with its own noor. 

Sometimes You Don’t Have To “Feel” Salah

The expectation to have an epiphany or life-changing moment during prayer tends to be false. Life is made up of the little moments as well as the big and as we all know, consistency is key in trying to either form or break a habit. 

The days when you don’t feel like prayer, talk to Allah more and pray more. It’s just like when you’re having a bad day—be kinder and hold yourself a little bit more. 

Starting With Prayer At The Centre

It’s no surprise that in our busy lifestyles where we are juggling families, work, play, hobbies, relationships and a desire to “have it all,” meditation has risen in popularity, with more adults than before trying yoga. 

Allah says in the Qur’an, “Surely, prayer has been prescribed for the believers at specific times” [Qur’an 4:103]

So spending ten minutes of your day every few hours in du’a and salah can be spiritual fuel to remind you of your purpose and keep you going throughout the day. 

The Qur’an also says “Be vigilant about your prayers, and particularly of the middle prayer” [Qur’an 2:238] as those are the ones which tend to be forgotten. It’s also during a time when our day may be the most anxious for those working, when we’re wrapped up in dunya—but taking five minutes out to have a conversation with Allah can be a way to recuperate and de-stress. 

If you’re looking for a new routine or if you need more stability during your day, give salah a chance to be your framework, and work around it. In addition, keep a du’a journal on prayers you didn’t expect to say out loud, as a part of your reflection and salah.

Treat Du’a Like A Conversation 

Though we may all have a different relationship with prayer depending on how we have been raised to view salah, instead of fear-mongering, your brain is saying that prayer is a must because we’re prescribed them in our pillars. Seek prayer throughout the day as an opportunity to check on yourself and talk to Allah about your feelings. 

“And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah]”. [Qur’an 2:45]

Tahmina Begum

Tahmina Begum

Tahmina Begum is based between London and Birmingham and lives by the hashtag #badandbengali. Working as an editor and journalist for the past 8 years and with recent bylines in I-D, Dazed, AnOther, HuffPost UK, Metro and more, Begum is also CEO and EIC of the print publication and platform XXY Magazine. She has recently contributed to Comfort Zones, a collection of essays in aid of Women For Women UK, writing about second-generation guilt and ease. Her work focuses on culture, communities and connection. IG: @tahminaxbegum