In the last five years of your life, how much improvement have you seen in the quality of your Ṣalāh?
As soon as I asked myself, I felt humiliated with the answer. While I could say I had read many books, completed courses, tried to be more organised, and decreased my carb consumption, I could honestly NOT say that my Ṣalāhhad varied in the least.
I had been praying Ṣalāh of course, but they had been rushed, monotonous, I had not focused on the meanings of the words even though I do know them. I had often thought about my list of chores during my Ṣalāh and had been trying to not forget that I had to add salt to the biryani as soon as I finish praying. I would often become completely confused at the end of my Ṣalāh not being able to recall whether I was in the third or the fourth rak’ah. May Allah forgive me.
There were other times when even I could not have predicted what the intrusion in my Ṣalāh was going to be, like when my three-year-old kept repeating the same question to me until I nodded or signalled her an answer, or when she decided to go to the toilet whilst I was in mid-prayer and then the whole second half, she screamed for me to clean her. Or when the doorbell rang and my seven-year-old decided to open it and I was freaking out, it could be someone dangerous, or God forbid she will invite in some unexpected guests, and they will see my sitting room in an unhinged state (honestly it’s mostly clean…sometimes).
But aside to the things I can’t control, I haven’t been doing much to raise my Ṣalāh. It has been easy in comparison filling my day with trying to be regular with sunnahs, always discussing the importance of adhkār and certain du’asand even waking for the night prayer. These are great things, don’t get me wrong, but they are not the MOST important to Allah. They are not the things you will be asked about FIRST. They do not have as much impact on your life in this world or the ākhirah as your Ṣalāh does, and most of all, they will not improve your connection with Allah nearly as much as consistent improvement in your Ṣalāh will.
Don’t stop doing those sunnahs, but rather, start doing MORE to upgrade your Ṣalāh.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,
Plan ahead where you can, if you’re a mum with small children then try to give them something specific to do while you pray (ideally not something they will start fighting over, or messy—one time my children played with water and dropped it right where I was meant to do sujūd, and so the only thing I could concentrate on was how I would avoid doing sujūd in a puddle).
If you have older children, get them to look after the younger ones while you pray. Don’t have food cooking during your Ṣalāh such that you worry it is going to get burnt.
Take a few moments before your Ṣalāh to remember what exactly you’re about to do, who you are standing in front of, and why this is more important than anything you have done or are about to do after the Ṣalāh.
Also try not to be okay wearing your curry-smelling, food-stained clothes (or in the case of men, sweat-smelling clothes). If you wouldn’t wear it to a guest’s house why should you be okay wearing it in front of The Most High. What He does and will do for you will be more than any guest ever could.
Know what you’re saying and really try to mean it with all your heart. You wouldn’t appreciate it if someone tried to have a whole conversation with you in a language you didn’t understand, nor would you yourself talk to your English neighbour Steve in full blown Punjabi. Yet we try to recite our Ṣalāh in a language we sometimes don’t understand at all, at a speed that rivals Schumacher, and somehow at the end when we say Salām, we feel like oh yeah that’s another thing ticked off… Now back to that biryani.
Shaytān will try every trick in the book to try to get you confused and absent-minded in your Ṣalāh.
Uthman b. Abi Al-Ās, Allah be pleased with him, came complaining to the Prophet ﷺ, and he said: “The Shaytān comes between me and my Ṣalāh and causes me problems with my recitation.” So, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “That is a shaytān called Khanzab, so if you feel his presence, seek refuge in Allah and blow a mist to your left three times.” He said: “I applied this advice and Allah has rid me of him.”
Please note that you should not be spitting (like the full-blown phlegm kind) otherwise the person who prays on your left in the masjid is in for a nasty surprise.
Ammār b. Yāsir reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,
So why is Shaytān so keen to get us to not pray properly?
Allah ﷻ says:
That means that a good Ṣalāh done properly, with intention, will stop you falling into sin. And if you don’t fall into sin as much then that opens more blessing for you and in turn a better connection to Allah.
A good Ṣalāh also helps you in your struggles. As humans we sometimes lose hope so quickly when we hear some news we don’t like. We feel like we are stuck, and experience anxiety about our futures. We feel so impatient to have a solution to make our problems go away. Well, that kind of behaviour can be redeemed by upgrading our Ṣalāh. In such situations it is sometimes one of the last things we feel like doing, and sometimes we may feel that Allah has left us. These thoughts are from Shaytān, who wants us to fall into despair and wants us to be deprived of a good connection to Allah.
Allah ﷻ said:
Praying a regular good Ṣalāh does not mean that you will have no problems in your life, but what it does mean is that you will have the strength and calmness to be able to deal with anything, and you won’t be falling to bits over every calamity.
A good Ṣalāh brings you closer to Allah and elevates your ranks.
Allah says in the qudsī ḥadīth:
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
The Ṣalāh when done properly can make you successful in this life and the next.
A good Ṣalāh also brings sustenance, in the sense that if a servant observes it and applies himself to it, Allah will provide him from where he least expects it.
Allah ﷻ says:
We are coming out of the blessed days of Ramadan now and I strongly urge all of you, as you plan on how you will be moving forward after that month to take a few moments to contemplate the state of your own Ṣalāh.
Try to understand the meaning of what you are saying to your Lord and keep trying to concentrate. This will not come easily and will require a constant battle on your part, but it will be truly worth it because a properly performed Ṣalāh will revitalise your heart and soul. Just as your body needs food, your soul also needs its own spiritual nourishment.
Slow down and take your time in each position of your Ṣalāh, research what you can recite and what the significance of the positions are. If you slowly try to build that relationship with Allah, that trust with Him, that shows Him that you are bothered, that you do want to have a better relationship with Him, and you will find over time that you will have a sense of calm once your Ṣalāh is complete, you may even feel sad it’s over. Because verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.
The truth is that Allah does not need our Ṣalāh, it’s we who need it. So, if we spend the next 5 years settings ourselves good habits in our Ṣalāh and seeking to improve it slowly but continuously what we could achieve would be amazing. (If you only improved your Ṣalāh by 1% every week then by the end of one year it would be 50% better than it is now, and that’s no small deal.) The blessings that we would be unlocking in our own lives with that kind of commitment in our Ṣalāh would be nothing short of massive.
The self-control, calmness and sustenance we gain would put us in such positions that we could make some huge positive differences in the world, and through that raise our ranks further, not by our own means, but because we will have Allah on our side.
And there is no one who you would rather have on your side, because Allah’s side always wins.
 Sunan Abī Dāwūd #796
 Al-‘Ankabut, 29:45
 Al-Ma’arij: 19-22
 Tā-Ha, 20:132