Embark on a rich interfaith discussion with Chris Garner, an old time friend, intellectual companion and interfaith lecturer. Chris and I share stories and challenge ideas about religion and attaining mature spirituality. What is the future of the faithful in America, especially Muslims? Why he thinks the core issues of humanity is greed and violence and what role does God consciousness play in our future society.
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First 15 min:
What is wisdom?
Pitfalls of youth on the path.
Being a true servant of God.
Grace and insignificance.
Making meaning of human questions.
Reaching our full potential.
Cycles of violence and greed in society.
Muslims and white nationalists.
What is the true religion?
The Golden rule.
Can we remove evil?
Perspectives on the story of Adam.
Terrorism in America.
By Monique Hassan
Prayers are a time of reflection and submission to our creator, to Allah (glorified and exalted). We let go of this world, even if only for a minute. In this submission we find calmness, we release our emotions and the power of prayer impacts us. Prayer in itself is a gift, a blessing, a powerful coping skill, it is therapeutic and most importantly; it is an act of worship.
“Indeed, I am Allah . There is no deity except Me, so worship Me and establish prayer for My remembrance” Quran 20:14
We know that we have 2 types of prayers. The 5 daily obligatory prayers when we are engaged in worship and submission as well as special duaa or supplications when we are asking for something. Salah and duaa help us to connect on a deeper level to our spiritual self and connect to our creator.
We must pray our 5 daily prayers, this is crucial not just for our religion, but also for our own mental state. Prayers are a time to slow down, rein our minds in and calm our emotions.
In trauma informed care they often encourage patients to meditate on a regular basis, prayer is a form of meditation is it not? If mental health professionals are encouraging this as part of a treatment plan then surely we must see the power of prayer for our own mental health and overall well-being.
Duaa can be done anywhere at any time. When we make duaa we are acknowledging that Allah (glorified and exalted) has the power to change the outcome of our situations. Some anxiety medications are often prescribed to be taken as needed or PRN, duaa is a prayer prescription which we can take as needed.
When we make duaa, 3 answers are provided for us.
- Yes, but not now
- No. I have something better for you
Really take that in for a moment, imagine if this was our mindset when we feel anxiety or we feel sadness. We make duaa, seek counsel with our Lord who is As-Salam (the peace, the source of peace and safety, the savior). In that moment of duaa we are submitting ourselves to trust in our faith. Whatever is the best outcome for us, will transpire. It is the will of Allah (glorified and exalted) and we accept that outcome. Alhamdulillah for everything.
In acknowledging the power of prayer and duaa, we find a greater sense of peace and awareness. Our optimism can increase and our perspectives on situations can become more positive.
“So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me. O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient” Quran 2:152-153
When we pray we all begin with Al-Fatiha and we all pray in Arabic, no matter what our native language is. We face the same direction and perform our 5 daily prayers with the same movements. During congregational prayer, we line up in our rows shoulder to shoulder; irrespective of race, culture or financial standing. We are equal and we are united as we all say ameen in unison.
Prayer is very multifaceted for us; it enjoins worship and spiritual awareness alongside unity. Those are not complete strangers on your left and right, those are brothers and sisters. One ummah. Although we may not always act like one ummah and some of us feel more accepted than others, ultimately we are one ummah. Prayer is a bridge to unite us and this goes for our families as well. We should be praying with our family, not always praying by ourselves. During moments of emotional upheaval or crisis, we come together with our families or with the congregation to pray as one.
Increasing Iman to Increase Emotional Resilience
Sometimes we hear believers asking how they can increase their iman, this is not a simple answer but one can always begin by holding fast to the five pillars. We know that salah is one of these five pillars and a very crucial one.
“Indeed the first deed by which a servant will be called to account on the Day of Resurrection is his Salat. If it is complete, he is successful and saved, but if it is defective, he has failed and lost” Sahih At-Tirmidhi 413
The power of prayer in Islam is unlike other prayers, we purify ourselves with wudu and our entire body is part of the worship process as we bow for rukoo and prostrate in sujood. It is a form of worship combining the body and mind. Our ummah is facing many hardships, but we can strengthen our resilience and ability to handle these if we strengthen our iman. By remaining steadfast in our prayers, we open ourselves more to Allah’s (glorified and exalted) infinite wisdom and infinite mercy.
As our faith grows we find ourselves more likely to say ALHAMDULILLAH instead of “why me” during hardships. Our hearts feel more grateful and full of love for our creator whether we are having a time of ease or a time of trial.
The power of prayer is more immense than we realize, it is the first act of worship we are held accountable for so this has to show the immense weight it bears. Prayer is an act of worship, but it runs deeper than just that. It is a blessing which reminds us 5x a day what our purpose is, to serve Allah (glorified and exalted). In that submission is tranquility and immense strength if we approach prayer with focus and from the heart. One of the most beautiful moments in our days is when tears hit our prayer mat; this is a sign from our hearts of sincerity. Just as our call to prayer reminds us, go to prayer and go to success.
As-Salaam Alaikum. I am a 34 years old Muslim woman who recently divorced. My friends have introduced me to a practicing Muslim guy. Since that moment, we really get along with each other. We have spoken about marriage and our expectations, and we both want similar things. After my very first meeting with him, I had a very strong feeling that this was the guy I was going to marry. I prayed istikharah and felt good. But then I felt the guy started drifting from me. Although I really liked him, I put my trust in Allah and prayed for Him to do what is best for me. He still kept contacting me regularly but was distant. I was really confused because anytime I prayed istikharah, I felt good about this engagement. After two and a half months, he finally told me what the problem was; he said he really liked me and really wanted to marry me, but because we had not had any physical contact (as we are both practicing Muslims), he was scared what if we got married and did not connect physically. He is praying istikharah as well, but this now has left me feeling really confused. Can you give me any help or guidance on this? Jazakallah.
RESPONSE by Karim Serageldin
As-Salamu ’Alaikum Sister,
I identify two major concerns in your question: 1) the istikhara 2) No physical contact with the man you might get married.
First of all, you must know that Istikhara is a du’aa’ in which a person prays to Allah to guide him to reach a right decision. The point of Istikhara is not to invoke miraculous signs or dreams about the correct choice to be made, but it is instead an official “letting go” of attachment to any particular result or choice in a matter. Often times, we pray Istikhara, but it is trite, insincere action because we have already decided what we want to do, even though Allah and His reasons may be indicating a different course of action.
Second, to make an Istikhara does not mean that a person abandons all other necessary inquiries. A person must carry out all efforts necessary to reach a correct decision, even after making Istikhara. If you only follow the Istikhara results and do not make other required efforts and investigations, your decision might be mistaken. With that said, the reason for your confusion is because you are focusing only on the results of Istikhara, and when you felt that he was distant (for an understandable reason), you started to doubt if you should marry him or not.
Use common sense, sister. Alhamdulillah, you got two positive answers from people you trust which is a great sign, and on top of that and equally important, you feel right about this brother. As you said, you both share expectations and have feelings for each other. Besides the answers from your prayers, you both seem to want the same thing, and I don’t see why you both aren’t taking the steps to get to know each other more and then take a decision.
Regarding his fear to marry you without any physical contact, the first step to connect physically is having connection emotionally. As I said, it is understandable that he is scared; getting married is a lifetime decision and requires many things to succeed, such as feelings, intimacy, comprehension, respect and so on.
I could not see your question if you both ever met in person. If not, it is not against Islam to do so. You should get to know each other more than 2 months before doing the Nikah. The main goal of the courting process is to see if there is compatibility and attraction and check the spiritual understanding. I would strongly recommend you get your families involved and create safe space for you both to meet.
We all know that the only relationship between family man and woman are allowed to have is marriage. If you are serious about taking this step, it is very important that you and he have more than the religious beliefs in common, which I believe you do, considering your good feelings about this bother. Make sure you are marrying him with more connection than his religion. Are you likely to sustain and succeed in a marriage where there is no compatibility beyond sharing a similar theology and ritual practices? We cannot live a true path of spirituality if our attempt to follow Islam lacks sincerity, wisdom, and deep reflection on our context and ourselves.
In conclusion, take your time to talk to him more, have few meetings with him in person in a safe space, get to know his family, and let him know yours. I strongly advise you to keep your du’aa’ and let God lead your decision. If everything seems easy in order for you and him to get married, it might be a strong sign that Allah is in agreement with this relationship. Remember that your Istikharah must be sincere, and it is not a superstition or a means to fortify what you already decided. Use your intellect and look for evidence that this brother is the right man for you, and advise him to do the same.
My last advice is to take some compatibility tests or even try pre-marital consulting if you feel that you need more certainty of your decision. It is very important to talk openly about expectations in the relationship. I don’t think you and him have to worry about physical contact after marriage now. If you have compatibility and chemistry to spend a life together, I am sure that the intimacy won’t be a problem.