There was a period during my teenage years when I questioned the purpose of solat. I didn’t really understand why I had to take a moment to stop watching my favourite TV show and bow in prostration (except to avoid my parents’ fury). My understanding of the virtues of solat came after I went through periods of hardship and discovered the hard way that I had absolutely nothing or no one to rely on in moments of difficulty except for God. I began to pay closer attention to my daily prayers, and as I did so, I began to understand why God instructed us to pray at least five times a day.
1. Priorities, priorities
A human being can only live so many years. When I think about it, the
pine tree behind my house probably has a longer life span than me. In
order to live our limited life in an effective way, we need good
Solat is a daily exercise to discipline our mind to focus on what
should be our priorities: being a good human being, doing our best in
our daily life, and preparing for the afterlife.
I find that by taking a pause in the midst of my activities to
perform solat, I am able to step away from the “tornadoes” of my life
and see the bigger picture. I am able to put things in perspective and
return to my tasks with a clearer mind and a can-do attitude because I
know, God will never test me beyond my ability (2:286).
2. Action and submission are the antidotes to despair
There are times when I become so stressed that my brain seems to be
blocked by pent-up emotions. But as I take my wudhu and pray, the mere
acts of splashing water on my body, standing up, bowing and prostrating
gradually release that pent-up stress.
As I put my head to the ground – the most submissive position that a
human being can make – my head tends to feel lighter and my heart,
calmer. I’ve submitted myself and my problems to The Almighty. Somehow I
know, my troubles will unravel by themselves.
Motivational gurus tell us that action is the antidote to despair.
But random actions may lead us nowhere. Solat, with its rigorous
schedule and physical movements, can serve as a means to shake off our
despair or other negative internal states.
At the end of it, we have the opportunity to reaffirm our submission
to God and ask His help to solve our problems. In my opinion, its
elements of action and submission make solat a complete package of
antidote to stress and despair.
3. Help is close… very close
One day, it dawned on me that no one could hear the supplications
that I recited during my solat except The All-Hearing Himself. It
reminded me that Allah is closer than my jugular vein (50:16) and I can call on Him at any given second.
As I go through the minutes and hours of my days, however, this
comforting thought tends to slip away again and again. Taking the time
to do solat at different times of each day gives me the opportunity to
be reminded that God, my only and ultimate lifeline, is very close.
As we embark on another new year in the Islamic calendar, my hope for
myself is that I can be a better Muslim with the time that I have on
this planet. One of the ways that I hope to achieve this is by
continuously trying to improve my solat and my understanding of this
Undeniably, it is not always easy. Therein lays the test for true Muslims, as expressed in the Qur’an:
(Al Baqarah 2:45)