On Prayer (Salah)

by Imraan

Here’s a truly beautiful exposition of what it means to pray, both in a symbolic sense, as well as looking more deeply into the point of the spiritual practice in itself. Whether you’re a Muslim or not, whether you’re more ‘spiritual’ than religious, there is something profound to be said about a ritual that you dedicate a portion of your life to in perfecting. So watch this, please.

The connection with God is a longstanding commitment – it doesn’t, as far as I’m concerned, generally happen overnight  – in the sense that if we wish to reap the benefit of a relationship with the the Essence, there is work to be done on our part.

I often find that life can be overwhelming – this isn’t a phenomenon located in me only. Think about it – living as we do, we are constantly seeking ‘something’, something that is in fact external to us. Whether it is that we seek to clear up our time, and hastily complete our chores…or seek wealth, and rush to work in pursuit of the sustenance that we feel we ‘ought’ to have…or in pursuit of another – whatever it is we seek…have you noticed yet how empty your life feels sometimes? When you are left alone in that silence – when you suddenly, quite rarely perhaps, find yourself awake in the dead of night unable to sleep yet are unable to do much else? Or when you find yourself all alone at home with your chores completed for the day, and there’s nothing good on TV? What is it about our condition that necessitates us being so ‘busy’ all the time?

Shaikh Hamza Yusuf here speaks about the cornerstone, the ‘marrow’, the essence of Islam – the Prayer . But he expresses not in ritualistic terms:  it as a profoundly spiritual practice if its disciplines are observed. When the emptiness of life is swept aside in the face of the fullness of the Divine presence. Perhaps the most beautiful point of this talk is when (around minute 18) Shaikh Hamza speaks about prayer as the ‘falah’ – the ‘harvest’. This is a term that is called during the ritual call to prayer  – it is often translated as ‘success’ – but it actually means the ‘harvest’ – if you miss this blessed event is to miss the fulfilment of your life. I think that that is beyond profound, and worth thinking about regardless of what faith you belong to.

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