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 prioritising skills.
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 ritual.
Undeniably, it is not always easy. Therein lays the test for true Muslims, as expressed in the Qur’an:
(Al Baqarah 2:45)
Afia R Fitriati.