A young friend of mine confessed, “I love God! If I’m in the middle of a prayer and my mind suddenly wanders, I miss Him!”
But for many of us Muslims, our five daily prayers are tragically devoid of emotion. We fail to internalize the fact that prayer is the biggest event of our lives, a two way conversation with the Creator of this magnificent Universe, the One who beats our hearts, who has given us every comfort of our lives, the Most Loving. The Most Appreciative.
مَّا يَفْعَلُ اللّهُ بِعَذَابِكُمْ إِن شَكَرْتُمْ وَآمَنتُمْ وَكَانَ اللّهُ شَاكِرًا عَلِيمًا
What would God accomplish by your punishment, if you have given thanks, and have believed? God is Shaakir, All-knowing. [Quran: 4: 147]
The word “Shaakir” in Arabic comes from Shukr, which means thanks. Shaakir is the one who gives thanks.
Allah the Exalted doesn’t need to thank us. Allah doesn’t need our worship. Allah owns the universe. He is not human. He has no “needs” that we could fulfill, after which He could then “thank” us for doing Him any favors.
So Shaakir, when used to describe Allah, doesn’t mean thankful. It means appreciative. Allah is All-Appreciative.
How often have we tried to please the people in our lives, and how often have we come away disappointed! Humans will be humans, no matter how positive, but Allah never fails to notice not only our actions and struggles, but our thoughts and our most secret feelings, even before we realize them ourselves.
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ وَنَعْلَمُ مَا تُوَسْوِسُ بِهِ نَفْسُهُ ۖ وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيدِ
Now, surely, it is We who have created man, and We know what his innermost self whispers within him: for We are closer to him than his jugular vein. [Quran: 50:16]
When you stand to face your Lord in prayer, and you begin the recitation of Surah al-Fatiha, the Opener, know that your Allah is listening closely, responding to every single line. Live!
When you recite the first verse – “All praise is due to Allah alone, the Lord of all the worlds”, Allah notices.
“My servant has praised me,” He says.
And when he (the worshipper) says: the All-merciful, the All-compassionate
Allah the Most High says: My servant has lauded Me.
And when he (the worshipper) says: King of the Day of Judgment,
He remarks: My servant has glorified Me, and sometimes He says: My servant entrusted (his affairs) to Me.
And when he (the worshipper) says: You alone do we worship, and to You alone do we turn for help,
He (Allah) says: This is between Me and My servant, and for My servant is whatever he asks for.
Then, when he (the worshipper) says: Guide us to the straight path. The path of those You have blessed, not of those who have incurred Your displeasure, nor of those who are misguided,
He (Allah) says: This is for My servant, and for My servant is whatever he asks for.
Sahih Muslim: 395
In his Mi’raaj, the miraculous night journey to the Heavens, the last Messenger ﷺ was the only human ever to be taken up so close to the presence of Allah. No one, no human, no messenger, not even any angel, had been that close to Allah in this world. And as far as we know, until the world ends, no one else ever will be.
But in that night ascension, Allah gave the gift of the five prayers to the Prophet ﷺ, for his entire Ummah.
It is said that Salaah is the Mi’raaj of the believer. An ascension for our souls, a one-on-one dialog with the Divine. A conversation never to be missed! Only when our hearts are invested in this conversation will we be able to see the positive effects that Salaah can bring into our lives.
As Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام) prayed:
رَبِّ اجْعَلْنِي مُقِيمَ الصَّلَاةِ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِي ۚ رَبَّنَا وَتَقَبَّلْ دُعَاءِ
O my Lord, cause me to remain constant in prayer, and of my offspring! And, O our Lord, accept this my prayer. [Quran: 14: 40]