Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Each prayer as though it were your last

I didn't realize it until recently, but women have a very unique capability for understanding a certain aspect of the prayer. I've heard it said a number of times to pray each prayer as though it were your very last prayer--none of us know when our breaths will run out, what death we will die or when. We sleep at night without the assurance we will wake for fajr; busy ourselves in the day without the assurance we will make dhuhr or asr, or return home for the evening and night salawaat. So we shouldn't take that time for granted, rushing through it or travel mentally to another place while our body distractedly goes through the motions. What if it was your last?

Lately, and this has been for a couple of months now, my awareness of imminent death seems to have increased. I notice it most right before my period, because I have a "feeling" if you will that my last prayers are coming. Perhaps I wake up for fajr and pray with a fair amount of confidence that it will be my last prayer--for a week.

Ah, it's only for a week you say, or something less than that even. But if you can consider that you lack assurance for 8 short hours (the time here between isha and fajr iqamahs) or even less between asr and maghrib for example, then how can you imagine several days without prayer? Three, four, five, six, maybe seven days without a salaat--how then do your chances of losing the opportunity to pray anymore increase?

For me , it's a terrifying thought. So terrifying that I have had some of the most moving prayers when I knew my period would prevent me from praying at the next prayer time. I wish I could recall that feeling every time I pray--I admit I don't, but I am coming closer. Then I wonder if other people experience it at all?

The first time it occurred to me, that it would be my last salaat, I concentrated in a way I don't think I had anytime prior. And I've been able to do that since then, knowing when it would be my last salaat... and it is a sad thing to give up. Do you think of this? I don't think men can ever know beforehand that they are missing their prayers and for how long--maybe for an illness or something, but it's sudden. So I don't think you understand what it's like to look ahead of you and imagine days without prayer. They look dark--perhaps this could explain why women get so moody right beforehand, the immediate future begins to look very bleak.

When I stand up for that last salaat I am begging in my heart for the opportunity to pray again, just to pray again before it is my time to go. The thought of dying without having prayed for several days... can you imagine? Oh sure, it's excused, you'll say. But imagine how you would feel (if you're not a woman) at having to miss a week of prayers each month?

Then again, perhaps it's the fact that we lose these prayers, that we can understand what a precious gift they are, how rewarding they are--in this life, and in the Hereafter inshaAllah. And if you think that you would not have the opportunity to stand up before Allah swt again, would you listen to the conversation in the background? Rush through al-Fatihah without contemplating the depth of that prayer? Make sujood without imagining your Lord watching you? Don't. Because you don't know when that precious opportunity will be taken away, when you can merely lie in your grave wishing you had taken advantage of this treasure, and not dismissed it as an empty obligation.

We don't know when our breaths run out, but would you like to meet Allah swt knowing the last time you gave for Him was hurried, distracted, and full of worries about dunya? I wouldn't...


Ibn Abd-el-Shafy said...

Subhaan Allaah. That is a way of looking at things that I could never have imagined. A week without salaat? Impossible. I imagine some men, if that happened to them, would be a nervous wreck at the end of the week.

The sweetness of the first prayer after that must be intense then... That is a nice silver lining.

Baarak Allaahu feeki.

Holly said...

assalaamu alaikom,

your right I NEVER thought of it that way...Ever thanks

Amy said...

The sweetness of the first prayer... in some ways, it's like the first prayer. Your whole body aches to prostrate to its Lord, and the first time you do it, or the first time after a while, you can feel how much you long to submit.

And it is a relief.

saudi stepford wife said...

thought-provoking post. great job. And imagine, there are those that call us 'deficient' in our religion because of our imposed prayer pauses.

I'm liking your blog more and more, I wish I had time to stop by more often. Keep up the good work.

saudi stepford wife said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

assalamu alaikum
i like the last para of ur post,there is another way of looking at the Prayer and thinking more about your Lord when you stand in front of Him,i read this somewhere,Allah speaks about how man will realise the Truth on the Day of Judgement"The Day man will remember,nay,but what use would be it to him"(Quran),it is said that a man who prostrated from his birth till his death would wish to be sent back again so that he could do one more prostration,only then would man realise his Lord's Greatness,in this world,man is ever ignorant,but that Day he would wish he was not.
May Allah reward you.