Our body language changes from people to people and situation to situation. Our posture and manners differ greatly from when we are sitting with our friends and family to when we are sitting in front of an esteemed teacher or revered leader. Have you ever experienced the latter? Wasn’t your heart filled with awe and admiration? Weren’t you tongue-tied, and when you spoke your words were reflective of the love and reverence you had for that person? Someone observing you from far would have surely noticed your feelings for the one you were meeting.
Now picture yourself sitting in front of the Mightiest King. He created all that you can see, hear and touch; He feeds you, clothes you and loves you; He may even punish you and it is He who has made you what you are today. How is such a sitting going to be? Will your mind wander? Will your heart consider this meeting too casual to pay attention to? Will you utter any word without thinking? Definitely no!
Nonetheless, we do sit in front of the Almighty at least eleven times in our daily Salah. But our mind does wander, our heart is empty of any feelings and we rush through the words memorized as a child, most of the time not understanding what they mean. Why is that so? Perhaps because we cannot see Allah?
Prophet Muhammad has given us the best solution to gain khushu’ in Salah: to worship Allah as if we are seeing Him. When asked about the implication of Ihsan (excellence in worship) Prophet Muhammad said: “That you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, and in case you fail to see Him, then observe prayer (with this idea in your mind) that (at least) He is seeing you.” 1
The next time you pray try and imagine that you are seeing Allah, or that He is seeing you. You will observe the dramatic change it will bring in your manner of praying.
Like the other parts of prayer, Tashahhud also contains essential reminders and lessons for us as believers. Firstly, we need to know the meaning of what we are saying in the Tashahhud. Once we know that we’ll be able to pay attention and derive these lessons and reminders. (Click here to download the word-for-word meaning of Salah that you can easily memorize)
Only for You O Allah…
The dua that we recite during Tashahhud was taught by the Prophet himself. Ibn Abbas said that the Prophet used to teach us the Tashahhud as he would teach us a Surah of the Qur’an. 2
It was narrated from Abdullah bin Mas’ud that we used to say the greeting, name and greet each other in the prayer. Allah’s Messenger heard it and said:”Say, ‘at-tahiyyatu lil-lahi was-salawatu wat-taiyibatu . Assalamu ‘Alaika aiyuha-n-Nabiyu warahmatu- l-lahi wa-barakatuhu. _ Assalamu alaina wa-‘ala ‘ibadi-l-lahi as-salihin.. Ashhadu an la ilaha illa-l-lah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan `Abdu hu wa Rasuluh.
(All the compliments are for Allah and all the prayers and all the good things (are for Allah). Peace be on you, O Prophet, and Allah’s mercy and blessings (are on you). And peace be on us and on the good (pious) worshipers of Allah. I testify that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Apostle.) So, when you have said this, then you have surely sent the greetings to every good (pious) worshiper of Allah, whether he be in the Heaven or on the Earth. “3
Attahiyyat means veneration, praise and glorification. Salawaat includes all forms of worship; prayers, supplication, trust in Allah and hope in his mercy. And Tayyibaat implies all the good things; sayings, actions and qualities. Through this dua we affirm that our living and our dying, all our actions and sayings are for the sake of Allah. We are reminded to question ourselves; am I really doing everything in my life to seek the pleasure of Allah? Am I doing everything according to the way He has prescribed?
How to make Dua?
After glorifying Allah we send peace and blessings on the Prophet and then on ourselves and other righteous people. This is a subtle reminder about the order in which we should make dua. Prophet Muhammad has said, “If any of you prays, he should mention the exaltation of his Lord in the beginning and praise Him; he should then invoke blessings on the Prophet ; thereafter he should supplicate Allah for anything he wishes.” 4
Whenever we make Dua we should keep this order in mind so that our prayers are answered.
Love for the Saliheen
If you wish to be a part of the supplications of every Muslim across the globe, five times each day, there is only one simple thing you need to do: be among the righteous. All of us send peace on the righteous slaves of Allah in Tashahhud.
This is also a reminder for us to love the righteous, for we only make dua for those whom we love. The Tashahhud connects us to the righteous of the Ummah.
And who are the righteous? Is it those who observe the laws of Allah or those who trespass the limits set by Allah? Is it those who race towards good deeds or those inclined to follow their vain desires? Is it those who befriend the enemies of Allah or those who choose to defend the religion of Allah? Is it those who love the symbols of Islam, like the beard and Hijab, or those who make fun of these? The Tashahhud reminds us to ask ourselves where we stand in our love for the righteous and whether or not we are among them.
Reconnecting with the Prophet
Throughout the Salah we keep enriching our bond with Prophet Muhammad . After the above mentioned dua we again testify to the oneness of Allah and the prophethood of Muhammad . We strengthen our resolve to follow the One and Only Allah and the teachings of His Messenger. The Durood (salutations) furthers this bond with the Prophet and his Ummah.
We must ask ourselves; is it only lip service or do I really aim to follow the Rasool after I have finished my Salah?
Duas before Salaam
Usually we know and recite only one supplication before the Salaam, whereas many supplications have been mentioned in the authentic ahadith. We can learn more of these supplications to improve our Salah. We can either alternate between these duas to break the monotony or we can recite more than one dua. A list of these supplications can be found by clicking here.
This was the last post in the Salah series and I hope it was beneficial! May Allah benefit me and all of us from these reminders and help us in praying like He wants us to pray. Ameen!