Preparation for Salat
Preparations for Salat
There are three aspects to the Salat: thought, word and action. Prior to commencing the Salat, one must clean oneself of any physical dirt on the body or clothing, or on the place where one intends to pray. At this same time, one must drive out all negative or evil thoughts, and cleanse the mind to concentrate fully upon the glory of Allah the Almighty.
This preparation is called Wuzu' in Arabic terminology, and consists of washing the hands, rinsing the mouth out (and brushing teeth if necessary), snuffing water up the nose, wiping the face from brow to chin and from ear to ear, washing the forearms from the wrists up to the elbows, wiping over the head and back of neck, and finally, washing the feet up to the ankle bone. Each of these washings is repeated three times, and must be done in the sequence given.
Intention for Salat
When these actions have been carefully completed, one goes to the place of prayer, and assuming a humble attitude, with hands at sides, and feet evenly spaced below the shoulders, head down, one then utters the intention to offer the Salat, as follows:
"I intend to offer [the obligatory
number of] rakats of Salat, and face the Qibla, the Exalted Ka'aba, for the sake of
Allah and Allah alone. I take refuge with Allah from the rejected and evil satan, and I
This invocation may be made in Arabic, but any language will suffice as well. However, the remainder of the Salat must be recited entirely in Arabic. The one offering prayer must be facing in an Easterly direction (in the United States), toward the city of Mecca, Saudia Arabia.
The Salat is done by assuming eight separate positions of the body (Arkan), and reciting various Qur'anic verses with each posture. These postures are illustrated in turn, and a brief description is given of the benefits ascribed to each. Please chick on the buttons for each prayer posture to see the coirrect posture, read the recitation for each one, and also to hear a correct recitation of the Arabic.
Concentration in Salat
Real prayer is that during which the devotee himself is present in Aalam-e-Nasoot (i.e. in this world) but his soul sours high in Aalam-e-Arwah (the spiritual world). This is the most difficult kind of Salat which only prophets, walis and great saints can perform. Ordinary people need a lot of concentration practice to do it, although many people experience this state for a few moments, from time to time during Salat.
The problems people experience in the Salat are mainly concerned with distractions. These are both physical and mental. The activities going around one often distract one from deep concentration in prayer: room noises, conversations, muffled sounds from the street. The medicine to correct this disease of Salat, is to cut off from the source of these distractions. The Sufis find they can perform their Divine services much better in dark, small and secluded rooms. If this is not possible, one must set apart a special place for worship and remembrance of Allah. Close the eyes, if necessary, because the eye is the first source of distraction.
The second cause of distraction is the mind itself, because as each thought arises, it leads to another thought. In the early days of Islam, there was once a man came to Abu Bakr , who was a very pious Muslim and said, "I don't believe you can make two Rakats of Salat without thinking of something other than Allah." Abu Bekr asserted that he believed he could do it. The man, who was a camel driver, offered Abu Bekr that if he could perform two Rakats without a single distracting thought, the camel driver would make him a gift of a camel, and gestured over to two camels nearby, one black and one brown.
Abu Bekr commenced his Salat, and when he finished, the camel driver looked at him anxiously. Abu Bekr , being a scrupulously honest man incapable of deception, confessed, "You were right, I couldn't make it through the Salat. I was distracted." The camel driver was relieved that he had not lost a precious camel over this rash matter. Then, the camel driver curiously asked, "But what was it that distracted you? What did you think about?" Abu Bekr answered, "I was trying to decide whether I would take the black camel or the brown one."
It is very difficult to cut the root of internal mental distractions. The best method is to concentrate as fully as possible on the meanings of what is being recited. If the mind does begin to wander, force it back to the Qur'anic meanings.
The Prophet recommended that when his followers made Salat, in the room there should be no variegated colors, no pictures or extensive designs on the prayer carpet, and to avoid wearing any kind of rings or other jewelry.
There is a narration in the Hadiths that when one stands in prayer, Allah lifts up the screen between Him, and His servant faces him. The angels climb upon his two shoulders and pray in unison along with him and say Ameen at the end of the prayer. Then they spread virtues out from the top of the worshipper's head to the end of the horizon. Then, an angel proclaims: "If this servant had known to whom he had been invoking, he would not have looked around, distracted. The doors of Heaven are thrown open for a praying person, and Allah takes pride before His angels for him and the Face of Allah comes before his face." This means, that the Kashf, or doors to the Unseen, are opened.
Units of Salat
The Salat is done in either two, or three, or four Rakats, according to the time of day:
Fajr: 2 Rakats