As a new Muslim, I often found it mesmerizing to watch my Muslim friends performing their prayers daily. They seemed to have understood the flow of it that their performance of it was so well-synchronized, as if it had been choreographed by a professional choreographer.
As I declared my faith in Islam, I too understood that it would be my duty now to perform daily prayers to Allah, or as the Muslims say it – to perform solat.
Solat or صلاة is usually referred to as prayer; although in English du’a (دعاء ) can also mean prayer. Solat or solah carries the meanings of sending blessings, mercy, forgiveness, praise and veneration. It usually refers to supplication and worship.
The basic idea of solah according to the Quran is that it refers to praying or blessing; it can also be translated as an act of communicating with God directly — from one servant to the One and Only God – Allah.
As easy and calming as it may seem, to a new Muslim, to actually commit to performing one prayer is difficult enough – let alone to commit to performing 5 times of prayers in a day! I attended a few classes (religious classes for new Muslims), be it physical or online classes and it was such a relief to be able to gather tips from fellow reverts on how to actually kick-start into performing the 5 times-a-day-prayer.
Always start small
I know born-Muslims make it look super-easy to just pray 5 times a day. Plus they’re able to recite the verses in Arabic. But bear in mind they have been taught about solat and the Quranic verses since they were little. It took them years to be at their level. So it is only normal for us, the new Muslims to take our time to learn and be able to be at least at their level.
Start with 1 prayer only
Pick a prayer that is rather convenient for you to start and to maintain. My suggestion would be Isha’. In most countries, Isha (العشاء) or night prayer would start after the red shade is gone from the western sky; and preferably performed before midnight (halfway between sunset and sunrise).
Thus, this would be quite an ideal prayer-starter for the new Muslims. You can perform it at home, alone in your room especially when you’re still at the level of keeping your new faith secret from your mom and family members. You also wouldn’t have to explain to your boss or colleagues or lecturers or classmates. Once you’re ready, you can start performing prayer 2 times a day.
For now, maintain praying one time a day for 3-6 months. NEVER MISS IT during this period (unless of course if you’re a woman having your menses). Once you’ve completed the duration of not missing the Isha prayer for the whole 6 months, go for Maghrib (sunset) prayers. Maintain the discipline of not missing to perform 2-times-a- day prayer for another 6 months, and keep upgrading yourself at your own pace.
Recitation in Arabic is hard
That’s okay. Learning a foreign language IS hard. But remember, where there’s a will, there’s a way. You don’t necessarily have to master Arabic language in order to recite some verses during solat. The fact is, most Muslims in the world are not Arabs, they learn the language and know how to read, write, recite – but not necessarily mastering it. Arabic is a beautiful language. It is also a complex language. Do not have too much expectations on yourself that you end up frustrated and totally abandoning the whole act of prayer just because you can’t master the Arabic language.
Learn the basic pronunciation of some Arabic words that are compulsory for prayer. In the meantime, memorize the meaning of those words in your own language and perform the solat in your own language – as long as you are reciting the compulsory recitations for prayers.
You can also enroll yourself in online tajweed (rules in pronouncing and reading/reciting the Quran) classes. I shall be sharing with you a list of the online classes in the coming articles.
Write the wording on a big card
Yes! Just like the signage people would be holding when they’re picking someone up from the airport, write out the words for prayer on a big card, place them in front of you and read them while praying!
Follow someone else
If you happened to live near a mosque or Muslim community, do not feel embarrassed to ask them that you need to follow their lead in prayer. One thing you should know about praying in jamaah (congregation) is that the reward is 27 times more than praying alone (find hadith).
No muslim community around you? No problem!
Okay, so you’re pretty much the only Muslim in your area and it’s rather impossible to commute daily to other areas to learn how to perform solat. It’s okay. If you can read this, it means you have good internet access. Search for YouTube videos on how to perform solat. I wouldn’t want you to suffer the experience of having to learn from the misguided people from YouTube, so here’s a few channels you could follow. If you’re only able to get internet at certain times, download these videos offline so that you’d be able to watch them when you do not have internet. I’ll be sharing with you a list of the suggested channels in the coming article.
There’s a few tips for you to start performing solat. Solat is a very beautiful way of expressing your love and faith to our One and Only Creator. Remember, during the final sujood (prostration), ask for as many things as possible. You have doubts? Express it during the final sujood of every prayer. You have requests? Yep, ask from Allah during that sujood too. Anything. Anything. Allah loves to hear from you.
(O Muhammad), when My servants ask you about Me, tell them I am near; I hear and answer the call of the caller whenever he calls Me. Let them listen to My call and believe in Me; perhaps they will be guided aright. (Al-Baqarah 2:186)
All the best with your solat!
Disclaimer: the author is not a revert. This article is based on experience of other reverts and has been recreated with the intention to assist fellow new Muslims in practising Islam. Wallahu ‘alam (Allah knows best)
Reference: What Is the Meaning of “Prayer” (Salat) in Arabic and in Islam? - Seekersguidance.org