My first solat (prayer)

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 solatSolat 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)
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Reference:   What Is the Meaning of “Prayer” (Salat) in Arabic and in Islam? - Seekersguidance.org

Have you read the Quran today?

“This is the beauty of the Qur’an: it asks you to reflect and reason, and not to worship the sun or moon but the One who has created everything. The Qur’an asks man to reflect upon the sun and moon and God’s creation in general.” Yusuf Islam, (born Steven Demetre Georgiou) aka Cat Stevens – a British singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.

What is your devotion?

What is your ultimate devotion?

“You’re either devoted to your job, or to your desires. So the best way to spend your life is to try to be devoted to prayer, to Allah.” – Mos Def, East Coast rapper

Hajj and Qurban: A Lesson of Self-Sacrifices in Eid al-Adha

Eid al-Adha Mubarak to all Muslims! Alhamdulilah, Muslims from every corner of the globe are celebrating this meaningful festival every year. Yes, we knew that most of you know what Eid al-Adha is all about. But a little revision wouldn’t hurt, right? Let’s ponder on the celebration of this beautiful day.

Eid-al-Adha is a day of remembrance. Even in the most joyful times, Muslims make a fresh start of the day with a session of congregational prayers to Allah in an open space. Muslims use the occasion to pray to Allah and to glorify His Name to demonstrate the remembrance of His Grace and Favours. Especially in a Muslim majority country, you’ll see a lot of Muslims taking part in the prayer (maybe including those you’ve never seen in a mosque before. Oops!)

In learning the lesson of Eid al-Adha, we can’t run away from talking about hajj and qurban (sacrifices), and their relations to the spirit of self-sacrifices (chill, bro. It’s not that kind of self-sacrifice). 

Hajj is a massive undertaking in a person’s life. It costs a lot of money and for most Muslims it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hajj however is not a vacation for recreational pleasures. It is a sacrifice. Indeed, the biggest part of the lesson that’s meant to be learned is sacrificing your comfort, your worldly concerns, your preoccupation with material things. One sacrifices all of this to focus purely on God and one’s connection to one’s Creator.

Hajj teaches us humility, humbleness, self control, sacrifice, patience, how to do more with less, but most importantly, how to reconnect with God in pure devotion and worship. This ibadah tests Muslims in different ways of hardships. For some the physical aspects are a big test. For some others it is about discomfort that comes with large crowds. Yet for others the test is more in adapting and accepting to be treated the same as everyone else. For instance, a rich person will still be praying and living in much the same conditions as a poor pilgrim. Their high social status  and/or wealth will not give them any advantage over anyone else.

In addition, the qurban (sacrifices) teaches us to share the wealth we have with others. The food that we eat on this day should remind us of the many who are dying of hunger in Yemen, Gaza, Rohingya, Darfur, Chechnya, Kashmir, and all over the world. For some, it is not easy to give away and share their fortune with strangers. The qurban teaches us that in the end, it is not what we have that matters; it is what we give.

Eid al-Adha Mubarak!

The Sacred Journey of Hajj: Does it end there?

During Hajj, Muslims try their best to seek forgiveness from Allah. Feeling  so close to Allah, the Muslims will be crying and begging for His acceptance. They will never cease to chant the talbiyah (Here I am, O Allaah, here I am. Here I am, You have no partner, here I am. Verily all praises and blessings are Yours, and all sovereignty, You have no partner). 

Make Du’a. Allah understands our prayers, even when we can’t find the words to say them.

Never underestimate the power of a du’a. It is indeed the strongest weapon of the believers. Continue calling.out to Him.  Repeat your du’a again and again. 

Allah is All-Knowing, He is aware of everything and He wants us to know that. when Prophet Musa and Prophet Harun were told to speak to Pharoah, they were understandably afraid. They said to Allah:

Our Lord, indeed we are afraid that he will hasten [punishment] against us or that he will transgress.”

And look how Allah responded  to reassure them:

Fear not. Indeed, I am with you both; I hear and I see

(Qur’an, 20:45-46).

So when you are feeling lonely or in difficulty, make prayers to the One who hears everything and sees everything. He is so close to you that He listens to your words when they are spoken or when you just keep them in your heart. Rest assured that the difficulty  you are going through has not gone unnoticed.

He understands our prayers, even when we can’t find the right words to express them. So make your Du’a.