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The Healing Power of Prayer

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The Healing Power of Prayer

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The Healing Power of Prayer - Productive Muslim

In times of hardship, pain and loss, many of us attempt to find solutions in the very dunya that caused that calamity to befall us in the first place. We search for temporary comforts in people and worldly objects, all of which have the potential to break us again. Some of us find relief in medication and counselling, some surround themselves with sympathetic ears and some simply lose hope and derail from the path of Islam. However, Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) has provided us with the best tool of all: Prayer.

 

And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah] [Qur'an: Chapter 2, Verse 45].

Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) is the Almighty, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. So who better to call upon than Him? Who better to seek ease from pain and hardship than Him?

Does Prayer Heal?

It sure does! As many verses of the Qur’an reiterate, Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) tells us to enjoin in prayer and it is not without wisdom that Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) says:

“… Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured, [Qur'an: Chapter 13, Verse 28].

Dr Andrew Newsberg of the University of Pennsylvania attempts to enlighten us with this hidden wisdom. He studied brain wave activity during prayer and found a direct impact on several brain locations. The benefits of prayer are incredible! Regular daily prayers halt the frontal lobe from shrinking with age, which is the part of the brain that regulates our speaking, reading and memory; therefore, this helps prevent memory loss in old age.

High activity was found in the anterior cingulate, the location that regulates our connectivity to others. A high activity in this part of the brain means a healthier and happier person. Our self-awareness is found in the parietal lobe, the overuse of which causes feelings of isolation and loneliness, and the limbic system is where negative emotions are stimulated. Prayer deactivates both of these areas of the brain, removing the negative emotions and allowing us to benefit from the frontal lobe and anterior cingulate. The result is a healthier, happier and longer life, In sha Allah. [1]

We need not look further to see that prayer is beneficial for us, making us healthier and happier. It is a healer in and of itself, activating regions of the brain that make us happier and ridding negativity. It is not just a form of worshipping Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He), but also a form of meditation: A self-help tool to bring us to a state of tranquility. The more regular the prayer and the deeper our connection with Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He), the more beneficial it is for us.

A Perfect Example In Our Prophet ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) relied on prayer as a source of comfort. As we all know, the Prophet ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was tested with many trials and tribulations in his time, and it is with prayer that he found mental calmness.

The prayer of the Prophet ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was always with great humbleness, full concentration and sincere submission to the Almighty sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He). This is what is known as the state of khushu’, a state of full awareness of the Almighty sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) as we direct our minds and heart to our Lord alone.

“There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern…” [Qur'an: Chapter 33, Verse 21].

“Certainly will the believers have succeeded: They who are during their prayer humbly submissive…” (Qur’an: Chapter 23, Verses 1-2).

This is the state that we should aim to achieve in our prayers. It is in this state that we will find the biggest stimulations in the brain so we may reap the true benefits of prayer, In sha Allah.

The Prophet ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not only pray at times of need, but would pray in all situations and occasions. He ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would pray to thank Allah, seek His forgiveness, and ask for His protection and guidance. He ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would offer prayer for rain, decision-making, before undertaking a journey and even during battles; the list is endless. And, there was not a prayer that he ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would offer except that, through the mercy of Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He), it brought about some sort of blessing, guidance or ease!

How Can We Attain Maximum Benefit From Prayer?

As Dr Newberg revealed, prayer performed regularly and with a deep spiritual connection, makes a happier and healthier person. Our Prophet ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is a perfect example of how and when prayer should be offered. We take from his example four practical steps by which we can gain maximum benefit from prayer: Engage, Connect, Submit and Make Dua.

1. Engage

Incorporate prayer into your daily life. We should always focus on improving our relationship with Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) and the best way to do this is to engage in regular prayer. So make prayer your habit. Converse with Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) through your duas and try to connect with Him sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) every day. Remember Him sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) and He sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) will remember you.

First and foremost, make sure you pray on time — no matter how busy you are — and do not miss any fardh prayers, especially Fajr.  A busy life may make prayer harder, but prayer makes a busy life easier! The five fardh prayers should be our first step if we have not yet already established them daily.

Abu Huraira (ranhu) narrated that Allah’s Messenger ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

The first thing about which the people will be called to account out of their actions on the Day of Judgment is prayer. Our Lord, the Exalted, will say to the angels – though He knows better: Look into the prayer of My servant and see whether he has offered it perfectly or imperfectly. If it is perfect, that will be recorded perfect. If it is defective, He will say: See there are some optional prayers offered by My servant. If there are optional prayer to his credit, He will say: Compensate the obligatory prayer by the optional prayer for My servant. Then all the actions will be considered similarly. [Sunan Abi Dawud]

Once we have established the fardh prayers, we can move on to incorporating more optional prayers into our daily lives. The more we pray, the better our connection with Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) and the more we can seek the blessings and benefits of prayer. Take time to look into the many prayers that the Prophet ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught us to perform and their benefits, and try to incorporate as many as you can in your daily lives. Whether it is in times of need to seek council, or in times of ease to thank Him sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He), you can never call upon Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) too many times.

2. Connect

Make prayer deeper and more meaningful. We must try to concentrate and allow ourselves to enjoy a personal and proximate relationship with our Lord sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He). The best way to do that is to pray as the Prophet Muhammad ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did — with khushu. Here are some simple tips we can incorporate in our prayers to build a stronger connection and attain maximum benefit, In sha Allah:

  • When you stand to pray, remember who you are standing before and humble yourself in His sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) presence. Pray as if it is your last prayer. Imagine Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) standing before you and the angel of death behind you.
  • Know that you are in control of your mind and body. Remain still, focus on the place of sujood and avoid thinking of worldly matters; the time of prayer should be dedicated solely to focusing on your relationship with Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He). So let go of your worries and let yourself indulge in His sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) love and greatness.
  • Reflect and ponder on every ayah that you recite. This will help you concentrate on finding a personal meaning and help prevent your mind from drifting. The more you reflect, the more sincere your prayer will become.
  • Try to set aside time specifically for your prayers. Go to a quiet area, with least distractions possible and truly focus on the prayer alone. If you are praying in congregation, then let the spiritual atmosphere inspire you, not distract you.
  • Do not rush off from the prayer mat when you have finished your prayer. Take some time to reflect, recite the post-prayer duas, embrace the moment of closeness to Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) and know that He sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) is present and listening.

3. Submit

Remember that sujood is the position in which you are the closest to Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He). Take your time and let yourself embrace that closeness, and be warmed and comforted by it. It is best to make dua while in this position, as per the Prophet’s ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) recommendation:

A slave becomes nearest to his Rabb when he is in prostration. So increase supplications while prostrating.” [Sahih Muslim]

Ibnul Qayyim described sujood as the secret of prayer, the greatest pillar and the seal of the rukoo’. In this position, we can truly submit ourselves to the Almighty sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He).

In fact, further to Dr Newberg’s research, Dr. Ahmad Sakr found that the position of sujood is one method scientifically proven to bring peace, tranquility and happiness to the one in prostration [2]. He explains that we are all exposed to electrostatic charges from the atmosphere and ridding ourselves of these extra charges is beneficial to one’s health. The best way to rid these extra electrostatic charges according to Dr Ahmad Sakr, is to prostrate with one’s forehead to the ground. This brings about a calming feeling and dissipates electromagnetic energy.

Once again, science enlightens us on the wisdoms behind sujood. Not only do we find ourselves the closest to Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) in this position, but it also physically brings us peace and tranquility. So whenever you are in need of mental calmness, follow the footsteps of the Prophet ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and prostrate to the Almighty sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He). It is also the best time for us to make dua, as here, we are the closest to Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He).

4. Make Dua

I need not say more. Make dua, and trust in Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He), for He knows what is best for you. Remember that Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) alone is sufficient for us and through worshipping the Almighty with sincere submission, our hearts will find peace In sha Allah. Trust in Him sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) and have faith that He sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) will always answer your prayers.

“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me — indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided” [Qur'an: Chapter 2, Verse 186].

“For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.” [Qur'an: Chapter 94, Verse 5].

Whether you take it from science or take it from our beautiful religion, call upon Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) with full sincerity and submission, and you will find bliss, In sha Allah.

Has this article been beneficial to you? I would love to hear about your experiences; how has prayer helped you through your hardships? What helps you gain khushu’ in your prayers? Please share your thoughts below!

[1] Newberg, Andrew B.; Waldman, Mark Robert (2009). How God Changes Your Brain.

[2] Sakr, Ahmad H. (1997). Sujood (Prostration).


About the Author:

Saadia recently graduated with a BSc in Psychology and has a healthy background working in this field. As a student of Islam, she aims to utilise her degree to its true depth by focusing on interlinking Islam with psychology. Her passion in writing is inspired by the beautiful harmonisation between the two.

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ACJU - MCSL Joint Press Statement on the UK Protest on Muslim Issues

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ACJU - MCSL Joint Statement on UK Protest

 

04th  May 2014

FOR THE ATTENTION  OF SRI LANKAN MUSLIMS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

Dear Brother/Sisters

Assalamu Alaikum Warahmathullah

All Ceylon  Jamiyathul    Ulama  (ACJU)  and The Muslim  Council  of Sri Lanka  (MCSL)  have information  that a demonstration  opposite the  Sri  Lankan High Commission  in London, United Kingdom is to be held on 5th of May 2014 by certain group of Sri Lankan Muslims' in London.

We, ACJU and the MCSL wish to categorically  inform the Sri Lankan Muslims in London that we have neither initiated nor extended our support in any way to the holding of the demonstration  at this juncture.

We consider  holding  of the demonstration   is inappropriate    at this time and call upon the organizers to meet the High Commissioner  and convey their concerns of the community.

 

Jazakallahu  Khairan.

 

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Teacher Vacancies at Zahira College, Colombo

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Assalamu Alaykum,

Zahira College one of the premier educational institutes in the country looks for passionate, dynamic, inspirational, result-oriented and qualified staff for following vacancies.

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· Must be Graduates with Post Graduate Diploma in Education / Trained Teachers with other relevant Professional Qualifications linked to education.

· More than two (02) years teacher training in Training Colleges or in a recognized institution with more than three (03) years teaching experience.

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· Innovative thinking, Effective writing and Oral Presentation skills will be given preference.

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Web : www.zahiracollege.lk

 

The Ocean of Dunya

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The Ocean of Dunya

Yesterday, I went to the beach. As I sat watching the massive Californian waves, I realized something strange. The ocean is so breathtakingly beautiful. But just as it is beautiful, it is also deadly. The same spellbinding waves, which we appreciate from the shore, can kill us if we enter them. Water, the same substance necessary to sustain life, can end life, in drowning. And the same ocean that holds ships afloat can shatter those ships to pieces.
This worldly life, the dunya, is just like the ocean. And our hearts are the ships. We can use the ocean for our needs and as a means to get to our final destination. But the ocean is only that: a means. It is a means for seeking food of the sea. It is a means of travel. It is a means of seeking a higher purpose. But it is something which we only pass through, but never think to remain in. Imagine what would happen if the ocean became our end – rather than just a means.
Eventually we would drown.
As long as the ocean’s water remains outside the ship, the ship will continue to float and be in control. But what happens as soon as the water creeps into the ship? What happens when the dunya is not just water outside of our hearts, when the dunya is no longer just a means? What happens when the dunya enters our heart?
That is when the boat sinks.
That is when the heart is taken hostage and becomes a slave. And that is when the dunya – which was once under our control – begins to control us. When the ocean’s water enters and overtakes a ship, that ship is no longer in control. The boat then becomes at the mercy of the ocean.
To stay afloat, we must view this world in exactly the same way, for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala) has told us that “Verily in the creation of the heavens and the earth are signs for those who reflect.” (Qur’an,3:190) We live in the dunya, and the dunya is in fact created for our use. Detachment from dunya (zuhd) does not mean that we do not interact with this world. Rather, the Prophet ﷺ has taught us that we must:

Anas (Radiallahu Anhu) said: “Three people came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, to ask about how the Prophet ﷺ worshipped. When they were told, it was as if they thought it was little and said, ‘Where are we in relation to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, who has been forgiven his past and future wrong actions?’” He said, “One of them said, ‘I will pray all of every night.’ Another said, ‘I will fast all the time and not break the fast.’ The other said, “I will withdraw from women and never marry.’ The Messenger of Allah came to them and said, ‘Are you the ones who said such-and-such? By Allah, I am the one among you with the most fear and awareness of Allah, but I fast and break the fast, I pray and I sleep, and I marry women. Whoever disdains my sunnah is not with me.’” [Sahih Bukhari]

The Prophet ﷺ did not withdraw from the dunya in order to be detached from it. His detachment was much deeper. It was the detachment of the heart. His ultimate attachment was only to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala) and the home with Him, for he truly understood the words of God:

“What is the life of this world but amusement and play? But verily the Home in the Hereafter, – that is life indeed, if they but knew.” (Qur’an, 29:64)

Detachment does not even mean that we cannot own things of the dunya. In fact many of the greatest companions were wealthy. Rather, detachment is that we view and interact with the dunya for what it really is: just a means. Detachment is when the dunya remains in our hand – not in our heart. As `Ali (Radiallahu Anhu) expressed beautifully, “Detachment is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you.”
Like the ocean’s water entering the boat, the moment that we let the dunya enter our hearts, we will sink. The ocean was never intended to enter the boat; it was intended only as a means that must remain outside of it. The dunya, too, was never intended to enter our heart. It is only a means that must not enter or control us. This is why Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala) repeatedly refers to the dunya in the Qur’an as a mata’a. The word mata’a can be translated as a “resource for transitory worldly delight.” It is a resource. It is a tool. It is the path—not the destination.
And it is this very concept that the Prophet ﷺ spoke about so eloquently when he said:

“What relationship do I have with this world? I am in this world like a rider who halts in the shade of a tree for a short time, and after taking some rest, resumes his journey leaving the tree behind.” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi)

Consider for a moment the metaphor of a traveler. What happens when you’re traveling or you know that your stay is only temporary? When you’re passing through a city for one night, how attached do you get to that place? If you know it’s temporary, you’ll be willing to stay at Motel 6. But would you like to live there? Probably not. Suppose your boss sent you to a new town to work on a limited project. Suppose he didn’t tell you exactly when the project would end, but you knew that you could be returning home, any day. How would you be in that town? Would you invest in massive amounts of property and spend all your savings on expensive furniture and cars? Most likely not. Even while shopping, would you buy cart-loads of food and other perishables? No. You’d probably hesitate about buying any more than you need for a couple days – because your boss could call you back any day.
This is the mindset of a traveler. There is a natural detachment that comes with the realization that something is only temporary. That is what the Prophet ﷺ in his wisdom, is talking about in this profound hadith. He understood the danger of becoming engrossed in this life. In fact, there was nothing he feared for us more.
He ﷺ said, “By Allah I don’t fear for you poverty, but I fear that the world would be abundant for you as it has been for those before you, so you compete for it as they have competed for it, so it destroys you as it has destroyed them.” (Agreed upon)
The blessed Prophet ﷺ recognized the true nature of this life. He understood what it meant to be in the dunya, without being of it. He sailed the very same ocean that we all must. But his ship knew well from where it had come, and to where it was going. His was a boat that remained dry. He understood that the same ocean which sparkles in the sunlight, will become a graveyard for the ships that enter it.
Yasmin Mogahed

   

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