Illustrated by @nablinsky
Successful are the believers. Those who in their prayer have khushoo’ (focus, humility, concentration, awe, reverence). (Al-Mu’minoon 23:1-2)
Abu Dardaa’ reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The first thing to be removed from this nation will be reverence, until you will not see anyone with reverence.” (Musnad al-Shamiyyin 1561)
Ammar ibn Yasir reported: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Verily, a man may return from his prayer and nothing good is written for him but a tenth of his prayer, or a ninth, or an eighth, or a seventh, or a sixth, or a fifth, or a fourth, or a third, or a half.” (Abu Dawud 796)
“We served ourselves in the company of Messenger of Allah (pbuh). We tended our camels by turn. One day, I had my turn to tend the camels, and I drove them in the afternoon. I found the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) addressing the people. I heard him say: Anyone among you who performs ablution, and does it well, then he stands and offers two rak’ahs of prayer, concentrating on it with his heart and body, Paradise will be his lot by all means.” (Abu Dawud 169)
Rabah ibn al-Harawi reported: ‘Isam ibn Yusuf passed by Hatim al-Asam, may Allah have mercy on him, while he was speaking in his assembly. ‘Isam said, “O Hatim, do you pray well?” Hatim said yes. ‘Isam said, “How do you pray?” Hatim said, “I establish the command, I walk with fear, I begin prayer with intention, I exalt Allah with grandeur, I recite with a measured recitation and reflection, I bow with reverence, I prostrate with humility, I sit to complete the testimony, and I invoke peace properly and according to the Sunnah. Then, I sincerely surrender the prayer to Allah Almighty and I return to myself with fear that it will not be accepted from me. I guard it with effort in this way until death.” ‘Isam said, “You may speak, for you do pray well.” (Ḥilyat al-Awliya’ 11623)
Profound and beautiful advice by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) on how to live life, and how to live life without regrets: Abu Ayyub ( reported that a man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, teach me and make it concise.” The Prophet said, “When you stand up for prayer, pray as if you are saying farewell. Do not say anything you’ll have to apologise for, and do not have excessive longing for what people have.” (Ibn Mājah 4169). In a separate narration, Abu Dharr reported that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Be mindful of Allah wherever you are, follow a bad deed with a good deed and it will erase (the bad deed), and behave towards people with good character.” (al-Tirmidhī 1987)
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) teaches us in a hadith narrated by Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that if someone leaves their house and says, “In the name of Allah, I trust in Allah, there is no might and no power except with Allah”, an angel will call out to him, saying: O servant of Allah, you have been guided to the straight path, you have been sufficed against your worries, and you have been protected from your enemies. So the devil assigned to him will move away from him, and another devil will say to the former: How can you misguide someone who has been guided, sufficed, and protected from all of the devils! Because he said those words, you cannot overpower him. (Recorded in at-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawood)
Abu Hurayrah narrates that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The one who eats and is grateful has the same station as the one who fasts and is patient.” (at-Tirmidhi 2486)
Anas bin Malik narrated that: the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Whoever prays Fajr in congregation, then sits remembering Allah until the sun has risen, then he prays two Rak’ah, then for him is the reward like that of a Hajj and Umrah.” He said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Complete, complete, complete.'” (at-Tirmidhi 586)
Abu Hurayrah reported: The poor came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said: “Oh, Messenger of Allah, the wealthy have gone with the highest ranks and lasting bliss. They pray like us and fast as we do. They have more money by which they perform the Hajj, and `Umra; fight and struggle in Allah’s Cause and give in charity.” The Messenger of Allah said, “Shall I not teach you something with which if you acted you would catch up with those who have surpassed you? Nobody would overtake you and you would be better than the people amongst whom you live except those who would do the same. Say Subhanal-lah (Allah is free from imperfection), Al hamdulil-lah (Praise be to Allah), and Allahu Akbar (Allah is Greatest) thirty-three times after every (obligatory) prayer.” (al-Bukhari 843)
Deeds are not just counted; deeds are weighed.
Allah says in Surat al-Bayyinah (98:5), “And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give zakah. And that is the way of the straight religion.”
‘Umar bin Al-Khattab narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari (hadith 54): that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Prophet, then his emigration was for Allah and His Prophet. And whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, then his emigration was for what he emigrated for.”
What makes intentions so important? Good intentions are, by itself, rewarded for. They magnify the rewards of good deeds and they elevate the status of mubah actions to worship (for example, sleeping with the intention of waking up for prayer makes the former an act of worship).
Sufyan ibn Dinar asked Abu Bashir: Tell me about the deeds of those who came before us.
He responded: They used to do little but were rewarded greatly.
Sufyan ibn Dinar said: And why is that?
He answered: Due to the purity of their hearts.1
1Source unknown to me.
One of the people of the salaf said: “Verily, Allah’s rights are far too heavy for the slaves to fulfill, and indeed, the favors of Allah are far too many for the slaves to count. However, wake up as repentants, and go to sleep as repentants.” [Al-Musannaf, 7/182]
Those who repent, and believe, and reform themselves, and perform good deeds, they are indeed the ones who truly repent (25:71). Allah will guide them unto Him (13:27, 42:13). He will forgive them, again and again (20:82), accept their repentance (5:39), change their evil actions into good deeds (25:70), and enter them into Paradise (19:60). For indeed, Allah loves those who always repent (2:222).
For the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “All the sons of Adam are sinners, but the best of the sinners are those who often repent.” Reported in Sunan At-Tirmidhi (2499) and Ibn Majah (2451) on the authority of Anas ibn Malik.
To the tired or saddened heart… I can offer you some encouragement, some of the promises of the Most Kind.
Allah is with you. He is with the patient1, those whose hearts are good2 and those who do good3. Allah does not burden you beyond what you can bear4. He wants ease for you, and He does not wish for you hardship5. And anything that you face from pain or grief, it only befalls you either because Allah loves you and is therefore testing you6, or He loves you and is therefore purifying you from your sins7. Through your tests, Allah increases your reward8 and rank that you may be closer to Him. So do not despair of the Mercy of Allah9. He does not tire of listening to you and answering your prayers and forgiving you10. And Allah is as you think He is11. If you perceive Him to be Most Kind, and Most Generous, indeed to you, Allah is Most Kind and Most Generous.
Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood stated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Indeed, Islaam began as something strange, and it will return to being strange just as it began, so glad tidings of paradise be for the strangers.” It was said to the Prophet (ﷺ): “Who are they?” He (ﷺ) responded, “They are those who rectify when the people become corrupted.” (Muslim, at-Tirmidhee, Ahmad; authenticated by Al-Albaanee)
Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “People whose hearts are like the hearts of birds will enter Paradise.” (Sahih Muslim 2840; authentic according to Muslim) An-Nawawi said, “It is interpreted to mean they are those who rely upon Allah, or those who have soft hearts.” (Riyad as-Salihin 1/59)
Umar ibn Al-Khattab reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If you were to rely on Allah as He should be relied on, He would provide for you just as He provides for the birds. They go out early in the morning hungry and return in the evening fully satiated.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi 2344; authentic according to Tirmidhi)