Humble Submission to the Core
"‘Abdullaah ibn Az-Zubayr used to prostrate in prayer until the birds would settle on his back thinking he was a wall.”
“When Ibn Az-Zubayr was performing the prayer, it was as if he was a branch shaken by the wind and catapult shots would be falling here and there and he would be heedless of them.”
Maymoon ibn Mihraan said, "I never saw Muslim ibn Yasaar turning his head while praying. Once, a part of the Masjid collapsed and the noise terrified the people who were as far away as the market, and he was inside the Masjid praying and he never even moved his head."
Maymoon ibn Mihraan also said, "When Muslim ibn Yasaar entered the house, those who were there would become silent, and when he stood up for prayer, they would start talking and laughing."
The young person who is reading these incidents is either one of two:
First: A young person who reads them for the first time and therefore he will be surprised and ask himself: how did such people attain this degree of humble submission?
Second: A young person who knows these situations and read them before and therefore he will say to himself: whenever I read these situations, I try to be humbly submissive in prayer and I do so for several days and then return to my previous state.
Whatever the case may be, you are kindly invited to answer this important question:
Do you imagine the degree of humble submission that our righteous predecessors reached?
A person on whose back birds would alight when he was in prostration and he would not feel their presence was not, at that moment, in this worldly life. Rather, he was absorbed in his prayer to the marrow. You can imagine that there are people whom birds wake up from their sleep, not merely distract them from prayer.
A person near whom a side of the Masjid collapses while he does not even make a simple turn to know what happened -- certainly his mind and heart were out of the Masjid. They were there, with Allaah The Almighty.
When we talk about those who are humbly submissive in prayer, we do not mention these situations in order to get frustrated and disappointed when we compare them to our current state in prayer. Rather, we mention them in order to clarify that the prayer is not just an act of worship that when a person performs he will enter Paradise and when he leaves he will be punished by Allaah The Almighty; rather, it is something greater than this.
Once we were talking about humble submission in prayer and one of our Muslim brothers told me something that I will never forget. He said, "If the callers to Allaah managed to perform the prayer correctly, the Ummah's state would immediately change."
Prayer is a special world filled with pleasure. If a person is able to live in this world, then he has got the most pleasant thing in this world -- which is, talking privately to Allaah The Almighty.
Therefore, it is necessary that our view of the prayer should change. It is not just a set of movements that we perform; rather, it is an act of worship which revives the heart, purifies the body, refines the mind and blesses one’s life.
The important question now is: How can I be humbly submissive in prayer and enter into this delightful world that we have just talked about?
First: you are required to avoid acts of disobedience as much as possible, particularly those which are related to sexual desire including giving free reign to your eyesight, masturbation, and so on. Many youths complain that they are unable to be humbly submissive in prayer because Satan comes to them at the beginning of prayer and starts to recall sexual images and scenes from their memories. Thereupon, the young man tries to ward this off but he fails and ends the prayer while he is more grieved than before. The only means to avoid this is to keep away one's memory from these things in principle. If your memory is indeed full of these things, you have to start deleting them and then refill it, but this time with the Quran.
Second: you must exalt the prayer and know that you will not worship Allaah The Almighty with something more beloved to Him than the prayer. As the Messenger of Allaah, , indicated, you should know that Allaah The Almighty only accepts the prayers when the servant is attentive and humbly submissive. This should be your first and main concern when you start the prayer.
Third: you should supplicate Allaah The Almighty to grant you humbleness in prayer and accept it even though you do not perform it perfectly. This is one of the most important reasons because supplication is the believer's weapon, as the Messenger of Allaah, , told us.
Fourth: you should learn the correct manner of prayer including all the positions of prostration, bowing and standing, as the Prophet, , performed it. You should try to imitate him as much as possible in your prayer.
Fifth: read what the scholars wrote about the secrets of prayer and the rationale behind each of its pillars; or listen to what the callers to Allaah The Almighty say about this matter.
Sixth: try as much as possible to perform a voluntary prayer before performing the obligatory one in order to get yourself ready for it.
Seventh: you should be keen to perform the prayer in congregation at the Masjid. Try as much as possible to attend the Takbeerah of Ihraam (saying Allaahu Akbar while one is standing at the beginning of the prayer) along with the Imaam. When Allaah The Almighty sees how keen you are to perfectly perform the prayer, He will grant you humble submission in prayer.
Finally: Do not feel despair despite making numerous attempts, because, believe me, it is worth it.