Ah, relaxation: wouldn’t you
just love it if every few hours someone told you to just leave everything and take a few minutes break? Who needs a break
more than a mother does? Did you ever think about why there are 5 prayers in the day? The day is so long and we can’t
just keep going from one task to another. But us moms we have a hard time even sitting down for more than a few minutes. We
need something to force us to take a break; something more important than the dishes. Allah has given us such a thing –
prayer. Prayer is a break and a form of relaxation, if you let it be, by doing it the way it was intended to be done: S-L-O-W-L-Y.
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said “When you stand for the prayer, say Takbir and then recite
from the Qur'an what you know and then bow with calmness till you feel at ease, then rise from bowing till you stand straight.
Afterwards prostrate calmly till you feel at ease and then raise (your head) and sit with Calmness till you feel at ease and
then prostrate with calmness till you feel at ease in prostration and do the same in the whole of your prayer.” (Sahih Bukhari)
This hadith tells us that we should
go through the various positions in the Prayer with calmness and we should stay in each position until we feel at ease. This
is the key to getting the benefit of relaxation from our Prayers.
Have you noticed how popular yoga
is these days? Did you know that all the positions of prayer are very similar to yoga positions? Well they are, and the main
objectives of such positions are to move the blood throughout your whole body and stretch your muscles.
[divine writ] is a guidance and a source of health” (Al-Fussilat 41:44)
(Qul huwa lillatheena
amanoo hudan washifaon)
With all the modern technological
advances that do most of the work for you, our lives are getting more and more sedentary. Sure we’re running after the
kids – in small apartments, and constantly up doing this or that – but again, in a small area. But that’s
not enough, because it’s done under stress which cancels out any positive effects of your body moving to tend to the
kids and the housework. Housework itself has become less and less laborious, ironically, so we now have to put an extra effort
to really move. It’s becoming more and more crucial to do these kinds of relaxing stretching exercises everyday.
There’s a wonderful article
on The “Yoga” of Islamic Prayer on the internet: http://22.214.171.124/English/Science/2001/01/article6.shtml. Burns says in her article that “Yoga consists of a number of “asnas,”
or body positions, which one retains for a desired length of time while either reciting “mantras” or breathing
in a rhythmic manner. Its benefits have been researched by many doctors who now recommend it to their patients.” And
more interestingly says that: “Each of the five prayer positions has a corresponding yoga position, and the positions
together “activate” all seven “chakras” (energy fields) in the body… This is one of the reasons
that it is so important to perfectly perform all of the movements of the Islamic prayer, rather than haphazardly rushing through
You know how us mothers are –
we’re always running around from one task to another and from one child to another. And then there’s the quality
time with the kids and the husband that’s important also. They say a mother’s work is never done – and it’s
so true! But if there was one thing we couldn’t manage to get done we feel so bad like we are a bad mother or wife or
whatever else role we play in our lives. Or perhaps we did everything but in a snappy, quick, impatient way so you feel guilt
nevertheless. Well, our soul feels the same way when we miss or forget a prayer or rush our prayer. When our souls don’t
get to communicate and connect with Allah our hearts will feel empty. The rest of our work will not be as fulfilling and we
will feel like a battle is going on inside us.
On the other hand, when we do pray,
we feel peace. Our soul will be at peace. It got what it needed and is now basking in Allah’s pleasure and light from
the lifting of the sins since the last prayer. A soul at peace radiates happiness. This benefit is mentioned in the Qur’an:
thy Sustainer's limitless glory and praise Him before the rising of the sun and before its setting; and extol His glory, too,
during some of the hours of the night as well as during the hours of the day, so that thou might attain to happiness.”
AAala ma yaqooloona wasabbih bihamdi rabbika qabla tulooAAi alshshamsi waqabla ghuroobiha
wamin anai allayli fasabbih waatrafa alnnahari laAAallaka tarda)
‘Before the rising’
of the sun refers to the Fajr Prayer and ‘before its setting’ refers to Asr prayer. But the nicest thing about
peace from Prayer is that it is not just limited to you, it radiates to everyone around you- your kids, husband, friends,
family, neighbors, and even non-Muslims.
Did you ever notice how often you
pray and then lose your cool, you feel so guilty about it? Like some radar or antenna went up: ‘I just prayed and here
I am yelling at the kids’. You can feel when something is wrong more than in any other time. Like it doesn’t make
sense to pray and then get angry over some unimportant thing. So you make a mental note to chill next time. So the next prayer
comes, but you forget the previous situation and again, you pray, and then get angry over something and yell. The guilt comes
again so you make a double mental note not to do that again. You see how the patience develops! The third time or so, you
will eventually remember the guilt BEFORE you react negatively to a situation and be able to control yourself. It’s
not an automatic thing that prayer makes you patient, it takes time. This benefit is also one that is mentioned in the Qur’an:
YOU who have attained to faith! Seek aid in steadfast patience and prayer: for, behold, God is with those who are patient
in adversity.” (Al-Baqarah 2:153)
allatheena amanoo istaAAeenoo bialssabri waalssalati inna Allaha maAAa
You will also notice your more patient
with your husband as well. I have noticed that missed prayers always result in arguments with my husband and impatience with
my kids and sometimes even problems with others. And I know it’s because the sadness and frustration in my soul are
radiating to those around me. I’m not sure if this happens to others, but for me Allah lets me know when I’ve
done wrong right away. So I have learned that not only would I gain rewards in the afterlife for my prayers, but I would also
gain benefit in this life as well. Patience is something that a believer needs to develop, and motherhood has thankfully sped
us along in this area, with the help of Prayer.
is the truly pious who]… are patient in misfortune and hardship and in time of peril: it is they that have proved themselves
true, and it is they who are conscious of God.” (Al-Baqarah 2:177)
fee albasai waalddarrai waheena albasi olaika allatheena sadaqoo waolaika
So the next time your child misbehaves
or someone irritates you, think of it as a test to further develop your patience. That’s why they call misbehavior ‘trying
- PREVENTS FURTHER SIN
It is through this developed patience
that one is able to control themselves from doing further wrong. This is the third benefit of Prayer that Allah mentions in
[unto others] whatever of this divine writ has been revealed unto thee, and be constant in prayer: for, behold, prayer restrains
[man] from loathsome deeds and from all that runs counter to reason; and remembrance of God is indeed the greatest [good].
And God knows all that you do.” (Al-Ankabut 29:45)
(Otlu ma oohiya
ilayka mina alkitabi waaqimi alssalata inna alssalata tanha AAani
alfahshai waalmunkari walathikru Allahi akbaru waAllahu yaAAlamu ma
Like I mentioned before, when you
are praying regularly you start to have a sense of when something is wrong because it goes against the nature and goodness
of Allah, Prayer, Du’a, and the Qur’an. You will FEEL that yelling is not right, hitting is not right, etc. It
is very important to have this sense in your heart to help you in various difficult situations.
We can also benefit from prayer by
using it to ask for Allah’s help in the form of du’a. Because in the end, He is the only one that can really help
us. And us mothers we need as much help as we can get. Allah tells us in the Qur’an that we should seek help through
ye who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer; for Allah is with those who patiently persevere.” (Al-Baqarah
allatheena amanoo istaAAeenoo bialssabri waalssalati inna Allaha maAAa
There are 4 times during the prayer
where you can say Du’a, in any language you want:
- When you come up from Ruku’(bowing): It is sunnah to say ‘Rabana wa lakal hamd’ but after that you
can add whatever you want. The Prophet would sometimes spend as much time standing up after ruku’ as he did in ruku’.
- In Sujud (prostration): this is the most useful time because it is the most humble position. It is sunnah to say ‘Subhana
Rabial A’laa’, then you can continue with your own Du’a. The Prophet would sometimes spend a really long
time in this position.
- Between the two Sujuds: It is sunnah to say ‘Rabbi ighfirli wa liwalidayi’, then you can continue with
your own Du’a.
- In Julus: you say the Tashahhud and Ibrahimiya and then you can continue with your own Du’a.
Then of course, after the Prayer
you can also say Du’a in the usual way of holding up both hands. Du’a should be from your heart but it is useful
to look at the Du’as mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadith to get some ideas for the wording. This will increase
the length of time you spend in each position, thereby increasing concentration, relaxation, and peace. Also, make sure you
are moving your lips atleast so that it will count and be more moving and sincere. Thinking a du’a is not the same as
saying a du’a.
- MOOD BOOST
I definitely have to say hands down
that prayer has the interesting side effect of boosting your mood. I have felt it myself many times, especially Isha prayer.
That’s the time at the end of the day that I usually feel down because I have such a long and intricate bedtime routine
for two small kids and my toddler doesn’t always fall asleep quickly so I end up depressed, exhausted, and frustrated
sometimes. Then I make wudu which wakes me up a bit and pray Isha. A lot of times before I pray I have this idea that I just
want to pray and go to sleep because I’m too tired for anything. But subhanAllah, while I pray Isha, I can feel my body
and mind start to relax and my mood starts to calm down. After Isha, my mood has been completely lifted and I am open to do
whatever it was I didn’t feel like doing before.
But let’s face it- mothers
are prone to being in a bad mood or sad mood with all the things they have to deal with. Sometimes it’s pregnancy/nursing/menstrual
hormones that are to blame or a cloudy day or a bad day in general. Some will try to ‘escape’ by plopping in front
of the TV or computer with a bag of something to munch on and distract us from those bad feelings. But think about it, we
are just making things worse this way: we are ignoring our problems, not putting time to think about them to solve them, and
we are adding guilt on top of that by wasting time on the TV and probably eating something unhealthy.
Prayer boosts your mood because it
gives us a break from what’s going and turns our focus to our Creator. It connects us to the one who created us and
who can help us. It’s like meditation. Our bodies can relax, think of the higher purpose in life which is to worship
Allah, to think above our own problems, and gives us an opportunity to seek help. It’s good to sit a while after the
prayer and do some thinking while you’re in this ‘After Prayer Mood’. Ideas and thoughts will start coming
to you. It is an enlightening time to think and reflect on your life. If we don’t take advantage of this then our problems
will just go on and on.
In conclusion, most mothers complain of
not having enough time for themselves. We should look at prayer as such a time to take care of and nourish our souls.