In our previous meditation, we focused upon how salaat can help us to improve our concentration. In this meditation, we will continue this same theme and explore how salaat can help us to make the most of each day.
Imam Hussein (AS) said ‘Yabna Adam (AS) innaka innama anta ayamun, faiza zahaba yaumun zahaba babuk.’ (Oh, the children of Adam (AS) you are nothing but days and when a day passes in your life, part of you has gone).
When we meditate deeply on these words, we realise that our life is merely a series of days. If we want to perfect our life, we must perfect our day and, consequently, this is why each day is but a microcosm of our entire life.
Just as our life has a birth and a death, each day has a birth and a death and, more importantly, just as our life begins in the darkness of the womb, our day begins in the darkness of our night.
There is an important symbolism as to why our day starts with the night, as opposed to with the dawn.
Imam Jaffar-us-Sadiq (AS) explains that in the Quran Majid, the word that Allah (SWT) uses for womb is rehem, which is derived from one of his names and attributes, Ar-raheem. Just as Allah (SWT) delivers his mercy to us, we receive this mercy in the womb of our mother, which is where we are formed and where our soul enters into our body on the 120th day after our conception.
Likewise, it is in the night of the day, in the womb of the day that is being born, that Allah’s (SWT) rehmat, his mercy, is sent for the day. This is why the night prayers of Maghrib and Isha are so important, as Maghrib is when this begins and Isha is when the night is at its darkest.
Furthermore, the prayer of nisful-lail is also important as how can we forget Allah (SWT) when he is sending his rehmat upon us?
After Maghrib and Isha comes Fajr. When we look at the word Fajr, we see that from this we also get the word faraj, which means salvation. Each day for us is a salvation, an opportunity for us to do that which will lead to our ultimate salvation.
Therefore, it is important that we see Fajr not just as a prayer that we pray when many are sleeping, but an actual birth of the day. This is why we pray Surah Yaseen in the Fajr, the 36th Surah of the Quran Majid, to remind us that we spent 36 weeks in the womb and, just as we were born from the womb in the 36th week, this day is born in the Fajr, from the womb of the night.
When we look at the literal translation of the word Fajr, we see that it means crack, like a crack in a plate that begins to allow the light of the day in. This is symbolic for us in that each Fajr is a new crack, a new chance to break our old bad habits and to build towards something better.
Imam Jaffar-us-Sadiq (AS) often equated the events of Karbala with Surah-al-Fajr as the events of Karbala caused a crack in the tyrannical rule of Yazeed (LA) and caused the end of his rule. Likewise, each Fajr is, for us, a chance to cause the end of what is bad in our life and ensure that we protect that which is good.
This is why in English we have the phrase ‘at the crack of dawn.’ Let us always remember that each Fajr is a crack that can allow us to take out from our lives that which will no longer benefit us and a door that is opening, which can lead us closer to Allah (SWT) and his rehmat.
Just as the Maghrib and Isha prayers are important, the prayer of Fajr is equally important. It is imperative that we try to pray this prayer on time, which in the Summer months may be difficult. When it is difficult, let us remember the words of Imam Ali Zainulabedeen (AS) about the Fajr prayer, where he proclaims to Allah (SWT) that how can he claim to love Allah (SWT) if he cannot wake to thank him?
Following the Fajr prayer, we begin our day and all that we need to accomplish in the day. During that day, we reach the Zohr prayer.
When we look at our daily life, the Zohr prayer is the one we try to pray as quickly as possible, as we are so involved in our daily tasks. In the Quran Majid, Allah (SWT) says in the 37th of Ayat of Sarah an-Nur that there ‘are men whom neither commerce nor sale distracts them from remembrance of Allah (SWT) and performance of prayer.’ We should strive to be of these people.
During our day, we can get so preoccupied with our daily tasks that we find it difficult to find time for the Zohr prayer. It is at this time that we need to understand that Zohr and zuhur are clearly linked and the meaning of Zohr and zuhur is manifestation.
It is during the time of Zohr (manifestation) and Asr (descent) that we realise how little time we truly have. In Surah al-Asr, Allah (SWT) reminds us that from the moment we are born, we begin dying. Our breaths and our heartbeats are limited and we must use them all in order to help us to reach our ultimate goal, to ascend when our body descends into the ground.
This is the great paradox of life, to have patience when we have so little time, to know that the path of huq is paved with sabr, with patience. The true oppression is the oppression that we do to ourselves, to pretend that we have forever when we do not and to not do today what we know we should, leaving it to another day that might not come.
This is why when we look to nature, we see how each Fajr and each Maghrib is met with birdsong, but each birdsong is different. In the morning, the birds are praising Allah (SWT) for the new dawn and all of the rehmat it will bring, a beautiful birdsong. In the evening, the birdsong is very different as the birds know that the night is the time of zulumaat and difficulty, and their song is one that is scared, rather than beautiful.
Through this example from nature, we can see how we can live our lives. Each Fajr, we should prepare for a new door that is opening that can lead us closer to Allah (SWT) and each night is a reminder of all that will follow, the darkness of the night is like the darkness of the qabr and of akherat, that is dark to us simply as Allah (SWT) has not yet illuminated it for us. May each night remind us to prepare for all that will come during this time.
May Allah (SWT) give us all the strength to live each day as if it is our entire life. May we begin it by receiving his rehmat, just as we received it in the womb. May each Fajr be a faraj for us, where the door of salvation opens for us and we can use the day for doing that which pleases him. May we remember him during the Zohr prayer, when we are busiest and most likely to forget Allah (SWT). May the Asr prayer always remind us of how short life is and how the upcoming night and the death of the day resembles our death and that darkness resembles all that which will follow it. May we spend each day getting closer to Allah (SWT) so that each day in which we are physically getting closer to our death, we are spiritually getting closer to our creator. Aamin.