Dhikr Is Everything
UPDATE: I was told by a fellow commenter that if a woman has her period for more than 15 days she’s allowed to resume praying as normal. I’ve consulted an ustadha on this matter and she confirms this is true. For more info: do ask an ustadha about this as the niyya for prayers and wudhu for a woman in a state of abnormal discharge are different.
I was talking to a friend today who is experiencing a medical condition whereby her period lasts for weeks. The average woman has her period for 4-7 days and anything a lot more than that should be checked by a doctor. So anyway, friend X told me how sad she felt not being able to perform solat for a month because she feels that reading religious books or watching Islamic videos is not as sweet as being able to pray 5 times a day or recite the Quran.
Her predicament got me pondering on a lot of things regarding worship and also if I’m taking the wonderful gift of being able to perform solat for granted. Although being able to pray is a huge blessing, being able to remember Allāh even when we are NOT in prayer is even greater as it.
Rasulullah ﷺ was described as being a ‘walking Quran’ and what that demonstrates is He was in constant praise and remembrance of Allāh. All his actions were in sync with the principles that Allāh have laid out in the Quran.
In fiqh class with Ustadh Omar Qureshi, during the Rihla programme I attended in 2017, we were discussing rulings on women undergoing menses: the dos and don’ts, rulings on ghusl, etc. While on the topic, Ustadh Qureshi mentioned that a lot of women feel upset that they’re missing out on doing good deeds during their menses when in reality Allāh blesses us with the same number of deeds if not more just by obeying Him.
The ladies in the class were then discussing how it’s strange that during our period we actually want to do more because not being able to pray makes us feel restless, as if something is missing from our lives. We don’t reflect on this enough but that ‘feeling’ of wanting to be close to Allāh even when we are in a physically impure state is a gift from Him. It is a desire which Allāh Himself placed in our hearts, it’s almost like He’s saying: hey, I’m here and I haven’t forgotten you.
The Purpose of Prayer
In the Quran, it is stated that the purpose of the solat is to remember Allāh but how many of us can say that we are focused in dhikrullah (remembrance of Allāh) each and every time we pray? For many of us, not excluding myself, worship can become ritualistic, as if it’s something to just tick off from our to-do-list because we have to do before we move on to the next task.
But praying isn’t just any other task we do in a day, it’s a special time we have allocated to set aside all worldly affairs and face Allāh, it’s the most superior task of our every day. It’s the real deal, it’s no do and dash. Many of us pray but we do not truly benefit from prayer because we do not know its purpose.
Intentions Guide Us To A Goal
The beauty of this deen is that ibadah (worship) is dynamic and it’s not confined to just our daily prayers. Everything in Islam places great emphasis on our niyya (intentions) and the intention of solat is to remember Allāh.
We begin our wudhu’ (ablutions) and prayers with intentions—in fact, even the umrah and hajj have its own set of intentions. Outside of the 5 daily prayers, there are thousands of ways to remember and to serve Allāh, the key is setting our intentions for doing so. Is it lillahi ta'ala?
My ustadh once told me that if Islam was a tree, then remembrance of Allāh is what keeps it alive. No tree, however big and mighty it is, can survive without nourishment. Similarly, our hearts need constant nourishment in order to be strong enough to navigate through all of life’s challenges.
Shaykh Dr Muhammad al-Ninowy often likes to tell his students: It’s never a question of how close is Allāh to us because He has already said that ‘I am closer to you than your jugular vein’ [50:16].” In other words: it’s not Him who distances Himself from us but it’s us who step further and further away from Him due to our spiritual idleness.