Growing up in London religion was and is something that is personal to the individual, it is not as it used to be back in the ages where religion played a dominant role in society. The UK is now a secular society and as such there exists freedom of speech and opinion of all nature and as a Muslim there is one thing that distinguishes myself from other religions , the need to Pray 5 times a day.
As per Islamic teachings praying becomes compulsory with puberty and so I found myself obliged to pray early in my secondary school life I would at times rush home to ensure I didn’t miss the prayer this is especially the case in winter where the sun sets early and thus the midday and afternoon prayers are required to be prayed before sunset. However this became difficult during several months of the year and eventually after a group of Muslims got together my secondary school agreed to provide a praying area to facilitate the need of prayer. So as I plowed on in life I faced situations where I needed to be confident with my Prayer for there are times when you are out the whole day how then do I fulfill the need of prayer? or I may be out on with the company how do I ensure I pray?
These questions have a simple answer but I found myself having to learn to be confident in praying anywhere everywhere when required. I remember once I was on site for training and during the lunch break I asked reception if they had a praying area, the women looked back perplexed as if this was the first time she had heard such a request. Thank fully there was a spare room of which I could fulfill my duties of prayer.
So why is it that I pray?
I wont go into the semantics from a religious point of view but rather on a personal level, as a young teen you don’t really understand the benefits of prayer you are told from a young age that if you do not pray then you are committing a sin and that it is compulsory to pray but I fail to recall many moments where the benefits of prayer were discussed or how prayer can be a powerful tool in reaffirming ones purpose in life.
You see prayer is when one turns his attention (or at least one tries) towards his Lord, his creator the prayer offers a unique opportunity to converse with ones lords to be thankful, to find comfort when loneliness strikes. Prayer is a form of accension towards inner peace. If I think about it there are times where I treat prayer with disregard and pray very late and there are times where I attempt to concentrate hard in prayer focusing on the words I am uttering and thinking about my spiritual experiences in Mecca and Medina. It is with those prayers that when i complete them I begin to appreciate the value of prayer, for me there is a simple reason why Muslims are instructed to pray 5 times a day and that is become as humans we forget, we forget about the beauty of this life, forget about our direction in life, forget about our mistakes and actions.
Prayer is that reminder for us that we should remain focused to where we want to get to and ultimately as a Muslim I believe in life after death and it is with the people of the right that I wish and hope to be part of and prayer is that tool that keeps me focused on the right path, for Allah does say that…
Verily, the prayer keeps one from the great sins and evil deeds” (Quran 29:45)