Opinion: Consistency and routine: How Islam helps

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Jalees Ahmad, London

Give Iftar and Sahur this Ramadan

Feeding the poor and needy is an act that draws us closer to Allah. We earn His forgiveness, mercies and blessings through this act of charity.

“Whoever gives food to a fasting person with which to break his fast will have a reward equal to his, without it detracting in the slightest from the reward of the fasting person” Al-Tirmidhi

With countries around the world easing lockdown, introducing leniencies to the rules and slowly coming out of quarantine, people have woken up to the reality of daily struggles getting back into routine.

Many people who are starting to get back to work after spending 3-4 months at home are now finding it difficult to even wake up in the morning, leaving the alarm on snooze.

Some of those I know find that their eating habits have drastically changed, while others are even finding it hard to sleep before 11pm.

Personally, I have noted that whenever humanity undergoes struggle and endures such challenges in life, the beautiful teachings of Islam flourish before us. As we tried to adjust to a new and peculiar situation – staying indoors most of the day – experts, psychologists and even the UN recommendations preached about the importance of maintaining a consistent routine.

This, in turn, would help both our mental and physical states as we endured lockdown.

Scores of articles can be found online that talk of the importance of having routines to stick to during lockdown. The UN recommended for “parents and their children to create a flexible but consistent daily routine. ‘Covid-19 has taken away our daily work, home and school routines. This is hard for children, teenagers and for you. Making new routines can help’”. (www.un.org/en/un-coronavirus-communicationsteam/life-under-lockdown-practical-tips-un)

As Muslims, the consistent routine of daily prayers has been part and parcel of our lives since around the tender age of 10; Salat, the five daily prayers, become compulsory for every Muslim at this age.

Islam has taught us the importance of having a structured life – a life that enables us to focus on what is important. Even though the coronavirus caused mosques to close, the consistency of prayers was not abandoned by Muslim across the world. We prayed even while at home. The Holy Quran has stated that:

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اِنَّ الصَّلٰوۃَ کَانَتۡ عَلَی الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ کِتٰبًا مَّوۡقُوۡتًا

“Verily, prayer is enjoined on the believers to be performed at fixed hours. (Sura al-Nisa, Ch.4: V.104)

With many individuals coming out of lockdown and having seen changes in sleep patterns and, for some, even a sense of time, the simple act of waking up in the morning for work has become a battle.

However, for a practicing Muslim who follows the noble example of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, for the most part, the sleeping pattern, which was before the pandemic, during the pandemic and after has remained the same as Muslims begin their day with the Fajr prayer.

These prayers were always there, and pandemic or no pandemic, Muslims wake up for such prayers – maintaining the routine and its consistency.

In another place, the Quran states, “Watch over Prayers and the middle Prayer and stand before Allah submissively.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.239)

Thus, with such emphasis given to Salat, a Muslim, if they follow the practice of the Holy Prophetsa, will find it very easy to keep a routine. Offering prayers on time is integral to Islam and yes, as humans, we do fall and become lazy at times, but for the most part, the very act of praying five times a day helps us during lockdown.

Regarding the importance of observing prayers at their prescribed times and being consistent, the Second Khalifa of the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra stated:

“The meaning of iqamat-us-Salat is to observe prayer regularly because the meaning of قام على الأمر means to remain consistent in something. Therefore, the meaning of يقيمون الصلاة would be that ‘they do not cease in offering their prayers’. A prayer that follows with a cessation is not considered true prayer in Islam because prayer is not of temporary deeds, rather it is considered a complete deed, provided that there is no pause from the first prayer after repentance or after reaching an age of maturity until the last prayer before one’s demise.

“All the prayers of those people who tend to miss their prayers in between are rejected. Therefore, it is the obligation of every Muslim that when they reach an age of maturity or when Allah enables them to do so, from that time until their demise, they should not miss a single prayer because prayer is equivalent to meeting Allah and he who refrains from meeting his beloved passes a judgment contrary to his so-called claim of love.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol.I, p.104)

As Muslims, we are extremely fortunate to be furnished with such a structure for our lives that keeps our lifestyle consistent and in a healthy routine.

قَدۡ اَفۡلَحَ الۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ

الَّذِیۡنَ ہُمۡ فِیۡ صَلَاتِہِمۡ خٰشِعُوۡنَ

“Surely, success does come to the believers, who are humble in their prayers.” (Surah al-Muminun, Ch.23: V.2-3)

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