// I need help with practicing Islam
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« on: Aug 04, 2008 08:33 AM »


Asalaamu alaikum brothers and sisters,

I became Muslim 8 years ago, and this site actually had alot to do with my coming to accept Islam.  Mashallah, sister Jannah and the others on this board helped me to understand Islam and helped me find the answers I was searching for. I have never, since accepting Islam, doubted that Islam is correct.  I completely agree with the concepts of Allah and the prophets (pbu all of them) and the others articals of faith. My problems, however, may Allah forgive me, have always been with the actual practice of Islam. Growing up "Christian", I said my routine prayers with my mom before bed each night ("God Bless mom, dad, etc), and talked to God (my version of dua) when I felt the need. That was all the action my religion had. Praying 5 times a day has been difficult, to say the least. The hardest part is that there have really only been 2 times that I truly felt any connection with salah. I think alot of the reason of that is the formality of it, but also the fact that it's in Arabic, a language I barely understand. I say the words and make the movements, but honestly, I don't feel anything. This makes me feel disheartened, and I feel like I waste my time when I pray-like I am not getting any benefit from it.  There have been many times that I have given up praying altogether for a period of time. I feel like a fraud calling myself a Muslim when I know that I am not doing my salah, but I feel like a fraud when I pray because I know that I am not really in it.  I need to find a way to connect with salah, because I have been feeling like Islam, dispite my logical belief in it, is just wrong for me astaghfirallah.

Sometimes I feel like I only stay Muslim because of my husband and kids and my muslim friends. This is wrong, and I know it. I have to be Muslim for myself and for Allah, but I am struggling with this so much... I believe in Islam, and I want to be a Muslim. PLEASE help me understand how to feel the connection to Allah and to find the meaning in my salah, before it's too late for me.

Jazak Allah Khair

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« Reply #1 on: Aug 04, 2008 09:01 AM »

w'salaam sis,

thanx for the complement. it's so nice to know that we helped in some small way in your journey!

i think one of the major things you need to do right now is study some Arabic. It COMPLETELY changes everything when you even know even just a tiny little bit of it. it just opens up a whole new world. check in your area for universities that offer courses, your local mosque might offer some, or your imam, or even if you have to find any Arab speaker sis or bro in your area and beg them to teach you some Arabic. it is soooo critical to your understanding of Islam.

most Muslims who have grown up Muslim have heard all these words and even tho it's Arabic they are familiar with many of the words and such. it is easy for them to get past the language barrier. they have the acceptance of the 'whole arabic thing' but someone who is new to the religion doesn't. it becomes just a wall to them.

please make a commitment to yourself to at least try to do this now so you'll be ready by Ramadan or at least will have the motivation of Ramadan to begin to do something.

in the meantime here is a nice pdf document of "What you say when you pray". I suggest  you have this out when you pray and study a few lines of it every day so it can start helping you.

Another thing I really suggest is praying in jama'ah at a local women-friendly mosque. HOpefully you have one! This really helps in raising your imaan and just makes the prayer 'more special' somehow.

um aboodi
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 04, 2008 12:34 PM »

salam

I think it would also help to join or form a converts support group ... do you know converts in your area?

You are doing what you can right now, so don't be hard on yourself.  With more practice, learning and patience, you will feel more comfortable with the prayer.  It is  great to hear that you don't have doubts about Islam and its tenets.  It is also a good sign that you are worried that you are not able to concentrate during salah. But don't let that worry turn you off from salah altogether, let it motivate you to learn what you need to achieve a better "connection" during prayers, and even at all other times. 

Just as an aside, most muslims struggle with concentration (khushoo') during salah.  For myself, since having my son,  my prayers have become more rushed and so much lacking in khushoo'.... subhana Allah life changes with kids, but I try my best and hopefully I will be able to achieve better khushoo' in the future.

take care
wassalam

ps I am a native arabic speaker, if anyone needs help with learning arabic,or  finding resources, pls just ask!
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« Reply #3 on: Aug 04, 2008 10:32 PM »

Asalamualaikum wrt wb,



All praise is due to Allah. May He make this site a source of guidance and goodness, and join the hearts of the believers together for His sake.



Honorable sister,

Allah May He be glorified, created this world as a temporary abode, a means, to achieve success or failure in the Akhirah. When there is no one left in the world to exclaim Allah’s Oneness, Allah will obliterate this Universe, and begin the Akhirah. He is All Powerful over His creation.

Thus, the dunya is not the goal of a Muslim. I am sure you are familiar with the authentic dua’ of the Prophet, may peace and Allah’s blessings be upon him: “Our Lord, do not make the dunya our main concern, nor the goal of our knowledge.”

In a hadith narrated by Muslim, the Prophet, may peace be upon him, once found a dead goat with mutilated ears. He said to his companions, “Who will buy this dead goat for one dirham?” They said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, we would not want it even if it were alive, so how about when it is dead?”

Then the Messenger said, “By Allah, the Dunya is even more worthless in the sight of Allah than this (dead goat) is to you.”

There are three states of people with regard to the dunya and aakhirah:

1.) There are those who give up their dunya for the sake of the aakhirah, like one who spends all his wealth in the way of Allah, or makes hijra in the way of Allah, or sacrifices time and effort for knowledge, or propogation of the religion, or gives his life striving in the way of Allah. They benefit themselves and others with knowledge and good works, striving for the akhirah. They realize the time in the dunya is short, in fact nothing in comparison to the afterlife. Such people are Foremost in the Aakhirah, inshaAllah.

2.) There are those who strive hard to avoid sins and to fulfill obligations. They neither withold their wealth nor spend it generously in the way of Allah. They do not go out in the way of Allah, striving to propogate the truth, but stay home, content with fulfilling their basic duties. They will be Companions of the Right in the aakhirah, inshaAllah.

3.) There are those who sell their aakhirah for the dunya. They swear false oaths for a small worldly gain in business. They earn haraam income. They trade their religious comittment and security for worldy benefit and security. For them, dunya is the goal, and the akhirah is a distant afterthought. They think they will stay in the world forever. They will be of the Companions of the Left in the akhirah, inshaAllah.

The Prophet, may peace and Allah’s blessings be upon him, said in a hadith narrated by Bukhari, “Be in the world like a stranger or a wayfarer.”

So, I hope you can see, the dunya and the Akhirah are not equal in the sight of Allah. Most Muslims today, unfortunately, have lost their yaqeen and love of the aakhirah. The Sahabah, may Allah be pleased with them, were most ardent in their love and striving for the afterlife. I hope the scholars and callers can encourage us to have more love for the afterlife.

May Allah accept from all of our efforts for His Sake. Oh Allah, do not make the dunya our greatest concern, nor the goal for our knowledge. Ameen.



And Allah knows best.

Be merciful to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens will be merciful to you.
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 05, 2008 04:20 AM »

ASalaamu alaikum
 Thanks to those who have responded already. I guess I should give you a little more info. I currently live in the middle east, in a Muslim area.  I understand Arabic a little, and speak a little, though not well. Before moving overseas, I lived in an area in the US with a wonderful Muslim community. I was active in the masjid and in a weekly halaqah group. Nearly every friend I have is Muslim, and many of them converts like me.  So this is not an issue of being isolated.  I will admit, though, living here, I often feel alone as a Muslim despite being surrounded by them, because women here don't participate in Islam outside of the home...I mean no masjid, not even for Eid prayer...and its rare for someone to even say salam on the street...that makes me very sad. I miss the feeling of community I felt in the US, where the Muslims banded together.
 It's also not an issue of not knowing.  I know, alhamdulillah, much about Islam. Of course, there is tons that I don't know yet.  There have been times during my life as a Muslim that I was strong in my practicing and my salah, even praying sunnah, memorizing most of juz amma, alhamdulillah... I can't say exactly when I think things changed, because it seems more like I went through phases of strength off and on. I know its normal for iman to go up and down...
 It just seems to me that more often than not, salah is a challenge, or maybe even an obstacle. I think that part of the problem is just the formality-I don't feel connected to it because I am just doing what I was told and not speaking from the heart.  When I learned the reasons for ruku and sujood, I understood them in historical context, but it seems difficult to relate to I guess.  Another part of the problem is feeling rushed because of my two small kids-I feel like I have to pray fast and get back to them, which doesn't give me a chance to relax in the prayer.
 Anyways, that's the story. I guess what I am asking is how to get past the formality of prayer and make the connection to it, and how to make my heart, mind, and body all be in salah, rather than just my body and voice.
Thanks in advance.
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 07, 2008 11:12 AM »

 salaam

The Purpose of Prayer

"There are men who say, 'Our Lord! Give us (Your bounties) in this world.' But they will have no portion in the Hereafter. And there are men who say, 'Our Lord! Give unto us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire.' To these will be allotted what they have earned. And Allah is swift at reckoning" [Al-Baqarah 2:200-202].

"Prayer is the essence of worship." [Hadith].

Prayer is communication with God. Everyone who believes in God also prays. But "how" and "for what" of prayer depend upon one's concept of God and outlook on life. The pagans of Arabia used to pray as the above verses mention. According to a recent Newsweek survey report, a great majority of Americans also pray, many of them daily. They pray for health, safety, love, and for relief of a "Job-like list of human miseries." Guidance to the Straight Path, protection from Hell and success in the Hereafter are not mentioned.

What is even more intriguing is the language of the Western discourse about prayer. In Western literature God is depicted as a wise old man in the sky and prayers appear to be petitions for solution of problems that it is His "duty" to solve. According to the Newsweek poll "85 percent of Americans say they accept God's failure to grant their prayers." God's failure? They debate: "Is God unjust or He only appears that way?" Others, like Carl Sagan, who died last year holding firm to his unbelief, ask: "Does God need to be reminded that someone is sick?"

This is several notches below the level of the pagans of Arabia. At work here is the arrogance of achievements in science and technology. In fact in one case the scientists are conducting an "experiment" to determine the usefulness of prayer. At the Arthritis Treatment Center in Florida, one group of patients will additionally receive healing prayers through the Christian Healing Ministry, while the other group will only receive medical treatment. By the end of 1997 they will have "scientifically determined" if prayers work!

For a believer this is blasphemy of the highest order. Prayer is not a polite demand for rights. God gave us life, and everything that we possess, without our having any right to it. It is His design and it is with a purpose. Our conditions of health and sickness, our affluence and poverty, our joys and sorrows, our apparent successes and failures, our gains and losses -- all of them are just a test.

 

"He created death and life that He may try which of you is best in deed."[Al-Mulk, 67:2].

Our ultimate success or failure -- in the Hereafter-- will depend solely on how we acted in the different circumstances that He chose for us. Did we seek His help when we needed help or were we too arrogant to ask? Did we accept His will when things did not turn out our way? Did we show gratitude for His favors or were we proud of our own achievements? And under all circumstance did we follow His commands or were we preoccupied with our demands?

We pray to Him because only He can give. He is not answerable to any authority and everyone is answerable to Him. He has power over everything and none can over-power Him. His knowledge is infinite while ours is infinitesimal compared to His. He is the Lord; we are His slaves. He may grant our prayers here; or He may reward us for it in the hereafter; or He may give us something better than what we asked for. In any case a praying person can never lose for prayer is the highest form of submission to Him. "Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was the best of mankind because he was the best in submission to Allah," says Maulana Manzoor Naumani. "Anyone who studies his supplications, cannot but be awestruck with the perfect understanding of our relationship to the Creator reflected by them."

One of the saddest days in his life came in June 619 CE in his visit to Taif. The pagans of Taif not only mocked his invitation to believe in the one true God, they also sent their urchins to throw stones at him till his shoes filled with blood. In great distress the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, turned to Allah: "O Allah, unto You do I complain of my weakness, of my helplessness, and of my lowliness before men. O Most Merciful of the merciful, You are Lord of the weak. And You are my Lord. Into whose hands will You entrust me? Unto some stranger who will ill-treat me? Or unto an enemy who dominates me? If You are not angry with me then I don't care, but Your favoring help will be easier for me. I take refuge in the light of Your Countenance whereby all darknesses are illuminated and the things of this world and the next are rightly ordered, lest I become the object of Your wrath and anger. To You alone belongs the right to blame and to chastise until Your pleasure is met. There is no power and no might except through You." Moving words!

Thirteen years later the situation had changed completely. All of Arabia had come under the domination of Islam. Paganism had been totally defeated. At the Farewell Pilgrimage about 124,000 companions gathered to perform Hajj with the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. And there in the plains of Arafat this was his prayer: " O Allah! You hear me and see me and know everything that I reveal or conceal. None of my affairs is hidden from You. I am a person in distress, a needy person, a beggar, a fearful person. I confess my shortcomings. I entreat You like a humble needy person. I beseech You like a sinful lowly person. I ask You like a person in tribulation whose neck bows before You; who cries in front of You; whose whole body trembles before You. O Allah! Do not leave me frustrated in my prayer and be the Most Merciful and the Most Gracious to me. O the best of those who are beseeched. O the best of those who give." Sublime words!

In the best of times, in the worst of times, Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was the same servant of Allah. His supplications remain a living miracle inviting all open-minded people to reflect upon the source of that level of consciousness of Allah.

For this Ummah, his prayers are one of his greatest spiritual gifts. How unfortunate that any of his followers should remain unlearnt about them.

 allahbless

Allaah (Alone) is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of Affairs (for us) [Aal ‘Imraan 3:171]
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« Reply #6 on: Aug 08, 2008 04:17 PM »

as-Salaamu` alaykum,
Dear Sr. ghusoon

I started praying at a very young age and to be quite honest, I didn't feel anything while praying .... but al-hamdulillah after many, many years I deeply felt this connection in my heart, so I had to go thru a long period ... where I was just praying without feeling the sweetness of ibadah.

Here's an article on 'How to gain Khushu in Salat'

May Allah(SubHana Wa Ta`ala) protect us and keep our hearts firm on His deen. Ameen.

I hope this helps insha`Allah.

W'salaam

"Do not treat people with contempt, nor walk insolently on the earth. Allah does not love the arrogant or the self-conceited boaster. Be modest in your bearing and subdue your voice, for the most unpleasant of voices is the braying of the ass." [The Holy Qur'an, Surah Luqman - 31:18-19]
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« Reply #7 on: Aug 09, 2008 02:03 PM »

Asalamualaikum wrt wb,


All praise be to Allah,


You may also benefit from reading the Quran with a translation so that you understand the words of Allah Almighty.  The feelings you are getting is Salat are from the shaitan, as he is eager to get you to abandon Salat.  The fact that you are fighting these evil whispers are a sign of Imaan in your heart, and that is very commendable.  May Allah make you firm on the religion of truth, and protect you and all the believers from the malicious whispers of the devil.


And Allah knows best.



Be merciful to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens will be merciful to you.
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