By Zaiba Hasan
My eyes open in a gentle flutter, and I stretch to the musical purrs of my cat, Sage, at the foot of my bed. The sky is still in opaque darkness, and I feel a sense of welcomed aloneness as a new day has been gifted to me. This is the time of day, sandwiched between the night and the morning, that I feel most connected to Allah (S). My routine is simple: perform wudu, put on my robe, pray tahajjud prayers, make chai and begin writing.
If any of those steps are missing, my body and soul feel slightly off for the remainder of the day. As someone who prides herself on being a self-proclaimed “spiritual scientist,” I wanted to explore why I felt that way. In my quest to answer these questions, I uncovered the undeniable truth behind the power of prayer.
The Islamic tradition, rich in its practices and rituals, offers more than just a religious doctrine to worship and converse with Allah (S); it provides a holistic approach to well being that harmonizes life's mental, physical and spiritual aspects. Prayer (salah) and meditation (dhikr) are integral components of this tradition, deeply rooted in the teachings of the Quran and the practices of Prophet Muhammad (saw).
Let’s explore three ways in which performing our prayers provides so many mental and physical health benefits.
1. Mental Benefits: Regular prayer and meditation can bring significant mental health benefits. The practice of salah, especially in the early hours of tahajjud, offers a tranquil environment for self-reflection and connection with Allah (S). This quiet time allows for clearing the mind and reducing stress and anxiety.
The repetitive nature of dhikr, the act of remembering Allah (S) through phrases like SubhanAllah, Alhamdulillah and Allahu Akbar, functions as a form of mindfulness meditation, helping to focus the mind and foster a sense of inner peace.
Image source: Pexels; photo by Thirdman.
2. Physical Effects: Physically, the acts of wudu and salah are akin to gentle exercises. The movements involved in salah – standing, bowing, prostrating and sitting – improve flexibility and promote blood circulation. Regular prayer can contribute to better posture and muscle tone. Additionally, the discipline of fasting, particularly during Ramadan, has been noted for its detoxifying effects and its role in improving metabolic health. We know that’s not why we fast, but what a wonderful side benefit!
3. Spiritual Connection: On a spiritual level, prayer and meditation strengthen one's connection with Allah (S). This connection is pivotal in Islamic spirituality. It provides a sense of purpose and direction, aligning one’s actions and thoughts with divine will. Prayer is not just a ritual; it is a conversation with Allah (S), a moment to express gratitude, seek guidance and find solace in the divine presence.
This spiritual practice fosters a deep sense of peace and contentment, reinforcing the belief in a higher purpose and the transient nature of worldly struggles.
As advocated in Islam, the integration of prayer and meditation into daily life transcends religious obligation, offering a comprehensive approach to nurturing the mind, body and soul. My journey and subsequent research into the effects of these practices have led me to appreciate the profound wisdom in these rituals.
They are not just acts of worship but also tools for holistic well-being, enhancing mental clarity, physical health and spiritual connectivity. As I continue my daily routine of tahajjud, wudu and chai, I am reminded of the harmonious balance these practices bring to my life, enriching my days with a sense of fulfillment and tranquility.
Until next time, may you find peace, balance, and the power of prayer.
Zaiba Hasan is part of the dynamic duo behind the award-winning podcast, Mommying While Muslim. She is the founder of and a spiritual parent coach at Emerge Consulting Solutions, an interfaith mediator and sports mama extraordinaire. Look for her on the baseball fields and basketball courts in the DMV (Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Virginia) area cheering from the sidelines.