The biggest mistake made with prayer
Interesting history tidbit: prior to Islam, the Arabs used the word ‘Salah’ which merely meant prayer. It meant the casual, any-time talking to God that has no rules or prerequisites. After God sent down the Quran, however, this word took on an entirely different meaning. The new meaning of ‘Salah’ is prescribed ritual devotion.
Translating ‘Salah’ as prayer is a mistake and causes confusion for many reasons, especially for new Muslims.
While a person maybe used to just talking to God and asking Him for things, some people tell the new Muslim that prayer cannot be offered without ritual washing first, and facing a certain direction. This results in many new Muslims not praying to God outside of the prescribed ritual devotion.
The supplications that the Messenger of God said and taught were all in Arabic since that was his language. The new Muslim gets the impression that as a Muslim one must talk to God in Arabic alone. This creates an invisible language barrier in our relationship with God.
Offering the prescribed ritual devotion is a struggle for new Muslims. Having the wrong impression that Salah and prayer are one and the same, many feel very depressed as they feel that their worship has no meaning or is completely useless due to lack of punctually.
Most new Muslims (and born Muslims for that matter) are not Arabic-speaking. The offering of the prescribed ritual devotion begins as something mechanical, involving body movements and foreign words. Making sure to make this devotion on time each day is hard enough. If the new Muslim has been told that prayer is “Salah”, they become frustrated as they are not communicating with God intimately and can not find spiritual fruits in their devotion.
Here is the good news for everyone, especially new Muslims:
“You don’t need to know Arabic to talk to God, nor to communicate with Him!
You don’t need to know Arabic to learn about Islam, or to pray to God.
Speak to God in your own language with your own words.
Prayer is something very important in Islam and is something we should do at all times. “
Shaykh Ahmad Al Kurdy