What are reverence and tranquility in his prayer?
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was in deep reverence, rapture, and contemplation when performing his prayers. He would perform his prayers in consciousness that he was in the presence of his Lord and with reverence and awe resulting from this consciousness. Just like when a person becomes happy when he/she sees someone whom he/she loves, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would become very happy when he was going to the presence of Allah the Almighty, i.e. performing prayers.
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would reach the peak of modesty and pious reverence towards his Lord during his prayers. He would get a completely different joy from appealing and praying to Him.
One of the most significant issues of ritual prayer is undoubtedly the state of pious reverence, which means that the heart is filled with fear of Allah and all limbs in the body are in a state of satisfaction and tranquility. It means to concentrate and keep the eyes on the place of prayer, and to turn away everything other than Allah and to not give any attention to unnecessary matters.
Abdullah b. Shihhir (r.a.) depicts the reverence of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) as follows:
“Once I went to the Prophet (pbuh). He was praying and crying; and voices, like a boiling pot, were coming out of his chest.” (Abu Dawud, Salat, 158)
A prayer performed in complete reverence with body, heart, and tongue and in contemplation of being in the presence of Allah is an important means to attain Allah’s mercy and love. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) expressed the necessity of reverence and contemplation in performing prayer in his following saying:
“Prayer is performed in twos. In every two rak’ahs, there is a sitting (tashahhud). Prayer is the manifestation of reverence, modesty, and submission. (After finishing it) You raise your hands and ask forgiveness from your Lord saying Dear Lord! Dear Lord Dear Lord! Whoever cannot do this, his/her prayer is incomplete.” (Tirmidhi, Salat, 166) In other words, prayer is a servant’s realization of his weakness, the presentation of his destitute to his Creator, and the humble begging and asking for needs from the Lord.
When the Messenger of Allah led a prayer, he would not prolong it by thinking of the old and sick as well as members of the congregation who might have some urgent work to do. When he heard a baby crying in the congregation, he would even hasten his prayer thinking that his/her mother might be in the congregation; but when he performed solitary midnight (tahajjud) prayer, he prolonged it as much as he wanted, for there was no congregation to consider. He advised his followers that prayers with longer duration of standing (qiyam) were more virtuous. (Muslim, Musarifun, 165) This is why Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) prolonged his solitary prayers and enjoyed being in the presence of our Lord as much as he wished. Hudhaifa (r.a.) reported:
“I prayed with the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) one night and he started reciting al-Baqara. I thought that he would bow at the end of one hundred verses, but he proceeded on; I then thought that he would perhaps recite the whole (surah) in a rak’ah, but he proceeded and I thought he would perhaps bow on completing (this surah). He then started al-Nisa’, and recited it; he then started Al-i-’Imran and recited leisurely. And when he recited the verses which referred to the Glory of Allah, he glorified (by saying Subhan Allah-Glory to my Lord the Great), and when he recited the verses which tell (how the Lord) is to be begged, he (the Holy Prophet) would then beg (from Him), and when he recited the verses dealing with protection from the Lord, he sought (His) protection and would then bow and say: Glory be to my Mighty Lord; his bowing lasted about the same length of time as his standing (and then on returning to the standing posture after ruku’) he would say: Allah listened to him who praised Him, and he would then stand about the same length of time as he had spent in bowing. He would then prostrate himself and say: Glory be to my Lord most High, and his prostration lasted nearly the same length of time as his standing.” (Muslim, Musafirun, 203)
Prayer is to move away from worldly matters and in a way it means to be like the angels. This state can be achieved only by performing prayers regularly and greatly. In order to achieve this goal, one must pray and soften his/her heart in every chance he/she gets. With such practices, a believer gets rid of the spiritual burdens over him/her and begins to perform prayers easily. In this way, it would be possible to sustain the state of reverence and tranquility even after the prayer.
Being able to spread the prayer to the entire time and to sustain a spiritual state of a prayer after finishing it is one of the most rewarding acts of worship. Allah the Most High praises the believers with the following attributes:
“Those who remain steadfast to their prayer” (al-Maarij 70; 23)
Jalal al-Din Rumi (q.s.) describes the prayer which can take the servant to Allah and the state of those who protect such spiritual state in other times of the day as follows:
“The (ritual) prayer is five times (daily), but the guide for lovers is (the Verse), (they who are) in prayer continually. The wine-headache that is in those heads is not relieved by five (times) nor by five hundred thousand. “Visit once a week” is not the ration for lovers; the soul of the sincere (lovers) has an intense craving to drink. “Visit once a week” is not the ration for (those) fishes, since they feel no spiritual joy without the Sea. Notwithstanding the crop-sickness of the fishes, the water of this Sea, which is a tremendous place, is but a single draught (too little to satisfy them). To the lover one moment of separation is as a year; to him a (whole) year’s uninterrupted union is a (fleeting) fancy.” (Mathnawi, VI, verses: 2669-74)
Muhammad Parsa (q.s.) describes the attention that the friends of Allah give to prayer as follows: “For a Sufi, who is adorned with the light of remembrance and has reached the final stations of spiritual path, prayer is the most virtuous daily duty and the most perfect act of obedience, for prayer is the most perfect act of worship which consists of all the other acts of worship.”
Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş, Erkam Publications