Review: Salat (Prayer): The Mode of Divine Proximity and Recognition

Salat(Prayer): The Mode of Divine Proximity and Recognition

First, I would like to mention¬†a disclaimer. This text is written in the Shiite tradition, of which I do not identify. Because of this, I could not take everything it said to heart especially in matters of fiqh (islamic lifestyle codes). I took some issue with the final chapter of the text since it seems it was written to promote the Shiite ideology and I disagreed with some of it’s points. Additionally, I cannot speak to the authenticity or caliber of references sited in the text as I was not familiar with many of them. Despite all this, just as I have been open to reading sources outside of the Islamic tradition, I felt a duty to give this source a chance also.

I stumbled upon this resource while browsing the internet one day so I thought it divine providence in some sense. I am working to improve my prayers and here is a text that seems promising. I did not read it it all in one go, but rather over many months due to being consistently interrupted. It may be due to this that I did not find the text to be as compelling or inspiring as I would have hoped.

Overall, the text leans more towards the theoretical and conceptual aspects of prayer. It starts with a discussion on the nature of salah and ends by drawing connections between salah and the identity of a believer. There are some truly intriguing ideas: salah being a time when Allah allows you to know Him, wudu being a proper preparation for a grand meeting, and salah being a way to recognize the greatness of Allah. On an intellectual level there really is a lot of food for thought throughout the text.

Practically speaking though, it’s difficult to translate the book’s ideas into habits. Understanding the greatness of the act of prayer is inspiring in the moment, but doesn’t lend itself to a steady means of improving prayer. I have gained more appreciation for how lucky we are to have prayer as a tenant in our faith; to have Allah ask of us to meet with Him every day five times. Beyond that though, I’m not really sure how to transform the ideas into action. Furthermore, I feel a little more guilty now, further recognizing the greatness of the act of salah, and still failing to give it its due. I know prayer is important, and I wanted to do a better job, I just need to figure out how.

Bottom Line: While there are some interesting points brought up in the text, they seem overall muddied by lofty discussions and by tangents.

Recommend: No.