“Women and perfume have been made dear to me, and my utmost joy has been put in ṣalāh.” (Nasā’ī)
The Prophet ﷺ would gain extreme pleasure and joy in his ṣalāh. This was a result of his perfection in conversing privately with his Lord, being conscious of His Greatness and basking in His Presence. Because of this he ﷺ said to Bilāl (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu), “Stand O Bilāl (and announce the call to prayer), and bring us comfort through ṣalāh” (Abū Dāwūd).
Ibn al-Qayyim (raḥimahullāh) explains that when you perform ṣalāh with khushūʿ, fulfilling all of its rights and conditions and you turn your mind and heart to Allah, you will feel light, as though all of your burdens have been washed away. You will be full of energy but also calm and peaceful. Such feelings will make you wish you could remain in that prayer for ever. Ṣalāh is the coolness of the eye, the delight of the soul and the paradise of the heart. Until you enter into ṣalāh, and seek comfort in it and not away from it, you will feel as though you are constricted and chained up in a prison.
The peace, joy and intensity experienced in ṣalāh performed with khushūʿ is the result of a noble soul leaving the earthly realms and circling the Throne of Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā).
Why We May Struggle to Experience The Sweetness
If your heart and joy is in ṣalāh, you will find comfort in it and will rush to it eagerly. If your heart is distanced from Allah (ʿazza wa jall), however, and filled with the love of this world, your ṣalāh will be a struggle. No matter how ‘healthy’ and ‘free’ you are, performing ṣalāh will feel like a burden and a chore.
Our approach to ṣalāh is sometimes evident through our language. We may say, “Let me get my ṣalāh over and done with so that I can see to this and that.” If we think of ṣalāh as a chore, then it will feel like a chore. Conversely, thinking of ṣalāh as the great gift and source of comfort that it is, will – by His Permission – help us in attaining genuine peace and happiness.
Ibn Taymiyyah (raḥimahullāh) once said, “If you don’t find sweetness and joy in the deed you perform, then doubt its sincerity, for Allah (ʿazza wa jall) is Shakūr (Most Appreciative and Rewarding).” This means that Allah will reward His servant for his deeds in this world by granting him sweetness and tranquillity in his heart. But if he finds that his heart lacks delight and joy, then his deed is imperfect and defective.
Tasting The Sweetness of Worship: Life-Changing
“We are in a garden, where our food is khushūʿ, and our drink is the tears that flow.” – Ibn al-Jawzī (raḥimahullāh)
Experiencing the ‘sweetness’ (ḥalāwah) of ṣalāh and of other acts of worship is a game changer. Once you have experienced it, your life will change and you will forever crave its pleasure.
Think back to the last time you experienced the sweetness of īmān and worship. Perhaps it was in Ramaḍān. Or maybe it was during your ʿumrah or ḥajj trip. Or maybe you were going through a difficult time in your life, and you cried your eyes out to Him in sajdah. The experience felt at that moment – the feeling of closeness to Allah (ʿazza wa jall) and of finding peace and contentment in His company – does not have to be momentary. Instead, by striving to improve your ṣalāh, you can experience this feeling more frequently.
“Whoever is delighted by the prayer in this world, will be delighted by nearness to his Lord in this world and the next.” – Ibn al-Qayyim (raḥimahullāh)