If you are going to meet an important leader or king, you will make sure that you are prepared. You will shower, perfume and wear your smartest clothes. When preparing for ṣalāh, you are actually preparing to meet the King of all kings: Allah (ʿazza wa jall) Himself. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “When one of you performs ṣalāh, let him wear both of his garments, for Allah is most worthy of being adorned for” (Bayhaqī).
Studies in psychology and science have shown that what you wear affects your behaviour and mental state. Allah (ʿazza wa jall) says, “O Children of Ādam, take on your adornment at every place of worship.” (7:31). Commenting on this āyah, the scholars have mentioned that it is praiseworthy to adorn oneself, apply perfume and use miswāk in preparation for ṣalāh. Doing this will:
1. Give us reward for acting upon the Sunnah.
2. Prepare us, mentally and psychologically, for ṣalāh.
3. Helps us give ṣalāh its due importance and seriousness, and thereby improve the quality of our ṣalāh.
Adorn yourself for the honour of meeting Allah (ʿazza wa jall), al-Aʿlā (The Greatest). Preparing yourself in such a manner should be out of your humility and respect for Him, not out of personal vanity or pride.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,
“When the servant uses the siwāk and then stands to pray, an angel stands behind him and listens to his recitation. The angel draws near until he puts his mouth on (the reciter’s) mouth. Nothing of the Qur’ān comes out of his mouth except that it enters the heart of the angel. Thus, purify your mouths for the Qur’ān” (Bazzār).
“If I were not afraid of overburdening my ummah, I would have commanded them to use the siwāk for every ṣalāh” (Bukhārī).
“The siwāk purifies the mouth and pleases the Lord” (Nasā’ī).
Just as you cover your body in ṣalāh (satr al-ʿawrah), Allah (ʿazza wa jall), the Concealer of sins (al-Sittīr), covers your sins. Remembering your sins (of which only Allah (ʿazza wa jall) knows) should invoke shyness in you, and fill your mind with remorse and embarrassment. It should make you lower your head and turn to Him in the manner befitting of a sincere repentant slave.