Wednesday 4 January 2017

Word of the Year 2017: Salah

I really enjoy the annual practice of picking a Word for the Year and thinking about how I can use the word as a starting point to improve my life and the way I do things or to bring focus to something that matters to me at that time.

(image courtesy of Harlequin Sister's creative photography skills)

In recent years I have been picking a word for the year (WOTY) to motivate and guide me with some turning out more appropriate than others:

In 2011 my word was courage as I was keen to try new things and new directions in my life.

In 2012 I didn't pick a word as I was expecting Darling that year and struggling to stay sane through a busy time at work and severe nausea, so in hindsight I think patience would have been a good one.

In 2013 the word was discipline - in my eating habits, spending and family routines – I felt that I was very bad in being disciplined at these and by the end of the year I didn’t feel that I had seen much improvement.

In 2014 the word was focus – I had so many plans and felt so clear about how I would achieve them. However I soon found myself pregnant with Baby and every one of those plans went out the window, first because my body felt like it was breaking down under the pressure of a fifth pregnancy and then because my mind could barely keep up with the demands of five children and extended family. I have no idea what the word should have been during that - maybe acceptance would have been a good one.

My word for 2015 was shukr – gratefulness. I wanted to practise gratitude – for all that Allah (SWT) has blessed us with – the things we remember and those we don’t. My intention was to become more grateful for every big and small blessing in my life, but more than anything else it made me realise how much we have and how little gratefulness we show for it. So gratefulness will be an ongoing theme for me and one that I hope to work on and pray for indefinitely.

My word for 2016 was health. I felt that if I got this right it would impact so many areas of my life – my energy levels, my confidence if I lose weight, my long-term health, my budget, my conscience – I wanted to get my family eating as healthily as possible and to enjoy cooking good, healthy food. What changed during this year was that I tried to blog a monthly update on how I was doing with this WOTY – what I was trying to differently and what I was learning. I only managed to do this for part of the year, but it really helped me to reflect and to keep focus.

My word for 2017 is Salah, or prayer. There are a number of reasons for this. For all of the effort we put into trying to achieve our goals and improve our lives, I have always felt that the one thing that can really help me is salah and as part of that dua. Again and again I have come across advice and examples from the Quran and sunnah of the way salah has been used to fulfil needs. Whether this has been asking for your needs through supplication in your five daily prayers or through the optional prayers such as tahajjud, the night prayer:

It is narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra) that Allah’s Apostle (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, comes every night down on the nearest Heaven to us, when the last third of the night remains, saying, “Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?”” (Bukhari)

Abu Hurairah (ra) reports that the Messenger of Allah (
sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer.” (Muslim)

''The Dua made at tahajjud is like an arrow that does not miss its target.'' — Imaam Ash Shafi (ra)

I have also been quite self-conscious of my prayers in the past. I am mindful that the quality and concentration of my salah could be much better. Part of this is the busy-ness of life and the distractions of being a mother, but a bigger part is about not allowing those distractions to take away from the quality of my salah. I think developing or improving the ability doing this will also help me to become a calmer, more conscious person that can attend to what is important without being pulled away by what seems urgent all the time.

At the same time, the idea that salah could be the coolness of my eyes is something that seems so beautiful, but so far out of reach:

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said “Coolness of my eyes lies in Salah” (Ahmad, An-Nasa'i)

To be able to pray five times a day, to truly enjoy it and find such an intensity of happiness in it that you call it the coolness of your eyes, seems like such a blessing and something to truly aspire to.

There are a number of things that I want to do to improve my salah and through it my life insh’Allah:

Learn about salah – I want to review my recitation in salah and whether the movements and positions are accurate. This may seem very basic, but I have run through salah a number of times in halaqah’s (study circles), and every single time there has room for improvement, whether in the detail of the position or the pronunciation of a single word.

I would also like to study a little more about the benefits and virtues of salah, examples from the sunnah and also the punishments for salah. I believe that these are the things that will help to inspire and motivate me insh’Allah

Reflect on salah – I want to spend a little time reflecting on the words and the meanings in salah.

Dedicate more time to salah – I often miss the nawafil part of my prayers and sometimes when I am harried the sunnah part. I keep reminding myself that our purpose here and the most important thing for us to prioritise and allocate enough time to is worship:

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. ~ Quran 51:56

With this in mind, I want to try and pray my sunnah and nawafil. I want to take a deep breath and let go of the daily to-do lists and household tasks and let the children wait for what they need when it is time for prayer.

My older two children pray, but Gorgeous has been a bit more averse to salah, saying he is too young and that I can’t make him until he is 10, which he is this year. So I hope to bring him on this journey with me and get him to see prayer as an opportunity and a way to connect with Allah (SWT).

What would your word or phrase for 2017 be?

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Prayer is the best thing to be occupied with,, so perform as much of it as you can.” (Ahmad)

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The first thing for which the slave will be held accountable for on the day of Resurrection is his prayer; if it is good (by performing it properly and on time), then all his affairs will be good, and if it is ruined (by neglecting it), then all his affairs will be ruined.” (At-Tabaraani)

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “When any one of you stands to pray, he is conversing with his Lord, so let him pay attention to how he speaks to Him.” (al-Haakim, al-Mustadrak, 1/236; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1538).

The Prophet of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is quoted to have said to Abu Dharr: "Two light units of Prayer offered with contemplation are better than a whole night spent in worship." (Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 74, Page 82 and Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, iv, 686)


  1. I think I should take a leaf out of this and dedicate a theme for this year. So far, it's been attempting to getting to work early for 2017, and learn a new skill like sewing!

  2. Umm Shareef22 January, 2017

    Assalam alaikum,
    Salah is a lovely choice as word of the year. I feel very much like you that there is so much I could do to improve my salah, from praying all my Sunnah and nafl to varying my recitation in salah more. I am also working on improving kushoo which can be very variable.
    I hope that you will be able to guide young Georgeous to salah this year. It is not unusual for kids to resist at his age, but they need to understand that missing salah has consequences so sometimes a firm hand is needed.