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How often we give ourselves the excuses for being late for the salah. We are late for fajr because we woke up late, late for zuhr and ‘asr because of work, late for maghreb because of rush hour, late for ‘isha because of dinner!

Each time we were late, we felt bad and promised ourselves that we wont repeat this same mistake again. And guess what? For the next salah, we are late again

We take it lightly. In fact we tell ourselves that at leat we prayed! Alhumdulilah. But we must realize that the lateness in salah can make a direct impact on the spirituality and character, and affecting persons overall productivity.

Why being chronically late for salah is bad for you?

When you are always late for salah, it says a lot about you and your character. It shows that you lack discipline, internal strength, and integrity to be where you are supposed to be ‘on time’ for your most important appointments of the day, and you are not dependable.

No one likes to say about themselves that they are not dependable or lack discipline, but actions speak louder than words, and being late for salah is the first warning that you are on a slippery slope towards being chronically late in everything else in your life.

Al-Hasan Al-Basri said:

“When salah is the least of your concerns, then what is your most important concern? As much as you fix your salah, your life will be fixed. Did you not know that salah was equated with Success: ‘Come to Prayer, Come to Success.’ How can you ask Allah for success when you are not responding to His right upon you?”

If you are wondering why there is a delay in your sustenance, in your marriage, in your work, in your health, look into your salah: are you delaying it?

Why are we late for salah?

Spiritual reasons

Lack of understanding of who Allah is: it is a sign that we have not understtod Allah truly. We have failed to comprehend His power and majesty. You probably have heard the cliche’ example of “If you are invited by the King or the President or the Prime Minister of a country, would you not attend in your best manners, best clothes, and very early? How come when Allah , the King of kings, invites us for salah, we do not take this invitation seriously?”

Lack of appreciation of the gift of salah: On the night ofIsra and Miraj, salah was the only obligation that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him) Every other obligation was revealed here on earth. It is as if Allah is sending the message that salah is so important that He wants to gift it personally to Prophet Muhamad and his Ummah. When we are late for salah, what does that tell us about our appreciation of this gift from Allah ?

Lack of knowledge of the relation between salah and rizq (sustenance) : The number one excuse people (including myself) use for being late for salah is that they are chasing after their sustenance. You hear excuses such as “I have a meeting…”, “I have an important call…”, “I have a lecture…” etc. What we fail to realise is that by delaying our salah and taking salah so lightly, the barakah is being removed from our sustenance even if we make material gain during the period we miss salah. Allah Ar-Razzaq says in the Qur’an:

“And enjoin prayer upon your family [and people] and be steadfast therein. We ask you not for provision; We provide for you, and the [best] outcome is for [those of] righteousness.”[Qur’an: Chapter 20, Verse 132]

Notice how Allah linked salah with seeking provision and He is promising us through these verses that if we pray and enjoin our families to pray, He will provide for us.

Practical reasons

Underestimating how long things will take: It doesn’t take 5 minutes. It takes more as it involves all the other activities as well. Prepareing yourself before salah like doing wudoo and putting on decent clothing and walking towards masjid etc. thinking it is 5 minute job is wrong and then when it takes longer we tend to lag in it.

Procrastination: A lot of times the reason why I am late for salah is that I procrastinate on a task earlier on those days or weeks. This procrastination then leads to impending non-negotiable deadlines that I have to meet and does not allow me to make it for salah on time.

Enjoying the ‘rush’: we tend to try to finish all our pending work between adhan and iqama. As a result sometimes the tasks take longer and we are late for the most important task.

How to break out of being chronically late for salah?

Being chronically late for salah is a pattern and the moment you understand how that pattern develops, you can make small tweaks in your daily life and mindset, and develop a new pattern that helps you make it to salah on time – every time. Below are the top 10 tips to break out of being chronically late for salah:

Own up to the problem: Admit you have a problem of being late. If you think you are OK, and that you should be applauded for just praying, then you will never take this lateness seriously. By realising that being late for salah is not what Allah or His Messenger love, it forces you to own up to the problem and want to do something about it.

Redefine punctuality as a matter of faith: We hear the verse from the Qur’an that says:

“…Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times”[Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 103]

Let us internalize it and make it part of our faith. Ask yourself the following questions: Do you truly believe that Allah is calling you to meet Him?

Do you truly believe that salah is His gift for you?

Do you truly believe that success, sustenance, and barakah will come from praying on time? If you do, then be punctual with your salah and show Allah that you are eager to meet Him.

Note the benefits of being on time for salah: Unfortunately for some people, they think it is a waste of time to be early for salah. They say, “What will I do? Just sit there and wait?” What they do not realise is the immense virtue of simply waiting for salah.

1. Narrated ‘Abdullah :

I asked the Prophet “Which deed is the dearest to Allah ?” He replied, “To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times.” [Bukhari]

2.Narrated Abu Huraira : Allah’s Apostle said, “The angels keep on asking for Allah’s Blessing and Forgiveness for anyone of you as long as he is at his Musalla (praying place) and does not do Hadath (passing wind). The angels say, ‘O Allah! Forgive him and be Merciful to him.’ Each one of you is in the prayer as long as you are waiting for the prayer and nothing but the prayer detains you from going to your family.” [Muslim]

3. Narrated Abu Huraira : The Prophet said: “If the people knew the reward for the zuhr prayer in its early time, they would race for it. If they knew the reward for the ‘isha and the fajr prayers in congregation, they would join them even if they had to crawl. If they knew the reward for the first row, they would draw lots for it.” [Bukhari]

Stop work at adhan: Allah says in the Qur’an:

“So woe to those who pray [but] those who are heedless of their prayer” [Qur’an: Chapter 107, Verses 4-5]

This verse is a stern warning for those of us who pray but are heedless of their prayers and do not give it its due attention. The safe thing to do, when you hear the adhan or you know it is time for salah, is to get ready for it and answer the call of Allah .

Keep things at specific places: One of the biggest reasons people end up late is they misplace something they need before going out. Could be their keys, wallet, handbags, etc. Do not fall for this and keep things at a particular place and leave important things (keys, wallet etc.) by the door that you are not wasting time trying to find them and ending up waiting for salah.

Keep a salah clock in around the house: To inspire your family to always pray on time and not delay salah, purchase one salah wall clock and have it somewhere centrally in the house. Train your children when they hear the adhan from this clock (especially if they do not live close to a masjid) to drop what they are doing and get ready for salah.

And this is a note to parents: If your kids see you are careless about salah and do not drop what you are doing to get ready for it when the adhan goes off, guess what the children will learn!

Plan your life around salah: All the aforesaid tips boil down to planning your life around salah.

“Plan your life around salah and not the other way around!”

Do not put anything between you and salah: What this means is that you should not place an errand or a task or somebody between you and salah. The moment the adhan goes off, do not say ‘I will pass by the groceries and then head out to salah’ or ‘I will send this e-mail and then I will pray’ or ‘I will beat the rush hour traffic then I will pray.’ Do not place anything between you and salah. This is the guidance of the Prophet who would be with his family helping them and serving them, but when the adhan is called, he would proceed for salah.

‘Aishah was asked: “What did Messenger of Allah used to do inside his house?” She answered: “He used to keep himself busy helping members of his family, and when it was the time for salah (the prayer), he would get up for prayer.” [Bukhari]

Final note

Prophet Muhammad taught us that on the Day of Judgement when the people of Heaven enter Heaven, and the people of Hell enter Hell, there will be a special day every week (Friday according to most hadith) where people of heaven will be called to meet Allah . On that Day, we will be sitting in rows and speaking to Allah . But the interesting bit is: How close you are to Allah on that Day, i.e. which row you will be sitting at, depends on how early you used to go for Jumuah.

It was narrated that ‘Alqamah said: “I went out with ‘Abdullah to Friday (prayer), and he found three men who arrived before him. He said: ‘The fourth of four, and the fourth of four is not far away. I heard the Messenger of Allah say: “On the Day of Resurrection people will gather near Allah according to how early they came to Friday (prayer), the first, second, and third.’” Then he said: ‘The fourth of four, and the fourth of four is not far away.’” [Ibn Majah]

Those who are always keen to be in the first rows of the masjid for Jumuah will be the closest to Him on the day Allah meet people of the Heaven. Now think about it this way: If throughout the week, you’ve been practicing with the 5 daily prayers to be there early and on-time, don’t you think it’d be easier for you to be early for Jumuah?

So next time when you are tempted to be late for salah (especially for Jumuah), ask yourself: Am I willing to fall further and further behind in the rows on that Day when there will be nothing sweeter or more special than being closer to Him?

May Allah make us all of those who are in the front rows in this life and the next.

What are your tips for always being early to salah? Share them with us in the comments!


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