“A debt to Allah has better right to be fulfilled” (Bukhari, Muslim)
We find ourselves often overwhelmed with the efforts of daily life and exert so much effort in order to earn a livelihood. Our focus mainly: Earning an income. We strive so hard for the dollar/pound sterling/dinar and our efforts so often go somewhat unrewarded. The money that ends up being our predestined apportionment ends up in someone else’s hands, or in someone else’s pocket. Most of us have been in some kind of monetary debt at one point or another, and most of us are still stuck putting away most of our earnings to pay off massive debts that sometimes feel unpayable.
It’s worth a moment’s reflection to realise that the thing that takes most of our time (earning money) goes primarily to pay off debts. Debts that the beloved Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), after being asked whether striving in Allah’s path will forgive all one’s sins, replied, “Except the debt”. Rightly so we should be striving so hard to remove this burden from us, and rightly so we should be making duaa every night when others are sleeping for Allah Himself to fulfil our debts.
But hold on, did we ever stop to thank the One who gave us this provender and sustenance, do we owe anything to Him also? If I short change the shopkeeper, do I not owe him what I have taken? What then of the Lord of all Realms of existence? Have I not short changed Him in my obligations? And yet He sustains me and keeps me healthy and keeps the doors of His endless Mercy and Generosity open for me.
How much of our striving then should be directed towards paying back our debts to Allah? This is in context of obligatory debts, those acts of worship Allah had commanded of us to perform but out of negligence or ignorance, we performed them incorrectly or didn’t perform them at all! Above that we owe Him every single breath in our body.
Ok so I missed a few prayers, big deal, Allah is forgiving, besides didn’t I hear Shaykh XYZ say that I just need to increase in my Sunnah prayers to make them up on the last day? Well the real question is what has the Prophet himself and the Quran dictated about making up missed obligatory prayers?
“When any of you sleeps through the prayer or forgets it, then let him pray it when he remembers, for Allah Mighty and Majestic says,
“‘Perform the prayer for My remembrance’ (Quran 20:14)” (Muslim).
The vast majority of scholars, including those of the four main schools of jurisprudence, have concluded that it is obligatory to make up deliberately [or otherwise] missed prayers and fast-days, and have even reported scholarly consensus (Ijma’) on the obligatory character of making them up. (Reliance of the Traveller w18.0).
But I have heaps to make up! What am I supposed to do?
The beautiful thing about it is that Allah IS all Merciful, and so start now, when you still have life in you and energy; we love to plan and schedule everything, we can make this part of our daily routine. And if we die trying, Allah will see that we died trying and He would see that we had remorse, and out of His Perfection and Mercy He will insha Allah Forgive what was remaining of our debt to Him. But on the other hand, if He did not see remorse or fear, and did not see that we tried, what then can we present to Him on the Day when the first thing that we will be asked about is our obligatory prayer?
Don’t lose hope, know that you are not alone in this; just as we strive to pay off those worldly obligations and debts, as Muslims we should also see further into the next life and know that:
“And indeed the Hereafter is better for you than the present (life of this world)” (Quran 93:4),
And that our striving should reflect the eternal not the ephemeral.
Sit in front of a God fearing Imam, and ask him of the obligations of the prayer and seek help in judging which of your prayers need making up because of incorrect performance. If you are not in a place where God fearing Imams are available then reach out to qibla.com and learn the basics of your obligations and go from there.
Make lots of duaa that Allah relieve you and the rest of the ummah of its debts, this worldly and those owed to Him; start by writing down what you owe; think back to the “Bad old Days” and calculate how many days, months or even years you may owe and start paying them back, day by day, and within a year or two you’ll have paid your debt to the Divine! After that it’s all capital and then all profit, and when we retire in the next life, we can tell Allah we tried, and ask Him to enter us into His eternal pleasure.
We owe a lot more to Allah than just missed obligations, most of all His adoration. Allah’s Perfection is Limitless and every action we perform, we perform it out of pure love and adoration for Him Himself and nothing besides. Were He to look at you praying your missed obligations, and in your heart was nothing other than pleasing Him, do you think He would give you anything less than His own Love and Pleasure? What do you think the Lord of all Realms of existence would give to His beloved? Who do we have to run to other than Him?
Lets start running.
Qibla QA: Encouragement on Making up Missed Prayers Section w18.0 of the Reliance of the traveller, by Ahmed ibn Naqib al-Misri; Nuh Ha Mim Keller (ISBN 0-915957-72-8).
Qibla QA: Scholarly Consensus
Qibla QA: How to calculate Missed Prayers