Too busy to Pray Five Times?

Before I genuinely began to cultivate and nurture my relationship with God, I regarded the five daily prayers that Islam enjoins on believers as laborious. It seemed impractical to expect that I would be able to stop what I was doing during my busy work schedule to take time out and pray.

Working as a news wire journalist, I was often spending upwards of 10 hours a day in the office or at conferences, interviews and meetings, barely able to make time for a lunch break. If I wasn't working, my time was divided between house chores, errands, family and friends, and exercise. I was punctual with everything in my life, except that I was late five times a day.

In my mind, it was not viable to expect that I could wake up before the crack of dawn to pray the early-morning prayer, fajr, otherwise I would be too tired to work effectively later that morning. It also seemed inefficient to interrupt my work meetings to pray duhr, the mid-day prayer, and asr, the afternoon prayer.

Making the sunset prayer maghrib was often a challenge because the window to pray is typically quite short and coincides with the time between finishing work, having dinner and returning home. So, in effect, the only prayer that was feasible for me to pray on time was isha, the evening prayer. For most of my life, thus, I would at best pray all five prayers in the evening, or skip prayers here and there to accommodate my immediate commitments.

Without realizing it, my inconsistency and approach to praying trivialized the principle behind performing prayers throughout the day. I believed in God and loved Him, but on my own terms, not on the terms very clearly set out in the Quran and Prophetic teachings. Yet praying the five daily prayers, at their prescribed times, is the backbone of being a Muslim; we cannot stand upright in our faith without them. It is one of the essential practices that God has called on those who endeavor to live in Islam, a state of existence whereby a human strives to live in submission to God.

When I came to truly understand the importance of prayer, the realization was both overwhelming and quick. It dawned on me that if I was not fulfilling this precondition, then I really could not claim to be Muslim. Even if I desired to have a solid connection with the Almighty I was not taking the necessary steps to do so. I promptly reoriented my life and it has now been a year and a half that I have not intentionally missed a prayer time, whether I am in the office, mall, grocery store, out with friends or travelling.

Looking back, I see how wrong I was about the impracticality of Islamic prayers, which are succinct and straightforward notwithstanding their resonance. When I moved from trying to fit prayers into my life to fitting my life around my prayer schedule, I instantly removed a great deal of clutter from my daily routine. Since regular prayer promotes emotional consistency and tranquility, I began to eliminate excess negativity and cut down on unnecessary chitchat, helping me be more focused, productive and patient.

Over a short period of time, what amazed me was how easy and fluid the prayers became. Performing the early-morning prayer actually gave me a burst of energy during the day and, gradually, the prayers that I had initially perceived as cumbersome became an essential facet of my routine. With God's help, I would find ways to make a prayer regardless of the hurdles. While in Canada for the summer, I would often catch duhr prayer in a department store fitting room, with the help of a handy Islamic prayer compass application on my iPhone.

"'Verily the soul becomes accustomed to what you accustom it to.' That is to say: what you at first burden the soul with becomes nature to it in the end."

This is a line drawn from a magnificent book I am in the process of reading by great Islamic thinker Al-Ghazali, entitled "Invocations and Supplications: Book IX of the Revival of Religious Sciences." Al-Ghazali describes a series of formulas, drawn from the Qur'an and Hadith, which we can repeat to help us attain greater proximity to the divine and purify our hearts.

At each turn in my quest to enrich my faith, I have found that what at first appears difficult becomes easy when performed with sincerity. Soon after I reoriented my life to revolve around prayer, the five prayers felt insufficient in expressing my devotion. I examined Hadith, or the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and discovered there were optional prayers I could add to my routine. Since then, I have not let a day pass without praying them.

To supplement my prayers, I have integrated various zikr, or remembrance and mentioning of God, into my days. Zikr, including repeating such phrases as "la illa ha il Allah" (There is no God but God), habitually draws our attention back to God.

Among the many rich invocations mentioned in Ghazali's book is this one which I have started to incorporate. As we leave our houses each day, if we say "In the name of God" (Bismillah), God will guide us; when we add "I trust in God" (Tawakalt al Allah), God will protect us; and if we conclude with "There is no might or power save with God" (La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah), God will guard us.

I suppose to an outsider, these acts of devotion can appear a bit obsessive, and I have had a couple of people say this to me. Yet it is an obsession with the greatest possible consequences that can improve rather than disintegrate one's disposition. The more time I devote to God, the greater the peace of mind I find filling my life and the more focused I become on what is important -- such as treating my family and friends honourably, working hard in my job, giving charity with compassion and generosity, and maintaining integrity.

Remembering God throughout the day, through prayer and invocation, truly does polish the heart as Hadith teaches; you erase obstructions that would impede faith in its purest form.

"Truly when a man loves a thing, he repeatedly mentions it, and when he repeatedly mentions a thing, even if that may be burdensome, he loves it," writes Ghazali.


Daliah Merzaban is an Egyptian-Canadian journalist, editor and economic analyst with a decade of experience in the Gulf region, Egypt and Canada.

Source: Dew Point

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  47 Comments   Comment

  1. zainab from Nigeria

    I could not agree with you more. This article nailed it so true.

  2. maryam jamilah from usa

    Thanks so much. I needed this at this time. thnaks

  3. Sister Aasiyah from USA

    This article is most of a working woman who travels the world and has had difficulty with the performing of the prayers of Islam. I felt sad and also glad at her sincerity increased to be obedient to the Creator and Protector of all things in Heaven and Earth. Obedience with Sincerity is complimentary to each other and thus very much needed to offer prayers five times a day and supplicate often to the Lord of all the worlds.

    The sister, has developed a better way of communicating with Allah Azza wa Jell, that she can do easily and still work. She fits her lifestyle around the deen of Al Islam and not Al Islam around her lifestyle. Big difference. May Allah continue to bless her and keep her safe, Ameen. As Salaamu Alaykum

  4. Rabi. from Nigeria

    Prayer as one of the pillars of islam should be taken serious by all muslims. I am glad you now understand that prayers is an essentail part of living.


    Masha'Allah, Alhamdu'Lillahi, Allahu'Akbar. Indeed,well written from

    an almost what I can read through, from the ENDEAVOUR of the Siter

    in question. She is the one who came to indeed realise that " There

    are Other Meaningful things to LIFE than WORKS". She had listened to

    her INNER FEELINGS which were for part of her somewhat BLOCKED.


    PRACTICAL WAYS FOR THE HELPS OF ALLAH-swt,reaching us consolidating

    of our FAITHS in the Process.

    Put simply, when we are or get hungry, we look for something to

    eat/drink. But when one sit back idly hoping for food to appear out

    of nowhere is just not REALITY. As small children while growing our

    parents are responsible to provide for us as we should provide for

    them during their old age. The other example I am giving is " For

    when we become ill, we are expected to pay a visit to a doctor

    rather than the doctor paying us a visit unannounced or not called


    In like manner, Allah-swt, will help us only on being asked for not

    demanded, for as long as we are the willing party needing changes to

    achieve. We cannot just be like "SHOW-OFFs" who are unwilling to

    CHANGE FOR THE BETTER in the long run.

    We should prepare ourselves to all sorts of situations just like we

    should TAP into OUR RESERVES searching for the TRUTHS. We should

    start to change ourselves rather than expecting to changes.



    EVERYTHING Allah-swt, has given us, whether in small portion or big.


    swt's, WILLS.


  6. Naimatu Abdullahi from Nigeria

    May Allah Guide us all and forgive our sins. For H.A one of the commentors, i will say if you put your mind with sincerity to the need to change from infidelity and pray to Allah For His guidance. it is never late and there is always hope as long as we are living.

    May Allah guide us amin

  7. Ayyub from UK

    Whilst I found commonality in the thinking of the writer and great interest in the story I found myself distracted by the advert to 'take a sip of Israel' picturing a male & female drinking wine.

    While I have no objection to the advert directly, I believe there is a place for everything and I dont believe there is one for this advert on this website let alone the middle of the article is such a place.

  8. Ahmed from USA

    BarkAllah feyk; soooo true. May Allah help and guide us.

    We have to always remember of death. The one who remember it

    he/she works for the hereafter. The one who forgets it, is lost in this world.

    Ya Allah make us good muslims.Ameen

  9. Babandi A. Gumel from U.K

    It is only Shaitan that is making effort day and night to make us

    become Ghaafil unmindful.If one becomes determined nothing can stop

    him/her from praying five times and following the Commandments of

    Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet (S.A.W) making Deen part of our

    Fitrah second nature. Shaitan has no other duty but to misguide human

    being from the right path like Malakul Maut Angel of Death has no any

    duty other than to take the soul of human beings day and night never

    get tired.So we have to be prepared daily never give Shaitan chance to

    misguide us.May Allah give us taufiq

  10. Youssef from USA

    Brother I just want to tell that I have experienced the same thing. I was not praying my daily prays on time either at work due to our work production schedule or at home. One day I realized that I was not practicing my religion the way it is supposed to be. So I said to myself I need to change this and practice my religion better the first I began to do is to get up early pray the fajr because it is the first pray of day and Allah said in athan fajr pray is better than sleeping. Doing pray fajr give the Muslim power and energy to start his day under the protection of Allah .To be a good Muslim and be close to Allah Sobehane Taalla you need to do these things daily

    1-Pray on time

    2- Dikra Allah

    3- Read the couran

    And you will see a difference in your life tranquility joy and happiness because Allah will be close to you

  11. Faseeha Noordeen from Sri Lanka

    Salams. An honest story that toughes the reader, as we all are taken by the busy world. I agree with the author that at times everything else becomes more important to us than meeting the creator at Salat. One experiences the effect of performing the Salat 5 times and incoporating duas in our daily affairs. One becomes more focussed, no time spent for gossips and chitchats, one feels the power of Allah in making us positive and perservering in our affairs, whether at home or work. Many thanks for sharing your story and it will uplift many readers and make them motivated, focussed and successful in the world and in the hereafter.

  12. Sister Sincerria from USA

    As Salaam Alaikum, Dailah. I found the reading of your article easy to understand and take

    in the points and perspective you expressed. This I am sharing with others and taking the

    writing in support of my own efforts to advance in the ways pleasing to Allah (swt).

    Shukron and possibly I can read more of your expressions, inshallah. Takbir!

  13. Kamaluddeen Hammanjoda Bello from Nigeria

    Alhamdu Lillahil Wahidul Khahhar.

    I'm really happy for you brother for realizing your mistakes and correcting them.

    May our Merciful ALLAH guide us unto the right path.


  14. Victor Sheriff from Guinea Conakry

    This article will go a long way to help Muslims who are careless with the five daily prayers.

  15. Faisal Farooqui from USA

    As Salam Alaikum. Beautiful article, MashAllah.

    Why do we not establish prayer in our lives? I think it is a "Fear of Commitment". Fear that we will get hooked on Prayers and will have to be conscious of them for the rest of our life!

    Please, please, please my dear brothers and sisters, I sincerely advise you to pay extreme and careful attention to your Salaat:

    1. Many of the scholars of the past said that the Muslim who does not pray, is not a Muslim

    2. when the people of Jannah ask the people of Hell-Fire, "What has caused you to enter Hell?" [Surah Mudaththir 42&43]

    The 1st thing that the people of Hell-Fire say in reply is:

    "We did not used to pray." That is the first excuse that they give!

    3. Rasul Sal-Allahu 'Alayhi Wa Sallam said that on the Day of Judgement the 1st thing that will be asked will be the prayer! If it is in order, then everything else will be in order; but if it is not in order, then everything else will be in disorder.

    4. Right here and now, let every Muslim decide "O Allah! Help me to establish the prayer!" Let us make the du'a of Ibrahim alayhis-salaam,

    "Rabbi ij'alnee muqeem as-salaati wa min thurriyyati" - make me and my offspring amongst those who establish the prayer. (Surah Ibrahim, verse 40)

    5. "The Prayer Prohibits you from vulgarities, obscenities and other sins." (Surah Ankabut, verse 45)

    6. To improve and better understand your prayers, please go to my article "What is said in the Muslim Prayer"

    If our whole goal in life is to end up in Jannah, we've got to get past the first question successfully... I pray that Allah SWT grant us the ability to follow His deen to the best of our ability, forgive all our sins and grant us all and our parents the highest place in Jannah, inshAllah. Ameen.

    Your brother in Islam,

    Faisal Farooqui

    Houston, TX. USA.

  16. tamim from ghana

    Salaam to all. I think this is the best advice we as a people working in the formal sector. For that matter we don't make time to observe the five daily prayers on time. If we call our self as Muslims then salat must be the number thing that we should think about before money.

  17. Joynul Abedin khan from Bangladesh


    All English Muslims person use God instead Allah. I think Allah is

    always Allah. No any word or language for Allah. Allah is only one

    word for all language. Allah is singular, but God is plural. God may

    be use for Jisu, Durga, Buddho,etc. So there you should use (There is

    no God but Allah) instead of (There is no God but God). Please all Muslims always use Allah and leave the God.

  18. baderinwa from usa

    slam alaikun,

    thank you for inspiring and educating us,it is very easy to get lost in this hussle and buzzle world.this article surely wake my soul up from slummber. may Allah continue to guide and increse you in knowledge.

  19. Fehmina from India

    Masha allah very nice article. enjoyed reading it! the toughest part

    of the day is to get up at fajar ,especially after sleeping late.Its

    so easy to stay up in the night to watch a program on TV or watch a

    movie but so difficult to read hadith or nafl prayers.. very well

    said that what becomes difficult initially becomes a habit. I have

    known a person who practices reading quran everyday and it so

    happened that he visited UK on an official visit and went to the

    mosque and there was a quran competition. The host of the program

    asked the audience if there was anyone to challenge a hafiz and this

    guy got and started reciting quran and then the hafiz recited quran.

    the audience found no difference in the recitation of both and the

    competetion was a draw.kindly remember me in your duas.

  20. Murtala MM from Nigeria

    We are blessed with what others will die to have but what do we do? we neglect it, prayer is like breathing everyday, I love ALLAH so much that whenever i remember Him i cried that i missed sometime not remembering Him, to be i love is to be with Allah.

  21. Sherifa from USA

    Thank you, my sister. I am struggling with being punctual in my salaat and this article is both encouraging and inspiring. I find at the end of the day I am so tired that I am unable to maintain my concentration on my salaat, whereas if I make the effort to pray the fard at its correct time in the office, it becomes very easy. I would like to do some of the extra prayers at night, but so far. I have not been consistent. Do you have any insights on waking up at night for extra salaat?

  22. Badmus Ridwan from Nigeria

    I always miss my prayer often, and even if I am to pray, it would be the fajr prayer, but if I tried to observe the other prayers, it would be as if I have been working for long and cannot stand up to go the mosque, but I do observe some other works like reading the holy book regularly and fasting, sadaqat, but I have a big problem with this Salat of mine, I don't know anyway to overcome this obstruction, please I need a good advise because I wasn't like this before, formerly I don't use to miss even one of the daily prayer, but presently I am the opposite,please I need help here.

  23. salih from USA


    I am sitting in my office after a long days work, All day after Zuhr today I had been thinking of make Salaat on time. I made Zuhr on time but was so busy and caught up with work that I concluded I will make the remaining prayers after Ishaa.

    I was just about to go make Wud when something esoteric sat me down to open my personal email account and check it. The first email I found was this of Salaat and at its proper time.

    At times i go for days and weeks on time and then get pulled away again. this email has energize me to perform my Islamic duties at the prescribed times. May Allah help us all who are in this predicament especially me, who has an office to myself and can close my office doors and perform Salaat and have the Dunia wait for me.


  24. shielu muhammed lawal from Nigeria

    I am a medical student, so it seems hard for me to meet up wit swalat.... I try buh I keep failin... Dis is a good boaster for me. Thanks

  25. muhammad from USA

    It looks like praying 5 time works for this individual and prayer may connect to Allah (SWT), assuming it is not for shoing off and putting down others. However, organizing yourself for prayer will definetly not make you productive in THIS world. Or else the muslim

    world will not be full with lazy people and we have to take shelter in the lands of the Kufar and be Beta males, while dream of sleeping with the Kufar under the guise of more freedom.

    We should get things right. Spend time for Allah(SWT) and get rewards in the hearafter. Spend time in this world working get rewards here. As simple as that.

  26. Riant from United States

    Hi Daliah, I found your quote is very inspiring and thought provoking

    : "I moved from trying to fit prayers into my life to fitting my life

    around my prayer schedule". Oh, Bingo! that's what I had been looking

    for! That paradigm helped me a lot in enjoying my prayers time,

    instead of forcing prayers to my life... and yes, everything else

    would flow easier. Thanks Daliah.

  27. salima mokgele from SOUTH AFRICA

    Asalaam walaicoum warahmatullahi wa barakatu.

    This artcile its so nice and it really touched me cause after I embraced Islam making nammaz felt like its really lot of work, but when time went on my iman has really growed and not making my salaat you really never felt like a muslim some thing will short on you, also same goes for musilmahs who dont put on hijab i wonder how one can call herself a muslim woman, please brothers and sisters time is too short to waste it lets recharge our iman,prayer its one thing that will open your gates of janna

  28. Mariam from US

    I've struggled with this same issue for a long time. Then recently the imam at our mosque started giving a series of sermons on patience. He directly tied prayer with patience: the patience to stop what you're doing even when you don't want to in order to pray. This had a big effect on me as I realized my problem was patience. Now I pray on time and feel happy about it.

  29. sergio barron from u.s.a.

    Reading those comments on feedback for that article has really helped me spiritually. i really enjoyed ,rewarded when i read those comments.

  30. Adrian Melendez from United States of America

    As Salaam U Alaikum,

    Very well written. Honest and genuine. I needed that.

    Thank you.

  31. swaley from Mauritius

    The more compliant we are the more success we'll enjoy in our daily life (in all aspects). ALLAH (SWT)generosity is infinite.It's up to us to take advantage which unfortunately we usually don't. May ALLAH guide us all.

  32. shabana from iunited states

    I Felt the same way ,praying five times a day seemed a lot,but i loved Allah (swt) and i wondered how many people found time to do their prayers steadfast ,but one day i got the answer to that question . Allah (swt) gives barkath in time for those people who are committed to pray and do good deads,t hey have nothing to loose instead they are blessed with more time and live a more peaceful and meaningful life

  33. Khalil Rashad from U.S.

    I truly love this artical because it puts everything in proper perspective. I am going to impliment a whole new effort in performing my 5 salats. I have to because I am Muslim and I will be question on the day of judgment about my behavior. Allah is the Greatest!

  34. Denise from canada

    I understand how hard it is to pray 5 times per day. I work at a job where we only get 1 break and depending on the time I start each day and the time of year, I end up combining dhur and asr, and maghrib and isha. And at times dhur, asr, and magrib together, then isha after I get home. I do not feel complete when I have to do that. My days off no are no problem and that is when I feel comfortable. I pray for the day when I can do all of my prays at their appointed times. ameen. thank you for the article, may ALLAH continue to guide you in the right way., ameen

  35. Mohammad munir from usa

    Bismillah Hir Rehman ir Raheem, Wa Aqeemusslat wa aa tuzzakat warqau maarraqeen, 2:43 And be steadfast in prayer; practise regular charity; and bow down your heads with those who bow down (in worship). Jazakallah ul Khair

  36. Usama from Pakistan

    May GOD bless u, me and all Muslims .Thats Really true that we dont want to spend time on 5 prayers which require 50 minute(Each Prayer 10 minute) out of 24 Hours(1440 minutes). Pray For Me When U R in

  37. Abdullah from Iran

    Jazaakallahu khairan

    It was so beautifull and also reasonable specially in the first it really appears logical for a person in today's world not having enough time to pray five times a day. But as you mentioned it can change the way we live. Thats it. We should submit towhat our God has ordered us to do.

    Thank you again

  38. Kareemah from USA

    This is a beautiful reminder for all of us and especially those of us who work outside the home

  39. Roes from Canada


    It is overwhelmingly important to understand that it doesn't matter if we love Allah, but most importantly whether Allah loves us or not.

    For that, logically we have to follow conditions or requirements set by Allah, and one of them is Five times praying.

    But everything comes with risk, test and commitment. I live in Canada as a professional. and I am telling you that the people here still have negative image about practising Islam. For that, I've lost 2 jobs just because I am praying. But I accept it, and alhamdulillah, everytime I've lost one, Allah gives me another, though sometimes I have to wait for several months. I am still standing now, here... But what the heck, we are on a temporary basis living in this world, right.

    I don't care if I got fired because of praying. But I do care if I got fired from Allah's mercy.

    Just for your information that I am currently making double than the average professional in my field, and still pray five times a day, and read Qur'an every single day.