What are some practical steps to help build my relationship with Allah?
Short Answer: Remember He is closer to you than anyone or anything in the world, and He loves you more than anyone, and He is even more merciful to you than even your own mother can be. Check the details for practical tips that will bring you closer to Him.
Thank you for your great question.
Some practical steps to help you build your relationship with Allah include:
Remember all the moments of mercy in your life. These are the moments in which Allah saved you from harm or in which you felt happy and at peace.
Maybe you fell ill and got better, or almost had a car accident, or just felt that life is not all that bad.
I call these moments of mercy because it is Allah’s mercy for us that make these happen. Learn to look for these moments in your daily life and in the lives of those around you.
As you remember each moment, say to yourself “al-hamdu lillah” (all praise to Allah) and “la illaha illa Allah” (there is no God but Allah).
Talk to Allah. Don’t just memorize any set du`aa’ (suplication). But open your heart and talk to Him.
Remember He is closer to you than anyone or anything in the world, and He loves you more than anyone, and He is even more merciful to you than even your own mother can be. Share your dreams, your fears, your happiness, and your pain with Him.
Only He can help you fulfill your dreams, allay your fears, bring you happiness, and ease your pain. Allah is the only confidant you can be sure will keep your secrets.
The Five Daily Prayers
Try extra hard to concentrate on your five daily prayers. Listen to what you are saying. When you start the prayer and you say “Allahu Akbar”, do you know what that means?
Allahu Akbar, or God is Greater, is such a beautiful phrase, and if you could feel its meaning, this can help you in many difficult situations.
If you are being treated unjustly by someone in your life, say Allahu Akbar, and know that God is Greater than this person and remember that God is the Most Just and that on the Day of judgment, God and not anyone else will be the judge.
If you are going through an emotionally painful experience, say “Allahu Akbar“, and know that God is Greater than this pain and He loves you. So when you start praying, you first say to all your worries and fears and pain, “Allahu Akbar”—God is greater than all these worries and fears and pain.
Concentrate on the meaning of the opening surah of the Quran, Al-Fatihah, in which you say that God is the Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate, and is the God of all the worlds, and in which you ask this Merciful, Compassionate God to show you the straight path.
Above all, don’t rush through your prayers, but linger. These beautiful moments are special times in which you are standing before Allah, praising Him and asking Him for guidance. You are going through movements which Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us.
Imagine that the Prophet is the imam and that both of you are praying in front of God together. Remember that the nearest you can get to Allah in this world is during sujud (prostration), or when you prostrate your forehead to the ground.
Use those moments to open your heart to God and ask of Him what you will. Try to feel each moment during your prayers. But do not feel let down if you find yourself unable to concentrate 100 percent.
It is very difficult to do that, and it takes a lot of self-discipline and effort. It is normal to lose your concentration, and Allah will reward you the more effort you put in to make yourself concentrate.
Try to set mini-goals for yourself and take it one step at a time.
For example, you can set yourself the specific goal of contemplating the meaning of “Allahu Akbar” when you say it during your Prayers.
After you achieve that, try to concentrate on the meaning of Surat Al-Fatihah in addition to “Allahu Akbar”, and so on until you have reached a state of complete concentration.
Read the Quran. But don’t just read it without thought. Read it deliberately, and contemplate the meanings of the verses.
Especially read Surat Yusuf, which tells the story of the Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) and Surat Ar-Rahman, which tells of Allah’s mercy.
Learn to say “a`udhu billahi min Ash-Shaytan ir-rajeem” (I take refuge in Allah from the evil devil) whenever you have an evil thought. Take refuge in Him who can save you from all evil. Get up and make wudu’ (ablution) and read some Quran or talk to Allah, or pray two rak`ahs for Allah.
Volunteer to help out in your local hospital or orphanage or mosque or Islamic center.
You can also put some effort in learning tajweed, the rules of the recitation of the Quran.
Read a book on the lives of the prophets or the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
I hope this helps. Please keep in touch.