PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE
There’s a well-used cliché that says “practice
makes perfect.” Anyone who’s ever participated in a
sport will tell you that while perfection is rarely attained, practice
is an important component of the sport. The basketball player spends
hours at the free throw line, shooting over and over again. He knows
how to shoot a free throw, but he also knows that if he doesn’t
practice he will lose some of his skill. That’s why the times
spent on the court are called “practices.” The football
quarterback throws ball after ball to his wide receiver. He knows
the mechanics of throwing a football, just as the wide receiver
knows the mechanics of running down the field and cutting at just
the right time. The tennis player serves hundreds of balls in every
training session; the golfer stands on the driving range for hours
at a time. For each of these athletes, what they’re doing
is practicing. Because without practice, little things slide by,
skills deteriorate, and precision is lost.
I think that’s the same reason that the things we do as a
Submitter are referred to as “religious practices.”
Every time we pray the contact prayer, we say we are practicing
our religion. Now, that has two meanings. The first dictionary definition
is “to perform habitually or customarily; make a habit of.”
That’s certainly what we’re doing when we regularly
perform our Salat on time and remember to give Zakat
cheerfully at the time of harvest. But there’s the deeper
meaning as well. The second dictionary definition is “to exercise
or perform repeatedly in order to acquire or polish a skill.”
That’s also what we’re doing when we practice our religion.
God says in 15:98-9: You shall sing the praises of your Lord,
and be with the prostrators. And worship your Lord, in order to
attain certainty. And the footnote for that verse says: “The
practices of worship are our means of attaining certainty (Appendix
The more we practice—or do our practices—the better
we become. That’s true for the athlete who spends hours throwing
or hitting the ball. And it’s true for Submitters as well.
God has given us these things to do to hone our skill, which in
this case is the growth of our souls. These are gifts from God.
We get caught up in our busy schedule and forget to think about
God. Then comes time for prayer and we draw ourselves away from
this world and back to the most important thing—the remembrance
of God (29:45). We’re given repeated opportunities to overcome
our natural stinginess by calculating and giving Zakat. The more
we do it, the more it becomes a pleasure rather than a chore. Fasting
is a great privilege that allows us to think about God and all His
blessings often throughout the day. Year by year, it has become
easier and easier for me to fast with grace. “Practice makes
So practicing the practices helps us become better submitters.
God tells us in 25:77 to say: "You attain value at my Lord
only through your worship. But if you disbelieve, you incur the
inevitable consequences." This verse reminds us that practice
will make us worthy of being with God in Heaven, but not practicing
will have serious detrimental results.
The athlete who fools around in practice and doesn’t prepare
properly for the game will most likely play poorly. For Submitters,
the consequence isn’t one poor game or even one bad season.
The consequence is eternal. Recite for them the news of one
who was given our proofs, but chose to disregard them. Consequently,
the devil pursued him, until he became a strayer. [7:175] If
we fail to practice and grow our souls, we open ourselves up to
Satan’s whispers. And he pursues us constantly, looking for
that opening. His goal is to mislead us and take us off of God’s
path. And he’s had thousands of years of practice!
So when the alarm goes off tomorrow morning and you hesitate to
get up—it’s cold out and so warm and cozy under the
blankets—remember the concept of practicing to become perfect
(or at least better) at Submission. The goal isn’t scoring
the winning basket; it’s winning in this life and in the Hereafter
by worshiping God Alone.
The true believers are those whose hearts tremble
when GOD is mentioned, and when His revelations are recited to them,
their faith is strengthened, and they trust in their Lord. They
observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), and from our provisions to
them, they give to charity. Such are the true believers. They attain
high ranks at their Lord, as well as forgiveness and a generous