That question was going into my mind a long time ago. Sometimes, I do not offer Salah and when I hear the call for Salah, I do not care. However, sometimes I offer Salah, thanks to Allah, and keep to it, however up to now I cannot keep to it for a long time. Sometimes, I feel narrowness in my chest and become tense, but I need a solution to make me diligent to Salah until I die; could you help me?
All praise be to Allah and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah, upon his family, his Companions, and those who follow him.
Welcome my dear brother to Alukah Website.
Your search for the things which help you be diligent in Salah is a proof that you have started to go into the way of guidance and the Straight Path.
Let it be known that Allah (Glory be to Him) guides people to the ways of peace, gets the people out of darkness, and guides people to His Straight Path in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah (may He be Glorified and Exalted) says: "As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (i.e. Allâh's Religion - Islâmic Monotheism). And verily, Allâh is with the Muhsinûn (good doers)." [Surat Al `Ankabut: 69].
He also says: "And guides to Himself those who turn to Him in repentance." [Surat Ar-Ra`d: 27].
So, Allah (Glory be to Him) grants guidance to those who resort to Him for repentance.
As for the main reason for not keeping to Salah is your easiness with yourself by not fighting the Satan until you have become like a spoiled child who offers Salah whenever he wants and leaves Salah whenever he wants. Reaching that point is due to many reasons, of which are the following:
● The weakness of your faith in Allah (may He be Exalted), belittling His Commands and Prohibitions, keeping away from His system, and ignoring the punishment which Allah prepared for those who neglect Salah.
● Indulgence in many lawful matters such as the desires of food, drink, and sexual intercourse which in turn lead to negligence to the acts of worship. Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "And eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allâh) likes not Al-Musrifûn (those who waste by extravagance)." [Surat Al A`raf: 31].
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach." [Reported by At-Tirmidhy]. `Umar ibn Al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "Beware of food and drink, for they spoil the body, cause sickness, and make you lazy for offering Salah. In contrast, be moderate because it is more useful for the body and away from extravagance. Verily, Allah hates the fat bishop, a man shall not perish until he gives priority to his lust over his religion. [Reported by Abu Nu`aym].
● Deep busyness with the worldly matters. The Prophet (peace be upon him) dispraised this condition and counted the person who does so a worshipper for the world. He said: "Let the slave of Dinar and Dirham perish." [Reported by Al Bukhari].
● Busyness with worldly life, neglecting the Hereafter, and the lack of remembering death and the Hereafter. The Prophet (peace be upon him) exhorted the people to visit graveyards because they remind them of the Hereafter.
● Negligence in fulfilling one's duties, committing sins, or enjoying the ill-gotten money.
● Keeping away from the fiducial atmosphere, the sessions of mentioning Allah, offering Salah in congregation, and sitting with the righteous. Al Hasan Al Basry said: "Our brothers are dearer to us than our families because our families remind us of the worldly life, but our [righteous] brothers remind us of the Hereafter."
● Losing a good example. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed away, the Companions said: "We found a change in our hearts." [Reported by Al Bazzar, and the narrators of the Hadith are Rijal As-Sahih (narrators of Hadiths compiled by Al Bukhari and Muslim).
● Mixture with the people of debauch and immorality is one of the greatest reasons that generate hardheartedness.
● Long hope. Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "Leave them to eat and enjoy, and let them be preoccupied with (false) hope. They will come to know!" [Surat Al Hijr: 3].
Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "The most thing which I fear that you fall in is following whims, and long hope: As for following whims, the truth shall be fought and as for long hope, people will forget the Hereafter."
● Busyness with children and family affairs from obeying Allah (may He be Glorified and Exalted). Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "Your wealth and your children are only a trial, whereas Allâh! With Him is a great reward (Paradise)." [Surat At-Taghabun: 15].
The perfect way to treat these diseases is by doing the opposite, of which are the following:
● Treating oneself firmly and not to be lenient with it in terms of the Hereafter. Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "Hold fast to that which We have given you, and remember that which is therein so that you may become Al-Muttaqûn (the pious)." [Surat Al Baqarah: 63].
He said: "And We wrote for him on the Tablets the lesson to be drawn from all things and the explanation for all things (and said): Hold to these with firmness, and enjoin your people to take the better therein. I shall show you the home of Al-Fâsiqûn (the rebellious, disobedient to Allâh)." [Surat Al A`raf: 145].
He said: "(It was said to his son): "O Yahyâ (John)! Hold fast the Scripture [the Taurât (Torah)]." And We gave him wisdom while yet a child." [Surat Maryam: 12].
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in the Hadith reported by Al Bukhari: "So, follow a middle course (in worship); if you cannot do this, do something near to it and give glad tidings and seek help (of Allah) at morn and at dusk and some part of night."
● Keep away from sin and evil deeds.
● Perseverance in doing righteous actions day and night, reciting the Glorious Qur'an prudently, learning useful knowledge, and reading the biographies of the first generation because it is the greatest matter which helps a person to adhere to the truth.
● Accompanying the righteous and the people of goodness, who guide the people to obedience and exhort the people to it along with abstention from bad company. Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "And keep yourself (O Muhammad peace be upon him) patiently with those who call on their Lord (i.e. your companions who remember their Lord with glorification, praising in prayers, and other righteous deeds) morning and afternoon, seeking His Face; and let not your eyes overlook them, desiring the pomp and glitter of the life of the world; and obey not him whose heart We have made heedless of Our Remembrance, and who follows his own lusts, and whose affair (deeds) has been lost." [Surat Al Kahf: 28].
Allah says: "Friends on that Day will be foes one to another except Al-Muttaqûn (the pious)." [Surat Az-Zukhruf: 67].
● To make a strong barrier from supererogatory Salah, so if negligence and disability hit you, it will fall in supererogatory Salah and not in the obligatory duties.
● Perseverance on the congregational Salah in its prescribed time; which is one of the greatest matters that help persistence on Salah.
● Knowing the means of Satan in blocking the way before you and prevent you from reaching the Straight Path and you shall find these means written in the book of "Talbis Iblis" of ibn Al Jawzy and "Ighathat Al Lahfan" of Ibn Al Qayyim Al Jawziyyah.
● Remembering death, the questioning of angels, and the darkness of the grave.
● One of the most important things that restrain oneself is knowing the painful punishment which Allah prepared for those who negelect the Salah in the Barzakh (the period between death and the Resurrection), and the punishment which awaits man on the Day of Recompense if man insists on that. Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "Then, there has succeeded them a posterity who have given up As-Salât (the prayers) [i.e. made their Salât (prayers) to be lost, either by not offering them or by not offering them perfectly or by not offering them in their proper fixed times] and have followed lusts. So they will be thrown in Hell." [Surat Maryam: 59].
Allah (Exalted be He) says:"What has caused you to enter Hell? * They will say: We were not of those who used to offer the Salât (prayers)." [Surat Al Muddathir: 42 - 43].
Allah (glory be to Him) showed His Prophet (peace be upon him) the people who are punished because of neglecting the prescribed Salah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "So, we proceeded and came to a man Lying flat on his back and behold, another man was standing over his head, holding a big rock. Behold, he was throwing the rock at the man's head, injuring it. The rock rolled away and the thrower followed it and took it back. By the time he reached the man, his head returned to the normal state. The thrower then did the same as he had done before.
until the angel said to him (the Messenger): As for the first man, whose head was smashed by the rock, he was a person who memorized the Qur'an but refused to preserve it; moreover sleeps without performing the prescribed Salah." [Reported by Al Bukhari on the authority of Samurah ibn Jundub].
● Fear from the bad consequences of neglecting Salah in the world and in the Hereafter because it is removes the current bounties and cuts the continuous blessings; the blessings of Allah are not attained but through His Obedience.
Of the bad consequences of sins also are: The loss of prestige, status, and dignity in the sight of Allah and in the sight of the people because the most honorable person in the sight of Allah is the most pious and the closest in rank is the more obedient. The status of a person shall be according to his obedience to his Lord, so if a person disobeys and violates the command of his Lord, he shall fall in rank, and his status in the hearts of His Servants goes down.
Of the penalties which hit the one who neglect the Salah are: A bad end, and the lower living standard because of the general saying of Allah (may He be Exalted): "But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e., neither believes in this Qur'ân nor acts on its teachings.) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection." [Surat Taha: 124].
Imam Ibn Al Qayyim said in His Book: "Ad-Da' Wad-Dawa'" to avoid these punishments, you should do the following:
● Continuous self-evaluation and leaving easiness with it.
● Asking the help of Allah (may He be Exalted), resorting to Him, and acting according to the ordinances of His Book, and the Sunnah of His Prophet (peace be upon him) along with discarding inactiveness and laziness, and asking Allah for protection: "O Allah! I seek refuge with You from helplessness, laziness, cowardice and feeble old age; I seek refuge with You from the afflictions of life and death and I seek refuge with You from the punishment in the grave." [Reported by Al Bukhari].
● Frequent invocation for steadiness because the Prophet's supplication used to say: "`Ya muqallibal-qulubi, thabbit qalbi `ala dinika (O Controller of the hearts make my heart steadfast in Your religion).'' [Reported by Ahmad].
Following these means along with good intention and recalling the control of Allah and that He knows your secrets are the cure for negligence in Salah.
Ponder over the saying of Ibn Al Qayyim: "The best cure for this case is to move your heart from this world to the Hereafter then direct yourself to the meanings of the Qur'an, trying to understand, ponder over, and think of them and try to know the causes of their revelation. Try to treat the moral diseases of your heart with these Ayahs because if these Ayahs were recited to the moral diseases of the heart, the heart will be cured by the will of Allah."
We ask Allah to guide your heart, expand your chest, enlighten your insight, take you to goodness and piety; and make you, us, and all Muslims firm on religion.
For more benefits, see the book of "Wasa'il Ath-Thabat" by Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al Munajjid, and see the following two Fatwas: "The ruling on those who abandon Salah" and the Fatwa of "I am irregular in offering Salah." And Allah knows best!