You often hear the khatheeb or imam, right before the salah starts, saying “pray as if this is your last prayer.” Sure, but what does it mean, and how do we do it?
As one of the righteous people of the past said:
Pray as if Jannah is on your right side, Hellfire is on your left side, the siraat (bridge over Hellfire) is under you, the angel of death is behind you (waiting to take your soul any minute), your sins are above you (waiting to crush and destroy you), and this is the last deed, the one that decides if you go to Jannah or Jahannam forever.
Imagine that these are the last few moments of your life, of your last salah. Imagine the green, lush gardens on your right. Imagine the heat, the smoke, on your left. Imagine a bridge under you, thinner than a hair and sharper than a sword.
Imagine the angel of death, like the head of a team, waiting behind you; waiting to take your soul at any instant.
Imagine your sins, the ones people know about and the ones they don’t, the ones you make excuses for and the ones you justify, the things you know you should do but don’t, all hovering above you like a giant black mountain, waiting to crush you from their collective weight.
This is it; this is your last chance, your last moment, your last deed, before your books are closed, your story is over. Life is upon the ending; will your ending be good, or evil?
It’s your choice, to decide right now, in these last moments as you pray your final farewell prayer to dunya.
How would you pray in those moments? Nobody knows when they will be; they may very well be right now.
That is the feeling you want to capture in your heart and mind as you pray. Everything else in this life will fade away compared to that.
Try it. You will feel the difference for yourself.
Source: Friday Khutbah at ISNA by shaykh Alaa Elsayed, August 22, 2014.