This excellent piece by Imam Zaid is making it’s rounds throughout the online ummah. MashaAllah, I wish he’d write more often.
In particular, I think this point should be getting a lot more play in muslim circles:
Namely, our religion is not an empty compilation of laws and strictures. The law is important and willingly accepting it is one of the keys to our salvation. However, the law is also a means to point us toward a higher ethical end. We are reminded in the Qur’an, “Surely, the prayer wards off indecency and lewdness.” (29:45)
We submit because that is what Allah (swt) asks of us. But if your outward actions are not affecting your inner state, then you’re doing something wrong.
This is something AbuS mentioned that he observed in Egypt. People showed the outward signs of piety, and were mashaAllah praying more often. But their good character was lacking and showed in their interactions with others.
If you turn your head to the right and left, giving your salaams at the end of your salat, and you stand up the same person who initially stood for prayer, then you need to sit back down and reflect.