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Monday, January 16, 2006

why we pray

After a long and hectic day at work, how difficult it is for a tired
person to go out to the mosque and concentrate on his prayers to Allaah,
the Almighty. Snuggled up in a warm and cozy bed, how difficult it is
to get up at the call of the Mu`azzin: "Come to prayer! Come to
success!"

The famous doctor and philosopher, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), recalls such a
moment in his life. One cold and icy night, he and his slave were
resting at an inn in a remote part of Khuraasaan. During the night, he felt
thirsty, so he called to his slave to bring him some water. The slave
had no desire to leave his warm bed, so he pretended not to hear Ibn
Sina's call. But finally, after repeated calls, he reluctantly got up and
went to fetch the water.

A little while later, the melodious sound of the azaan (call to prayer)
filled the air. Ibn Sina began to think about the person calling the
people to prayer. "My slave, `Abdullaah, he mused, has always respected
me and admired me. He seizes any opportunity to lavish praise and
affection on me, but tonight he preferred his own comfort to my needs. On the
other hand, look at this Persian slave of Allaah: He left his warm bed
to go out into the chilly night, he made ablution in the icy water of
the stream, and then he ascended the high minaret of the mosque to
glorify Him Whom he truly serves: "I bear witness that there is none worthy
of worship except Allaah. I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger
of Allaah."

Ibn Sina records: "I learned the essence of true love, that love which
results in complete obedience." The love of Allaah demands total and
unconditional obedience. Allaah, the Almighty says: { Say [oh,
Muhammad!]: "If you love Allaah, follow me: Allaah will forgive you your sins,
for Allaah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful} (Soorah 3:31)

Prayer: A Cry of the Inner Soul

His arrogance and pride have often led man to behave as an oppressor
and a tyrant. Some men have been carried away by their own
self-importance that they have even claimed divinity. Pharoah, the ruler of Egypt,
was among those who announced: "I am your supreme Lord!" With his sense
of greatness and pride, Pharoah subjugated the Israelites and made their
lives wretched and miserable.

But is man really as strong and great as his ego tells him? The Qur`aan
tells us the reality of man's nature: {It is Allaah Who created you in
a state of weakness, then gave you strength after weakness, then after
strength, gave you weakness and a hoary head: He creates what He wills,
and He is the All-knowing, the All-powerful}(Soorah 30:54) Weakness in
the beginning and weakness in the end: This is the essence of man. He
is so weak and helpless at birth that his entire existence depends on
his parents and his family. If he were to be abandoned in these first
crucial years, he could not survive on his own. He needs a gentle and
loving hand, not only in his infancy, but in his childhood and even in his
teenage years.

As this child enters the years of youth and independence, he begins to
take control of his own life. He looks with pride at his strong
physique, his handsome features and his many talents. He begins to despise
those of lesser abilities, even scorning his parents, who exhausted their
own health to nurture him. He becomes unjust and cruel, using his
strength and vigour to dominate others. He thinks he is master, free to act
as he wills. But does this youth, these good looks last forever? In
only a few decades, he begins to lose his strength…his youth is replaced
by old age. Weakness in the beginning, weakness in the end."

The message is clear: The real Master is Allaah. He Alone is Mighty, He
Alone, is Great. He Alone is never tired, never needs rest, is never
dependent upon anyone. Allaahu Akbar! - Allaah is the Greatest! In our
everyday lives, we say a warm thank you for the small acts of kindness
which others do for us. So what about thanking Allaah, Who, in His
infinite Mercy, has provided for every single one of our needs. Just observe
the beauty and perfection of the earth around you and fall down in
gratitude to your Lord.

Prayer: The Ascension for a Believer

After the Messenger of Allaah e was commissioned for Prophethood, the
first thing he was commanded to do by Allaah was to pray. The angel
Jibreel u came to him and a spring of water gushed out of the rocks in
front of them. Jibreel u then showed Allaah's Messenger e how to make
ablution. He then showed him how to offer prayers to Allaah. He began to
pray two rak`ah twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
He then went home and showed his wife Khadeejah what he had learnt from
the angel Jibreel u.

From that time, the Prophet e never went through a day without praying.
Just before his migration to Madinah, he was taken on a night journey
to Jerusalem and then to the heavens (Mi`raaj). During this journey,
Allaah, Almighty, ordered him to pray five times a day. This prayer was a
gift given to every Believer to enable him to experience a spiritual
ascension five times a day.

The Prophet said: "The prayer is the Mi`raaj of the Believer." It gives
every Muslim the chance to communicate with his Lord. During each
prayer, the Muslim recites Soorah Al-Faatihah: This recitation is not a dull
monologue by the Believer, but Allaah promises that it is a
conversation between Him and the worshipper. The Messenger of Allaah e reported
that Allaah, the Almighty says: `When my slave says in his prayer: "All
praise is for Allaah, the Lord of the worlds," I say: "My slave has
praised Me" When he says: "The Merciful, the Compassionate, Master of the
Day of Judgement," I say: "My slave has glorified Me." When he says:
"You Alone we worship and your Aid we seek," I say: "This is between Me
and My slave." When he says: "Show us the Straight Path," I say: "This is
for My slave, and I give My slave what he wants." The Messenger of
Allaah e once said: "Prayer is the pillar of religion." (Narrated by
Al-Baihaqi)

He also informed us that Islaam is built upon five pillars, the second
being to establish prayer five times a day. (Narrated by Al-Bukhaari)
This makes the image very clear: Islaam is like a building supported by
five columns; remove just one column and the entire building weakens.
In the same way, when a person stops praying, his faith becomes weak,
and the mildest blows can cause it to crumble. The prayer is so very
important that the Prophet e said: "Verily, between man and polytheism and
disbelief is abandoning prayer." (Narrated by Muslim)

Allaah says, concerning the plight of the disbelievers on the Day of
Judgement, that they will be asked by the Believers: { "What led you into
the Hell-fire?" They will say: "We were not of those who prayed." }
(Soorah 74:42-43). Allaah also says: { Successful indeed are the
Believers, those who humble themselves in their prayers} (Soorah 23:1-2), and: {
And those who guard [strictly] their worship, such will be the honoured
ones in the Gardens [of Bliss]} (Soorah 70: 34-35).

Allaah has emphasized the need for humility and concentration in
prayers. There is no doubt that Satan is the most bitter enemy of man; he
always tries to disturb the Believer's prayers. He (the worshipper)finds
his mind suddenly engulfed with memories, problems, worries, work and
his family… and he will often find himself wondering whether he has
prayed three rak`ah or four. This is how Satan steals the prayer. Man was
created only to worship Allaah. He says: { I created not the jinns and
mankind except to worship me } (Soorah 51:56). Man is to live in this
world as a worshipper of Allaah and prayer is the best for of worship. On
the Day of Judgement, man will have to answer for his deeds. Allaah
says: { Then shall you be questioned about the joy [you indulged in] }
(Soorah 102:8)

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