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Pillars of Islam
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Nausheen
 
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Quote Nausheen Replybullet Topic: Inner Dimensions of Prayer
    Posted: 30 March 2005 at 5:13pm

Auzubillahi minash shaitan ir rajeem,

Bismillah ir rahman ir rahim,

Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullah,

This post is taken from Chapter two of imam Ghazali's Iyha Ulum ad-Din

REVITALISATION OF THE SCIENCES OF RELIGION

Abridged by Abd el Salam Haroun

Revised and Translated by Dr Ahmad A Zidan

 

The Call to Prayer

When you hear the call to prayer given by the Muezzin, let yourself perceive the terror of the Summons on the Day of Resurrection.  Prepare yourself inwardly and outwardly to respond, and to do so promptly.  Those who are prompt in answering this call are the ones who will be summoned gently on the Day of the Great Review.  So review your hearts now; if you find it full of joy and happiness, eager to respond with alacrity, you can expect the Summons to bring you good news and salvation on the Day of Judgment.  That is why the Prophet used to say:  “Comfort us, Bilal!  For Bilal was the Muezzin and prayer was the joy and comfort of the Messenger.

Ritual Purity

             When attending to ritual purity in the things that envelop you, do so progressively; your room, then your clothes, then your skin, do not neglect your inner being, which lies at the heart of all these.  Endeavor to purify it with repentance and remorse for your excesses, and a determined resolution not to commit them in future.  Cleanse your inner being in this way, for that is the place to be examined by the One you worship.

Covering Private Parts

             You cover the private parts; i.e. prevent certain areas of the body from being exposed to human view.  But what about the shameful areas of your inner being, those unworthy secrets of your soul, that are scrutinized only by Allah Almighty.  Be conscious of these faults.  Be discreet about them, but realize that nothing can be hidden from the sight of Allah, High Exalted.  Only through repentance, shame and fear will they be forgiven.

Facing The Qibla

             As for facing the Qibla, in doing so, you turn your external face away from all other directions and toward the House of Allah, High Exalted.  Do you then suppose you are not also required to turn your heart away from everything else, directing it towards Allah Almighty?  What an absurd notion, since this is the whole object of the exercise!  The Prophet said:  “When a man stands up to pray, directing his desire, his face and his heart towards Allah, he will come out of that prayer as on the day his mother gave him birth.”

Standing Upright

           As for standing upright, it means holding oneself erect – in body and in spirit – in the presence of Allah.  Your head which is the highest member of your body, out to be bowed down as a reminder of the need to keep the heart meek and humble, free of arrogance and pride.

Intention

             When forming the intention, resolve to be responsive to Allah by performing the prayer in obedience to His command, by doing it properly, by avoiding things that invalidate or mar it, and by doing all this sincerely for the sake of Allah, in hope of His reward and in fear of His punishment, seeking His grace and favor by His leave.

Takbir

             As for the Takbir (the words:  Allahu Akbar), your heart must not gainsay the words on your tongue.  If you feel in your heart that there is something greater than Allah High Exalted, though your words are true, Allah will attest that you are a liar.

Opening Invocations

             When making the opening invocation be very wary of distinguished polytheism in yourself.  It was concerning those who worship for the sake of human as well as Divine approval that Allah revealed in the Koran:

             “…whoever seeks to meet his Lord, then let him do righteous deeds, and never associate any other in worship with his Lord”  (Chapter 18 verse 110)

             When you say:  “I take refuge in Allah from accursed Satan,”  you should be aware the devil is your enemy and that he is waiting for an opportunity to alienate you from Allah.  Satan is envious of your ability to commune with Allah, and to prostrate yourself before Him.

Reciting the Koran

             Where recitation of the Koran is concerned,  we can distinguish three types of people:  (a)  those who move their tongues unconsciously, (b)  those who pay conscious attention to the movement of the tongue, understanding the meaning while listening as if to a person outside themselves; this is the degree of ‘those on the right’, (c)  those who start from awareness of the meaning, then use the tongue to give expression to this inner consciousness.  The tongue may act as interpreter for the inner feeling, or as its teacher.  In the case of those nearest to Allah, the tongue is an interpreter.

Bowing Down

           According to Ikrimah, Allah is referring to the postures of standing, bowing, prostration and sitting when he says:  “The One Who sees you when you stand in prayer, *And when you pray among those who prostrate.”  (Chapter 26 verse 218-219)  Bowing (ruku) and prostration (sujud) are accompanied by a renewed affirmation of the supreme great of Allah.  In bowing you renew your submissiveness and humility, striving to refine your inner feeling through a fresh awareness of your own impotence and insignificance before the might and grandeur of your Lord.  To confirm this, you seek the aid of your tongue, glorifying Allah and testifying repeatedly to His Supreme Majesty, both outwardly and inwardly.

             Then you rise from bowing, hopeful that He will be merciful towards you.  To emphasize this hope within you, you say:  “Allah hears those who give thanks to Him.”  Acknowledging the need to express gratitude, you immediately add:  “Grateful praise to You our Lord!”  To show the abundance of this gratitude, you may also say:  “As much as the heavens and earth contain.”

Prostration

             Then you go down in prostration.  This is the highest level of submission, for you are bringing the most precious part of your body, namely your face, down to meet the most lowly of all things, the dust of the earth.  If possible, you should make your prostration directly on bare ground, this being more conducive to humility and a sure sign of self abasement.  When you place yourself in this position of lowliness, you should be aware that you belong there.  You are restoring the branch to its root, for of dust you were created and to dust you shall return.  At the same time you should renew your inner awareness of Allah’s majesty, saying:  “Glory to my Lord Most High!”  Repeat this to add confirmation, for saying it only once is not sufficiently emphatic.

             When your inner feeling has clearly been refine, be confident in hoping for Allah’s mercy.  For His mercy quickly flows towards weakness and lowliness, not towards arrogance and vanity.

             As you raise your head, say “Allahu Akbar!”  and ask for what you need, making the supplication of your choice, e.g. “My Lord, forgive and have mercy!  Overlook my faults of which You are aware!”

             You then make a second prostration, reinforcing your submissiveness.

Sitting and Testifying

             When you sit to make the testimony (tashahhud), sit decorously.  Declare that all the prayers and good works you perform are for the sake of Allah, and everything belongs to Him.  Such is the meaning of al-tahiyyat.  Be inwardly aware of the Prophet, and on his noble person, as you say:  “Peace be upon you, O Prophet, as well as Allah’s mercy and blessing.”  Be sure that your salutation will reach him,  and that he will return an even more perfect greeting to you.  Then salute yourself and all Allah’s righteous servants.  Then testify to the Unity of Allah, High Exalted, and to the mission of Mohammad, His Messenger, on him be peace and prayers.  By repeating this two-fold testimony, you reaffirm the covenant of Allah, and assure yourself of its protection.

End of Supplication

             At the end of your ritual prayer, you should offer a traditional supplication, imploring and entreating with meekness and humility, confidently hoping to be heard.  Let your supplication include your parent and the other believers.

Salutation

             Finally, and with the intention of concluding your prayer, address your salutation (salam) to the angels and the others present.  Feel a sense of gratitude to Allah, High Exalted, for having enabled you to complete this act of worship.  Imagine that you are saying farewell to this prayer of yours, and that you may not live to see another like it.



Edited by Nausheen
Wanu nazzilu minal Qurani ma huwa
Shafaa un wa rahmatun lil mo'mineena
wa la yaziduzzalimeena illa khasara.
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Quote Nausheen Replybullet Posted: 30 March 2005 at 5:28pm

States Conducive to Perfecting The Life in Prayer

             These qualities can be expressed in many ways, but they are well summed up in six words, namely:  awareness; understanding; reverence; awe; hope; shame.

Awareness

             By conscious awareness we mean that state in which one’s mind and feelings are in no way distracted from what one is doing and saying.  Perception is united with action and speech.  Thoughts do not wander.  When the mind remains attentive to what one is doing, when one is wholeheartedly involved, and when nothings makes one heedless, that is when one has achieved conscious awareness.

Understanding

             Understanding the meaning of one’s words is something that goes beyond awareness, for one may be conscious of making an utterance, yet not be aware of the meaning of that utterance.  What we mean by understanding, therefore, is an awareness that also includes comprehension of the meaning of one’s utterance.  People differ in this respect, not sharing a common understanding of the Koran and the glorifications.

             How many subtleties of meaning we have come to understand in the course of ritual prayer!  Things that had never occurred to us before.

             It is in this context that prayer becomes a deterrent to indecency and mischief, for the understanding it brings is a positive obstacle to vice.

Reverence

             As for reverence, this is something beyond both awareness and understanding.  A man may address his servant in full awareness of his speech, and understanding the meaning of his words, yet without reverence, for reverence is an additional element.

Awe

             As for awe, it is over and above reverence.  In fact, it represents a kind of fear that grows out of the latter.  Without experiencing fear, one will not stand in awe.  There is an ordinary fear of things we find repugnant, like scorpions or bad temper, but this is not called awe.  What we call awe is the kind of fear we have of a mighty king.  Awe is the kind of fear induced by a sense of majesty.

Hope

             As for hope, this is unquestionably something else again.  There are many who revere some king or other, and who are in awe of him or afraid of his power, yet do not hope to be rewarded by him.  In our prayers, however, we must hope for the reward of Allah, High Exalted; just as we fear His punishment for our faults.

Shame

             As for shame, it is something additional to all the rest, for it is based on the realization of one’s deficiencies and the apprehension of sin.  It is quite possible to conceive of reverence, fear and hope, without this element of shame.

Wanu nazzilu minal Qurani ma huwa
Shafaa un wa rahmatun lil mo'mineena
wa la yaziduzzalimeena illa khasara.
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