September 21, 2020 | Safar 3, 1442
Getting Up for Worship
Al-Sajdah (The Prostration) Sura 32: Verse 15-17
"Only they believe in Our revelations who, whenever they are reminded of them, fall down prostrating themselves in adoration, and extol their Lord's limitless glory and praise; and who are never arrogant; who drag themselves out of their beds at night to pray to their Lord in fear and hope; and who are charitable with what We provide for them. No one can imagine what blissful delights have been kept in store for them as a reward for what they used to do."
This is a pleasant image of believing souls which are so gentle and sensitive. They are sincere in the devotion they address to God alone. No arrogance or pride creeps into their hearts. They receive God's revelation with interest and acceptance, eager to understand and act on them. When these believers are reminded of God's revelations, they "fall down prostrating themselves in adoration." They are keenly influenced by what they are told, glorify God and feel His majesty. Hence, their first reaction is to fall down prostrating themselves. This is the best expression of their feelings, putting their foreheads on the ground in adoration. With this physical gesture, they "extol their Lord's limitless glory and praise." They are never arrogant. Their response is genuine, expressing their true feelings in God's glory.
The surah then describes their physical attitude and inner feelings in a vivid expression that brings the movement and the feeling before our eyes. They stand up for night prayer, which is the obligatory Isha prayer and the Witr prayer that follows it, and they add voluntary night prayer and supplication. This is described here, however, as dragging themselves out of beds. Thus we see the beds and their attraction, inviting people to take rest and sleep. Yet those believers do not respond, and make every effort to resist such attraction, because they have something else that preoccupies them. They want to stand before their Lord, in adoration, with feelings of fear and hope present in their minds. They dread disobeying God and long for His help. They fear God's anger and punishment and hope for His mercy and acceptance. With such sensitivity and devoted, earnest prayer, they do their duty towards their community, in obedience to God: "And who are charitable with what We provide for them."
This splendid, glorious image is accompanied by another one showing the marvellous and special reward which reflects the special care, honour and generosity God bestows on them. God Himself welcomes these people, and He takes it upon Himself to prepare the reward He has in store for them. Furthermore, it is He who will give them a warm reception and and honourable position which will delight them. All this though is known to God alone, no one else has any idea of it. It remains with Him until it is shown to those who will be given it when they meet Him. What a splendid meeting with the Lord of the universe!
"In the Shade of the Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 13, pp. 467, 468
From Issue: 551 [Read original issue]
The Prophet (upon him be peace) hated illness, and incurable disease in particular. Who among us enjoys a fever,or cancer? The desire for good health is both natural and human - only a pervert enjoys pain. Quite rightly then, the Prophet asks his Lord for the well-being of his senses and organs, seeking refuge in Him from illness, incapacity and decrepitude:
'O Allah! I seek refuge in You from leprosy, madness, and all horrible illness.'
It is well-known aspect of the Prophet's biography that he was a well-built man and he could throw a wrestler, he was capable of travelling great distances without tiring, and he was fully conditioned to bear the hardships of armed struggle in the way of jihad. It is then quite bizarre to find people arguing that emaciation and gauntness are signs of true piety.
The Prophet Muhammad was the sublime exemplar and true to human nature in his beseeching the Lord to distance him from all calamity and illness. So, whenever a Muslim (in spite of his constant beseeching of the Lord in the manner of the Prophet) is beset by worldly troubles, he bears with them, and submits to the will of Allah, while repeating what the Prophet taught us to say at such a time: 'Verily, unto Allah is what He takes, and unto Him is what He gives.'
"Remembrance And Prayer" - Muhammad Al-Ghazali, pp. 96-101
From Issue: 781 [Read original issue]
Islam divides daily life into two spheres: what we have control over and what we do not. We have no control over the circumstances developing around us. The car breaks down; we get laid off at our job; an earthquake topples the city; we bump into a long-lost friend; and so on. These things just happen. We couldn't prevent them because we didn't know they were coming. Islam says all of these things are a test for us. They were predetermined challenges or merely things that, because of a complex confluence or events, just happened. They were a part of our Divine Measurement (Qadr).
Even though we often have no control over what happens to us, we do have control over how we feel and respond. When a tragedy strikes, do we blame God? When we see a diamond, does covetousness well up within us? When someone does evil to us, do we reciprocate or forgive? When we are alone, do we feel lonely or jubilant? Islam says we have control over our feelings, emotions and personal actions. Our test lies in how we respond to what happens around us. Do we exercise patience with life's challenges or do we panic and create disorder in our lives and in others? Now if we really think of the complex web of actions and reactions that go on every day in all of our lives, we can begin to appreciate how little our capacity is compared to God's.
"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Islam, 2nd Edition" - Yahiya Emerick, p. 103
From Issue: 623 [Read original issue]