On this journey of Hope and Closeness, Shaykh Faraz throws light on diverse ways a believer can strengthen the connection with the all-sustaining and ever-living God, the ultimate purpose of life and religion, and the means to draw closer to Him.
After proclaiming one’s faith the second most important aspect of Islam is the beginning of prayer. Purification and presence are two aspects of prayer. Prayer is a means to reach the transcendental. In his aphorisms, Ibn Ata’illah Iskandari talks about the aims of prayer and how they are attained.
He said: “Prayer purifies the hearts from the pollution and filth of sins, and calls for unlocking the doors to the hidden and unknown.”* The journey of this worldly life is influenced by material aspirations which keep forcing us from the right path and lead us to vileness and destruction. That is why we often seek Allah’s help to guide us on the straight path in prayer.
Doors to the Unseen
Prayer safeguards us from the ill effect of sins. What is more it opens the doors to the closeness of Allah Most High. As mentioned in the second part of the aphorism quoted above, prayer “calls for unlocking the doors to the hidden and unknown.” It is important to understand in this context that Allah is manifest while equally hidden and to be sought.
Hence you are to believe in the Unseen while equally seeking to gain knowledge of the Unseen realities. Always be aware that Allah is closer to you than your jugular vein. Seek the presence of Allah. In regard to the importance of prayer, it has two elements: a) purification, and b) presence (in prayer).
In his book, Drawing Closer to Allah, Shaykh Siraj al-Din mentions the Qur’anic Aya:
Indeed, the prayer prevents from lewdly and wrong [29:45]
He explains that true prayer has a transformative power and requires two qualities a) reverence (khushu) and b) humility (khudhu). To internalize the reverent awe of the divine is primarily an inward quality of stillness and from this comes humbleness from consciousness of Allah. Never discourage others who follow the Prophetic path. Focus on the principle of understanding the twin aspects of prayer – reverence as a state of faith and humility as a state of submission.
Expiation and Reward
What is the role of five daily prayers in diminishing the ill effects of sins. To pray is to be conscious of Allah and not lost in the arrogance of our piety. Prayer humbles us and bring us closer to each other. The Prophet, blessings and peace upon him, said: “Give glad tidings and do not cause people to turn away.” The expiatory role of prayer is mentioned in many hadith form Allah’s Messenger, blessing and peace upon him. Among them is one related by Tirmidhi:
Five prayers and from one Friday prayer till the next is expiatory for all that is between them as long as one avoids the major sins.
This hadith shows that the impact of prayer on our daily lives is immense. Every prayer comes with a light that illuminates our hearts and leaves no space for sins. Another hadith talks beautifully about expiation and the reward for prayer as “the preparation for presence with Allah.”
The discipline of prayer and choosing Allah over worldly commitments with our entirety at every part of the day is the renewal of one’s slavehood to Allah.
* الصَّلَاةُ طُهْرَةً لِلْقُلُوْبِ مِنْ أَدْنَاسِ الْذُّنُوبِ، وَاسْتِفْتَاحٌ لِبَابِ الْغُيُوْبِ