Peaceful Reflections from al-Fatiha


As it is known, prayer is believer’s ascension. The zenith of ascension is Sidratu’l Muntaha”, which opens to “Qab al-Qawsain”. Prayer was made fard there. This zenith is also about the ascension of prayer. The zenith for bodily actions is the position of prostration. 



Both the Quranic verse which is translated as “Fall you down in prostration and get closer” (al-Alaq, 96:19) and the hadith which is translated as “You are closest to the Lord when you prostrate” (Muslim, Salah, 215) point out to this zenith. 



Just like the zenith for bodily actions is prostration, it is the word “iyyaka” in sura al-Fatiha for the Quran recitation. 



Maqam al-Ihsan (Station of Perfection)



“Iyyaka” is the maqam al-Ihsan at the same time, the station of martyrs. It is where one is saved from loneliness and finds peace in His presence. It is the point where one elevates to the singularity from plurality. It is “worshipping Allah like you have seen Him” as the Prophet (pbuh) put it. Even though you do not see Him, He sees you all the time.” (Bukhari, Faith 37).



When the topic is evaluated from this point of view; 



One who performs prayer should think that he is going to ascend soon and should focus on what he is going to do in “Sidratu’l-muntaha”, where he is going to arrive after passing through various stages. 



First: One should make intellectual efforts in order to enable the unity of his heart and tongue. According to the teaching of the verse which is translated as “The (Prophet's) (mind and) heart in no way falsified that which he saw.” (an-Najm 53:11), which describes the situation of the Prophet at the zenith of Ascension, our heart should follow and affirm the meanings of our recitations and supplications, while we recite them during prayer, the supplication which is translated as “You only we worship and from You only we seek help” being the primary one. If one’s heart is busy with anything else other than Allah while praying, his saying, “You only we worship” will seem meaningless. That heart does not follow what the tongue says means that it contradicts the tongue and spoils the sincerity of the prayer. 



Second: One should try to direct both his eyes on his head and his eyes of his heart towards his aims. Just like the teaching of the verse “(His) sight never swerved, nor did it go wrong!” (an-Najm 53:17), one should not take his eyes on his head off his prayer-rug and his eyes in his heart off his Lord, before whom he is prostrating. By doing so, one catches the opportunity to witness some signs of his Lord (an-Najm 53:18), who is the Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate, whose presence he is in and from whom he asks to be “guided to the right way” and receives His special spiritual endowments and compliments.



Gratitude



Prayer is a way of giving thanks to the Most Merciful whose endowments and blessings are abundant and generous. There is nothing more tranquilizing than giving our both verbal, actual, intellectual and hearty thanks to Allah the Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate, to whom we owe our existence, life, staying alive, our food, water, light and breath which we need to stay alive. When we take it from this point of view, it is understood that prayer is a creational duty, and yeast of life which is in dough of our creation. Invocation of “You only we worship and from You only we seek help” is indeed an orison, a begging with which a servant should come to the presence of the Creator. 



The True Reunion 



The word “salah” which is the Arabic equivalent of “prayer” shares the same root-letters with the word “sila” in the phrase “Sila-i rahim” (reunion with family and relatives) – though their verbs are different – and reminds “meeting, reunion”. And it indicates that prayer is a sacred vehicle which reunites human beings, who are each a weak servant, with the True Friend who is the Omnipotent, the Supreme Creator and even that it is the very reunion itself. Therefore, the invocation of “You only we worship and from You only we seek help” is a window of dialogue opening to servants’ Beloved One. 



The Homage 



Prayer is the homage (i.e. public expression of praise and honor) to our Lord to whom we owe praises and thanks with whole of our existence. 



Something which is greater than the respect and love that humans, being conscious forms of existence, feel for their Creator cannot be imagined. There cannot be a more precious truth than understanding that we owe thanks to our Lord, to whom we owe all our being. When we look at human consciousness through the window of principle that “Human is the servant of Ihsan”, we can see that how deep love and respect it feels for and how grateful it is to the Lord, the Creator. In this sense, the invocation of “You only we worship and from You only we seek help” is the most concise and the most comprehensive expression of a servant’s showing sincerity and that he needs Him with all his existence to his Beloved One. 



Prayer is the Guarantee of Moral Values 



Worldly affairs (performed with a good-will) of a person, who fulfills the duty of prayer which is the guarantee of moral values in term of metaphysical/spiritual, intellectual and consciousness aspects and a key to Heaven, are evaluated as prayers as long as he shows the same morals he presents on prayer-rug in mosques in social life, too.



It is possible to show how important prayer is in life of a person who believes in Allah and the Hereafter with an example: 



Two people work eight hours a day. One of them performs prayers and the other one does not. In addition to earning his livelihood on earth, the one who performs prayers also earns a never-ending happiness called Heaven. And the other one who does not fulfill his duty, with which he is responsible to Allah, neither earns more livelihood by not performing prayers, nor does he catch the opportunity to earn a treasure like Heaven. 



As it is stated in the beginning of surah al-Mulk, what matters for Allah the Glorious is not the quantity of the work performed but the quality of it, determined by comparing to His criteria. And prayer is the most precious criterion which provides this quality and it is also a steadfast center of quality-control. 



If the prayer-performer’s invocation of “You only we worship and from You only we seek help” can be put into practice in social life, a synergy will be formed in form of “collective quality”.

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