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SPIRITUAL
Adnane Ben.
Boston USA
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Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani: On The Meaning of Ritual Worship and Inner Worship
11:18:43 PM Thursday Dec 10, 2009


I just finished reading an amazing ancient book by Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani entitled Sirr Al-Asrar (The Secret of Secrets) interpreted in English by Shaikh Tosun Bayrak Al-Jerrahi Al-Halveti. Al-Jilani is a master in expressing complex spiritual ideas into words that I can understand. The chapter "On The Meaning of Ritual Worship and Inner Worship" intrigued me enough to type it down and share it with you. All along, this is how I felt about prayer. Besides, I always believed there was a more profound meaning to the verse in the Quran that says: "Hafidou 3ala Assalawatt, Wassalati Alwussta". many interpret Assalat Alwussta as the Asr (afternoon) prayer and it never made sense to me why that particular prayer is more important than the other five. Al-Jilani's interpretation is out of the box and I feel fully at peace with it. Have a nice read. I'd be interested to know what you think.

Chapter Fourteen: On The Meaning of Ritual Worship and Inner Worship

Five times a day, at specific times, prayer is ordained for every adult and able Muslim. This is ordered by Allah: Guard the prayers, especially the middle prayer... (Sura Baqara, 238) Ritual worship consists of standing, reciting from the Quran, bowing, prostrating, kneeling and audibly repeating certain prayers. These movements and actions involving the members of the body, recitations spelled out and heard involving the senses, are the worship of the material self. Because these actions of the material self are multiple and are repeated many times in each of the five prayers during the day, the first part of the order of Allah, Guard the prayers, is in the plural.

The second part of Allah's order, especially the middle prayer, refers to the prayer of the heart, because the heart is in the middle, in the centre of the being. The purpose of that worship is to obtain peace of the heart. The heart is in the middle between the right and the left, between the front and the back, between the upper and the lower, and between righteousness and rebellion. The heart is in the centre, the point of balance, the median. Our Master the Prophet said, "The hearts of the children of Adam are between two fingers of the All-Merciful. He turns them whichever way he wills." the two fingers of Allah are His attributes of the irresistible power of punishment and the loving and delicate beauty of beneficence.

True worship is the worship of the heart. If one's heart is heedless of true worship, the ritual prayer of the material self is in disorder. When this happens, the peace of the material self that one hopes to obtain from ritual prayer is not realized. That is why the Prophet says, "Ritual worship is only possible with a quiet heart".

Prayer is the supplication of the created to the Creator. It is a meeting of the servant and the Lord. The place of this meeting is the heart. If the heart is closed, heedless, and dead, so is the meaning of worship. No good comes to the material being from such a prayer. For the heart is the essence of the body; the rest is dependent upon it. As the Prophet says, "There is a piece of meat in man's body - when it is in a good state, the whole being improves, and when it is in a bad state, the whole being falls apart. Beware, that piece of meat is the heart."

Prayer prescribed by the religion is to be performed at specific times. Within a day and a night there are five such specific times of prayer. The best way of doing them is to perform them in a mosque, in congregation, turning toward the direction of the city of Makka, following the one who leads the prayer without hypocrisy, not for the approval of others, and without ostentation.

The time for inner worship is timeless and endless, for the whole life here and in the hereafter. The mosque for this prayer is the heart. The congregation is the inner faculties, which remember and recite the Names of the unity of Allah in the language of the inner world. The leader of this prayer is the irresistible wish. The direction of prayer is toward the oneness of Allah - which is everywhere - and His eternal nature and His beauty.

The true heart is the one which can perform such a prayer. A heart like this neither sleeps nor dies. A heart and soul like this are in continuous worship, and a being with such a heart, whether he appears awake or asleep, is in constant service. The inner worship of the heart is his whole life. There is no longer the sound of recitation or standing, bowing, prostrating or sitting. His guide, the leader of his prayer, is the Prophet himself. He speaks with Allah Most High, saying, "thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help." (Sura Fatiha, 4) These divine words are interpreted as a sign of the state of the perfect man, who passes from being nothing, being lost to material things, into a state of oneness. Such a perfect heart receives great blessings from the divine. One of these blessings is mentioned by our Master the Prophet: "The prophets and those who are beloved by Allah continue their worship in their graves as they did in their houses while they were of this world." In other words, the eternal life of the heart continues its supplications to Allah Most High.

When the ritual worship of the material being and the inner worship of the heart unite, the prayer is complete. It is perfect worship, and its rewards are great. It brings one spiritually to the level of one's possibility. In the world of appearances one becomes the devout servant of Allah. Inwardly one becomes the wise one who has attained the true knowledge of Allah. If ritual worship does not unite with the inner worship of the heart, it is lacking. Its reward is only advancing in rank. It will not bring one any closer to the realm of the divine.


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7:55 am    December 18, 2009

Rasta Gnawi message
4
Very nice article. It used to bother me that we are taught to perform movements to perform prayers. It slowly became clear to me over the years that if prayer consists of two variables, physical and spiritual, the physical has a greater weight in our youth, then as life progresses the spiritual becomes the greater component of prayer. In fact the physical aspect becomes the fence we build around ourselves so the spiritual can come out.

Thanks for the post.

·

1:59 pm    December 17, 2009

Suzy Cameleon message
3
Thank you for publishing this. I always feel like the heart is where we meet the Divine Allah. I believe it is also in silence that Allah speaks the strongest. We need to be silent and silence all our thoughts and desires in order to hear and feel the presence of Allah. For the most part we (humans) are most of the time trying to push our will and our wants - asking that Allah grant us our wishes, when we really need to ask Allah what service we need to do to grant Allah's will. Then we will be on the right path, the one that will grant success and the peace we seek.

·

12:32 pm    December 12, 2009

Adnane Ben. message
2
1
That's a great point interpreting the middle prayer. Interpretation of religion sometimes bothers me. On one hand, I wish it was as clear as A B C. Other times, I go with the general opinion that the diverse interpretations are beneficial. But I think that these diverse interpretations can only be beneficial IF and ONLY IF they complement each other in teaching the right thing. In other words, that they are all small rivers free falling at some point into a bigger river. Based on this, and for myself, I can buy into the interpretation you stated as well as Sheikh Al-Jilani because they both build on a solid foundation and both can improve who we are.
·

5:20 am    December 11, 2009

akhtar raja message
1
Sh. Abdul Qadir Gilani is without doubt one of the intellectual heavy weights. I was wondering whether, also, in addition to what has been described, the risk of not being wathchful over asr prayer was down to worldly preoccupation which inevitably distracts a person. The timing of this prayer falls bang in the middle of obedience to material pursuits and the time it is hardest to surrender to the Loved One.

That is why there is also a Hadith (i beleive, and I can check if anyone's interested) which says something along the lines that time for Muslims is blessed in that their labour acheives more fruit in shorter time than that spent by others so as to enable them to devote themselves to prayer aswell as work.

·

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