Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Surah Al Baqarah Ayahs 44-46
"Do you bid others to righteousness while you ignore your own selves, although you keep reciting the Book? Have you then no sense?" (Ayah 44)
This verse teaches us about practicing what we preach. It is said that when the Prophet (SAW) went to the Mi'raj (journey of ascent), he witnessed people in Hell with their tongues being cut with scissors of fire. When he asked what their fault is, he was told that these are people who do not practice what they tell others to do themselves. In another hadith it is narrated that some people will be in Heaven because of certain people on Earth who told them to do good. But the preachers themselves will end up in Hell. Because of this, the Jannatis will ask those in Hell how they ended up there, because it was due to their teachings that these people got into Heaven. And the people in Hellfire will say that they used to preach, but they didn't practice it themselves. This elucidates the hypocrisy of the preachers.
Because of this, one should always make an effort to practice what they tell others to do. This doesn't mean that people should just stop preaching out of fear. It is the sincere intentions and efforts which count. It is our duty to encourage others to do good and strive to do good ourselves. It is natural to make mistakes and fall into sin from time to time, but it's the repentance and motivation to improve oneself that is the key.
The next ayah continues, "And seek assistance in sabr (patience) and in salah (prayer)". The scholars proclaim that there are 3 main types of sabr:
i) The patience one has while in a time of difficulty, and not complaining while in such a situation.
ii) The patience one has in obedience. This is when one does a good deed regularly even though it's difficult, such as praying in the masjid for Fajr consistently.
iii) The patience that keeps one away from avoiding bad deeds.
The gist of all three of the sabrs is that they help you restrict the nafs, or inner desire. We each have a soul and a body. The soul is such that it loves to worship Allah, it loves to pray, read Quran, give Zakah etc. It finds peace within these things. The body is more animalistic, because it consists of the nafs or desire. Both of these together create a kind of balance in humans, but our goals, as Muslims, is to crush the nafs and follow the Deen, or our religion. This elevates one's soul, and a feeling of elevation is created in oneself such as how one feels during Ramadan.
Sabr is practiced most while one is doing Salah. When in prayer, one has to completely restrict the body and focus the mind on Allah. This is when the soul elevates and the nafs drops. This is when the nafs realizes true pleasure and tranquility is not actually in worldly pleasures, but in remembering Allah and in prayers. This state is what we call the "nafs-ul-mutma inna".
The next verse continues, "And it is indeed difficult (to have patience and pray properly), but not for the humble in heart who bear in mind that to Him they are to return".
Sabr and salah lead to restfulness of the heart. Salah should have "khushu", where one concentrates fully on the prayer and not other thoughts. In a hadith, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) says that the improperly prayed salah rises up as an ugly, dark person, and says "May Allah ruin you the way you ruined me", and the salah is flung back on the person, and he gets no benefit from it. There should be tremendous fear in all of us of this and we should make an effort to attain khushu in our salah. We should remember that we will return to our Lord. This remembrance will give us khushu in our Salah, inshaAllah. Every individual should take some time out and think of their state and our connection with Allah, and spend time in His remembrance and reflection.
May Allah make us from those who reflect on our state, and have khushu in our prayers, and find the utmost pleasure in pleasing Allah alone. Ameen.