Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (A.S.) Shows the Way to Equilibrium - Part II
Dutifulness to Parents
Dutifulness to one's parents comes from the bondsman's correct knowledge of Allah, since there is no act of worship which will bring the person performing it more quickly to the pleasure of Allah than being dutiful to believing parents for the sake of Allah. This is because the right of the parents is derived from the right of Allah, as long as they are both on the path of the faith and the sunnah, and do not prevent a child from obeying Allah for the sake of obedience to them, or move him from certainty to doubt, or from abstinence to the desires of this world, or call him to anything which is in opposition to faith and the sunnah. If the situation is like that, then it is an act of obedience to rebel against them, and an act of rebellion to obey them.
If they contend with you that you should associate with Me what you have no knowledge of, do not obey them. Keep company with them kindly in this world, but follow the way of him who turns to Me, then to Me is your return! (31:15)
As far as companionship is concerned, keep their company and be gentle with them. Endure their hardship just as they endured yours when you were young, and do not withhold from them that which Allah has made plentiful for you in the way of food and clothes. Do not turn your face away from them nor raise your voice above theirs. To respect them is part of Allah's command; speak to them in the best possible way and be kind to them. Allah will not let the reward of those who do good go to waste.
A little food is praiseworthy in every case and with all people, because it is salutory for the outer and the inner being. Eating is praiseworthy when done out of necessity, as a means and provision, at a time of plenty, or for nourishment. Eating out of necessity is for the pure; eating as a means and provision is a support for the precautious; eating at a time of plenty is for those who trust; and eating for nourishment is for believers.
There is nothing more harmful to the believer's heart than having too much food, for it brings about two things; hardness of heart and arousal of desires. Hunger is a condiment for believers, nourishment for the spirit, food for the heart, and health for the body. The Holy Prophet said, 'The son of Adam fills no worse vessel than his belly.'
David said, 'Leaving a morsel of food that I need is preferable to me than staying up for twenty nights.'
The Messenger of Allah said, 'The believer eats to fill one stomach, and the hypocrite seven.' And elsewhere, 'Woe to people who are swollen in two places!' When he was asked what they were, he replied, 'The stomach and the genitals.'
‘Isa [a] said, 'The heart does not have any worse disease than hardness, and no soul has been more weakened than by lack of hunger. They are two halters of banishment and disappointment.'
Opening the Prayer
When you face the qiblah, you should despair of this world, what it contains of creation and what others are occupied with. Empty your heart of every preoccupation which might distract you from Allah. See the immensity of Allah with your innermost being, and remember that you will stand before Him. For Allah has said,
There shall every soul become acquainted with what it sent before, and they shall be brought back to Allah, their true Patron. (10:30)
Stand at the foot of fear and hope. When you recite the takbir, you should belittle what is between the high heavens and the moist earth, which are all below His glory, for when Allah looks into the heart of His bondsman while he is saying the takbir, and sees in his heart something obstructing the truth of his declaring that Allah is great, He says, 'O liar! Do you try to deceive Me?
By My might and My majesty, I will deny you the sweetness of My remembrance, and I will veil you from My nearness and from joy in My intimate communion.'
Know that Allah does not need your service. He is independent of you, your worship and your supplication. He summons you by His favour to show you mercy, to put you far from His punishment, to spread some of the blessings of His kindness over you, to guide you to the path of His pleasure, and to open to you the door of His forgiveness. If Allah had created what He created in the universe many times over, forever without end, it would still be the same to Allah whether they all rejected Him or united with Him. All that He has from the worship of creatures is the display of His generosity and power. Therefore make modesty your cloak and incapacity your shawl. Enter under the throne of the power of Allah, and you will capture the benefits of His lordship, seeking help in Him and asking for His succour.
Bowing in Prayer
The bondsman of Allah does not truly bow (in ruku') but that Allah adorns him with the light of His radiance, shades him in the shade of His greatness and clothes him in the garment of His purity. Bowing is first and prostration (sujud) is second: there is courtesy in bowing, and in prostration nearness to Allah. Whoever is not good in the courtesy is not fit for nearness; therefore bow with the ruku' of one who is humble to Allah, abased in his heart and fearful under His power, submitting his limbs to Allah like one who is fearful and sorrowful for what he might miss of the benefits of those who bow.
It is related that Rabi' ibn Khuthaym used to stay awake all night until dawn, in a single ruku'. In the morning he would sigh and say, 'Oh! The sincere have gone ahead, and we are cut off!' Make your ruku' properly by keeping your back straight, coming down from your aspirations in standing to serve Him which comes only with His help. Let your heart flee from the whisperings, tricks and deceit of Satan. Allah will elevate His bondsmen according to their humility to Him, and will guide them to the roots of humility, submission and abasement according to how well their innermost being is acquainted with His immensity.
Prostration in Prayer
A person who performs true prostration (sujud) does not lose Allah at all, even if it is done only once in his entire life; but the man who deserts his Lord in that state does not prosper. He is like someone who deceives himself, neglecting and forgetting the immediate joy and the ease after this life which Allah has prepared for those who prostrate themselves.
The person who does well in his prostration is never far from Allah; while the person who shows ill courtesy and neglects to honour Him because his heart is attached to something other than Allah in the state of prostration will never come near to Him. Therefore prostrate yourself with the prostration of some- one abased, who knows that he is created from the earth on which people tread, that he is fashioned from sperm which everyone finds impure, and that he was given being when he did not exist.
Allah made prostration the occasion to draw near to Him in one's heart, innermost being and spirit.
Whoever draws near to Him is far from all that is other than Him. Do you not see that in its outward appearance the state of prostrations is not complete except by disappearing from all things and being veiled from all that the eyes see? Thus does Allah want the inward being to be. If someone's heart is attached to something other than Allah in prayer, he is near to that thing, and far from the reality of what Allah desires in His prayer. For He has said,
Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his breast. (33:4)
In the words of the Messenger of Allah: “Almighty Allah said, ‘When I look on the heart of a bondsman, I know if he has sincere love and obedience for My sake and seeks My pleasure in it. Then I take charge of him and draw near to him. Whoever is occupied with other than Me in his prayer is one of those who mocks himself, and his name is recorded in the register of the losers.’”
The tashahhud is praise of Allah. Be a slave to Him in your innermost being, fearful and humble to Him in action as you are His bondsman by word and claim. Join the truthfulness of your tongue to the pure truthfulness of your innermost being.
He created you a slave and commanded you to worship Him with your heart, your tongue and your limbs. Realise your enslavement to Him by His lordship over you. Know that the forelocks of creation are all in His hand. Creatures possess neither breath nor sight except by His power and will: they are incapable of bringing forth the least thing in His kingdom, unless it is by His permission and will. Allah said,
Your Lord creates and chooses whom he pleases; to choose is not theirs. Glory be to Allah, and exalted be He above what they associate [with Him]. (28:68)
Therefore be a slave to Allah, remembering Him by speech and proclamations, and join the truthfulness of your tongue to the purity of your innermost being, for He created you. He is too mighty and majestic for anyone to have will or volition except by His earlier will and volition. Fulfill the state of enslavement by being content with His wisdom, and by worshipping in order to carry out His commands.
He commanded you to send blessings upon His beloved Muhammad, may Allah bless him and his family and grant them peace. Therefore join your prayer to Muhammad with your prayer to Allah, obedience to Muhammad to obedience to Allah, and your witnessing of Muhammad to your witnessing of Allah. Watch out that you do not miss the blessings of knowledge which are contained in one's respect for his sanctity, with the result that you are denied the benefits of the prayer on him. Allah commanded him to ask for forgiveness for you, and to intercede for you when you perform what is obligatory in the command and prohibition, and in the sunnah and courtesies (adab) demonstrated to man through the Holy Prophet. You should know the majesty of his rank with Allah.
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