Worship: The essence of true humility

Updated 03 February 2013
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Worship: The essence of true humility

God created human beings to worship Him and a practicing Muslim, in essence, should be able to worship God in every second, every hour and every day. Islam is a way of life and it means nothing more, or less, than total submission to one God.
“And I (God) created not the jinn and humans except they should worship Me Alone.” (Adh-Dhariyat, 51:56)
The concept of God in Islam describes Him as the most merciful and the most loving and whatever He prescribes for humankind is in their best interest. Total submission to the will of Almighty God is a pathway to purity, peace and ultimately Paradise.
The word the Quran most frequently uses to describe the act of worship is Ibadah. Ibadah is the root of the word ‘ubudiyyah, which means to express one’s humility or humbleness, and as with most Arabic words there are many shades of meaning. Ibadah involves more than an awareness of humility. It is the complete sense of humbleness that overcomes one who is totally submitted to the will of God. Worship is submission to God, the essential part of submission is humility.
“So glorify the praises of your Lord and be of those who prostrate themselves (to Him)” (Al-Hijr, 15:98)
Therefore, humility can guide one to Paradise, just as its opposite, arrogance, kibr in Arabic, can only lead one into Hell. It is Satan’s arrogance that caused his expulsion from Paradise; when he refused to humbly obey God’s command and prostrate before Adam, the father of mankind, he condemned himself and his followers to Hell. Satan’s lack of submission, or humility, resulted in one of the most pious of God’s creatures falling into the abyss.
“Except Satan, he refused to be among the prostrators. God said: O Satan! What is your reason for not being among the prostrators? ‘Satan said: 'I am not the one to prostrate myself to a human being, whom You created from sounding clay....” (Al-Hijr, 15: 31-35)
No one who behaves arrogantly or who acts as if he or she has power over others is capable of true submission. All power and strength is from God alone. All human beings are equal in the sight of God and the distinctions between nations, tribes, and families are only to know each other and not for the sake of pride.
“O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with God is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa (God consciousness). Verily, God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (Al-Hujurat, 49:15)
The main pillar of worship is the prayer. The congregational prayer is performed in rows where all men stand before God as equals. There is no special place for the rich or powerful, the meek and poor are not relegated to the back lines. Each man bows his head in humility knowing that his brothers on either side of him are equally important in the sight of God. Only one thing raises one man or woman above another — piety. True piety or righteousness is not achievable without cultivating a sense of humility.
God says: “And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, God likes not each arrogant boaster.” (Luqman 31:18)
Humility comes from knowing about God and recognizing His greatness, venerating Him, loving Him and being in awe of Him; and it comes from knowing about oneself and one’s own faults, and weaknesses. God gives this characteristic to those who struggle to become close to Him through deeds of piety and righteousness. A companion close to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) heard him saying: “Wealth does not decrease because of charity, and God increases His slave in honor when he forgives others. And no one humbles himself before God but God will raise him (in status).” (Muslim)
Humility is one of the greatest blessings God can bestow on a human being. It allows one to achieve genuine submission. Prophet Muhammad was truly submitted to God; his character was one of complete humility and based on sincere trust in God. He was a model of kindness and humbleness. In fact, the characteristics displayed by Prophet Muhammad were the exact opposite of pride and arrogance. Every aspect of his life reflected humbleness, even his walking, talking, sitting or eating.
The Prophet did not behave towards others as if he was better than they were, nor did he spurn manual work. One of his companions reported that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) worked happily with servants or workers. Other companions related that the Prophet tidied his house, tied camels, fed animals, ate meals with his servants, and helped them in kneading dough and bringing provisions from the market. It was also reported that he used to visit the sick, attend funerals, ride on a donkey, slow down his pace for the sake of the weak and accept invitations from the poor.
The companions and the early generations of Muslims understood the concept of humility. They behaved humbly towards God and mankind because of their love for God, and their fellow man, and fear of punishment in the Hereafter.
During his Caliphate, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab was marching upon Damascus with his army. Abu Ubaydah was with him and when they came upon a little lake, Umar descended from his camel, took off his shoes, tied them together, and hung them on his shoulder. He then took the halter off his camel and they entered the water together. Seeing this in front of the army, Abu Ubaydah said: “O Commander of the Believers! How can you be so humble in front of all your men?” Umar answered, “Woe to you, Abu Ubaydah! If only someone else other than you thought this way! Thoughts like this will cause the downfall of the Muslims. Don't you see we were indeed a very lowly people? God raised us to a position of honor and greatness through Islam. If we forget who we are and wish other than the Islam which elevated us, the one who raised us surely will debase us.”
The one who is truly humble is the one who is truly blessed. Every time he feels superior to others, he remembers God, the most great and omnipotent, and humbles himself in true submission.
“And the slaves of God are those who walk on the earth in humility and calmness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness.” (Al-Furqan, 25:6)

n Courtesy of www.onislam.net


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.