Know that the prayer is secret whispering between God and the servant. In this secret whispering, there is both need and joy. Today there is need, tomorrow joy; today suffering, tomorrow the treasure; today a heavy burden, tomorrow repose and ease [56:89]; today toil and work, tomorrow pleasure and the bazaar; today bowing and prostrating, tomorrow finding and witnessing.
4:103 When you have completed the prayer, remember God, standing and sitting and on your sides.
Part of the eminence of the prayer is that the Exalted Lord has mentioned it 102 times in the Qur’an and given it thirteen names: prayer, devotion, Qur’an, glorification, book, remembrance, bowing, prostration, praise, asking forgiveness, declaring greatness, beautiful deeds, and subsistent things.
Muṣṭafā said, “The prayer is the miʿrāj of the person of faith.”
He said, “The prayer is God’s banquet in the earth.”
The ulama of the past have said, “The prayer is the throne of the desirers, the pleasure of the recognizers, the means of approach of the sinners, and the scented garden of the renunciants.”
They have also said, “The person performing the prayer has received seven generous bestowals: guidance, sufficiency, expiation, mercy, proximity, degree, and forgiveness.”
The first step in associationism is not to say the prayers, for the Exalted Lord will say, “‘What brought you into Saqar?’ They will say, ‘We were not of those who said the prayers’” [74:42-43]. And He placed the name faith in the prayer, where He says, “But God would never leave your faith,” that is, your prayer, “to waste” [2:143]. He promises daily provision with prayer, where He says, “And command thy folk to the prayer, and be thou patient therein. We ask thee for no provision. We shall provide for thee” [20:132].
The number of obligatory prayers came as five in conformity with the roots of the Shari’ite rules. Concerning the roots of the Shari’ite rules, Muṣṭafā said, “The submission is built on five.” The roots of the obligatory prayers are five prayers in one day and night. In other words, when the servant performs these five prayers with their stipulations and at their times, the Exalted Lord will give him the reward of all the roots of the Shari’ite rules.
The guises of the prayer are four: standing, bowing, prostrating, and sitting. The wisdom in this is that the existent things in their entirety have four shapes. Some are straight in the guise of standers, namely the trees. Some have the guise of bowers with their heads turned down, namely the beasts. Some have the guise of prostrators with their faces placed on the earth, namely the crawling things. Some sit on the earth like sitters, namely grass and plants. It is as if the Exalted Lord said, “O servant with faith! In serving Us, bring forth these four guises—standing, bowing, prostrating, and sitting—so that you may find the reward of all the creatures’ glorifications.” Then He commanded some of these prayers to be two cycles, like the morning prayer, and some three cycles, like the evening prayer, and some four, like the noon, afternoon, and night prayers. This is because the servant is of two sorts, spirit and body. Of the two-part prayer, one is the spirit’s gratitude, the other the body’s gratitude. Also, inside the Adamite are three exalted pearls: heart, intellect, and faith. The three-part prayer is gratitude for these three robes of honor. Again, the Adamite is compounded of the four natures; the four-part prayer is gratitude for these four natures.
In terms of allusion, He is saying: “My servant, show gratitude for body and spirit with the two-part prayer; show gratitude for faith, heart, and intellect with the three-part prayer; and show gratitude for the four elements with the four-part prayer, in the measure of capacity and possibility.” Then it will become apparent that the servant is more obedient than all, his work is more eminent, and his degree with the Real more elevated.
It has also been said that the prayer is a necklace made of pearls of many colors. Each color is the gift of someone exalted and the state of a messenger: Purity is the act of Job: Stamp thy foot: here is a cool washing place and drink [38:42]. Saying “God is greater” is the word of remembrance of Abraham: And We ransomed him with a tremendous sacrifice [37:107]. Standing in the service of Zachariah: While he was standing, praying in the sanctuary [3:39]. Bowing is the act of David: He sank down, bowing, and was penitent [38:24]. Prostration is the state of Ishmael: He threw him down on his forehead [37:103]. Bearing witness is the act of Jonah: When he ran away to the laden ship [37:140]. Glorification is the act of the angels: Glorifying the praise of their Lord [39:75]. When the faithful servant performs two cycles of prayer with humility and reverence, the Exalted Lord gives him the honor of these messengers and conveys him to their degrees.
Listen to something even more subtle: When you consider it, every act of worship done by the servants and every remembrance by the angels are all brought together in two cycles of the prayer: the struggle, the hajj, the alms tax, and the fasting. As for struggle: When warriors go to battle against the unbelievers, first they line up in rows, they prepare for the battle, and they set out to fight. A brave man puts on armor, goes to the front of the rows, calls the enemy to the field, and engages in combat with him. That heroic man is in front, and the others stand behind, shouting encouragement and saying “God is greater!” and entering into battle. In the prayer all these meanings are found: The man of faith first makes the full ablution, which is the chain mail that he puts on. When he makes the ablution, that is his armor that he puts on. Then he stands in the row of the worshipers and the reverent, and like a warrior, the imam goes out in front. He battles against Satan and his own soul in the prayer niche, which is the field of battle against Satan. The others gaze upon him, their hearts attached to his victory. This struggle is more magnificent and greater than that struggle, which is why Muṣṭafā said, “We have returned from the lesser struggle to the greater struggle.”
In the prayer, there is also the meaning of the alms tax. The alms tax is the purity of possessions, and the prayer is the purity of the body: “Take charity from their wealth, thereby to make them pure and to purify them” [9:103]. “Surely beautiful deeds take away ugly deeds” [11:114].
The latter is the purity of the spirit, and the former is the purity of the body. The latter is more complete and more eminent than the former. In this meaning, it has been narrated that God’s Messenger saw a man saying, “O God, forgive me! But I do not see You forgiving me.”
The Prophet said, “How ugly is your opinion of your Lord!”He said, “O Messenger of God! I sinned when I was ignorant, and I sinned after submitting.”
He said, “As for what happened in the time of ignorance, that was effaced by your submission. And as for what was during the submission, that is effaced by the five prayers, for God sent down the verse, ‘And perform the prayer at the two ends of the day and in the near part of the night’ [11:114].”
In the prayer is also the meaning of the hajj, for the hajj is consecration and deconsecration, and the prayer is also consecrating and then bringing the consecration to an end. In the prayer, the meaning of the hajj is more complete, more eminent, and more inclusive. And God knows better.