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The first performs all actions in accordance with Allah’s commands and nearness to Him. The second performs his actions in violation of Allah’s laws, for Allah had not granted him wealth and power etc so that he should disobey Him. Thus, he is a treacherous upstart, one who betrays his God-given trusts. He will be punished for his misuse of blessings, and for daring to use the divine favors in rebellion against Allah. As for the third, he performs his actions in heedlessness, obsessed by desires, consumed by insatiable greed. And he did not utilize these blessings in seeking Allah’s pleasure and His nearness. He is a clear failure, for he wasted the priceless moments of his life, and squandered his opportunity to gain profit in the supreme trade.
So Allah invites His believing, monotheistic slaves to the five daily prayers as a mercy, and He prepares for them all manners of devotion so that they may gain their share of the divine gifts by every word and deed, and in their movement and in their stillness. Thus, the secret of salat and its innermost core is the heart’s advancing towards Allah and focusing on His presence with every fiber of his being.
If the slave does not concentrate on Allah, and is distracted by other than Him and gets lost in his own thoughts, he is like a delegate who has been summoned by the King to apologize for his mistakes. But when he reaches the King’s door, and is conversing with Him, he turns away and starts looking left and right. He turns his back to the King, and becomes preoccupied with the object the King detests most. He deems this meeting insignificant and chooses that hateful object over the king, and makes it the Qiblah of his heart, the object of his attention, and the repository of his secret. He sends his own servants to stand before the king in his service, in his stead, so they may apologize on his belhalf, and the king is watching this person’s state. It is only the King’s generosity, grace and bounty that he did not turn those servants away from Himself, and He still conferred mercy and grace upon them.
[Translator’s Note: The analogy is straight forward. It represents the distracted heart which should have been concentrating upon asking forgiveness. The servants sent by him, to take his place are his physical limbs which mechanically perform salat, as though it were a set of physical exercises, and as though he has switched on a kind of auto pilot.]
It is like the inevitable difference between the grand booties of war received by those who have major shares in the booty, and the paltry allowance of one who has no share.
“And each will have a share from what they did and he will recompense them for their deeds and they will not be wronged.” (46:19)
To be continued…