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So the mercy of his tender and loving Lord decreed a comprehensive act of worship comprising different rituals and states in accordance with the different states of the slave, and in proportion to the intensity of his need for those different states.
Wudhu is the means of physical purification from dirt so the slave appears before his Lord in a state of purity. Wudhu has an outward dimension and an inner dimension. Its outward aspect is physical cleansing of the limbs in preparation for worship. Its inner aspect and secret is, purification of the heart from filth of sins and disobedience, and its cleansing by means of repentance. This is why Allah links repentance and purification in the Quranic verse:
“Indeed Allah loves those who repent and He loves those who purify themselves.” (2:222)
The prophet (sallahu alayhi wa salam) decreed that the one purifying himself by wudhu should read the shahada, and then the following invocation once he has completed his wudhu:
“Oh Allah make me of those who repent and make me of those who purify themselves.”
Now he has completed the necessary stages for worship and purification, outwardly and inwardly. Thus, by the shahada he has purified himself from shirk, and by the declaration of repentance, he has purified himself from sins, and by water he has purified himself from outward impurities and dirt. The stages of purification are an essential prerequisite to formally entering the presence of his Lord, and now that he is both outwardly and inwardly pure he is permitted to stand before his Lord.
Now, he is no longer a runaway fugitive, and by coming to His House and to the place of His worship, he enters the ranks of the devotees of Allah. This is why coming to the mosque leads to the completion of devotion that is regarded as compulsory by some, and recommended by others.
The slave in his forgetful state is like a fugitive, a runaway slave whose limbs and heart have stopped performing the duties for which they were created. Thus, when he comes to salat he is turning back from whence he has fled. When he stands before Him, it is a posture of devotion, humility and dejection. He is appealing to the compassion of his Master and for his Lord’s attention. He is commanded to face the Qiblah, the Sacred House with his face, and to face Allah with his heart so that he may shed all vestiges of his aversion and indifference. Then he stands before Him, as one who is completely humbled, dejected in desperate need, beseeching his Lord for tenderness, surrendering himself utterly, head bowed, heart trembling, gaze lowered; his heart does not turn away from Allah even for the twinkling of an eye, neither right nor left, totally devout. His heart concentrating absolutely on Allah, so he advances wholly towards Allah.
To be continued…