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Prayer in the words of ‘Alī (‘a)

Prayer in the words of ‘Alī (‘a)

Hadrat ‘Alī’s (‘a) many references to prayer and the remembrance of God as recorded in Nahj al-Balāghah[1] have been compiled in a book entitled, Namāz dar Nahj al-Balāgheh [Prayer in Nahj al-Balāghah]. Here, I shall quote a statement of the Imām (‘a) concerning the philosophy of glorification and the remembrance of God whose most important manifestation is prayer:


.العَشوة بَعْدَ بِه تُبْصِرُ وَ الْوَقَرَة بَعْدَ بِهِ تَسْمَعُ لِلْقُلُوبِ جَلاءً الذِّكْرَ جَعَلَ جَلّ وَ عَزَّ الله اِنَّ


Certainly, Allah, the Glorified, the Sublime, has made His remembrance the light for hearts which hear with its help despite deafness, see with its help despite blindness and become submissive with its help despite unruliness.[2]


Then, concerning the blessings of prayer, the Imām (‘a) said:


نُزّلَتْ وَ الْمَلائِكَة بِهِم حَفَّتْ قَدْ

.الكِرامات مَقاعِدَ لَهُم اُعِدَّتْ وَ السَّماءِ اَبْوابَ لَهُم فُتِحَتْ وَ السَّكينَة عَلَيهِمُ


The angels have surrounded them (performers of prayer) and peace is showered upon them. The doors of heaven are opened for them and abodes of blessedness, of which He had informed them, have been prepared for them.[3]


In another sermon, the Imām (‘a) says:


الرَّبَق اِطْلاقَ تُطلِقُها وَ الْوَرَق حَتَّ الذُّنُوبَ لَتَحُتُّ انَّها وَ


Certainly, prayer removes sins like autumn strips leaves off from trees, and it liberates you from the rope (of sins) tied around your neck.”[4]


In continuation, he narrates an interesting comparison from the Holy Prophet ():

“Prayer is like a hot spring situated at someone’s door.  If he takes a bath in it five times a day, will then any dirt remain on him?”[5]

In Sermon 196, the Imām (‘a) enumerates some of the moral vices such as pride [kibr], disobedience and oppression [ulm], and then he (‘a) says: “It is on account of these perils that God has encouraged His believing servants to perform alāh and zakāh,[6] to fast during the days when it is made obligatory.” Then, concerning the effects of prayer, he (‘a) says:


لِقُلُوبِهِم، تَخْفِيضاً لِنُفُوسِهِمْ، تَذْليلاً لاَبْصارِهِم، تَخْشِيعاً لاَطْرافِهِم، تَسْكيناً

.ذِكْرَك آنَسَهُمْ الْوَحْشَة حَشَتْهُم اَوْ اِنْ عَنْهُم لِلْخَيْلاء اِزالَةً


[This act of worship] gives their (God’s believing servants’) limbs peace and rest, casts fear in their eyes, softens their spirits, cultivates a sense of humility in their hearts and purges them from pride. At the time of fear, anxiety and loneliness, remembrance of You gives them enthusiasm and intimacy.[7]


Of course, it is obvious that everyone does not receive such benefits from prayer; rather, it is only that group which is enamored by prayer and the remembrance of God. This group will not exchange them for the entire world.

[1] Nahj al-Balāghah (The Peak of Eloquence) is a collection of speeches, sayings and letters of the Commander of the Faithful, Imām ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib (‘a) compiled by Sharīf ar-Radī Muhammad ibn al-Husayn (d. 406 AH/1016). The contents of the book concern the three essential topics of God, man and the universe, and include comments on scientific, literary, social, ethical, and political issues. With the exception of the words of the Glorious Qur’an and of the Holy Prophet (s), no words of man can equal it in eloquence. So far, more than 101 exegeses have been written on the Nahj al-Balāghah, indicating the importance of this treatise to scholars and learned men of research and investigation. For more information, visit: http://www.al-islam.org/nahjul. [Trans.]

[2] Nahj al-Balāghah, Sermon 222.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., Sermon 199.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Zakāh: the tax levied on various categories of wealth and spent on the purposes specified in Sūrah at-Tawbah 9:60. [Trans.]

[7] Ibid., Sermon 196.

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