What about if it is not unnecessary pre-occupations but the essential
requirements of earning a livelihood that keep one from the prayer and cause weariness?
Assume you work for a daily wage of one dollar, and someone comes to you
and offers: ‘Come and dig here for ten minutes, and you will find a
brilliant and an emerald worth a hundred dollars.’ You reply, ‘No, I won’t
come, because my wage will be cut by ten cents and my subsistence will be
less.’ You know perfectly how foolish an argument that would be. In just the
same way, you work in this orchard of yours for your livelihood. If you
abandon the prescribed prayers, all the fruits of your work will be limited
to only a worldly, insignificant and unproductive livelihood. However, if
you assign the periods of rest to the prayer, which are the means to the
liveliness of the spirit and the ease of the heart, then you will discover
two ‘mines’ which are an important source both for a productive worldly
livelihood, and your provisions for the Hereafter.
- Through a sound intention, you will receive a share in the
glorification offered by all the plants and trees, whether flowering or
fruit-bearing, that you grow in your orchard.
- Whatever is eaten of the orchard’s produce, whether by animals or men,
cattle or insects, buyers or thieves, it will become like almsgiving from
you. But on condition that you work in the name of the Real Provider and
within the sphere of His permission, and consider yourself a distribution
official sharing out His property among His creatures.
So, see at how great a loss he stands who abandons the prayers, what
significant wealth he loses, and how he is left deprived of those two mines,
which support his endeavors with high motives and his actions with strong
morale. For, as he grows old, he will grow weary of gardening and, saying,
‘What’s all this to me? I am leaving the world anyway, so why suffer so much
trouble?,’ he will let himself slip into idleness. But the other man both
performs his prayers and works for his livelihood. He says: ‘I shall try
harder both to perform the obligatory worship and earn legitimately and
honestly, so that I may send more abundant light to my grave, and procure
more provisions for my life in the Hereafter.’
In short: O soul! Know that yesterday abandoned you, and as for
tomorrow, you have no documents that you will live to see it. Therefore your
life consists in the present day. So set at least one of its hours aside for
mosque or prayer-mat, a savings box for the Hereafter, a sort of reserve
fund, set aside for your real future.
Also, know that for you and for everyone each new day is the door to a
new world. If you do not perform the prayer, your world of that day will go
dark and wretched, and will bear witness against you in the world of
symbols, the immaterial, essential forms of beings. For everyone has, each
day, a private world contained in this world, and its nature is dependent on
each person’s heart and deeds. Just as a magnificent palace reflected in a
mirror takes on the color and quality of the mirror—if the mirror is black
or red, the palace appears black or red. If the mirror is clear and even, it
shows the palace in its beauty, and if it is not, it shows it to be ugly.
Just as an uneven mirror shows the finest things to be coarse, so you too
change the appearance of your own world with your heart, mind, deeds, and
attitudes, and you may cause it to testify either in your favor or against.
If you perform the prescribed prayers, and turn through them towards the
All-Majestic Maker, your own private world will be all of a sudden
illuminated. It is as though the prayer were a powerful, electric light and
your intention to perform it meant switching it on. Prayer disperses your
world’s darkness, and shows the changes and movements in its confused,
tumultuous world to be actually arising from, and for the purpose of, a wise
order and a meaningful arrangement of Divine Power. It disperses over your
heart one light from the light-filled verse, ‘God is the Light of the
heavens and the earth’2, and, illuminating your world on that day through
the reflection of that light, it will cause your world to testify in your
favor through its luminosity.
Never say, ‘My prayers mean almost nothing when compared with the reality
of what prayer should be.’ The stone of a date-palm encapsulates and
contains the tree itself, the difference being only between the summary and
the fully evolved or elaborated form. Also as the prayer of a great saint is
fully evolved, the prayers of ordinary people like you and me —even if they
are unaware of it—have a share of that Divine light. Even if you are not
conscious of it, there is a mystery in this truth, but perception of that
truth and their being illuminated by it, varies according to the degree of
Just as there are many stages and degrees from the stone of a date-palm
to the fully grown tree, so also performing the prayers and benefiting from
them have degrees and stages, possibly even more numerous. However, in each
degree or stage, the basis of that luminous truth is present.
O God! Bestow blessings and peace on him who said: ‘The
prescribed prayers are the pillar of religion,’ and on all his family and