Provisions for the hereafter

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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 each.

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 Companions.

 

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