Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Prayer beyond prayer | nearness to God

Someone asked: Is there any way nearer to God than prayer?

The master replied: also prayer, but prayer which is not merely this outward form. This is the 'body' of prayer, since formal prayer has a beginning and end; and everything which has a beginning and an end is a 'body'. The words Allahu Akbar (God is The Greatest beyond our idea of beyond) is the beginning of formal prayer, and its end is the salutation, 'Peace'.

Similarly the profession of faith is not merely the formula uttered on the tongue, for that formula has a beginning and an end. Every thing which is expressed in words and sounds and has a beginning and an end is 'form' and 'body'; its 'soul' is unconditioned and infinite, has neither beginning nor end.

Moreover this formal prayer was brought forth by the Prophets. Now Prophet Muhammad, upon him be God's love, who embodied the Muslim prayer, spoke as follows, 'I have a time with God when I am not contained by any prophet sent by God, neither by any angel set near to God.' Hence we realize that 'the soul' of prayer is not this form alone. Rather it is a complete absorption, a state of unconsciousness excluding, and not finding room for all these outward forms.

It is related of the master, the sultan of the learned, pole of the world, Baha al-Haqq wa-Din, may God sanctify his soul, that one day his companions found him in a state of complete absorption. The hour of prayer arriving, some of his disciples called out to the master, 'Its time for prayer'. The master did not heed their words, so they rose up and occupied themselves with the prayer.

Two disciples, however, bore the shaikh company and did not stand to pray. Now one of the disciples who was praying was named Khvajagi. It was shown to him clearly in his inward heart that all those companions who were at prayer were standing behind the imam with their backs turned on Mecca, whereas the two disciples who had borne with shaikh company had their faces turned towards Mecca. Inasmuch as the shaikh has passed away from the sense of personality so that his self no longer remained, having been consumed in the Light of God. the inward voice explained, 'Die before you die', the master has become (part of) the light of God.

Whosover turns his back on the Light of God and faces the wall of prayer-niche has assuredly turned his back on Mecca. For God's Light is the soul of the Mecca-ward direction.

- Discourses of Rumi / Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is the one who believeth in God ... The Quran 2:177

To God belong the east and the west: Whithersoever ye turn, there is the presence of God. For God is all-Pervading, all-Knowing. 2:115

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