Prophet Muhammad : The Voluntary Way To Draw Close To God
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was always full of gratitude to God, expressing it right from the moment he woke up before dawn, using fine, clear and most expressive words: “My Lord! Whatever blessing I or anyone of Your creatures is enjoying this morning comes from You alone, as You have no partners. All praise and all thanks are due to You. My Lord! I have started this day enjoying Your blessings, sound health and protection. Perfect the blessings, health and protection You bestow on me in this life and in the life to come.”
Prophet Muhammad recommends us to glorify God and praise Him as we wake up: “Whoever says as he wakes up, ‘Praise be to God who has created sleep and alertness; praise be to God who has returned me safe and sound; I bear witness that God brings the dead back to life and that He is able to do everything,’ will be answered by God who says, ‘My servant tells the truth.’” It is great indeed that a human being should praise the Creator of the universe and God listens to the praise, accepting it and admitting that person to His service.
The Prophet says: “When any of you wakes up in the morning he should say: ‘We have come into this morning when all dominion belongs to God, the Lord of all worlds. My Lord! I appeal to You to grant me the goodness of this day: its gifts, help, light, blessing and guidance; and I seek Your shelter from any evil in it or in the days to come’. When the evening approaches he should say the same.”
People live in a dark cave whose walls are made of their own real or imaginary problems. It is sad to find intelligent minds unable to see further than the walls of such a cave and beating hearts feeling nothing other than the darkness of such a narrow cave. Muhammad, God’s messenger who knows his Lord well denounces such humiliating isolation. He says: “Every morning a caller addresses mankind, saying: “O You creatures! Glorify the Holy Sovereign”.
What I would like to say here is that it appears that only Muhammad’s heart has listened to this caller who urges mankind to tear away the curtains that keep them in ignorance and turn back toward God, the Holy Sovereign of the universe. His creative reminders are the result of his absorbing glorification of God and keen awareness of His greatness.
The great majority of scholars do not consider it a duty of a Muslim to repeat the glorifications and supplications we have quoted or will be quoting. They are only recommended. This is certainly true. However, I feel that it is necessary to reflect at length on such glorifications and passionate supplications when one’s heart is slackening and the relation with God weakens. They are highly effective in giving us the right concept of God and making us aware of the significance of His great attributes.
When faith is not based on enlightened vision it is ineffective. When conviction is only marginal, it cannot control behavior or keep wanton desire in check. Indeed, the Prophet’s companions were able to attain the summit of faith and change the course of history, replacing constitutions and morality with what were infinitely better ones, only because they were close to the Prophet, watching his life and guided by his light. They thus allowed his exemplary sincerity and love of God to fill their hearts as they filled his. Such is human nature. To my mind, listening to the Prophet as he addressed his supplication, and feeling his emotion as he appealed to God are bound to enlighten hearts and minds, motivating them to draw closer to God.
This type of glorification and supplication is only recommended, not a duty. But there is a measure of close contact with God that is a binding duty. This is related to the mosque and obligatory prayers. It is a duty incumbent on every Muslim to stand before God five times in every 24 hours to perform our obligatory prayers. Offering them in congregation in the mosque may be either a duty or an urged recommendation. The place of the mosque in Muslim society is high indeed. People who are careless about their prayers may find talking about it strange, because they prefer to pursue their desires.
With the first light of dawn Muslims aim toward the mosque. To strengthen their resolve the Prophet says: “Give those who walk to the mosque in the darkness of the night the happy news that they will have perfect light on the Day of Judgment.” And we read in the Qur’an: “On the day when you see all believers, men and women, with their light spreading rapidly before them and to their right.” (57: 12) “They will say: Our Lord! Perfect our light for us and forgive us. You certainly have power over all things.” (66: 8)
– By SHEIKH MUHAMMAD AL-GHAZALI