My dear children, my companions on the path to Truth,
The believer who does not feel, during salat, the opening of his chest and the absorption of Allah’s manifestations in all their beauty, and even the secrets of His essence, does his prayers only as a duty, and is not able to feel their rewards. Therefore, he is sometimes discouraged. His efforts weaken, may Allah protect us, his faith may even falter, and he may abandon his devotions of five times a day, which is a sign of his being sent away from the presence of his Lord.
When the devout believer realizes the true meaning of his devotions and begins receiving the joy of the truths of his Lord’s manifestations, he performs his prayers always in this state of illumination, ridding himself of the intrusion of the false pleasures and thoughts of this world, his heart filled with the joys of the hereafter as if he were transported there.
To be in that state, when you lift your hands to say “Allahu Akbar”, those hands must be washed of the care of both worlds: not only of this world but also of hopes for the hereafter. When those hands are raised, with the back of your hands, you throw everything except Allah behind you. When you pronounce the words “Allahu Akbar”. Allah is Most Great, then you must know that you are in the presence of the Ruler of both worlds, the Most Mighty, Whose power is limitless, Whose justice is absolute, Whose infinite mercy far surpasses His justice, upon Whom all depend, the Self-Existent, the Most Beautiful and Gentle, Allah Most High.
Then, lower your gaze in humbleness and shame, and think in front of the Most Great how lowly, how poor, how helpless a nothing you are, and be ready to sacrifice all that you have, or think you have, for that Great Beloved, who loves you in spite of your nothingness.
When you start reciting the Fatiha and the verses of the Holy Qur’an, watch what you say and how you say it, for you are in the presence of your Creator, you are talking to and addressing your Lord in His language, in the language of Truth. When you recite, that tongue in your mouth is like the tongue of Hz. Musa (a. s.), speaking with Allah on Mount Sinai. What attention, what care, what effort should go towards learning to address Allah Most High in His language.
When you bow, it is as if you dive into total piety, leaving the solid ground of the material world trying to reach the proximity of Allah. In that state of piety, when you pronounce “Subhana Rabbil-`Azim”, Glory to the Mighty One, may He treat me with His Mercy and His Gentleness, for I have left everything behind, I have nowhere else to go, then you will indeed be in other realms with other experiences and other pleasures.
When you have been given the honor of being received in this realm of gentle kindness, how can you be anything but thankful, and voice your praise to the Most Kind and the Most Gentle.
Then raise your head and say, “Sami’Allahu liman hamidah”, Allah hears my thankful praises. When you stand up from bowing, realize that you are at the summit of greatness, the greatness of humility, of the one who has realized that he is so small that he is nothing, and is ready to throw himself on his face at the feet of his Lord. Then, having received this gift, this honor of the feeling of humbleness, you offer your praises and thankfulness again to your Lord, saying, “Rabba na la kal hamd”, all praise and gratefulness is due to my Lord.
Then you throw yourself to the ground in prostration. The Beloved of Allah (s. a. w. s.) says, “The one who prostrates rubs his face to the feet of Allah Most High”. Allah addresses him:
“Oh the one on the right path,
do not obey him (Abu Jahl the accursed),
but prostrate thyself and come close to Allah.
Surah ‘Alaq (96:19)
The one who cannot prostrate obeys the enemy of Allah without or within himself, but the true servant receives such pleasure from closeness to his Lord in rubbing the nose of his ego to the ground that he soars to divine heights, which the mind is incapable of understanding and the tongue is incapable of describing. Prostration is the essence and the summation of the salat and all devotion. The sincere believer has the ecstasy of the lover who has come together with his beloved.
Saying “Allahu Akbar”, Allah is Most Great, you lift your head from the ground. Thus you are saying: there is none other but Him worthy to love, and none is worthy to love Him sufficiently. He is closer to His lover, His slave in love, than you are to Him, than you are to yourself. Then you sit between the two prostrations, feeling helpless, and asking forgiveness for not being able to come close to Him, for being unable to serve Him, unable to love Him as He deserves. If you cannot come close to Him, yearning and begging, ask Him to come to you, and throw yourself to the ground in your second prostration. In this position, beg His mercy, praise Him for having accepted you as you are and send your salutations in your at-tahhiyyatt, expressing your gratefulness for His favors.
Then saying, “Ashadu an la ilaha illallahu wa ashadu anna Muhammadan `abdu-hu wa rasuluh,” you confirm your faith in Him and His Beloved, showing yourself as witness. Then you recite your salutations and prayers to His Beloved, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, for you realize that the greatest gift of faith, that that straightest path to salvation and eternal bliss, which is Islam, that this closeness to your Creator has been given to you through the hands of His Beloved Prophet (s. a. w. s.). You realize that you are tied to your Lord through your tie to His Messenger, that you are with your Lord by being with His Messenger. You are loved by your Lord by loving His Messenger.
Next you offer your salat and salam to Hz. Ibrahim (a. s.), the friend of Allah. Salat is the throne where the friends of Allah sit. That is where His friend the Prophet Ibrahim (a. s. ) sat, talking intimately and lovingly with his Lord.
That is where you are sitting now, asking your share of friendship from the friendship between His friend Hz. Ibrahim (a. s. ) and Him, burning with the wish to become worthy to be His servant, to be close to Him, to be His friend, to be loved by Him. Indeed the one who prays like that becomes Allah’s beloved.
May Allah save us by blessing us with experiencing the truth of our devotions. Amin.
(From Hz. Ahmed Gumushanevi)