On Salat


Salat, the ritual worship, is the third and final thing which the Beloved of Allah was made to love of our world. Salat is vision of things beyond our sight. That is why he said, "Salat is the light of my eyes." Seeing realms beyond our vision and closer to Allah permitted him to converse with his Creator.

Allah says, "Mention Me in remembrance and I will respond by remembering you." Thus salat is a conversation between Allah and His servant in a divine tradition. He says, "I divided salat between Myself and My servant in half. Half of the worship belongs to Me and half to My servant. And My servant will certainly receive that which he asks of Me."


In every cycle of the ritual prayer, the opening verse of the Qur'an must be recited. It is an obligation. Without it the prayer is not valid. The one in prayer says, "bismillah ir-rahman ir-rahim" – in the name of Allah, the most Beneficent and the most Merciful. The Lord responds: "My servant is calling on Me." When the servant says, "El hamdulillah ir-rabil alemin" – all thanks and praise to the Lord of all creation, The Lord says: "My servant is thankful to Me." When the worshipper says, "maliki yewmeddin" – the owner of the day of last judgement, the Lord says: "My servant has submitted to Me and left his life in My hands." These first three verses of the opening chapter of the Holy Qur'an belong to Allah. "We belong only to You and we ask all we need from You." Then the Lord says: "My servant is now with Me and he will have all that he wishes." This verse in the center of the chapter is like Purgatory, a state of abandonment of the self, and then the servant says: "Ihdinas-siratal mutakim" – lead us to the straight path, the truth, "eSirrateledhina en amta aleyhim, – "the path of those who are close to You, whom You love, "Gayril magdubi aleyhim we leddaline," – not the path of the ones who meet Your wrath. And Allah says: "That which My servant asks belongs to him. When My servant intends and wishes he is given the state of purity, sincerity and peace."


Whoever yearns for truth, obtains it. For Allah says in a divine tradition, "I am with the one who calls on Me." The one with eyes certainly should be able to see the One who is with him. "But the blind in this world of matter are blind to the real reality of the other world." One’s being with the truth or not while praying should let one know where one is and who one is. The one who feels the presence of his Lord during prayer is an imam, the leader of a congregation, even if he is praying alone, because the Prophet of Allah says: "He who truly prays is certainly an imam, because there are angels praying behind him." That true servant of Allah is raised to represent his Lord, for, when he says "semiallahu li men hamidah" Allah hears those who praise and thank Him. He is repeating Allah’s promised response to himself and to the angels behind him and the angles respond "rabbena leykel hamd" – "our Lord, all praise and thanks are due to You." All this is seen by the ones who can claim, like our Master, the Messenger of Allah, that "salat is the light of my eye." The ones who do not see or feel their Lord, but at least believe that He sees and hears them are blind, deaf and dumb, and may not receive unless Allah, in His mercy, gives them the protection from sinning and doing wrong. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an: "Salat protects man from things wrong and forbidden," and, "Allah knows what you are doing," and, be like "the one who listens as if he sees his Lord."


The material being came into existence through motion and that motion which caused existence is within the movements of the salat. These motions are three: vertical movement – upwards, horizontal movement – forwards, and the reverse movement backwards and downward. The first, vertical movement, is in the position of "kiyan," standing up. The second, horizontal movement, is in the position of "ruku," bent position. The third reverse movement is in the "sejde," prostration. These three motions are also manifest in the three kingdoms of creation: the vertical in man, the horizontal in animals, and the prostration upon the earth, in earth. In the final movement of prostration, when the worshipper becomes a lifeless earth which does not move or do anything on its own with its will, but only moves and does by the will of another, is the state of the Beloved of Allah who did not attribute anything which he was or did or said to himself, but attributed to his Lord. When he said "salat is the light of my eye," he meant that it is neither his salat nor his eye but the Lord Himself saw Himself in this divine light. Thus in the salat the reality sees its realness, the truth sees nothing else but the truth. That is why it is maleficent and forbidden by the Lord to care for anything else other than what is being done through you in salat, and whenever the mind wanders in imagination is when the devil steals from the salat and prevents the lover from reaching the Beloved. The true lover seeks only the Beloved. The direction of the kaaba is where the worshipper looks for the Beloved. Whatever distracts one, leads one astray, away from the beloved.


The Lord ordered us to worship Him, to praise Him, but He also praises the one who praises Him and prays for the one who prays to Him. This mutual, shared state is like a mirror. It differs for each and every one, as Hazreti Junayd al Bagdadi, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "The color of the water is the color of the cup which contains it." So, the truth is in accordance with the state in which one finds oneself. The Lord appears in accordance to our need, as Moses saw Him in the "burning bush" when he needed fire. Some saints saw Him as coral or in a date tree, and Hazreti Ibn Arabi saw Him in the shape of a white horse. The beloved of Allah saw Him in the shape of a most beautiful youth who resembled him. The coral is the final evolution of the mineral kingdom, one step behind the vegetable kingdom. The date tree is the final evolution of the vegetable kingdom, one step behind the animal kingdom. In fact, like an animal if one cuts the top of it, it dies. And the horse is the final evolution of the animal kingdom, close to the human being. And the human being is the best of creation and the Beloved of Allah is the best and the most perfect among men.


Allah says, "I am as My servant thinks of Me." He also says, "Everything worships Me and tells My praises but you do not hear." Mineral, vegetable, animal, each in its own way worships its Creator and obeys Him more than men do, for they have no will of their own. But man, the final and best creation of the Creator, is given the gift of will, with the gift of the knowledge of all the names in which the Creator’s attributes are manifest, and the gift of an ego and a mind and is tested by his ability to choose.


When man worships he worships the One whom he thinks He is, whom he imagines to be, as if an artwork created by an artist. Often when he praises Him, he praises himself, and, alas, condemns the others who worship their own gods. If such a one understood the meaning of "the color of water is that of the cup which contains it" he would have been able to differentiate the cup from the clear water and not to praise the container instead of the contained. That contained god is that which will fit into the different sizes of the hearts which are able to contain it, a drop from an endless ocean...which the Absolute Lord cannot fit into anything. When the Lord said: "I do not fit into the heavens and the earths which I have created but fit into the loving heart of My believing servant," this does not signify His size, as all He created is not Him but all is from Him.


This writing also is a drop from the ocean and my humble gift to my children on the occasion of the Mevlud-un Nabi with the hope that it will increase their love for the Beloved of Allah. For one is able to love only the one whom one knows. Allah knows best and He is the one who tells the truth and guides to the straight path.


Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti