One day Hatem-i Zahid (ks) came to visit Asim Ibn Yusuf (ks). When Asim asked him, “Have you been able to do your salat properly?” he answered: “Yes. I hope so!” Then Asim asked him to tell how he did his salat. Hatem-i Zahid replied:
“When the time of prayer approaches I take my ablution the way we know our Prophet (saws) did, even though my previous ablution was not broken. Next I stand at the place where I pray a long time, until I have an awareness of my whole body and I feel physically present. Then I imagine a straight line coming from the Qaaba up to my forehead and the Maqam-i Ibrahim in line with my chest, knowing well that Allah Most High is free of all image and place, that I am in His presence, and that He sees my past, my present and my future and all that is in my mind and my heart.
I stand as if on the Bridge of Sirat, which is thinner than hair and sharper than a sword. Paradise is on my right, and Hell is on my left. The Angel of Death stands right behind me. And I strongly feel that this prayer is my last before I leave this world. Then with the back of my raised hands I throw all thoughts and cares of this world behind me; as if I see my Lord I say “Allahu Akbar.”
I then do my recitation reflecting on the meaning of each of Allah’s words. I bend at Ruqu with total humbleness and supplication, and I make my prostration turning into dust. Then at the end when I sit on my knees an immense hope comes to me with the recitation of “I witness that there is no God, nothing but Allah.” When I give salams to my right and left the fear that Allah may forsake me comes. I walk out of my prayer with more strength to be patient and sincere. Yes, I have been making my prayers like this for the last 30 years.”
Asim, shedding tears, said: “I have not been able to do my salat even close to what you have described.”
For our own sake, for our own felicity in this world and in the hereafter, woe to our lazy egos, which drag their feet when it comes to doing something for Allah’s sake! It is so vigilant in trying to get the best of this world, even when it belongs rightfully to others and is much much more than we will ever need. When will we ever learn?
Salat is not just a ritual, or a demonstration that you are a believer. It is your Miraj, your ascension to your Lord, your license to the presence of your Maker, your Nourisher, the One who keeps you alive and well. Do you feel raised step by step each time you say “Allahu Akbar,” and with each move towards Him do you move away from this lowly world? Do you feel the warmth of His love, compassion and care? Do you smell the perfumes of Paradise? Perhaps we should do our salat over and over again.
May Allahu Teala the Most Merciful forgive our errors and sins and help us be worthy of our humanity and Islam. Amin.
Tosun Baba, August 30, 2007