(3:190) The neglected form of worship
Realising the mundane is extraordinary
In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, are signs for people of understanding. (3:190)
Those who remember God while standing, and sitting, and on their sides; and they reflect upon the creation of the heavens and the earth: Our Lord, You did not create this in vain, glory to You, so protect us from the punishment of the Fire. (3:191)
The neglected form of worship – Observation and awe
To ponder on the creation of Allah Almighty is a neglected form of worship. When He says ‘Indeed in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the day and the night are signs’ for those who reflect and those who are people of understanding,’ Allah Almighty wants us to read the signs which He created everywhere, to feel the awe of the beautiful majesty of the heavens and the sky, and to admire their beauty which is majestic.
Those who do not reflect upon His creation, are not people of reflection and understanding, but the opposite – people of misunderstanding, or ignorance or oblivious to what is around them. Mindfulness maybe a buzzword today, but it was part of Islam from the beginning. Being in the moment and noticing what is around you is perhaps the most neglected form of worship in our present, distracted, fast paced multi-tasking lives.
Real blindness is in the heart
Allah Almighty says in the Quran that His creations on the earth are signs for those who are reflective – those who remember Allah Almighty while they are standing, sitting or lying down. He is zooming in on an important issue – how to reflect upon His creation.
Have they not travelled throughout the land so their hearts may reason, and their ears may listen? Indeed, it is not the eyes that are blind, but it is the hearts in the chests that grow blind. (22:46)
We see His magnificence everywhere unless we are people of heedlessness, meaning we cannot see. Real blindness is not in the eyes but, as Allah Almighty stated in the Quran, in the heart. Some have eyes but can’t see through them because they have a blind heart.
In order to be closer to Allah Almighty we need to both reflect and be among people of remembrance rather than heedlessness.
Reflection increases closeness to Allah
Reflecting on His creation is one of the ways to do this and it makes us closer to Him. Realising that it’s not the Big Bang or nature which developed itself without a creator, but Allah Almighty Himself who created it and perfected it.
Continuity of connecting
Allah Almighty wants us to remember Him all the time, not just during our salah.
A human can only be in one of three positions at any one time – standing or sitting or lying down. This means that in all situations we have to be people of remembrance.
When asked, Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) about the Prophet (peace be on him) said:
He used to remember Allah all the time. (Muslim)
‘ala kulli ahyanihi (all the time) – standing, walking, lying down – he was the manifestation of the perfection of dhikr (remembrance).
Softening the heart through dhikr
Remembrance is a kind of dhikr. The highest form of dhikr is reciting the Quran. Allah Almighty said:
We have certainly made it easy to be remembered (54:17)
Uttering authentic forms of dhikr for example tasbih, tahmeed, takbir and tahleel (subhanallah, alhamdulilah, Allahu Akbar and la illaha il allah) soften the heart. And the softer the heart, the closer we become to Allah Almighty and the less we are disobedient and sin. We become closer and closer to Allah.
The more we remember Allah, the more He remembers us.
Remember me and I will remember you. (2:151)
If Allah Almighty mentions your name among the angels, what a great honour it is. Imagine how you would feel if the King said your name in a gathering. You would seize the opportunity and post it on social media. You are that person if you remember Allah.
The mundane is extraordinary
When we truly see Allah Almighty through His creation, we appreciate that the mundane is in fact extraordinary. What we take for granted on a daily basis is not at all mundane. It is the perfection of the creation of Allah.
The moment we wake up in the morning and we can see, we should thank Allah. The moment we use our hands and our feet, which we take for granted, we should thank Allah. They are from His signs. Let’s reflect upon every tiny thing. They are blessings.
Do not take anything for granted. The life we’ve been given is a gift. Do as much as you can to be prepared for the moment you will meet Allah Almighty. Don’t think ‘I’m still young’. Death has no restrictions. Young or old, it can claim anyone. Pondering and reflecting makes us prepared. This form of presence with Allah should make us active.
Remembrance leads to action
We need to combine dhikr with action. Dhikr is not enough by itself. It has to be accompanied by action. This is why Allah Almighty spoke to the successful as:
Those who believe and do good deeds. (31:8)
Hence the shahadah (bearing witness) is immediately followed by the salah. Salah is the manifestation of shahadah. Shahadah in action is salah. We need to perform and perfect our salah. Not perform autopilot or Ferrari salah. Salah is the highest form of dhikr.
Remembrance leads to gratitude and optimism
The surah we recite in salah teaches us to show our gratitude to Allah Almighty. That’s why we call Surah Fatihah al hamd (praise). It is surah of gratitude, which teaches us to be optimistic. People of gratitude can see goodness around them. They are not filled with pessimism; they have optimism all the way. Surah Fatihah is therefore an antidote against depression because it helps us to observe goodness.
We need to work on our salah, and be people of gratitude to Allah Almighty. We should perform our salah in the prophetic manner. Not ‘give me two minutes and I’ll pray 4 rakahs and be with you.’ Two minutes to pray 4 rakahs? Is that buy one get one free? It doesn’t work like that. Allah Almighty mentioned that the proper salah prevents you from doing evil. Yet we see plenty of us doing the salah and not always refraining from evil. Why? There is no contradiction in the Quran, it is our deficiency.
So we should work on improving our salah, and our connection with Allah Almighty. And through these we can become better people.
We ask Allah Almighty to make us people of gratitude (shukr) and reflection (tafakkur).
Khutbah delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim at Finsbury Park Mosque on 16th August 2019.
Transcribed by Hasan Khan
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