8- Worship And The Prayers by Ustad Bediüzzaman Said Nursi r.a (1873-1960)
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
[This Sixth Ray consists of two answers to two questions about two points concerning the formulas in the ‘tashahhuď section of the ritual prayers (salāt) which begin “Salutations, blessings, benedictions and supplications, and good words—all are God’s.”1 Postponing to another time an explanation of the other truths of the ‘tashahhud,’ here we shall explain only two points out of hundreds.]
fTļ he blessed phrases of the tashahhud were spoken by Almighty God and His Messen-ger (Peace and blessings be upon him) on the night of his Ascension, so what is the reason for their being recited in the ritual prayers?
The Answer: For all believers, the five daily prayers are a sort of Ascension. The words of the tashahhud, which were fitting for the Divine presence, were spoken during the Supreme Ascension of Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), and by reciting them, believers recall that sacred conversation. Through the recollection, the meanings of those blessed words cease being particular and become universal; their sacred, comprehensive meanings are, or may be, conceived of. Through such a conception, their value and light are enhanced and expanded.
For example, instead of giving the greeting of “peace” that night to Almighty God, the Noble Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Salutations to God” (al-tahlyyatu lillāh). That is, “O my Sustainer! All the vital glorifications living beings display through their lives and the gifts they present to their Maker through the manner of their creation are Yours alone. By visualizing them and through my belief, I too offer them to You.”
Yes, with the word “salutations,” God’s Most Noble Messenger (PBUH) intentionally offered to God all the worship living creatures perform through the mode of their creation. Similarly, through the word “blessings,” (al-mubãrakãt) which is the summary of “salutations,” he was representing the natural blessedness, plenty, and worship of creatures, especially seeds, grains, and eggs, which are the means of blessings and abundance, and cause one to exclaim: “How great are God’s blessings!” For they are the essence of life and living beings. He said it with this broad meaning.
1. “al-Tahiyyăt al-muhārakāl al-şalawăt al-ţayyibăt lillāh.” Bukhāri, Adhān, 148, 150; al-‘Amal fi’l-salāt,’4; Isti’dhān, 3, 28; Da’wat, 16; Tawhîd, 5; Muslim. Şalat, 56, 60, 62. Etc.
Through the word “benedictions” (al-salawat), which is a summary of “blessings,” he was visualizing all the particular forms of worship performed by beings with spirits, who are the essence of living beings, and offering it to the Divine Court with that comprehensive meaning.
With the word “good things,” (wa’l-tayyibal) the summary of “benedictions,” he intended the luminous, elevated worship of perfected human beings and the cherubim, who are the summaries of beings with spirits, and offered this to the One he worshipped.
Almighty God saying that night: “Peace be upon you, О Prophet!”, was an indication and indirect command that in the future, hundreds of millions of people would say at least ten times daily: “Peace be upon you, О Prophet!” The Divine greeting afforded the words an extensive light and lofty meaning.
Similarly, the Noble Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) replying to the greeting by saying: “Peace be upon us and upon all God’s righteous servants” expressed that he was requesting his Creator hopefully and beseechingly that in the future his vast community and the righteous members of it would reflect Islam, which represents the Divine greeting, and that all his community would greet each other: “Peace be upon you!” “And peace be upon you!,” which, between believers, is a universal mark of Islam.
Gabriel (Peace be upon him), who took part in the conversation, said that night at the Divine command: “I testify that there is no god but God, and I testify that Muhammad is God’s Messenger,” giving the happy news that all the Umma would testify in that way until the Last Day. Recalling this sacred exchange, the meanings of the words gain in brilliance and comprehensiveness.
A strange state of mind that assisted in the unfolding of the above truth
One time while in a dark exile, on a dark night, and in a dark state of heedlessness, the mighty universe of the present appeared to my imagination as a lifeless, spiritless, dead, empty, desolate, ghastly corpse. The past, too, appeared to be dead, empty, deceased, and dreadful; that boundless space and limitless time took on the form of a dark wilderness. I had recourse to the prayers in order to be saved from my state of mind. When I said: “Salutations” in the tashahhud, the universe suddenly sprang to life. It was resurrected taking on a living, luminous form, and became a shining mirror of the Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One. I saw that with all its living parts, it was continuously offering the salutations of their lives and their vital gifts to the Ever-Living and Self-Subsistent One; I understood this with ‘the knowledge of certainty,’ even with ‘absolute certainty.’
Then, when I declared: “Peace be upon you, О Prophet!,” that limitless vacant time was transformed under the leadership of God’s Noble Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) from being a desolate wilderness into a familiar place of recreation filled with living spirits.
The comparison at the end of the tashahhud: “O God! Grant blessings to Muhammad and to the Family of Muhammad, as You granted blessings to Abraham and to the Family of Abraham,” appears to be contrary to the rules of comparisons, for Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) was greater than Abraham (Peace be upon him), and the recipient of greater mercy; so what is the reason for it? Since early times the same supplication has been repeated in all the ritual prayers; whereas if a prayer is accepted once, that is enough. If those for whom millions of prayers have been accepted are persistently prayed for, and especially if the thing sought has been promised by God… For example. Almighty God has promised: Soon will your Sustainer raise you to a station of praise and glory!, yet always after the call to prayer and iqama the narrated prayer: “And raise him up to the station of praise and glory that You have promised him” is repeated; the whole Umma pray for that promise to be fulfilled. What is the reason for this too?
The Answer: There are three aspects and three questions within this question.
First Aspect: For sure Abraham (Peace be upon him) was not equal to Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), but his family or descendants were prophets. Muhammad’s (Peace and blessings be upon him) family were saints, and saints cannot reach the level of the prophets. Evidence that this prayer for his family has been accepted in shining fashion is this:
The fact that the saints who, among three hundred and fifty million, emerged from the progeny of only two of the Family of Muhammad (PBUH), that is, Hasan (May God be pleased with him) and Husayn (May God be pleased with him), were in the great majority of cases the spiritual guides and leaders of the sufi paths of reality, was because they received the effulgence of the Hadith: “The learned of my community are like the prophets of the Children of Israel.” Those who guided the greater part of the Umma to the way of truth and reality of Islam — foremost Ja’far al-Sadiq (May God be pleased with him), Gawth al-A’zam (May God be pleased with him), and Shah Naqshband (May God be pleased with him)— were the fruits of the acceptance of this prayer for Muhammad’s (Peace and blessings be upon him) Family.
Second Aspect: The reason for benedictions of this sort being restricted to the ritual prayers is that they recall to one that he is on the way opened up and taken by the great caravan of the prophets and saints, who are the most luminous, perfect, and righteous of mankind and its eminent members. He has joined that vast congregation, which acquires strength through its hundredfold consensus and cannot confuse its way, and is accompanying it on the straight path. By recalling this, he is saved from satanic doubts and delusions. Evidence that the members of this caravan are the friends and acceptable creatures of the universe’s Owner, and its opponents and enemies are rejected, is that from the time of Adam, succour has always arrived from the Unseen for the caravan, while its opponents have always been visited by heavenly calamities.
Yes, just as opponents like the people of Noah, the Thamud and the ‘Ad, Pharaoh and Nimrod have all received blows from the Unseen that tell of Divine wrath and chastisement; so the sacred heroes of the mighty caravan, like Noah (Peace be upon him), Abraham (Peace be upon him), Moses (Peace be upon him), and Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), have wondrously and extraordinarily manifested miracles and received dominical bounties from the Unseen. A single blow demonstrates anger, and a single bestowal, love, so thousands of blows being visited on opponents and thousands of favours and instances of assistance arriving for the caravan testify and prove self-evidently, as clearly as daylight, the rightfulness of the caravan and that it is on the straight path. The verse: The path of those whom You have blessed in Sura al-Fatiha looks to the caravan, while the verses: Not those on whom Your anger has been visited, nor those who have gone astray(\J) looks to their opponents. The point we have explained here is clearer in the discussion about the end of Sura al-Fatiha.
Third Aspect: The reason for repeatedly asking for something which shall certainly be given is this: the thing sought, for instance the ‘Station of Praise and Glory’ is the tip of something. It is a branch of a vast truth that comprises lofty and significant truths like thousands of Stations of Praise and Glory. It is a fruit of the most important result of the universe’s creation. To seek through prayer the tip, branch, and fruit is to seek indirectly the realization of that vast and general truth, and its finding existence, and the coming and realization of the eternal realm, the largest branch of the tree of creation, and the resurrection of the dead and Last Judgement and the opening up of the Abode of Bliss, which are the supreme results of the universe. By asking for these, one participates in the worship and prayers of all humanity, the most important causes of the existence of Paradise and the Abode of Bliss. These innumerable prayers are indeed few for an aim so unutterably vast. Moreover, Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) being awarded the Station of Praise and Glory points to his supreme intercession for all his community. He is concerned also with the happiness of all his community. It is therefore pure wisdom to seek endless benedictions and prayers for mercy for him from all his community. “God is Most Great!” from The Fruits of Belief
One fifth of mankind, three hundred million people, together declaring: “God is Most Great! God is Most Great! God is Most Great!”; and in relation to its size the globe broadcasting to its fellow planets in the skies the sacred words of God is Most Great!; and the more than twenty thousand pilgrims performing the Hajj, on ‘Arafat and at the Festival, together declaring: “God is Most Great!” are all a response in the form of extensive, universal worship to the universal manifestation of Divine dominicality through God’s sublime titles of Sustainer of the Earth and Sustaineŗ of All The Worlds, and are a sort of echo of the God is Most Great! spoken and commanded one thousand three hundred years ago by God’s Noble Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) and his Family and Companions. This I imagined and felt and was certain about.
Then I wondered if the sacred phrase has any connection with our matter. It suddenly occurred to me that foremost this phrase and many others of these marks of Islam like There is no god but God, All praise be to God!, and Glory be to God!, which bear the title of “enduring good works,” recall particular and universal points about the matter we are discussing, and infer its realization.
For example, one aspect of the meaning of God is Most Great! is that Divine power and knowledge are greater than everything; nothing at all can quit the bounds of God’s knowledge, nor escape or be saved from the disposals of His power. He is greater than the things we fear most. This means He is greater than bringing about the resurrection of the dead, saving us from non-existence, and bestowing eternal happiness. He is greater than any strange or unimaginable thing, so that, as explicitly stated by the verse.
Your creation and your resurrection are but as a single soul,(31:28)
the resurrection of mankind is as easy for His power as the creation of a single soul. It is in connection with this meaning that when faced by serious disasters or important undertakings, everyone says: “God is Most Great! God is Most Great!”, making it a source of consolation, strength, and support for themselves.
As is shown in the Ninth Word, the above phrase and its two fellows, that is, God is Most Great!, and Glory be to God!, and All praise be to God!, form the seeds and summaries of the ritual prayers —the index of all worship— and in order to corroborate the meaning of the prayers, are repeated in the tesbi-hat following them. They provide the powerful answers to the questions arising from the wonderment, pleasure, and awe man feels at the strange, beautiful, extraordinary things he sees in the universe, which cause him to offer thanks and to feel awe at their grandeur. Moreover, at the end of the Sixteenth Word, it is described how at the festival a private soldier and a field marshal enter the king’s presence together, whereas at other times the soldier has contact with the field marshal only through his commanding officer. Similarly, somewhat resembling the saints, a person making the Hajj begins to know God through His titles of Sustainer of the Earth and Sustainer of All the Worlds. With its repetition, it is again God is Most Great that answers all the feverish bewildered questions that overwhelm his spirit as the levels of grandeur unfold in his heart. Furthermore, at the end of the Thirteenth Flash, it is described how it is again God is Most Great that replies most effectively to Satan’s cunning wiles, cutting them at the root, as well as answering succinctly but powerfully our question about the hereafter.
The phrase All praise be to God also reminds us of resurrection. It says to us: “I would have no meaning if there was no hereafter. For I say: to God is due all the praise and thanks that have been offered from pre-eternity to post-eternity, whoever they have been offered by and to whom, for the chief of all bounties and the only thing that makes bounty true bounty and saves all conscious creatures
from the endless calamities of non-existence, is eternal happiness; it is only eternal happiness that can be equal to that universal meaning of mine.”
Yes, every day all believers saying at least one hundred and fifty times after the obligatory prayers: All praise be to God! All praise be to God!, as enjoined by the Shari’a, and its being the expression of praise and thanks which extend from pre-eternity to post-eternity, can only be the advance price and immediate fee for Paradise and eternal happiness. They offer thanks since bounties are not restricted to the fleeting bounties of this world, which are tainted by the pains of transience, and see them as the means to eternal bounties.
As for the sacred phrase, Glory be to God!; with its meaning of declaring God free of all partner, fault, defect, tyranny, impotence, unkindness, need, and deception, and all faults opposed to His perfection, beauty, and glory, it recalls eternal happiness and the realm of the hereafter and Paradise within it, which are the means to His glory and beauty and the majesty and perfection of His sovereignty; the phrase alludes to them and indicates them. For, as has been proved previously, if there was no eternal happiness, both His sovereignty, and His perfection, glory, beauty, and mercy would be stained by fault and defect.
Like these three sacred phrases. In the Name of God and There is no god but God and other blessed phrases are all seeds to the pillars of faith. Like the meat essences and sugar concentrates that have been discovered recently, they are summaries of both the pillars of belief, and the truths of the Qur’an. The three mentioned above are both the seeds of the five daily prayers, and they are the seeds of the Qur’an, sparkling like brilliants at the beginning of a number of shining suras. So too are they the true sources and bases of the Risale-i Nur, many of whose inspirations first came while I was reciting the tesbihat following the prayers; they are the seeds of its truths. In respect of the sainthood and worship of Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), these phrases are the invocations of the Muhammadan (PBUH) way which, following each of the five daily prayers, more than one hundred million believers repeat together in a vast circle of remembrance. Their beads in their hands, they declare Glory be to God! thirty-three times. All praise be to God! thirty-three times, and God is Most Great! thirty-three times.
You have surely understood now the great value of reciting thirty-three times after the five daily prayers, in such a splendid circle for the remembrance of God, each of those three blessed phrases, which as explained above, are the summaries and seeds of both the Qur’an, and belief, and the prayers. You have understood too the great reward they yield.