In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
O you people, worship ! 1
If you want to understand what great profit and happiness lie in worship, and what great loss and ruin lie in vice and dissipation listen to and take heed of the following story which is in the form of a comparison:
One time, two soldiers received orders to proceed to a distant city. They set off and travelled together until the road forked. At the fork was a man who said to them, “The road on the right causes no loss at all, and nine out of ten of those who take it receive a high profit and experience great ease. While the road on the left provides no advantages, and nine out of ten of its travellers make a loss. But they are the same as regards distance. Only there is one difference: those who take the left-hand road, which has no rules and no one in authority, travel without baggage and arms. They feel an apparent lightness and deceptive ease. Whereas those travelling on the right-hand road, which is under military order, are compelled to carry a kit-bag full of nutritious rations four okkas or so in weight and a superb army rifle of about two kiyyes 2 which will overpower and rout every enemy.”
After the two soldiers had listened to what this instructive man had to say, the fortunate one took the road to the right. He loaded the weight of one batman onto his back, but his heart and spirit were saved from thousands of bat-mansof fear and feeling obliged to others. As for the other, luckless, soldier, he left the army. He did not want to conform to the order, and he went off to the left. He was released from bearing a load of one batman, but his heart was constricted by thousands of batmans of indebtedness, and his spirit crushed by innumerable fears. He proceeded on his way both begging from everyone and trembling before every object and every event until he reached his destination. And there he was punished as a mutineer and a deserter.
As for the soldier who loved the order of the army, had guarded his kit-bag and rifle, and taken the right-hand road, he had gone on his way being obliged to no one, fearing no one, and with an easy heart and conscience until he reached the city he was seeking. There he received a reward worthy of an honourable soldier who had carried out his duty faithfully.
O rebellious soul, know that one of those two travellers represents those who submit to the Divine Law, while the other represents the rebellious and those who follow their own desires. The road is the road of life, which comes from the Spirit World, passes through the grave, and carries on to the hereafter. As for the kit-bag and rifle, they are worship and fear of God. There is an apparent burden in worship, but there is an ease and lightness in its meaning that defies description. For in the prescribed prayers the worshipper declares, “I bear witness that there is no god but God.” That is to say, he finds the door of a treasury of mercy in everything because he is believing and saying, “There is no Creator and Provider other than Him. Harm and benefit are in His hand. He is both All-Wise; He does nothing in vain, and He is All-Compassionate; His bounty and mercy are abundant.” And he knocks on the door with his supplication. Moreover, he sees that everything is subjugated to the command of his own Sustainer, so he takes refuge in Him. He places his trust in Him and relies on Him, and is fortified against every disaster; his belief gives him complete confidence.
Indeed, like with every true virtue, the source of courage is belief in God, and worship. And as with every iniquity, the source of cowardice is misguidance.
In fact, for a worshipper with a truly illuminated heart, it is possible that even if the globe of the earth became a bomb and exploded, it would not frighten him. He would watch it with pleasurable wonder as a marvel of the Eternally Besought One’s power. But when a famous degenerate philosopher with a so-called enlightened mind but no heart saw a comet in the sky, he trembled on the ground, and exclaimed anxiously: “Isn’t that comet going to hit the earth?” (On one occasion, America was quaking with fear at such a comet, and many people left their homes in the middle of the night.)
Yes, although man is in need of numberless things, his capital is as nothing, and although he is subject to endless calamities, his power too is as nothing. Simply, his capital and power extend only as far as his hand can reach. However, his hopes, desires, pains, and tribulations reach as far as the eye and the imagination can stretch. Anyone who is not totally blind can see and understand then what a great profit, happiness, and bounty for the human spirit, which is thus impotent and weak, and needy and wanting, are worship, affirmation of God’s unity, and reliance on God and submission to Him.
It is obvious that a safe way is preferable to a harmful way, even if the possibility of its safety is only one in ten. But on the way of worship, which our matter here, there is a nine out of ten possibility of it leading to the treasury of eternal happiness, as well as its being safe. While it is established by the testimony —which is at the degree of consensus— of innumerable experts and witnesses that besides being without benefit, and the dissolute even confess to this, the way of vice and dissipation ends in eternal misery. According to the reports of those who have uncovered the mysteries of creation this is absolutely certain.
In Short: Like that of the hereafter, happiness in this world lies in worship and being a soldier for Almighty God. In which case, we should constantly say: “Praise be to God for obedience to him and success,” and we should thank Him that we are Muslims.