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Lady Fāṭimah :How Do You Perform Prayer, but You Are Silent about the Trampled Right?

Lady Fāṭimah (peace be upon her) poses this question that, O people! How do you perform prayer, but you fear plots and tricks? How do you perform prayer, but you are silent about the trampled right? They usurped the caliphate before hand and today they have usurped Fadak, this gift of my father which the sustenance of my children are in it. But you have silence.

Imam Mūsā-Sadr has described and explained the speech of the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter in the series of meetings at the time between lady Fāṭimah’s martyrdom till the anniversary of her birthday. In these utterances Imam Mūsa-Sadr deals with the issue of worship and pathology of it and particularly effects of the prayer. The first section of this commentary which has been published in the book of “Masirat Al-Imām Al-Sayyid Mūsa Al-Sadr” is as follows.

In the name of Allah the Merciful, the Beneficent and the praise belongs to God, the lord of all created beings and divine peace upon the best of his creatures and the head of his messengers, Muhammad and his purified household.

We were talking about the speech of lady Fāṭimah (pbuh) and we reached a phrase in which lady Fāṭimah states the philosophy of Islam and talks about the reasons for obligations and ordinances and their effects.

We have discussed this sentence of her, “Gad has made the faith to purify you from ascribing partners to God”. We said that this short and simple sentence has a lot of great and deep meanings. We talked about this last Friday and understood that for a man to have bountifulness and efficiency and to be practical in their life and be a great power, it is necessary to move only towards one direction and to have only one motivation. If this man is a believer they move through the way of pleasing God and serving Him in the form of serving people and they would have efficiency and bountifulness and would live happily. but a polytheist is ruined from inside and has an incoherent and fragmented personality and cannot have efficiency and bountifulness. We proved by some examples that a human or an animal even a hen if moves in one path and towards one direction, how great powers would emerge in them. Thus we summarized Lady Fāṭimah’s saying in this that ascribing partners to God is a sort of mental sickness in the human and there is not any sickness worse and more dangerous than that. That is because ascribing partners to God fragments and disperses and ruins the man’s existence and stops them from being effective and bountiful and generous.

 Therefore ascribing partners to God is a sickness and the faith causes the man to be purified from this sickness. Accordingly the eminent and great utterance that lady Fāṭimah has said becomes clear to us. We talked about this some little and we perceived it.

Lady Fāṭimah talks about the effects and consequences of worshiping. Prayer has been obligated so that the believers would practice it and perceive God’s worship and servitude. Fasting and pilgrimage and any other obligation too has reasons and consequences. Where Lady Fāṭimah states these utterances? In the mosque and in front of those who pray. She wants to say that O Muslims! These prayers and worship that have been obligated for you are not for you being used to pray and your prayer missing its soul and meaning. They are not for being a habit, a worshiping ritual and apparent practice. God has obligated the prayer for this reason that it prevents you from evil deeds and this is the sacred text of the noble Quran in which there shall never enter the falsehood “Indeed the prayer forbids abomination and wrong.” (So O Muslims! What as happened to you that you do the prayer but you usurp the right of others? you do the prayer but you banish the right from it’s own status, you do the prayer but you leave the people of the right.) Lady Fāṭimah addresses the people who were listening to her speech , saying, ” what do you think of the reason for the obligation of prayer? Is that for us coming here once, twice, five times or once in a week, more or less, and performing apparent actions as prayer and then going back? Is this prayer? Is this the truth of the prayer and motivation for performing the prayer? Does God need such deeds? This (idea) is not compatible with our faith. We believe that God does not need our worship and our prayer, pilgrimage, fasting and alms. So why the prayer has been obligated for us?. God has obligated the prayer in order to instruct people in worshiping God and make them to practice it. As the noble Quran states the prayer prevents the abomination and committing sins. It has been cited in the tradition that prayer is the believer’s ascension (the means of ascending into the heavens). It is also the means by which any pious one gets close to God. Now let’s look at ourselves. Does our prayer stop us from committing sins and abomination? Do we feel a new tendency in ourselves towards avoiding sins when we are praying or not? If we do not, that is to say, our prayer has missed its meaning, essence and purpose.

Lady Fāṭimah looks at this community and she sees that they do prayer and they do it so much but, praised the Lord, have they not heard the Prophet’s saying about Ali ibn Abi Tāleb?. Did they not live with the Prophet till yesterday and did they not hear about the practical laws and rights from him?. Did they not hear him who said, “the one who is silent about the truth is a mute Satan “. Did they hear this saying from the Prophet? How did they let the right be taken from the people of the right? It was only four months passed from the Farewell Pilgrimage and the speech of Ghadir and the Prophet’s order to Ali’s guardianship. Did they forget? Or do they pretend to be unaware? Or they kept quiet? Was not it right that the one who keeps silent about saying the truth is a mute Satan? Why did not prayers, worships, religious rituals, pilgrimage and other deeds stop them from joining to the falsehood and disregarding for the truth? Because worshiping had become a habit for them and it had missed its spirit and meaning. They just used to do the prayer and go.

Lady Fāṭimah says, “O people! This prayer, fasting, alms, pilgrimage and enjoining right and forbidding wrong, they have meaning and concept. How do you perform the prayer but you have vanity and egotism? Is this possible? Prayer is only God’s worship, servitude and obedience. Prayer is the practice of being humble towards God. How do we perform the prayer but after one year or two years or more we still have vanity and egotism? We do not perform the prayer. Prayer that leads to vanity and egotism is a prayer that has been commanded by a soul that is persistent enjoiner of evil. Do you know what is the prayer commanded by God? It is the prayer that illuminates the heart and makes the soul to bow before the truth and it makes the man to be humble and modest. What do we do in prayer? How many times do we mention God and God’s name? How many times do we bow before God from the beginning till the end of the prayer? How many times do we lay ourselves into the prostration? What does prostration mean? The man by laying himself into the prostration says, “I put everything before God, all my existence, from the narrowness and breadth, body and soul, dignity and self-importance and honors. I put my head and my forehead on the ground which they are the symbol of my dignity and glory. Is not this the prayer? Why do you lay yourself in prostration? Is it permissible to lay yourself in prostration before the greatest kings and masters? The man’s prostrations should be only before God. We cannot lay ourselves in prostration before anything or anyone other than God. What does this prostration mean?

Prostration is the acme of humility and modesty. Laying down the forehead on the ground is the sign of prostration. That is to say, O God! I am submissive to your command and humble before you and I lay myself on the ground in front of you and I put my forehead on the ground. We live with God while praying. How do you live with God? You talk to God in the prayer. You say in the prayer, “It is You we worship and You we ask for help”. Whom you talk to? You say,” It is You”, who is this ‘You’? Is not he God?. You say to God,” It is You we worship and You we ask for help, I do not call upon anyone to help other than You and do not worship anyone other than You”. Thus you pray to your Lord in the prayer and you talk to your God and bow and lay yourself in prostration before Him. What are the results and effects of these deeds? Vanity?! Conceit?! It has been cited in the tradition, “Vanity is a hidden ascribing partners to God”. A servant (of God) is not arrogant. What does the man have to be proud of?. The noble Quran states, “And do not walk proudly on Earth. You can neither pierce the Earth nor, can you match the mountains in height”. What are we proud of? And what do we have to feel self-importance? I am a being that my benefit and loss, my life and death and resurrection are not in my control. I have nothing. Do not say ‘my wealth’, ‘my honor’, ‘my knowledge’, ‘my generosity’. Who are we to have something from ourselves? We were born naked and had nothing and we will die naked and take nothing.

Thus these glory, power, move, thinking, authority, alms, wealth and knowledge are as a loan in our hands and do not belong to us. We are a trustee of them. So why should we have arrogance? A prayer that causes arrogance in one’s soul, is not a true prayer. The true prayer is the one that deters [people] from obscene and sin. The [true] prayer will deters [us] from obscene and sin when we perform it only for the sake of God and to seek getting close to Him.

Thus prayer train us for humbleness and familiarized us with it, because when I bow and put my head on the ground, I feel I am submitted towards God and I have nothing of my own; “Indeed my prayer and my [other religious] ceremonies and my life and my death belongs to God, the Lord of all created beings” (6:162) At this time, we feel we have nothing and whatever there are, belongs to God. So why then we brag to other people and boast? Why should we have the feeling of vanity? Who am I to show arrogance to other people, to take revenge on them, to mock them? Who am I? I am a weak and unable creature who does not have an authority over their profit and loss.

It is the summary of the concept of prayer, but it does not mean that we should be weak and unable against enemies and militants, because our power emanate from God, not from ourselves.

Here I would like to draw your attention to the so-called common sense of “self-confidence”. What does self-confidence mean? They say, that person has self-confidence, he is brave and fearless. Self-confidence is different with arrogance. Reliance and putting trust on God is a kind of perfection, it means when I encounter a conflict, when I enter a battle, when I face a disaster and tragedy, when I am busy with life and work, if I rely on God I will be strong and powerful. I am strong due to putting trust on God, but I have humility and modesty. Do you note to this point and conclusion?

Whereas if man rely on themselves, means are arrogant, they do not differentiate between the truth and the falsehood. Sometimes they go to the path of truth and sometimes to the path of falsehood, because they only rely on their own. But if they rely on God, they are humble, not arrogant and do not step except in the path of truth, because they know that God would not help them in the path of falsehood.

Thus prayer is a practice for correction and proper training of servants. Prayer is a factory to adorn humans with the embellishment of humility. Prayer means to live with God and to achieve His attributes. Do you know what do human obtain through prayer? To be powerful in the way of God and being unable in the way of falsehood and not against falsehood. Prayer is the means of the ascension of the believer and leaves him out of obscene and sin.

Lady Fāṭimah (peace be upon her) poses this question that, O people! How do you perform prayer, but you fear plots and tricks? How do you perform prayer, but you are silent about the trampled right? They usurped the caliphate before hand and today they have usurped Fadak, this gift of my father which the sustenance of my children are in it. But you have silence. All of you have heard the wills of the prophet, so why are you silent? A group of you have silence due to greed and a group due to fear. A group [of you] profit and a group are afraid.

The one who perform prayer is strong and powerful, through connecting to God, he is neither afraid nor greedy. Why they are not afraid or greedy? Because they are strong and mighty. A person who perform prayer, in fact, he connects with God five times a day. Is not it? Do not you connect with God in your prayers? Do not you speak to Him? Do not you say, “We only worship you and only ask for your help.”? If God does not be inside you and in front of you, you could not say, “We worship you” you would say, “We worship him”, is not it?

If you see yourselves before God, then you can address Him directly. The one who is connected to God, in His presence and with Him, such an individual is strong and powerful. A strong person is not afraid or greedy because greed emanates from the spiritual and intellectual poverty. The one who is needy from their inside, wants others to eliminate their need and disability. How can such person be strong and not coward and traitor?

Lady Fāṭimah (pbuh) asks, do you not pray? Does prayer not prevent you from sinning? Does it not eliminate your poverty and disability? So why have you stayed quiet? It is clear that your worship has lost its essence and spirit. O Fāṭimah! Peace be upon you! As if you are addressing us after one thousand and three hundreds and forty years! As if you uttered this speech seventy years ago! As if you are speaking for us just today and you are addressing us, O group of Muslims! O performers of prayer! O wakeful regular worshipers! How do you pray but do not feel strong and stability?

The true prayer is not so. It is a practice of battle and struggle, “Indeed God loves those who fight in His way, as if they are a firmly and compactly united building.” Do you not see how compact are the rows of congregational prayer? From the left, right, behind and front? Do you not see how its moves are harmonious and integrated? How Imam (the leader of prayer) recites in the place of people who pray behind him? How you also make obeisance and lay prostrate following him? What is Mihrāb[1] for? Why there is a Mihrāb in every mosque? Mihrāb means war instruments and tools. Prayer deters human from the habit of abasement, abjection, submission and instability. In the verse of “O children of Adam! Seize your embellishment before every mosque” according to the interpretation of prophet Muhammad (pbuh) the meaning of “embellishment” is weapon, because he has said, “Embellishments of men are weapons.” So the interpretation of “embellishment” is weapon.

Prayer is a practice of social status and authority of people, but which authority? An authority that do not cause vanity and arrogance; an authority that do not rely on human’s soul, but rather is helped by God.

Hence Lady Fāṭimah (pbuh) says, why your prayer has not made you strong? Why it has cause arrogance in you? She wants to correct and adjust this situation. She says, O Muslims! It is true that God has commanded [you] to perform prayer, but this command is not due to his need for your prayer, it is for training you and strengthening your situation. But, as it is obvious, you do not use it, because you has been silent about the overridden right, due to fear and greed.

Then Lady Fāṭimah (pbuh) address us and says, O Muslims! How do you perform prayer, but you will be pleasant that rights become usurped and nobility becomes wasted? How do you feel weakness while you connect with God, the Lord of all lords and the creator of the earth and the heavens, five times a day? What do you afraid of? How do you fear while you connect with God every day? God whom you has not known Him as He is deserved. The earth is in His mighty fist and the heavens are twisted by His hands. You must not be afraid of anything.

Do you know when a prayer will be accepted? Do you know when your prayer will be acceptable? When you notice God and you are before Him, then after the prayer you will find a new power and a fresh comfort and at the same time you will feel humbleness. It means you feel humble and power together, neither power and arrogance nor humble, abasement and inability. The feeling of power, greatness and pride must be along with humility and a sense of servitude. Greatness and pride emanate from God, because servitude of God who includes all attributes of perfection, brings us closer to him. Our knowledge, justice, erudition and greatness, depend on prayer and worship of God. Lady Fāṭimah (pbuh) asks, why has God made prayer obligatory on you? Prayer is a factory to make perfect human. Do our prayers have such an effect on us?

We talked a bit about a sentence from her speeches. There are two weeks left until the birth of Lady Zahra (pbuh), the twentieth of Jammadi al-Thani. During this time, we will talk about her speech. So may God Almighty guide us and make our hearts impressionable regarding this true calling which is uttered on lady lady Zahra (pbuh)’s tongue. And peace be upon you.

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Reference

[1] A niche in a mosque indicating the direction of prayer, which is the station of Imam in congregational prayer

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