RIGHT TRAINING FOR A BELIEVER
In the Name of God, the
Merciful, the Compassionate
Surely God is with
those who fear (Him) and who do good deeds (as if they saw Him). (16:128)
A parable to
understand the intrinsic relation of worshipping God and refraining from
sins to human nature
To understand how true
and proper are the tasks assigned to us of performing prescribed prayers and
avoiding major sins, and that both tasks are directly related to the nature
of human beings, read the following allegory.
During a war, there are
two privates in a regiment, one well-trained and conscientious, and the other a
recruit and a slave to his self. The first one attends training exercises and
struggles against the enemy. He never worries about rations and allowances
because he is sure that it is the government’s task to supply the military
equipment and food, and, in case of illness or wounds, to provide him with
proper medical care. He knows that his major task is first, training for war
and then fighting for the country; he also takes part in the task of supplying
provisions and does some work in the kitchen such as washing up mess tins.
When asked what he is
doing, he responds: ‘I am doing some of the chores of state.’ He doesn’t
say that he is working for his living.
The other, inexperienced
and self-indulgent soldier does not join in the regular training exercises or
fight. He explains himself in this way: ‘It’s none of my business; that is
a government matter.’ As a result of this attitude, he cares only about his
livelihood, deserts the battle-front and goes to the market-place instead.
One day, the other
soldier who does not approve of this attitude, advises him: ‘Brother, your
major task is to train for war and fight for the country. That’s why you have
been assigned to this post. You should rely on the king. He doesn’t leave you
in need of food. The supply of rations and allowances are his responsibility,
not yours. Anyway, you do not have the power to arrange for your provision at
all times and places. And we are now in a state of war: you may well be accused
of being a deserter or rebel and face punishment.
‘It is true, there do
seem to be two tasks: one is the responsibility of the king and the other,
ours. The king regularly supplies the needs for training and war. Our task is
to get trained and fight.’
Imagine how precarious
is the condition of the irresponsible soldier if he doesn’t pay heed to what
his friend tries to explain to him!
O indolent soul of mine!
That violent battlefield represents the tumult of this worldly life. The army
divided into regiments is an image of the peoples of all nations; and that
particular battalion stands for an Islamic society. Of the two soldiers, one is
a devout and pious Muslim who knows what he is asked to do and struggles
against his self and against Satan not to commit sins. The other soldier is an
unfortunate sinner who doesn’t at all observe his duties as a servant, set
out by God, but commits many sins and, what’s more, he is so obsessed with
his rations and allowances that he even accuses the true Sustainer. Training
represents the daily prayers and other forms of duties required of the
believing servants of God. The war stands for the process through which the
spirit achieves everlasting salvation-through fighting against the carnal
passions, whether instinctive or urged on by Satan. The two duties referred to
are easily enough understood: the first, the creation and maintenance of life
are responsibilities of the Creator alone. The second is our
responsibility-begging from the Creator and Sustainer, relying on Him totally.
Doing the basic
Only He who gives life,
which is a most brilliant miracle of the Eternally-Besought’s art and a
wonder of the Wisdom of the Lord, sustains life with provision. Do you need
The weakest and simplest
animals such as fish and fruit- worms are the ones which are best fed. Also the
least capable and the most vulnerable creatures, babies for example, or
new-born animals, get the best food.
Getting the needed food
is not a matter of exercising strength or free will, on the contrary it is a
matter of being in need and suffering shortcomings or shortages. To
understand how this can be so, compare in general how trees are fed to how
animals are fed, compare fish to foxes, babies to savages, and that should
suffice to convince you.
Anyone who quits his
daily prayers for the sake of his livelihood may be likened to the soldier in
the allegory: he neglects his exercises, deserts from the battle-front for fear
of not having any food and wanders about in the market-place.
As a contrast, to seek
one’s rations from the earth-the kitchen of the All-Generous Provider’s
Mercy-after performing the prayers, and to avoid being a trouble or burden on
others is fine and manly. This too is a kind of worship.
Furthermore, the nature
of man and his spiritual being demonstrates that he is created to worship God.
He is even slighter than a little sparrow as far as his merely physical powers
and competence necessary for the life of this world are concerned. But in
respect of his knowledge, understanding of his need, supplication and
worship-which are necessary for his spiritual life and the life of the
Hereafter-he is the king and commander of all animate creatures.
As long as you set this
world up, O my soul, as your major goal and work for it, you can only be a
soldier in it, with no more control of your affairs than has a sparrow.
Whereas, if you move toward the Hereafter and consider this world as a field
to be sown, a preparation for the other world and act accordingly, you become
the ruler of the animal kingdom and a supplicant servant of Almighty God, and
His favored or indulged guest in this world.
Now you have two
choices. You can choose either of them. So ask for guidance and success in His
way from the Most Compassionate of the Compassionate.