The Fourth Word
The Prescribed Prayers’ value
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
The Prescribed Prayers are the pillar of the Religion.
If you want to fully understand the importance and value of the Prescribed Prayers, and with what little expense they are gained, and how crazy and at what great loss is the person who neglects them, consider the following parable: A ruler gives each of his two servants twenty-four gold coins and sends them to settle on one of his beautiful farms that is two months’ travel away. He tells them: “Use this money to buy your ticket, your supplies, and what you will need after you arrive. After traveling for a day, you will reach a transit station. You can proceed from there either by car or by train or by ship or by plane. You can choose one according to your capital.”
The servants leave. One spends only a little money before reaching the station. He uses his money so wisely that his master increases it a thousand fold. The other servant gambles away twenty-three of the twenty-four coins before reaching the station. The first servant advises the second one: “Use this coin to buy your ticket, or else you’ll have to walk and suffer hunger. Our master is generous. Maybe he’ll forgive you. Maybe you can take a plane, so we can reach the farm in a day. If not, you’ll have to go on foot and endure two months of hunger and loneliness while crossing the desert.” If he ignores his friend’s advice, ad instead of buying a ticket, which is like the key to a treasury, spends his remaining one coin on passing pleasures, anyone can understand how foolish and senseless he is.
Now, those of you who do not pray, as well as you, my soul that is not inclined toward Prayer. The ruler is our Lord, our Creator. One servant represents religious people who pray with fervor; the other represents people who do not like to pray. The twenty-four coins are the twenty-four hours of a day. The farm is Paradise, the transit station is the grave, and the journey is human life from birth to the grave, and there from to eternal life. People cover the part of the journey from the grave at different times according to their deeds and reverence for and obedience to God. Some of the truly devout pass in a day a thousand years like lightning, while others pass, like imagination, fifty thousand years. The Qur’an alludes to this truth in 22:47 and 70:4.1
The ticket is the prescribed Prayers, all of which can be prayed in an hour. What a great loss one suffers who spends 23 hours a day on this brief worldly life and does not reserve the remaining hour for the prescribed Prayers, and to what extent he wrongs himself; how unreasonably he behaves. Would not anyone who considers himself to be sensible understand how contrary to reason and wisdom and how far from sensibility it will be, if, considering it reasonable, one uses half of his money for a lottery being played by a thousand people and in which the possibility of winning is one in a thousand, but he does not spend one 24th of it on an eternal, inexhaustible treasure where the possibility of winning has been confirmed to be at ninety-nine out of a hundred?
Prayer comforts the soul, the heart, and the mind, and is not burdensome and trying for the body. Furthermore, if we regularly pray, correct, sincere intention transforms our daily deeds and conduct into worship. Thus our short lifetime is spent for the sake of eternal life in the other world, and our transient life gains a kind of permanence.
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi
1… A day with your Lord is like 1,000 years in your reckoning (32:5), and … The angels and the spirit ascend to Him in a day, the measure of which is 50,000 years (of your normal worldly years) (70:4), respectively. (Tr.)