The Sixth Ray
Concerning the recitations during the seated sections of the Prayer
This consists of only two points.
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
THIS RAY CONSISTS OF THE ANSWERS TO TWO QUESTIONS THAT WERE asked concerning the recitation during the seated section (tashahhud) of the canonical Prayer, which begins, “All worship (performed by all living creatures through their lives) is God’s, and so is all worship (particular to and performed by all the origins of beings such as seeds and eggs), and worship (particular to and performed by all the living beings with spirits), and worship (performed by perfected members of humanity and the angels near-stationed to God).” Postponing an explanation of the other truths of the tashahhud to another time, here we will examine only two points out of hundreds.
The first question
The blessed phrases of the tashahhud were in fact a conversation between God Almighty and His Messenger on the night of the Messenger’s Ascension (al-Mi‘raj).30 What, then, is the reason for their inclusion in the canonical Prayer?
THE ANSWER: The five daily Prayers are a sort of “ascension” for every believer who performs them. Therefore, the words to be uttered in the tashahhud must be those spoken during the supreme Ascension of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. Reciting them allows us to bring to mind this sacred conversation between God and His Messenger. Through this remembrance or recollection, the meanings of those blessed words gain universality and, as such, are no longer restricted to the intellectual or spiritual level of a believer. Their sacred, comprehensive meanings may thus be conceived, and through this conception their value and light are enhanced and expanded.
For example, in order to greet Almighty God on that blessed night, the noblest Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, said: at-Tahiyyatu li’llah. This means: “O my Lord! All the glorifications made by living beings, and all the gifts they present to their Maker, through their lives, are Yours alone. By visualizing them and through my belief, I too offer them to You.”
With the word at-tahiyyat, God’s noblest Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was referring to all the worship that living creatures perform through their lives; he then offered this to God. Similarly, by the word al-mubarakat, which is the summation of at-tahiyyat, he meant the blessedness, abundance and worship of the creatures, and in particular those of seeds, grains, and eggs, which are the means of blessings and abundance and which cause one to exclaim: “How great are God’s blessings!” And through the word as-salawat he visualized all the particular forms of worship performed by beings endowed with a spirit and who are the summation of living beings, and offered them to the Divine Court with that comprehensive meaning. Finally, through the word at-tayyibat, he meant the luminous, elevated worship of perfected human beings and the angels closest in proximity to God, who are the summaries of the beings endowed with spirit; he offered this to the One he worshipped.
On that night, God Almighty said: “Peace be upon you, O (most illustrious) Prophet!” This was an indirect command and an indication that in the future, hundreds of millions of people would say at least ten times a day: “Peace be upon you, O (most illustrious) Prophet!” This Divine greeting gave these words of salutation an extensive light and a most elevated meaning.
The noblest Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, responded to this greeting by saying: “Peace be upon us and upon all righteous servants of God!” This meant that the Messenger was hopefully and imploringly asking his Creator that in the future his vast Community and its righteous members would be favored with Islam in a way to represent Divine peace and blessings, and that those in his Community would greet one another with the words: “Peace be upon you!” “And upon you be peace!,” which is a universal mark of Islam among the believers.
The Archangel Gabriel, upon him be peace, who was party to the conversation, at God’s command said on that night: “I bear witness that there is no deity but God and I bear witness that Muhammad is God’s Messenger.” This gave the glad tidings that all of the Community of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, would testify in the same way until the Last Day.
Through recalling this sacred conversation during the seated sections of every canonical Prayer, the meanings of its words become filled with light and gain comprehensiveness.
A strange state of mind that helped me with the unfolding of the above truth
Once, trapped in a dark state of heedlessness on a dark night of exile, this vast universe appeared to my imagination as a lifeless, spiritless, empty, desolate and dreadful corpse. The past, too, I imagined to be utterly lifeless, empty and full of terror, while boundless space and limitless time assumed the form of a dark wilderness.
In order to be saved from this state of mind, I took refuge in the canonical Prayer. When, during the seated part of the Prayer, I uttered at-tahiyyat, the universe suddenly sprang into life: at once it became animated, assuming a living, luminous form. It became a brilliant mirror held up to the All-Living, Self-Subsistent One. I came to know and saw with the certainty of knowledge and experience that the universe, with all of its living parts, was continuously offering various forms of worship and the gifts of their lives to the All-Living, Self-Subsistent One.
Then, when I said “Peace be upon you, O (most illustrious) Prophet!,” that limitless, empty time was transformed under the leadership of God’s noblest Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, from a desolate wilderness into a friendly place of recreation filled with living spirits.
The second question
The phrase uttered at the end of the tashahhud, “O God! Bestow blessings and peace on our master Muhammad and on the Family of our master Muhammad, as You bestowed blessings on Abraham and on the Family of Abraham,” appears to be not in compliance with the rules of comparisons, for Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was greater than Prophet Abraham, upon him be peace, and was favored with greater mercy. What is the reason for this type of benediction and why is it recited during the tashahhud in particular? Also, why has this phrase been repeated in every Prayer since time immemorial, given that if what is sought has already been promised by God, surely, to say it once is enough? To cite another example, although God Almighty has promised in the Qur’an that Your Lord may well raise you to a glorious, praised station (17:79), in the supplication that is uttered after the call to the canonical Prayer and the announcement of the start of Prayers, we recite “…. and raise him to the glorious, praised station that You have promised him.” The whole community of Muhammad prays that this promise may be fulfilled. Why is this?
THE ANSWER: This question actually contains three questions, and has three aspects.
THE FIRST ASPECT: It is true that Prophet Abraham, upon him be peace, was not at the same degree as Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, but his descendants were Prophets, while the descendants of Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, were saints. Saints cannot reach the level of Prophets. What follows is proof that this prayer for Muhammad’s Family has been accepted in a remarkable fashion:
Among hundreds of millions of Muslims, the saints who have descended from only two persons, namely Hasan and Husayn,31 from among the Family of Muhammad, may God be pleased with them, have in most cases been intellectual or spiritual guides and leaders on the paths of truth and various spiritual orders. This shows that they have been favored with what is stated in the hadith: “The scholars of my Community are like the Prophets of the Children of Israel.”32 Those like Ja‘far as-Sadiq33, Ghawthu’l A‘zam ‘Abdu’l-Qadir al-Jilani34 and Shah Naqshband,35 may God be pleased with them, have guided the greater part of the Community of Muhammad to the way of truth—the truth of Islam; they are the fruits of the acceptance of this prayer for the Family of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings.
THE SECOND ASPECT: As for the reason why this sort of benediction is uttered during the canonical Prayer in particular, I would say this: by reciting it, we remember that we follow the same path as the mighty caravan of the Prophets and saints, who are the most luminous, perfect, and righteous among the most renowned of humankind, have opened and followed; it reminds us that we have joined that mighty congregation, whose way has never been confused and the truth of whose path has been confirmed with proofs that are backed by the consensus of the truest, most knowledgeable members of the human race, and that we are accompanying it on the Straight Path. By recalling this, we are saved from satanic doubts and evil delusions.
The members of this caravan are the beloved servants and friends of the Owner of this universe, while its opponents are His enemies and thus objects of rejection. Evidence for this is that from the time of Adam, upon him be peace, this caravan has been confirmed and supported by help that has arrived from the Unseen, while its opponents have been visited by heavenly calamities. While its opponents, such as the people of Noah, the ‘Ad and the Thamud, the Pharaoh and Nimrod36, have all been struck with blows from the Unseen, which suggests Divine wrath and punishment, the sacred heroes of the mighty caravan, such as Prophet Noah, Prophet Abraham and Prophet Moses, upon them be peace, and Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, have been favored with miracles and Divine gifts from the Unseen in a most extraordinary manner. Just as a single blow demonstrates anger and a single gift indicates love, the fact that thousands of blows have rained down upon the opponents while thousands of favors and instances of assistance have reached the caravan proves beyond doubt that the caravan represents the truth and has been following the Straight Path. The part of the final verse of the Fatiha (the Opening Chapter of the Qur’an), The path of those whom You have favored (with guidance) refers to the caravan, while the part, Not of those who have incurred Your wrath, nor of those who are astray concerns their opponents. The meaning we have explained here is thus made clear in this final verse of the Opening Chapter of the Qur’an.
THE THIRD ASPECT: The reason why something which has already been promised is asked for repeatedly is this: “the Glorious, Praised Station” is the ultimate end of the blessing which is asked for from God. It is a branch of a supreme truth that contains elevated and significant truths like thousands of glorious, praised stations. It is a fruit of the most important result of the creation of the universe. To ask for the ultimate end, the branch and fruit, through prayer is to ask for the realization of that general, supreme truth, to ask for the arrival or realization of the eternal realm, which is the greatest branch of the tree of creation, to ask for the realization of the Resurrection and the opening up of the realm of eternal happiness; these are the greatest results of the universe. By asking for these, one takes part in the worship and prayers of all humankind, which are the most important causes of the existence of Paradise or the realm of eternal happiness. It is indeed not much that countless people pray for an aim that is so indescribably supreme. Furthermore, favoring Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, with such a glorious, highly-praised station indicates his supreme intercession for all his Community in the other, eternal realm. He is deeply concerned with the happiness of all his Community. It is therefore pure wisdom that Prophet Muhammad seeks endless benedictions and prayers for mercy from all of his Community.
All-Glorified are You! We have no knowledge save what You have taught us. Surely You are the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
30 al-Mi‘rāj: The Ascension. The miraculous journeying of Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, through the realms of existence beyond the limit of forms. (Tr.)
31 Hasan and Husayn, may God be pleased with them, are the grandsons of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, through his beloved daughter Fatima and his cousin ‘Ali, may God be pleased with them. (Tr.)
32 al-Munawi, Faydu’l-Qadir, 4:384.
33 Ja‘far as-Sadiq (d., 765) was the great grand-son of Imam Husayn, son of ‘Ali, the fourth Caliph. He was a distinguished scholar in religious sciences who was also known for his piety and righteousness. The Twelve-Imam Shi‘ites (“Twelvers”) regard him as their sixth imam. (Tr.)
34 ‘Abdu’l-Qadir al-Jilani (d., 1166): One of the most celebrated Sufi masters. A student of jurisprudence and Hadith, he became known as Qutb (“the Spiritual Pole”) of his age and al-Gwahsu’l-‘A’zam (“the Greatest Means of Divine Help”). Among his well-known books are Kitabu’l-Ghunyah, Futuhu’l-Ghayb, and al-Fathu’r-Rabbani. (Tr.)
35 Muhammad Bahau’d-din Shah an-Naqshband (d. 1389): One of the most prominent Islamic spiritual masters and founder of the Sufi Naqshbandiyyah order. Among his books are Risalatu’l-Warida, Al-Awradu’l-Baha’iyya, Hayatnama, and Tanbihu’l-Ghafilin. (Tr.)
36 Nimrod was the Chaldaean king who ruled over Mesopotamia during the time of Prophet Abraham, upon him be peace. A fly which entered through his nose caused his tragic death. (Tr.)