Prayer is the Way and the Legacy of Abraham
[Just to let you know, the text below is a transcription of what I've said in this video. So please excuse any words or phrases that don't quite look right.]
What did Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim), may God grant him peace, say? Very, very famous words. I'm sure many of us are very familiar with this prayer.
This is when Abraham, may God grant him peace, left Hajar and baby Ishmael around the area of the sacred house. It was an uncultivated, seemingly unfriendly, dry and barren land. He fulfilled without question, and with full trust and confidence, the command of His Lord.
What did Abraham say as he left them there? Look at his prayer [Qur’an, 14:37]:
<< رَبَّنا >>
<< إِنّي أَسكَنتُ مِن ذُرِّيَّتي بِوادٍ غَيرِ ذي زَرعٍ عِندَ بَيتِكَ المُحَرَّمِ >>
ʾinnī ʾaskantu min dhurriyyatī bi-wādin ghayri dhī zarʿin ʿinda baytika l-muḥarrami
I have established some of my offspring in an uncultivated valley close to your sacred house.
<< رَبَّنا >>
<< لِيُقيمُوا الصَّلاةَ >>
So that they may keep up the prayer.
This is where I've left them. In this area, despite its punishing environment, what is the one thing that I want them to be able to do? li-yuqīmū ṣ-ṣalāta: to keep up the prayer.
Then look what he says next:
<< فَاجعَل أَفئِدَةً مِنَ النّاسِ تَهوي إِلَيهِم >>
fa-jʿal ʾafʾidatan mina n-nāsi tahwī ʾilayhim
So make people's hearts turn to them,
<< وَارزُقهُم مِنَ الثَّمَراتِ >>
wa-rzuqhum mina th-thamarāti
And provide them with produce,
<< لَعَلَّهُم يَشكُرونَ >>
So that they may be thankful.
Abraham, may God grant him peace, in his supplication expressed to Allah the fact that he left his family there with a desire that they continue and not abandon this practise of prayer. But, he also made supplication for the material conditions to be in place to also facilitate safe living and Salat (prayer.)
Because if you have a safe environment, and you're provided for (at least to the minimum degree), that allows the possibility of prayer happening consistently.
If you're so troubled by your immediate circumstances, you’re likely to forget God, the hereafter, and all of the rest of it after a while because you're consumed with worry about your immediate material needs.
This is why the Prophet, may God grant him blessings and peace, would seek refuge from absolute poverty in material needs. Although he would request to be with the miskīn: those who had just enough to get by.
Having people inclined towards you so that your social state is one of relative ease, as well as having enough produce to literally keep you going physically, is critical.
Why? laʿallahum yashkurūna: so that they may be thankful. How are they going to be thankful? li-yuqīmū ṣ-ṣalāta: they're going to establish and keep up the prayer.
Then, a couple of verses later, another supplication [Qur’an, 14:40]:
<< رَبِّ اجعَلني مُقيمَ الصَّلاةِ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتي >>
rabbi jʿalnī muqīma ṣ-ṣalāti wa-min dhurriyyatī
My Lord! Grant that I and my offspring may keep up the prayer.
Not just me but my future generations. For everyone who has kids or insha'Allah one day will have kids, this is your number one concern for your children. It is your hope, aspiration and supplication.
Your prime objective in the way you raise your children is that when they’re adults you know you did your best to facilitate the legacy of prayer continuing. The Muhammadan legacy. The Abrahamic legacy. As we have learned and reminded ourselves: the legacy of aligning with the natural state of all that is out there. Rabbi jʿalnī muqīma ṣ-ṣalāti wa-min dhurriyyatī
Abraham, may God grant him peace, is noteworthy here and elsewhere in the Qur'an for always demonstrating a concern for what's going to happen after he's gone. Will this prayer continue? Will people follow?
He even supplicates for the coming of Muhammad, may God grant him blessings and peace. From Abraham’s own line, countless prophets emerged and, eventually, of course, Prophet Muhammad, may God grant him blessings and peace.
<< رَبَّنا وَتَقَبَّل دُعاءِ >>
rabbanā wa-taqabbal duʿāʾ
Our Lord, accept my supplication.
Abraham's supplicating similarly to, as the Christians say, "Lord, hear our prayer." You make the supplication and then say, “Please hear what I've just said. Don't let that one pass.” In this way, he's demonstrating how critical, important, and central the value of keeping up our Salat.
<< رَبَّنَا اغفِر لي وَلِوالِدَيَّ وَلِلمُؤمِنينَ يَومَ يَقومُ الحِسابُ >>
rabbanā ghfir lī wa-li-wālidayya wa-li-l-muʾminīna yawma yaqūmu l-ḥisābu
Our Lord! Forgive me, my parents, and the believers on the day of reckoning.
Now, later on, Ishmael grew up, and Allah says [Qur’an, 2:125]:
<< وَإِذ جَعَلنَا البَيتَ مَثابَةً لِلنّاسِ وَأَمنًا وَاتَّخِذوا مِن مَقامِ إِبراهيمَ مُصَلًّى >>
wa-ʾidh jaʿalnā l-bayta mathābatan li-n-nāsi wa-ʾamnan wa-ttakhidhū min maqāmi ʾibrāhīma muṣallan
We made the House a resort and a sanctuary for people, saying, ‘Take the spot where Abraham stood as your place of prayer."
Every time we go to the Kaaba, the very act of going to the Kaaba in Hajj and Umrah is first and foremost a commemoration of the legacy of Abraham, may God grant him peace. After you finish the tawaaf, you pray two units of prayer and you fulfil this command here: wa-ttakhidhū min maqāmi ʾibrāhīma muṣallan. Take as your place of prayer, that spot where Abraham stood.
What an amazing legacy! It was phenomenal about Abraham, may God grant him peace. Look at the scenario: Abraham, may God grant him peace, a desperate wife, crying child and barren land.
If anything can show us what true trust in, obedience to, and love for Allah can achieve (in terms of a legacy and an outcome) it’s this. Even when you have nothing, when everything looks bleak and there's nothing there, Allah provides a way. It’s amazing to think about.
Now, every year, millions of people commemorate him and fulfil the legacy of Abraham, may God grant him peace, by circulating the house.
Look at the next part here:
<< وَعَهِدنا إِلىٰ إِبراهيمَ وَإِسماعيلَ أَن طَهِّرا بَيتِيَ لِلطّائِفينَ وَالعاكِفينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجودِ >>
wa-ʿahidnā ʾilā ʾibrāhīma wa-ʾismāʿīla ʾan ṭahhirā baytiya li-ṭ-ṭāʾifīna wa-l-ʿākifīna wa-r-rukkaʿi s-sujūdi
We commanded Abraham and Ishmael, ‘Purify My House for those who walk around it, those who stay there, and those who bow and prostrate themselves in worship.'
ʿĀkifīna literally means iʿtikāf in a sense: those who stay there in place. Wa-r-rukkaʿi s-sujūdi
Those who bow down and prostrate themselves in worship.
So clearly, standing, prostrating and bowing were all part of the time of Abraham, may God grant him peace.
Another verse is very similar [Qur’an, 22:26]:
<< وَإِذ بَوَّأنا لِإِبراهيمَ مَكانَ البَيتِ أَن لا تُشرِك بي شَيئًا وَطَهِّر بَيتِيَ لِلطّائِفينَ وَالقائِمينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجودِ >>
wa-ʾidh bawwaʾnā li-ʾibrāhīma makāna l-bayti ʾan lā tushrik bī shayʾan wa-ṭahhir baytiya li-ṭ-ṭāʾifīna wa-l-qāʾimīna wa-r-rukkaʿi s-sujūd
We showed Abraham the site of the house, saying, do not assign partners to me. Purify my house for those who circle around it.
So the purification is twofold: physical, in terms of cleanliness, but more importantly, purified from idolatry and the worship of anything other than God.
It’s purified for li-ṭ-ṭāʾifīna wa-l-qāʾimīna wa-r-rukkaʿi s-sujūd
Li-ṭ-ṭāʾifīna, those who circle around it; wa-l-qāʾimīna, those who stand to pray [i.e. the standing position in prayer); wa-r-rukka, the bowing position; i s-sujūd, the prostration.
These are the people Allah values for whom Abraham, may God grant him peace, was instructed to purify and prepare the house.