The Ayah on how to get help.
At the women’s afternoon meeting today we reviewed this ayah with Farhat Hashmi’s tafseer. When I got into the car to go back to work, I turned on Mokhtar Magroubi’s CD on “the inner dimensions of salah” and the first words I heard were this ayah.
It also is the ayah that I repeated to myself in English many many times after Tariq died and found solace in Allah’s promise in it. Though I was neither well versed in the ramifications of the tafseer, not had I paid much attention to the second part of the ayah. Patience and Prayer was my mantra when the clouds of desperate grief would begin to gather.
I am grateful to Allah SWT that he threw me a lifeline in my storm of grief and that I am coherent enough to share a succinct explanation of this ayah as I understand it now, after some more review. I have read different sources and distilled it down to the basic essentials, though to best understand its relationshsip to the preceding and suceeding ayahs should also be examined. However here I only present Surah 2:45:
Quran: 2.045: Three translations in English, none capturing the heart of the essence of the ayah. The tafseer and explanations that follow are from Farhat Hashmi and Sheikh Mokhtar Magroubi.
YUSUFALI: Nay, seek (Allah’s) help with patient perseverance and prayer: It is indeed hard, except to those who bring a lowly spirit.
PICKTHAL: Seek help in patience and prayer; and truly it is hard save for the humble-minded
SHAKIR: And seek assistance through patience and prayer, and most surely it is a hard thing except for the humble ones.
The method outlined in this ayah for people like me who are laden with grief and other challenges is as follows:
The first step is:
To help yourself!
With Allah’s help!
Through patience & prayer
What are the prerequisites for the kind of prayer that will support patience and help me?
It is the prayer of the khashieen i.e. the people with ‘Khushu’ which is translated by the above three authors in English as pertaining to humility, lowly spirit, & humble minded, none of which really define the essential essence of the word ‘khushu’
Khushu is something on which reams of literature is available, it is easy to read about but elusive to practice.
Farhat Hashmi defines’ Khushu’ in the tafseer of this ayah as:
“Inner peace leading to outer peace”
How to step into khushu?
Step one: Prepare the ambience to step into it, with a mindset of shutting out all else, taking care of all emergencies, eating enough so that you don’t think of food, but not enough to make you sleepy, turning off all electronic devices, pretending that you are suspended in the third dimension where you have no access to any one except Allah.
Step two: Perform a beautiful wudu with external silence starting with ‘Bismillah’ and ending with Ashadu an La illaha illal lah………put on blinders over your eyes (look down), don’t talk and focus on your upcoming dialogue with Allah (SWT), while proceeding to the musallah.
When you enter into salaat, i.e. when you say “Allah o Akbar” you are negating and demoting all others to a lesser importance verbally and in your heart and mind.
When you say Allah O Akbar, you are seeking sanctuary into Allah’s presence, thus all else has to be left behind, mental, physical and emotional, and all other doors to the heart are to be closed behind us leaving us alone in the sanctuary with Allah SWT
We enter into khushu with himaat (focus) the example given by Sheikh Magroubi is that of a group of students taking an examination. No matter what the disturbance, their attention is not deviated from their examination paper. Their aim is to do the best on their examination in the time allotted to them. Their ultimate goal is to pass the examination with flying colors and get their degree to step into the real world.
We have a similar goal to step into the Hereafter if we want to pass our test in this world with flying colors we have to focus. An essential part of that test is our intensity of focus while connecting with our Lord, while we are on this earth.
What if we dont have khushu when we seek prayer?
The last option given in the ayah is the option of those who do not have khushu…….for them Allah SWT states that the prayer is very large, heavy (kabeera) and difficult.
What I understand is that if the prayer is not in Khushu then it is like something large (kabeera) weighing you down, instead of something light and beautiful lifting you up.
Prayer is practice for standing in front of our Lord and khushu is doing it with pleasure, the correct etiquette, dress and demeanor.
It is best to practice Standing in front of Allah in this world as we will be standing in front of him on the Day of Judgment. It is best to learn the protocol now than to appear gauche, uncouth and disrespectful on the Day of Judgment when we stand before Him for a very important interview. (Farhat Hashmi).
In the final analysis, we must help ourselves by asking for help from Allah through patience and prayer and to perform that prayer with Khushu, otherwise that prayer will be like a very large and heavy weight on us and difficult and thus will not benefit us in our primary goal of seeking His (SWT) help.
My personal take is that ‘khushu’ does not come all the time and every time. One has to persevere patiently in prayer and focus with the intense desire for khushu and then you are lifted.
Like a lock with a combination code, all the right actions have to be lined up for the door to swing open to give entry to the sanctuary of Allah wherein lies HELP.
May Allah forgive me for any mistakes that I may have made in understanding or presenting the explanation of this ayah.