PRAYING FIVE TIMES A DAY IS BORING AND WEARYING?
the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
the prayer is a timed prescription for the believers.
man of considerable age, great stature, and high social
position said to me: ‘The prayer is OK, but five times a day
is too much; it bores and wearies.’
time after the man said this, I gave ear to my carnal soul,
and I heard it say exactly the same things. I realized that
with the ear of laziness, it was taught the same lesson by
Satan. Then I came to understand that those words had issued
from the man in the name of all evil-commanding souls. So I
said to myself: Since my soul orders evil, and one who does
not reform his own soul cannot reform others, I shall begin
with my own soul.
O soul! In response to those words which you uttered in
compound ignorance, in the bed of indolence, in the torpor of
idleness, hear from me the following five warnings:
wretched soul! Is your life permanent? Have you any documents
showing that you will remain until next year, or even until
tomorrow? What causes you weariness is your fancy that you
live forever. You complain as though you will remain in the
world for eternal enjoyment. Try and understand that your
life-time is short, and that it passes all in vain. Then you
would surely understand that-far from causing boredom or
weariness-spending one twenty-fourth of it on a fine,
agreeable, easy, and gracious act of service which is the
means to happiness in the real, eternal life, in fact arouses
vigor and gives pleasure.
gluttonous soul! Every day you eat, drink and breathe; does
any of that cause you boredom? It does not; because since the
need recurs, it gives pleasure, not boredom, to satisfy it.
That being so, the five daily prayers should not cause you
boredom for you have companions in the house of the body,
namely the heart, the spirit, and inward God-directed
faculties, and the prayers attract and conduct to each of them
its sustenance, water of life, and air.
food and strength of a heart which is exposed to endless grief
and pain, and inclined to infinite pleasures and ambitions,
may be obtained by knocking through supplication on the door
of One All-Compassionate and Munificent.
spirit which is connected with most beings and speedily
traveling to the other world amid cries of separation, the
water of life may be imbibed by turning through the five daily
prayers towards the spring of mercy of an Everlasting Beloved.
a conscious inward sense, a luminous God-directed faculty by
nature desires the eternity for which it was created. It is a
mirror to the Eternal Being and is infinitely delicate and
subtle. It is surely most needy of ‘air,’ of relief and
relaxation, in the distressing, crushing, and suffocating
conditions of this worldly life, and it can only ‘breathe’
through the ‘window’ of the prayers.
impatient soul! Is it at all sensible to be thinking now of
the hardship of worship past, the difficulties of praying, of
troubles and calamities, and be distressed, and to anticipate
the difficulties of future duties of worship and service in
prayer, and the pain of future misfortunes, and show
impatience as this you resemble a foolish commander. When one
flank of the enemy forces have come over to join the right
flank of his forces, thus becoming fresh reinforcements for
that flank, he sends a significant contingent from the center
of his defenses to that right flank, thus weakening the
center. Also, while no enemy forces are attacking the left
flank, he sends a big contingent to that flank and even gives
the command of fire. Thus he leaves the center without any
significant strength at all, and seeing this, the enemy
attacks the center and puts it to rout.
you resemble this commander, for the trouble of the past days
has today become mercy; the pain they caused has gone, while
their pleasure remains. The hardships have changed into
blessing, and the trial and toil into reward. That being so,
it should not cause you weariness, rather, it should arouse
you to new eagerness, a fresh zeal, and a serious effort to
continue. As for future days, since they have not come as yet,
it is the same lunacy as complaining and being distressed now
about future hunger and thirst to think of them now and feel
bored and wearied.
this is the truth, if you are sensible, you will consider only
today with respect to worship, and say: ‘I am spending one
out of its twenty-four hours on pleasant and elevated acts of
service, the reward for which is great and whose trouble is
little.’ Then your bitter disappointment will change into a
impatient soul! You are charged with three types of
perseverance. One is perseverance in worship. Another is
perseverance in refraining from sins. A third is perseverance
in the face of misfortunes. If you are reasonable enough, take
as your guide the truth contained in the comparison in this
third warning, and call in manly fashion, ‘O Most
Persevering One!,’ and derive strength from these three
types of perseverance. If you do not use up in the wrong way
the power of perseverance that Almighty God has given you, it
will suffice for every difficulty and misfortune, so hold out
with that power.
foolish soul! Is this duty of worship so fruitless, and is the
reward for it so little that it causes you weariness? Whereas
if someone were to offer you a little money, or to threaten
you, he could make you work till evening, and you would work
are the five daily prayers in vain, which in this guest-house
of the world are the ‘food’ for your weak heart, and in
your grave (which will be a station for you to eternal life)
sustenance and light? Are the five daily prayers useless which
on the Last Day, when you will anyway be judged, will be a
document and warrant, and on the Bridge, over which you are
bound to pass, a light and a mount? Or is the reward for them
little? Whereas if someone were to promise you a present worth
a few hundred dollars, he could make you work for several
days. Though the man may go back on his word, you would trust
him and work without showing any signs of tiredness.
for Whom the breaking of promise is inconceivable, promises
you a reward like Paradise and a gift like eternal happiness,
and employs you for a very short time in a most agreeable
duty. If you, in return, do not perform that service, or act
in a manner to accuse Him of His promise or belittle His gift
by working reluctantly like someone forced to work, do you not
think that you will deserve a severe reprimand and terrible
punishment? While you serve without slacking in the heaviest
toil in this world out of fear of imprisonment, does the fear
of an eternal imprisonment like Hell not give you zeal for so
light and pleasant an act of service as the prayers?
worldly-minded soul! Are your sluggishness in worship and
deficiency in the prescribed five daily prayers because of the
multiplicity of your worldly pre-occupations, or because you
are pressed for time on account of the struggle for
livelihood? Were you created only for this world that you
should spend all your time on it?
know that, with respect to your potential, you are superior to
all the animals; and that, with respect to providing for
yourself the necessities of worldly life, you are less capable
than a sparrow. Why, then, do you not understand that your
basic duty is not to labor like animals but, like a human
being, to toil for the real, everlasting life? Most of what
you call worldly pre-occupations are various trivial, useless
matters which, although they do not concern you, you meddle in
and confuse officiously. Leaving aside the most essential
things, you spend your time, as though you had thousands of
years to live, on acquiring useless information. For example,
you waste your precious time to take an interest in worthless
things like what the rings around Saturn are like, or how many
chickens there are in America.... Why? Are you preparing a
doctorate in astronomy or in statistics about livestock?
about if it is not unnecessary pre-occupations but the
essential requirements of earning a livelihood that keep
me from the prayer and cause weariness?
Assume you work for a daily wage of one dollar, and someone
comes to you and offers: ‘Come and dig here for ten minutes,
and you will find a brilliant and an emerald worth a hundred
dollars.’ You reply, ‘No, I won’t come, because my wage
will be cut by ten cents and my subsistence will be less.’
You know perfectly how foolish an argument that would be. In
just the same way, you work in this orchard of yours for your
livelihood. If you abandon the prescribed prayers, all the
fruits of your work will be limited to only a worldly,
insignificant and unproductive livelihood. However, if you
assign the periods of rest to the prayer, which are the means
to the liveliness of the spirit and the ease of the heart,
then you will discover two ‘mines’ which are an important
source both for a productive worldly livelihood, and your
provisions for the Hereafter.
Through a sound intention, you will receive a share in
the glorification offered by all the plants and trees,
whether flowering or fruit-bearing, that you grow in
Whatever is eaten of the orchard’s produce, whether by
animals or men, cattle or insects, buyers or thieves, it
will become like almsgiving from you. But on condition
that you work in the name of the Real Provider and
within the sphere of His permission, and consider
yourself a distribution official sharing out His
property among His creatures.
at how great a loss he stands who abandons the prayers, what
significant wealth he loses, and how he is left deprived of
those two mines, which support his endeavors with high motives
and his actions with strong morale. For, as he grows old, he
will grow weary of gardening and, saying, ‘What’s all this
to me? I am leaving the world anyway, so why suffer so much
trouble?,’ he will let himself slip into idleness. But the
other man both performs his prayers and works for his
livelihood. He says: ‘I shall try harder both to perform the
obligatory worship and earn legitimately and honestly, so that
I may send more abundant light to my grave, and procure more
provisions for my life in the Hereafter.’
short: O soul! Know that yesterday abandoned you, and as for
tomorrow, you have no documents that you will live to see it.
Therefore your life consists in the present day. So set at
least one of its hours aside for mosque or prayer-mat, a
savings box for the Hereafter, a sort of reserve fund, set
aside for your real future.
know that for you and for everyone each new day is the door to
a new world. If you do not perform the prayer, your world of
that day will go dark and wretched, and will bear witness
against you in the world of symbols, the immaterial, essential
forms of beings. For everyone has, each day, a private world
contained in this world, and its nature is dependent on each
person’s heart and deeds. Just as a magnificent palace
reflected in a mirror takes on the color and quality of the
mirror-if the mirror is black or red, the palace appears black
or red. If the mirror is clear and even, it shows the palace
in its beauty, and if it is not, it shows it to be ugly. Just
as an uneven mirror shows the finest things to be coarse, so
you too change the appearance of your own world with your
heart, mind, deeds, and attitudes, and you may cause it to
testify either in your favor or against.
perform the prescribed prayers, and turn through them towards
the All-Majestic Maker, your own private world will be all of
a sudden illuminated. It is as though the prayer were a
powerful, electric light and your intention to perform it
meant switching it on. Prayer disperses your world’s
darkness, and shows the changes and movements in its confused,
tumultuous world to be actually arising from, and for the
purpose of, a wise order and a meaningful arrangement of
Divine Power. It disperses over your heart one light from the
light-filled verse, ‘God is the Light of the heavens and the
earth’2, and, illuminating your world on that day through
the reflection of that light, it will cause your world to
testify in your favor through its luminosity.
say, ‘My prayers mean almost nothing when compared with the
reality of what prayer should be.’ The stone of a date-palm
encapsulates and contains the tree itself, the difference
being only between the summary and the fully evolved or
elaborated form. Also as the prayer of a great saint is fully
evolved, the prayers of ordinary people like you and me -even
if they are unaware of it-have a share of that Divine light.
Even if you are not conscious of it, there is a mystery in
this truth, but perception of that truth and their being
illuminated by it, varies according to the degree of each.
there are many stages and degrees from the stone of a
date-palm to the fully grown tree, so also performing the
prayers and benefiting from them have degrees and stages,
possibly even more numerous. However, in each degree or stage,
the basis of that luminous truth is present.
God! Bestow blessings and peace on him who said: ‘The
prescribed prayers are the pillar of religion,’ and on
all his family and Companions.