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Liberate yourself from canonical form, with canonical form 31 August 2009

Posted by MOZAFFAR in Misc.

Sometimes, as we work through our daily canonical prayers, we might be relaxed through our standing and sitting, yet hurried through our prostrations. 

Often, our bows and prostrations are lengthened only by x number of repetitions of particular praises of God.  Why?  Try making the length of your bow and prostration based on something different.  Try making the length of your bow and consequent prostrations decided by the length of your standing.  Try it.

Here I speak of freeing yourself of the form of prayer, with the form of the prayer.  Often, we speak of liberating ourselves of the form of religion, by focusing on the spirit of religion.  “I am spiritual, not religious,” is a common phrase.  In the case of the canonical prayers, we find a similar discussion, where the form of the canonical prayer is looked at as preventing the believer from fulfilling its own purpose.

A purpose of the canonical prayer is contact with the Divine, but often we prevent that contact ourselves by concerning ourselves too much with the form of the prayer.  Thus, many of us exercise that “liberation” by way of replacing the canonical prayer with other acts that we regard as prayer or prayerful.  Or, we might add other parts to the prayer that are neither prescribed nor beneficial, often confusing the value of those additions.  Here, however, I am inviting you to do something entirely different.  Liberate yourself of the strictures of the form of the prayer, with the form of the prayer.

We know that the bowing (the ruku’) is one of the fundamental steps of the prayer.  And, we know that we commonly recite a particular praise of God — subhana rabbiy al-azeem (Glory to my Lord, the Might) — in that step.  But, we know that we often set the length of that ruku’ according to x number of times that we recite “subhana rabbiy al-azeem.” Thus, if we recite the praise 3 times, then our ruku’ will be about 10 seconds long, and if we recite the praise 5 times, it will be perhaps 14 seconds long.

Instead, use something else within the prayer to determine the length of your bow.  Try basing the length of your bow according to the length of your qiyam (standing).  For example, if in your prayer you recite not only the first and second Surahs, but also the third and fourth, then extend the time you invest in your bow to be just as long.  And, do the same for your prostration.

Now, do the same for your stance when you rise from your bow, during which we recite barely 2 sentences.

The greater point, here, of course is that when we regard a religious practice as a prison, we often seek liberation.  And, often, that alleged liberation comes by way of externals.  Here, the call is to find liberation from within the religious practice itself.  And, deeper than that, the call is to enjoy the practice.

And Allah knows best.



1. Red65 - 22 October 2009

Your disagreement should be couched in terms of proposed policies that divide people into groups according to age and determine how people should be treated in part according to their group status. ,

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