Rumi, Prayer, and Allah’s Presence

Rumi, Prayer, and Allah’s Presence January 12, 2023


Two Egos Enter

“In Allah’s presence, there is no room for two egos. You say “ego,” and He says “ego”? Either you die in His presence, or He will die in your presence, so there can be no duality. Yet it is impossible that He should die either in the universe or in mind, for “He is the Living, who does not die (Quran 25:58). He has grace in such measure that, were it possible, He would die for you to remove the duality (of ego). But since His death is impossible, you die so that He may become manifest in you” Rumi penned these words of absolute reality in Fihi ma fihi. Rumi was articulating the importance of the destruction of the ego while standing in front of the Lord of the Worlds.

The believers are called to stand in the presence of Allah. Allah is asking us patiently and lovingly to slay ourselves. To die before we die; to join the communion of the awliya and angels in a sacred whisper to the most Merciful seeking connection. We are being summoned to bask in the radiance of divine transcendence that nourishes the heart. Allah says in His Quran, “Succesful are the believers. Who are humble in their prayers.” The successful ones are those who lower their egos and answer the call to stand in front of Allah, seeking His grace and longing for His presence to manifest in them.

It was related in Bukhari that Allah (mighty and sublime be He) said: Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him. And My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant it to him. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death, and I hate hurting him.

Every day we are called into the mosques to destroy our ego, humble ourselves, and accept the sovereign leadership of Allah in our lives. Some of us leave our ego with the shoes, yet others are distracted by our ego during the prayer. Years ago, I was in a mosque in Cairo, and after we prayed, a man began to scream at one of my teachers about the man praying between them. The angry man became miserable that the other had made several mistakes in his prayers and was not instantaneously reprimanded by the visiting scholar.

He asked my shaykh, “why didn’t you correct him during the salah?” My shaykh answered, “I was distracted by Allah and did not realize his mistakes.” My teacher could not raise his ego while he was engulfed in the presence of Allah. He was so overwhelmed by his own need that he could not recognize anyone else’s. It was a living enactment of what Allah says in the Quran, “That Day shall a man flee from his brother” (Quran 80:34). On the Day of Judgment, we will be so concerned with ourselves as we stand in the presence of Allah, we will forget everyone else has ever existed.

The Mountains Refused

Ali (radi Allahu `anhu – may Allah be pleased with him) would begin to shake, and the color of his face would change. When asked, “What’s wrong?” he would reply, “The time has entered for a trust offered to the heavens, the earth, and the mountains. And they declined to bear it (Qur’an, 33:72), and I undertook it.”

As I type this, I am overwhelmed with the question of when the last time I shook and the color of my ace changed when I heard the athan. When was the last time I humbled myself enough that my ego perished in the flames of my love for Allah? When was the last time I lowered myself in humility to learn the lessons of salat?

Sidi Hamza Boutchichi (May Allah preserve his secret) used to say, “Real knowledge is obtained only with a humble heart. The way to acquire real knowledge is similar to the way in which a person desires to drink water from a stream. He must lower himself and bend down to drink. Water is always to be found in the lowest place. We must become like the water.” Ali, Rumi, and Sidi Hamza are teaching us that we must surrender our entirety to Allah in prayer. We must find the path that destroys the ego to climb to the felicity promised to us in prayer.

What’s Next?

InshaAllah, I will write one to two weekly posts about Iman, Islam, and Ihsan.


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