So, speaking of time... Artistic Logic's last entry about quality vs quantity reminded me of this story:
Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi, the great mystic, scholar and poet, relates:
There was once a man of humble existence who used to supplicate to God every single day with a great amount of zeal and sincerity. He would weep profusely during his prayers, singing the praises of the Most High, and calling upon His Majestic Names for his needs in the world. Every single day, without fail, he would do this, humbling himself in the midst of supplications, raising his arms to the sky and asking from his heart.
One day, a neighbor of this man who was a skeptic approached him and asked him: "I have seen you supplicating every day for dozens of years without fail. I have seen you spend many a day fasting, denying yourself of food and water, and many a night standing in prayer, denying yourself of the comfort of your bed. I have seen you call upon your Lord with humility and sincerity, begging and asking Him to fulfill your needs. You have done this for many years, but what have you gotten? What have your acts of worship earned you? Where is the answer to your supplications?"
Upon hearing these words, the man was deeply troubled, for indeed his neighbor had pointed out the obvious: that he, like the dutiful and obedient servant that he strove to be, had prayed for years and asked God to fulfill his various needs and desires of the world. He had not asked for much. He did not want the wealth of princes or the fame of generals but only enough to live comfortably. And wasn't his Lord's treasure endless? Surely, he was not asking for much and for Him to give what he had requested would not diminish him in the least. How could his Lord not respond to him all these years?
Sorely shaken and wearied, the man fell into a deep slumber. And as he dreamt that night, he was visited by the enigmatic Khidr [a wise prophet], who asked him: "Why have you stopped praying when you have been praying all these nights for so many years?"
The man said: "What is the use? I have been praying for so many years and I have not gotten a single thing that I have asked for. I have done no wrong to anyone, I have not asked for much, and yet I have not received an answer to my supplications."
Khidr replied: "For all of those years that you humbled yourself before your Lord, every time you prayed and supplicated, you were at the door of His Mercy. You thought your prayers weren't answered. But did you not consider that if you were already at the Door, what other position could you have wanted?"
And the man realized then that therein lay the answer to his prayers: it was the prayers themselves.
I hope we all reflect on this, and not only look for quality and understanding when we read our holy book, but also when we stand for prayer. And not only for this Ramadan, but for the rest of our lives. Remember, Ramadan is about building character and good habits and to carry that on throughout the your life, otherwise what value did your month of sacrifice have?
Sacrifice your time for it now, and see how time is returned to you. Because: every time you pray, you are at the door of God's mercy. and What better place could there be? So revel in it. Spend time in your prayer and take it slow. Invoke God's Mercy. If you don't feel peace at the end of it, do it over.
and over and over and over....
Wishing a blessed and generous Ramadan to ALL!!