Management in worship
 

Management is confined not only to social, political and economic issues. In fact, devotional affairs are also in need of management.

The principles discussed in management are: Planning and work design; selection of an efficient workforce; discipline and supervision; encouragement and control and the like. In the domain of worship, these principles should also be observed in order to engender advancement and perfection.

Prayer has a specific design; it starts with takbir [utterance of Allahu akbar] and ends with salam or taslim [salutation]. Its number of rakahs [cycles], ruku [bowing down] and sujud [prostration] is specified. Its time of performance is determined and its direction is toward the qiblah [the Kabah in Mecca].

The mere design, however, is not enough. Its performance also necessitates the selection of a competent and socially oriented congregational prayer leader [imam]. Through good manners, morality, supervision, and enthusiasm, the people encouraged and persuaded to perform prayer and attend the mosque. Order and arrangement in the lines of the congregation as well as in following the Imam should be observed. In any case, it requires perfect management for it to be conducted in the best possible manner.

Worship as a 24-hour pharmacy

Anyone can have communion with God at any time, under any circumstance, and without any prior arrangement and mediation. Although special times such as the time of dawn, sunset on Friday, after the deliverance of the Friday prayer sermons, when it is raining, and the Night of Power [layla al-qadr][25] have particular importance for supplication [dua] and worship [ibadah], supplication and devotion are not confined to these periods.

Worship, at any rate, is the medicine for negligence, oblivion and disobedience

And maintain the prayer for My remembrance.[26] It is the source of tranquility and serenity and the effacer of anxieties and worries

Look! The hearts find rest in Allahs remembrance![27]

Worship as the source of tranquility

You know of ruffian t?aghuts, big capitalists, and possessors of knowledge, industry and technology, but do you know anyone among them who has peace of mind and tranquility of heart?

Do Western societies today have peace of mind and tranquility of heart? Have the possession of power, industry and wealth brought about serenity, friendship, tranquility, and peace of mind? Yet, worship and obedience to God bring about such a state for the saints of God that under no circumstance whatsoever would they experience anxiety. At this juncture, it is appropriate for me to narrate two recollections of the Great Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini(q):[28]

After the escape of the Shah from Iran, even though his subservient puppet, Shapur Bakhtiyar was ruling, Imam Khomeini decided to return to his country after 14 years in exile. A reporter in the airplane asked him: What do you feel now? He replied: Nothing!

This is while millions of enthusiastic Iranians were worrying for the safety of the Imam. Having peace of mind, the Imam was busy in the night supererogatory prayers and remembrance of God. This tranquility was only because of his constant remembrance of Him.

The other recollection, which I heard from the son of the Imam, the late Hajj Sayyid Ahmad Khomeini, is this: On the day of the Shahs escape from Iran, tens of reporters and photo journalists from around the world gathered in the house of the Imam in Paris in order to relay his speeches to the world. The Imam stood on a chair and uttered a few statements.

Then, he turned to me and asked: Ahmad, has the time for the noon prayer [salah az-zuhr] arrived? I said: Yes. Without any delay, the Imam concluded his speech and came down from the chair for the performance of prayer at its initial (and best) time. All were perplexed as to what had happened. I said: The Imam performs his prayer on time.

What the Imam did in Paris was a lesson he had learned from his leader, Imam ar-Rida (a). It has been recorded in history that the chief of the group of Sabeans, a group that has been mentioned in the Quran,[29] was an arrogant and fanatic scholar. Whenever he would sit down in a dialogue with Imam ar-Rida (a), he would not surrender and concede until when, during a certain intricate discussion, his mind became so confused that he said: Now, my heart has softened and I accepted your logic.

At that time, the call to prayer [adhan] was recited. Imam ar-Rida (a) left the assembly in order to pray. Although the companions of the Imam (a) insisted that if he continued the discussion for some moments, the chief of the Sabeans and all his followers would become Muslims, he (a) said:

To perform the prayer at its earliest (and best) time is more important than discussion. If he really deserves it, he can also accept the truth after the prayer. The Sabean scholar, who saw this dignity, decisiveness, obedience and love for the truth in the Imam (a), became more interested.[30]

Worship and acquisitions

Worship is a means to acquire divine help and graces.

And worship you Lord until certainty (or death) comes to you.[31]

H?adrat Musa (Moses) (a) engaged in worship and litanies for 40 days and nights on the Mount of tur for the acquisition of the heavenly book, Tawrah (Torah). The Holy Prophet of Islam (s) was busy in the performance of acts of worship in the cave of Hira for a long time before the acquisition of divine revelation. It is thus stated in the traditions:

.

He who sincerely worships Allah for forty days, springs of wisdom shall appear from his heart to his tongue.[32]

Yes, sincere worship is an academy that trains in the course of forty days the sage who would acquire wisdom from the divine fountain and share it with others.

The reciprocal effects of faith and worship

Just as faith draws man toward worship, worship is also effective in strengthening faith. Their similitude is that of a root which delivers water and food to the branches, and in turn, the branches transfer heat and light to the root. Yes, whenever worship improves and increases, mans enthusiasm toward the Object of Worship is also enhanced.

The philosophy of worship according to the Quran

The Quran regards the remembrance of God as the philosophy of prayer:

And maintain the prayer for My remembrance.[33]

And the remembrance of God is the source of tranquility of the heart:

Look! The hearts find rest in Allahs remembrance![34]

And the consequence of tranquility of the heart is soaring to the celestial realm:

O soul at peace! Return to your Lord![35]

In other cases, the Quran considers gratitude to God as the reason behind worship:

Worship you Lord, who created you.[36]

Let them worship the Lord of this House, who has fed them [and saved them] from hunger, and secured them from fear.[37]

In some verses, the educational function of prayer has been pointed out:

Indeed the prayer prevents indecencies and wrongs.[38]

For the sake of the authenticity or acceptance of prayer, the performer of prayer has no option but to observe the religious precepts as a whole, the observance of which is itself a strong foundation for abstaining from sin and indecency. Yes, anyone who would wear a white garment will naturally not sit on a dirty and polluted ground.

After enjoining prayer, the Quran states:

Indeed good deeds efface misdeeds.[39]

Thus, prayer is a practical repentance for past sins, and through this verse, God gives hope to the sinner that if he would perform meritorious acts such as prayer and worship, his misdeeds will be erased.

Prayer in the words of Ali (a)

H?adrat Alis (a) many references to prayer and the remembrance of God as recorded in Nahj al-Balaghah[40] have been compiled in a book entitled, Namaz dar Nahj al-Balagheh [Prayer in Nahj al-Balaghah]. Here, I shall quote a statement of the Imam (a) concerning the philosophy of glorification and the remembrance of God whose most important manifestation is prayer:



Certainly, Allah, the Glorified, the Sublime, has made His remembrance the light for hearts which hear with its help despite deafness, see with its help despite blindness and become submissive with its help despite unruliness.[41]

Then, concerning the blessings of prayer, the Imam (a) said:



The angels have surrounded them (performers of prayer) and peace is showered upon them. The doors of heaven are opened for them and abodes of blessedness, of which He had informed them, have been prepared for them.[42]

In another sermon, the Imam (a) says:



Certainly, prayer removes sins like autumn strips leaves off from trees, and it liberates you from the rope (of sins) tied around your neck.[43]

In continuation, he narrates an interesting comparison from the Holy Prophet (s):

Prayer is like a hot spring situated at someones door. If he takes a bath in it five times a day, will then any dirt remain on him?[44]

In Sermon 196, the Imam (a) enumerates some of the moral vices such as pride [kibr], disobedience and oppression [zulm], and then he (a) says: It is on account of these perils that God has encouraged His believing servants to perform salah and zakah,[45] to fast during the days when it is made obligatory. Then, concerning the effects of prayer, he (a) says:



[This act of worship] gives their (Gods believing servants) limbs peace and rest, casts fear in their eyes, softens their spirits, cultivates a sense of humility in their hearts and purges them from pride. At the time of fear, anxiety and loneliness, remembrance of You gives them enthusiasm and intimacy.[46]

Of course, it is obvious that everyone does not receive such benefits from prayer; rather, it is only that group which is enamored by prayer and the remembrance of God. This group will not exchange them for the entire world.