Maulana Sheikh NazimLove is the Mortar of all Prayer

As we were coming to the mosque today I saw a billboard that read: “Everyone Needs Standards”. I didn’t understand what this could mean, but just then the traffic light turned red, so that we stopped right in front of the sign. Then I looked more closely and noticed that someone had vandalised the sign, and with a pen had crossed out “Standards”, and written instead: “Love not Standards”, so that the billboard now read: “Everyone needs Love, not Standards”.

If one is open to wisdom he may take wisdom from every side, and so, Glory to Allah, this bit of vandalism has given me a topic for this lecture. Yes, that person was right, and this recalls to mind a saying of the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, in which he prayed to God :

“Oh Allah, I ask you to grant me the love of You and the love of those whom You love, and grant me, Oh my Lord, the love of those actions which lead me to the love of You”.

To ask our Lord to open up our hearts to His Divine Love is the most important request we can make of Him in our prayers, as nothing can take the place of love. The Holy Prophet, who is called the Beloved of Allah, whom Allah created with the yeast of love, and whom Allah loved some such He dedicated the creation to him, even this beloved Prophet asked Allah for Divine Love – why? Because who tastes of that love asks for more. Whose heart is like a rock will not ask God for this love, but those who have had the slightest taste of that love know that it is the key to all spiritual progress, to mercy, beauty, wisdom, to all favours that God may bestow upon His servants. Therefore, the Holy Prophet taught all mankind what is precious in this life.

And then his prayer continued: “And grant me the love of those who love You”. The first level, “Love of God”, is that Station of the Prophets, and you can’t step from the bottom of the stairway to the top in one step. Allah Almighty is the Transcendent Being – you can’t even begin to fathom anything about Him Almighty – but it is easy to love those who represent His Love among mankind, for it is much easier for us to begin to understand and love human beings like ourselves. You will find nothing in their hearts but the Love of God; therefore, loving them is a means to approach the Divine Love.

Lastly, the Holy Prophet asks for the love of those actions which lead to the love of God, actions which carry blessings with them, which soften our hearts and weaken our greed and selfishness. These are the actions encouraged by our Lord through the example of His Prophets, actions ordered and recommended in His Holy Books. And, although in the beginning our inner state may not correspond to these saintly actions, by engaging our limbs in what pleases our Lord, He will strengthen our hearts thereby.

These are the three levels of love for which the Holy Prophet prayed, and the wisdom reflected in this prayer is proof enough of the veracity of Muhammad, peace be upon him. While Believers must always ask for that love, Satan is ever at war with such a notion, for he knows that once love has entered the heart of one of his slaves, that slave is lost to him, for he will not be able to snare him anymore with this world’s pleasures. He who has tasted that love may not even notice those pleasures, or may regard them as only a drop in an ocean.

Once, as Moses, upon whom be peace, was headed toward Mount Sinai, he passed the cave of a hermit. The hermit emerged and called after Moses: “Oh Moses, please ask our Lord to bestow upon me just an atom’s weight of His Divine Love”. Moses agreed to do this, then continued on his way. Later, when Moses was addressing his Lord, he petitioned on behalf of that hermit. The Lord replied: “I will grant that servant of My Divine Love, but not in the amount he requested. I will only grant him the tiniest fraction of an atom’s weight of that love”.

When Moses returned from the mountain, he quickly went to see what was happening to the hermit, to see what effect such a tiny dose of Divine Love might have had on him. When he arrived he was startled to see that where the cave had been a part of the mountain was blown away, and in place of that cave there was a deep chasm in the Earth. “Oh servant of my Lord”, he cried out, “What has happened, where are you?” Then Moses looked down the chasm and saw the hermit sitting down there as if in another world, completely overwhelmed by that love.

Why did that hermit ask for a portion of Divine Love? Because he was worshipping but feeling nothing; he felt an emptiness in his heart that could only be filled by that love. Without love, worship is tasteless and useless; therefore, we must be sure to build our worship upon a strong foundation of love and to bake love into the bricks of the building of our devotional practice. This is more than an analogy, for even physical buildings are either alive with the love of their builders, or dead from their hard-heartedness. Therefore, old buildings often emanate a good feeling because of the love and goodness of those who built them. This is especially true of old mosques and churches, for their original congregations built them for the same of their Lord’s love and in an attitude of sincere piety. There is often a very strong feeling of the Divine Presence in old mosques, but have you ever felt such an atmosphere in the new showpiece – of – sterile – architecture – mosques? No, it is impossible, you may feel only an inner contraction side of such concrete hills. They have left the love out of the mortar: the most important ingredient is missing.


BookMercyOceansRisingSun, CategoryLove, CategoryMosque, CategoryWorship
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