Bow down with those who bow down
Written a few years ago
I generally try to read one ayat a day to give myself time to reflect upon it. I haven’t gotten too far in the Qur’an with this process, so the ayat I read today is from the beginning of Surutul Baqara:
And be steadfast in prayer; practice regular charity; and bow down your heads with those who bow down. 2:43
Immediately upon reading this ayat I thought of the many lectures or khutbas I have attended on this subject on maintaining khushoo in prayer. The thought of ensuring that prayer is one that is made with attentiveness and spirituality has been inculcated into our minds since the very beginning of our religious education, and yet salah is nothing more than a perfunctory task for most of us. We can’t always perform salah with people who are God-conscious, to assist us with our own khushoo, right? I came up with a general reflection on this ayat, and thought that was all I was going to receive from it.
I began writing this essay in my mind while in class (and being that it’s been 12 hours since I was in class, this current blog post is not up to par with my original thoughts), as I started to think about what is considered the ideal goal in our society. We favor and strive to become the people who speak eloquently, the people who can purchase impressive items, or the people who know the names of things/ideas/processes. However, if we were to pray with those people, those people who we specifically and primarily attribute these qualities to, they surely would not be the ones who have attained the status of the Ar Raki’ûn mentioned in this ayat. They, therefore, would not be the ones that we are told to bow down with (this is in no way implying that we should pick and choose who we are going to pray salah with, just wondering who it is that would most likely help us in obtaining better humility, concentration in salah.) So who could it be?
At that moment an image of my father popped up in my head. And as a result of the many ephemeral realizations of seeing the importance of something we regularly take for granted, I knew I had to write a blog post about this. A reminder of the greatness and blessings of having a good family. My father, a highly educated man, but one who has an illuminating sense of humility and docility. I’m using the word docile, a typically negative word, but in a way that Shaykh Hamza Yusuf mentioned in a recent lecture I listened to. Docile in the sense that one is teachable, a positive word. Docile as in the complete opposite of one who becomes arrogant once they learn, utilizes information in pedantic manners. Docile as in something far from the ideal that society generally strives for.
Just recently I spoke to him about a fact I learned today about Malcolm X, and his expression of curiosity and amazement was the same that I see every time I mention any interesting thought to him. My father, a person who I would never doubt any fact he presents to me due to his own intelligence, finds even the smallest thought a person has as important and fascinating.
Lord, fill a Muslim’s heart
With a desire so fervent
That it will set his heart aflame
And stir his soul.
– Muhammad Iqbal (at least the Internet says so)