Orland Park Prayer Center

The Prayer Center of Orland Park

We have watched with great sadness the indiscriminate killing of innocent men, women, and children including infants and neonates for more than two months in Gaza Strip. This is a state of transgression that results from the disease of self-sufficiency. It was the first disease that Quran warned humanity against from day one of its revelation.

In the first revealed surah (Al-Alaq), Allah (ﷻ) said: “Nay, but the man does transgress all bounds, in that he looks upon himself as self-sufficient.” [96:6-7]

In this article, I will discuss this disease as it affects individuals, societies, states, and governments.

Quran presents self-sufficiency as a human tendency or predisposition to run after lusts and desires in the pursuit of happiness and salvation. At the juncture of satisfying a certain desire, and when happiness and salvation are not realized, another desire is created and pursued.

Ibn Khaldun, the celebrated fourteenth century philosopher of history, refers to this type of social behavior as “creation of desires.” It means that human beings are dragged behind the illusion of happiness and salvation associated with a certain desire only to find them to be temporary and disappearing at the time of realization of that desire. Instead of liberating themselves from the prison of ephemeral desires in the pursuit of a higher objective and goal, some human beings increase their imprisonment by creating and pursuing other desires. They reach a point where they transgress and go beyond the boundaries harming themselves and those around them.

Man is not self-sufficient. He is in wont of his creator. To be sure about that he has only to remember his origin. “He created man, out of a mere clot of blood.” [96:2]

The surah also affirms to whom he will return. “Verily, to your Lord is the return.” [96:8]

Life is a journey towards Allah (ﷻ). Perceiving Him as the real and highest goal is the antidote to self-sufficiency and transgression. Self-sufficiency and transgression appear in societies whose members have imprisoned themselves in the world of things thriving on accumulating them. They reach a point where they are inattentive and heedless of consequences, and everything appears to them as lawful and permissible. They lack wisdom, which is the ability to put things in their right places. Lusts and desires are placed ahead of them, and hence distance them from Allah (ﷻ). They have lost control over what they have earned and achieved, and hence their behavior becomes reckless and out of way. They lack the inner discipline, policing, or deterrent, and hence they navigate in darkness without the light and compass of “taqwa” تَقْوى. They have lost the direction and missed the address.

How do these consequences manifest in their social life? Not only they do not pray, but they also prevent others from praying. “See you one who forbids a worshipper when he prays.” [96:9-10]

They are not only misleading, but they do not like others to follow a guided path or enjoin “taqwa”, self-consciousness, and mindfulness. “See you if he is on the road of guidance or enjoins righteousness?” [96:11-12]

We can conclude that prayer, staying the course of divine guidance, and “taqwa” are the skills that the believers will struggle to acquire and master to protect themselves from the consequences of self-sufficiency and transgression. These consequences are experienced in this life and will be reflected in the Day of Judgment where the victims of self-sufficiency and transgression are dragged out of control by their forelocks the same way they were dragged behind their lusts and desires in this life. “Let him beware! If he does not desist, we will drag him by the forelock.” [96:15]

The forelock is the location of the prefrontal areas of the brain which when affected lead to change in personality expressed as lack of concern over the consequences of any action and social disinhibition. Quran described the forelocks of those who see themselves as self-sufficient and have lost wisdom, control, and direction in life as lying and sinful forelocks. “A lying, sinful forelock.” [96:16]

When the believers put their forelocks on the ground in prostration before Allah, they are committing themselves to the path that brings them closer to Allah. In every unit of prayer, they do not prostrate once but twice. Doing it once may give them the wrong impression that they have reached their destination. Prophet Mohammad (ﷺ) said: “The worshipper is closest to his Lord during prostration.”

Quran does not stop at the order to prostrate but says “But bow down in prostration and bring yourself the closer to Allah.” [96:19]

Therefore, prostrating twice reminds the believers of the long journey ahead of them and the need for the continuous movement towards Allah from the state of being to the state of becoming, and the transmutation from clay into light. Rumi put it beautifully when he said: “Go on a journey from self to self, my friend. Such a journey transforms earth into a mine of gold.” 


By Dr. Walid Khayr


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