THE ETIQUETTE OF SETTING OUT FOR THE MOSQUE
When you have finished your purification, pray the two sunna rak’as of Fajr in your home if dawn has broken. This is what the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم used to do. Then make your way to the mosque. Do not fail to pray with the congregation, especially the morning prayer. A prayer in congregation is twenty-seven times better than a prayer alone. If you are negligent of such a profitable act, then what benefit is there for you in the pursuit of knowledge? After all, the fruit of knowledge is in acting upon it.
When you walk to the mosque, walk with tranquility and do not rush. On your way, say:
O my Lord, I beseech You by the right of those who beseech You, and the right of those who long for You, and the right of this walk of mine toward You. I have not left my home intending insolence, nor in arrogance, nor seeking to make a show of my actions, nor seeking prestige; rather, I have come forth from my home in fear of Your wrath and in search of Your satisfaction. I ask You to save me from the Fire, to let me enter Paradise, and I ask that You forgive my sins, for truly there is none who forgives sins but You.
THE ETIQUETTE OF STAYING IN THE MOSQUE UNTIL SUNRISE
When you are going to enter the mosque, do so right foot first, and say: “O Allah, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad and give them peace. O Allah, forgive me my sins, and open to me the doors of Your mercy.”
If you see someone selling things in the mosque, say, “May Allah make your transaction unprofitable.” And if you see someone calling out to people about something that has gone missing, say, “May Allah not restore to you what you have lost.”* This is as the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم commanded (Muslim).
When you have entered the mosque, do not sit down until performing the two-rak’a prayer of greeting [the mosque]. If you have not already performed the two sunna rak’as of Fajr in your home, performing them will take the place of the greeting prayer.
Upon completing the two rak’as, make the intention for spiritual retreat. Make the supplication that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم made after the two [sunna] rak’as of Fajr:
O Allah, I ask You for mercy through which You guide my heart, by which You compose my state of disarray, by which You order my disorder, by which You return me to my state of harmony, through which You reform me in my religion, by which You preserve my inner state and elevate my outer state, through which You purify my deeds, illuminate my face, instill in me my guidance, and protect me from all evil.
O Allah, I ask You for everlasting faith felt intimately in my heart; I ask You for true certainty, so that I may know that nothing will befall me except what You have written for me; and make me pleased with what You have allotted me.
O Allah, bless me with sincere faith and certainty after which there is no unbelief, and mercy whereby I may receive the honor of Your favor in this world and the next.
O Allah, I beseech You for patience with the Decree, for success in the encounter [on the Day of Judgment], for the stations of the martyrs and for the life of the fortunate, for assistance against enemies, and for the companionship of the prophets.
O Allah, I lay before You my need, even though my perception be weak, my actions insufficient, and I am in dire need of Your mercy. I beg of You, O Accomplisher of all things, O Healer of hearts, as You rescue from the midst of the seas, rescue me from the punishment of the Fire, the call for destruction**, and the torment of the grave.
O Allah, I ask You for any good of which my perception has fallen short and my actions have been too weak to achieve, and which my intentions and hopes have failed to reach –any good You have promised to any of Your servants or have given to any of Your creatures; for truly I desire this good from You and beg You for it, O Lord of all the Worlds!
O Allah, make us guide and be guided, and do not make us lead astray or be led astray –showing enmity toward Your enemies and at peace with Your Friends, that we love people with Your love, and are hostile with Your hostility toward any of Your creatures who have opposed You.
O Allah, this is my prayer, and its answer is Yours to give; this is my effort and upon You is all reliance. And we belong to Allah and to Him are we returning, and there is no ability [to ward off evil] or strength [to do good] except through Allah, the High, the Mighty.
O Allah, O Owner of the firm handhold and the guiding command, I ask You for safety on the Day of Punishment, and Paradise on the Day of Eternity, with those who are close to You, who have beheld the Truth, who bow and prostrate themselves before You, and who fulfill their covenants. Truly You are Merciful and Loving and You do what You will. Glory be to the one who is characterized by might, and who has declared it. Exalted is the one who is clothed in glory, and who has shown generosity in it. Glory be to the one who alone is worthy of glorification. Glory be to the owner of favor and blessing. Glory be to the owner of power and generosity. Glory be to the one whose knowledge encompasses all things.
O Allah, grant me light in my heart and light in my grave, light in my hearing and light in my seeing; light in my hair and light in my skin; light in my flesh, light in my blood and light in my bones; light before me, light behind me, light to my right side, light to my left side, light above me, light below me. O Allah, increase me in light and give me light and make me light.
When you finish supplicating, do not occupy yourself with anything except the remembrance of Allah, glorification, or the recitation of the Qur’an until the time comes for the obligatory prayer.
Then, when you hear the call to prayer, stop what you are doing and devote yourself to responding to the mu’adhdhin. When the mu’adhdhin says, “Allah is great, Allah is great,” repeat it after him, and likewise with all the phrases. When he says, “Come to prayer” and “Come to prosperity,” say after each of them: “There is no ability nor strength except through Allah, the High and Mighty.”
And when he says [for the morning prayer], “Prayer is better than sleep,” say: “You have spoken truly and done well.” When you hear the call to commence, again repeat what he says, except for the phrase, “The prayer is established,” to which you should respond: “May Allah establish it and continue it as long as the heavens and the earth continue to exist.”
When you have completed the responses to the mu’adhdhin, say:
O Allah, I ask You at the advent of Your prayer, and the voices engaged in calling on You, by the retreat of Your night, and the advance of Your day, to grant Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم a place near to You, an excellent rank, and the exalted degree, and to raise him to the praised station which You have promised him. Truly You do not break Your promise. By Your mercy, O Most Merciful of the merciful!
If you hear the call to prayer while you are engaged in prayer, complete what you are praying, then catch u with the responses to the call to prayer in the usual way. When the imãm starts the obligatory prayer, do not occupy yourself with anything except following him, and perform the two rak’as of the obligatory prayer in the way that will shortly be explained to you in “The Method of Prayer and its Etiquette.”
When you have completed the prayer, say:
O Allah, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad. O Allah, You are Peace, and from You comes peace and to You peace returns –so protect us [from all calamities] with [Your] greeting, O our Lord, and let us enter the Abode of Peace. Blessed and Exalted are You, O Possessor of Majesty and Bounty. Glory be to my Lord, the High, Most Exalted, the Bestower. There is no god but Allah alone, Who has no partner. His is the dominion and to Him is all praise, He gives life and He gives death, and He is the Living who never dies, in His Hand is all goodness, and He has power over all things. There is no god but Allah, the Possessor of [every] bounty, gift, favor and excellent praise. There is no god but Allah, and we worship none but Him, making our religion sincerely His, in spite of the aversion of those who disbelieve.
Then, after that, supplicate with the “comprehensive, complete supplications,” those the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم taught ‘Ã’isha رضي الله عنه:
O Allah, I ask of You for all good, whether it comes sooner or later, that which I know and that which I know not. I seek refuge with You from all evil, whether it comes sooner or later, that which I know and that which I know not. I ask You for Paradise, and for those words and actions and beliefs that will bring me closer to it; and I take refuge with You from the Fire and from those words and actions and beliefs that will bring me closer to it. I ask of You the good which Your slave and prophet, Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم, sought refuge in You. O my Lord, whatever matter You have decreed for me, make its end one of guidance.
Then make the supplication that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم advised Fãtima رضي الله عنه to make:
O Ever-Living, O Self-Subsistent, by Your mercy I beseech Your help. Leave me not to myself nor to any of Your creation even for the blink of an eye. Set right for me all my affairs.
Then say what Jesus said (may peace and blessings be upon both our Messenger and upon him):
O Allah, I enter this morning unable to repel what I dislike and powerless to attain the benefit of what I seek. All matters this morning are in hands other than mine. I enter the morning at the mercy of my actions. There is no pauper poorer than I. O my Lord, do not give my enemy cause to gloat over me, nor my friend cause to lament over me. Do not cause calamity to occur in my religious affairs; let not this world be the greatest of my concerns nor the extent of my knowledge, nor place in power over me one who will show me no mercy.
Then pray, using whichever of the transmitted supplications seem good to you; you may memorize them from those we have compiled in the “Book of Invocations and Supplications” from the Revival of the Religious Sciences.
Your time, from after the [morning] prayer until the sunrise, should be divided between four types of [spiritual] work: (1) supplication, (2) remembrance and glorification, which you can repeat on prayer beads, (3) recitation of the Qur’an, and (4) reflection.
Reflect upon your mistakes and sins, and the shortcomings and deficiencies in your worship of your Master, and how you have exposed yourself to Allah’s painful punishment and His great anger.
Organize your regular duties of worship for the entire day by means of [careful] planning, in the hope of redeeming your past failings and shortcomings, and [in the hope] of guarding yourself by this means from exposure to the anger of Allah Almighty, Most Majestic, during the day.
Make the intention of having good will toward all Muslims, and resolve that your entire day will be occupied only with obedience to Allah Most High.
Detail in your heart the acts of obedience of which you are capable, then choose the best of them. Consider how to prepare the conditions to bring about such acts, so you can occupy yourself with them. Do not neglect to reflect upon the nearness of your end, upon the approach of death that cuts short all hopes, upon the removal of matters from the domain of your free will, and [the possibility of] reaching a state of sorrow and deep regret due to prolonged delusion.
There are ten prayers that should be part of your [litany of] glorification and remembrance:
- There is no god but Allah alone, who has no partner. His is the dominion and to Him belongs all praise. He gives life and gives death, and He is the Ever-living who never dies. In His hand is all good, and He has power over all things.
- There is no god but Allah, the Sovereign, the True, the Clarifier.
- There is no god but Allah, the One, the Conqueror, Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is in between, the Magnificent, the Forgiving.
- Glory be to Allah, all praise is to Allah, and there is no god but Allah, and Allah is Great; there is no power nor might except by Allah, the High, the Mighty.
- All-Glorious, All-Holy, Lord of the angels and of the Spirits.
- Glory be to Allah, the Mighty, and by His praise.
- I seek the forgiveness of Allah, the Mighty, apart from whom there is no god, the Ever-living, the Self-subsistent, and I ask Him to accept my repentance and grant me forgiveness.
- O Allah, none can withhold what You bestow, and none can bestow what You withhold, and there is none to repel what You ordain, and the fortune of any who possess fortune will in no way avail them against You.
- O Allah, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad.
- In the name of Allah, by whose Name nothing on earth and nothing in heaven can cause harm. He is the All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
Repeat each of these prayers on your prayer beads a hundred times, or seventy times, or ten times –this being the minimum so that the total will be one hundred.
Read this litany regularly and do not talk before the sun rises, for [it states] in a narration: “It is superior to freeing eight slaves of the descendants of Ishmael” (peace and blessings be upon our Prophet and upon him) –this refers to occupying oneself with remembrance until sunrise without speaking in between.
Know this well, and you will be divinely guided, if Allah Most High wills.
THE ETIQUETTE OF THE TIME FRON SUNRISE TO MIDDAY
When the sun rises, and is a spear’s length above the horizon, pray two rak’as. This is when the disliked time for prayer expires, for it is disliked [to perform voluntary prayers] after the obligatory rak’as of the morning prayer until the sun reaches this height. Then, when the sun is high and about a quarter of the day has elapsed, perform the forenoon prayer, four, or six, or eight rak’as in twos. All of these numbers have been related on authority from the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم. All prayer is good; if one wants, he may perform more or, if he wants, he may perform less.
Other than this, there is no other daily sunna prayer between sunrise and midday. Whatever time you have left after it, you should spend in one of four ways:
1. Seeking Useful Knowledge
The first way, and the best, is to spend your time seeking beneficial knowledge in religion, not matters of secondary importance to which many people devote themselves and call knowledge. Useful knowledge is only that which increases your fear of Allah Most High, increases your insight into your own defects, and increases your knowledge of how to worship Allah Almighty, Most Majestic; it reduces your yearning for this world, increases your yearning for the Hereafter, and opens your eyes to the things that spoil your worship so you may guard against them; it lays bare to you the scheming of Satan, his deceit, and his misleading of the evil scholars, until he succeeds in exposing them to the aversion and wrath of Allah Almighty, Most Majestic, through their use of religion for worldly gain, their employment of knowledge to acquire wealth from the powers that be, their consumption of the wealth of endowments and of the orphans and the poor, and their directing all their energies throughout the day to attaining prestige and a place in the hearts of people. This forces them into a state of ostentation, disputation, rivalry, and boastfulness.
We have compiled [the details of] this category of beneficial knowledge in the Revival of the Religious Sciences.
If you are of those worthy of it, go seek it and act by it, then teach it and invite others to it. For whoever realizes this, acts upon it, and invites others to it will be called great in the dominion of the heavens, according to the testimony of Jesus عليه السلام.
If you achieve this all and complete the reformation of your self outwardly and inwardly, and some time remains to you, then you may occupy yourself in the study of a school of jurisprudence, so that in this way you may learn the less common rulings concerning worship, and how to mediate between conflicting parties when they are occupied with their lowly desires. These duties, after the completion of all the essentials mentioned, are also among the communal obligations.
However, if your lower self asks you to leave off the litanies and remembrance we have detailed earlier, due to your occupation with these [duties], then know that Satan the accursed has injected into your heart the hidden illness –love of prestige and wealth. Beware of being deceived by this, becoming a laughing stock for him, and being brought to destruction, after which he will mock you.
If you try the routine of litanies and worship for some time and your self does not find it burdensome or become negligent of it, but rather your yearning for attaining beneficial knowledge becomes apparent and you want it only for the sake of Allah Most High and the abode of the afterlife, then seeking this knowledge is better than other voluntary works, as long as the intention is sound. The matter hinges on the soundness of intention. For if it is not sound, it is the source of the deception of the ignorant, and the place where men’s feet slip.
If you are unable to acquire such knowledge, but spend your time engaged in the duties of worship, such as remembrance of Allah, recitation of the Qur’an, glorification, and extra prayers, this is among the stations of the worshippers and the ways of the righteous, and by this method you will also be of the successful ones.
3. Good Works
The third possible way is to spend your time in working on something that will bring benefit to Muslims, and by which you will bring happiness to the hearts of believers, or by which you make it easier for the righteous to accomplish good works. For example, serving the jurists, the true sufis, or the men of religion, taking care of their errands, and striving to bring food to the poor and needy, making a habit of visiting the sick, and escorting funerals. All these are superior to voluntary acts, because they are forms of worship and they involve kindness to Muslims.
4. Earning a Living and Protecting Your Religion
The fourth state is that, lacking the strength for these things, you occupy yourself with your own needs, earning a living to take care of yourself and your family. [You do this in such a way that] Muslims are safe from your tongue and your hand, and your religion is safe, because you would not be committing sins. In this way you will reach the levels of the people of the Right, even if you cannot be of those who rise to the level of the Forerunners. And this [i.e., the level of the People of the Right] is the lowest of the levels of religion, for below it are the grazing grounds of devils, which [you would enter] as a result of working -may Allah protect us- in that which ruins your religion, or by hurting one of the slaves of Allah. This is the level of those who are destroyed, so beware of being at this level.
Know that a servant is at one of three levels in terms of his religion:
- The safe one -this is one who suffices with doing the basic obligatory acts and does not commit sins.
- The one who profits -this is one who voluntarily performs good deeds and voluntary acts.
- The loser -this is one who falls short in his performance of the obligatory acts.
Therefore, if you cannot be one of the profiting ones, then at least put your effort into being among the safe, and beware, beware of being among the losers.
In terms of his relationship with his fellows, a servant is at one of three levels:
- [The highest:] that he act with them as the reverent and noble angels do. This is by striving to help with their needs out of kindness to them, and by bringing happiness to their hearts.
- [The middle:] that he be with them as an animal or an inanimate object would be: he may not bring them good, but he does not do them harm either.
- [The lowest:] that he be with them as a scorpion, serpent, or wild beast would be: no one hopes for good from him and evil is feared of him.
Therefore, if you cannot reach the horizon of the angels, then beware of falling below the level of animals and inanimate objects down to the level of scorpions and snakes. If you are content for yourself to come down from the highest of levels, do not accept for yourself to be hurled down to the lowest of the low. For hopefully you will be saved by doing just enough, neither achieving [much] nor losing [all].
Therefore, by the light of your day you should occupy yourself only with what benefits you in your afterlife, and with [gaining] those provisions [in this life] which you cannot dispense with to assist you toward your afterlife.
Then, if you cannot manage to fulfill the rights of your religion while associating with people, and you cannot remain safe, then solitude is better for you. You should adopt solitude, for in it is safety***.
If in your solitude, devilish insinuations draw you to what is displeasing to Allah, and you cannot root them out with the duties of worship, then you should sleep. That is the best state for you and for us –when we are unable to gain any spoils of battle, we are at least content with safety in defeat. But how sorry is the state of one who can only save his religion by making his life non-functional. After all, sleep is the brother of death; it is to suspend progress in life and join company with inanimate things. Heed this and you will be divinely guided, if Allah so wills****.
PREPARATION FOR THE OTHER PRAYERS
You should get ready for the Zuhr prayer before midday. Therefore, you may take the siesta before this time, if you stay up at night for the night vigil prayer or remain awake for some other good purpose. This nap has the benefit of helping one stay up at night, as the pre-dawn meal helps one in fasting during the day Taking a nap during the day without praying at night is like having a pre-dawn meal without fasting during the day. Make an effort to wake up from the nap before midday. Perform ablution and go to the mosque and perform the greeting prayer. Wait for the mu’adhdhin and respond to him. Then get up and pray four rak’as after the sun moves from its zenith. The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم would lengthen them and say, “This is the time when the doors of heaven open and I would like good works to be raised up from me during it.” These four [rak’as] before Zuhr are emphasized sunnas, for it states in a narration that whoever performs them, bowing and prostrating in the most excellent manner, will have seventy thousand angels pray with him and ask forgiveness for him until the night.
Then perform the obligatory prayer with the imãm. Following this prayer, perform two rak’as, for they are from the established sunnas.
Then until the ‘Asr prayer, do not occupy yourself with anything other than learning [useful] knowledge, helping a Muslim, reciting the Qur’an, or striving to earn your living by which you support your religious life.
Before ‘Asr , pray four rak’as, which are emphasized sunnas. The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said, “May Allah have mercy on the slave who prays four [rak’as] before ‘Asr” (Abu Dãwud). Make an effort to be beneficiary of the Prophet’s supplication صلى الله عليه و سلم. After ‘Asr, do not engage in anything except the same as what was mentioned earlier.
Your time should not be without any structure, such that you occupy yourself arbitrarily with whatever comes along. Rather, you must take account of yourself and order your worship during the day and the night, assigning to each period of time an activity that must not be neglected nor replaced by another activity. By this ordering of time, the blessing in time will show itself. A person who leaves himself without a plan as animals do, not knowing what he is to do at any given moment, will spend most of his time fruitlessly. Your time is your life, and your life is your capital: by it you make your trade, and by it you will reach the eternal bounties in the proximity of Allah. Every single breath of yours is a priceless jewel, because it is irreplaceable; once it is gone, there is no return for it. So do not be like fools who rejoice each day as their wealth increases while their lives decrease. What good is there in wealth that increases while one’s lifespan decreases?
Do not rejoice except in an increase of knowledge or an increase of good works. Truly they are your two friends who will accompany you in your grave, when your spouse, your wealth, your children, and your friends will remain behind.
Then, when the sun turns red, make your effort to return to the mosque before the sunset, and occupy yourself in glorifying Allah and seeking forgiveness. The special merit of this time is comparable to the special merit of the time before the sunrise. Allah Almighty, Most Majestic, says, “Glorify your Lord with praise, before the rise of the sun and before its setting” (Qur’an 50 : 39).
Before sunset, recite Wa ‘sh-shamsi wa duhãhã [Surat al-Shams] and Wa ‘l-layli idhã yaghshã [al-Layl] and the two Chapters of Protection [al-Falaq and al-Nãs]. The sun should set while you are begging for forgiveness.
When you hear the call to prayer, repeat after it. Then pray:
O Allah, I ask of You, at the approach of Your night, and the retreat of Your day, at the advent of Your prayer, and the voices engaged in calling on You, to grant Muhammad a place near You…” (as mentioned previously).
After responding to the call to commence, perform the obligatory prayer. Follow it with two rak’as before speaking; these are the sunna prayers of Maghrib. If you perform after them a further four, lengthening them a little, that is also a sunna. If it is possible for you to intend being in retreat [in the mosque] until ‘Isha and you enliven this time with prayer, do so, for what has been related of its greatness is beyond measure, and it is called “the vigil of the night” (see Qur’an 73 : 6), because it is the beginning of the night, and the prayer [in it] is the Prayer of the Oft-Returning. The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم was asked about Allah’s words “Their sides forsake their beds of sleep” (Qur’an 32 : 16) and said, “This is the prayer between the two ‘Ishas [i.e., Maghrib and ‘Isha]. It cleanses one of the nonsense [committed] during the day, and rectifies the end of it” (‘Irãqi from Musnad al-Daylami).
When the time of ‘Isha comes, perform four rak’as before the obligatory prayer, to enliven the time between the call to prayer and the call to commence, for its virtue is immense. It states in a narration, “Supplication between the call to prayer and the call to commence is never rejected” (Nasã’i). Perform the obligatory rak’as of ‘Isha, then the two sunna rak’as, reciting in them Surat al-Sajad and al-Mulk, or Yãsin and al-Dukhãn, as this has been related from the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم. Then pray four rak’as, since that which indicates its great merit has been mentioned in the narrations. Then perform the witr as three rak’as, either with two salãms [in a set of two followed by a single rak’a], or with one salãm [in a set of three altogether]. The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم used to recite in them Surat al-A’lã, al-Kãfirun, and al-Ikhlãs and the two Chapters of Protection [al-Falaq and al-Nãs] (Tirmidhi).
If you have resolved to perform the night vigil, delay the witr, so that it is your last prayer of the night.
After this, work on reviewing your knowledge or studying books; do not spend your time in amusement and entertainment, in so doing making them the closing works of your day before you sleep, for “actions are according to the last of them” (Bukhãri).
THE ETIQUETTE OF SLEEP
When you wish to sleep, spread out your mattress facing the qibla and lie on your right side, as one dead lies in his grave. Know that sleep is like death, and waking is like resurrection. It may be that Allah Most High will take your soul by night, so be ready to meet Him by sleeping in a state of purity, your will written and placed beneath your pillow, in a state of repentance over sins, begging forgiveness, decisive about never disobeying Allah Almighty again. You must resolve to do good to all people if Allah Almighty, Most Majestic, should allow you to rise again.
Remember that you will be put in the grave this way, all alone, with nothing but your deeds, and you will be rewarded only for your endeavors.
Do not go to great lengths to induce sleep by preparing your bed in the most comfortable manner, because sleep is an interruption of life –unless being awake is a burden for you, in which case your being asleep is safer for your religion.
Understand that the night and day comprise twenty-four hours, so do not let the total amount of your sleep for the day and night exceed eight hours. It is quite enough for you if you live sixty years that you waste twenty of them, which is one third.
Before sleeping, prepare your toothstick and your water for ablution, and resolve to perform the night vigil, and to be up before the morning prayer. Two rak’as in the depths of the night are among the treasures of piety, so augment your treasures for the day of your poverty, for the treasures of this world will be of no use to you when you die.
And say when you sleep:
In Your Name, my Lord, I lay myself down, and in Your Name I rise up; forgive me my sins. O Allah, save me from Your punishment the Day You resurrect Your slaves. O Allah, in Your Name I live and I die, and I seek Your refuge from the evil of everything that possesses evil, and from the evil of every creature whose forelock You hold –truly my Lord is on the Right Way.
You are the First, there was nothing before You; You are the Last, there is nothing after You; You are the Apparent, there is nothing above You; You are the Hidden, there is nothing below You –resolve for me my debts and enrich me beyond poverty.
O Allah, You created my soul, and You will cause it to die –to You belong its perishing and its living. If You cause it to die, forgive it, and if You give it life, protect it by that which You protect Your pious slaves.
O Allah, truly I ask of You pardon and well-being.
O Allah, waken me in the hour most beloved to You, and use me in the work most beloved to You, so that You draw me ever closer to You, and keep me always far from Your wrath –so that when I ask of You, You give me, when I repent to You, You forgive me, and when I call unto You, You answer me!
Then read the Throne Verse and Ãmana ‘r-Rasulu until the end of the chapter [i.e., the last two verses of Surat al-Baqara], and al-Ikhlãs, the two Chapters of Protection, and al-Mulk. Let sleep overcome you while you are in remembrance of Allah and in a state of purity, for the spirit of one who does this will ascend to the Throne, and he will be recorded as being in prayer until he wakes.
When you awake, return to the routine of the morning I described first, and maintain this routine for the rest of your life. If keeping to this routine becomes difficult for you, be patient, as a sick person is patient with the bitterness of medicine, waiting for a return to health. Reflect upon the shortness of your life. Even if you were to live a hundred years, in comparison with your stay in the afterlife, which is everlasting eternity, it is a very short time.
Contemplate how it is that you bear hardship and humility in your pursuit of this world for a month or a year, in order to gain rest and relaxation for, say, twenty years. How then is it that you cannot bear a few short days of this [routine of worship] to attain rest and relaxation for eternity!
Do not lengthen your hopes so that your work and deeds become burdensome to you. Anticipate the closeness of death, and say to yourself: I will bear the difficulty today, for perhaps I will die tonight; and I will have patience tonight, for perhaps I will die tomorrow. For death does not attack at a particular time, at a particular age, or in a particular situation, though its assault is inevitable. Therefore, preparation for it is superior to preparation for this worldly life, since you know that you will not stay in it for more than a short period of time. Perhaps all you have left of life is one breath, one hour, or one day. So consider this in your heart each day, and make your self be patient with obedience to Allah Most High a day at a time. For if you estimate that you may remain alive for fifty years and that your self will have to persevere in the obedience to Allah Most High, it will try to run away and make things difficult for you. If you do [as advised above] you will have bliss at the time of death, an endless bliss, and if you procrastinate and take it easy, death will come to you at a time you do not expect it, and you will be grieved with a grief which knows no end.
When morning comes, the travelers praise night travel.
And at death the convincing truth will come to you.
“And you shall certainly know the truth of it after a short while” (Qur’an 38 : 88).
Having guided you in how to organize your regular duties of worship, we will now mention the method of prayer and fasting, the etiquette of each, the etiquette of leading prayer, of following in prayer, and of the Friday prayer.
*It is disliked for a person to come into the mosque to take advantage of the fact that people are gathered there in order to use their help to find his lost item. He could go to any other group and make his announcement; he should not disturb the worshippers with such matters.
**It is said that the people of Hell will call out, wã thuburãh, “Alas for destruction, from which there is no rising” as is referred to in the Qur’an 25 : 14 and 84 : 11.
***[H] Sufyãn al-Thawri said: “This is an age of silence and the necessity of keeping to one’s home.” And he said in a line of his poems: “This is a time of staying in one’s home, protecting one’s tongue, and lowering one’s voice. Abu Dharr رضي الله عنه said: “There is no better seclusion than one’s own home. By one’s home, one can protect one’s sight, one’s hearing, one’s heart and one’s private parts. It’s the best place to be, where you neither see nor are seen. By Allah, isolation has become necessary and a duty.” If this was the view of such individuals, while they were cooperating with their brothers in Allah to be good, then how is it in our time? May Allah help us!
****[H] It is narrated that the mother of Sulaymãn عليه السلام said to her son, “Do not sleep a lot at night. Truly excessive sleep renders a person poor on the Day of Judgment.” And the daughter of Rabi’ bin Khaytham said to him, “O my Father, why are people all sleeping and you awake?” He said, “O my daughter, truly your father fears a night offensive, while he is unaware, and teh rude awakening that follows.” If you are unable to endure wakefulness by night, carry out acts of obedience to your Lord by day. It is related to us of Abu ‘l-Dardã’ رضي الله عنه that he complained to Salmãn رضي الله عنه of sleeping a lot. Salmãn said to him, “Sleep as much as you wish, but when you wake up, have consciousness of Allah.”