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The Philosophy and Secrets of Prayer (Part 1)


In this concise book we cannot discuss the philosophy and secrets of the Branches of Faith. The Branches of Faith are Divine rules and laws for systemizing man’s personal and social situations. Furthermore, they systemize the connection between the Creator and the creation.

Thus, Jurisprudence has been compiled under forty-eight titles. Each one of these titles contains many chapters. It is not possible to comprehend the obvious philosophy behind the Jurisprudential titles, let alone that which cannot be understood by the intellect. We will briefly discuss some aspects of the philosophy behind the prayer and the poor-rate.

The prayer consists of parts, conditions and rules about what is forbidden: The condition for the permissibility of the place of the prayer informs the performer that he must not breach upon the rights of others. The condition that a person should be clean from physical and ritual impurities guides to the fact that the physical impurities that can be cleaned with water, or the ritual impurities that affect the spirit that are cleaned with ritual bathing, both cause invalidity of the prayers. They hold back the human being from paying attention to the Honourable and the Glorified.

Based on the above, it is possible to visualize the effect of the impurity of the evil deeds that a person intentionally commits, like lying, dishonesty, oppression and extravagance. It is also possible to imagine the impurity of ill manners in depriving from the reality of the prayers, which is the ascension of every believer and immolation of every pious.

* * *

Indeed, the parts of the call for prayer [adhan], the call to the presence of Allah, the Exalted, and the parts of iqamah, the preliminary for the preparation of the spirit for the ascension to the status of nearness to the Glorified, contain the essence of Islamic teaching.

If one ponders upon the beginning of the call for prayer and its end, then by starting with ‘Allah is the Greatest’ and ending with ‘There is no god but Allah’, illustrates the emphasis upon teaching and training in Islam. When the call for prayer begins with the word ‘Allah’ and ends with it as well, then a worshipper can learn that He is the First and the Last.1 Just as the adhan and iqamah begin with the Name of Allah and end with His Name, the recommendation to recite them in the ears of the newborn2 and to direct the dying person to the words of Divine Unity indicate that human life begins and ends in the Name of Allah.

The repetition of ‘There is no god but Allah’ at the end of adhan and iqamah, after having said them twice earlier, reveals the role of this pure word in the intellectual and practical development of mankind.

This sentence has other verbal and conceptual specifications: All the Arabic letters in this sentence [la ilaha illa Allah] are the exact letters used in the word Allah. It is a hidden remembrance which showing off cannot reach, for it is possible for the human being to remember Allah with it and not show anyone.

It contains both negation and assertion, firm faith in the two results in negating the falsehood and asserting the truth in beliefs, ethics and actions.

Thus, the meaning of this holy tradition [hadith al-qudsi] in the report of the Chain of Gold narration [silsilat al-dhahab] becomes clear: ‘There is no god but Allah’ is My fort. Whoever enters My fort is saved from My wrath.3

The depth of the speech of the Noble Messenger reveals: All Say: There is no god but Allah and you shall all have salvation.4 with this negation and assertion, the spirit forms a connection with the light of the heavens and the earth. It moulds to the ethics of Allah, the Exalted. Likewise, the declaration of the Messengership of the Prophet (PBUH) renews the covenant with him and with what he was sent with.

The declaration is not valuable if it is not with sensory perception in perceptible things, nor is it reliable if it is not with intellectual certainty in rational things.

The bearer of the witness of Divine Unity and the Messengership in adhan and iqamah perceives with his heart the essence of Unity and the Messengership. Then he proceeds to salvation by saying ‘hasten to salvation’ and to the best of the deeds by saying ‘hasten to the best deed.’

The beginning and the end in the adhan and iqamah is Allah. The middle of the two is the Right Path, which Allah sent His Messenger with. The servant prepares for the ascension to Allah with pure words that rise to Him and good deeds that Allah elevates.

When the worshipper purifies his spirit by reflecting upon the significance of ‘there is no god but Allah,’ he reaches the level of: Surely I have turned myself, being upright, wholly to Him Who originated the heavens and the earth, and I am not of the polytheists.5

Once the worshipper turns to the Originator of the heavens and the earth, he rises above the earth and the heaven. The seven veils are torn apart by his seven Allahu Akbar(s) 6 [takbir].

When he raises his hands to his ears (to say Allahu Akbar), he places everything other than Allah behind him. When he says Allahu Akbar, he nullifies all the thoughts and imaginations of the human mind before the Greatness of Allah, the Exalted. He admits that Allah is Greater than can be described and confined.

Taken from Branches of Faith (Furu’ al-Din) by Ayatullah al-Uzma Shaykh Hussein Vahid Khorasani


1. Holy Qur’an, 57: 3.

2. It is recommended to recite the adhan in the right ear of the newborn and the iqamah in the left ear.

3. ‘Uyun Akhbar al-Rida (A): vol. 2, pp 135, ch. 37, hadith no. 4; Shaykh Saduq, Divine Unity: pp 63, ch. 1, hadith no. 21; Al-Amali By al- Saduq: pp 306, ch. 41, hadith no. 8; and other Shi’ah sources.

Tarikh Madinat Damishq: vol. 5, pp 462; Yanabi’ al-Mawaddat: vol. 3, pp 122; Al-Durr al-Manthur: vol. 4, pp 293; and other Sunni sources.

4. Manaqib Al Abu Talib: vol. 1, pp 56.

5. Holy Qur’an, 6: 79.

6. Allah is the Greatest.

Other links:

Ablution (Wudu')



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