A Letter to my pastor: Surah As-Salah The Daily Bread
Long before I accepted Islam and started my path on this deen, I sought guidance. Throughout that search there was always one prayer, one scripture that always stood out to me, “The Lord’s Prayer”. Although I never possessed strong memorization skills, Prophet Isa’s words gave me an others an example to follow. He showed us how we should approach God in prayer. It is believed that Prophet Isa stated:
Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespass, as we also have forgiven those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
This prayer taught me something about the nature of how we should approach God, or how we should ask from God. The nature of patience and guidance is so great that we have to ask for it every day. This prayer became a vital part of my life. When I came to Islam I learned a prayer so powerful that it became woven into the fabric of my life. Surah Al Fatiha is a chapter that is recited in every prayer that I perform each day as a Muslim. It’s a surah that within itself lays the foundation of patience and steadfastness that keeps me rightly guided.
In the name of God, the infinitely Compassionate and Merciful. Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds. The Compassionate, the Merciful. Ruler on the Day of Reckoning. You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help. Guide us on the straight path, the path of those who have received your grace; not the path of those who have brought down wrath, nor of those who wander astray. Amen
In Islam we believe that all the prophets, blessings and peace be upon them all, set an example for us to follow. They were the perfection of role models and in their truest scriptures they taught the importance of patience through prayer. Prophet Isa in scripture refers to God as ‘Our Father,’ and the reason for this is simple. There is a hadith that proclaims, ‘All the creation are the children of God.’ Therefore we must have faith and perform good deeds if we wish to gain God’s mercy in our lives. This is why the prayer starts with “In the name of God Most Gracious, Most Merciful”. Throughout our daily lives we barely get a chance to stop and think about the mercies God gives us on a regular basis. We get tied up in our work, our kids, our lives and we forget the only being capable to keep us going is God. Though we commit sins, become absentminded, careless and forget to seek His help, God still blesses us. Our lives are living proof that being human is not easy. Hardships arise, friends come and go, days turn to nights in a flash, yet the only constant is God. He provides us with the nourishment we require every day, the guidance our souls long for from the very second we wake. The prayers the Prophets taught show supplications, the nature of which become our greatest means of communicating with our Lord.
In these two prayers in particular we seek our daily guidance, our daily bread. There is a significance to this, because we are in this world as travelers. Our stay is but a moment, yet in the race of life we seek to gain materials that may not benefit our stay. I believe the birds show us a great sign and they are God’s reminder that He is Father watching over all his children, all His creation. A hadith states, “If you all depend on God with true reliance, He would certainly give you provision as He gives it to birds who go forth hungry in the morning and return with a full belly at dusk.” They receive their ‘daily bread’. Our body and spirt requires nourishment every day, each morning we seek that fulfillment. If we truly depend on God for our soul’s needs, we see He provides the nourishment of our daily bread. Prophet Isa was teaching how to rely on God for our needs. He didn’t say ask for monthly bread, or seek a full course dinner from God but ask for your daily needs. To put it simply, look to God for what is required each day. As humans we may over store in the good times and essentially “stock up” seeking to save for a rainy day, but…….what happens when that stock spoils? The lesson Isa taught was how to rely on God, this was a lesson of faith. Ultimately our prayers for guidance in the Fatiha teach us faith, ask for daily guidance and you shall receive your provision.
What is Islam taught me through Isa’s teachings is that if we have forgotten our total reliance upon God, then we are drained to try to depend upon other people’s attention to us. Instead of paying devotion to God, we crave for the attention of others. We become locked in a race to constantly trying to make them either pity us, love us, or hold us in high esteem. But this is not real human kinship. This is the very nature of idolatry that the Prophets sought to free us from. Granted as believers in a worldly society we do depend on each other. We need emotional support, compassion, love, and we can’t function well to preserve human life unless we all contribute. But the true Sustainer, the true Merciful, is always God. We depend on Him for our needs. Everything else, the foundations of society, how we support and encourage and shelter each other, is nothing but the performance of His Names in the ground of this world.