The Easiest Form of Worship

ibn ul Qayyim al Jawziyyah

35. Remembrance is easy for the servant-whether he lies in bed or journeys, in health or in illness, in comfort and luxury, in his daily work, standing, sitting or lying down, on his way or at home. No act can be performed so often and in so many situations. In fact, it is so easy that he could sleep in his bed and still be ahead of the one who stands but is heedless. The sleeper rises having traversed a great distance, all the while stretched out on his bed; whereas the one standing heedlessly rises seated on his mount. ‘And that is the grace of God which He gives to whomever He pleases.’

It is recounted that there once was an ascetic who stayed the night with a man as a guest. The ascetic spent the entire night standing in prayer, while the host was stretched out in his bed. When he rose in the morning, the ascetic said to the host, ‘The caravan has gone on before you,’ or words to that effect. To which the replied, ‘It is unimportant that one spend the night travelling and then wake up with the caravan. What is important is that one spend the night in bed but wake up having crossed a great distance.’

This and similar sayings have beneficial and detrimental aspects. If they lead someone to think that by lying in bed he can surpass a person who stands in prayer, then they are false. Rather, they refer to the one who lies in bed but his heart is attached to his Lord; the love of his heart cleaves to the Throne, and so he passes the night encircling the Throne with the angels. The man himself has passed away from the world and what it contains. The only thing that keeps him from standing in prayer is some hindrance, such as physical pain, cold or fear of being seen by enemies pursuing him, or some other excuse. He lies in bed, but God knows best what is in his heart.

The other person, however, stands in prayer and recites. In his heart is the desire to be seen, to impress others, to have some rank or praise from them. Or else, his heart is one place and his body in another. And God knows best what is in his heart.

There is no doubt that the one in bed will rise having far surpassed the one who stands, because an act rests in the heart, not the body: it depends on the dweller, not the dwelling. expression is in its first motion , and it is remembrance which inspires the dweller’s resolve, stimulates the love that is dormant and resurrects the quest that has died.

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