Issue 109 / January -February 2016
The Sanctuary of Salvation
The sanctuary of salvation encapsulates our entire being as we attempt to engage with our Maker. Though we are infinitely distant from Him, He is ever close; He is Omnipresent. To Him, we whisper our deepest secrets, joys, and regrets, for verily He is all hearing, all knowing (8:17). We utter things which no mortal can understand or provide solace for, but our souls are set at ease as we establish the connection within His Merciful abode. The shackles and burdens of earthly misery are unchained by His invitation of I respond to the call of him who calls, whenever he calls unto Me (2:186). Atonement, guilt, and repentance meet the anticipation of forgiveness, hope, and absolution. We thus acknowledge our mortality, weakness, and need â€“ from He who needs not (6:14).
The calmness of our surroundings masks the bellowing of our souls. We raise our hands high, cuffed together, reaching for the sky. Tapping on the door of salvation, we await in humility, being conscious of You, so that You grace us with your Mercy (6:155). The past, present, and future folded within each other, a moment of timelessness with the Eternal One.
During the moments in our lives when we have gone astray, we appeal to attain my Sustainersâ€™ forgiveness and a paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth (3:133). For every moment â€“ including this one â€“ He has blessed us with, each worth millions in gold, we give thanks for the honour, for all honour belongs to You (63:8).Following the map of our destiny which You have knowingly drafted, we ask for guidance as You are fully aware of the needs of Your creations (17:30).
Though what we ask may seem selfish, it is a starting point for us to dovetail into the most exciting and fulfilling part of our supplication: what You adorn within us in one day, although we are unworthy, would take thousands of lifetimes for us to recite and acknowledge. In our weak and impotent state, You have made all of creation subservient to us for our survival. You provide us with such expensive and expansive gifts, though we are unworthy and ungrateful beings. Nonetheless, we are created in the best form (95:4).We are beheld by the beauty of Your Divine names manifested within our eyes. You have bestowed great treasures into our hearts, minds, and souls. These are treasures with both tangible and intangible qualities, manifested from all around, like an aura visible only through the eyes of belief. And this belief ascends us to a platform surpassing even the angels, who worship and exalt You, every millisecond of every day. These subjects do not deny You, my Lord, for the favours you provide (55:13).
This dialogue which You so compassionately offer us reluctant subjects is not just a one-way communication. You speak to us more than we care to listen. You are heard internally; You are heard externally. We stand in awe and reverence of Your Glory (21:28).As we call out Your Exalted, Dominical, Divine, Pure, Glorious names, You grace us with the benevolent words, â€śI am here!â€ť (labbayk). Your Majestic, Loving, and Compassionate attributes respond to all our needs in such a nurturing and soul caressing manner that we, at times, feel like spoilt and incapable children asking for something from a parent. However, Your caressing Hand is more Merciful, a million fold: You are the best Sustainer of our needs (5:114).
All our needs are constantly being met, with or without our knowledge, remembrance, or gratitude. We are in admiration of your grandeur and we are humbled by all your offerings and blessings. All we ask, my Lord, is for forgiveness and for You to guide us to the straight path (1:6), which we anticipate will eventually lead us to our salvation. We ask, beg, and hope that You may consider us â€“ for we have no other Lord to turn to. Besides, You are renowned for forgiveness â€“ it suits You so well, my Lord. This notion gives us the courage and hope to hold onto Your promise, the promise of forgiveness and bounties (2:268).
Indeed, the greatest reflections of Your Divine Names and Attributes have been personified by tens of thousands of Messengers, which is further evidence of Your Compassion and Grace to us poor, lost souls. Each had their distinctive duties, events, and characteristics, and helped lead the way to the salvation we seek. All their missions culminated in the presence and calling of those masters of determination, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad (peace be upon them), who were guides to their nationsand beacons of mercy to all the realms (21:107).
If not for Your Mercy, oh God, by gracing us with Your beloved Messengers (peace be upon them), what would have become of us? They are the embroiderers of the fabric of our hearts, and allow our minds to become mirrors absorbing and reflecting Your collective and beautiful names. Their efforts were not in vain. Their divinely inspired characters and behaviours have outlasted all the trials and tribulations of time, as well as all governing systems, cultures, and societies. Their Messengerships will echo throughout eternity.
As our dialogue draws to a temporary close, let us reflect on this beautiful experience. My body is permeated by a sense of relief, but also tinged by a hint of sorrow. With my supplication concluding, which I anticipate You have accepted, I reluctantly lower my arms with a sense of a momentary despair: the despair of turning back to the realm of earthly grief. However, I am quickly relieved by the sensation of the realization of Your all-encompassing Compassion, which invites me to this sanctuary, till my last breath â€“ my prayers each and everyday!
Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Protector (2:286).
Prayers in this essay are inspired from the referenced verses in the Qurâ€™an.
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