The Swalah of a Believer

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Adapted from Shaykh Tosun al-Jerrahi’s article on swalah at The Helveti-Jerrahi Sufi Order on Swalah.

One day Hatim az-Zahid (r.a.) came to visit ‘Aswim ibn Yusuf (r.a.).  When ‘Aswim (r.a.) asked him, “Have you been able to do your swalah properly?” he answered: “Yes. I hope so!”

Then ‘Aswim (r.a.) asked him to tell how he did his swalah. Hatim az-Zahid (r.a.) replied, “When the time of prayer approaches, I take my ablution the way we know our Prophet (s.a.w.) did, even though my previous ablution was not broken.  Next I stand at the place where I pray a long time, until I have an awareness of my whole body and I feel physically present.  Then I imagine a straight line coming from the Ka’bah up to my forehead and the Maqam of Ibrahim in line with my chest, knowing well that Allah Most High is free of all image and place, that I am in His presence, and that He Sees my past, my present and my future and all that is in my mind and my heart.

I stand as if on the Bridge of Swirath, which is thinner than hair and sharper than a sword.  Paradise is on my right, and Hell is on my left.  The Angel of Death stands right behind me.  And I strongly feel that this prayer is my last before I leave this world.  Then with the back of my raised hands I throw all thoughts and cares of this world behind me; as if I see my Lord I say ‘Allahu Akbar.’

I then do my recitation reflecting on the meaning of each of Allah’s words. I bend at ruku’, with total humbleness and supplication, and I make my prostration turning into dust.  Then at the end, when I sit on my knees, an immense hope comes to me with the recitation of ‘I witness that there is no god, nothing but Allah.’  When I give salam to my right and left the fear that Allah may forsake me comes.  I walk out of my prayer with more strength to be patient and sincere.  Yes, I have been making my prayers like this for the last 30 years.”

‘Aswim (r.a.), shedding tears, said: “I have not been able to do my swalah even close to what you have described.”


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