Muslim Microlessons are regular spiritual nuggets by Omer Mozaffar, who has received Islamic studies training both through traditional and academic sources, and has addressed theological, personal, social matters for college students of all sectarian outlooks.
We know that actions are judged by intentions. We often, however, confuse intentions with yearnings.
Irada (yearning in the heart) informs niyyah (intention in the mind) which prompts amal (action of the body). In other words, all of your actions reflect your mind’s interpretation of what your heart is seeking.
We know that Allah is without need. We possess something that Allah does not possess: need. Even if it seems we have control over all, we are in need in every bit of our being.
The more you regard yourself as self-sufficient, however, the more you try to force reality to suit your whims, the more you will have to compensate for frustration with defense mechanisms like arrogance, the more difficult it will be to submit or surrender to Allah. It follows, then, that many of us pray much more when we have a clear yearning or need.
When we are making supplication (du’a) we are expressing our need to Him. Rather, we are handing our need to Him. Thus, you will pray to Allah and serve Allah according to your need or yearning. The more need or yearning, the more prayer and service.
When you make a supplication with your tongue, you are interpreting what your heart is yearning for. We often filter that interpretation through layers of life experience. In that way, if we are running late for work, we are praying to get to work on time, even though we are seeking to arrive at work without getting in trouble, so that we do not lose our jobs, so that we do not lose our incomes, so that we do not lose our shelter and sustenance, so that we do not lose our families.
When we are told that Allah is closer to us than our jugular vein, one way to understand that teaching is to understand that the connection to Allah is in that space that is closer than the neck vein: our heart. Our spiritual heart is closer to us than our physical heart.
The goal, then, is to connect back to what our spiritual heart yearns for. Thus, when making a prayer, make the prayer as you choose. But, ask yourself why you want that prayer granted. Then, ask yourself why you want *that.* Then, again. The answers can take you to levels closer to your heart. Keep asking “why,” and you will get closer to what your heart seeks. Make each of those prayers between your tongue and your heart.
At its core, our heart yearns for one thing: return to Allah. To cope with our distance from Allah our heart yearns for Rahma. In their essence, most of our prayers are prayers for Rahma.
So, list five things you yearn for, and then figure out what yearnings are at the core of each of those yearnings, and what yearnings are at the core of each of *those* yearnings. Continue, until you reach Rahma.
And Allah knows best.