God is always near. We are told to seek His help directly and we are required to practice patience while continuing to be committed to focusing on the sanctions prescribed by God and to doing good deeds.
When My servants ask you about Me, tell them, “I am very near. I respond to the call of any caller who calls Me.” Therefore, they shall respond to Me, and believe in Me that they may attain guidance. (2:186)
Seek help through steadfastness and be committed, this is difficult indeed, but not for those who are humble and realise that they will meet their Lord. To Him they are returning. (2:45-46)
We must put our trust in the Omnipresent God although we do not see Him. God Himself says it is a difficult thing to do, but not for those who are humble and consider that they will ultimately meet Him. People, however, are weak by nature1, filled with frailties and insecurities. Rituals, customs, and traditions have a soothing and reassuring attraction for us. They function like pacifiers. They lead to worship. The faithful then externalise their fears, hopes, dreams, and desires onto something tangible. It is a lot simpler to go through a ritualised prayer session rather than to have a one-on-one, heart-to-heart, talk to God.
Idolaters put their trust in things: a piece of wood, a cross, a new moon with a star, a rock, a wall, a stone house, a mosque etc. These things help one to focus on a collective idea. There are those who put their trust in people. They magnify their demi-gods and idols through physical acts of worship. It is strange to think that such a simple truth eludes so many: that those who so choose can magnify and be testament to the unseen God simply by upholding their commitment to do good deeds. What could be simpler than being a testament to God by doing good deeds! Be a testament while leading by example. No need to talk about it. Just do it.
When human beings have a need to call upon God they can call upon Him at any time, day or night from absolutely anywhere. Ritual ablution and its attendant processes are unnecessary. In fact, the Reading reminds us that those too proud to call upon God will burn in Hell. If we remember God, He will remember us. It is, after all, a reciprocal relationship.
Your Lord says, “Call upon Me, and I will answer your call. As for those who are too arrogant to serve me, they will be committed to Hell.”(40:60)
Therefore, you shall remember Me2 that I may remember you. And be thankful to Me and do not disbelieve. (2:152)
The calling upon God for help, wisdom, perseverance, assistance, money, guidance or anything at all is part of the conditions in effect for a person serving God. The offer of assistance and guidance has been given, yet many will call upon their messengers, saints – their dead idols in the graves – and some even call upon the jinn.
The other side of the coin is our way of remembering God. Intelligent, sentient beings are not in need of a set of body movements in order to reflect on the wonders of God:
In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alteration of night and day, there are signs for those who possess intelligence, who remember God: while standing up, sitting down and lying on their sides. They reflect upon the creation of the heavens and the earth, and they say, “Our Lord, You did not create all these in vain. Glory be to You, so spare us the agony of the hell-fire.” (3:190-191)
To Him belongs everything in the heavens and the earth, and those with Him are never too arrogant to serve Him, nor do they tire. They glorify Him day and night. (21: 20)
Everything was created in perfect balance. Those who are close to Him glorify Him day and night. This is not accomplished by the performance of random pantomimed movements. They do this by adhering to a higher code of behaviour and being a testament to their God.
Zachariah made a special request from God to grant him a son. After granting the request, the energy that delivered the news told him to remember and to glorify God day and night. God did not ask him to pray ritually. In 3:41 Zachariah initiates a communication with God directly by saying, “My Lord, grant me a sign.” An unknown energy assigned by God to deliver the good news then said, “Your sign is that you will not be able to speak to the people for three days except by signal. You shall remember your Lord frequently and glorify Him night and day.”
We are required to magnify God as a means of serving Him in our daily routine. We are advised to be patient in the face of false accusations, slander or gossip by our enemies, for example. In 20:130 we are told, “Therefore, be patient in the face of their utterances, and praise the glory of your Lord before sunrise and before sunset, also during parts of the night and through both ends of the day, that you may attain happiness.”
We do not have to ritualise the methods of calling, praising, remembering, or glorifying God. We do it by magnifying Him in our heart constantly or by speaking to Him softly. We can remember Him while driving, walking, standing, sitting or lying on our sides any time of the day.
1 God wishes to make things easy for you, since the human being is weak in nature (4:28)
2 In 29:45 it says be committed to the orderly way of life to remember God. Our relationship with the creator is through the ‘remembrance’ of Him not through ritual prayer. He has provided us with all the signs in the heaven and earth. A good example is being provided in 3:190-194.