Imagine you are in a room. Your sole responsibility is the creation of a small piece of metal. You have no idea what it is or what it may be used for. Every time a piece is completed, you drop it down a chute and you repeat this process without knowing when to stop. How motivated would you be to carry out this task and would you be driven enough to ensure its quality?
Now imagine you find out that these are not just any small pieces of metal, in fact, piece by piece you are creating the car which will transport you out of this situation. Instantly a fresh motivation and drive will be found to carry out what you once thought was a mundane and insignificant task. This simple example highlights one of the benefits of understanding the long term implications of what seem like minor tasks. Understanding the true significance of what seem like insignificant tasks in the apparent, gives you a drive and motivation to, not only complete the task at hand, but also carry out your responsibilities in a better fashion.
I would pray, fast or read the Holy Quran without really thinking much about the position of these acts in the bigger scheme of things, without knowing exactly what the end game was. This would lead to a lack of drive and motivation to perform my prayers, or fast, or read the Holy Quran, in the best possible manner. I began to ask a simple question, why the lack of drive, passion and motivation? Could a reason be that in reality I do not understand the long term effects of what I consider to be my acts of worship?
I came across an interesting discourse presented by the leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei in his book, Tarhe Kulliye Andishe Islami Dar Quran which directed me to an answer. Discussing the traits of the faithful, his eminence presented this verse of the Holy Quran:
الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ
Those who establish prayers and spend from what We have provided them.
Ayatollah Khamenei explains that over here Allah s.w.t is not stating that those who pray (الذین یصلون) are counted from among the faithful, rather it is those who establish prayers (الذین یقیمون الصلاة) that are counted as being from the ranks of the faithful.
The establishment of prayers, as opposed to just praying, forces us to look at the greater implications of what we consider a very personal or individualistic act of worship. His eminence states that the ‘establishment of prayers’ could be a reference for preparing the grounds in society of an atmosphere in which prayers are carried out. He goes on further to explain that this does not just mean making those who do not pray into those who pray, rather it has deeper implications.
In reality, this means the creation of an atmosphere in the society where people, addressing Allah profess – You alone do We worship and you alone do We ask for help – at the very least, ten times a day. Ayatollah Khamenei explains that the long term impact of what we consider such a personal and inconsequential act is the creation of a society that will refuse to bow down to anyone but Allah. This means that no tyrant or unjust ruler would be able to oppress such a society, as they will refuse to submit to anyone but The Creator, He alone would be worshipped and He alone will they seek in times of need.
Now, imagine the difference in the drive, passion and motivation of someone who sees the obligatory prayers as an act of worship confined to the four walls around them, to someone who wakes up for their morning prayers today, knowing that it will be this very two-unit prayer at dawn that creates the conditions and traits necessary in them to crush the tyrants and oppressors of this world, tomorrow.
At times we see missing in ourselves and in those around us this very motivation, drive and passion, that would help us carry out our acts of worship in the best possible manner, and perhaps, by understanding the huge implications in the future of what we see as small acts now, we can keep the fire alive in us, to carry out our day to day acts of worship to the best of our ability.