The First Matter: Performing the canonical or Prescribed Prayers



As expounded in the Fourth Word, every day our Creator bestows on us twenty-four hours of life as a kind of capital with which to obtain that which is necessary for our lives in both this world and the next. If we spend twenty-three of these hours on this extremely fleeting worldly life and fail to spend the remaining one hour—which is sufficient for the five obligatory canonical Prayers—on the very lengthy life of the Hereafter, it is clear that we will have committed an error of the greatest magnitude. One can hardly imagine what a great loss this would be or the extent of the distress that our mind and spirit would be made to feel as a result of our shortsighted behavior. Not only would our future actions be ruined by our distress, we would also be unable to reform our conduct on account of the despair that would overwhelm us.

However, if we spend that one hour on the five obligatory Prayers, the profit to be had is inestimable. For each hour of this calamitous term of imprisonment will at times be equal to a whole day’s worship, while the single hour devoted to the canonical Prayers will be transformed into many permanent hours. In addition, the despair and distress we feel in our hearts and spirits will begin to fade, and one hour’s Prayer will serve as atonement for the errors that led to imprisonment in the first place, thus allowing them to be forgiven. Furthermore, it will also help us to receive training and improvement, which is the purpose of imprisonment. How beneficial this is and how pleasing a consolation it is for us and our companions in hardship!

As was written in The Fourth Word, let us suppose that a person gives five or ten liras out of his twenty-four to a lottery in which a thousand people are taking part in order to win the thousand-lira prize, but fails to give a single lira to buy a ticket for an everlasting treasury of jewels. See how he rushes to the former, even though the possibility of his winning the thousand liras in that worldly lottery is no more than one in a thousand. And see how he flees from the latter, even though according to the reports given by a hundred and twenty-four thousand Prophets, and the confirmation provided by countless numbers of truthful informers from among the saints and purified saintly scholars, the chances of a true believer winning that ‘lottery’, the prize of which is everlasting felicity in the Hereafter, is nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand. Now think how irrational this is, to rush towards the former but to flee from the latter!

Prison governors and wardens, and indeed the country’s administrators and guardians of public order, should be pleased with this lesson that is provided by the Risale-i Nur, for it has been witnessed and experienced on numerous occasions that the management and disciplining of a thousand religious people who constantly have in mind the prison of Hell is far easier than that of ten people who have no belief at all, who do not perform the obligatory Prayers, who care only about worldly imprisonment, who have no consideration for what is licit or illicit, and who have become habituated to living undisciplined lives.

Said Nursi