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The Core of Worship

By Dr. Shadee Elmasry


Dua is the core (or bone marrow) of worship because unlike other acts of worship, people’s hearts are always present when they want something. Wanting things, along with the process of receiving them, is one of the best ways for iman, character, and love for Allah to grow.


The Prophet ﷺ said, “Love Allah for the blessings He showers upon you.”

I believe that if you sincerely want something, you’ll wait for it. The waiting and bearing through rejection after rejection has a ton of wisdom. It’s is a way to purify intention and gain control over your emotions. You see-saw between wanting/seeking and sufficing without. When you fail once, you can’t always try again right away. There’s a recovery period in which you lick your wounds and regroup. If you give up during that recovery period, then you didn’t really want it enough. It was mere whim. Delay separates whim from truth. Whim clouds the intellect. You need to get rid of it in order to think clearly. Excess desire enslaved a person, and you won’t enjoy what you get if you are a slave to it. Sayyidna Ali said divorcing the dunya is not about going without it, it’s about not being controlled by it.


In the downtime, you can also re-assess the matter. Maybe your first conclusion was unsound. Maybe you didn’t have all the facts. In the downtime, more facts surface, and two good things can happen:


a) the new information makes you not want it anymore.

b) it confirms that you were right all along. So now you go into the next round with a stronger rational basis and less whim.


Delay also strengthens character and iman. There’s no short-cut to gaining resilience and patience except by going through it.


In this intermission, you can learn new ways to go about attaining your goal too. Nothing on earth is more imaginative than the human mind if it truly wants something. If we are given right away, then we’re deprived of the chance to develop.


One of the signs of Allah’s will is the slow yet persistent development of a thing over time. Night develops into day slowly, not suddenly. Seasons the same. World movements, technology, etc. It is part of Allah’s justice that He gives people what they want if they are insistent. Insistence can only manifest over a long period of time. And the bigger the matter, the more time it needs to marinate. Insistence is the opposite of a tantrum.


Lastly, the conclusion that you will never get something is a baseless belief that people choose when their faith or character is weak. You don’t know the future. If you have to choose between believing that you will receive versus not receive, the Prophet ﷺ said “make dua while certain with the answer.” So next time your mind says “it’s not gonna happen” you answer it: how do you know that? No angel came down and told you this. Instead, every failure or non-response should be interpreted as “not yet.”


Allah is generous and rewards His believers in this world before the next. “O Allah grant us a hasana in the dunya and the akhira.” And “they get the good news in this world before the next.” Sayyidna Ali said, “You don’t pay in cash and get the rewarded in credit. Allah will reward you now and then again later.”