“And seek help in patience and prayer…” [al-Baqarah; 45]
“The weak, short-lived, limited human being must connect himself to the Greater Power, in order that he draw assistance from Him when the strength he requires exceeds that which is in his limited capacity, and when he faces both the open and hidden forces of evil, and when it becomes too difficult for him to remain firm upon the path of repelling his desires and stinginess, and when it becomes too difficult for him to struggle against tyranny and evil when they become violent, and when the road becomes too long, and when the hardships extend throughout his limited lifespan – and he looks to find that he has acheived nothing, while he feels he will be taken away soon; he has given nothing, and the sun of his life is about to set – and when he looks to find that evil is powerful, good is powerless, and there is no glimmer in the sky, and no milestone upon the path.
Here, the value of the prayer is realized.
It is the direct connection between the perishable human being and the Everlasting Power. It is the chosen, appointed time for the meeting between an isolated droplet and the fountain that never ceases gushing forth. It is the key to the treasure that fulfills, satisfies, and is overflowing. It is a transition from the limits of the puny worldly reality to the vast dimension of the universal reality. It is the refreshing breeze and shade in the midst of repressive heat. It is the touch of concern and protection for the exhausted heart. Because of this, the Messenger of Allah, when he was in a situation of hardship, would say: “Relax us with it, O Bilal,” and would increase in his prayer when he was afflicted with an overwhelming affair.
Verily, this Islamic manhaj is one of worship, and worship contains many secrets. From these secrets is that it serves as provision for the journey, a gift for the soul, and a polish for the heart. Wherever there is hardship and burden, there is worship to serve as the key to the heart, to help it taste these burdens and hardships as being sweetened, filtered, and light.”
[‘Fi Dhilal al-Qur’an’; 1/142]