August 2004: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

Page 2


There’s a well-used cliché that says “practice makes perfect.” Anyone who’s ever participated in a sport will tell you that while perfection is rarely attained, practice is an important component of the sport. The basketball player spends hours at the free throw line, shooting over and over again. He knows how to shoot a free throw, but he also knows that if he doesn’t practice he will lose some of his skill. That’s why the times spent on the court are called “practices.” The football quarterback throws ball after ball to his wide receiver. He knows the mechanics of throwing a football, just as the wide receiver knows the mechanics of running down the field and cutting at just the right time. The tennis player serves hundreds of balls in every training session; the golfer stands on the driving range for hours at a time. For each of these athletes, what they’re doing is practicing. Because without practice, little things slide by, skills deteriorate, and precision is lost.

I think that’s the same reason that the things we do as a Submitter are referred to as “religious practices.” Every time we pray the contact prayer, we say we are practicing our religion. Now, that has two meanings. The first dictionary definition is “to perform habitually or customarily; make a habit of.” That’s certainly what we’re doing when we regularly perform our Salat on time and remember to give Zakat cheerfully at the time of harvest. But there’s the deeper meaning as well. The second dictionary definition is “to exercise or perform repeatedly in order to acquire or polish a skill.” That’s also what we’re doing when we practice our religion.

God says in 15:98-9: You shall sing the praises of your Lord, and be with the prostrators. And worship your Lord, in order to attain certainty. And the footnote for that verse says: “The practices of worship are our means of attaining certainty (Appendix 15).”

The more we practice—or do our practices—the better we become. That’s true for the athlete who spends hours throwing or hitting the ball. And it’s true for Submitters as well. God has given us these things to do to hone our skill, which in this case is the growth of our souls. These are gifts from God. We get caught up in our busy schedule and forget to think about God. Then comes time for prayer and we draw ourselves away from this world and back to the most important thing—the remembrance of God (29:45). We’re given repeated opportunities to overcome our natural stinginess by calculating and giving Zakat. The more we do it, the more it becomes a pleasure rather than a chore. Fasting is a great privilege that allows us to think about God and all His blessings often throughout the day. Year by year, it has become easier and easier for me to fast with grace. “Practice makes perfect.”

So practicing the practices helps us become better submitters. God tells us in 25:77 to say: "You attain value at my Lord only through your worship. But if you disbelieve, you incur the inevitable consequences." This verse reminds us that practice will make us worthy of being with God in Heaven, but not practicing will have serious detrimental results.

The athlete who fools around in practice and doesn’t prepare properly for the game will most likely play poorly. For Submitters, the consequence isn’t one poor game or even one bad season. The consequence is eternal. Recite for them the news of one who was given our proofs, but chose to disregard them. Consequently, the devil pursued him, until he became a strayer. [7:175] If we fail to practice and grow our souls, we open ourselves up to Satan’s whispers. And he pursues us constantly, looking for that opening. His goal is to mislead us and take us off of God’s path. And he’s had thousands of years of practice!

So when the alarm goes off tomorrow morning and you hesitate to get up—it’s cold out and so warm and cozy under the blankets—remember the concept of practicing to become perfect (or at least better) at Submission. The goal isn’t scoring the winning basket; it’s winning in this life and in the Hereafter by worshiping God Alone.

The true believers are those whose hearts tremble when GOD is mentioned, and when His revelations are recited to them, their faith is strengthened, and they trust in their Lord. They observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), and from our provisions to them, they give to charity. Such are the true believers. They attain high ranks at their Lord, as well as forgiveness and a generous provision. [8:2-4]

Lydia K.