Deep TafsirsSoul Cleansers

Moment of `iltifāt

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The writer knows no surer rule than the rule on point-of-view: “Choose one perspective and stick with it.” Because the reader’s mind minds consistency. We are at ease when words do predictable things; shaken when they stray from expectation. So why, then, would our Qur`ān break this rule in its opening pages? Flip to surat ul-Fātiḥa and take note. Four verses forward, Allah bends the perspective from third-person speech to first-person, startling all writing aficionados-—“It is You we worship and You we ask for help”-—startling all except the mufassir. You see, what blooms in this bend from correctness is a raḥma.
⠀⠀⠀ ⠀
⠀⠀⠀ ⠀a raḥma
⠀⠀⠀ ⠀for our heedless
⠀⠀⠀ ⠀slow-to-flow
⠀⠀⠀ ⠀selves. ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀
Let me show you.
⠀⠀⠀ ⠀
Like all things in life, the heart embarks toward the presence of God in stages. Nowhere is this more evident than in our prayer. We utter the takbeer, and our limbs mill in motion while our heart is not yet there. We recite the first verse, “Alḥamdulillāhi Rabb il-ʿālameen,” and our heart is meandering through to-do lists and ruminating on current relationships. It is recording forgotten to-send texts and, perhaps, tracing the patterns on the prayer rug below / distracted.
⠀⠀⠀ ⠀
⠀⠀⠀ ⠀Patience. The heart embarks toward the presence of God in stages.
⠀⠀⠀ ⠀
Four verses forward, and suddenly we utter the `ayāt of `iltifāt. We are no longer reciting third-person praises, but a string of invocations in the first person. “It is You we worship and You we ask for help; guide us to the straight path.” Our Rabb delays that intimate conversation just a little, just four verses forward, to allow our heart time to catch up to our tongue-—a raḥma. He wants your sincerity. The `ayāt of `iltifāt plunge you in that direction. Because when we begin ṣalāh, our heart needs time to ascend into an aisthesis, to enter into the ether and be present before God.

⠀⠀⠀ ⠀Patience. There is good reason He bends perspective in the opening pages.

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