Worshipping While Flawed: Are Sinners Allowed To Pray?
16 January 2015
By Karin Friedmann
Say: ''O my Servants who have
transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for
Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Quran
The Quran states many times that those
who repent to Allah will be forgiven and will get a second chance at life.
However, repentance is usually defined as promising never to commit the sin
again. But how about the multitudes, who engage in habitual sin?
Orthodoxy says these people are
hypocrites and that their prayers are suspect. Do these people have the right
to pray in congregation with the other Muslims? Naturally, what is regarded
as a sin so obnoxious that others would not pray next to you varies from
culture to culture and also according to gender and social class. Yet, for
those who sins are so bad that they themselves feel embarrassed to go the
mosque: should they also feel ashamed to keep salat in the privacy of their
Are sinners allowed to pray?
Seems like a silly question since the
sinner is the one most in need of prayer, but this kind of black and white
thinking Ė either your lifestyle is ''Islamic'' or it is not Ė has perhaps
kept a lot of people who wanted to be saved away from God.
It can be hard for those who are trying
so hard to do everything right, or even for those who refuse out of cynicism
to participate in religion, to understand how close Allah remains to the
sinner. As long as someone continues to err, there always remains a certain
window that stays open. The benefit of recognizing oneís own shortcomings and
using that as an approach to Allah sometimes works a lot better than the
technique of asking God to recognize you for everything you did right.
It is very important for those people
who are mired in sin, whose blood flows with toxic substances, whose ears are
ringing from the abusive situation around them, whose mailboxes are filled
with bills they cannot pay, whose floors are dirty, whose children are angry
Ė to realize that the practice of prayer is beneficial to all! The practice
of prayer is even more important to the sinner than it is to the devout
abstainer, because once prayer is renounced, then the bad habits or
addictions are all that the person has left to live for. Prayer needs to
always co-exist with sin, for hope to continue.
If you have a sin that is hard for you
to give up, you should ask Allah to make your true need clearer for you, the
need that you are covering up with this habit. Some people eat chocolate
because they are lonely. Many people eat cookies when their bodies are
begging for fresh fruit. Some people smoke because they never got breastfed
as a baby. Most of the stupid stuff we do is because we did not get the
correct nourishment, nor the correct guidance.
That is why giving up prayer Ė just
because one cannot live up to the ''lifestyle'' of shariah Ė is the last
thing one should consider! If itís too awkward to join the splintered parts
of your life, donít! You donít have to. Pray in secret. This is America, so
worship when and how you like. Donít let the ''good Muslim vs. bad Muslim''
divide ruin your opportunity to seek peace and inner guidance.
Pray in the darkest, most secluded part
of your home, when nobody is looking. Pray from the deepest parts of your
heart that you would like to start using more often. Do not care what other
people are doing or thinking. Do not care what the atheists are thinking, and
do not allow yourself to care about what the fundamentalists are thinking
about your prayer, as it is solely for Allah.
Call me an anarchist, but I think the
strength and unity of Islam comes from the individual, and the freedom of
each individual to have his own spiritual experience of the One God Ė or in
some cases, various takes on the One God; in other words, the many Names.
Some may mourn the lack of a Caliphate,
yet the disorganization of the Muslims is one of Islamís great protections.
There is nobody you can kill in order to get rid of Islam. There is no leader
that you could imprison that would cause the path of Islam to vanish from the
We actually live in the most beautiful
time of the world, ever. We are winning. Nearly half the people in the world
are Muslims. All you have to do, if you want to know why you are alive and
why you are going to die, is to ask the person next to you, who will very
likely be able to give you a well thought out and detailed answer! Never
before in the history of mankind has basic Islamic knowledge been so readily
accessible to all people!
Oh Allah! It is better to pray alone in
sin than to be with those who do not understand us, but please, Oh God, bring
us to those who will not leave us alone in sin, but who will encourage us to
pray with them in congregation and who will not ask us about our sins. But
also, dear God, bring from among them those who will understand our unique
wounds, who will know, yet overlook our shortcomings, who will push us
forward into the ranks of those who do good!
Oh Allah, let us all invite humanity to
share the peace of those who are content.