Mohammed said, “The night is long, do not shorten it with your sleep. The day is bright, do not darken it with your sins.”
The night is long for you to voice your inmost secrets and ask for your needs without the distraction of others, without the disturbance of friends and foes. You are granted peace and privacy as God draws down the veil before the eyes of others, so your acts may be honest, truthful and done wholly for God.
At night the hypocrite is exposed. The world may be hidden by the dark and shown clearly by the light of day, but at night the hypocrite stands revealed from the sincere.
“Since nobody is watching,” the hypocrite says, “for whose sake should I pretend?”
Somebody is watching, but the hypocrite’s eyes are closed and cannot see that One.
In times of distress everyone calls for help; in times of toothache, and earache, in doubt, fear and insecurity. In secret everyone calls out hoping that One will hear and grant their requests. Privately, secretly, people perform good deeds to ward off weakness and restore their strength, trusting that Life will accept their gifts and efforts. When they are restored to health and peace of mind, then suddenly their faith leaves, and the phantom of anxiety soon returns.
“O God,” they cry again, “we were in such a terrible state when, with all sincerity, we called upon you from our prison corner. For a hundred prayers you granted our requests. Now, freed of the prison, we are still as much in need. Bring us out of this world of darkness into that world of the prophets, the world of light. Why can freedom not come without prisons and pain? A thousand desires fill us, both good and deceitful, and the conflict of these phantoms brings a thousand tortures that leave us weary. Where is that sure faith that burns up all phantoms?”
God answers, “The seeker of pleasure in you is your enemy and My enemy.
‘Do not take your enemy
and My enemy for a friend.’
When your pleasure-seeking self is imprisoned, filled with trouble and pain, then your freedom arrives and gathers strength. A thousand times you have proved that freedom comes to you out of toothache, headache and fear. Why then are you chained to bodily comfort? Why are you always occupied with tending the flesh? Do not forget the end of that thread: unravel those bodily passions till you have attained your eternal passion, and find freedom from the prison of darkness.”