Dua’ for the new crescent of Ramadan;
These are from the book: Listening to the Qur’an: Insights, Commands, and Guidance for Our Life.
While Sūrah al-Fātiḥah encapsulates the essence of ṣalāh, this āyah encapsulates the essence of al-Fātiḥah:
إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ
You alone do we worship, and from You alone do we seek succor. (Al-Fātiḥah 1:4)
This āyah is the affirmation of tawḥīd as both an article of faith as well as an overriding principle in total control of our actual life. The word ʿIbādah, translated here as worship for lack of a better word, implies establishing an absolute master-slave relationship, which includes unquestioning obedience, total submission, and devotional acts like bowing and prostration. Pagans do worship idols by bowing and prostrating before them and treating them as gods. Others worship wealth, power, or celebrity in a figurative sense; they put them in the driver’s seat in their life. This āyah is a bold and loud rejection of all of these acts of worship meant for anyone except Allāh. It is also a reminder that we should not start serving other gods even without realizing it.
The second part of this āyah is a corollary of the first part, but it needs an explanation. In our daily life we do offer and receive help from others. The Qur’ān itself mentions this help at many places. For example, it says: “Help each other in righteousness and piety, and do not help each other in sin and aggression.” thus regulating it by making righteousness or lack thereof as the basis for offering or withdrawing it. It praises the believers who help the Prophet ﷺ: “So, those who believe in him and support him, and help him and follow the light sent down with him,—those are the ones who are successful.” It reports that Prophet ʿĪsā (Jesus) asked his companions for help: “Who will be my helpers in Allāh’s cause?” Obviously this help is not negated here; it is offered and sought under the system of cause and effect, which itself has been created by Allāh for the normal running of this universe. What is negated (“We do not seek help from anyone except Allāh”) is the help from other beings (e.g. saints and dead men) that is thought to transcend the system of cause and effect. Also negated is any help that is supposed to work independent of—or worse in defiance of—the Will of Allāh.
Allāh can help through means that we could not have imagined—even bypassing the system of cause and effect. And He also helps through the normal system of cause and effect. For every need we seek help from Him, and even when we call on other people for assistance we fully realize that they are not independent agents for providing that assistance.
Lastly we seek Allāh’s help in performing the worship we promised in the first part. As a Ṣūfī master suggested, if one is finding it difficult to stay away from sins and to perform acts of worship, then reciting this āyah profusely will help greatly